Monday Mixtape: Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Sleater-Kinney & Snoop Dogg
Every Monday, I make myself a playlist of (mostly) new songs. It gets me in the habit of hunting for new music and hopefully gets me embracing fresh trends. This is the Monday Mixtape.
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Sleater-Kinney, “Can I Go On”
When Sleater-Kinney returned from a decade-long hiatus with 2015’s No Cities To Love, it sounded a lot like what the natural evolution of a Sleater-Kinney album would always sound like. Apparently that level of change was not nearly enough for the band (or at least two-thirds of the band—drummer Janet Weiss departed the trio in the walk-up to the release of The Center Won’t Hold), because they invited Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) to produce their ninth album and her sonic fingerprints are all over it. It doesn’t sound terrible, because Corin Tucker’s open-wound vocals still carry the type of emotional resonance rarely heard in pop music, and the song craft is mostly on point. But it’s also instantly my least-favorite Sleater-Kinney album, though the jittery anxiety anthem “Can I Go On” would be the one entry onto the greatest hits package.
Taylor Swift, “Lover”
If Katy Perry had released Lover’s debut single “Me!" we would have all gone blind rolling our eyes into the back of our skulls. But Taylor got a pass because she’s Taylor, and the song was a hit anyway even though only the hardcores are going to keep it on their permanent Taylor playlists. The second single “You Need to Calm Down” was better, but the song that has finally convinced me of this version of Swift is the title track from her seventh full-length. It’s co-written with Jack Antonoff, who is by far Taylor’s greatest and most effective collaborator, and it reminds me a lot of Mazzy Star. It’s simple, straightforward, and achingly lovely—the kind of stuff that Taylor used to make before she evolved into a super famous robot.
Red Hearse, “Half Love”
And speaking of Antonoff, he has a new sorta-supergroup of songwriter/producer types called Red Hearse. It’s a pretty effective collection of dancing-and-crying jams, though once it finds a groove it doesn’t really deviate (not unlike Antonoff’s Bleachers project). “Half Love” is pretty dope, though.
Snoop Dogg feat. Jermaine Dupri, Ozuna & Slim Jxmmi, “Do It When I’m In It”
Did you know Snoop still makes new albums? Did you know the just-released I Wanna Thank Me is his seventeenth full-length platter? Snoop is such a walking lifestyle brand that I often forget that he originally made his bones (and not his Bones) as a gangsta rapper with the most off-kilter flow on the west coast. Circa 2019, he’s basically Elvis—a genre unto himself and a gateway into a much world of cultural cross-sections. But he’s still a top-shelf MC at heart, in the most literal sense: He knows how to pick out hot slabs of computer funk and bring together disparate pieces of talent for an eclectic end-of-summer jam. It’s no “Ashtrays & Heartbreaks,” Snoop’s best 21st century song, but “Do It When I’m in It” is going to make me happy when it shows up on shuffle a year from now.
Miley Cyrus, “Slide Away”
Snoop’s “Ashtrays & Heartbreaks” tag-team partner is more in the news as of late for her split from husband Liam Hemsworth. That story began as an irreconcilable differences narrative but now rumors are swirling that Miley peaced out because Hemsworth has some sort of substance abuse problem. As you’ll note in the image in the YouTube video below, Cyrus’ new tune paints Hemsworth as a whiskey and pill aficionado and then buries him deep beneath the ocean. It’s a gorgeous, shimmering kiss-off that acts as the finest divorce song since “Divorce Song.”
Young Thug feat. Gunna, “Hot”
Thug has significantly more charisma than most of his low-fi mumble-rap brethren, which means that when he does catch a beat that sounds even the slightest bit musical (like this one), he can ride that bad boy into the sunset. This song, from Thug’s debut album So Much Fun, is some real ignorant shit, but sometimes all you really need is some dumb. In other words: Young Thug is the Crawl of rappers.