Monday Mixtape: Missy Elliott, Lana Del Rey, Tool & Sheryl Crow!
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.
Missy Elliott, “Why I Still Love You”
Caught up in the fervor over the release of Taylor Swift’s Lover was the arrival of Missy Elliott’s new EP Iconology, her first collection of new songs in a decade (she’s put out singles here and there but this is the biggest single batch of Missy songs since The Cookbook came out in 2005). The single “Throw It Back” is a reasonable enough blast of hip-hop beat science, but Missy still has a knack for turning modern R&B on its ear as it bridges the past and the future. “Why I Still Love You” is just a tremendous song that feels like it might have been completely in context on that one awesome 702 record from . Also, if you have time, watch Missy on the VMAs from last week. She can still go, and she also still has the e-mail address of the breakdancing girl in the “Work It” video.
Tegan & Sara, “I’ll Be Back Someday”
Everyone’s favorite Canadian lesbian twins are back with a new album called Hey I’m Just Like You that’ll be out on September 27, but they just dropped a video for this. They’ve full made the transition from inventive folk duo to ‘80s New Wave revivalists, and they wear it very well. They’ve been harmonizing since they were zygotes probably, so they’re obviously tight as hell here. The songs are all taken from ideas they rediscovered while writing their memoir High School, which is extra awesome. The video slaps too.
Tool, “Fear Inoculum”
Tool haven’t released an album since 2006. They’ve been caught up in a lawsuit (or several) that I don’t really understand, but whatever it was kept them from making new music and also from putting their songs on streaming services. But now their whole catalogue is available and they have a new album. The anticipation for this single was so huge that it broke into the Hot 100 and became the longest ever entry in that chart (it’s over 10 minutes long). It’s honestly not as thrilling as some of the best songs from Aenima or Lateralus, but it has a technical surgical grind that few heavy bands manage to match.
Lana Del Rey, “Venice Bitch”
I am still in the tank for Lana Del Rey. I wish she hadn’t worked so much with Jack Antonoff, who is perfectly fine but also too in-demand and he’s one of those guys who is kind of making every pop song sound the same. “Venice Bitch” is an epic little piece of California noir that meanders like a boardwalk stoner. We used to have debates about whether or not Lana Del Rey was good, but those conversations have been put to rest. Norman Fucking Rockwell is, like a lot of LDR albums, wildly inconsistent, but when she hits her highs there’s no one like her, and the general beach-folk darkness that permeates it reminds me a lot of Ultraviolence, her unequivocal triumph.
Sheryl Crow feat. Bonnie Raitt & Mavis Staples, “Live Wire”
Crow keeps suggesting this is her final studio album, and if it is she’s clearly ticking off a bunch of bucket list boxes. The new album is called Threads and it’s a bunch of collaborations and duets with heroes and admirers. Stevie Nicks is on there, as is the late Johnny Cash, and Chris Stapleton and Gary Clark Jr. and Eric Clapton and Keith Richards and St. Vincent and on an on. It’s a busy record, often with too many cooks, but “Live Wire” rules. It’s three amazing voices (Crow’s pipes have always been underrated—she has an incredibly expressive and subtly dynamic instrument) and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Jeff Buckley, “Sky Blue Skin”
Jeff Buckley’s debut album (and his only true completed work) Grace turned 25 years old last week, and in celebration of that landmark every one of his albums (Grace, Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk and the watershed live album Mystery White Boy) got the deluxe reissue treatment. There are also four resurrected live albums and this single, a demo from the Sweetheart sessions recorded on September 13, 1996, about nine months before Buckley’s tragic death. Grace remains an incredible accomplishment that probably would still be revered even if Buckley didn’t have such a gut-punch of an exit. This smolders the way the best moments on Grace do, and it feels more fully realized than a lot of the demos that make up My Sweetheart the Drunk. You should give the live stuff a listen too—Buckley was a remarkable live performer who was constantly reinterpreting his own work, and the version of “I Woke Up In a Strange Place” from Mystery White Boy is one of my ten favorite pieces of recorded music.