Sunday, January 18, 2015

2005 in Music: 50 Cent - The Massacre

Perhaps, more known for its big sales rather than a solid entry into the hip-hop cannon... and of course, "Candy Shop." 50 Cent's sophomore album was probably more unadulterated fun than intelligent (like say, Kanye's masterpiece Late Registration). But simplicity and a lack of depth, doesn't necessarily cease the enjoyment of this overlong album--my biggest hang up is that: sex is great ("Get in My Car"), bragging is great too ("Piggy Bank"), but twenty-two tracks is an arduous task for anyone who doesn't really have anything important to say. However, when the beats are infectious you can somewhat understand the need for the extravagance.

Best: Candy Shop, Just a Little Bit, Ryder Music, Piggy Bank.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2005 in Music: Jennifer Lopez - Rebirth

Ironically, for Jennifer Lopez, Rebirth was the beginning of the end--well musically. Up and until this point, JLo had three multi-platinum albums and 9 top ten singles, but the release of this fourth effort put a halt to all of that (bar, "On the Floor," the first many collaborations with rapper Pitbull, that rejuvenated her career for a short while). The album became her first not to land an American top ten and her first to not go platinum. But that aside, how does the album hold up? While JLo has quite a handful of solid songs in her discography, you can't necessarily credit her with churning out solid albums. Rebirth traces around the edges of your standard pop, R&B (the albums biggest hit "Get Right") and the clattering drum and horn sound ("Whatever You Want") that for some reason really popular this year, being emulated by the likes of Amerie and Toni Braxton and some faux soul ("Still Around"). My favourite though, is the more reigned-in pop of, "Hold You Down." 

Best: Hold You Down, Get Right, Step into My World. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Kanye West and Paul McCarteny "Only One"

(Image from Pitchfork)

Six days in and 2015 is already full of surprises: The new Kanye single combines his vocodered singing talents and Beatles legend Paul McCartney's piano mastery to make what is actually a pretty soulful, and apparent ode to West's daughter, North West. It debuted #35 on UK singles chart last week, landing West his 34th top forty single and Paul McCartney's... well you can imagine, it'll be a lot. Check it out here: http://www.kanyewest.com/

Sunday, January 04, 2015

2005 in Music: Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

These days, I've fallen a little out of love with your standard alternative rock. But the debut album from British indie rock band Bloc Party, was just as refreshing as the scenery its cover art illustrates. Silent Alarm, showcases how good the genre can be when it hits the right notes. Melodic hooks, a varying but not too jarring shift in heavy and soft guitar work (the more rapid energy of "Banquet," verses the more downbeat and sweet, "Blue Light") and an odd but captivating vocal showmanship--which also includes the off-kilter lyricisms. For a very long while, the only song I knew of the band was, "Flux," the final single lifted from their sophomore album, A Weekend in the City; an almost euphoric dabble in bubbling electric rock/pop. Little did I know that a look into their back catalog would reveal something even better. 

Best: Banquet, Blue Light, Positive Tension, This Modern Love, The Pioneers, Like Eating Glass, Compliments. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Releases, January

January, while not particularly exciting, has some noteworthy releases to look forward to; including releases from Jazmine Sullivan, Meghan Trainor, The Decemberists and Mark Ronson.

Highlights


Jazmine Sullivan - Reality Show (3/1). This is American R&B/soul singer's first album in five years. Her last outing, Love Me Back was a critical darling, whilst I didn't think it was as good as its predecessor, Fearless, which earned Sullivan comparisons to Lauryn Hill's classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Reality Show is preceded by the singles, "Forever Don't Last," and "Dumb," featuring Meek Mill, which somewhat carves out a spot in the R&B landscape of 2015--a year that I predict will be filled with alot soft, brooding, synth-laden and contemplative "alternative," R&B and Sullivan's works is a refreshing and ironic detour to something that's considered alternative in itself.

 Mark Ronson - Uptown Special (27/1). Hot on the heels of 2014's, and what looks to be 2015's also, biggest hits ("Uptown Funk"), English musician and DJ gets ready to drop his fourth album and first album in five years. The album features an eclectic array of collaborators including Bruno Mars, Stevie Wonder, Mystikal (what?!) and new collaborator in crime, Australian musician, Kevin Parker, the lead of Australian band, Tame Impala--who works with Ronson on three different tracks.




Meghan Trainor - Title (13/1). She's had the massive hit, and the not as brightly-burning follow-up, but now it's time for pop newcomer, Meghan Trainor to prove that she's no one-hit-wonder. "All About the Bass," and "Lips Are Moving," are cute little ditties--kind of watering down what Amy Winehouse and Duffy were doing back in 2007/2008, but I'm not too invested in Trainor as an albums-artist, however, I hope I'm proved wrong. Title features a collaboration with American soul singer, John Legend and production of Trainor herself and Grammy-nominated songwriter and instrumentalist, Kevin Kadish.



The Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (20/1). The last Decemberists album, The King is Dead, was favourite of mine--"This is Why We Fight," was, and still actually is, one of my favourite songs (check out my review). It was my first introduction to the band and I've been looking forward to some new stuff for awhile--and it's nearly here, four years later.



Other releases

Mikky Ekko - Time (16/1). I haven't heard much from American siner, Mikky Ekko since her featured on Rihanna's hit single, "Stay." He nabbed another feature with David Guetta, "One Voice," that I don't believe became an actual single and another with American DJ, Chris Malinchak, "Stranger," that charted at #45 in the UK last year. It's risky launching an album without a recently successful single when you're not Beyonce.

Fall Out Boy - American Beauty/American Psycho (20/1). The sixth album from the American rock band, preceded by the title-track lead single.

Ne-Yo - Non-Fiction (20/1). The sixth album from the R&B singer, has yet to land a preceding hit in the same vein as "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)" back in 2012.

Fifth Harmony - Reflection (26/1). The debut album from the X- Factor spawned five-piece. I believe this was originally a December releases that got pushed back to this year. It seems they've struggled to land a bonafide hit as of yet; urban-tinged "Boss" (replace the 's' with dollar signs yourselves) is their biggest so far, peaking at #43.

Rumoured: Rita Ora 2nd album.