Some music thoughts

I actually had a reasonably busy day today– I did not, as planned actually set foot in my classroom, but I spent about $160 at the teacher store for stuff I’ll get put up tomorrow, and I did a lot of prep work at my computer at home, including sending many emails to my principal and sending out invites to my Google Classroom way early to see how many of my kids are on the ball enough that they notice this early. The answer: four in my advisory, three in my first block, three in second, and one in my third, which probably doesn’t represent more than five or six actual kids but I haven’t compared yet. My class webpage is mostly updated and I’ve got some forms that needed to be created and/or updated for this year done. I got a few other errands that I’ve been putting off taken care of while I was out as well, so today wasn’t a complete waste.

I noticed a thing about myself recently that I don’t like, which is that I have this weird idea that there are people out there who might judge me for my music tastes. You can, perhaps, imagine what albums might trigger that impulse when looking at the above. I have decided, now that I’ve noticed this, that I don’t give a shit, and I’m going to listen to whatever the hell I want with no regard to the nonsense of others, which is as it should be. I’ve purchased all three of the above within the last few weeks. I am terrible at writing music reviews, which is why I’m cramming all three of them together into the same post. The short version: I approve of all three.

Willow Smith’s (I guess she just goes by Willow, but that’s that Willow) lately I feel EVERYTHING is the big surprise of the lot, as I already knew I was a big fan of Prince and Billie Eilish. I saw Willow shave her head during her recent performance of Whip My Hair, which was what brought her back into my consciousness, and when I found out there was a new album and it was a lot more rock-themed than what she’d recorded when she was nine (which won’t surprise anyone) I went ahead and grabbed it. And it’s great. The production takes a little getting used to, as the album sort of sounds like it was recorded in a basement, but in a sort of “I want this to sound like it was recorded in a basement” kind of way, but Willow’s got a great voice and, frankly, this is not an album I would ever expect to hear from a young Black woman, which is part of why it was such a damn pleasure to listen to.

Prince’s Welcome 2 America is his first posthumous release, and yes, I’m still mad at God for taking Prince away from me. And … well, I liked it a lot, because it’s fucking Prince, but I can sort of see why he didn’t release it. The album is shockingly topical given that it was written and recorded ten years ago; there’s nothing about it that feels dated, but what I liked about the New Power Generation years was the big, banger-type of songs: Gett Off and Se7en and Thunder and Cream, and there’s nothing on here that sounds like that. It kind of feels like an album of b-sides, in a way– there is plenty on here to like but you’re not going to find your new favorite Prince song or anything like that.

And, well, you’ve probably already heard most of Billie Eilish’s Happier than Ever, since it seems like about half of it has been released already. That said, there are some gems on it that haven’t been released yet– I’m a big fan of Oxytocin, and GOLDWING and the title track are pretty damn good too. It does sound a lot like her previous two albums, which is its only weakness. I don’t know that I feel like her sound has evolved at all since her last album, which isn’t that big a problem– I like that sound– but the other two albums I’m talking about here both represent stylistic differences from what we’ve seen before from those artists.

At any rate, I’d recommend any or all of them, so hit up Spotify or whatever you’re doing to get your music nowadays.

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Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.