For a casual listener it would be very easy to snub Migos, but that would be a mistake. As Symon Reynolds wrote in 2018, the lyrics of the Atlanta trio suggest “a blasphemous cartoon of whores, brutality and bluster”, but at the same time their music, which he compares to “a series of murmurs coming from from a Martian crypt ”, transforms the life of the Atlanta slums into dolce vita and emanates“ pure splendor ”.
True, the Migos lyrics are not very refined. In Vaccines, one of the songs from their new album Culture III (by culture the group means the street culture of rap) the Migos pride themselves on “making money in quarantine”, while in the piece Modern day speaking of cinema rapper Quavo says “I make a film, I do like Michael Bay”. Bay, who is passionate about cinema knows it, is a director hated by the critics, considered cheap, sexist and even a little racist, but capable of making a lot of money for his films. Yet despite all their limitations, from a musical point of view the Migos have some interesting things to say.
Also in Culture III, arrived three years after Culture II, there are moments of quality, like that of the individual Straightenin, with its obsessive repetitions reminiscent of pieces from the past like Versace e Bad and boujee. The text, which contains a dissing addressed to the white colleague Eminem (“And the brick came white like Shady”), if taken not too seriously is also funny. And the whole album, where Drake and Cardi B are guests among others, can be listened to with pleasure, albeit with its ups and downs mainly due to the usual too long tracklist (19 pieces).
Avalanche, which opens the work by even sampling Papa was a rolling stone by Temptations, is perhaps the most nostalgic and old school song, but otherwise the group has not moved an inch from the formula that led to success. The Migos are certainly not “the Beatles of this generation”, as the actor and rapper Donald Glover called them a few years ago, but they are also not to be thrown away.
Lorde, Solar power
In these days Lorde is surprisingly back with the single Solar power, the cover of which became a meme within hours. Solar power is a piece with a sixties melody, written and produced together with Jack Antonoff (one who has worked with the best of American pop, starting with Lana Del Rey). On the drums, among other things, there is Matt Chamberlain, who has played in Western stars by Bruce Springsteen e Rough and rowdy ways by Bob Dylan. The new album by the New Zealand pop star is highly anticipated, as she hasn’t released anything since 2017, the years of release of Melodrama. There is no release date yet, but at this point it should arrive soon.
Wolf Alice, The beach
Metacritic is a site that aggregates reviews from the English-speaking press. Blue weekend, the third album by Wolf Alice, has an average of 97 out of 100. In short, the critics are enjoying it, even if I don’t understand all this enthusiasm. Blue weekend is an enjoyable collection of alternative rock songs, nothing more. The leader of the band, Ellie Rowsell, has a beautiful voice and a good stage presence. They are ready to make the leap, even outside the UK. At home they have been aware of them for some time, as in 2018 they won the Mercury prize.
John Grant, Billy
The new album by the American singer-songwriter John Grant is titled Boy from Michigan and will be released on July 25th. The album looks promising, as it was produced by British singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon. Among the first excerpts there is this Billy, described by its author as “a song about how many men destroy themselves trying to respect the stereotypes of masculinity”. Beyond this, Grant confirms that he has one of the most beautiful and expressive voices in American pop music.
Gianluca Petrella and Pasquale Mirra, Correspond-dance
A few months ago Tǔk Music, the record company founded by the Italian jazz player Paolo Fresu, has launched a parallel label dedicated to electronic soul and funk sounds. Among the first releases there is Correspond, album made in collaboration between the trombonist Gianluca Petrella and the vibraphonist Pasquale Mirra. A difficult job to label, which uses electronics a lot and ranges from western, carioca and afrobeat rhythms.