Whokill by tUnE-yArDs (2011)
A funky blend of Afro-Pop, R&B, and acoustic come together in this album by the percussionist and singer Merrill Garbus. This offbeat record where Garbus layers and loops her voice is a feel good album that will have you dancing for hours. For those of you who love Afro-pop artists like Zap Mama, this album is a must listen!
21 by Adele (2011)
IMHO, this young British singer/songwriter outdoes her debut album with this new effort. Powerful yet nuanced, hard-hearted yet tender, raw yet refined, “in-your-face” yet intimate, she blows me away with her evocative vocals.
I have heard her studio as well as unplugged versions of a couple of these tunes, and she gets air play on alternative, contemporary, and soft rock stations. This woman’s talent has wide-ranging appeal; I can’t avoid a clichéd comment: a-ma-zing.
Lungs by Florence + the Machine (2009)
This debut album from the eccentric British pop singer Florence Welch is not only mesmerizing but it is also a lot of fun. Welsh’s elegant voice stands out on this record amid the building crescendos of frenzied percussion. With tracks like “You’ve Got the Love” and the “Dog Days are Over,” you won’t be able to resist dancing. This is a perfect album for the summer.
Check out a review of the album.
It’s Entertainment! by Celtic Thunder (2010)
Not the usual Irish group singing Irish songs – Celtic Thunder’s wonderful voices blend together to celebrate (“Hallelujah” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”) and individually to entertain (“Hello Again” and “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”). The most amazing harmonies will move you, please you, and have you thoroughly entertained.
I Dreamed a Dream by Susan Boyle (2009)
Media sensation Susan Boyle apparently hasn’t yet decided on a style. However, this hodgepodge first album probably won’t disappoint fans. Her expressive voice transcends the lush orchestration of the star-making “I Dreamed a Dream” while the elegance of just her voice and piano in her version of the Monkees’ (you read that right) “Daydream Believer” redefines “mellow.” She also includes an unexpectedly effective version of “Wild Horses” (the Stones). However, I most enjoyed Ms. Boyle’s “Cry Me a River,” with its slow and sensuous interpretation of the jazzy standard. IMHO, she has all the makings of a jazz chanteuse. Wow! This lady can sing.
19 by Adele (2008)
I first heard her hit “Chasing Pavements,” then watched her accomplished performance at the Grammy awards. (She won two.) This delicious album by the young British singer Adele has a style that ranges from bluesy to jazzy with some pop garnishes. Her nuanced delivery of songs in a powerful yet sultry and edgy voice really impresses, as does her stunning songwriting capability.
Il Divo by Il Divo (2004)
Yes, I know they’re a “fabricated” classical pop quartet. They still possess awesome voices, depth in performance, and first rate song selection, with the unfortunate exception of “Feelings.” –And I wonder if anyone can NOT experience an emotional reaction to the beautiful “Mama.” For more on the group, visit their website.
We Started Nothing by The Ting Tings (2008)
We Started Nothing is the debut album from the English rock duo The Ting Tings. The album dance/pop style catch songs have you shaking your booty and singing along for countless hours. Popular songs on this album include “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “That’s Not My Name” — both singles charted very well on Billboard charts.
We Started Nothing spawned four singles: Fruit Machine, Great DJ, Shut Up and Let Me Go, and That’s Not My Name. The Ting Tings are currently working on there next studio album, which will hopefully be released in 2010.
U.S.A.-U.K. by 7th Heaven (2008)
7th Heaven is a local rock band known for their 30 songs in 30 minute pop/rock medleys, fun and energetic stage presence, and variety of music for all audiences. Their latest CD titled U.S.A.-U.K. includes “Better This Way,” “Gravity,” and the song heard during the Chicago Cubs commercials “This Summers Gonna Last for Ever.” My favorites are what I call the rock ballads: “Gave You My Word” and “Still Be Here.”
If you get a chance to see them live at a local fest this summer, you’ll hear a few of their songs, a 30-minute medley and other classic rock and recent hit songs from Metro Station to Journey and sometimes Neil Diamond. Look for them at the Concert in the Park in Darien on Wednesday, July 8 at 7:00 — also check out a list of their other local appearances (including one tonight at 6:00 in Downers Grove).