Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


Alright, so this was a mixed week.  I discovered a new talent who has literally taken my breath away, and I was able to indulge in a surprise album from one of the most profound artists working today, but it was also a week where one of my musical idols delivered sub par work, so I'm a little bummed about that.

Alas, here are the six albums I was album to listen to Friday!


Everybody Wants [The Struts]


Not going to lie, I’ve been anticipating this album since Could Have Been Me hit the radio last year.  Such an electric song right in the British Rock vein that strikes big every couple years.  I got Jet vibes and I was hooked.  Their EP was a nice little taste of what they brought to the table, but I needed a full length album.  Was it worth the wait?  Pretty much, yes.  This album is actually a re-release of their debut album released in the UK back in 2014, but it’s new to us here in the States, and so for that I’m counting it as a debut release.  It’s bursting with energy, which is what makes this genre of rock so magnetic, but what takes The Struts over the top is lead singer Luke Spiller, who drips with charisma.  His every word (especially the rolled words) is filled with complete character that he becomes entrancing, even when the song itself isn’t anything wholly remarkable.  Much of Everybody Wants feels like the Beetles exploded all over the stereo but there is something so retro-awesome about the way The Struts weave their way through every track with gusto.  With five brand new tracks, this (sort of) debut is a great little album that I’m sure I’ll revisit throughout the year.

Grade:  
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  It’s really fun, but I’m not going to lie…Could Have Been Me is still the best thing here.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
NO [and really it’s a NO because I can’t see it being truly eligible.  It’s a re-release, and the best tracks were released on their EP last year and were eligible for the 2015 Mouthi Awards]

iii [Miike Snow]


There is a mellow ‘coolness’ that Miike Snow brings to the table that reminds me a lot of Jamiroquai.  Remember them?  Miike Snow channels them without ever feeling like some sort of carbon copy.  He’s uniquely his own agent, who glides in and out of funk fused dance music that nods it’s head at modern pop while developing dated elements in a new and fun way.  With edgier rock notions on tracks like Over and Over to the slinky R&B tones in Genghis Khan to the dreamy wash of I Feel the Weight to the hip hop closer, Heart is Full (feat. Run the Jewels), iii runs the gamut and does it remarkably well.

Grade:  
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  He’s having fun, and because of that so am I.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Dance/Electronica Album of the Year:  iii

Long Way Home [Låpsley]


O
M
G
Tears, streaming down the sides of my face.  This album is THAT perfect.  Think Adele meets Susanne Sundfør meets Róisín Murphy meets a Xavier Dolan movie.  British singer-songwriter Låpsley delivers a tremendous debut album with Long Way Home, an electronic-pop album that brings literally ALL THE FEELS!  Her ethereal vocals haunt each track as she laces the album with this almost religious tone.  Each track feels like a prayer, like a lifted verse from a Bat For Lashes album.  OMG, she is my current EVERYTHING!  Whether she’s whispering down from heaven on lush tracks like Leap or Painter or she’s sharply etching out pop masterpieces like Heartless and Hurt Me, Låpsley is a musical GODDESS and this album is most certainly one of the best of the year.

Grade:  
5 Miley Tongues
Why?  Smitten…f*cking smitten!

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year:  Long Way Home
Favorite Song of the Year:  Hurt Me
Best Songwriting:  Hurt Me
Best New Artist:  Låpsley
Best Female Vocal:  Hurt Me
Pop Album of the Year:  Long Way Home
Best Pop Song:  Hurt Me


Queen for a Day [Anouk]


I’ve been a fan of Anouk’s for YEARS and whenever I get the chance to pimp her out to people who don’t know who she is, I do it.  I go hard.  Her discography speaks for itself, and her range is just impeccable.  In my eyes, clearly one of the greatest voices in the industry, but more than that, she just has this incredible connection to her music that seeps out of every track and into the listener.  Unfortunately, her recent output of albums (pretty much everything this current decade) has been a tad underwhelming.  She set such a high bar for herself during the aughts that she almost seems to be competing against herself these days.  Her latest album, Queen for a Day, is a mixed bag of beautiful moments and tired constructions.  It’s her most ‘pop’ album to date, which I think also dampens the album’s impact and limits her talents because one thing I’ve always admired about Anouk is that she plays with genre so much.  Still, the album contains beautiful vocals that take some of these tracks and elevates them beyond what they would have been in another artist’s hands.  Her ballads here shine the brightest, with If I Knew and Right On Time showcasing her tremendous vocal range.  The edgier pop aspects of Run Away Together have enough jazz influences to make it feel like an Anouk song, and Dirty Girl is a blast, but songs like the oddly disco-inspired We Are and New Day just feel dated and beneath her.  Anouk either needs to get her hands on a more relevant producer, if she so desires to stay within the pop genre, or she needs to get back to her rock routes and give me the stripped down acoustic album I’ve been dreaming of.

Grade:  
3 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I LOVE her, but she seems to be coasting and almost feels past her prime, which is a tragic thing to admit.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Best Female Vocal:  Right On Time

Remington [Granger Smith]


Despite the fact that Granger Smith looks about 19 on the cover of his new album, Remington, he’s apparently been making music for the past 10+ years, so…I guess he’s just aging really, really well.  That being said, I sadly find nothing remarkably special about his album.  His voice is great, and shines in the softer tracks on the album, but the album as a whole is never able to shake the ‘generic country music’ tone it develops from the start.  When I say “country music” this is the kind of country radio music you’re going to think of immediately.  With song titles like Tailgate Town, If the Boot Fits, Blue Collar Dollars and Tractor, you kind of know where this is headed, but at least the polish on these tracks gives them a veneer of shine that defies the track titles.

Grade:  
3 1/2 Miley Tongues 
Why?  It just doesn’t produce anything truly special.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
NO

untitled unmastered. [Kendrick Lamar]


I think if I were to say that Kendrick Lamar is the most important rapper of his generation, most people would agree with me.  He has, in the past few years, proven that he has not just the talent as an emcee but the smarts to create music that actually says something profound about the world we live in.  He tackles heavy subjects and offers insight we all do well to listen to.  Well, SURPRISE; Lamar just dropped an unexpected EP on us and it further proves his genius.  Basically a collection of demos/unreleased tracks that were all recorded around the time he was compiling To Pimp a Butterfly, these songs (all conveniently ‘untitled’) maintain his dynamic energy while sifting from themes like politics, sexuality, poverty, success and the woes of life in general.  Bouncing from slick hip hop beats to funk inspired sets to jazz undertones, Lamar may have delivered an EP filled with ‘b-sides’, but even his b-sides put all lessers to shame!

Grade:  
5 Miley Tongues
Why?  Slay…he just continues to slay.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Favorite Song of the Year:  untitled 02|06.23.2014
Extended Play of the Year:  untitled unmastered.
Best Urban Contemporary Song:  untitled 02|06.23.2014

14 comments:

  1. Kendrick is so good. I can't wait to listen to this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OK I read this and recognized the Låpsley image from my Spotify "New Releases" screen, so I decided to give it a play. OMG is RIGHT. I'm only three tracks in and I LOVE THIS. My eternal thanks for bringing her to my attention. This is going to soundtrack my work today. And maybe the rest of the week, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG WHICH REMINDS ME: Have you ever listened to Vanbot? She's very similar and I ADORE her. By The Side of This Road, Make Me Break Me, and especially Lost Without You from her self-titled debut album are my favorites. Haven't had enough time with her newest album to let it sink in but it's also really good.

      Delete
    2. I'm going to hit Spotify right now and look her up! Thanks for the recommendation.

      Delete
    3. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Let me know what you think!

      Delete
  3. I'll definitely listen to Lapsley and Kendrick, probably skup the rest, though.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jet... now that's a band I fucking hate. They're just awful. I think Pitchfork's review of their second album said it all. They're just a bad AC/DC wannabe with no balls.

    With the exception of Kendrick Lamar, I have no interest in anything else. Plus, you will not get me to listen to any kind of country music that isn't Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, or Dolly Parton. I just despite country music as I think my boys in the New Day will testify about why it sucks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V0fje7WGKE

    Oh, and I'm now going to pimp myself once again with an announcement on my weekly/bi-weekly series that I call Favorite Albums Friday as I'm nearly half done with the first entry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, I liked Jet...but it's been years since I've heard them so maybe I'll feel different upon a re-listen.

      Can't wait to read your Favorite Albums Fridays!

      Delete
  5. Lamar and Lapsley are HIGH on my list of ones to check out. :)

    ReplyDelete