Critical Circuit | May 18, 2023 (Jonas Brothers, Bailey Zimmerman, Hot Mulligan, Billy Woods & Kenny Segal)

Jonas Brothers – The Album

I grew up with Disney Channel, I watched the Hannah Montana 3-D concert with special guest the Jonas Brothers. Sure, plenty of that music has not aged gracefully, but I would be lying if I didn’t think some of their older hits were still incredibly catchy. Fast-forward to today and they are now onto their second album since reuniting in 2019. Outside of some overplayed singles, I have mostly forgotten their last record and sadly The Album is not much better. The group tapped Jon Bellion to take over on production and he certainly makes his brand of pop heard. These songs all breezy like on any good summer album, but any defining sound this band had is gone. This might as well be an AJR album, which is not what anyone wanted from the Jonas Brothers. That being said, there are still a few catchy moments that I can’t help bopping along too like “Montana Sky” or “Sail Away.” But even at just 33 minutes, I never got on board with this and it is a shame this group couldn’t aspire for something a little more adventurous.

Rating: C-

Bailey Zimmerman – Religiously. The Album

For anyone who is not into what’s playing on country radio, Bailey Zimmerman is a young singer-songwriter that Nashville has been trying to push as a newer, less problematic version of Morgan Wallen. This is really a shame too, since Zimmerman is honestly one of the best voices in mainstream country right now. Singles like “Fall in Love” and “Rock and A Hard Place” are very solid which made me excited to see what he would do on his debut. Thankfully, this record is not bad, with some pretty clean production, a decent bit of a rock edge, and some strong vocal performances. 16 songs is absolutely too much, especially when nearly every song is about lost love, but nearly every song works on its own. Fans of country would be smart to check this now and start loading up their summer playlists now because this deserves to stay in rotation. 

Rating: B-

Hot Mulligan – Why Would I Watch

A few times a year an emo band will come into my life at the right time and take over all the time I should spend listening to other albums. This week, Hot Mulligan became the band that I have completely fallen in love with. Yeah, they sound a lot like the Wonder Years, but so does Spanish Love Songs and they put out the best album of the decade so far. Everything I want in a high-energy punk release is here. Screaming vocals from someone who probably shouldn’t be a singer, overdramatic lyrics, crushing riffs, etc. And those song titles are as obnoxious as they are hilarious to me. I know plenty of people will find this grating or redundant but there is a very real charm to Hot Mulligan that elevates them from their peers and its why I’ve been going through their discography excessively for the last five days.

Rating: A-

Billy Woods & Kenny Segal – Maps

I had to take an extra week with this album to really take it all in. I have never gotten too deep into Billy Woods’ work but the praise this record was getting made me more interested. That acclaim is absolutely justified as Maps is easily one of 2023’s best hip-hop releases. Woods’ storytelling is top notch, painting vivid images of tour life packed with anxiety and humor. Kenny Segal’s production keeps these short tracks feeling memorable by complimenting the stories Woods is telling with jazzy embellishments. This whole album is able to accomplish so much with so little and anyone open to underground hip-hop will be looking at this as a potential classic in the genre.

Rating: A-

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