Midland – Ready to Roll review: Low on any authenticity – Evening Standard

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Your guide to what’s hot in London

You know that Bo Burnham sketch about country music? The one that parodies its platitudes, and jokes that much of it is written by multi-millionaires in private jets who’ve never driven the pick-up trucks they proclaim to venerate and instead harness these tropes to cynically purchase mass-market appeal?  Watch it on YouTube to give some context to Texan country outfit Midland’s new album, Ready To Roll, which is big on twanging guitar, deep Southern snarls and uses of the word “baby”, and feels low on any authenticity. 

The main problem is that while good country music tells an evocative, coherent folksy tale in three to four minutes, Midland’s efforts are quite baffling: a collection of images that don’t amount to a story you can really believe in.  Ready to Roll just feels an exercise in ticking off the tropes: an adulterous girlfriend (in Cheatin’ Songs), a good-time guy in Mr Lonely, something about a long car/truck journey (Fourteen Gears was too inpenetrable to say for sure). It goes through many of the motions but feels heartless.  


10 must-hear albums arriving in 2019


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1/10 Cardi B — TBA

2018 was a big year for Cardi B.

She had already conquered the world with her ubiquitous single Bodak Yellow in 2017, and compounded that dominance with her excellent debut, Invasion of Privacy, this year. Striking while the iron is white hot, the rapper is looking to release a full-length follow-up this year. In an Instragram Live video on New Year’s Day, she said “of course there’s going to be an album in 2019,” adding that she hopes to get it “done around the same time that Invasion of Privacy came out.” Mark your calendars for April, then. (Release date TBA)

Getty Images For dcp

2/10 Vampire Weekend — TBA

Indie darlings Vampire Weekend are returning for their first album since 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City this year, with Ezra Koenig and co set to release their fourth LP. It’s the first album since multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij left the group, and their first since leaving XL Records for Sony in 2016. The band excited fans by revealing five news songs at Lollapalooza back in August, with Koenig telling the crowd that the new album was “done”.

Watch this space. (Release date TBA) Getty Images

3/10 Ariana Grande — thank u, next

After being announced as Coachella headliner, Ariana Grande is set to confirm her pop dominance by releasing a new album, named after the irresistible single thank u, next. Grande only released the critically acclaimed album Sweetener in August, but the singer isn’t wasting any time after hinting that it won’t be long until fans hear new material. “i love music i ain’t waiting another 2 years to drop it [sic]” she wrote on Twitter back in October.

2018 was a remarkable year for Ariana, but 2019 already looks set to be even bigger. (Release date TBA) Getty Images for iHeartMedia

4/10 The 1975 — Notes On A Conditional Form

The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships was a hit with fans and critics alike back in November, and the band are gearing up another release sooner than you might think. Notes On A Conditional Form, the second instalment of the band’s so-called Music for Cars series, was in fact due to be released at the end of last year.

However, the band’s manager Jamie Oborne later confirmed on Twitter that the album, described by singer Matt Healy as a “nighttime record”, was to be pushed back until 2019. Fans can expect to hear the album by June, with the first single expected by February. (Release date TBA) AFP/Getty Images

5/10 Lana Del Rey — Norman F****** Rockwell

Lana Del Rey was hard at work on the follow up to 2017’s Lust For Life last year, and revealed that the album is complete in a hastily-deleted Instagram post.

The album, seemingly titled Norman F****** Rockwell, is expected to be with fans soon, after the tracks Mariners Apartment Complex and Venice B**** were released last year. The project has been developed with producer Jack Antonoff, known for his career with Bleachers and production work on Taylor Swift albums 1984 and Reputation, as well as Lorde’s Melodrama and St Vincent’s Masseduction. (Release date TBA) Getty Images

6/10 AJ Tracey — AJ Tracey

One of grime’s most promising young stars is set for a big year in 2019, with AJ Tracey releasing his self-titled full-length debut album on February 8.

Tracey has emerged as an MC to watch following a string of promising EPs and earned international recognition after Drake gave a shout out to his Dave duet Thiago Silva back in 2016. The upcoming album is set to be self-released, with the rapper still unsigned, and one of the most important grime records of the year. (February 8) Getty Images

7/10 My Bloody Valentine — TBA

Kevin Shields and co are never ones to rush.

Their enduring shoegaze masterpiece, Loveless, was recorded with excruciating precision over a two-year period between 1989 and 1991, and the follow-up, m b v, took no less than 21 years to emerge. Now, we’re playing another waiting game — in 2018, Shields teased two EPs, which then seemingly turned into two full albums. “In the next year, there will be about two new records”, he said at the time. Exciting news, but don’t hold your breath. (Release date TBA)

Getty Images

8/10 Madonna — TBA

The follow-up to Madonna’s last album, Rebel Heart, has been more than three years in the making and should finally be released in 2019. Speaking to WWD last October, the singer said: “I’m finishing my record, which I’m going to release next year.” It seems the new project will feature production from Mirwais, a longtime Madonna collaborator, but apart from that, we don’t know a great deal. Let’s hope she doesn’t leave fans hung up for too much longer. (Release date TBA)

Getty Images

9/10 Sleaford Mods — Eton Alive

Since the release of their breakthrough album, Divide and Exit, in 2014, Sleaford Mods have gained a legion of fans, drawn to their no-frills, subtly evolving beats and acerbic lyrical takedowns. Whether they mean it or not, the duo’s music is a reflection of the times we’re living in: grim, monotonous and peculiarly gripping. With the the shambolic current state of the nation, expect much of the same on their new release, Eton Alive. (February 22)

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

10/10 American Football — American Football (LP3)

The emo heroes return with their third full-length album, three years after their comeback and two decades after their game-changing debut. That first album explored Steve Reich-esque minimalism through delicate, interlocking guitars, while LP2 worked through the melancholy of middle age.

The first single off this new release, Silhouettes, combines both of those things across seven minutes of icy, shimmering crescendos. (March 22) Shervin Lainez

1/10 Cardi B — TBA

2018 was a big year for Cardi B. She had already conquered the world with her ubiquitous single Bodak Yellow in 2017, and compounded that dominance with her excellent debut, Invasion of Privacy, this year.

Striking while the iron is white hot, the rapper is looking to release a full-length follow-up this year. In an Instragram Live video on New Year’s Day, she said “of course there’s going to be an album in 2019,” adding that she hopes to get it “done around the same time that Invasion of Privacy came out.” Mark your calendars for April, then. (Release date TBA) Getty Images For dcp

2/10 Vampire Weekend — TBA

Indie darlings Vampire Weekend are returning for their first album since 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City this year, with Ezra Koenig and co set to release their fourth LP.

It’s the first album since multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij left the group, and their first since leaving XL Records for Sony in 2016. The band excited fans by revealing five news songs at Lollapalooza back in August, with Koenig telling the crowd that the new album was “done”. Watch this space. (Release date TBA)

Getty Images

3/10 Ariana Grande — thank u, next

After being announced as Coachella headliner, Ariana Grande is set to confirm her pop dominance by releasing a new album, named after the irresistible single thank u, next. Grande only released the critically acclaimed album Sweetener in August, but the singer isn’t wasting any time after hinting that it won’t be long until fans hear new material. “i love music i ain’t waiting another 2 years to drop it [sic]” she wrote on Twitter back in October.

2018 was a remarkable year for Ariana, but 2019 already looks set to be even bigger. (Release date TBA) Getty Images for iHeartMedia

4/10 The 1975 — Notes On A Conditional Form

The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships was a hit with fans and critics alike back in November, and the band are gearing up another release sooner than you might think.

Notes On A Conditional Form, the second instalment of the band’s so-called Music for Cars series, was in fact due to be released at the end of last year. However, the band’s manager Jamie Oborne later confirmed on Twitter that the album, described by singer Matt Healy as a “nighttime record”, was to be pushed back until 2019. Fans can expect to hear the album by June, with the first single expected by February. (Release date TBA)

AFP/Getty Images

5/10 Lana Del Rey — Norman F****** Rockwell

Lana Del Rey was hard at work on the follow up to 2017’s Lust For Life last year, and revealed that the album is complete in a hastily-deleted Instagram post. The album, seemingly titled Norman F****** Rockwell, is expected to be with fans soon, after the tracks Mariners Apartment Complex and Venice B**** were released last year. The project has been developed with producer Jack Antonoff, known for his career with Bleachers and production work on Taylor Swift albums 1984 and Reputation, as well as Lorde’s Melodrama and St Vincent’s Masseduction. (Release date TBA)

Getty Images

6/10 AJ Tracey — AJ Tracey

One of grime’s most promising young stars is set for a big year in 2019, with AJ Tracey releasing his self-titled full-length debut album on February 8. Tracey has emerged as an MC to watch following a string of promising EPs and earned international recognition after Drake gave a shout out to his Dave duet Thiago Silva back in 2016. The upcoming album is set to be self-released, with the rapper still unsigned, and one of the most important grime records of the year. (February 8)

Getty Images

7/10 My Bloody Valentine — TBA

Kevin Shields and co are never ones to rush. Their enduring shoegaze masterpiece, Loveless, was recorded with excruciating precision over a two-year period between 1989 and 1991, and the follow-up, m b v, took no less than 21 years to emerge. Now, we’re playing another waiting game — in 2018, Shields teased two EPs, which then seemingly turned into two full albums. “In the next year, there will be about two new records”, he said at the time.

Exciting news, but don’t hold your breath. (Release date TBA) Getty Images

8/10 Madonna — TBA

The follow-up to Madonna’s last album, Rebel Heart, has been more than three years in the making and should finally be released in 2019. Speaking to WWD last October, the singer said: “I’m finishing my record, which I’m going to release next year.” It seems the new project will feature production from Mirwais, a longtime Madonna collaborator, but apart from that, we don’t know a great deal.

Let’s hope she doesn’t leave fans hung up for too much longer. (Release date TBA) Getty Images

9/10 Sleaford Mods — Eton Alive

Since the release of their breakthrough album, Divide and Exit, in 2014, Sleaford Mods have gained a legion of fans, drawn to their no-frills, subtly evolving beats and acerbic lyrical takedowns. Whether they mean it or not, the duo’s music is a reflection of the times we’re living in: grim, monotonous and peculiarly gripping.

With the the shambolic current state of the nation, expect much of the same on their new release, Eton Alive. (February 22) Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

10/10 American Football — American Football (LP3)

The emo heroes return with their third full-length album, three years after their comeback and two decades after their game-changing debut.

That first album explored Steve Reich-esque minimalism through delicate, interlocking guitars, while LP2 worked through the melancholy of middle age.

The first single off this new release, Silhouettes, combines both of those things across seven minutes of icy, shimmering crescendos. (March 22)

Shervin Lainez

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