Still slow on the uptake of new albums, though I did catch the new Yo La Tengo no one will shut up about. I have to revisit it soon to see if its ultra-pleasantness is more than innocuous wallpaper. Same for Parquet Courts, which had some nice moments but ultimately sounded lazy, a bit tossed-off. Surely I’ll eat those words later. Anyway, I’ve updated the year-end list to include Nneka, who I’ve been tossing around for nearly a year. It’s an album I wanted to have merit but had to let win me over. I’m glad it did. And I’m glad at least one of the Wainwrights worked me the right way.
NNEKA – Soul is Heavy (Decon): That’s Nneka Egbuna, Nigerian-born and German-based reggae adept and emcee whose face gets progressively closer to the viewer on every album cover. Allmusic marks this as released in February 2011, Wikipedia March 2012, not on Metacritic; quite possibly I didn’t pick up on it until late April but can’t say for sure. Originally the Black Thought guest spot “God Knows Why” caught my ear at the end and got me to re-listen, and subsequent spins have left me with “Don’t Even Think” and the title track stuck in my head in a way I don’t mind. Her dub-inflected or hip-hop ventures fare better than her attempts at R&B, especially given her affinity for spiritual platitudes mixed with political discourse (just check the opener), yet when pressed as to whether I’d consciously put it on just to hear it, the answer leans towards ‘no.’ But then I get curious again and don’t become disappointed. A MINUS
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT – Come Home to Mama (Cooperative Music): Compared with her family, Martha did better than both Loudon and Rufus in 2012, the latter’s mush-mouthed crooning I find harder to stomach as time passes, the former’s death album hard to digest despite its respectable tune mastery and yuck potential. Martha melds the best of both worlds; catchy and crafted pop-rock songs like her father yet funny without his overladen irony—she makes admissions of picking fights to reap make-up sex spoils—or her keenness to reel in the quirk for moments of sincerity, like the title track, for instance. Which, funnily enough, was written by her mother, and whom Martha is smart enough to take after rather than the males. A MINUS