According2g’s Top Debut Albums of 2013

Posted by The G on December 3, 2013 under G Reviews | Read the First Comment

Photos by G.  Autographs obtained in person by yours truly.

2013 was a good year for new artists releasing music.  The hype machine of the internet and anti-social media will do its best to keep you inundated with industry darlings and keep you scratching your head wondering “why in the world are these artists popular?”   If you want an alternative to all that, read on for my list of the 13 best debut albums.  These artists impressed me both on stage and off.  I have my fingers crossed that all of the people on this list become huge stars.  To help make that happen, get these albums and spread the word.

Jessie Ware - Devotion

Jessie Ware – Devotion

1. “Devotion” by Jessie Ware.  Jessie Ware not only has my favorite album by a new artist in 2013 but she also has the distinction of being my favorite album by ANY artist in 2013.  The fact that she beat my beloved Pet Shop Boys in this competition speaks volumes!  Her debut “Devotion,” is a perfect record. She’s got the voice, she’s got the look and she’s got 12 songs that have had me wearing this album out in 2013.  I have listened to this album over 200 times (per my iTunes dashboard) and I cannot get enough of this album.  Think of Jessie’s music as the missing link or a bridge between the power ballads of Adele and the smooth down-tempo R&B grooves of Sade.  From the opening title track, Jessie Ware tells her audience “I need your devotion,” over a silky beat.  I remember the first time I heard this song, my jaw dropped open there was no doubt that she will always have my devotion.  The song “Running,” is one of the sexiest tracks committed to tape and her more danceable songs like “Imagine It Was Us,” “If You’re Never Gonna Move” and “No To Love,” will have you reaching for the repeat button long before the tracks are over.  The slow jams “Night Light,” “Wildest Moments,” “Taking in Water” and the introspective “Something Inside” are all excellent and you may find yourself participating in a private lip-synch competition as you listen to these songs in public.  Jessie Ware has also had a bunch of non-album singles and collaborations with the likes of Disclosure, Sampha, Katy B, Mayer Hawthorne and has released an on-line cover of Prince’s “Love…Thy Will Be Done,” and all of these songs are excellent.  In concert, she doesn’t simply reproduce the studio versions, but instead gives her band the opportunity to change up the music, but one thing remains – her voice is a powerhouse.  Her banter to the crowd in between songs is so precious, you will want to take her home with you.  While we wait for the world to catch up on the greatness that is Jessie Ware, she’s already a mega-star in my book and I am very excited for her future!  Thanks for bringing so many smiles to my life Jessie!

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg

2. Jake Bugg by Jake Bugg.  When you hear Jake Bugg’s debut album, you will be wowed by the songwriting as the folk/rock singer has so many songs that take you back to a time in the past.  There are times he sounds like Dylan and times he sounds like Johnny Cash.  What will impress the hell out of you is that Jake Bugg is not a 40 year old troubadour, but instead is 18 years old!  Songs like the rockin’ “Lighting Bolt” and “Taste It” are a glimpse of how much he can rock and tracks like “Fire” and “Country Song” are so introspective, there is no doubt that Jake Bugg is going to be a huge star.  The only JB you should concern yourself with is not Justin Bieber, but instead, Jake Bugg!

Foxygen - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

3. “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic” by Foxygen.  Remember when MGMT jumped the shark and instead of making sophomore pop record, they made a meandering art rock record with few catchy songs?  Well, if they would have made that same record with songs were catchy, it would probably sound like “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic.”  There are songs that have a Beatles/Stones/Kinks quality to them and they have great lyrics such as “There’s no need to be an asshole, you’re not in Brooklyn anymore.”  If you see Foxygen live, lead singer Sam France dances all over the place and has a hypnotic stage presence.  I’ve read a lot on the web this year about various tensions within the band and I hope they are not true because Foxygen has great potential to be the next go-to psychedelic rock band.

Savages - Silence Yourself

Savages – Silence Yourself

4. “Silence Yourself” by Savages.  If Siouxsie Sioux was in a modern hard rock band, the music might sound like “Silence Yourself.”  This album is a no nonsense affair with short and to the point songs that are guaranteed to kick your ass.  The opening track “Shut Up” is a prelude of things to come as the album features no slow songs and each track is a rocking scorcher.  The breakthrough song “Husbands” borrows heavily from the sound of the chorus of Patti Smith’s “Horses,” but in the context of the 38 minute no filler album, all is forgiven.  Who said ladies can’t rock?

Jagwar Ma - Howlin

Jagwar Ma – Howlin

5. “Howlin” by Jagwar Ma.  The Australian trio have made a brilliant debut album.  Before “Howlin” is over, you will hear dream pop on “That Lonliness”, the experimental “What Love,” the dance floor jam “Four” and the trance inducing “The Throw.”  If you’ve only heard a track or two from Jagwar Ma, rest assured that the entire album is not just the same style over and over again, a rarity in this day and age.

Peace - In Love

Peace – In Love

6. “In Love” by Peace.  If you miss the British 90s rock sound, it’s alive and well in the music of Peace.  The quartet from Birmingham feature brothers Harrison and Samuel Koisser, on vocals/guitar and bass.  Tracks like “Higher than the Sun,” “Follow Baby” and “Delicious” are meant to be played in stadiums.  They also have some psychedelic moments such as the album closer “California Daze.”  Follow them baby!

Atlas Genius - When It Was Now

Atlas Genius – When It Was Now

7. “When It Was Now” by Atlas Genius.  I’m starting to notice a trend that great debut albums of 2013 are rarely made by Americans (save for MS MR, Foxygen and The Neighbourhood) and this entry is by the Australian Jeffery brothers.  Of course, with that last name, how could I not like them, but I am not playing favorites.  Atlas Genius’ music consists of dance oriented pop tunes.  If you like Two Door Cinema Club, you will also like Atlas Genius.  There are no unneeded guitar solos, and instead just irresistible grooves, such as “If So,” “Electric” and “Trojans.”  For the ladies and gays, even if you don’t like their music, these guys are extremely hot!

The Neighbourhood - I Love You.

The Neighbourhood – I Love You.

8. “I Love You.” by The Neighbourhood The music of The Neighbourhood (who use the British spelling of the word despite being from Los Angeles) aka The NBHD fuse alternative rock, electronic beats and smooth vocals.  Their songs are ready-made radio hits (however, the radio tends to focus on playing glossy pop trash).  Lead singer Jesse Rutherford is tattooed from the neck down (read: so unbelievably hot) and he shows off lots of skin in the video for “Afraid,” which you should not miss.  Many of their songs work as great call and response tracks when you see them live so check them out!  Highlights are the single “Sweater Weather” and “Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh).”

Little Green Cars - Absolute Zero

Little Green Cars – Absolute Zero

9. “Absolute Zero” by Little Green Cars.  Folk rock has made a big come back over the last couple of years and while so much of it never has a worthy cresendo, Ireland’s Little Green Cars are filled with songs that have satisfying conclusions.  Whether they are signing a capella or harmonizing on songs like “My Love Took Me Down To The River To Silence Me,” you will find yourself enjoying all of their songs even if folk music isn’t your ‘thing.’

Tom Odell - Another Love

Tom Odell – Another Love

10. “Long Way Down” by Tom Odell.  Ok, I got the EP signed since the full length album was not available when I saw Tom Odell earlier this year.  So sue me!  When you hear the soul in Tom Odell’s voice (which channels Chris Martin, Billy Joel and Thom Yorke of Radiohead), you will have a hard time believing that Tom Odell is only 22 years old!  Once again, he has a huge career ahead of him if he can be that young and sound so good.  His debut is filled with lots of power ballads, but to give you a preview of his rockin’ potential, check out the track “Hold Me.”

Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon

Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon

11. “Sing to the Moon” by Laura Mvula. There’s a reason Laura Mvula got nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize overseas – because she’s amazing.  Another master of the power ballad and slow jam, when Laura gives us a beat, such as on the song “Green Garden,” you will find it irresistible.  Prince is an early champion of her music and after you hear “Sing to the Moon,” you will be too!

Lorde - Pure Heroine

Lorde – Pure Heroine

12. “Pure Heroine” by Lorde.  After loving Jake Bugg’s album all year long, it’s hard to be impressed because those mature lyrics and great voice are coming from an 18 year old.  New Zealand’s Lorde is ffffing 16 years of age!  Wow!  She sounds kind of like “Lana Dey Rey Light” with lyrics complaining about being broke and feeling out of place, but it works well.  I think of all the people on this list, Lorde will be the first mega-star of the bunch.

MS MR - Secondhand Rapture

MS MR – Secondhand Rapture

13. “Secondhand Rapture” by MS MR.  Last, but certainly not least, we have “Secondhand Rapture” by American duo MS MR (pronounced Miz Mister).  Lead singer Lizzy Plapinger has a voice that sounds like Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) and has a sense of style that will surely be recognized in the coming months and years. Their songs (such as “Bones”)  have been featured in commercials and it’s a matter of time before MS MR become your new favorite band.

Thanks to all these great artists for the joy their music has brought to me in 2013 and I wish you all unparalleled success in 2014 and beyond!

Happy 25th Anniversary, “Lovesexy” by Prince

Posted by The G on May 10, 2013 under G Reviews | Be the First to Comment

Photo of the Lovesexy album cover by G.

Lovesexy by Prince

Lovesexy by Prince

On May 10, 1988, Prince released his final 1980s masterpiece, “Lovesexy.”  The 9 track album was his most spiritual record to date, possibly influenced by his last minute decision to scrap the dance/funk “Black Album,” which contained some of Prince’s dirtiest lyrics to date.  Prince was the master of mixing spirituality with funk and turning the tables on you as evidenced by songs such as the opener “Eye No,” a rewrite of his still unreleased song “The Ball,” featuring the late Boni Boyer who takes you to musical church with her gospel flavored vocals.  The mega hit “Alphabet St.” is up next, starting exactly where “Eye No” ends and in fact, for many years, the “Lovesexy” CD was issued as one track to give the listener an uninterrupted musical/spiritual experience.  “Alphabet St.” features a rap from his dancer Catherine Glover (better known as “Cat”), and the line “Cat, we need u 2 rap,” is a favorite refrain even amongst non-Prince fans.  “Glam Slam,” which inspired the name of night clubs that Prince would later build, is next and was a minor hit.  Side one finishes off with the rock ballad “Anna Stesia,” which appears to be Prince apologizing to his God for even considering releasing the “dirty” “Black Album.”  “The Black Album” was later officially released 10 years later when Prince was trying to get out of his contract with his label Warner Bros.

Side 2 kicks off with the current state of the world track “Dance On,” and its lyrics about guns and violence are still relevant 25 years on.  The title track “Lovesexy” follows and it’s a perfect example of how Prince used to be the master of intertwining sex and spirituality as Prince’s alter-ego Camille makes an appearance during the climax of the song (that is literally a climax) but rather than have a proper orgasm Prince tells his lover that if he comes back as a woman, he wants a body like yours!  The sexy ballad “When 2 R In Love,” recycled from “The Black Album” slows things down and features Prince’s sexy poetry that is so absent from his music today as lines like “The thought of his tongue in the V of her love / This thought / it leads the pack” let the mind wander into X-rated territory even though the lyric is G-rated.  Threading sex and spirituality, the next track is the minor hit “Eye Wish U Heaven,” and when the song was released as a single, he turned the 2 minute and 43 second track into a 10 minute opus that has 3 distinct sections to it.  The B-side of “Eye Wish U Heaven,” is the track “Scarlet Pussy,” performed by Camille trading licks (literally and figuratively) with then band mate Sheila E.  And as only Prince can, the song is not about directly about sex.  Instead it is about a feline and her suitors and is one of the funkiest tracks Prince has committed to tape.  The album closes with the epic finale “Positivity,” which advises the listener at the end of the song “Hold on 2 your soul / We’ve got a long way 2 go.”

The album cover (as you can see above) was perfect for this record that fuses sexuality and spirituality in that way only Prince can get away with as Prince appears naked on the cover, but the picture is anything but “dirty.”  Prince took the album on a world tour and his Lovesexy band consisted of some of the best musicians he’s ever played with.  In addition to a lavish stage production that featured a ton of dancing, Prince playing many instruments and NO lip-synching, Prince transformed many of his past songs into funky new medleys and after performing in stadiums, he and his band wound down their night by playing completely different material, for another 2 hour “jam session” at small clubs in the cities they were in.  Many recordings of those shows have been bootlegged and they stand out amongst Prince fans as a golden period in his career where he was musically on fire.  As his lyrics fused sexuality and spirituality, on stage he was able to fuse every style of music often seamlessly blending jazz with guitar solos that would make Jimi Hendrix stop and take note.

One of the things that makes “Lovesexy” stand the test of time is that Prince challenged his audience to discover new ways of thinking without being a preacher.  Unfortunately, 25 years on the same cannot be said as Prince strictly tells his listeners how they should conduct their lives as he has converted to the religious cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Comparing the way Prince conducts his life now as opposed to the way he did 25 years prior, the message of “Lovesexy” is stronger than ever – “Religion needs spirituality and not the other way around.”

Happy anniversary, “Lovesexy.”

Portugal. The Man Announce New Album: “Evil Friends”

Posted by The G on March 9, 2013 under GNN | Be the First to Comment

Photo courtesy of Portugal. The Man

"Evil Friends" by Portugal. The Man coming June 4, 2013

“Evil Friends” by Portugal. The Man coming June 4, 2013

Great news!  Portugal. The Man have a new album on the way.  The record will be called “Evil Friends” and is coming out June 4, 2013.  The record will be produced by Danger Mouse and the video for the title track can be seen on Portugal. The Man’s official site.

The tracklist is:

  1. Plastic Soldiers
  2. Creep In A T-Shirt
  3. Evil Friends
  4. Modern Jesus
  5. Hip Hop Kids
  6. Atomic Man
  7. Sea of Air
  8. Waves
  9. Holy Roller (Hallelujah)
  10. Someday Believers
  11. Purple Yellow Red and Blue
  12. Smile

 

Happy 20th Anniversary “Pablo Honey” and “The Wedding Album”

Posted by The G on February 23, 2013 under GNN | Read the First Comment

Photo by G.

Top: Duran Duran's "The Wedding Album" Bottom: "Pablo Honey" by Radiohead

Top: Duran Duran’s “The Wedding Album” Bottom: “Pablo Honey” by Radiohead

I don’t know how this is possible, but it is.  February 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of 2 great albums: Duran Duran’s self titled album (later renamed “The Wedding Album” and Radiohead’s debut record “Pablo Honey.”

Duran Duran’s record featured world-wide smashes “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” and Radiohead’s debut featured “Creep,” a song the band have seemingly disowned as they’ve moved away from their indie rock roots and have become one of the most exciting and experimental rock bands since The Beatles.

Happy anniversary to both albums.  Thanks for 20 years of greatness… so far!

Share your (careless) memories of both albums in the comments section!

 

David Bowie’s “The Next Day” Teaser Posters Hit New York

Posted by The G on February 19, 2013 under Street Art | Be the First to Comment

Photo by G.

The Next Day by David Bowie

The Next Day by David Bowie

It’s true!  David Bowie has come out of retirement and is releasing a new album entitled “The Next Day” on March 12, 2013.  The album cover, which is quite possibly the worst album cover I’ve ever seen, has 4 counterparts in teaser posters that are now being blasted all over New York City.  What do you think of the art work?  Let’s just focus on the important things – Bowie is back and if there’s a god, he will tour!  🙂

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