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Sound Check

12/17/2014

Nicki Minaj

“The Pinkprint”

Republic

 

Nicki Minaj is like a vaguely easier to palate Lil’ Kim with better marketing and a less dirty past. As popNicki Minaj music goes, it is OK, and there is an obvious reason why she is popular if you are into that kind of thing. It is never going to be my go-to kind of jam, but when it comes to Minaj’s most recent offering, I’m more of a “Pills and Potions” over “Anaconda” kind of guy, and here is why: What you don’t hear on the radio is the Nicki Minaj worth listening to. She has a lovely singing voice, and this latest album is riddled with interesting arrangements. But somewhere along the line someone convinced her that doesn’t sell albums. So, even though she frequently seems to put her raunchiest foot forward, you can, in fact, find redeemable material on “The Pinkprint.” The question is, how many people will put in the effort to find it? CV

HIV

 

The Maw

Self-titled

Independent

 

It is only four tracks long, but the self-titled, self-released EP from the Des Moines-based prog-metal The Mawfour-piece The Maw might just be one of the most important local releases of the decade thus far. Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Erik Brown and guitarist Forrest Lonefight are the most prominent portions of most of the tracks, with Brown in particular supplying a level of intense musical dexterity that elevates the tracks to rarefied air. But the most important pieces of the Maw’s puzzle are on the low end. Drummer Shane Mills and bassist Jeff Stone may not be the best in the city at their respective instruments (though if not, they’d at least be in the picture), but the two are so smart, so musically creative and so weird that they give the songs extra dimensions and help make The Maw into arguably the single-most thought-provoking band in the state. CV

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