We did a lot of looking back this week, on the year in streaming, and revisiting our favorite albums of the last 12 months. But there was still new hotness dropped this week, from places both familiar and newly bizarre.
Pusha T’s new record just dropped, and he gets some help from a princess of soul; Baroness makes a triumphant return; an Italian master returns to his roots; and The Weeknd makes a new friend. But first, David Bowie’s newest character, Lazarus:
David Bowie — “Lazarus”
The beauty of David Bowie’s perpetual narrative of reinvention is that even if one is kinda whack, you don’t have to wait too long for him to do something new (except when he goes on hiatus for a decade). His latest project, Lazarus, an off-Broadway production starring Michael C. Hall, has some serious synergy with his new record, ★ (spoken as Blackstar). “Lazarus” is the musical’s theme, and also serves as the record’s single. It’s beautiful, no matter who’s singing it (and good luck telling the difference).
Pusha T — “Sunshine”
We’re mostly bored by this half of Clipse’s tired cocaine raps, but he seems more grown and wise on his newest record, King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, out today. This track, in particular, has Pusha ruminating on the American experience from his perspective (“just anotha nigga dead, send another to the feds”), which he feels he shares with Chicago’s Chief Keef. The above performance on The Daily Show is passable, but the version on record, with hook blessed by Jill Scott, is made for repeat plays.
Baroness — “Try To Disappear”
It’s been three years since the tragic bus crash that derailed the lives and careers of Baroness, but with Purple, their new record out today, they’ve returned to form. The record may be born of grief, but its tone is more triumphant than somber, and the tight metal riffs show growth from a more sludgy past. Welcome back.
Ennio Morricone — “Hateful Eight Overture”
One of the benefits of being a film snob and screening your movie in 70mm Ultra Panavision is not only a gorgeous print, but higher resolution on the sound as well. We screened Quentin Tarantino’s new Western The Hateful Eight last week, and while it certainly looked beautiful, Ennio Morricone’s score in particular rang loud and clear, with equal parts drama and tension. Regardless of what you think of Tarantino or the film, it’s hard to deny Morricone’s mastery of the form, and welcome his return to the genre. Although Morricone became famous with scores for classic spaghetti Westerns such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, The Hateful Eight is his first score for a Western in 40 years.
Belly — “Might Not (ft. The Weeknd)”
This video has it all: pools with champagne bottles and almost-naked chicks, gonzo Steadicams, The Weeknd sing-rapping about getting high, and a Canadian rapper named Belly who gets trapped in a pool of existential goo after taking one-too-many pills of whatever. He spits hot lines like, “Hippie bitches be sending me titty pictures,” while hippie bitches float around him, struggling for air in his aforementioned goo. But if you were hoping for some boundary-pushing in the art of the Crazy Party Rap Video, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a serviceable banger featuring the least surprising Weeknd feature of all time, and what more can you ask for on a Friday? — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor