I am working my way backward to the point in the Mariah Carey discography where my parents’ CD collection leaves off, and The Emancipation of Mimi is as striking a release — at the time, a comeback — as its multiplatinum sales and golden glow imply. It bounces with crisp, retro-minded hip-hop production, all groove and no hiss thanks to Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes and Kanye West, whose “Stay the Night” is a lush but nicely restrained effort. Even the Nelly hooks work. Over all this, Carey digs into the intricate, conversational melodies of her less powerfully lunged ’90s R&B contemporaries, routes she’d previously soared over. Once her authenticity’s established, she heads for the clouds.
Mimi maintains a full-album consistency and coherence, with the sub-stand-out songs staying on message and Carey never delivering less than her best. Is this the record Christina Aguilera hoped Back to Basics could be? Perhaps, but for Mariah, it’s not back to anything — it was an impressive new chapter for an artist whose book almost closed too soon. It seems impossible that Mariah Carey, mover of 100 million units, is underrated. But it might be true.
(Is Mimi better than any Beyonce album? Am I emotionally capable of answering that question?)
The latest jammer from His Clancyness, my favorite band in Italy (and the brother act to the underrated A Classic Education). The band has an EP and album coming on Fatcat this year.
Here’s Speedy Ortiz’s “Silver Spring,” a vulnerable, pyrrhic track I’m sad I missed last year. A better sister act to the unparalleled Swearin’ than the Waxahatchee album everybody likes, biology aside. The band has a full-length, Major Arcana, due July 9 on Carpark, but the excellent Sports EP is worth picking up now.
If this is helpful at all: I am posting music here regularly under the tracks tag.
Here’s some dizzying, wonderful lo-fi indie-pop from Julia Brown. It reminds me very much of the scratchy glory days of the early 2000s, when everyone got their first laptops but before “home recording” meant synthesizers and Ableton loops. Get debut collection to be close to you on Bandcamp.
Ciara’s “Body Party,” one of the best songs of the year, gets a funny, sexy video.
A little — O.K., a lot — of humor amidst the Daft Punk helmet worship. (via Ego Trip)