If Bunny Wailer had any regret about leaving the Wailers just before their international fame under Bob Marley, you won’t find it on his solo work. 1981′s Sings the Wailers reinterprets tracks from his old band’s early days in a spit-shined, minimal style whose empty space makes it slightly eerie but whose quick tempos and brick-dumb pop hooks make it the best beach party soundtrack you could ask for. And if you still think all reggae sounds the same, try listening to this next to his debut, Blackheart Man.
The bad news is that Folklore wasn’t the practice run for the re-recordings of her old catalog that Taylor Swift had promised for years. The good news is that Fearless (Taylor’s Version) sounds just a little better than the thinly produced but stunningly written 2008 original—and her now-31-year-old voice makes the contrast between her protagonists’ fantasies and the writer’s knowledge that love isn’t always a fairy tale even more delicious.
“I ain’t moving to L.A., I play where I stay,” announces Karma Rivera on her “Kissy Face Freestyle.” Good for her. She’s one of the best rappers in Portland, comfortable over trap hi-hats or the midtempo lope of reggaeton. She can sing, too, an invaluable asset in a climate where being able to do both can make you a serious commercial threat. But “Kissy Face Freestyle” is all wolf trap-tight bars, delivered over a beat that sounds like Bambi running around in terror.
This one will be a pain in the ass to recommend. If you say it’s “μ-Ziq” (pronounced “music”), people will get confused and then judge you for listening to an artist with such a pretentious name. If you say it’s “Mike Paradinas” they won’t be able to find it on Spotify. But play even 10 seconds of 1997′s Lunatic Harness for someone sympathetic to ambient electronic music and watch as their eyes light up with video game colors. This is an album whose beats hit as hard as its synths and strings jerk tears.