Migos, Speedy Ortiz, Iasos: Critic’s Notebook

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Atlanta rap crew Migos. (Courtesy of the artist)

Atlanta rap crew Migos. (Courtesy of the artist)

Migos

Whether you’re brainstorming a brand name in Silicon Valley, crafting a punchline for a Pixar cartoon, or penning the refrain of a rap song, the same standard applies: It won’t be a hit if it isn’t fun to say.

Migos, a trio of young Atlanta rappers, demonstrate a keen understanding of this principle with “Versace,” a three-minute breakout single where the word “Versace” is uttered a brilliantly baffling 158 times. On a remix featuring Drake, the numbers rise. So if you don’t want the name of a distinguished Italian fashion house bouncing around your skull like a rubber-dipped Soulja Boy hook, stay away from these guys.

Only, don’t stay away from these guys. On Migos’ twitchy new mixtape, “Y.R.N.,” their flow is pure anti-flow, with rappers Offset, Quavo and TakeOff jamming syllables into places where they aren’t supposed to be. Their stuttery delivery makes their stale subject matter – navigating street life in designer fashions – feel demented, fresh and infectious.

Everybody, now: “Versace-Versace, Versace, Versace-Versace…”

Speedy Ortiz

This Massachusetts band’s forthcoming album, “Major Arcana,” isn’t a throwback to the ’90s – it’s a throwback to the summer of 1995, a season when alterna-rock greats Helium, Hazel and That Dog were celebrating their finest hours.

The band has chops, but singer-guitarist-poetry-student Sadie Dupuis is the one that keeps these ten songs from spiraling off into the usual nod-off-apalooza nostalgia trip. Her lyrics feel like weird jokes and smudged diary entries, liberally spouted over guitar riffs that threaten to derail into discordance, then self-correct in smog-blooms of distortion.

Iasos

Chicago’s Numero Group continues to secure its reputation as the National Geographic of record labels, leaving no sonic stones unturned, no worthy slabs of obscure vinyl un-reissued.

The label has found its latest gem in Iasos, a pioneering California-based composer who helped define new age music in the ’70s, before it floated from its sincere and spiritual roots to America’s massage tables. “Celestial Soul Portrait” collects some of Iasos’s earliest, most ear-caressing compostions, providing an enlightening crash course in exceedingly gentle music.

Also on Style Blog

Royal baby watchers ramp up on Princess Diana's would-be 52nd Birthday