Album: Put the Shine On
Release Date: March 13, 2020
Label: Marathon Artists
- High Road
- Lamb and the Wolf
- Slow Down Sun Down
- Ruby Red
Sisters Bianca “Coco” Casady and Sierra “Rosie” Casady have been creating weird and eclectic music for nearly twenty years. Their style is basically Americana with electronic instruments and has been classified as New Weird America. This is their first album in five years. I find it hit or miss, or maybe it’s just that CocoRosie is better in small doses. Listening to the entire album all the way through and their weirdness starts to feel like an act. I particularly don’t like it much when the Casady sisters rap, but I do like their punk rock vocals. Nevertheless there are some good moments on this album when they achieve their peak fun and creativity.
Artist: Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
Release Date: May 15, 2020
Label: Ribbon Music
- Pure Cinema
- How Could I
- I’ve Got Something
I’m a long-time fan of the work of fellow William & Mary alum Thao Nguyen, so I was excited when Thao & The Get Down Stay Down released their newest album in May. Doubly so when I saw that Thao Nguyen and her many collaborators put together the first great pandemic music video, filmed on Zoom, for the lead single “Phenom.”
Lyrically, the album explores Nguyen’s recently outed queer identity and reconciles it with her Vietnamese-American heritage. Musically, the songs sound different from the band’s earlier works. The sound draws on a variety of influences from blues rock to 80s post-punk to jazz to indie pop with some tracks incorporating hip-hop elements. It’s creative and original, and a little bit quirky but also very catchy. It’s a great grab bag that rewards multiple listens.
Artist: Run the Jewels
Release Date: June 3, 2020
Label: Jewel Runners | BMG
- ooh la la (feat. Greg Nice and DJ Premier)
- walking in the snow
- JU$T (feat. Pharrell Williams and Zach de la Rocha)
- a few words for the firing squad (radiation)
This album hits like a ton of bricks. Killer Mike and El-P rap on a variety of issues including police brutality, mass incarceration, capitalism, the legacy of slavery, and the school-to-prison pipeline. These tracks seem so relevant to the current Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police protests that they may have been written a couple of weeks ago. But of course, these issues have deep roots. Lest you think this album is all social consciousness, Run the Jewels find room for some party tracks, as well. The album reflects the confidence Run the Jewels have built up over four albums, as well as the personal friendship of El-P and Killer Mike.