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neumu
Thursday, November 23, 2017 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive



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artist
John Legend
recording
Get Lifted
Columbia
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Neo-soul is such a bullshit genre signifier, crafted by the intrepid minds of wily major-label suits intent on peddling mealy-mouthed rehash to Boomer fools. When attached to any recently released music, the Greek prefix "neo," meaning "new," is astoundingly redundant. No other genre of music is saddled with this calculated prefix (barring the lamentable, fading nu-metal) because it wouldn't make any sense (neo-crunk, anyone?).

Within this unnecessary and grating definition, reasonably talented though by no means universe-quaking artists like Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton routinely get to spar on the comparison pages with forebears like Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Aretha Franklin. This is a ludicrous mistake.

John Legend is evidently stuck with the same label. Best known as that guy who sings on some of Kanye West's biggest and most well-produced hits ("Get By," "This Way," "You Don't Know My Name"), Legend gets to do the 13-tracks-plus-an-intro thing as the flagship artist on West's Getting Out Our Dreams music imprint. Seeing as how West was the unmitigated breakout pop star of 2004, Legend stands a good chance of riding his captain's Q rating to some success, but his debut is nothing to get bent out of shape about.

There are some truly great songs on Lifted, like "Number One," which is just about the happiest-sounding song to ever start with the lyric "You can't say I don't love you just because I cheat on you." Songs like this are usually sung by self-serious, mook R&B/gospel phonies who sample Enya. Legend is at least believable, and clearly having fun with his pain.

But the production is uneven throughout, and unsure if it wants to be hip-hop crooning, deep soul, or cookie-cutter R&B. Too many of the songs are just weak-kneed slow jams that deflate the urgency and vigor Legend bundles together on "Number One" and "Let's Get Lifted" and "Live It Up," which features a dazzling violin solo from "hip-hop violinist" Miri Ben-Ari. It should be mentioned that these songs feature traditional hip-hop production with crackling, possibly sampled drums that give Legend's lacking charisma a boost. The less lively contributions are typically sitting in front of his keyboard or piano.

This is basically capable, occasionally nondescript soul music with a couple of rapper guest spots, the most ridiculous of which is Snoop Dogg on "I Can Change." Last seen querying "Can U Control Yo Hoe?" on his album, Snoop has the gall to quote Sam Cooke and let the ladies know he can "change" his evil ways. Which is a marvelous paradox for a man who raps about hitting women. Worse still, he can't really rap very well anymore.

Typecast as a neo-soul artist, Legend wastes his assets: classically trained fingers and wounded voice (one that sometimes lacks range, but in an endearing way). Lifted, a sometimes-soaring debut, is like a bowl of Honeycomb cereal: sweet and tasty when it crunches, frustrating trash when it gets soggy. Go easy on the milk.


by Sean Fennessey




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