Album Reviews

Mick Jenkins answers a higher calling on “The Healing Component”

Mick Jenkins dissects the meaning of living a love-filled life on his new project, “The Healing Component.” Love here is not just the connection between two people who are crazy enough to consider themselves soul-mates -- it’s the feeling that comes after long periods of struggle, the one we experience when we truly know ourselves and the radiance from a power higher than any we’ve ever known.

Mac Miller can’t quite find his lane on “The Divine Feminine”

Mac Miller experiences a bit of imposter syndrome on “The Divine Feminine,” his latest release about all things love. Sure, he’s proven his creative stamina in the rap game on previous projects that put him ahead of the rap fray, but we hear too much Chance The Rapper (“Soulmate,”), Kendrick Lamar, who crops up on “Stay” and the final performance of “God is Fair, Sexy Nasty.” Ty Dolla $ign brings home the point of finding strength in softness and the importance of balancing yin and yang on “Cinderella.” Mac Miller gets away with more than two cheesy metaphors here, but the production saves him, as it does on several other spots on the album. Sure, these songs are good with their layered production and Mac Miller’s textured voice, but the entire project lacks in originality.

Travis Scott curates a storytelling cypher on “Birds in the Trap”

Maya Angelou wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” to heal the influences of her past through words and memory. Many in the African tradition of using folk-lore as a means of reflection call this “sankofa,” or the practice of “return and fetch it.” Just as Angelou chronicled her life of living with her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas (though she was born in St.

Discord dominates on Blood Orange’s excellent “Freetown Sound”

Hip hop and R&B has grown increasingly self-conscious over the last few years. On “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Kendrick Lamar dropped fiery verses about oppression and his rise to fame in “King Kunta.” Beyoncé sang about the struggles of black women on “Lemonade.” Dev Hynes’ latest Blood Orange album, “Freetown Sound,” is no exception as it tackles blackness, sexuality, Christianity and his African roots.

Flume and friends make “Skin” deep

Music is all about collaboration, but Harley Streten (aka Flume) has taken the concept to a whole new level. For his upcoming album, “Skin,” due out May 27 via Future Classic, the 24-year-old Australian producer brings in many friends, new and old, to flush out his already expansive electronica songs.

Love laden “Fallen Angels” is Dylan at his most giving

Everyone gets nostalgic, even Bob Dylan. “Fallen Angels,” due out May 20 on Columbia Records, is one of the enigmatic songwriter’s most wistful albums to date, next to last year’s “Shadows in the Night.” Both records find Dylan reliving his youth by covering a handful of traditional pop standards; each written by the likes of Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, and Jimmy Van Heusen, but all notably performed by one of Dylan’s early idols, Frank Sinatra.

“A Moon Shaped Pool” is the break-up album only Radiohead could make

Radiohead has just cut its most wounded album to date. And that's coming from a band that once sang "I'll take a quiet life / A handshake of carbon monoxide / No alarms and no surprises." The thing about "A Moon Shaped Pool," the ninth album from the increasingly proggy five-piece from Oxfordshire, England, is that unlike the sunny strings of "No Surprises," there isn't so much as a polite smile here to distract from the band's crumbling state of mind.

White Lung’s “Paradise” signals shape of punk to come

White Lung may hail from Vancouver, Canada, but Los Angeles has molded the punk band’s adventurous new album, “Paradise,” into something entirely unique. Producer Lars Stalfors, who’s worked with some of LA’s most progressive artists (HEALTH, Chelsea Wolfe) and poppiest rock ’n‘ rollers (Deap Vally, Cold War Kids), brings little touchstones of the city’s diverse sounds to White Lung’s otherwise brutal punk, making this effort more expansive in its sonic range and, at times, more approachable.