Record Bulletin

Record Bulletin, 1/17: Azealia Banks and D’Angelo & the Vanguard

The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted

This about wraps it up for 2014 releases—at least ones that are going to place in the year-end list. It’s very possible a handful of other goodies might get a late placement, but for now I’m satisfied with what I have and have no qualms about calling it quits. Besides, a few really decent 2015 releases have already dropped, so I’ve got to get back in it. I will for the foreseeable future still post 2014 albums, though chances are those will just be honorable mentions.

Just wanted to say again that I think posting year-end best-ofs in early December is a fucking mistake, as evidenced by D’Angelo’s Pazz & Jop victory despite barely nudging its way into Metacritic’s compilation of top ten lists, of which there are 137. Beyonce did something similar in late 2013 but with less success, and the same for The Roots in 2011, though their album was virtually ignored. Goes to show that this internet habit of “Me first!” is a fucking travesty, and I scold both the critics themselves who give into the peer pressure and the eager fanboys who can’t wait another thirty days to say why the lists suck anyway for this disaster.

azealia banksAZEALIA BANKS – Broke With Expensive Taste (Prospect Park): Maybe I need more time with the lyrics, but what drew me instantly into “Idle Delilah” was the mix of pop, funk, R&B, and hip-hop and her rapid-fire delivery littered with rhyme, and if those rhymes just so happen to spell out the story of a young girl murdered by her father’s slaves as retribution for poor treatment, all the better—I certainly couldn’t tell just by looking at them, so thank God for her ire-inspired Twitter account. Really, though, most of it sounds like boasts and braggadocio to me, clever ways to say her girl’s eating her out or that her favorite painkiller is “Soda,” one of the few vulnerabilities she lets us see. I’d rather hear her admit those than jaw endlessly in metaphors that take me a week to decipher or get into another internet spar about why it’s okay to call someone a faggot. A MINUS

D'Angelo_-_Black_Messiah_Album_CoverD’ANGELO & THE VANGUARD – Black Messiah (RCA): Lauded for its social awareness and protest spirit, I’ll give D’Angelo half the credit others do in the lyrics department. Disregarding having to look up virtually every line given D’s, um, unique way of enunciating, the nu-funk and neo-jazz his new-band The Vanguard—spearheaded by Questlove and Pino Palladino—lay down is so thick and syrupy it’s enough to float D’Angelo’s ruminations, ruminations which often get mired in mucky non-profundities like “1000 Deaths.”  Occasionally, though, his words and his voice—my God, that voice—rise to shiver-inducing deliveries like “The Charade,” where the weight of every oppressed person to ever grace the US can be felt in the song’s chilling chorus: “All we wanted was a chance to talk / ‘Stead we’ve only got outlined in chalk / Feet have bled a million miles we’ve walked / Revealing at the end of the day, the charade.” But above all I dig “Sugah Daddy,” a simple piano roll with handclaps wherein D details his loose girl’s peculiar proclivities, swerving between the sexy and the startling. I doubt it’s the reason this late release bum-rushed Pazz & Jop—it came out on top because it sounds great and critics think maybe D really is Jesus—but it’s nevertheless a sweet reminder why we’re better off not waiting another fourteen years for this reclusive artiste to drop another bomb. A MINUS


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