Welcome to the latest Paradise Found Records blog. This month we're reviewing our favorite music from the past few months.
Bo Burnham -- Inside
"Pandemic Art" as a genre did not existence before 2020, but by now there's no shortage of it. In keeping with the subject matter, Bo Burnham's latest Netflix special Inside is often painful to watch but still sets the standard for other pandemic-focused art. Burnham spent more than a year inside his shed writing songs, crafting comedy bits and growing increasingly despondent (and bearded) as his loneliness and frustration escalated. The soundtrack--currently available only via streaming--is insightful, hilarious and hits close to home for anyone that suffered through the lockdown. Whether he's spoofing social media ("White Woman's Instagram"), Amazon ("Jeffrey Bezos"), wokeness ("How the World Works") or other issues irrevocably altered by COVID-19, Inside is the sound of the past eighteen months. You'll laugh, you'll sing, you'll cry, sometimes all at the same time.
Billie Eilish -- Happier Than Ever
How do you follow-up being the first chart-topping artist born this century? If you're Billie Eilish, you make a record that moves toward a folkier, more alternative direction without completely abandoning the beats that got you there. Happier Than Ever is consistently strong, from the synth-heavy "Getting Older" through the folk of "Your Power" to the bass-heavy "NDA." If 2018's mega-platinum When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? showed an adolescent artist discovering her muse (with no small help from older brother Finneas), her second album shows her coming to grips with fame and adulthood without sacrificing any of her debut's freshness. Olivia Rodrigo may have usurped Eilish as the teen pop star du jour, but Happier Than Ever proves that Eilish has true staying power.
St. Vincent -- Daddy's Home
Annie Clark's seventh album as St. Vincent is her best yet. Inspired by her father's recent release from prison for white-collar crimes, Daddy's Home is a tribute to the blue-eyed "plastic soul" and classic rock of the seventies. Whether she's channeling Bowie on "Down and Out Downtown," Pink Floyd on "Live in the Dream" or Stevie Wonder on "...At The Holiday Party," Clark has created music that sounds both highly familiar and brand-new. Her electric sitar playing propels multiple tracks, most notably "Down," while she pays tribute to some of her favorite musical acts on "Melting of the Sun," which specifically calls out everyone from Nina Simone to Tori Amos. The end result is my favorite release thus far in 2021, even with its three pointless humming tracks and a Sheena Easton knock-off ("My Baby Wants a Baby").
Yola -- Stand for Myself
London's Yola (nee Yolanda Quarley) is an overnight sensation twenty years in the making. After struggling to make her mark as a backup singer, Yola moved to Nashville, where Black Keys front man and kindred Americana spirit Dan Auerbach discovered her and produced her breakthrough debut, 2019's Walk Through Fire. Auerbach has also produced this, her second album, but here he steers away from Americana and more towards R&B and pop with highly satisfying results, thanks in part to fellow Nashville songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan, who helped Yola punch up the hooks and elevate her songcraft. Stand for Myself should help Yola find the wider audience she so richly deserves.