Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


So, this week I didn't get to a lot of new music.  My week has been kind of hectic (and this week is looking even busier), but what I did get to was rather incredible, and there is one album in particular that is so good it rests firmly at the top of my list for Best of January and could very well be the Album of the Year, like, for real!

Yes, everyone...it's time for Tuesday Tunes Tastings!


Anti [Rihanna]


Alright, so I love me some RiRi.  I think she’s sexy as hell and she has this essence about her that is so enticing.  I own all of her albums and have listened to them many times.  I don’t really love any of them.  I love her, but Rihanna has always been kind of a singles artist to me.  She knows how to pick a single.  She knows how to sell the hell out of a radio hit.  Her albums, as a whole, are usually clunky, unfocused, messy and disappointing.  I love about a quarter of it, really like another quarter, tolerate another quarter and hate the last quarter.  She’s anything but consistent, musically, but she’s consistently in your face in this way that makes you want to root for her.  When I downloaded Anti (because I could not listen to it for free on Spotify) I was hoping for the best, but not expecting a lot.

B*tch EARNED my money…every penny!  This album is the album of the year.  I’m calling it now.  It may seem completely presumptuous (it’s still effing January), but MY GOD, this album is perfection.

What Rihanna does right here is ditch the faux edge she adopted the minute Chris Brown laid his hands on her and she strips away the angst that made some of her music uncomfortable and she delivers the best R&B album since the days of TLC.  She sits in the 90’s groove of musical sexuality and lingers on every word, drips onto every note and dominates every track in the most effortless of ways.  That’s the key, this album is the most effortless, comfortable and honest Rihanna has ever been.  

Whether you’re resting in the pocket of slinky lovemaking with the opening Consideration and the astonishing Kiss it Better or listening to Rihanna establish a hardness that feels legit, like on Desperado and Woo, or falling for her sex kitten gaze on Needed Me, or witnessing the growth of an artist on songs like the Paul McCartney inspired Never Ending and the breathtaking jazz nightclub ready closer Close to You, Anti gives us everything, and everything is perfect. 

Grade:  
5 Miley Tongues
Why?  It’s perfect.  It’s effing perfect.  This is her moment.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  Anti
Favorite Song of the Year:  Kiss it Better
Best Songwriting:  Love on the Brain
Best Female Vocal:  Love on the Brain
Urban Contemporary Album of the Year:  Anti
Best Urban Contemporary Song:  Kiss it Better

Don’t You [Wet]


Soft.  That’s the best way that I can describe the debut pop effort from Wet, the alternative pop act fronted by Kelly Zutrau.  Wrapped around this pop base is the magic of R&B lacing every delicate vocal, which elevates so much.  If you were to take the edgy vulnerability of Banks, drop in the delicate sensuality of Elisa and overlay it all with the soul of Sade, you’d have Wet.  From the albums stunning opener, It’s All in Vain, to the stripped down closer, These Days, Wet’s debut has such flow, such remarkable texture.  It’s true, the album is practically ballad after ballad after ballad, but these ballads have such earthy honesty draped over them that one can’t help but feel completely entranced by what they bring to the table.  It’s not the bouncy pop you’ll hear on the radio, but it’s a sub-genre that brings more substance and more emotion to the table, and Wet does it beautifully here.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I can’t shake the beauty of these tracks.  Each song is so beautifully woven into the fabric of the album.  If this is where pop is headed, I’m happy to be on the journey.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  Don’t You
Favorite Song of the Year:  It’s All in Vain
Best New Artist:  Wet
Best Female Vocal:  Move Me
Pop Album of the Year:  Don’t You
Best Pop Song:  It’s All in Vain

In Search of Harperfield [Emma Pollock]


Remember the days of Fiona Apple and Tori Amos?  Emma Pollock does, and she does her best to emulate their influence all over her latest album, In Search of Harperfield.  The album has nice moments of nostalgia wrapped into a nicely packaged album fusing rock, country and pop.  The first half of the album feels almost theatrically influenced, especially in the orchestral Intermission.  There is a Natalie Merchant vibe contained in moments, with a lingering veil of rasp worked into tracks like Cannot Keep a Secret, but it is the surprise of the second half that really got me, with the poppy notations sneaking it, calling to mind more recent wonders like Feist and giving the album actual musical texture.  In the Company of the Damned is a beautiful example of taking the old, bringing it to the new and making it feel like something comfortable to the listener.  I was hooked from the very first track, and just when I thought her album was getting predictable, she turned a corner (but not in an uneven sort of way) and gave me a reason to keep listening.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  She knows her stuff, and she knows how to make it count.  Because of her teetering on genre, Emma Pollock has given us an album that you can’t grow tired of, and that means something.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  In Search of Harperfield
Favorite Song of the Year:  Intermission
Best Songwriting:  Intermission
Alternative Album of the Year:  In Search of Harperfield
Best Alternative Song:  Intermission

New City Blues [Aubrie Sellers]


Unfortunately, there is nothing new or particularly exciting about Aubrie Sellers debut album.  She has a very familiar country sound, something old and earthy and lodged in the foundations of a Honky-Tonk in Tennessee somewhere, and I respect that, but in the day and age where there is so many modern interpretations of country music, you have to either prove yourself innovative or you need to deliver average in an above average way.  You have to be flawless.  She’s nice, and the album is nice, but it also verges on ‘plain’, which is never a good thing.  Her voice isn’t undeniable enough to sell old fashioned standards in a way that feels validating.

Grade:  
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I’m struggling to find a reason to continue listening to this album.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
NO

Nine Track Mind [Charlie Puth]


I’m going to say this, and it may sound strange, but it’s the absolute truth.  I want to make love to Charlie Puth’s voice.  Like, I’m not even joking in the slightest.  It is P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N.  It’s silk, but full bodied, full of honesty and passion and it’s just SEX.  Ok, I’m sweating now.  His debut album, Nine Track Mind, cements his status as one of the very best vocalists of this or any generation.  While the album as a whole isn’t remarkably inspired, there are moments of pure pop magic.  Hate on the cheeky gimmick of it as much as you want, but Marvin Gaye is just a perfect pop song.  The aged vintage feel of songs like One Call Away and the jazz infused Dangerously are beautifully fused with the strength in his voice.  He’s so convicted in the way he delivers every run.  The crowning jewel here is Suffer, which contains my favorite vocals (male, female, alien, animal, spirit creature) of the decade.  There is filler here, I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t.  But you can’t go wrong with this album.  As You Are is fun and fresh, We Don’t Talk Anymore is the best thing Selena Gomez has done in a long time (gurl, go home) and Up All Night soars in this Jackson 5 kind of throwback way.  He’s etched in urban pop and he sells it beautifully.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  It’s that voice, people.  I can’t stress enough how absolutely perfect it is.  Generic is only really generic if it’s sold in a generic manner.  Puth sells it with the bells and whistles of his voice, and that’s enough for me.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Best New Artist:  Charlie Puth
Best Male Vocal:  Dangerously (He won the Mouthi last year for Suffer, which was released on his EP from 2015)
Best Collaborative Vocal:  We Don’t Talk Anymore (feat. Selena Gomez)
Pop Album of the Year:  Nine Track Mind
Best Pop Song:  Dangerously

This is Acting [Sia]


I think I expect too much from Sia.  I’m not sure why, since as much as I liked her singles off 1,000 Forms of Fear, I didn’t care for the album much as a whole.  I think that her name in the industry is supposed to represent something and so because of that I expect that she’s going to produce superior pop music, and so I’m continually let down.  The same is true with This is Acting, an album that I was actually really excited to listen to last week.  The main issue I have with this album is that it feels incredible lazy and underthought.  The beats are recycled from better albums/songs/artists and so they all feel sort of uninspired and tired.  Her lyrical capacity is not tapped enough here either.  I’ve listened to her music before (we all have) and I’ve listened to some of the classic pop hits she wrote (even though she didn’t sing them all) and so I know what she’s capable of writing, and a lot of these songs feel bland and borderline dumb.  Songs like Move Your Body and Unstoppable shouldn’t exist, and songs like One Million Bullets are so cheap sounding they aren’t much better.  I also can’t be the only one who is, at times, bothered by Sia’s voice when she isn’t hitting those incredible notes during her runs/chorus.  Like, she has a gift, but at times her wobble of a singing voice on the verses makes my ears hurt.  Alas, this isn’t all bad.  Not at all, and I know it seems it from all I’ve written.  The opening track, Bird Set Free, is actually a really GREAT pop song and hits these choral points that made my hair stand on end.  It set a bar she just couldn’t reach, sadly.  Reaper is rather perfect, as well.  It probably has the best lyrical passages here as well.  The second half of the album trumps the first half, with Reaper being the turn around, but it remains too little too late.

Grade:  
2 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I just want more.  She has a big name in this industry.  She isn’t a newbie.  I expect her to be a notch above, and so far she remains several notches under her potential.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Female Vocal:  Bird Set Free
Best Pop Song:  Reaper

16 comments:

  1. Don't care for any of these people though I do like some stuff by Rihanna. I'm just not a fan of the Tidal music service which I think is just a streaming service made by rich artists who want your money so they can have more money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rich artists getting richer is pretty much the circle of life, at this point.

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    2. Yeah but with a bunch of bullshit where it makes those realize that they're just in it for the money. They want you to pay for their champagne. Well, I piss in their champagne bottles.

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  2. You're right about Rihanna being more of a singles artist. I've never purchased an album of hers completely, only singles off iTunes. But I'm glad to hear this album of hers is awesome. I'm going to have to listen to her. Her songs are so catchy.

    That's a shame Sia's wasn't better. I still blast Chandelier and Elastic Heart frequently.

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    Replies
    1. I urge you to indulge in Riri's new album. It's incredible.

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  3. Dude, I searched up Intermission by Emma Pollock and I'm all in on this. That song is dope. And yeah, you mention Fiona Apple and Tori Amos, and I'm done.

    Done.

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    Replies
    1. Fiona Apple and Tori Amos fan? How awesome! Yeah, you'll love Emma Pollock. I'm checking out one of her earlier albums right now.

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  4. I forgot what I was going to start with because I got stuck on that whole thing about Charlie Puth's voice. Never heard of this guy, but if it's that great I gotta hear it. Warning you, though, if I start getting all hot and bothered by it I'm cutting it off.

    Oh, yeah. I know what it was. Rihanna. I have a love hate thing going with her. She is absolutely gorgeous, so no argument from me there. I love lots of her songs, because they just bounce, but I hate how collectively vapid they are and she seems to be. And she's definitely a singles artist. Now, you're telling me hers is the best R & B album since the 90s? Wow. I'll have to check it out, for sure.

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    Replies
    1. DUDE!!! I'm right there with you with Rihanna...but I'm telling you...Anti is the perfect name because this is the Anti-Rihanna that we all know and ushered in is the dawn of the QUEEN of R&B...like...this album is PERFECT.

      And listen to Puth's Suffer...just listen to it!

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  5. I feel so...useless when it comes to new music. I do agree that Rihanna seems more a singles type of gal-in every way:) I have heard of Sia, I think,...is that the nut who wears her hair over her face? Now I have that one song by Rihanna that I hate...That Diamonds song-ick

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  6. Ok, I'm checking out all of these, except for New City Blues. Fingers crossed for This is Acting. I might listen to Anti this morning! :)

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