The X-Factor girl group show promise on debut EP
Fifth Harmony⎪ Better Together (EP)⎪Syco / Epic ⎪⎪ US Release Date: October 22, 2013
Face it, the boy/girl group isn’t quite the same as it was at the turn of the millennium. Yes I know, One Direction are doing their thing, but they haven’t attained the same success of say The Backstreet Boys or N*N*Sync. Fifth Harmony is actually a promising prospect in the girl group field, something that hasn’t been 100% really since Destiny’s Child (yes, Danity Kane had a run). Fifth Harmony come by way of X-Factor, a show that has been struggling to back up the entertainment of watching it with some notable Billboard chart numbers. The most successful act from the US version of the show has been one ‘boy band’ by the name of Emblem 3. Still, they aren’t exactly taking the reins over from One Direction number wise (and One Direction has a little bad boy / swag streak going on). But back to the girls, Fifth Harmony seem legit enough on their debut EP Better Together.
“Don’t Wanna Dance Alone” makes a sound initial statement, taking things straight to the dance floor. The production is slick, the vocals are enthusiastic, bright, and bubbly, and the song – specifically the chorus – is catchy. “I got my bet on and I feel like dancing / all night long / nothing’s gonna stop me / you’re what I want / oh baby come and get me, cause I don’t wanna dance alone”. Anything new or innovative? No, but it’s a solid start for sure. “Miss Movin’ On” continues to sound youthful, fresh, and catchy, mixing electro and modern pop sensibilities. Everyone loves a good ‘broken relationship / moving on’ song and that’s just what the quintet offers here. Lyrics like “I’m breaking down, gonna start from scratch / shake it off like an etch-a-sketch…” and “…I jumped the fence to the other side / my whole world was electrified / now I’m no longer afraid / it’s Independence Day” are nothing short of music to the ears. Corny and schmaltzy? Perhaps, but their young and it’s definitely catchy.
“Better Together”, the title track doesn’t suffer from what I pen as the ‘titular bug’ – aka when the title track sucks! Here, the girls sit aside the modern pop for more contemporary R&B fare. This track should appeal to the demographic of Fifth Harmony’s audience who most enjoyed their stunning take on Shontelle’s “Impossible” on X-factor. The chorus is nothing flashy, just simple and repetitive. That said, it suits the gimmicky nature of the genre these days where artists just love their minimalism (“Boy I miss you, said I really do / boy I miss you / now understand that we’re better together…”) Another pro? The form as far as the songwriting structure works soundly.
The final two cuts are less intriguing, but still worthwhile. “Who Are You” benefits from its use of piano, occasional harmonized vocal moments, and the powerful ad libs appearing at the end. Lyrically, the use of the days of the weeks definitely stands out, creating the narrative of the song. Closing cut “Leave My Heart Out of This” quickens the tempo, rivaling the speed of the opener. Unfortunately, it’s less notable but the girls still have something to say: “I tell my heart to just butt out / keep its opinion to itself / I should just listen to my head / cause it’s the one who knows what’s best…” There it is!
Final thoughts? It’s very difficult to be ‘blown away’ by an EP, which is nothing more than a snapshot into what an artist or group’s full length album will sound like, but Fifth Harmony definitely come out of Better Together favorably. They don’t reinvent the wheel or the girl group, but they do deliver that thing call ‘promise.’ Promise is worth something, right?
Favorites: “Don’t Wanna Dance Alone”; “Miss Movin’ On”; “Better Together”
- Album Review: Fifth Harmony – ‘Better Together’ (rawmusicent.com)
- Fifth Harmony Talk About the Elevator, Upcoming “Better Together EP” and Stalking Fans (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
- Fifth Harmony Release “Better Together” EP Today (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Girl groups on the rebound (nydailynews.com)
- EXCLUSIVE! Fifth Harmony Prove They’re Some Talented, Little Miss Movin’ Ons! Watch HERE! (perezhilton.com)
- Fifth Harmony Blows Away The Stage With Their Performance Of Miss Movin’ On (perezhilton.com)
- Fifth Harmony confirmed “Better Together” as next single! (heartbeatmusik.wordpress.com)
Khaled’s Not ‘Suffering from Success’, perhaps suffers from a lack of innovation…
DJ Khaled⎪ Suffering From Success⎪ Cash Money ⎪⎪ US Release Date: October 22, 2013
If there is one reservation I (and likely others) have with DJ Khaled’s albums, it is that generally they all seem ‘one-dimensional’. Maybe that is a harsh critique, or maybe it’s just actual reality. Of the Khaled albums that I have partaken of in recent times, they’re always good for some top-notch club bangers (“I’m On One”), but cohesively, the albums feel like somewhat detached compilations. Suffering From Success proves no different, ultimately yielding some pleasant, head-nodding moments, but eschewing the ‘second coming’.
After intro “Obama (Winning More Interlude)”, “Suffering From Success”, featuring Ace Hood and Future, kicks off the album of the same title. Ultimately, the production work (Young Chop) is dark, malicious, and characteristic of the hardcore rap idiom. Future delivers his first of many hooks, sounding his typical, auto-tuned self: “Got too many racks on me, I can’t even go to sleep / just to get ‘em out V.I.P., I’mma need to see I.D. (I don’t trust you) / I’m sufferin’ / I’m sufferin’ from success / I’m sufferin’…” Really, “suffering from success”? Please! The best part of the so-so title track may be Ace Hood’s aggressive rhymes.
“I Feel Like Pac / I Feel Like Biggie” is much stronger, sporting production from The Beat Bully. Ah the weight that synthesized brass and a hard underlying beat carry! The inspiration seems to be full-fledged here, whether that’s just the mere mention of rap royalty or a star-studded cast including Rick Ross, Meek Mill, T.I., Swizz Beatz, and Puff Daddy. Swizz Beatz’s hook is definitely ‘on point’ as they say, while Meek Mill kills it on his verse. The momentum is propelled even further on “You Don’t Want No Problems”, yet another juggernaut assisted by Big Sean (the hook), Rick Ross, French Montana, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Ace Hood, and Timbaland (who produces with Khaled). There are numerous highlights, including memorable lyrical moments from Rick Ross (“On the phone at the light, Kelly Rowland’s a friend / Catfish in the Benz, Manti Teo’s a sucker…”), 2 Chainz (“They slept on me, I stopped sellin’ work and started sellin’ coffee…”), and Ace Hood (“My sanctuary’s that cemetery / my choppa, named it obituary…”)
“Blackball” follows, again relying on the ubiquitous Future for a hook (“They tryna blackball me, they say I get too much money / they want my name from me because they know what it do…” etc.). Plies and Ace Hood handle the verses, though compared to the previous duo, “Blackball” is less triumphant. “No Motive” featuring Lil Wayne sort of falls into the same boat, sounding ‘solid’, but not exceptional. The hook definitely didn’t take much thought: “F**k all you b*****s… f**k all you hoes… one million, two million, three, four…” “I’m Still” is enjoyable enough, but I feel like I’ve heard this cut over and over again. Chris Brown excels at infusing some R&B into hip-hop, but at this point it’s not truly new or rousing. Wiz Khalifa joins the lengthy credit list, rapping unsurprisingly “So high don’t see no problems / b**ch I’m on them trees like Tarzan…” It works, but doesn’t excite. Personally, I’m sick of hearing about Wiz getting high.
“I Wanna Be With You” again brings in Future, but also sees another return from Rick Ross and a debut appearance from Nicki Minaj. Minaj remains at her best when she’s raunchy, if you can handle her un-lady rhymes. Even though Minaj is a “girl on fire”, Rick Ross has arguably the best line: “That ho chick gets you no play, all I talk is cocaine.” Hit “No New Friends” is a showstopper, again rekindling some magic between Khaled and Drake (“No new friends, no new friends…f**k all y’all n***as except my n***as…”). Rick Ross hops on board (“…All I hug is blood n***a, Khaled that’s my flesh though / all I want is love n***a, money bring that stress though…”) as does Lil Wayne (“…B**ch we good-fellas, boy all them n***as with you they just pall bearers…”). The production work is aligned with the ‘Drake’ sound as the track is produced by Boi-1da and Noah “40” Shebib. A standout? Of course!
The remainder of the album is so-so. “Give It All To Me” (Mavado featuring Nicki Minaj) sounds like it’s going to be a deal breaker initially, but it’s respectable enough. “Hell’s Kitchen” has its moments, thanks to the sound and solid rhymes from J Cole and Bas. Still, “Hell’s Kitchen” sits too long. Lengthy duration also hurts the super ambitious “Never Surrender”, which manages to utilize three R&B singers in John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, and Akon. Add raps from Scarface, Jadakiss, and Meek Mill to that mix and it’s quite ‘big’. “Murcielago (Doors Go Up)” is not only ‘tired’ in name, but the song itself is a ‘C’ at best – merely average and unmemorable. “Black Ghost”, credited to Vado is ok, but like “Murcielago”, it’s nothing to write home about.
Thoughts overall? Suffering From Success isn’t really suffering from success, but it may be suffering from a lack of innovative spirit. It’s good enough, not great If you’re looking for depth, avoid it. If you want to get it poppin’ at the club, this is for you.
Favorites: “I Feel Like Pac / I Feel Like Biggie” ; “You Don’t Want These Problems” ; “No New Friends”
A maturer Katy Perry isn’t a total deal breaker…
Katy Perry⎪ Prism ⎪ Capitol ⎪⎪ US Release Date: October 22, 2013
“I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter / dancing through the fire / ‘cause I am a champion, and your’e going to hear me roar…” I suppose there comes a time for every childish pop star to grow up, right? Katy Perry eschews ‘going stupid’ on her fourth studio effort Prism, which is a shocking revelation for an artist who in the past has tended to ‘push the envelope’. That isn’t to say that Perry doesn’t have her share of fun here (she does), but if fans were looking for a Teenage Dream repeat, they just might be disappointed. Personally as a music listener who has always been ‘on the fence’ about Perry, there are aspects of Prism that give me more respect for her artistry. That said, there are also times I’d wish she’d throw out a line like “Ur so gay and you don’t even like boys…”.
“Roar” starts off Prism energetically and inspired. The lyrics uplift, something that “Ur So Gay” and “Teenage Dream” didn’t seek to do. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t given Perry’s first single the due praise that it deserves, but I repent to the upmost. The cut is solidly produced (Dr. Luke and Max Martin) and Perry sings it well ultimately. I mean, I feel like “I am a champion” after listening. Sophomore cut “Legendary Lovers” isn’t too bad, but anything that proceeded “Roar” would struggle to match or eclipse the album’s flagship. Still, the gargantuan chorus and Perry’s newfound maturity are welcome. Still, we wouldn’t mind for some ‘ear candy’ either. Standout “Birthday” could be characterized as a toned-down, more tasteful “Teenage Dream”. Don’t let Perry’s more thoughtful persona fool you though; she’s still got some naughtiness going on (“So let me get you in your birthday suit…” and “Pop your confetti, we can get it on”).
“Walking On Air” has a danceable, partying vibe about it. Here, Perry is “walking on air” because she’s so taken by her man: “You’re giving me sweet, sweet ecstasy…” or “You’re reading me like erotica / boy you make me feel exotic yeah…” Yeah, maybe it’s still risqué and not quite ‘PG’, but it’s certainly a departure from the overt “Peacock” right? She may exaggerate a bit with lines like “Heaven is jealous of our love / angels are crying from up above”, but she seems to be in a good spot. This ‘good spot’ continues on “Unconditionally” which is one-dimensional conceptually, but does convey genuine emotion. “All your insecurities / all the dirty laundry never made me blink one time” and “I’ll take your bad days with your good / walk through the storm I would” supplant “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” Guess that’s something we’ll just have to get used to Katy.
While Prism wasn’t really sagging, “Dark Horse” does arrive perfectly timed to give the effort a bit more excitability. Ubiquitous MC Juicy J ends up being a nice fit on this hip-hop oriented pop cut that sports arguable the sickest beat of the entire effort. The chorus definitely latches: “So you wanna play with magic? / boy, you should know what you’re falling for / baby, do you dare to do this? / cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse…” Second verse vocal harmonizations only make the deal sweeter and of course the cut wouldn’t be nearly as swag-a-licious without Juicy J lines like “Uh, she’s a beast / I call her Karma / she eat your heart out / like Jeffrey Dahmer…” “Dark Horse” ranks right up there with “Roar”. “This Is How We Do” isn’t a bad follow-up, though the Mariah Carey line is hella corny: “Day drinking at the Wildcats, sucking real bad at Mariah karaoke…” Well at least we know “how we do”… I guess.
“International Smile” may be one of the most enthusiastic minor-key centered cuts you’ve ever heard. Perry paints a picture of ‘this girl’s greatness (and rebelliousness) for sure, whether it’s “Fire was in her hair, she don’t care / Peach pink lips, yeah, everybody stares…” or “She’s got that je ne sais quoi, you know it / so trés chic, yeah she’s a classic / but she’s pole dancing, so fancy free…” The point? “That girl’s a trip…takes you miles high, so high, cause she’s got that one international smile…” OK. “Ghost” and “Love Me” don’t have the same ‘edge’ of “International Smile”, making them a bit of a bore. “Ghost” shines on iterations of the chorus as well as the bridge, but the verses sag a bit. On “Love Me”, it feels as if Katy Perry has gotten a bit too serious for her own good. Still, it has a few notable moments.
“This Moment” ordinarily might not have been a favorite, particularly for Katy Perry, but the cut injects some much need momentum after two relative humdrum showings with “Ghost” and “Love Me”. It doesn’t ascend to the high level established by “Roar”, “Birthday” or “Dark Horse”, but fares well overall. “Double Rainbow” takes a back step, but what Perry sings about isn’t unfathomable or far-fetched… just a bit blah. “By the Grace of God” is overall nicely thought out, but again, attaching the level of seriousness to Katy Perry certainly will take many of us some time. ‘Moving’ may be an overstatement, but there are definitely some nice pieces here.
Ultimately, Prism is a solid, enjoyable album. It is not flawless mind you, but in some respects, Katy Perry has stepped up her game. It is also quite impressive that that Perry desires to be ‘grown up’ if you will. My question might be is this effort ‘fun’ enough to maintain Perry’s elite commercial status at radio? “Roar” did, so time will tell.
Favorites: “Roar”; “Birthday”; “Dark Horse”; “This Moment”
- Review: Katy Perry’s ‘Prism’ (nicholashautman.wordpress.com)
- Carson Daly Premieres Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally” On AMP Radio (amp.cbslocal.com)
- Katy Perry’s ‘Prism’ streaming on iTunes one week early (nydailynews.com)
- Katy Perry – Prism Review (ohmydaniel.wordpress.com)
C’É shows listeners the reward of broadening musical horizons
Cosimo Erario⎪ C’É ⎪EGP ⎪⎪ US Release Date: February 25, 2013
Listening to pop/rock music in the U.S., do you ever wonder how the same style of music might differ in another country? I certainly do, though until a recent experience, I wouldn’t have called the question a burning one. That said, I was given the unique opportunity to partake of an album of Italian pop/rock music performed and written by singer/songwriter Cosimo Erario. I had never heard Erario, and while I’ve always wanted to speak Italian, particularly given its significance in music terminology, I’m restricted to just that, fluency in Italian music terms. Listening to the overall impressive album C’É, it certainly further expanded my already eclectic and liberal tastes.
So how does Italian rock/pop sound? Well not incredibly far-fetched (at least on C’É) from ‘guitar-driven’ pop/rock in the states. Opener “Senza bussare” would sound very much at home on any of my rock playlists, with the lyrics being the only exception of course. From the onset, “Senza bussare” grabs one’s attention with its rocking guitars, which continue to drive throughout. As a first impression, “Senza bussare” proves to be an exceptional one. The follow-up “Ricominicio da te” is no slouch itself, continuing to impress. Among several notable moments? The gargantuan nature of the bridge and a catchy chorus, regardless if you comprehend the language. The unification created by the riffs doesn’t hurt either.
“Una trilione di pianeti” (translates to “A Trillion Planets”) caps off a brilliant opening trio, characterized by its beautiful melody, particularly on the refrain. The soloing guitar lines are athletic in sound and ‘right on point’ as you might say. Perhaps “Dall’universo” (“From The Universe”) brings things down a notch, but the ballad offers both a strong contrast and is ultimately quite thoughtful. One of the best moments? When the vocals harmonize beautifully when the anchoring bass drops out. “Noi di vento” picks the tempo back up, though doesn’t certainly doesn’t go ‘lightening speed’. The sound is once more rock-driven, nothing that doesn’t feel comfortable in American pop circles. Those drum ‘runs’ are certainly standard fare to my ears, accentuating the rhythmic identity.
“Vilcambamba” is among the elites if for no other reason than how distinctly different it is from everything else. Named after a small village within the valley of Vilcambamba (via Erario’s soundcloud description of the track), the “Valley of Longevity” as it is known certainly fully invests into its Ecuadorian influences. In addition to its variety of sounds and great vocal production, can you ever go wrong with the ukelele, like ever? “Ci sei ancora” has a tough act to follow, but the more traditional pop cut still has plenty of worthwhile moments. “Magneticamente” proves to be as ‘magnetic’ as it’s title translates, characterized by its gritty, distorted guitars and a sort of neo-new wave danceable-rock vibe going on. It’s not quite as ‘poppy’ as new-wave though, given the beefiness of the guitars. The guitar soloing? Magnificent!
Erario describes standout “Svuota la tua stanza” as ‘Italian pop-soul’. A correct label? Certainly. “Svuota la tua stanza” continues to show Erario’s musical versatility and his eclecticism. “Paura degli aquiloni” confirms that eclecticism, infusing some ‘funk’ into the picture. “La nostra estate”, a song about a “summer relationship”, contrasts once more opting for pop balladry. One of its best assets is its pacing, growing gradually in both scope and emotion. Penultimate cut “Passato prossimo” throws in some reggae, like “Vilcambamba” and “Svuota la tua stanza”, showcasing Erario’s ambitiousness as a musician at its loftiest. The whistle tune “D’autunno” packs much more of a punch than expected, closing the album with the upmost positivity.
Overall, C’É is a fine album with plenty of superb moments. Cosimo Erario transcends rock and pop, using the two styles and springboards for deeper creativity and experimentation. Having experienced the pleasure and musicianship that defines this effort, it only further makes me as a critic, listener, and musicians broaden my own horizons even more. To Erario, props brother, props.
Favorites: “Senza bussare”; “Ricomincio da te”; “Una trilione di pianeti”; “Vilcambamba”; “Svuota la tua stanza”; “Passato prossimo”
- C’È – Cosimo Erario (spheremusic.me)
Pax-Am Days leaves more to be desired…
Fall Out Boy⎪Pax-Am Days ⎪ Island ⎪⎪ October 15, 2013
Um, what does one say about an eight-song EP that lasts just over 13 minutes? Well not very much to be honest. To add to the lack of words from my pen (or computer keyboard in this case), save for closer “Caffeine Cold”, none of the cuts reach two minutes in length. Basically, PAX AM Days is a punk-rock EP that contrasts the punk-pop that characterized the band’s 2013 comeback studio album, Save Rock and Roll. Some may prefer this edgier, quick-paced EP to the band’s more commercial albums (particularly the last), but personally, it just sounds incredibly random and clunky. And no, don’t scold me with things like “in the spirt of punk…” Fall Out Boy should likely make sure they keep the ‘pop’ affixed to the ‘punk’.
Sure punk isn’t exactly the most substantive genre, but here it’s reduced to even less substance, and I mean that with all respect to FOB. While “We Were Doomed From The Start (The King Is Dead)” sports appealing, gritty, grimy sounding guitars and aggressive vocals by Patrick Stump, it just seems like this doesn’t seem like and ideal direction or sound for the band. “Art of Keeping Up Disappearances” doesn’t exactly give much flavor to savor itself, but like “We Were Doomed From The Start”, it does make a statement…of some kind. “Hot To the touch, Cold On The Inside” works a bit better than the opening duo, maybe because it has more defined production, and a couple more decipherable vocals. Or maybe it’s just finding something positive… “Love, Sex, Death” predictably highlights the titular lyrics during the chorus, leaving little to the imagination. To its credit, the music is worthwhile and definitely hearkens back to authentic punk. The song is average at best.
“Eternal Summer” like the majority of the EP is ‘all over the place’ with no shortage of being maniacal. Personally though, I prefer it more when Patrick Stump sings as opposed to screams. I just don’t think his voice is best served as a punk-rock singer without the soulfulness attached. “Demigods” isn’t too shabby, though I’d question if anyone will remember it a year from now (they won’t). Penultimate cut “American Made” plays like everything else – okay, but nothing to write home about or label as the savior to the genre. “Caffeine Cold” closes the album, which is a good thing for both FOB and even better for the listener.
So after spending 13 minutes listening, I’m thinking to myself, “so what” or maybe more dramatically, WTF? Pax-Am Days just didn’t pack much of a punch, even given its short duration. Yes, it showcases the aggressive, coarseness that epitomizes punk music, but I feel otherwise it’s a project that should remain nothing more than a side project such. And in case you were wondering I still love you Fall Out Boy – just not this EP!
- Fall Out Boy – Pax Am Days (Review) (craigreviewsmusic.wordpress.com)
- Fall Out Boy Preview New EP ‘Pax Am Days’ (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
- Fall Out Boy Debut Punk Throwback Anthem, ‘Love, Sex, Death’ (klli.cbslocal.com)
- Pete Wentz On Fall Out Boy’s Future & Saluting Punk With Their New EP, ‘Pax-Am Days’ (klli.cbslocal.com)
- Fall Out Boy Releases ‘Just One Yesterday’ Music Video Ft. Foxes (aceshowbiz.com)
20 years later, Us3 still got it
Us3⎪The Third Way (Hand on the Torch, Vol. II)⎪Us3.com ⎪⎪ US Release Date: October 14, 2013
Of latest album The Third Way, Us3 co-founder and bandleader Geoff Wilkinson calls it “the follow up album I never made at the time [of Hand on the Torch]. Throughout The Third Way, Us3 keep the hooks simple and the grooves infectious. The formula is patterned after the band’s platinum-certified debut, once more drawing jazz classics as it’s basis (interpolations). The results? A fine jazz-rap sequel to the original, arriving 20 years after the first. KCB, Tukka, and Akil Dasan rule the rhyming roost here, definitely doing the game justice.
“Never Go Back” (featuring KCB & Tukka) opens The Third Way exceptionally, lifting from Dizzy Gillespie’s classic “Manteca” as its backdrop. Old-school but incredibly hip, “Never Go Back” takes you back to Us3’s “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” days, sigh. Solid production and a fantastic, simplistic hook make the opener a winner. The dusty-sounding beat anchors the rhythmic pianist hits perfectly on “Be Bop Thing”. The rhymes are agile and continue to embrace that ‘throwback’ vibe. Why should the enjoyable, swinging “Be Bop” have it any other way? “Gotta Get My Hustle On” definitely ‘gets its shine on’, with its infectious Latin groove and Tukka’s reggae-rhymed contributions. Akil Dasan’s none too shabby here himself, providing a welcome contrast to his colleague.
On “I Want One Of Those” (featuring Akil Dasan), the prominence of a the walking bass line truly shapes the overall production. That’s not the sole highlight mind you; Akil Dasan continues to allure lyrically. “Keep Your Head Right (Keep Your Fist Tight)” is undeniably delicious, thanks to its ‘funkifized’ soul-jazz groove while “The Out Crowd” is really ‘in’ considering it just happens to sample notable jazz cut “The In Crowd” (Ramsey Lewis). “Wha’ G’wan” allows for Tukka to flex his reggae muscles once more, painting his rhymes over replayed elements of Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder”. Pretty awesome if you ask me.
“Beautiful” is certainly more chivalrous than most rap of 2013, eschewing the overindulgent sexual references that characterize the more hardcore extreme of the genre. Old school is well at work here, though the synthesized bass line is very much relevant for 2013. “Dance With Me” gives the effort another Latin-jazz based number, incredibly suited given the title and theme of the number. “What Would You Do?” definitely stands out not only because of the superb, thoughtful production, but also because of how superbly the MC’s deliver their respective verses. KCB, Tukka, and Akil Dasan are truly electrifying here, perhaps more so than other performances from The Third Way.
Horace Silver provides the perfect inspiration on “Are You Nuts” with elements of his classic “Nutville” working full force. Maybe KCB speaks of aloofness (“you’re out of touch / what are you nuts?”), but there’s nothing “nuts” here, just excellence. “If You’ve Got It Flaunt It” is a bit less satisfying in my eyes. It’s interesting, but I’m not sure that the Duke Ellington lifting cut (“It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”) is as consistent as the rest. The nonsensical portions from the original may just be slightly too corny. “I’m Goin’ (Come Along)” is certainly an interesting penultimate cut, certainly feeling much more modern in sound than the majority. It still has its ‘foot in the door’, but it also has ‘swag’. “You’ll Never Come Close” (featuring KCB) closes The Third Way on a ‘high note’ – or rather a head-nodding groove and some sick-sounding horns.
Ultimately, The Third Way is an album that should definitely be receiving more attention. Sure once more attaining the success of that an experimental effort from the 1990s attained is a tall task (and highly unlikely), but what isn’t too tall or unattainable is critical praise and success. Personally, I find Us3’s jazz-rap endeavors to still be incredible captivating, 20 years later.
Favorites: “Never Go Back”; “Be Bop Thing”; “Keep Your Head Right (Keep Your Fist Tight)”; “What Would You Do?”; “You’ll Never Come Close”
Blige’s first holiday album is both pleasant and safe
Mary J. Blige⎪ A Mary Christmas ⎪ Verve ⎪⎪ US Release Date: October 15, 2013
Something about holiday/Christmas albums is truly irresistible. Maybe it is because the music is so special and so familiar or maybe it’s just because there is only one season of the year we are bestowed the gift of music that never stops giving. I’m not sure, but I won’t lie to you, I love Christmas albums. That said, to call most Christmas albums truly innovative or bold would be a massive overstatement and pretty laughable. One would have to think that the queen of hip-hop soul’s first Christmas album would be something truly special right? Well, Mary J. Blige’s first holiday affair A Mary Christmas is enjoyable you might say, but it definitely won’t be superseding Whats The 411?, My Life, or The Breakthrough anytime soon.
The main rub (if it is one) is predictability, something that is hard to squash with material so familiar and performed over and over many times. “Little Drummer Boy” begins things off right with Blige’s pipes sounding incredible controlled and tame throughout, until she ripens into that signature grit that comes from life’s pain. Sure “Little Drummer Boy” eschews pain, but Mary infuses her soul once she’s warmed up. Helps when a gospel choir backs you, only elevating the spirit.
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” proceeds soundly, if predictably. Safeness and perhaps a somewhat draggy, lethargic tempo are the biggest rubs, giving the impression that the song is too indulgent into it’s cool vibe. It’s still pleasant and a solid representation of MJB, but “My Favorite Things” and everyone’s favorite soul Christmas standard “This Christmas” are stronger. “My Favorite Things” retains its ‘musical’ roots, something I wouldn’t have necessarily envisioned from Blige, but I dig it. “This Christmas” definitely doesn’t reinvent the Hathaway classic, but it seems the timeless song is pretty pleasing under many an artists wing.
“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” is a personal favorite Christmas tune, but it’s not always done ‘justice’ on Christmas albums. It’s no disrespect to respective artists who share my love, but often this particular song seems to need an extra boost or something extremely special to make it standout. Blige’s version is good, but like most, it still leaves you desiring some more of that warmth of which the lyrics convey. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” infuses both tempo and jazz, but it’s definitely a lot to take in. The scatting by MJB is impressive as is the big band supporting her. Still it may be a bit too fast and a bit ‘too much’. “When You Wish Upon A Star” is atonement though, finding Blige and Barbra Streisand duetting beautifully with Chris Botti accentuating things with his warm trumpet sound. Yeah it’s no Christmas song, but it does kinda fit (“When You Wish Upon A Star” has often been transformed).
“Mary, Did You Know” finds Blige outperforming the material itself. Predictable, save for Blige’s impassioned vocal histrionics and her artistry in itself, “Mary, Did You Know” is just so-so. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is stronger, though pairing Blige and Jessie J is nothing short of bizarre. The popular tune goes through numerous changes, which both keeps it fresh and also sort of makes one scratch their head too. “Petit Papa Noël” is more of the head-scratcher or at least an unexpected showing from Blige. Who knew she sang in French? It’s a bit of a bore if you ask me, while “The First Noel” has some clunkiness about it initially. Once the guesting Clark Sisters truly get riled up though and the gospel destination is reached, “The First Noel” ends up being something special. “Noche De Paz (Silent Night)”, which closes the album, is perhaps one of the more surprising moments. Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony? Who saw that coming. Would I’d have preferred a more soulful take on “Silent Night”? Yes, but it is a contrast for sure.
Ultimately, Mary J. Blige has never faltered in my eyes. A Mary Christmas is no falter either. That said, MJB still falls victim of the same pitfalls of other big name artists who release a Christmas album. It’s good and suits its purpose for the season, but I wouldn’t call it amongst the ‘elites’ of Christmas albums. Still, worthy of some spins to incite the holiday cheer!
Favorites: “Little Drummer Boy”; “My Favorite Things”; “This Christmas”; “When You Wish Upon A Star”
- Mary J. Blige – A Mary Christmas (Album) (heartbeatmusik.wordpress.com)
- Mary J. Blige Teams Up With Barbra Streisand For FABOOSH Duet! Listen To The Song HERE!!! (perezhilton.com)
- #NewRelease: Mary J Blige “A Mary Christmas” (idealisticambitions.wordpress.com)
Panic’s latest effort packs a sizable punch despite its brevity
Panic! At The Disco⎪ Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! ⎪ Fueled By Ramen⎪⎪US Release Date: October 8, 2013
Produced by Butch Walker
If there is one thing that has to irk Panic! At The Disco, it’s being in the shadows of another, more popular pop-punk band named Fall Out Boy. Personally, it irks me too, because time and time again, it seems that Panic has separated themselves from the colleagues with their stylistic adventurousness and nonconformity. Fourth album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! doesn’t eschew that eclecticism, this time relying on elements of 80s pop, electronic music, and R&B as major influences. As captivating as the rest of their discography, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is another welcome addition.
“This Is Gospel” sets the tone for Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, characterized by its creative lyrics (such as “This is the gospel for the vagabonds / ne’er-do-wells and insufferable bastards / confessing their apostasies…), energetic production, and gargantuan refrain. Groovy, with frontman Brendon Urie’s whiny, dramatic vocals shining, “This is Gospel” transcends being merely another emo song. It’s obvious numerous musical influences are at work, a characteristic that remains afloat throughout this effort. “If you love me, let me go / these words are knives and often leave scars / the fear of falling apart…” Good stuff, good stuff.
“Miss Jackson”, featuring Lolo, is nothing short of brilliant, truly finding Urie utilizing his contemporary R&B chops – still with emo-pop swag of course! And why not? Urie does reference Janet Jackson’s memorable “Nasty Boy” (“Call Miss Jackson if you’re nasty”), asking “Miss Jackson, Miss Jackson, Miss Jackson, are you nasty?”Similarly exciting is the pre-chorus/chorus section, which involves the return of yes you guessed it, the infamous g-d word that played such a pivotal role in the band’s biggest hit, “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” (“…haven’t you people ever heard of / closing the g–damn door…”). Here, it plays out equally dramatic and relevant for emphasis, accent if you will : “Hey-ey / where will you be waking up tomorrow morning? / hey-ey / out the back door, g–damn / but I love her anyway…” Throw in bombastic, exciting production work and “Miss Jackson” kicks some serious boo-tay. Rock on.
“Vegas Lights” incorporates perhaps one of the most unexpected samples of the year – Sesame Street’s “Five Song”. Go figure. It works perfectly on the neo-disco/new-wave driven cut. “Vegas Lights” doesn’t supersede the one-two punch of “This Is Gospel” or “Miss Jackson”, but it’s no slouch either. Still memorable, the momentum remains at a consistent label as the chorus lyrics ring true: “The Vegas lights / where villains spend the weekend / the deep end / we’re swimming with the sharks until we drown…” “Girl That You Love” proceeds, continuing on the new-wave kick. Filled with minimalistic ideas that scream ‘80s, the timbre is just as notable (if not more so) than the song itself. Simply put, “Girl that you love / girl that you love / girl that you love / knows you don’t”. O…K…
Thank goodness that “Nicotine” is nowhere near “f–king drag” Urie speaks of throughout the song referencing addictive alkaloid. Sigh, the eyebrow raises than ‘f-bombs’ create regardless of the song, particularly with more than one iteration. “Cross my heart and hope to die / burn my lungs and curse my eyes”, Urie poetically sings on the first verse. “I’ve lost control and I don’t want it back / I’m going numb, I’ve been hijacked.” The allusion of love and smoke is flawlessly executed, best evidenced during the refrain: “I taste your lips and I can’t rid of you / so I say damn your kiss and the awful things you do / you’re worse than nicotine.” Ultimately, “Nicotine” proves to be as addictive a listen as it is the “f–king drag…I need it so bad” which the frontman conveys.
“Girls/Girls/Boys” certainly will grab men’s attention, at its simplest stating that “…girls love girls and boys / girls love girls and boys…” Who would’ve ever thought that Panic would go there? They are honest at least, and the “aww shucks” approach just makes it even better. Risqué it is, this reminds me of something David Bowie would absolutely eat up. Infectious, “Girls/Girls/Boys” is superb.
“Casual Affair” could never live up to “Girls/Girls/Boys”, but it follows up consistently if nothing else. “Far Too Young To Die” benefits from its creative lyrics, including “I never so adored you / I’m twisting allegories now / I want to complicate you / don’t let me do this to myself” (verse 1) or “Fixation or psychosis? Devoted to neurosis…” (verse two). Yep, it’s pretty ‘emo’ if you ask me, but would any of us really have it any other way? I mean “…give me one last kiss while we’re far too young to die”. Another winner by all means. Hey, Urie’s “just a villain vying for attention from a girl…who can’t decide.”
“Collar Full” gives Too Weird… one last ‘home run’ you might say. Bright, once more embracing neo- new wave, the groove definitely incites the uncontrollable tapping of one’s foot. “We’ve waited so damn long, we’re sick and tired / I won’t leave any doubt or stone unturned,” Urie proclaims on the first verse, continuing stating “I’ve got a collar full of chemistry from your company…” Pathetic pick-up line or genius? I’m not sure I’ll use it to land my next date, but I give kudos to Panic’s poetic talents. I mean at least Urie is creative in his bedroom endeavors, right? What better way to close than “The End of All Things”? “Lay us down, we’re in love.” Both dark and romantic, emos everywhere are happy…or sad…or, well, emo.
So did Panic! At The Disco score? YEAH! I enjoyed previous album Vices & Virtues very well, but I love the fact that the band once more experiments with their sound playing up their eclecticism. Maybe it doesn’t quite match the eclectic, electrifying shock that was Pretty. Odd, but it certainly solidifies the fact that Panic! At The Disco don’t want to be pigeonholed into just one stylistic characterization. It definitely pays off once more.
Favorites: “This Is Gospel” ; “Miss Jackson”; “Nicotine”; “Girls/Girls/Boys”; “Collar Full”
- Panic! At The Disco – Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die (sanssheriffmusic.com)
- Album Review: Panic! at the Disco, ‘Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die!’ (pop-break.com)
- Album Review: Panic! at the Disco – Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! (thesource95.com)
- Panic! At The Disco – Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die review (theeditgcu.wordpress.com)
- Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie: Fourth Album Is A Confessional (hollywoodlife.com)
- Panic at the Disco Get Racy, Recreate D’Angelo’s ‘Untitled’ (rollingstone.com)
- Panic! at the Disco gets behind “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” (capitalcitytickets.net)
- Panic! At the Disco – Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! (musictalk27.wordpress.com)
- Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie’s ‘Starbucks Drake Hands’ Video Is The ‘Citizen Kane’ Of ‘Starbucks Drake Hands’ Videos (buzzworthy.mtv.com)
Welcome to the final part of my Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013. Here is where I housed my honorable mentions, which were many. If you missed the previous two posts, here’s how I opened them up respectively, beginning with Favorites and ending with Least Favorites:
“As I look over my 2013 playlist from my iPod, I realize I have listened to numerous albums this year. In fact, the amount of music that my ears have consumed and my pen has analyzed is pretty scary…and I still missed lots of albums! SMH! Some were special, some made me cringe, and some fell somewhere in between the two extremes. As difficult as it was, as of October 7, 2013, I have compiled a list housing my favorites, least favorites, and honorable mentions. I’m almost certain I’ve slighted someone and I’m sure there will be continual revisions, but for now, here’s what you should’ve spun, what you should’ve avoided like the plague, and those that were strongly consideration for favorites. Enjoy!”
“Welcome all who dare to part deux of my Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013 for all who dare to enter the brentmusicreviews zone! Ha… If you missed the first part (Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1), you should like totally check out my favorites from 2013, ‘cause there was some awesome albums. If you’re not one for positivity and optimism, maybe you’re just checking this out because some you enjoy skepticism, criticism, and the occasional, um, cynicism.
Onward to the honorable mentions!!!
Travis Garland, Travis Garland
Ariana Grande, Yours Truly
Lorde, Pure Heroine
Conor Maynard, Contrast
There was one dominant pop album in 2013 and it was not by Justin Bieber (yep cheap shot). Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience was sort of ‘the promised land’ of pop. But Justin wasn’t the only album that impressed. John Mayer has been more subtle lately, but Paradise Valley was well conceived. Travis Garland isn’t well established yet, but he should be following EPs and his compilation effort Travis Garland. Ariana Grande sounded angelic, particular with boyfriend Nathan Sykes (The Wanted) on “Almost Is Never Enough”. Lorde’s sorta pop, sorta alternative mix made it a fine listen while Britain’s Justin Bieber Conor Maynard out-swag’d the “swaggy” singer easily with debut Contrast.
Harry Connick, Jr. Smokey Mary
Harry Connick, Jr. Every Man Should Know
Michael Bublé delivered my favorite traditional pop album of 2013, but who can deny the musicianship of either Harry Connick, Jr. Or George Benson? Smokey Mary introduced the funky “S’pposed To Be” to my constant rotation playlist while Every Man Should Know added its country-tinged self-titled ballad. As for George Benson? What more is there to say to hear a legend paying tribute to one of his own legends on tracks like “Route 66” or “Unforgettable”?
Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull
Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
John Fogerty, Wrote A Song For Everyone
Rock certainly didn’t dominate 2013, but there were definitely some exceptional albums. While Queens of the Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork and David Bowie’s The Next Day took top honors in my eyes, Kings of Leon, Alice in Chains, and John Fogerty definitely ‘did work’ too. Kings of Leon impressed on “Supersoaker” and were humanized on the seemingly autobiographical “Wait For Me”. Alice in Chains reminded us just how good 90s rock/metal was, particularly on title track “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”. As for the legend of this trio, John Fogerty’s collaborations effort Wrote A Song For Everyone was so much better than expected, like really!
Depeche Mode, Delta Machine
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away
The National, Trouble Will Find Me
Let’s just keep this short and sweet. Stacked, stacked, stacked!!! This category of music is always loaded, period. An annual number one seed you might say. Vampire Weekend were definitely the act to beat, but Phoenix, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and The National all rocked too, as evidenced by their spot on my list. “Entertainment” from Phoenix just made me feel happy because of its bright brilliance. For electro-alt vets Depeche Mode, it’s the general darkness of the music that has a hypnotizing effect; they never sound old. Nick Cave’s exceptional songwriting is undeniable, particularly on standouts like the opening “We No Who ‘U ‘R” and the infectious groove of “Finishing Jubilee Street”, which is a follow-up to “Jubilee Street”. The National pleased with “Don’t Swallow The Cap” and “Humiliation” among others.
Bilal, A Love Surreal
Chrisette Michele, Better
Alice Smith, She
Yeah, I know I’ve whined about R&B, but most of the time it wasn’t the quality of the albums but rather the dismal sales. None of the above mentioned albums exactly made a huge chart impact (Fantasia did well contextually speaking), but all four were and are definitely worthy of some spins. “Without Me” was definitely my jam from Side Effects Of You, even if it is more of a women empowerment cut… don’t judge me, it’s sick! “Winning Hand” tickled my fancy from Bilal’s A Love Surreal, while one of Alice Smith’s best moments was actually a cover of Cee Lo’s “Fool For You”. As for CM, “A Couple of Forevers” is among my top cuts of the year regardless of genre. All four albums receive my humble approval.
Teena Marie, Beautiful
Aaron Neville, My True Story
R&B isn’t getting much attention in general, so of course the veterans get the worst of it. Teena Marie’s posthumously released final studio album is one she would’ve been incredibly proud of. As for Aaron Neville, there is literally no one who come close to the versatile soul singer’s vocal timbre. He exceptionally covers old, old school classics on My True Story.
Mac Miller, Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Tyler, The Creator, Wolf
Earl Sweatshirt, Doris
A$AP Rocky, Long. Live. A$AP
A$AP Ferg, Trap Lord
This is one lengthy list right? There are also probably omissions and arguable omissions. To answer the skeptics, yes I purpose excluded Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail off this list – it was not my favorite, least favorite, nor really an honorable mention in my eyes. Kanye West definitely had an argument for a ‘favorite’, but I also had my own reservations with the album itself. Mac Miller showed more maturity on Watching Movies With The Sound Off, but not without his fair share of references to his… Anyways, Odd Future releases are always captivating (Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt), while A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg both impressed with their respective efforts and signature styles. I know I’ve left off others… it was a good year for hip-hop.
I’ll admit, I knew very little about Congo Natty, also known as Rebel MC. After being given the opportunity to review Revolution, however, I was extremely impressed with the album and Congo Natty himself.
Avishai Cohen, Duende
Gerald Clayton, Life Forum
Redtenbacher’s Funkestra, The Cooker
I absolutely adore jazz, period. However, it is easy to ‘sleep’ on a genre which played a huge role in my musical education. Yes, it sounds like I turned my back which seems hypocritical given my jazz piano background. Actually much of the reason is that popular music tend to ‘shock’ and pull in so many major headlines. It’s not fair obviously, as some of today’s greatest talents lie within the jazz realm and definitely don’t receive the attention they deserve. Jazz may often take a backseat on this particular site, but it doesn’t in my heart in the least. I do review it in addition to the ‘pop’ and Avishai Cohen, Gerald Clayton, and Redtenbacher’s Funkestra definitely had killer albums. #MadRespect
- Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1… (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 2… (brentmusicreviews.com)
Garland impresses with his abilities big time on this self-titled compilation
Travis Garland⎪Travis Garland⎪ Stereotypes Music ⎪⎪ US Release Date: September 10, 2013
Let’s just cut to the chase and cut all the bull-. Pop (I’d label him predominately contemporary R&B) singer Travis Garland should have blown up by now, period. When I listen to album Travis Garland, I ask myself the question in a Martin Lawrence movie quote: “What the problem is?!” Travis Garland is in the same league if not higher than the best pop albums of 2013, no questions asked. Sure he may not have quite achieved that Justin Timberlake swag yet, but this effort seems like a step in that direction by all means.
“Where To Land” opens Travis Garland strongly, embracing a modern pop and contemporary R&B sound. Garland flaunts his compelling tenor, impressing particularly with a falsetto that seems to be innuendo in itself (if there’s such a thing). Maybe it’s an exaggeration, but the vibe emitted from “Where To Land” is all about making passionate love (“Why don’t you tell me where to land? / yeah, yeah, baby / I’m falling right into your hands… tell me our love is deeper, tell me it’s like the ocean”). “Motel Pool” is suggestive like the opener, but it’s also poetic, and romantic: “Baby I take the weight from your heart / wash the worries off your mind tonight…” Like the opener, Garland shows incredible command vocally proving to be incredibly talented.
Even the most talented artists likes to have fun too. Not that either “Where To Land” or “Motel Pool” where bores as they weren’t, but “Easy” is all about a percussive groove that gets the blood running hot. Definitely a more grown and sexified Michael Jackson styled cut, “Easy” definitely finds Garland making swag, soulfulness, and overall artistry seem easy. He’s even better on the gospel-infused “Abby Lee” which is nothing short of a showstopper. Just how churchy is it? Like ‘lets use organ’ churchy! Perhaps it’s sinful and blasphemous, I think every guy can relate to its message, particularly the chorus: “Abby Lee, have your way with me / Abby Lee, I’m starting to believe”. Hey, at least Garland ask for forgiveness over his lust…more than many guys I know, LOL.
“Clouds” is as slickly produced as anything else. It’s also as sensual and suggestive as anything else (“The way my name rolls off your lips / I think there’s no better sound… you’re like a drug, I see them hips…”). Staying attuned to the stoner influence in pop-music, it seems appropriate to allude to being “high” right (“You got your head in the clouds / and I just wanna get high…”)? Horny or not, “Clouds” is another solid showing for TG. “Pullin My Hair” works well too, with the suggestiveness continuing to run rampant. To further accentuate the innuendo is hip-hop/reggae production work. Honestly, “Pullin My Hair” would be the perfect club cut, particularly with naughty lines like “Oh girl, it’s killing me / tryna put her hand on my trigger, oh no no…”
After a wild night at the club, Garland gets serious about his ex’s mistakes. “You f**ked up, don’t you know it babe? / When you wake up, you’ll still my face…”, he sings on “You Made Your Bed (So Lay In It).” A message ‘tried and true’ as well as a grinding tempo and moody production The-Dream or The Weeknd would kill for, makes “You Made Your Bed” another winner. After a broken relationship, Garland seeks to begin an immoral one on “Neighbor” in which he sets up this illustrious tale of bedding his married neighbor. Arguably the most memorable line? “F**k a neighborhood watch / all you need is me girl I’m always on the clock.” A common fantasy, right? Definitely hip modern R&B at its best. Chris Brown would eat this up.
“Other People” chills from the physical, opting for the emotional side of love. If chivalry never showed itself before this cut, it does as Garland proclaims “Cause I just want the best for you / even if that don’t include me.” Still might help towards bedroom aspirations… did I just say that. Anyways, “Modern Life” adds some rock-soul sensibility, giving Travis Garland sort of a different sound. Here, Garland reminds me of Bruno Mars, particularly given his grittiness. While both “Other People” and “Modern Life” shine, I prefer “AllSheWannaDo”, one of the albums strongest showings featuring a rap verse courtesy of Casey Veggies. The title pretty much gives away the theme, particularly the final word “do” (hint, hint, hint). This is confirmed in the present generation’s speak and I quote “That’s that sh*t I’m talking about…” There it is. Call it young and dumb, or call it swag. We’ll never be ”Royals“ according to Lorde.
“Homewrecker” seems sort of a continuation of “Neighbor”, fully embracing going through with the immoral act. “Blue Electric Roses” is stronger though, even with arguably the most unromantic, possibly most ineffective line ever in “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you should f**k with me.” However maybe Garland gets away with it… for all us other guys, I wouldn’t try it. “Chariots of Fire” is fiery, but not in the sexual sense. Here, Garland talks about relationship issues as a celebrity, a legit concern and theme: “Saying that my profession is too much and you quit / but you knew what you signed up for the first time that we kissed…” True TG, true. “1 of 1” appears as a worthwhile bonus cut (iTunes). The idea? “You’re the only one… Darling, you are the 1 of 1″. Some girl is lucky in the world apparently, LOL.
My overall thoughts on Travis Garland? Why hasn’t this guy blown up? I think LaShun Pace puts it best, even if she was referencing God and not a secular, parental advisory album: “all things are working”. In other words, all the pieces seem to be soundly working together on this compilation effort by Garland. He can sing, he has swag, he has the looks, and his music is edgy aka sexually charged. Sure there are a ton of pop and R&B singers trying to make it in an oft hellacious music industry, but personally, I think Garland is incredibly special. And who cares if the album runs a bit long? Just more swagaliciousness to take in!
Favorites: “Where To Land”; “Motel Pool”; “Abby Lee”; “Clouds”; “Neighbor”; “AllSheWannaDo”
- Artist To Watch: Travis Garland (dynamicdolls.wordpress.com)