Skip Or Repeat: Ashley Monroe, Public Enemy, Eminem's 'Southpaw' soundtrack
Welcome back to Skip Or Repeat, capsule album reviews for the week's new crop on April 24.
If none of those scratch an itch for you, give a listen to one of these other efforts: Lamb of God's heavy "VII: Strum Und Drang," Eleni Mandell's warm "Dark Lights Up," Prince Royce's party record "Double Vision" or Eleventh Day Dream's "Works For Tomorrow" from the smart folks at Thrill Jockey.
What new music are you listening to? What would you recommend this week?
Some skip, some repeat: Various, "Southpaw (Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture)"Photo Credit:
Eminem curated this muscly, ominous playlist, which consists of some predictably big names -- like the Weeknd, Tech N9ne, Action Bronson, Slaughterhouse, Gwen Stefani and Slim Shady himself. It's a good way to catch up a little with the heavyweight rapper without a big emotional investment, like his last "Marshall Mathers LP 2" demanded. Instead, you'll get the aggressive "saliva" of Busta Rhymes on the standout remix of "Beast," or enjoy the lesser-known sounds of Denaun Porter ("This Corner") but have to endure a middling contributions from 50 Cent and Stefani. Em's own "Phenomenal" plus collabs with Royce da 5'9" on two Bad Meets Evil tracks should hold you over until the next Shady drop.
Mostly Repeat: Ashley Monroe, "The Blade"Photo Credit:
Pistol Annies singer Ashley Monroe's voice is exquisite. My only complaints about "The Blade" is that she doesn't seem to have the mastery of an ad-lib -- a few "yeahs" and "oh noes" arrive like she's ticking off the check marks of a country song -- and some clunky roots riffs that fell off a assembly line. Otherwise, check out the flips in her voice on soft rocker "Weight Of the Load," the dreamy-eyed chorus on "From Time to Time" and fire-bellied "Dixie" for some of the easiest country to hear all year.
Quick repeat, then skip: Public Enemy, "Man Plans God Laughs"Photo Credit:
There are only two tracks on "Man Plans God Laughs" that last longer than three minutes. It's a lean but righteously mean collection, with political voice for this contemporary era of racial discontent and old-school beats and licks that made you fall for PE to begin with. It's those, combined with brevity, that gives this set an incomplete vibe, like excerpts that require little commitment. Catch up with Chuck, Flav and DJ Lord on "Praise the Loud," "Those Who Know Who Know Who" and the title track, then it may be time to move along.
Some repeat: Jill Scott, "Woman"Photo Credit:
Scott's album "Woman" bears a complicated and robust treatment of the soul singer's own woman-ness, like when she's a "boss-lady" in one mode to scorned lover to cooing lovebird in her next motions. This, her fifth album, is all-pro, very smooth, and borders on too safe besides bluesy bangers like "You Don't Know" and head-scratching (but delightful) spoken-word tracks like opener "Wild Cookie." It's not a cohesive, album-atic effort but worth a couple spins, if even on random.
Repeat, but for a limited time: Bea Miller, "Not An Apology"Photo Credit:
Bea Miller was signed after a stint on "X-Factor" and the young singer obviously has a baseline of talent at 16-years-old. It will take a minute for her "rocker" voice to bear more nuanced treatment than vocal fry, for her song's material to graduate from dissing "Rich Kids" and rebelling against "Paper Doll" imagery. In fact, "image" will be one of the toughest hurdles to hinder her burgeoning career: her pop bonafides will come from her unique turn on a big chorus (like on "Young Blood" and Sleigh Bells rip-off "Dracula"), not an awkward pop-rap bridge ("I Dare You") or a melody line that thins out her still-maturing vocals ("This Is Not An Apology"). This debut is a fine start, but I look forward to when Miller has more solid, grown-up material to work with.