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New Music Friday: ABBA, The Pop Group, Snail Mail & Rich Brian

ABBA and Snail Mail take us into the weekend with some great new music Friday albums.

ABBA Voyage, The Pop Group, Snail Mail and Rich Brian Albums

Music critics put their misguided hatred of ABBA on display this week and it clearly demonstrated the widening gap between those of us who find new music on social media platforms like Instagram, and TikTok — and those who make a living telling consumers what to buy.

As a college student with limited financial resources (I also work) and someone with generous parents who pay for my access to Spotify, TIDAL, and Netflix — I have to rely on streaming for my music. I left my records at home and I’m the proud owner of a pair of Audeze LCD-1 headphones that are a godsend as I sit in the library and study well into the evening.

Music critics don’t get it. They really don’t understand my generation at all.

We don’t all worship at the altar of Drake, Travis Scott, or Lady Gaga. It’s almost hard to believe that they think none of us born after 9-11 grew up listening to ABBA, Air Supply (who just put on a killer show in Red Bank, New Jersey), or even Journey.

ABBA: Voyage
(Polar Music International AB, Qobuz, 24-bit/96kHz)

Buy at Amazon

More than 40 years have passed since ABBA officially broke up; their marriages crumbled as well during the process and it seemed very unlikely that the Swedish pop stars whose gorgeous anthems became the backdrop to wonderful films like Muriel’s Wedding, and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert — would ever share the same dressing room again, let alone record new music together. But then a pandemic struck the planet and something positive had to come out of it.

“Don’t Shut Me Down” is the highlight of the 10 tracks and it brings everything that people love about ABBA full circle; all of those heavenly harmonies and that endless energy that makes you want to dance around the room and forget about how awful the world is. The album could have been recorded in the 1970s and one would never know. ABBA makes me smile and want to cry at the same time because they love making music that brings joy versus endless bickering and cynicism.

The Pop Group: Y in Dub
(Dennis Bovell Dub version)(Mute, 16-bit/44.1kHz)

Buy at Amazon

Y in Dub is currently available on Qobuz and Spotify but the official release is not until January 22nd, 2022. The British punk band were part of the first wave to come out of the U.K. — even though they were not solidly in the punk category at all. Their music has always been an aggressive mix of dub, funk, free jazz, and elements of punk rock. Their debut album, 1979’s Y, was a bold, cathartic work that was very influential in both the punk world and beyond.

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This new version features the same heavy bass lines and chaos that made the original release so satisfying — with added layers of information and a more forward sounding presentation.

Snail Mail: Valentine
(Matador, Qobuz, 24-bit/96kHz)

Buy at Amazon

Lindsey Jordan (AKA Snail Mail) has a lot of pent up angst and regret that comes across loud and clear on her second studio album. I don’t want to draw too many comparisons to Soccer Mom but the similarities are definitely there on “Headlock” which is an admission of time spent in rehab and how close she came to a really bad ending.

Jordan risks sounding like too many other singer/songwriters in the pop category and one can only hope that she can figure out how to put some artistic distance between herself and the rest of the pack — she’s not a bad songwriter at all. The clicky drums are pervasive throughout but the overall production is quite clean and it’s definitely worth a listen.

Rich Brian: New Tooth
(88Rising – Warner Records, Qobuz, 24-bit/96kHz)

Buy at Amazon

Indonesian rapper and social media personality, Rich Brian, has had a very busy 5 years working with a long list of rap heavyweights like RZA, Keith Ape, Macklemore, and Ghostface Killah. Brian taught himself English watching rap videos in his homeland before taking the plunge and after a successful string of Billboard 200 hits, he went back into the studio working on tracks for his forthcoming album. “New Tooth” has an old school heavy beat and he’s proven once again that he can string some solid songwriting together.

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