BabyTron, "Paul Bearer"
There are several high points on the album "Bin Reaper 2" — one of three very good sets that BabyTron released in 2021 — including "Frankenstein" and the disco-esque "Pimp My Ride." But "Paul Bearer" might be the best. BabyTron is a casually talky rapper from Michigan, and in keeping with the recent rap scene there, he's a hilarious absurdist, flexible with syllables and also images: "Point it at his toes, turn his Yeezys into Foam Runners," "High as hell on the roof, dripping like a broke gutter."
JON CARAMANICA, New York Times
Billy Joel, "The Vinyl Collection, Vol. 1" (Sony/Legacy)
For an ardent fan of the Piano Man, this nine-LP box features the previously unreleased "Live at the Great American Music Hall," a 1975 Joel concert at a 500-seat San Francisco club. Because his career didn't really ignite until 1977's hits-fueled album "The Stranger," it's a welcome look at a talented young artist still finding his feet, creatively and commercially. This collection also includes the previously released live LP "Songs in the Attic" from 1981. That was a year after Joel's "Glass Houses" album, which is curiously missing here. The rest of this handsomely packaged set is devoted to his first six studio albums, with no alternate versions or outtakes.
GEORGE VARGA, San Diego Union-Tribune
Caetano Veloso, "Anjos Tronchos"
Recorded during the pandemic, "Meu Coco" ("My Head") is the first full album on which the great Brazilian musician wrote all the songs without collaborators. "Anjos Tronchos" ("Twisted Angels") is musically sparse; for much of it, Veloso's graceful melody is accompanied only by a lone electric rhythm guitar. But its scope is large; the "twisted angels" are from Silicon Valley, and he's singing about the power of the internet to addict, to sell and to control, but also to delight and to spread ideas. "Neurons of mine move in a new rhythm/ And more and more and more and more and more," he sings, with fascination and dread.
JON PARELES, New York Times
- The Weeknd, "Dawn FM"