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Rewinding June | The Best Grooves

From Avicii to Prince, here are the albums I enjoyed most.

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Sure, you want the funk. You need the funk. You gotta have the funk. But some rap, R&B, soul and dance-pop never hurt. Here are June’s finest, freakiest and funkiest releases in alphabetical order. Just click on the cover picture to find the original review page (where you can usually listen to the album in full):


Avicii
Tim

Dance music is seldom a matter of life and death. Unless it’s the posthumous third disc by groundbreaking Swedish EDM DJ Tim (Avicii) Bergling, who committed suicide in 2018. Completed by friends, admirers and collaborators like Coldlplay’s Chris Martin, Aloe Blacc and Imagine Dragons, these cuts deliver plenty of depth — chiefly due to the lyrics behind songs like Peace of Mind, Heaven, SOS, Freak and Heart Upon My Sleeve. You can dance if you want to, but you should also spin it while sitting still.


Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
Bandana

It’s MadGibbs to the second power. For their sophomore set, gruff gangster-rapper Freddie Gibbs and experimental DJ-producer Madlib return with a stem-to-stern stunner. Deftly and defiantly sidestepping the sophomore slump, this brilliant meeting of the minds perfectly balances Gibbs’ streetwise rhymes and raspy, laid-back menace with Madlib’s envelope-pushing sonics and eccentric soundscapes.


Madonna
Madame X

Ay yi yi. Or to put it another way: Bitch, she’s loca. Madonna’s 14th album isn’t just her latest stylistic shift: It’s one of her flat-out loopiest releases. Birthed in Lisbon, Madame X inhabits a moody netherworld of sultry grooves, minimalist arrangements and Spanglish lyrics. But the real X factors are its eccentric touches: Vocorders and tablas and reggaeton, oh my. At one point, Madge assures us “I don’t smoke that dope.” Thank your lucky stars; one can only imagine how nutso Madame X would be if she were high.


Georgia Anne Muldrow
Vweto II

There are no words. Nor does she need any. Eternally restless musical multi-hyphenate Muldrow’s 18th album is also her second set of eccentric, eclectic and generally mind-expanding instrumental grooves. The perfect soundtrack for any activity where you don’t need or want to be distracted by lyrics, this is a journey to the outer reaches of your inner being. Open your ears.


Prince
Originals

A better title: Do Me, Baby. The latest archival offering from the late, great musical genius formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince collects previously unreleased demo versions of famous songs written for or covered by other artists. Some are identical to the more famous versions; others are slightly retooled. Either way, you’ll find few things compare to Prince’s first drafts.