Sunday, July 22, 2012

'Settling' Into Summer: A PLAYLIST

It's almost August, fam. How did that happen? So much good music is making its way onto a Spotify and general conciousness near you (or rather, me), it's hard to keep up this diary that I call a music blog. Here's a quick rundown of the "repeat offenders" in terms of big singles I've been wearing out lately.

NO DOUBT - "Settle Down"
You knew this one was coming, right? After an eon (literally), No Doubt finally returns with a new single. Their last proper release was the gigantic 2001's Rock Steady ("Hella Good", "Hey Baby", "Underneath It All"). It's very obvious the pressure to "stand & deliver" was astronomical, and it's arguable one of the reasons why it took the band so long to finally produce a single was because they were waiting for the moment. I have my disputes with "Settle Down" -- mainly, it's too long, not very punchy for a radio single and the instrumentals are a bit needless (for an album version, I understand but for the radio?). That being said, No Doubt always broke through doing their own thing and that hook is just undeniable. The chorus alone makes the entire song worthwhile. Who would have thought six little words would be so catchy? (Get. In line and set-tle down!)

THE XX - "Angels" (view here)

"Angels" is the lead single from The Xx's upcoming sophomore album, Coexist, set for a September release. It's beautifully haunting and slow-moving. Subtlety was always one of their strong points and that could never be more poignant than it is here.

CADY GROVES - "Love Actually" (fabulous live acoustic video here / studio version)
It's a shame "This Little Girl" didn't take off (Every girl is capable of murder...if you hurt her!) but "Love Actually" is every bit as punchy and hooky as Cady's debut single. It's very clear that Cady knows a killer chorus when she hears it and with the right support, Cady could totally waltz right in to that proverbial pop meets country token slot currently left vacant by Taylor Swift.

NERVO - "You're Gonna Love Again" (music video here)
Aussie twins Miriam and Olivia joined forces as Nervo and made waves as a pop songwriting team before getting their own record deal in 2010. Most notably, they co-wrote the Kelly Rowland breakthrough "When Love Takes Over", but have also worked with a variety of other popstars before releasing a handful of dancefloor friendly hype singles. "You're Gonna Love Again" is their first proper release and to say it's stellar would be selling it short. Attention discoteques: you're welcome.

MARINA & THE DIAMONDS - "How To Be A Heartbreaker" (live perf on Kimmel / studio version)
Marina follows up the Dr. Luke-produced first single off Electra Heart ("Primadonna" -- coincidentally also the name of the Ginger + Liz nailpolish I am currently rocking) with another Luke production in the US only single "How To Be A Heartbreaker". Overall, Electra Heart has lived up to the hype for me, even though I do feel The Family Jewels was a bit more consistent overall. There is no question "Heartbreaker" was a great choice for a single here in the US, even if I do fear the Katy Perry and Jessie J comparisons she may inevitably face.

TONI BRAXTON - "I Heart You" / "Maybe"
Alright, alright. Obviously I prefer my Toni in her 90's incarnations ("Breathe Again", "Another Sad Love Song", "Unbreak My Heart", "You're Makin' Me High") but her early 00's re-surgence doesn't get enough credit. That seems to be who Toni is currently channeling in her most recent effort in the dancey "I Heart You", which recently hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Charts. I'm comfy with Toni being a dance diva -- she certainly has the pipes for it. "I Heart You" was immediately on replay the minute I heard it, mostly because it reminded me of her under-appreciated single "Maybe" (in now hard-to-find remix form, obviously). I'd be down for that mashup.

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