In the rearview is 2016—and we won’t really miss it. We’re counting down the new releases you shouldn’t have missed; the platters that easily got us through it. Here’s the first installation of our favorites spun.
10. A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service (Epic) + Kristin Hersh, Wyatt at the Coyote Palace (Omnibus) Writing about records can be a tug of war between the excitement of expectation and emotional detachment; one wishes to avoid foaming at the mouth like a raving fanboy and conversely, emanating the disinterest of a robot. The leadup to the release of We got it from Here was accompanied with hopes of a great album tamped down by the knowledge that most comebacks bring disappointment. Inside: hopes for an odds-defying success. Outside: the demeanor of a drone.
A Tribe Called Quest pulled it off with flying colors, and with a high number of guest spots, a tactic that’s always cause for nervousness. But instead of making up for a lack of substance, the contributions underscore Tribe’s sheer impact over the years, with none of the visitors impeding the smooth eclecticism of the record’s progress; the best are Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar. Plus, Tribe packs a ton of engaging sonics and sturdy word flow into a solid and digestible hour, so there’s no worries in terms of content. All this and standout “Lost Somebody” samples Can’s “Halleluhwah.” Jeepers.
Wyatt at the Coyote Palace isn’t a comeback album, but akin to We got it from Here it offers an artistic vision having emerged from the 1980s that perseveres in the present day; that both albums are completely disinterested in hopping on any nostalgia trains is a major component in their triumphs. Throwing Muses has been fitfully active over the years, but Wyatt is a deeply personal collection, recorded entirely by Hersh and accompanied with a book of her (very good) writing. The whole fully embraces its solo nature.
Likewise, it turns its 82-minute running time into a major trait. If Tribe’s return benefits from a relative measure of conciseness, Wyatt gains strength from what in lesser hands would be unwieldiness or sprawl, with the results reminiscent of catching up with an old friend who’s achieved and endured much in their absence. Said friend has a whole lot to share, and just happens to write, sing, and play guitar like a champ.