Music » Albums

Aural Pleasure: Dan Deacon, José González And Drake

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Dan Deacon | Glass Riffer | Domino | ★★★★


The Lego Movie missed a clear opportunity by not getting Dan Deacon to soundtrack it. In Deacon, the producers had a fellow master builder, a mad sound scientist capable of layering unremarkable blocks into towering creations. His twistedly brilliant remix of "Call Me Maybe," which looped the a capella opening line nearly 150 times, might be the best example of his gift. But Deacon has always been best when building from his own box of blocks. For Gliss Riffer, his eighth release, he's assembled some of his best: break-time house beats, major key hooks, robot voices (so many robot voices). They don't always stack into masterpieces, but when things do come together, as on the dizzying surge of "When I Was Done Dying" to the carousel whirl "Learning to Relax," they showcase an electro-virtuoso at his cracked best. — J.D. Swerzenski

José González | Vestiges & Claws | Mute | ★★★


After two solo albums and another two with his folk rock band, Junip, it's not hard to predict the simple beauty one will get from José González. His fingerpicking on the acoustic guitar is eloquently frenetic; his vocals so gently and earnestly soothing. Yet it seems like he learns a couple new tricks every time he comes back from making an album with the band. This new album has a few more overdubs. "Which Will," a generational protest song in search of a protest, gets downright funky. "Afterglow" completely owns in 7/4 time. "Leaf Off/The Cave" is anthemic (though a tad overlong). With a new José González album, you seem to keep getting an increasingly better version of more of the same, and that certainly ain't a bad thing. — Anthony Dean Harris

Drake | If You're Reading This It's Too Late | Cash Money | ★★★


Aside from obvious reasons, it's a shame that New York Times business columnist David Carr passed away the day before Drake surprise-released his fourth album. The writer could have had a media theory field day on the relationship between the distribution and content of If You're Reading This It's Too Late, Drake's official middle finger to Cash Money Records. Normally, when major artists release an album without a hint of promotion, it's a shock and awe tactic to overwhelm audiences into actually purchasing music. But Drake's fourth is an obligational murmur, fulfilling his deal with the notoriously stingy Cash Money and siding with his mentor Lil Wayne in his dispute against the label. And since it's a contractual opt-out, we get to hear 68 minutes of Drake not caring about album sales, radio play or the aggregated pennies from streaming sites. He's still emotionally mobbin', sharing his lyrical brand with a Tootsie Pop — hard and lick-proof on the outside, soft on the inside. His homonym play is at an all-time high ("You was poppin' when Usher wore a U Chain / God damn you changed") and he finds disambiguation like a bored teen on Wikipedia. If You're Reading This is an exhibition game really, but when Drake launches a heat check, it's hard not to get as little-kid psyched as Drake is while watching the All Star game. — Matt Steib


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