A showcase of some of the best new music releases from the past week.
Drake – Views
Well we can wave goodbye to the “tough Drake” era. Views sees the mostly-loveable emo rap star bank on his downcast and chilly R&B instead of the triumphant raps that dominated last year’s two incredibly good mixtapes (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and What A Time To Be Alive). It’s a shame: while it’s certainly not terrible, there’s not a lot to find comfort in either. Drake-isms are aplenty (“I knew you before you made ends meet but now we’re meeting our end”) and the album, or at least the idea of it, demands to be acknowledged as a whole, when its 80 minute runtime feels like an ordeal after the first handful of listens. Drake gonna Drake, I suppose.
But sometimes, he still gets it right. Opener Keep The Family Close might show that he’s just as lost in his feelings as ever, but the beat helps the song feel like nothing less than victorious. The album is said to reflect Toronto’s seasons and the summery mid-section is what should see the most play. Child’s Play is more like a So Far Gone cut (that’s a good thing), while One Dance and the tropical Controlla are both tracks you’ll want to reload endlessly (though hard feelings are expected with Popcaan being left off the final version of the latter).
It’s hard to not feel like something’s missing, though. Maybe that’s just what happens when Beyoncé releases an album out of nowhere five days earlier. We’re living in a post-Drake world now and the artists that take note from him (Bryson Tiller, PARTYNEXTDOOR, dvsn) are now confidently growing into their own. How Drake chooses to distinguish himself from here on out is what will matter the most.
Radiohead – Burn The Witch
Burn The Witch, the tense, restrained and claustrophobic new single from Radiohead, is the latest release from their upcoming album, and first since their recent attempt to delete their existence from the internet. Nine albums in and they sound as paranoid as ever (“abandon all reason / avoid all eye contact / do not react”), while the video references cult horror The Wicker Man and ‘60s UK children’s series Trumpton. What will the album bring?
Civil Union – Follow The Red Herring
“Lyrically the album is basically half about external ‘topical’ subjects and then the other half is very esoteric, self-involved poems about love,” Civil Union’s Anthony Drent told Under The Radar. It’s not hard to see which category Follow The Red Herring, the latest single from the Auckland trio, falls into. “I will disappoint you / I will let you down,” begins the song. It’s a sombre and sobering experience, but we fully recommend it anyway. Look out for the band’s album which is due later this month.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Shakedown Street
Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s interpretation of Shakedown Street is every bit as psyched-out as you could hope for. Lifted from Day of the Dead, an upcoming three-volume 59-song compilation of Grateful Dead covers, UMO join artists like Courtney Barnett, The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, and a heap more. The whole thing is out May 20 and profits will go to Red Hot, a not-for-profit organisation that’s working to fight the AIDS/HIV crisis around the world.
Ladyhawke – Dangerous
The verses in this song sound suspiciously like Tomorrow Never Knows. Is that such a bad thing though?
Popcaan – Ova Dweet
If you’re not over Popcaan being criminally MIA on Drake’s tropical jam Controlla, this should help. Ova Dweet, the latest from the Jamaican dancehall star, is everything you could ask for: ultra-melodic, uplifting and untiring. It’s like summer never left.