Aaaand I’m back. Can I just say: it turns out blogging about music without a consistent/reliable Internet connection is pretty hard to do. Hurricane Sandy did a number on my Internet provider so it was a very long 12 days until my connection finally returned. Hope all of you fellow east coasters are returning to your normal routines like I slowly am. We’ve got a bunch of new music this month from artists like Crystal Castles, One Direction, Christina Aguilera, and Rihanna. Click on to listen to the latest and more:
I’m not really sure what it is about the color red and album titles (see: Taylor Swift, The Game, Weezer) but here it is again in the form of Ne-Yo’s fifth album. For some reason I don’t want to like Ne-Yo – maybe I still have a sour taste from the overplaying of his biggest hit “So Sick” (I know, I know, that was back in 2006, I should probably get over this now) – but he does R&B really well. From the dance track “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” to the country-tinged “She Is” featuring Tim McGraw, R.E.D. looks like it has a good mix of his usual sound and some surprising influences. Check out “Be the One”:
Crystal Castles, (III)
(III) is the third studio album from electronic experimental band Crystal Castles. Band member/producer Ethan Kath decided to approach the recording of this album differently by eliminating the use of computers, synthesizers, and keyboards and limiting himself and singer Alice Glass to only one take per song. The theme of the album – oppression and dystopia – goes hand-in-hand with the album art they chose, which features a photo taken by Samuel Aranda of a woman holding her tear gas-exposed son during a street demonstration in Yemen in October 2011. Listen to the dark “Wrath of God”:
One Direction, Take Me Home
It’s no secret that I like pop music so it should also be no surprise that I have One Direction’s first album Up All Night prominently in my iTunes library. But (and this is a big but [ha ha]) I wasn’t a huge fan of that album. As a whole, it was a little…boring. Which hurts me to say! Seriously, these swoopy-haired boys have the talent and moxie so I’m really hoping they revamped their sound on Take Me Home – not for the sake of album sales (they will have absolutely no problem with that) but for the sake of, well, the art of music. Their single “Live While We’re Young” is undoubtedly infectious and still in the same vein of “What Makes You Beautiful” so we’ll see how it turns out on November 13th.
Christina Aguilera, Lotus
Christina’s last album was not, in fact, Back to Basics in 2006 (featuring hit “Ain’t No Other Man”) but Bionic in 2010. Huh? Bionic? I honestly can’t name a single song from that album. Bionic did poor commercially but I’ve found myself singing along to Lotus‘s lead single “Your Body” in my car when it comes on the radio so Christina’s got two things going for her this time around: radio play and a solid single. And it helps that the version Christina did with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots with office supplies was hilarious and genius.
Truthfully, the album title and Rihanna’s upcoming song “Nobody’s Business” with Chris Brown make me want to roll my eyes until they fall out of their sockets. Twitter antics and social issues aside, the first single that has been released to the public is “Diamonds.” I’m personally not crazy about it (at all) but maybe some of you are/would be into it. The track listing is promising, which shows collaborations with Eminem, Future, David Guetta, and Mikky Ekko.
Little Mix, DNA
British girl group Little Mix won UK’s X Factor last year and are set to debut their album DNA later this month. Their single “Wings” is infused with attitude and powerful vocals from each of the girls, which I really appreciate. My only complaint is that their music video is really busy with constant cuts from one camera angle and scene to another. After you finish watching it, you might want to close your eyes for a while to keep the room from spinning.
Stooshe is another girl group from the UK, except their genre specialty is R&B. Their sound is retro and Motown-inspired, which is pretty similar to current artists like Melanie Fiona and pre-“Losing You” Solange. The music video for “Black Heart” looks like it was taken right out of Hairspray or American Bandstand:
Alicia Keys, Girl On Fire
It’s been three years since we’ve heard anything new from Alicia Keys. Can’t blame her though – she’s been busy with being a new wife and mother. One of the songs I’m most excited to hear is “Fire We Make,” a duet with neo-soul legend Maxwell. The song will also feature guitar playing from up-and-coming blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. Until Keys drops another single, we’ll make do with the lyric video for “New Day,” which shows off NYC and the art of graffiti:
That’s all for the features this month! Thanks for reading and listening along with me!