Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


So, one month is officially done and over with and that means that I've listened to and reviewed 32 albums so far.  I've actually listened to a few more, but I didn't get them reviewed because I listened to them after I posted that week's 'tasting'.  I hope you guys are enjoying this new series.  I've enjoyed putting them together, even if trying to listen to all this new music is, at times, overwhelming.  

Now it's February, and that means a new crop of artists are going to be blessing us with their music.  This week I got to 6 albums.  I wanted to get to more, but time got away from me...and one album in particular fascinated me to such a degree that I listened to it quite a few times, taking away from the time I could have spent listening to something else.

I'll admit, this week started off rough.  The first album I tried listening to was Wiz Khalifa's new album...but two songs in I couldn't take it any more.  I thought I was a fan or something or I don't know, I knew the name and had heard him on other tracks and just assumed I would be into this, but yuck.

Thankfully the week got better, mostly.


All I Need [Foxes]


Pop music in the vein of Goddess Jessie Ware, Foxes’ sophomore album is pure bliss from start to finish.  Bouncy in all the right places, toned down and legitimately intimate when needed and compelling all the way around, All I Need really does give the listener all they need from the genre.  With unexpected musicality and a voice to cut right to the heart, I’m in love with what Foxes has put together here.  If You Leave Me Now shows such rich command of emotional intent, Scar layers in an almost Country-Rock tone to give more texture to the album, and songs like Wicked Love and Body Talk amp up the pop to such fun and flexible levels.  When I say the album has it all, I’m not lying.  Louisa Rose Allen (her real name) has a quietly powerful voice that sits so beautifully in the pocket of her music like a whisper to the listener, a subtle, comforting whisper that slowly yet surely grows louder and louder.  If you’re a fan of Ware, you’ll be in love with Foxes.  If you don’t know who Jessie Ware is, you better find out.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues


Why?  Nearly a flawless album, it’s a consistently great record that will surely spend many days in rotation over here.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  All I Need
Best Female Vocal:  If You Leave Me Now
Pop Album of the Year:  All I Need
Best Pop Song:  Cruel

The Driver [Charles Kelley]


When Charles Kelley’s debut album started, I was reminded of Tim McGraw at his most ‘pop-country’ like and I was kind of turned off.  I’ve been spoiled lately with some real raw and inspired country music, and this felt like a step back into the lazy interpretation of a country radio hit.  But, the opening track, Your Love, ended and with The Driver I was brought to a more authentic, almost spiritual place and I was convinced to give the album a full listen.  I’m glad that I did.  While there are elements of pop in this country, it’s sparse and usually well placed.  What Kelley offers here is a really well constructed evolution of a Country Star.  From songs that feel entrenched in country roots to songs that feel progressive and more in tune with what is being portrayed now within the genre, Kelley shows he has the chops to take country in whichever direction he chooses.  Whether he’s grooving to a more relaxed, Zac Brown Band sound, like on Dancing Around It, or singing alongside legends like Stevie Nicks or breaking out the soft rock – Brian Adams sound like on The Only One Who Gets Me, Kelley keeps his debut interesting from start to finish.  Another notch in his belt is the fact that the album is a mere 9 tracks, allowing him to make his presence known and then depart before he grows tired or overstays his welcome.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues


Why?  It’s not a perfect album, but as far as debuts go, it works.  He’s one to watch, and he definitely has something to offer.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best New Artist:  Charles Kelley
Best Collaborative Vocal:  I Wish You Were Here (feat. Miranda Lambert)
Country Album of the Year:  The Driver
Best Country Song:  The Driver

Hidden City [The Cult]


This may sound weird, but this is the first album by The Cult that I’ve ever listened to.  I know, I need to leave now, listen to their discography, and come back.  Not sure I want to do that, but whatever.  Listening to Hidden City, I tried to put myself in a place of admiration for their sustainability as a band, but not knowing what came before makes grading this on that particular merit hard.  I can only judge this album as a standalone piece, and as a standalone…I was bored.  The album feels too aged, too non-essential and WAY too long.  With songs that span nearly 6 minutes (some more), there just isn’t enough brought to the table to justify the length.  The musicality is bare bones in many places, predictable and uninspired.  It has moments, like on the lively (and playfully arrogant…and unintentionally ironic) G O A T, but sadly the album is only consistent in its lackluster construction.

Grade:  
2 1/2 Miley Tongues


Why?  I respect a band that can continue to persevere, but there comes a moment when you should probably pack it in and just rest on your past successes, especially in an ever growing industry.  This may be their time.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
NO

Nothing But Thieves [Nothing But Thieves]


When Nothing But Thieves’ debut album finished, I immediately started it over again and listened to it through one more time.  When it ended that second time, I failed to take repeat off and…guess what?  I listened to it a third time.  Since last Friday, I’ve listened to the album, front to back, six times.  I’m not joking.  It’s that good.  I don’t think I’ve heard a debut from a band sound this polished, this assured, this self-confident.  Not a single song sounds out of place, underdeveloped or unnecessary.  You know what else is impressive?  Not a single song sounds the same.  With a sound that calls to mind an edgier OneRepublic with sprinkles of The Black Keys and the softer side of Deftones, Nothing But Thieves offers such range in their debut that I can’t imagine them topping this; but I really want them to try.  From the louder aspects of Ban All the Music and Itch to the more melodic offerings like Honey Whiskey and Graveyard Whistling, this album continually surprises me.  And then we have Conor Mason.  As frontman for this fledgling band, he has a lot on his shoulders.  He is, pun intended, the voice of this band…and WHAT…A…VOICE!  The heavens have truly kissed his vocal chords.  With a range that would almost feel operatic in scope and androgynous to the core, Conor anchors this band with a gift so rare.  He completes the package and helps deliver a band that stands apart from the pack.  Just listen to Lover, Please Stay.  Listen.  NOW!  C-H-I-L-L-S!

In fact, listen to it now:


I'm literally f*cking crying right now.

Grade:  
5 Miley Tongues


Why?  One of the greatest debut albums I’ve heard in ages, THIS is what new music is supposed to feel like and this is a band I can’t wait to get to know better.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  Nothing But Thieves
Favorite Song of the Year:  Lover, Please Stay
Best Songwriting:  Lover, Please Stay
Best New Artist:  Nothing But Thieves
Best Male Vocal:  Lover, Please Stay
Rock Album of the Year:  Nothing But Thieves
Best Rock Song:  Lover, Please Stay
Best Rock Performance:  Honey Whiskey

Pool [Porches]


The atmospheric sophomore album from electronica act Porches delivers some real moody moments that sustain themselves very well across the board.  If you like the mellowed out electronica pop genre, then this album will rest easy on your ears.  My only complaint here is that it maybe rests a tad too easy.  There is no real girth, no real bite here.  The album has exceptional flow, such an easy transition from track to track and, in that regard, it works astonishingly well.  It’s great background music, able to create and sustain a tone, a mood, beautifully.  Unfortunately, it’s a single mood throughout.  While in moments Porches reminds me of the remarkable Active Child, they lack the haunting quality that makes Active Child an unforgettable listen. 

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues


Why?  Like I said, it was a solitary complaint.  Despite the lack of variety, the one note is played brilliantly and consistently enough to validate many listens.  It’s such an easy album to love.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Dance/Electronica Album of the Year:  Pool
Best Dance/Electronica Song:  Be Apart

Wonderful Crazy Night [Elton John]


There is a song on Elton’s latest record entitled Guilty Pleasure.  I was prepared to admit to this album being my guilty pleasure of the week.  I was SO PREPARED to feel that way.  I have a soft spot for Elton.  He’s a legend for a reason.  His voice is epic and his control of his music is always (almost always) so on point.  But…this album is kind of awful.  Instead of feeling nostalgic and effortlessly ‘Elton’, Wonderful Crazy Night feels so dated and a tad cringe-worthy in the way that it amps up the corn to create an album that never feels genuine and mostly feels like a caricature of who Elton used to be.  Elton’s previous album, The Diving Board, while not monumental, at least felt like a mature work from one of music’s living legends.  It was a touch safe, but it was a respectable addition to his discography.  Sadly, this album feels like a joke.  I guess the album cover art should have been a tip-off.

Grade:  
2 Miley Tongues


Why?  Because something lower feels a touch cruel.

Possible Mouthi Contender?

NO

14 comments:

  1. Enjoying the series and appreciate the time you are putting into this. I listened to the singles from Foxes, and I like "Body Talk" the most. From last week's batch, I've been listening to Emma Pollock you recommended and my favs are "Intermission" & "Old Ghosts"

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    1. Awesome Chris! I'm so happy you're enjoying these posts. Glad you were able to check out Pollock's album. Intermission is just stunning.

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  2. Can't say I'm dying to hear any of these. That's not to say I won't listen to some. I'll surely find some time for Foxes and Nothing But Thieves, but I probably won't rush to do so. And Wiz Khalifa...sigh. I already know I'm not a fan.

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  3. Foxes has an amazing voice. I'll have to give her album a listen soon. I hope it does well.

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    1. It's my favorite Pop Album of the year, so far.

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  4. Wait, this is the first album by the Cult that you heard.... BAD!!!! BAD!!!! YOU HAVE FAILED!!!! You need to go to Sonic Temple and realize why they fucking rock. I'm not interested in their recent material. They lost me when they did that song for Gone in 60 Seconds and I think Ian Astbury is a total dick.

    I'm not sure if I want to hear the new Elton as I couldn't get into the last one he did. I found it boring.

    BTW, have you heard about my 29 Days of Bowie project? Here is my take on Young Americans.

    AIN'T THERE ONE DAMN SONG THAT CAN MAKE ME..... BREAK DOWN AND CRY!!!!!

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    1. I will get on their earlier stuff ASAP.

      You won't miss much avoiding the new Elton. Sadly, he should retire.

      I'll check out your Bowie project!

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    2. At least Elton isn't Rod Stewart. Now that is someone that either needs to retire or die. He's been making a fool of himself for 20 years now.

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    3. Oh, dear lord...Rod Stewart...

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  5. Just listened to All I Need, and I liked it. I think I prefer her first album Glorious, though. Still need to check out Nothing But Thieves, and I might give Pool a try.

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    1. I need to check out her first album, then...because I loved All I Need!

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    2. It feels more commercial, but I'm a big fan. And I LOVE her live cover of Clarity, which is on the deluxe version (not on Spotify).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPSjTeN27Ss

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