Megan Thee Stallion, “Good News” (330)
Good news abounds for the Texas rapper. Beyond last week’s four Grammy nominations including best new artist and record of the year (for “Savage” featuring Beyoncé), she has succeeded here at something that’s often elusive: Living up to the outsized expectations she set for herself when she first emerged as a brazen, bountifully talented new voice in 2019. She made splashes with “Hot Girl Summer” and this year’s lusty collaboration with Cardi B. on “WAP” as well as a New York Times op-ed about Black women.
Though last year’s full-length mixtape “Fever” was a well thought out, full-length piece of work, “Good News” is a breakthrough debut that refines Meg’s technique and displays mastery on the mic. Her charisma and wit energize the self-confident burner “Savage Remix” featuring Beyoncé, the gender-flipping “Girls in the Hood” and the irresistibly bumping “Body,” on which Meg makes a “Tiger King” pun, suggesting her male fans have survived quarantine by spending time alone with pictures of her.
Dan Deluca, Philadelphia Inquirer
The Dirty Knobs, “Wreckless Abandon” (BMG)
“Wreckless Abandon” begins with the title song, the kind of ringing, midtempo rocker that singer-writer Mike Campbell, Tom Petty’s longtime collaborator, could probably compose in his sleep. Fortunately, the ace guitarist is not working on autopilot here, even if this debut album by his side project doesn’t break any new ground.
The Dirty Knobs move with easy command from the Stonesy riff-rocking of “Pistol Packin’ Mamas” (with Chris Stapleton contributing vocals) and “Aw Honey” to the heavy blues-rock of “Don’t Wait” and the punkish snarl of “Loaded Gun.” The acoustic-textured “Irish Girl” and “Anna Lee,” with their folkish lilt, offer a change of pace musically and emotionally as Campbell reveals a softer and more poetic side. On all these originals, the Dirty Knobs skillfully re-energize tried-and-true forms.
Nick Cristiano, Philadelphia Inquirer
• Shawn Mendes, “Wonder”
• Sigur Ros, “Odin’s Raven Magic”
• Yungblud, “Weird”
• Calexico, “Seasonal Shift”