Music

by Odie Henderson Feature Articles Music

Isaac Hayes, the Way Nature Intended: Hot Buttered Soul, Shaft, and Black Moses

April 2, 2018
hayes

On February 23rd, Craft Recordings issued remasters of three classic Isaac Hayes albums, 1969’s Hot Buttered Soul and 1971’s Shaft and Black Moses. Each has been carefully restored and pressed to vinyl, the way nature intended, with their memorable album covers also meticulously recreated. The trilogy documents Hayes’s journey from Stax Records producer and songwriter to legendary performer in his own right, taking the listener through over three hours of classic soul jams that range from the eerily quiet to…

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by InRO Staff Music Year in Review

Year in Review 2017 – Music

December 23, 2017
Music

The best songs and albums released over the last 12 months found a way to subvert a hopeless political reality, to move and inspire us by striving for change. A Chinese rap group broke through to an international audience; a singer-songwriter sincerely mounted a mournful reflection on the death of a loved one; and there were plentiful, powerful depictions of womanhood. So let’s just cross our fingers and hope for more light in the darkness in 2018. I mean, it…

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by InRO Staff Music Year in Review

Top 10 Albums of 2017 (So Far)

August 4, 2017
2017albumssofar

It’s way too late to call this a “halftime” feature (we were busy watching a whole lot of asian movies), so let’s just call it an end-of-summer(-ish) survey of some of 2017’s best albums. We polled our staff and came up with a typically eclectic list, which includes an often maligned “pop star,” an Australian singer predominantly associated with country music, a Houston-bred songwriting lifer, and John Mayer. Unexpectedly, and due in part to a lack of consensus, few if any of the usual best-of-2017 suspects are here. So enjoy a smattering…

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by Paul Attard Music

Big Sean | I Decided.

February 17, 2017
big-sean

Big Sean wants you to realize how important I Decided. is: From the ominous intro of pouring rain to the voicemail interludes throughout, this project is presented as a grand personal opus, an album made in the mould of Drake’s Take Care. Sean makes every song feel large, utilizing expensive production, sing-rapping choruses that come off as calculatingly vulnerable, and indulging a six-minute track about the travails of fame. All of this worked for Drake, but Sean struggles under the…

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by Paul Attard Music

Young Thug | Jeffery

January 17, 2017
young thug

Through a career that’s spanned 16 mixtapes (four of them released commercially), three label deals (Cash Money Records, 1017 Records, and 300 Entertainment), and yet still no studio album, Young Thug has maintained a reputation as the most elusive rapper going; one really need only listen to his music to get a sense of his radically non-conforming style, which relies heavily on unpredictable, usually high-pitched vocal fluctuations. In a growing sphere of auto-tuned “mumble rap,” Thug stands out for his sound specifically. But that’s…

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by Kyle Turner Feature Articles Music

Eat, Survive, Make Music: An Interview With Joe Benjamin

January 12, 2017
JB

If Damien Chazelle’s recent film La La Land essentially uses its every frame to try and justify its pastiche nature, through a sense of disenchantment, then Joe Benjamin & a Mighty Handful is the kind of band that doesn’t really feel it necessary to make that kind of effort; they just let themselves be there for the audience that wants them to be. And if you’re with their freewheeling, kind of kookie frontman (who recalls Alan Cumming in Bob Fosse’s Cabaret), then head to one…

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by InRO Staff Music Year in Review

Top 10 Albums of 2016

December 29, 2016
chance

In a year most of us would rather forget for one reason or another, 2016 was welcomingly giving when it came to dispensing albums from some of both this and last century’s greatest performers. The sheer wealth of material this year means fantastic work like Leonard Cohen’s swan song, Young Thug’s most cohesive effort to date, and The Avalanches nearly two-decades-in-the-making second album won’t get the expanded…

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by InRO Staff Music Year in Review

Top 10 Songs of 2016

December 29, 2016
formation

Just another year gone by—except songs seemed particularly vital for getting through these last 12 months. Not that you need me to tell you, but we lost some of our greatest purveyors of the form in 2016, and if the 10 selections below can’t compensate—if there’s no “Kiss” or “Mama Tried” or “Modern Love” among them—most look struggle, and sacrifice, and the indefatigable march of time, head-on, as much a reflection of their times as the classics that came before them. And if a few…

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by Paul Attard Music

Soulja Boy & Bow Wow | Ignorant Shit

November 23, 2016
soulja-boy-bow-wow-ignorant-shit

It’s safe to assume that not many were all that ecstatic when Soulja Boy and Bow Wow announced their new project together, the mixtape Ignorant Shit. The Internet-era rappers are long past their prime—in fact, they’re barely even relevant anymore. Bow Wow announced his retirement from the rap game as recently as a couple months ago. The two rappers did collaborate once before, on the 2008 single “Marco Polo,” but afterward they beefed with each other (Soulja memorably challenged Bow Wow to a Lamborghini drag-race).…

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by Simon Abrams Feature Articles Music

ZAPPAtite Is a Dish Best… Not Served at All

October 13, 2016
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 25:  Singer songwriter Frank Zappa poses for a portrait in the editing room of his Laurel Canyon home on March 25, 1972 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ed Caraeff/Getty Images)

“One of these days, I’m going to erase all the tapes in the world. Tomorrow I may do it. All the Frank Zappa masters: nothing, blank, empty space.” —Frank Zappa, “Are You Hung Up?”  What would the world be like if ZAPPAtite, a new best-of compilation of music by poly-generic composer/prodigy Frank Zappa, served as its primary method of Zappa education? This is (hopefully) my less aggro way of asking, “Who needs this fucking thing anyway?” ZAPPAtite, a concept proposed…

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by Sam C. Mac Music

M.I.A. | AIM

September 29, 2016
mia

“Who said it was easy?/They can never stop we” sings the most put-upon recording artist of the last decade, who’s never stopped pulling up her people even as she’s endured pop culture’s repeated persecutions. It’s from the last song on what may be the 41-year old provocateur’s final album, AIM, and it’s as summative an emotional statement as “Borders,” the set’s opener and lead single, is a thematic one: This is an album that makes a negotiation between the commercial…

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