Friday Five: The Shins, Ryan Adams, Jens Lekman, Macy Gray, Lupe Fiasco

“Mildenhall” by The Shins

The Shins’ latest single from their upcoming release Heartworms is a low-key, country-folk affair– a stark contrast from their last single “Name For You.” Still, it’s pacing and sparse guitar work and drums are a surprisingly good match for frontman James Mercer’s tenor vocals. Heartworms will be released on March 10 via Columbia.

“Doomsday” by Ryan Adams

A true return to form, Ryan Adams’ latest release Prisoner, out today via PAX-AM, is a brilliant and stirring album. Heartbreak may be at the center of the album, but musically it features some of the most grounded and focused work that Adams has released. Throughout the 12 tracks, Adams successfully melds his many influences in a way that he hasn’t done in ages.

 

“Evening Prayer” (feat. Loulou Lamotte) by Jens Lekman

Also out today via Secretly Canadian is Jens Lekman’s astounding album Life Will See You Now. A largely saccharine indie-pop affair, in the best way possible, the Swedish musician carries the torch of Belle & Sebastian to a great degree of success on his latest release, even outdoing his earlier, acclaimed projects.

 

“White Man” by Macy Gray

“I Try” may feel like a lifetime ago, but while Gray has never achieved that level of critical or mass appeal since, she has still carried on a notable, albeit musically safe, career. With “White Man,” a song that wonderfully characterizes today’s heated racial climate, Gray channels less Billie Holiday and more Nina Simone (there seems to be a definite rhythmic nod to “Sinnerman,” too)– and she could not sound any better or more inspired. One can only hope this is the sign of things to come from Gray.

 

“Jump” (feat. Grizzle) by Lupe Fiasco

Lupe’s tumultuous relationship with fans, other rappers, record labels, and the press has been well documented, and consequentially it’s hard to ever get a good read on Fiasco’s music– he’s truly reached love-him-or-hate-him status across the board. With his latest album, DROGAS Light,  released last week via 1st & 15, it’s the largely mixed bag that has become the norm from Lupe Fiasco, but when it works, it really works well. This track, in particular, is the highlight, with insane lyricism over an infectious beat.

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One comment

  1. T · February 19

    Seriously – what is going on with Macy Gray? She seems to continuously try to make these comebacks but nothing seems to stick and she is really talented….

    Like

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