NowStreaming: P!NK / Prophets of Rage / St. Vincent

P!NK / Beautiful Trauma

Mike Wood

Yes, we still use the exclamation point rather than the “i” when we spell her name. That’s what 17 years of respect looks like, because P!nk is not just a color or a word: She is a force. And, as usual, P!nk pulls no punches and makes no apologies with her latest album Beautiful Trauma.

By now, we’ve all heard her hit “What About Us” in its heavy radio rotation, and while we might not find many other radio-ready singles on the album, we do hear powerful songs that give voice to her struggles, beginning with the first track, “Beautiful Trauma,” where P!nk puts truth first and foremost. Next up is her duet with Eminem, “Revenge,” a catchy, vindictive rap-off between straying partners who lay verbal punches with aplomb. P!nk also reunites with Swedish pop mix master Max Martin for a few songs, including the pungent “Whatever You Want.”

Throughout the album, P!nk balances brazen bad girl with sexy, confident chanteuse, and whether she tells us she likes “whiskey on ice” (“Secrets”) or that she’s “… got a feeling we got this wrong” (“Where We Go”), we believe her. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that she’s an amazing vocalist who belts for the rafters, especially on “You Get My Love,” where she promises to stand by her man no matter what troubles come their way. P!nk recognizes that beauty can exist in trauma (not just her album’s title) and it’s profound, because when we really listen, we really do believe her.

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Prophets of Rage / Prophets of Rage

Jason Savio

If you think the world has become even more messed up and just plain despicable as of late, you’re not alone. On the band’s first full-length effort, Prophets of Rage shares your anger.

These aren’t the guys from Rage Against the Machine trying to be something different. As the name suggests, it is a continuation of the anti-establishment ferocity that the once-groundbreaking band owned so well. This time around, Chuck D, of Public Enemy, and B Real, of Cypress Hill, share vocal duties, replacing original Rage singer Zack de la Rocha, hence the change of band name. But the fire we all know so well from those ’90s days is still intact, albeit with a slightly different swagger.

Nothing is off limits here, from racists and spying drones to legalizing weed and everything in between. Chuck D and B Real carry the torch that Zack lit and make sure it continues to burn brightly with bold lyrics that challenge the listener and act as a war cry. “The government can’t stand when the people take a stand/Mind over matter/In their minds we don’t matter,” sings B Real in “Who Owns Who.” Chuck D and B Real do a stellar job on vocals and rarely hide behind any metaphors or symbolism in their words. This is not time for hiding, they suggest.

Add to this the unmistakable guitar hula-hoops of Tom Morello and the pounding Rage rhythm section, and you have exactly what we need back in music today: fighting spirit.

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St. Vincent / Masseduction

Jennifer Russo

I have to hand it to Annie Clark. In her fifth album under her stage name, St. Vincent, you can hear her musical prowess shine through in bigger ways than in previous albums. Not that those albums weren’t gorgeous, but this one seems to be a cut above the rest. This might be one of my favorite album releases this year. It is downright complicated and risky, blending pop with jazz and dance music. It’s impressive, to say the very least, and stands apart as unique.

The album begins with “Hang on Me,” which has an Alanis Morissette kind of edge, with a droning, distorted and minimalistic instrumental behind it. The song really highlights the vocal range Clark has. This is followed by “Pills,” a really fun little jam, and the title song “Masseduction,” which I found had a Prince-like flair that I really got into. I also really liked the song “Happy Birthday, Johnny” – which I assume by the lyrics is about a family member that she has somehow lost some relationship with, either physically or emotionally.

The heart-wrenching “New York” is backed by a sped-up heartbeat rhythm and has some stunning harmonies as it tells the story of losing a soulmate. “Fear the Future” was so damn catchy, with some unexpected and interesting percussion, a great story and vocals driving like an arrow right into their target. “Smoking Seduction” was excellent in its super low-key simplicity, with desperation and denial clearly coming through in every note.

There is that certain something which defines a true artist. Something that resonates around them like an aura, shining into every one of their songs in such a way that it defines them completely. Annie Clark undeniably has that something.

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