New Releases Round-up 4/02 – 4/07
When it comes to pop culture, all weeks are not created equal. Certain times of the year just aren’t the most interesting for certain forms of media. For music fans, this isn’t one of those times. While film and TV will be kicking into higher gear later into April with high-profile premieres like Better Call Saul and the new Fast and Furious, this coming Friday has unexpectedly become one of the most exciting days for album releases of this year so far. So for this week’s New Releases Round-Up, we’re taking a look at a few albums from the impending stampede of new music arriving on Friday.
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Label: Interscope/Aftermath/Top Dawg
Christmas comes early for hip-hop fans with the release of an untitled-at-the-time-of-this-writing album from Kendrick Lamar, an artist currently occupying the rare position of adoration from both critics and fans enjoyed only by the rap elite. Lamar took an unconventional route in the announcement of the album when he released a standalone single on March 23rd (“The Heart Part 4”) wherein he closed the song with the line: “y’all got ‘til April the 7th to get y’all s**t together.” The hip-hop community at large is running with the interpretation that that date will see the release of Lamar’s fourth studio album, an interpretation reinforced by a lead single released just a week later: “HUMBLE.” Though fans of Lamar will tell you that predicting the makeup of one his albums based off of a single is a fool’s errand, both of these songs suggest a new level of braggadocio for the artist, with one line proclaiming his status as “the greatest rapper alive.” Having won a Grammy for Best Rap Album with his universally-praised and thematically-dense To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015, few could argue with such a claim, audacious as it may sound. The album is sure to dominate the pop-culture consciousness just like Butterfly, assuming that it does get released this Friday. If it does, The Courier will have a full review out next week. If it’s all a cruel joke and whatever planned for April the 7th isn’t a new album, we’ll be commiserating with the rest of the jilted public.
Title: Memories… Do Not Open
Artist: The Chainsmokers
The pop/EDM act currently burning up charts releases its debut album this Friday, entitled Memories… Do Not Open, a name that doubles as a half-baked metaphor and an extremely helpful instruction to any wayward souls encountering the album in a Best Buy bargain bin three or four years from now. The group boasts some formidable music-industry cred, with a collaborative single with Coldplay currently occupying the #3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time of this writing. Coldplay, however, abandoned artistic ingenuity for pop stardom quite a while ago, and the latter appears to be the only thing The Chainsmokers are looking for. Their glossy production and earworm hooks will surely grant them success for a time, but whether or not their music will have any longevity remains to be seen. We’re not holding our breath for that, but we’d love to be proven wrong.
Title: Pure Comedy
Artist: Father John Misty
Label: Sub Pop/Bella Union
Josh Tillman labored as a self-described “obscure singer-songwriter” and musician-for hire for nearly a decade, releasing eight studio albums under the name of J. Tillman and serving as mercenary player for a handful of bands, briefly serving as the touring drummer for Fleet Foxes (coincidentally releasing their third album in June). In 2012, Tillman burned that persona in favor of a new, more provocative identity when he released his first album as Father John Misty. Now enjoying the most success of his career, he’s been just a little bit harder to pin down since, cycling between self-effacing and darkly comedic songwriting, wide-eyed romanticism, and unstable public-meltdown-as-performance-art incidents worthy of Kanye West. His third album; Pure Comedy, appears to be his statement on the current state of human affairs in microcosm, or at least as much as a 74-minute album can be considered a microcosm. As maximalist as the album appears to be, Misty could be embracing his newfound platform for a less ironic and more straightforward expression of his worldview, which could win over those who have been soured by his post-postmodern antics. Clearly, he doesn’t want his message to be lost on anyone, with an 1800-word essay laying out the thematic concerns of the record having been circulated with the announcement of its release, and a 25-minute documentary short-film of its production being uploaded at that same time. Like a lot of Tillman’s work as Father John Misty, these gestures are both wildly pretentious and quite compelling. We’ll find out if the actual music is worthy of all the explanation on Friday.