Monday, June 02, 2014

FRESH OUT THE BOX: Austin Mahone, Mariah Carey, Robyn, Miranda Lambert, Cher Lloyd & more...

This past week in particular was pretty slow in terms of bankable releases but in terms of what's new, here's what I was grooving to for the past two weeks:

Undoubtedly the most high profile artist release this past week was Mariah's latest, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse. I grew up on Mariah -- I wanted to be her when I was a little girl. That being said, it's not much of a surprise how much of a retrograde she's been in over the years with the one shining exception in The Emancipation of Mimi. Her latest is definitely better than critics are saying it is, but that's not really saying much, now is it. I do like a handful of the cuts but mostly, the rest was forgettable. It is worth mentioning that she sounded great and opted for a more retro production flair on most cuts. But I'm not anticipating any iconic gems from this set. This one with Wale is my current running favorite, mostly because it sounds like a disco smash (although Wale is more than a little distracting in the beginning).

Any nugget from Charli, I'm gonna take -- including this bratpop one-off featured on The Fault Is In Our Stars soundtrack. It's the second post-True Romance offering after the undervalued "SuperLove". Given its placement on such a high profile soundtrack and the success of "Fancy" with Iggy Azalea, the US might actually get her sophomore album after all. Yassss.

Requisite "adult" music suggestion here -- the lead single from Coldplay's latest, Ghost Stories. I probably should like them more than I do, I just wish they weren't always so darn morose (divorce to Gwyneth not withstanding).

The lead comeback single from the newly trio-ized Danity Kane surfaced awhile ago but finally hit iTunes this past week. It's jaunty and it's sassy and it references "Show Stopper". It also has no Aundrea Fimbres, who has announced she will be stepping back from the group following their #NOFILTER tour that is currently in process (I have tix for Tuesday!). Not enthused about Drea's departure at all. Still, this is a fun one for summer.

The debut EP, Start A Riot, from this British soul siren shouldn't be missed. I first discovered her when her single, "Start A Riot", was offered as a free download on iTunes earlier this year. Vocally superb and pretty catchy, too.

The summer weather brings out the honkey-tonk in me, even if I don't want to cop to it. This floor-stomper sees reality star winners/country cuties Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood trade verses. The track is a hype single for Lambert's latest, Platinum, out this week, and follows the lead single "Automatic". The full set also includes a track with another of my faves Little Big Town. Throw in Gloriana and Shania and you legit have all the country artists I can stand in one place. 

After dropping a handful of surprisingly pretty good hype singles, Cher's delayed sophomore set not-so-tongue-in-cheekly-titled Sorry I'm Late dropped this past week. About half of the album we've already heard in the weeks leading up to its release, plus singles "I Wish" and "Sirens". Overall, it's much more  of a cohesive sound and definitely more listenable (read: less rap-talking) than her debut, Sticks & Stones. My favorite of the new cuts is "Bind Your Love". 

Bringing back the 90's urban gal group game, Detroit trio Love Dollhouse (formerly just Dollhouse) have dropped their debut single "Can I" on Capitol and it's so effervescent and singable! Lead vocalist Ryan is serving serious Chilli of TLC vibes in the very best of ways. Hoping for more good 'uns!

Do you miss the days of *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys? Then honey, you gotta jump on the Austin Mahone bandwagon! His latest EP, The Secret, dropped this week and with the exception of bleh single "Mmm Yeah" (featuring who else but Pitbull), the entire set is full of serious almost Cheiron/Zomba b-sides re-recorded in 2014 with some additional crunchy electroswizzle. The fact that all of these sparklers were produced by RedOne was a pleasant surprise to moi. Give "Secret" or "Till I Find You" and tell me they aren't forgotten boy band smashes (written when Mahone was a toddler -- he's 18).
If you're a fan of dark singer-songwriter pop a la Charli XCX above, file Melanie Martinez under one to watch. This Long Island songstress first gained steam on one of 'The Voice' seasons where she was guided by Adam Levine. Her debut bow, Dollhouse EP, dropped on Warner and the four track set is full of slow-burn scorchers. My favorite is the lyrically deep "Carousel", complete with circus pomp and roll.

Our Queen has returned to us! The full offering of the Royksopp & Robyn project, named after the brilliant first single "Do It Again", dropped at the very end of May. Just five tracks in length, it pains me to say it's a touch self-indulgent in places. I'm not a huge fan of these super long track lengths (I'm looking at you, too, Timberlake) but it's forgivable because she's effing Robyn. While "Do It Again" is easily my favorite, "Monument" comes in a very close second. In the latter's case, the almost ten minute track length is somewhat warranted and makes sense -- it's literally an audio journey.

The latest from one of the most underrated power alto's out there. "Dumb" is not as instantly iconic as previous Jazmine hits but her soulful delivery really cuts through the ether to bring the most generic of cuts to a whole other kind of level.

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