Saturday, June 28, 2014

FRESH OUT THE BOX: Playing Ketchup with LP, Colbie Caillat, Panama Wedding, Tove Stryke, Adore Delano & More

Where is the summer going? Ughhhhh. I've missed the "new release" window on these but it doesn't make them less awesome so make sure you fit these into your Spotify/iTunes playlists!

In the past, I was quick to judge Ms. Caillat as just a little too formulaic vanilla cuteness for my tastes (coming from me, this says something, right?). That was until "Hold On" broke late last year. She recently released a surprise EP in Gypsy Heart Side A and it's full of sunny, summery loveliness and a handful of 'real girl'-powery anthems that would be cruel to not stand behind. I stand corrected on my girl, Colbie -- I'm loving all of this.

It's official. We really are in a post-Girls Aloud World. Cheryl (apparently still) Cole has returned to the solo side of the pond via "Crazy Stupid Love", the first single from her fourth album Only Human. It's very handclappy (a la Little Mix's "Wings") and has a bit of a sax in there (relevant) so basically it's a little bit tryhard. Shrug. She looks amazing. The song is a grower for sure. We'll see how it holds up in the grand scheme -- it's out at the end of July in the UK.

If you weren't an avid watcher of RuPaul's Drag Race this past year like I was, you might have no clue who Adore Delano is but if you were an avid watcher of American Idol a few years back, you might still have a chance. Danny Noriega, best known for his head swiveling retort to Simon Cowell of "Some people weren't likin' it!" became a viral sensation back in 2008. He re-emerged recently as the glamtastic party-gal Adore Delano, placing second or third in the sixth installment of the drag queen competition show on LOGO (depending on who you talk to). While I was certainly #TeamBiancaDelRio, I had a soft spot for Adore throughout. Her humor and charm was truly her X-Factor and when you throw in that she's a pretty good singer, you have an undeniable stage performing waiting for the right opportunity. Adore released her debut set, Till Death Do Us Party (cover of the epic Wynter Gordon jam not included). It's a fab piece of guilty pleasure pop ("I Look F*ckin' Cool", anyone?) and quite a few geniune pop stompers in "Give Me Tonight", "Calling All Goddess" and current single "I Adore You". 

Best known as a marginal success story via the American X-Factor, the three boys of Emblem3 were briefly signed to Simon Cowell's label and opened for Selena Gomez on the road. Their single "Chloe (You're The One That I Want)" flopped hardcore and they released Songs From The Couch Vol 1., their latest EP, independently. However, it's currently looking like there won't be a Vol. 2 anytime soon -- lead vocalist Drew announced his exit from the band last week. So I guess they're Emblem2, now? Either way, "Say What You Mean" is fun little bit of pop -- all of Couch is a more mature departure from the embarrassingly juvenile "Chloe" days.

There's a lot of hype surrounding this Swedish duo outfit despite the fact that they aren't really new to the scene at all, not even in America. Also, a lot of folks are quick to correlate them to other popular Swedish artists like The Knife and Icona Pop when First Aid Kit's sound is totally different. Their third album, Stay Gold, is quite ethereal and folksy. Basically, if you dig Lana Del Rey but not her dismal attitude (My Hand's Up!), give First Aid Kit a spin. I love the title track best, if only for the Robert Frost/The Outsiders references.

This post-Pussycat Dolls/Girlicious/Paradiso Girls revamp group has literally been years in the making but their latest effort in single "Ugly Heart" finally shows real promise. It has just enough sass and snark to feel mainstream modern female with a memorable chorus that sticks. It's by far my favorite from the group so far. Now, if they could just ditch Pitbull.  

Mainstream Whistle Country Pop. Let's be real -- few are doing it better than LBT when it comes to big radio singles. I wish they got more credit (and exposure). 

Read My Lips: DO NOT SLEEP ON LP. LP, or Laura Pergolizzi, got her start writing hits for others and the majority of her writing credits skew decidedly more pop than anything depicted on her debut solo effort, Forever For Now. She's written for Erik Hassle, Rihanna ("Cheers (Drink To That)"), The Veronicas ("Lolita") and Christina Aguilera ("The Beautiful People"). Her debut is one of those rare records that every song is listenable and good. There is no need for skipping. It also should be noted that the executive producer for the album was Rob Cavallo, who co-helmed breakthrough projects with Green Day, Paramore and The Goo Goo Dolls amongst others. While the intensity is very much a lighter, more radio-friendly Florence + The Machine, LP's voice has a broader range of dimension. This is easily one of the best records of 2014 so far. No joke.

The twin bros that front Good Charlotte took a brief departure from the band this year for the much more relaxed, decidedly less emo The Madden Brothers. Whether or not you were a fan of Good Charlotte, give "We Are Done" a spin -- if only for the lead up post-chorus, full of stacked vocal harmonies that are perfect for singing at the top of your lungs in the summer heat. Well done.

I saw them live during CMJ and they just dropped their debut EP in Parallel Play. The too-short EP includes debut single sparkler "All Of The People" and this current single "Uma" which sounds positively The Police-like in the best way.

He's an Alt-AC version of Ed Sheeran perhaps. The one-man band Passenger has seen a steady uptick in interest with his radio single "Let Her Go", "Heart's On Fire" and "Scare Away The Dark". Despite the well-earned hype, he's still much more famous around the world than he is here in the States (isn't that the rub, though?). His latest record, Whispers, is great singer-songwriter pop. My fave is "Coins In A Fountain". 

Not to be confused with another fab Swedish popstar Tove Lo, 21 year-old Tove Stryke made her name on the Swedish Pop Idol and released her debut in 2010. She's had a handful of good 'uns credited to her but her latest, "Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking To You" (mouthful), is being served to US radio! Hurray! Because she's blonde and Swedish, the comparisons to Robyn are sure to come but they aren't totally unwarranted here. The song itself is very handclappy and sounds to me like a lost Ting Tings jam. Fantastic.

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