Starting out with a slice of guitar nirvana as Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis joins Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and his band for a trip through the early instrumental Fleetwood Mac jam “Albatross,” a highlight of the period before Stevie and Lindsay joined the band and helped launch them to worldwide fame, Just Tell Me That You Want Me hits all the marks as a tribute album. Ubercool artists are called upon to tackle an intimidating catalog full of both iconic songs and gems buried beneath those tall trees. Antony takes a done-to-death cover with “Landslide” and somehow breathes new life into it with his quivering shivery croon. Up-and-coming singer Trixey Whitley puts on an extraordinary performance of Peter Green’s “Before the Beginning,” while Best Coast provides not her cover of “Storms” — that honor goes to Matt Sweeney and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, who put their own Appalachian spin on the Stevie Nicks torch song — but instead inverts the darkness of “Rhiannon” and makes it into a jaunty, piano-led singalong. Artists like Washed Out, MGMT and especially Tame Impala infuse Mac classics with psychedelic eletronics, and the collection also excels by its possibility of introducing bands who more obviously follow in Fleetwood Mac’s footsteps to fans of Fleetwood Mac, especially L.A. darlings Best Coast and Haim. Just Tell Me That You Want Me succeeds by taking a few chances while staying true to the band it covers.
Dead Can Dance – Anastasis
Dead Can Dance’s music is one of high concept, sewing various world musics across centuries into its black cape of 4AD goth glory. So given the duo of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard haven’t released an album since 1996’s Spiritchaser, and the demise of their relationship as lovers, it seems only fitting to hear Anastis (Greek for “resurrection”) in terms of the band as a concept. The death march drums and elegiac stringed instrument that open “Kiko” give way to a powerful, mournful vocal from Gerrard. Similarly, “Anabasis” moves on the sound of relentless, clanging percussion and unsettling melodic lines that rise to a climactic cry from Gerrard, but it’s also a perfect example of DCD’s ability to appeal both to world music and underground rock fans — both goth and gothic, if you will — as its synths blend with stringed instruments that predate the use of electricity, and its melodies would sound perfectly fitting played on electric guitars. However, despite the music’s usual grimness, there’s also that sense of revival hinted at by the title, and it comes through on tracks like opener “Children of the Sun,” which builds an expansive chamber sound on which Perry intones “We are the children of the sun/Our journey’s just begun.” Perry has said Anastasis is the beginning of a new era for the band, which will continue with a “regeneration” period; if Anastasis is the sound of death, it is one draped in the most beautiful attire and stately ceremony.
2 Chainz – Based on a T.R.U.Story
The onetime Playaz Circle rapper formerly known as Tity Boy knows he’s no youngin. The MC went through a number of difficulties before breaking through with Playaz Circle’s “Duffle Bag,” which featured then rising star Lil Wayne, and now sees his own star rising at the age of 35 following a string of successful guest spots. His solo debut bears these past experiences but doesn’t force itself on its listeners with excessive boasting or self-seriousness; rather, Based on a T.R.U. Story is excellently executed and a lot of fun. “Birthday Song,” featuring Kanye West, gets by on the line “All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho.” All of the guest spots are heavy hitters (save for up-and-comer Cap1) who bring something to the table, from The-Dream’s lushness on “Extremely Blessed” to Nicki Minaj, who comically saves the otherwise repetetive “I Love Dem Strippers,” even if she rehashes in part “Beez in the Trap,” on which 2 Chainz previously guested. 2 Chainz’ flow is dynamic throughout, occasionally breaking into faster passages, as on the awesomely strange “Dope Peddler,” though he usually keeps things mellow, favoring economic phrases and quick jokes, perhaps most effectively on “No Lie,” rapping over creepy theramin and sparkling synths before Drake takes over and lends the song his trademark singing-into-rapping style. By playing it cool, surrounding himself with equal talent and not overreaching, 2 Chainz creates a highly effective debut that establishes him not just as a righthand-man rapper but a skillful creator of a consistent hip-hop album.