A few standouts from last Tuesday’s new releases as well as a few I never had the chance to post about from previous months. Better late than never, right?
You+Me is the duo of P!nk and Dallas Green or City and Colour whichever you prefer. I don’t know about you guys, but individually I love both of these artists. I’ve long considered P!nk’s signature powerful vocals to be some of the best and most underpraised in pop music. City and Colour’s clean and concise delivery has made Dallas one of my favorite singer-songwriters over the years. Together they have created a noteworthy album that shows P!nk and Dallas Green harmonizing atop acoustic instrumentation. They find middle ground on a project that is soulful and calming with flashes of intensity.
Grace Mitchell is only 16 and much like Lorde who burst onto the scene at the same age, the Portland native is poised to make a name for herself. You may have heard of her through her contribution ("Maneater") to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack. I however had no prior knowledge of the songstress. The contrast of the red hair against the vibrant blue background was enough to spark my interest in the music. The four songs that comprise this indie pop EP are well worth the listen. The production is solid, the vocals are clean, the songwriting - poetic.
Jessie J has her critics, and they have their opinions about her and her third album, but I wasn’t about to listen to them. While her sophomore effort may have been a bit lackluster she’s recovered quite well with Sweet Talker. Jessie J is settled into her own brand of R&B/Pop. This album has something for anyone who partakes in the aforementioned genres. Jessie J’s voice takes center stage atop subtle instrumentation that builds with her soaring vocals on songs like "Fire". While album opener, "Ain’t Been Done" with its eventful tempo-shifting production is unique and radio ready.
Kindness is back with his sophomore effort, Otherness. This is probably going to end up being a Top 10 album for me by the year’s end. Kindness is certain of himself and his signature blend of Electro Pop, Soul and R&B on this album. He enlists the help of his fellow countrymen Robyn, Dev Hynes and Tawiah. As well as Kelela and award winning Ghanaian rapper, M.anifest. All of these artists contribute greatly to this project which is quite frankly, flawless.
We Were Promised Jetpacks are back with their third and best album yet.I don’t say that lightly, because their debut album was a favorite of mine. Their music in the past was never bland or lacking, but this is certainly their most robust effort yet. Unpredictable and exciting this album could project the UK rockers into superstardom.
Flyleaf makes its post-Lacey debut with their fourth studio album. I will love Lacey forever. She put her soul on display on every single song she ever recorded. As important as she was, I knew the remaining members of the band would be just fine. When Kristen May former lead vocalist for Vedera was announced as the person who would pick up where Lacey left off, I was relieved, Even more so relieved when I sat down and listened to this album. Kristen and the guys make no effort to produce a rehashed version of their previous work. Flyleaf moves forward incorporating intrinsic elements while adapting to make an album that is completely original and fearless. This band is in good hands.
TOKiMONSTA quickly follows up 2013’s Half Shadows with Desiderium. This 7 track album makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity. TOKi is in rare form and it shows. The Hip-Hop/Electronic producer weaves her way through these songs seamlessly producing some of her most memorable work to date including the first single, Realla featuring the fast rising Los Angeles native, Anderson Paak.
Jhene Aiko brings us Souled Out, an understated but emotional album. Jhene with her silky vocals tells clear and concise stories about unrequited love, heartbreak, loss, and enlightenment. I’ve heard critics say the album has no “hits”. I disagree, but the potential to register a bunch of radio plays is hardly what defines a good album. The lack of any uptempo tracks might turn some people away, but it’s a great listen with cohesive production. Above all, this album is lyrically superior.
Chris Brown draws the ire of many, but let’s talk about the music. X is easily Chris Brown’s best album ever. His growth and versatility is evident more now than ever. He flips it from certified club bangers like "Loyal" to more subtle tracks like the Kendrick Lamar assisted "Autumn Leaves". Mostly tackling the subjects of sex and love this is the R&B album you’ve been waiting for.
Gardens & Villa the Santa Barbara born Electro Indie Rock outfit keep a good thing going and improve upon it with Dunes. This album is more focused, more groovy, more robust than 2011’s self-titled album. From the dance worthy album opener, “Domino” to the subtle "Minnesota" this band continues to carve out their space within the genre.
All music available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Spotify
This isn’t even a music video, but because it’s FKA twigs, we’ll post it anyway. In an advertisement for Google Glass, the eccentric songstress, soundtracked by her LP1 track ‘Video Girl’ and ‘Glass & Patron’, the singer/dancer/producer demonstrates the product as she calls upon references and inspirations as well as incorporating the device into the actual filming. As always, twigs is all hands on as she herself, directed the clip. Watch above, as twigs is joined by some stunning gymnasts and dancers.
Tawiah - Candy Rain (Soul For Real Cover)
I don’t know what’s in the water over there, but it seems I can’t go a day without coming across another artist from the UK that is simply incredible. I would love to live there for a few months (or a year) at some point in my life and latch on to the creative energy that is obviously clouding the air.
"What Have I Done With My Life?!"
Some Time In December, 1987