Alt-rock band Garbage was one of my favorite acts of the 90s, releasing three excellent albums between 1995 and 2001. Their blend of grunge and techno felt entirely new during the dawning of the new millennium.
The band waited four years to release their next album, 2005’s Bleed Like Me, and it felt like a step backward. The band must have sensed that, too, because they went on an indefinite hiatus that seemed a lot like a break-up.
I have a few more new albums and songs to cover this week, starting with Hero, the major label debut of Texas native Maren Morris.
The 26 year-old Morris is a new-school country performer in the vein of Kacey Musgraves, with a modern sensibility and a love of pop and hip-hop that reveals itself in between the bars of her otherwise traditional country tunes. She also has a penchant for profanity, about which a New York Times reviewer wrote that “she’s breaking what may be country’s last remaining taboo.” You mean Johnny Cash never dropped an f-bomb?
I was about to write something about thoroughly gay Rufus Wainwright’s decision was to recreate Judy Garland’s Carnegie Hall concert song for song. But the sentiment seemed familiar. And sure enough, two years ago another song from this album popped up on a Random Weekend and prompted that very sentiment.
In fact, I’m pleased enough with the little joke I told then that I am simply going to repeat it now:
Today’s Random Weekend selection is a short transitional track from the Hamilton soundtrack. ‘Schuyler Defeated’ lasts only a minute but, like every song in the Pulitzer and Tony-winning musical, it has plenty to say.
Musically a reprise of show-stopper ‘The Schuyler Sisters,’ this song sees Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law defeated in the Senate by Aaron Burr, who to this point has been Hamilton’s friend.
The best album I’ve heard this year — and a safe bet to hold that crown through year’s end — is Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Unveiled as an HBO movie before being released as a proper album, Lemonade details the effects of infidelity on a marriage, from anger and denial through healing and forgiveness.
While some maintain that artists shouldn’t be equated with their work, I think it’s pretty clear that this song cycle is about Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The fact that Jay-Z basically holed up in a bunker for the first month or so after Lemonade‘s release feels like confirmation.
At the start of the year, if you’d told me I’d be more excited by new Rihanna and Ariana Grande albums than the newest Paul Simon release, I’d have called you crazy. But that’s the case.
Simon’s 13th solo studio release, Stranger to Stranger, comes five years after the late-career triumph So Beautiful Or So What. I was surprised to see that album came out way back in 2011. It still feels vital and fresh, and unfortunately this new release lives in its shadow.
It’s a familiar phenomenon — the Disney child starlet releasing her first real “grown-up” album, embracing frank sexuality in a bid to shock the pop culture system and free her of those PG shackles.
Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera made the move in the early 2000s. Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez did it in the past couple of years. And now it’s Ariana Grande’s turn.