Monday, June 27, 2011



Beyonce is back, after a brief hiatus, with her fourth album appropriately entitled, "4". She has assembled the usual suspects of top producers (Babyface, The Dream, Ryan Tedder, Tricky Stewart) to help her put this ambitious project together and it's clear she wanted to challenge and push herself musically but the results are decidedly half-baked.

Although a lot of the new music is what you would typically expect from Beyonce but I'm having difficulty warming up to some of the songs. The first single,"Run The World (Girls), took some time but I have finally begun to appreciate (The rocking music video has certainly contributed to that) but the other songs released, the ballads, "1+1" and "Best Thing I Never Had" have left me unimpressed, but there are definitely some nice cuts on the album such as "Countdown" and "Party" that features Andre 3000. Despite the old-school r&b flavor and the fresh beats, nothing really stands out as it should although you can tell there was much thought and effort put in to this album.

This is a song that I really like:

"Countdown" - Beyonce (2011)


When producer/songwriter, Danger Mouse (best known for his work with Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells) and film composer, Daniele Luppi met, they both realized that they both shared a love of the work of Ennio Morricone, the composer of the classic music scores of the spaghetti westerns of the 60's and '70's.

They have come together to make a loving tribute to that sound with the album, "Rome", named after the city where they did most of the recording. The duo enlisted the help of  Jack White, formerly of  The White Stripes and jazz/pop artist, Norah Jones to provide vocals and lyrics on some of the tracks. The music has a familiar feeling, since they used some of the musicians that actually worked with Morricone when he recorded his scores, yet seems very modern with lush instrumentals and haunting rock guitars.

"Two Against One" Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi featuring Jack White (2011)


One of the first commercially successful new-wave rock bands, The Cars had many hit songs such as "Just What I Needed", "Drive", and "You Might Think" but the group broke up in 1988.

The band has now reunited twenty-four years after their last album, "Door To Door" to release their seventh, "Move Like This". All of the original members, Elliot Easton on guitar, keyboardist, Greg Hawkes, drummer, David Robinson and Rik Ocasek, lead vocalist, guitarist and head songwriter, are back together (with the exception of bassist/singer, Benjamin Orr who passed away in 2000).

Produced by Jacknife Lee (who also played bass on the album) and The Cars, this new material retains their classic sound but moves the band in to the present. The Cars have also begun a North American tour to support the album.

Enjoy this track off of the new album:

"Blue Tip" - The Cars (2011)


Justin Vernon left his progressive folk band, Deyarmond Edison in North Carolina, retreated to his father's hunting cabin in Wisconsin and eventually created, "Bon Iver". The results became the album, "For Emma, Forever Ago" in 2007 which was a stripped-down affair that involved just a laptop, his voice and guitar.

It caught the attention, of all people, Kanye West who asked Vernon to work with him on his album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Explicit]". Four songs they collaborated on ended up on the album including my favorite track, "Lost In The World".

Now, Vernon has released his latest self-titled album, "Bon Iver [+Digital Booklet]" where he has seemed to have used his experience with Mr. West to progress his own musical endeavor which has this new work feel sonically larger. The results are eerie and beautiful.

Here is a great track from the album:

"Hinnom, TX" - Bon Iver (2011)


Foster The People is a LA-based alt-rock band that first came together in 2009.  Originally called "Foster and the People" but it was frequently misheard as "Foster The People" and the name stuck. The members are Cubbie Fink on bass/background vocals, drummer, Mark Pontius and Mark Foster on vocals, keyboards and guitar. Sean Cimino and Isom Innis perform with the band on tour.

The band has just released their first CD, "Torches" after a self-titled EP was put out earlier this year. The album debuted at number eight on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts and the first single, "Pumped Up Kicks" climbed to number one on the Billboard Alternative Song Chart.

Extensive touring, appearances at music festivals and exposure on music blogs helped Foster The People's quick rise to success.

"Houdini" - Foster The People (2011)


Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jill Scott began her performing career as a spoken-word artist which evolved in to singing when she met ?uestlove of the hip-hop group, The Roots. She toured with the band as a background singer and together they wrote the band's hit song that featured Erykah Badu, "You Got Me [Explicit]" in 1999 which led to her debut album,"Who Is Jill Scott? - Words And Sounds, Vol. 1"  the following year.

Ms Scott has now released her fourth CD, "The Light Of The Sun (Deluxe)" and her first under her own label, Blues Babe Records (named after her grandmother) which is distributed by Warner Bros. Records. She was part of the original neo-soul movement in the late 90's that blended together classic soul with hip-hop and her music remains warm, sensual, thoughtful and positive which is very refreshing in today's musical landscape.

Here is a perfect example of her sound:

"Shame" - Jill Scott featuring Eve

This is the new video for Lady Gaga's new single, "The Edge Of Glory". This is the first song off the new album that I really like and this video is great because of it's simplicity. No meat dresses, giant eggs or any other grand theatrics, just Gaga dancing in the city streets, wearing a demure (for her) leather bondage gear. This video is also bittersweet as it also marks the last musical appearance of the late Clarence Clemmons:

This is the music video for Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend" and I LOVE THIS SONG! I just don't understand why it's not getting any proper airplay on US pop radio. This is much better than a lot of the crap that is getting played.

Anyway . .  now, this is an example of simplicity: just Robyn singing and dancing, wearing the latest in Swedish fashion (just kidding, I hope) and it just works.


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