Tag Archives: music

Wonderful, Wonderful by The Killers (2017)

After a four-year break, The Killers are finally back with a new album. A good listener will be able to pick out some themes that build upon previous albums Battle Born (2012) and Direct Hits (2013). The upbeat single “The Man” being reminiscent of popular songs like “Spaceman” and “Mr. Brightside,” while slower, world-weary commentary similar to “All These Things I’ve Done” makes an appearance in the title song “Wonderful Wonderful.”

With a lot more bass and an ever-present synth overlay, Wonderful, Wonderful isn’t quite the breakout album Killers fans were hoping for—feeling more like a sophomore album than a fifth release—but it should not be ignored by fans old or new. As lead singer Brandon Flowers pleads in “Rut,” this is not the time to give up on him or The Killers. The new music shows a lot of growth from the band and sixteen years after their first release, they’re still capable of beautiful lyrics and catchy tunes, even as they find a new direction.

Rainbow by Kesha (2017)

It’s been five years since Kesha released an album, and a lot has happen between then and now. If you’ve been following Kesha, you’re probably well aware of her legal battles. Rainbow is one of those albums that highlights how amazing an artist Kesha really is and how much she has grown. A departure from her club pop songs, each song on Rainbow is heartfelt, catchy, and relatable. It also shows her audience a side of Kesha we haven’t seen before.

Did I mention she collaborated with Dolly Parton? Yes, you read that right—Kesha and Dolly! Refreshing, empowering, and fearless, Rainbow earned a space in my CD collection. Highlight songs from this album include singles: “Praying,” “Woman,” “Learn to Let Go,” and “Rainbow.” My personal favorite tracks are “Let ’em Talk” and “Boogie Feet.”

Push and Shove by No Doubt (2012)

No Doubt’s latest studio album Push and Shove was a much anticipated follow up to their 2001 album Rock Steady. Sadly, this album didn’t get as much commercial promotion that it truly deserved. Push and Shove dives deep into Gwen Stefani’s life, revealing her breaking points and reflecting on her life with then-husband Gavin Rossdale.

Lead single “Settle Down” is a fun summer song that will have you dancing and singing along with it. This album is truly underrated, and my recommended tops songs are “Push and Shove,” “Undone,” and “Dreaming the Same Dream.”

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (2014)

Carole King fought her way into the music business as a teenager. Along with her husband Gerry Goffin, she gave us songs we still sing along to. The musical follows her career along the bumpy road to fame and fortune.

Beautiful: The Carol King Musical (original Broadway cast recording) highlights such hits as “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “On Broadway,” “Uptown,” and many more. It is impossible not to want to sing along to this recording! It is a wonderful story with the bonus of exceptional music. Listen to the music CD or stream the album on Hoopla.

Joanne by Lady Gaga (2016)

joanneI have not been able to stop listening to Lady Gaga’s newest album Joanne. The album is named in tribute to her long-deceased Aunt Joanne, who passed away at the age of 19 and Gaga never had a chance to meet.

Gaga’s previous albums are much more glam/dance/pop and Joanne is a refreshingly stripped-down showcase of Gaga’s incredible vocal and musical talents.  There is a lot of variety on Joanne – it’s a little bit country, a whole lot of rock, and at times has Latin and Motown influences.

A few of my favorite tracks include: “A-YO” (a party tune that’s just plain fun);  “Joanne” (a heartbreaking acoustic ballad written to her late aunt);  “Hey Girl” (a funky duet with Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine); “John Wayne” (a crowd-pleasing guitar-heavy anthem); “Just Another Day” (perhaps a tribute to the late David Bowie or the Beatles); and “Million Reasons” (a beautiful catchy ballad that you won’t want to stop playing on repeat).  All the songs on this album truly showcase Lady Gaga’s absolutely stunning vocals and her incredible range as an artist.

If you don’t want to wait for the CD, stream it instantly via Hoopla!

Emotion (2015) & Emotion: Side B (2016) by Carly Rae Jepsen

emotionYou might not know any of Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs other than “Call Me Maybe,” but this girl is anything but a one-hit wonder. Jepsen is the Canadian Pop Queen and her 2015 album, E-MO-TION will have you bobbing your head and dancing in your seat to a mix of modern pop and 80s synth sounds. Some of the best songs to check out on this album are “Run Away with Me,” “Boy Problems,” and “L.A. Hallucinations.”

sidebIn 2016, Jepsen released Side B, which is an 8-track of songs that didn’t make it onto the original E-MO-TION collection. What counts as a B Side for Jepsen would be a smash hit on an A Side for anyone else. Even for a small collection of cut songs, Side B is creating a lot of buzz, both critically and among fans. My favorite songs here are “Higher,” “The One,” and “Body Language.”

Want to lift your mood a little? Watch the music video below for Jepsen’s “I Really Like You,” featuring special guest, Tom Hanks! Afterwards, you can check out E-MO-TION on CD or check out both albums instantly through Hoopla.

What We Live For by American Authors (2016)

5a7092e49e8fe81c0acce9e4525147bd-600x600x1As a huge fan of the 2014 single “Best Day of My Life,” I was excited to discover American Authors’ sophomore effort. What We Live For is an upbeat, feel good alternative pop/rock album. Especially catchy are the songs “Go Big or Go Home” and “Nothing Better.” Give it a listen to lift your mood. For fans of OneRepublic and Fun.

Good news: listen instantly on Hoopla (or check out the CD).

This Is What the Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stefani (2016)

gwenstefaniGwen Stefani has had quite the year. After a much publicized divorce from Gavin Rossdale of Bush, Stefani was on the edge of a breakdown. Much like the breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom (No Doubt – 1995), This Is What the Truth Feels Like takes a familiar tone and reflects what Stefani has been through.

The lead single “Used to Love You” gives listeners Stefani’s true emotion, showing her pain of the love she lost—but the album is not full of anger and disappointment. The album sheds light on Gwen’s newfound love with fellow The Voice coach Blake Shelton with other singles “Make Me Like You” and “Misery.” This album is a fresh breath of air from the insecurities she has displayed in previous albums about Rossdale. It is definitely worth the listen.

This Is The Truth Feels Like is Gwen’s first solo album to hit #1 on the Billboard top 200 charts. Get the CD in the library or download the album instantly on Hoopla.

Spotlight: Jazz Vocalists–Some New Recordings

straightnochaserThe Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern  by Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap (2015)

Tony Bennett and pianist Charlap give the gold medal treatment to some lesser known songs by Jerome Kern such as “Yesterdays” and “I’m Old Fashioned.” Bennett’s voice has aged, but he still has a way with a song and he allows Charlap to occasionally take center stage. A piano and the great Bennett is all it takes to deliver.

macfarlane2No One Ever Tells You by Seth MacFarlane (2015)

MacFarlane’s love for Sinatra comes across in his delivery of these standards. MacFarlane’s style is perhaps too idolizing of Sinatra. His rendition of “Only the Lonely” seems modeled exactly to Sinatra’s phrasing. But MacFarlane, although not revolutionary, sings with a smooth, articulate voice that lands pleasantly on the ear.

foronetoloveFor One to Love by Cecile McLorin Salvant (2015)

Salvant delivers a mixture of original songs and standards with a definite jazz style. She makes the standards her own while still honoring the music and understanding the lyric. In this outing, besides her original compositions, Salvant sings some musical hits including “The Stepsister’s Lament” from Cinderella and “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story.

Spotlight: Acapella

After watching Pitch Perfect, a hilarious comedy about dueling college acapella groups, I started exploring more recent music in this style.

straightnochaserThe New Old Fashioned by Straight No Chaser (2015)

The group’s fifth album includes their unique take on some of today’s biggest hits: I particularly enjoyed “All About that Bass (No Tenors)” and “Shut Up and Dance.” They also feature mashups of popular songs, but the best track is “The Movie Medley,” which features the soundtracks and hilarious commentary about famous movies including Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Forrest Gump. Also available on Hoopla.

pentatonixPentatonix  by Pentatonix (2015)

In their most recent studio album, Pentatonix moves from covering popular hits to releasing all original material. Pentatonix is a catchy mix of upbeat songs that will tempt you to sing and dance along with the group. Particularly enjoyable is “Sing.”

And did you know? You can check out Pentatonix as Team Canada in Pitch Perfect 2.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I don’t mention the soundtracks to both Pitch Perfect (especially “Bellas Finals” featuring a mashup of six songs) and its sequel Pitch Perfect 2 (look for “Anyway You Want It” performed by five groups). Also available on Hoopla.