Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FRESH OUT THE BOX: Kylie Minogue, Karmin, Shakira, Rixton, Sia, Tove Lo, Chloe Howl & More...

Perhaps a bi-weekly wrap-up of new releases would be a little more palpable and easier to stick to, eh? Anywho, here's some of what's worthy of your attention from the past three weeks.

To call this "new" would be an oversight; this single in its English counterpart was first released back in the late summer internationally. It's gone to #1 in the UK, Germany, New Zealand and more and is poised to do the same here in the States. The song initially didn't do much for me but for some reason, the Spanish re-recording has hit all the right notes. It's full of smarmy, swarthy horn honks and is a decided departure from DeRulo's trademarked cookie-cutter pop&B sound (which admittedly was turning stale rather quickly). I give him props for taking a risk. This one is a serious earworm -- once its got its hooks in you, beware.

CHLOE HOWL - "Rumour"
"I'm just tryna work out / These cards I've been dealt..."
Stumbling upon this teenage Brit soulstress is much akin to how I felt when I first stumbled upon La Roux a few years back. She's both familiar but refreshingly new at the same time. Her EP, also titled Rumour, is now available in the US. It has 80's electro bends to it (not unlike La Roux) but with an emotional edge -- Adele chopped, screwed and remixed in the dark discotheque.

KARMIN - "Drifter"
"Guess as long as I'm a drifter / Hope I wind up on your shore..."
The Quirky Pop Duo's sophomore set has finally dropped yesterday in Pulses and its a mismatch of the expected and unexpected. They've matured a bit beyond relying on the oddity of Amy's rap-talk posturing but the vocal emergence of Nick (the other, until now "background" half of Karmin) is very prevalent which alters the identity of the act markedly. "Drifter" feels like a safe single bet with dup-steppy drops and a sweepy dance-radio sound. 

CHER LLOYD - "Sirens"
"I carry the weight of you..."
I have high hopes for Cher's upcoming sophomore album (if we ever get to hear it -- her label is certainly dragging their feet). If you fell under the complaint heading that this era's lead single, "I Wish", sounded too much like previous singles, "Sirens" will shut you right up. A P!NK-esque heavy ballad is not what I was expecting -- or really what I even initially wanted -- from an artist like Cher but it works in her favor and in this case, it works well.

"We could call it fleeting / We could could call it, we could call it / Le Love / Les Sex..."

Kiss Me Once is here!! If you don't already have your copy, I'll be complete honest when I say what the hell is wrong with you? The set is primo and totally lives up to the stellar hype its predecessor, Aphrodite, set up for it. Only one song truly falls flat for me and surprisingly, its the Pharrell written "I Was Gonna Cancel" (probably should of....anyone? No?). The rest is pure saucy pop goodness. My current fave is the not-very-subtle, slightly robotic "Les Sex". "Sexercize", "If Only", "Feels So Good" and "Million Miles" all come in a very close second though. Overall, this set ranks very high in my overall faves of the Kylie almost three decade long discography.

Mø - "Waste of Time"
"Say the words..."
Danish pop singer-songwriter Mø (real name: Karen Marie ølstead) comes out guns blazing for her debut set, No Mythologies To Follow, spawning a number of worthy singles (another great one, "XXX 88", has Diplo onboard). If you're a fan of this rising tide of dark pop, I definitely recommend it. She sounds a bit like if Lorde and Florence + The Machine had a Danish baby. Fun Fact: "Mø" is Danish for "virginal". Hmmm...

RIXTON - "Me And My Broken Heart"
"All I need's a little love in my life / All I need's a little love in the dark..."
Perhaps the cuties in Brit pop/rock band are filling the void left by The Script here in the US with their catchy choruses about love lost. "Me And My Broken Heart" is every bit as earwormy as "Breakeven" (can you believe the latter was popular almost five years ago?!?) and fits in quite well with this funky pop/rock Maroon 5-mainstream landscape. Be prepared for this to stick in your head and not want to leave.

SHAKIRA - "Medicine (feat. BLAKE SHELTON)"
"You won't see me poppin' the pills..."
Shak's latest record, the self-titled Shakira., dropped yesterday. Her sexy duet with Rihanna -- "Can't Remember To Forget You" -- along with the album's opener "Dare (La La La)" -- seem to be the only familiar remnants of mainstream Shakira. The vast majority of Shakira. seems to be deeply influenced by acoustic rock and country. It's an interesting new approach. Some tracks work better than others but one that really works for me is "Medicine", the anticipated duet with her Voice co-star Blake Shelton.

"So come on! / Let the ocean take us away..."
A+ in Marketing goes to Atlantic Records for this one. Whether or not this was queued up in the wake of Beyonce's "#Surfboart" meme virality, the Australian teen heartthrob may finally have the breakthrough US single his team has been waiting for. This in tandem with Cody joining the cast of the Dancing With The Stars (the most recent season premiered last week) could bode very well. Minimalist and less generic/predictable than his previous singles, I'm loving the Beach Boys-inspired vibe with three chords and whistles. 

SIA - "Chandelier"
"I'm gonna swing from the chandelier..."

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, so many hooks in this one! At this point, Sia stands on that hallowed ground of primo songwriter foremost (not totally unlike Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic) and she is needing her own big song (minus a David Guetta co-collab) to really solidify her as a double-duty artist. I'm not totally sold on "Chandelier" being that song but rest assured, it's still a great tune.

TOVE LO - "Not On Drugs"
"I'm not on drugs / I'm just in love..."
Swedish popstar-in-training Tove Lo (real name: Ebba Nilsson) has cut her teeth in the pop world writing tunes for others, including one of Icona Pop's best ("Ready For The Weekend"). Her debut EP, Truth Serum, has been hotly tipped to help break her wide open -- you'll find Tove Lo on a lot of "Most Anticipated" lists for 2014 (she only recently played her first US show a few weeks back!). "Habits" comes in a close second for its lyrical cheek but "Not On Drugs" is so ardently simple and glittery, it's hard to ignore.

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