5 Seconds of Summer, the new Australian teen band, has nothing to hang their heads about; debuting at no. 2 with 143,000 copies of a four-song EP (She Looks So Perfect) is definitely notable. Settling for that no. 2 spot behind the unstoppable Frozen Soundtrack (149,000 copies sold) – well that should boost confidence even more considering no one can end Frozen’s run. After the slim margin separating album nos. 1 and 2, there is a huge gap. Chevelle’s La Gargola sold 45,000 copies, good for the no. 3 spot. Former “Jar of Hearts” pop singer/songwriter Christina Perri debuts at a familiar spot (no. 4), but does so smaller numbers for sophomore album Head or Heart (40,000 copies). Country gets its representation from Dan + Shay, who sold 29,000 copies of Where It All Began (no. 6). Nickel Creek also get a top ten berth, selling 27,000 copies of their first album following a lengthy hiatus, Why Should the Fire Die? Hey, they don’t call it lucky no. 7 for no reason, right?
On the songs chart, specifically the Billboard Hot 100, Pharrell Williams continues to make us all “Happy” for yet another week, according to Billboard. What is most shocking to me is that John Legend’s “All Of Me” is so hot, though I felt the hit potential when the underappreciated Love in the Future arrived in September 2013. For R&B and for Legend, the popularity of the rather conservative track is awesome.
Next week doesn’t seem electrifying as far as notable new releases. Still, albums arrive from Martina McBride (Everlasting), MercyMe (Welcome To The New), James Durbin (Celebrate), and SoMo (SoMo) among others. “It is what is”.
Ah new release Tuesday, where dreams come true and are broken for many artists who hope their album will sell these days. This Tuesday, April 8, 2014, the releases aren’t exactly star-studded – that would be an understatement. That said, there are some possibilities to choose from, whether you’re looking to go vintage, be spiritually uplifted, or want to stomach an immature pop star’s life…
Ronstadt doesn’t release new music anymore, but the vocalist has released more than enough classic material to solidify her veteran musician status. Duets is a compilation featuring some of Ronstadt’s most notable collaborations with others including “Don’t Know Much” with Aaron Neville and “Somewhere Out There” with James Ingram.
Catacombs of The Black Vatican
Black Label Society
The title should be enough to allure the potential listener – or drive them away (whichever comes first). Catacombs of the Black Vatican is the heavy metal band Black Label Society’s fourth release for mega indie label Entertainment One and their tenth studio album overall.
Welcome To The New
Fair Trade/ Columbia
Jesus freaks everywhere should be rejoicing as one of the preeminent contemporary Christian bands releases their follow-up to 2012 LP The Hurt & The Healer. And yes, I do realize “Jesus Freak” was the title of a dc Talk album and song, not MercyMe – LOL.
Martina McBride’s latest album definitely isn’t your standard country album. McBride covers soul classics including “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”. On a rendition of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home” she brings Gavin DeGraw along for the ride while she gets the assist from Kelly Clarkson on “In the Basement”. If there were a country artist to pull it off, McBride would certainly be the one to do it.
Love & Hate
Entertainment One adds yet another album to the April 8th release date with Joan Osborne’s latest album, Love & Hate. Love & Hate marks the Kentucky-born artist’s eighth studio album. The album follows up 2012 LP Bring It On Home.
Justin Bieber’s Believe
My advice would be to proceed with caution here…really.
The former American Idol contestant drops his sophomore album Celebrate, albeit with little fanfare. Celebrate follows up 2011 debut, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster.
After releasing My Life digitally in 2013, burgeoning R&B artist (another YouTube discovery), release his ‘official’ self-titled debut via Republic.
On the Billboard 200 Albums Chart this week, multiple new albums graced the top ten. Unfortunately for them, not were able to take down reigning champ Frozen Soundtrack, which once more sells six figures (161,000 copies) according to Billboard. The new releases underperformed where numbers are concerned, keeping Frozen easily ahead of them. Frozen, led by ubiquitous Academy Award winning song “Let It Go” seems unstoppable. As to what or who could kill Frozen’s vibe, I don’t know.
Shakira was unable to stop the beloved soundtrack, as Shakira. debuted in the runner-up slot with only 84,000 copies. 84,000 copies is nothing to snicker about, but for the pop diva, the numbers are underwhelming. Johnny Cash’s lost album Out Among the Stars comes in third place, selling 54,000 copies. The gap between nos. 2 and 3 is incredible, and the ride continues as Memphis May Fire land at no. 4 with 27,000 copies sold of Unconditional. The difference between the top four album totals at 161,000, 84,000, 54,000, and 27,000 is incredible. The top four albums sold approximately 326,000 copies.
Erica Campbell couldn’t squeeze her way into the top 5, but she did make it to no. 6 with her gospel solo debut Help, selling 23,000 copies (a piece off from her Mary Mary albums). Barry Manilow wasn’t far off from Campbell, as Night Songs fell one spot behind with 22,000 copies sold. My Chemical Romance’s May Death Never Stop You (Greatest Hits) sold 20,000 copies, good for a no. 9 debut. Still, examining the 20K copies of each of the aforementioned, the ceiling of each album seems incredibly low. Sure, you don’t expect a gospel album (Campbell’s Help) to go extremely far on the pop charts, but still, given the crossover appeal of Campbell/Mary Mary, you might expect slightly more enthusiastic numbers.
Judging by titles issued this week, the charts may still be only so-so come next week. Releases from MKTO (MKTO), Ronnie James Dio (This Is Your Life), Chevelle (La Gargola), Nickel Creek (A Dotted Line), or Christina Perri (Head or Heart) don’t exactly scream big-time hit potential, no offense.
After six non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200 Albums Charts, the Frozen Soundtrack makes it a seventh week at the penthouse. This week, Frozen rallies to sell a gargantuan 202,000 copies. I guess folks just can’t “Let It Go” – bad joke, I know. I’d say that the release of the album to DVD/Blu-ray/Digital likely had a role in elevating those sales. After Frozen, things get a bit hairier.
YG debuts at no. 2 with album My Krazy Life, which sold 61,000 copies. 61,000 copies isn’t a bad number, but don’t call it sexy either. Foster The People land at no. 3, moving 54,000 copies of Supermodel, their second album. Skrillex follows at no. 4 with Recess, which sold 47,000 copies. Apparently there were physical copies of Recess, though when I visited the CD section, I was unable to find it – it obviously got its sales totals from digital sales. Rock band The Pretty Reckless bow at no. 5, with 35,000 copies sold of Going to Hell (charming title, right?). Enrique Iglesias’ Sex and Love enters in at no. 8 with a tepid 24,000 copies while Taking Back Sunday land at no. 10 with 22,000 copies sold of Happiness Is. Iglesias and Taking Back Sunday have both had better days where sales are concerned.
“Happy” continues to be the story on the Billboard Hot 100 as Pharrell Williams’ infectious throwback R&B single is a big-time hit. Perhaps more surprising is the success of John Legend’s “All of Me”, which according to billboard.com has risen to no. 2 this week! Two R&B tracks sit in the top two of the Billboard Hot 100 – shocking!
Several new releases landed in the top 10 this week, even though the numbers were so-so for some. Next week, new albums arrive courtesy of Shakira (Shakira), Karmin (Pulses), Johnny Cash (Out Among the Stars), Erica Campbell (HELP), and My Chemical Romance (May Death Never Stop You: Greatest Hits 2001 – 2013) among others. All should definitely have no trouble charting and making some noise.
As March is nearing its completion, the final release week of the month has numerous album possibilities to add to one’s collection. A posthumous release from a country legend, one cool pop-duo (with some other styles involved), and a powerhouse, inspirational half of a contemporary gospel-duo. Phew – what a mouthful! Check out the following list containing 8 albums to consider on New Music Tuesday, March 25, 2014.
Out Among The Stars
Out Among The Stars is a legit lost album from the legendary Johnny Cash. Since his death in 2003, numerous posthumously released efforts have been issued. It is safe to say, Mr. Cash was quite prolific.
“The Hips Don’t Lie” chanteuse returns with her first new album since 2010 effort Sale el Sol, which launched at no. 7 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. Shakira is led by single “Can’t Remember to Forget You”, which features Rihanna.
Pulses gives the engaged pop duo their first official full-length debut. Karmin previous issue an EP entitled Hello, which was led by popular single “Brokenhearted”. Pulses is led by single “I Want It All”. A music video was recently issued for the title track (“Pulses”) while “Acapella” was issued as a single back in 2013.
Barry Manilow original albums are hard to come by these days at this point in the singer’s career. Continuing on the covers path much like his contemporary Rod Stewart, Manilow releases yet another covers album with Night Songs. Likely, this album should appeal to the older, more traditional crowd.
My Chemical Romance
May Death Never Stop You (Greatest Hits 2001 – 2013)
MCR are no more, but that doesn’t prevent a greatest hits compilation from rightfully materializing. After all, My Chemical Romance did four studio albums: I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (2002), Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004), The Black Parade (2006), and Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2010). Three Cheers… and The Black Parade are MCR’s bestselling albums.
The country singer releases his fourth album, High Noon. Although he has released four albums, his most recent three are the most notable from an availability and relevance standpoint (Long Hard Road was an independent effort). High Noon arrives two years after Free The Music (2012), which bowed at a disappointing no. 62 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. Previous album Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury (2010) landed at no. 7.
Erica Campbell is most recognizable with her sister Tina by her side as gospel duo Mary Mary. This go-round, Erica goes solo delivering and enjoyable dose of contemporary gospel led by single “A Little More Jesus”. Having reviewed this album ahead of its release (review available on blackgospel.com), it receives my blessing… no pun intended.
The Hold Steady
The indie-rock band returns with their first album in 4 years (Heaven Is Whenever, 2010). Heaven gave The Hold Steady their highest peaking album at no. 26 on the Billboard 200.
Even at nearly 80 minutes, Go ends up being a truly inspiring listen.
Daniel Johnson • Go • eOne Music • US Release Date: March 4, 2014
I know what you’re thinking – why is a gospel music review featured on the site today? Is Brent Faulkner feeling guilty after reviewing that sinful Young Money album, Rise of an Empire or that f-bomb laden Chief Keef single? Nope – let me explain. Well… basically as I was reviewing numerous albums (for other online publications I contribute to) and ended up goofing up – sigh. I accidently reviewed the wrong artist and album and the resulting product just happened to be a gospel album. I am a fan of gospel music, but I rarely review it for this site, as this is a more pop-cultural, pop music oriented site. But with no reason to waste a perfectly good review, why not post it? The saying is “go big or go home” after all, right? Right! Here goes nothing!
Vocalist Daniel Johnson has performed with numerous gospel artists, as well as non-gospel artists as well. After serving as a singer in New Breed, Johnson releases his debut LP, Go. Like his work with Israel Houghton & New Breed, Go is filled with numerous contrasts and top-notch musicianship. Though it clocks in ambitiously at nearly 80 minutes, it is a truly, worthwhile and inspiring listen.
Go opens with ballad “Have Your Way”, a beautiful, reverent track benefitting from its restraint. Though lacking in tempo and overt, ‘in your face’ histrionics, “Way” articulates a prudent message. “Best Thing” contrasts, with Johnson and company delivering a praise anthem utilizing familiar rock/pop cues characterizing Israel Houghton’s music. “Best Thing” pumps up the listener with rollicking pace, inciting praise. “Lift Him High” keeps the tempo moving and spirit high, evidenced by simple, telling lyrics carried by choir: “Praise the lord everybody, rejoice! Rejoice!” “Lift Him High” stylistically embraces funk, sporting clever synths and punchy horns. “Jesus Here” is firmly planted in the contemporary gospel style, featuring Christian rapper B-Luv. Modern it is, “Jesus Here” has the power to appeal to audiences older and younger. Vocally, Johnson embodies the spirit.
Title track “Go” switches the groove to six-eight, maintaining medium tempo. A bit more reverent initially, “Go” expands into a heart-wrenching number that also transfers to its proceeding reprise. “Never Alone” catches the ear given its lift of the melody from Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” on the verses, not to mention its tropical influence. Enjoyable, “Never Alone” hooks the listener from onset. The a cappella vocals towards the end are an exceptional touch. On “This Love”, Johnson and company magnify the Most High by referencing the awesomeness of his love: “We’ll sing it over and over / how great is your love, how great is your love”. “This Love” ends up building up into quite the fever pitch, with an electrifying vamping section. Perhaps for the first time since “Have Your Way”, “Where I Belong” completely slackens the tempo and shows a highly disciplined level of restraint. Don’t take the restraint as a bore; “Where I Belong” continues a high level of quality and consistency for Johnson.
The repetitive “Your Presence” foreshadows 11-minute juggernaut “Grateful”, driven by choral vocals and rich sounding organ. “Grateful” is a passionate ode to God, with notable lyrics “We would not exist, if it wasn’t for the Lord” summing up the ‘grateful’ sentiment. “God is here now, all you gotta do is receive”, is the message of faithful, brief penultimate cut “Receive”. “Receive” is incredibly effective, keeping the momentum high for spiritual closing number “I’ll Go”. After a calm start, “I’ll Go” both predictably and magnificently percolates.
Ultimately, Daniel Johnson’s debut album proves to be an exceptional one. He shifts through various styles, offers a variety of slower and quicker cuts, and ultimately delivers sensational vocals supported by his choir. Through and through, Johnson showcases his versatility as a truly viable contemporary gospel artist.
Favorite Song: “Never Alone”
February 25, 2014 is filled with a number of notable new music releases. Last week had some notable albums released from Cole Swindell, Candice Glover, and Lost in the Trees amongst them, but only Cole Swindell looks to have a bit of momentum behind it. Bummer. Maybe better luck this week; the likes of Beck, Dierks Bentley, and The Fray are on deck.
It has been a minute since Beck’s last album, six years to be exact! 2008 effort Modern Guilt was a collaboration with ubiquitous production wizard Danger Mouse (Brian Burton). After such a long layoff though, Beck returns with Morning Phase led by single “Blue Moon”.
Singer/Songwriter Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, releases her fifth studio album, simply titled St. Vincent. St. Vincent follows up the singer/songwriter’s previous release, 2012 effort Love This Giant, a collaborative album with David Bryne. St. Vincent rides solo this go-round. Also worth noting is that St. Vincent is being released on Republic Records; this is the artist’s first major-label release.
2014 has definitely seen numerous releases from country male artists. Not wanting to feel left out, Dierks Bentley follows up his 2012 effort Home with Riser. Riser is led by promo single “I Hold On”. Early single “Bourbon in Kentucky” (from summer 2013) has long been available, and serves as the set’s opener.
Another Long Night Out
What better way to celebrate a debut album than to rerecord it and make some musical changes? Brian Culbertson does just that on Another Long Night Out, a re-recorded edition of Culbertson’s 1994 album, Long Night Out. While reinterpretations and re-recording can be iffy sometimes, having personally reviewed Another Long Night Out, I can attest to its excellence and high level of musicianship.
The Fray returns with its fourth studio album, Helios. Helios is the follow-up to 2012 effort Scars and Stories. “Hurricane” is the current single from Helios (January 2014). A previous single, “Love Don’t Die” materialized back in October 2013.
Formula Vol. 2
Romeo Santos is one of the hotter names in Latin Music as of late. His 2011 debut, Formula, Vol.1, debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. 2014 ushers in the release of its follow-up, Formula, Vol. 2. In between both releases, Santos also released a live effort entitled The King Stays King: Sold Out at Madison Square Garden.
Oxymoron should be one of the most anticipated rap releases of 2014. Whether it really is or not, well only the numbers will tell. But Schoolboy Q built some momentum back in 2013 when he and Kendrick Lamar delivered a joint entitled Collard Greens. Also judging by the strengths of his collaborations in the past, Oxymoron is probably and album that likely shouldn’t be slept on.
Live Through It
Gospel music often does get much love where reviewing is concerned, but I still appreciate a good inspirational, uplifting affair. Live Through It comes courtesy of gospel standout James Fortune. Fortune’s breakthrough album came out in 2012, when Identity debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. Keep in mind, gospel albums rarely crack the top ten, unless you are Kirk Franklin, or Tye Tribbett and Marvin Sapp as of late.
Mehliana: Taming The Dragon
Brad Mehldau & Mark Guiliana
Where jazz pianists are concerned, Brad Mehldau is one of today’s best. Mark Guiliana is an electronic artist…electro-jazz is part of that mix. The two combine for what should be quite an interesting listen…
This isn’t an anticipated release per se, but does anybody remember Neneh Cherry’s 1989 album Raw Like Sushi? Cherry had released her first album in 16 years when 2012 effort The Cherry Thing came about. Blank Project serves as the follow-up.
It’s been an awesome winter for the Frozen Soundtrack, as it spends yet another week atop the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. This week, the album sold another 94,000 copies according to Billboard.com. On the one hand, it is good that there is an album that’s infusing the industry with some, well, sales. On the other hand – the more pessimistic one – yet another sub 100,000 copies week is amongst us with sales down. Still, close by Frozen is another compilation the Grammy Nominees 2014, which remains at no. 2, but surges in sales with 87,000 copies sold. Both albums post gains, which are pros, but the realist in me has an observation to make.
In years past, Grammy-award winning albums or nominees who performed have sold massive numbers to top-load the charts following the week after the Grammys. This time, a holdover soundtrack remains the album to beat, while the Grammy compilation itself outsells victorious albums. It definitely says something about the sales of albums in recent times. Personally, I don’t see record sales regaining their swagger, save for a blockbuster like Beyoncé’s Beyoncé, which sits at no. 5 this week.
But enough chitter chatter, what about the new albums – that’s what y’all came for right? Of Mice & Men bow at no. 4 with Restoring Force selling 51,000 copies. Casting Crowns’ latest, Thrive, starts at no. 6 with 43,000 copies sold. For Casting Crowns, a Christian band, these numbers are actually underwhelming considering the success the band has had in recent times. If this were any other Christian or gospel act, 43,000 copies and a number six bow would be remarkable. However, Casting Crowns has both peaked and sold more robustly in the past, namely 2007 album The Altar and The Door which debuted at no. 2 with 129,000 copies. Still, 43,000 in the current music economy is sound…I suppose.
Other than Yoncé’s small gain, Other Grammy winners saw some increases, though not like years in the past. The percentages are similar to the past, but the actual amount of sales isn’t. Those included in the gains are Lorde, Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, and album of the year victor, Daft Punk. Daft Punk perhaps get the shortest end of the stick for an album of the year winner as Random Access Memories rose to no. 10, but only moved 31,000 copies. Sure, the French duo rose 300% in sales according to Billboard.com, but remember that’s relative to the current music economy, which is down. Herbie Hancock’s upset victory a couple of years back (over Kanye West and Amy Winehouse) scored him a top 5 album with 54,000 copies sold. Adele and Mumford & Sons, both album of the year winners, had huge surges following the Grammys. It is what it is though. At least Daft Punk and the rest of us were able to “Get Lucky” all summer long – no pun intended.
Ultimately, the Grammys’ influence makes this a busier chart week, even if the optimism is only short-lived and doesn’t match the same amount of sales of the past. Next week, among new albums arriving include Broken Bells (After The Disco), Now 49, and a duets album courtesy of Toni Braxton & Babyface (Love, Marriage & Divorce). Bruno Mars’ sales may still rise depending on how much impact his awesome Super Bowl halftime performance had beginning on Monday, the day once sales are tallied for the new week. His full gain in sales probably wouldn’t have been felt on Sunday, the day of the big game… well lopsided game.
January has come and gone – thank goodness! Still it’s cold and those bills keep on coming in – SMH (add a “D” or an “F” between the “M” and the “H” for extra intensity). Still, there’s nothing like the gift of music to give us those “High Hopes” that Bruce Springsteen was singing about a couple of weeks ago. Face it, that Frozen soundtrack won’t keep you occupied forever! Here are nine albums to consider buying this week beginning on new release day, Tuesday, February 4.
After the Disco
After The Disco is the second album by Broken Bells, which is comprised of James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse. Broken Bells is alternative all the way – indie-pop. Danger Mouse was played a pivotal part to the sound of the short-lived Gnarls Barkley (assuming they don’t record anytime soon) and Beck’s 2008 album Modern Guilt. The Shins are of course known for their indie-pop/rock brand.
Now 49: That’s What I Call Music (Now 49)
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Like pop hits and don’t own the respective albums of which the various pop hits are from… well Now 49 is for you.
Love, Marriage & Divorce
Two of adult contemporary R&B’s greatest come together for the rare R&B duets album. Toni Braxton and Babyface may not represent the current generation of R&B listeners (as scant as that generation seems to be in numbers), but both are the cream of the crop vocally.
It has been about 11 years since “Sorry 2004” was a top ten Billboard Hot 100 hit. Who sang it – you got it, Ruben Studdard, the winner of the second season of American Idol in 2003. Times haven’t been as hot for Studdard since Soulful and I Need An Angel gave the R&B singer platinum and gold albums respectively. Still, “The Velvet Teddy Bear” keeps recording and winds up on Verve for Unconditional Love, his sixth studio album.
Welcome to The Age of My Body (EP)
Mary Lambert played a key role on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” – specifically the refrain. Now, Lambert goes out on her own to release her 4-song EP Welcome to The Age of My Body, which includes “She Keeps Me Warm”, based off of “Same Love”. The digital version has been available since December 17, 2013; the physical version arrives February 4.
For jazz lovers, veteran jazz guitarist Pat Metheny just keeps on releasing albums. Metheny’s quite prolific – check out his entire discography sometime.
From His Head to His Heart To His Hands [Box Set]
Columbia / Legacy
The “gone too soon” blues guitarist’s legacy lives on via box set From His Head to His Heart To His Hands. The box-set certainly doesn’t have the Garth Brooks pricing working in its favor (< $30), but if you do purchases the $53 3CD/1 DVD set, you surely won’t be disappointed.
The British X-Factor winners release their second album less than a year after their debut DNA appeared in the U.S. DNA bowed at number four on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in 2013. Salute actually bowed elsewhere in 2013.
Wow Gospel 2014
Ah, something for everybody. If you enjoy gospel music, specifically black gospel and contemporary gospel, then Wow Gospel 2014 just might tickle your fancy – or inspire your soul! Amen!