- Last Updated: 12:21 AM, July 31, 2012
- Posted: 10:27 PM, July 30, 2012
Albums of the Week
“God Forgives, I Don’t”
After four albums of almost solid braggadocio, rapper Rick Ross is still finding new ways to talk about how much money he has on the long-awaited “God Forgives, I Don’t.” Even his recent bouts of near-fatal ill health gets the bling treatment on “Maybach Music IV,” in which he absurdly boasts about enjoying oral sex and having a “seizure on a Lear” jet in the same breath. But Ross has musical extravagance in abundance here, too. Tracks such as the lush sample tapestry that is “Ashamed” and the cinematic soul of “Sixteen” (featuring an ice-cold guest spot from Andre 3000) exhibit almost Kanye levels of ambition, while the fact that Ross has clearly upped his game as a lyricist only adds to the all-around appeal. He may have appointed himself “The Bawse,” but right now, there aren’t many who have the power to challenge him for that title.
“The Soul Sessions Volume 2”
Half a star
THE only thing lazier than an album of covers is a second album of covers. Almost 10 years after her career-launching “The Soul Sessions,” the British singer has decided to mercilessly neuter another selection of classic cuts. Hearing her giggle through a pathetic version of Labi Siffre’s “I Got the . . .” or reduce Womack and Womack’s “Teardrops” to bland, coffee-table soul is not just painfully dull, but positively infuriating. Stone is letting her inner fangirl loose, but this album should serve as a reminder that what’s fun for one could well be utter purgatory for everyone else.
Downloads of the Week
BAT FOR LASHES
THE sight of Natasha Khan posing nude on the cover of her forthcoming album, “The Haunted Man” (out in October), has attracted leering eyes and blog chatter aplenty. Critics may cry publicity stunt, but as “Laura” shows, it’s actually a signpost of her new direction. The Brit channels Carole King in this haunting piano ballad, which is undoubtedly her strongest and — dare we say — most naked moment to date.
“Under the Westway”
COMMON wisdom has always dictated that Blur’s best songs are the ballads. After more than two decades of output (collected together on their exhaustive new box set “21”), it’s a rule that’s proven again on “Under the Westway,” which sees them paying a tender Kinks-style homage to London that could bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened cockney.
SHOVELS & ROPE
FOR the most part, South Carolina’s Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent tend to dish up ramshackle country jams as the duo, Shovels & Rope. But on this bluesy stomper from their second album, “O’ Be Joyful,” they sound more like a barnyard version of the White Stripes. It really wouldn’t be a bad thing if the duo pursued this rowdier musical route at some point in the near future.
THIS Toronto-based electro duo are currently holed up in the studio recording their third album, but if this early taster track is anything to go by, the best place for them might be the funny farm. Singer Alice Glass sounds like she’s having some kind of psychotic episode on “Plague,” cooing sweetly one moment but shrieking manically behind a wall of noise that sounds like a Goth-rave the next. Brilliantly bipolar stuff.