Dig These Discs :: Gossip, Mr. Fogg, Rye Rye, Adam Lambert, Lisa Marie Presley
Dig These Discs packs a wallop this month, with new releases by Beth Ditto and The Gossip, a new dance album by heartthrob Adam Lambert, a bouncing new debut by M.I.A. protégé Rye Rye, and some whisper-soft, heavily instrumental tracks by Mr. Fogg!
"A Joyful Noise" (The Gossip)
Singer Beth Ditto and her stalwart crew of guitarist Nathan Howdeshell and drummer Hannah Blilie drop their new album, "A Joyful Noise" on May 22, and fans will not be disappointed. The album is a delicious amalgam of soul, gospel, rock, funk, disco, and punk, and highlights everything The Gossip does best. They kick off things solidly with "Melody Emergency." In her airy, unmistakable voice, Ditto croons, "Animal, emotional, we are both common people sharing the same combination; it’s lethal." The heavy electric guitars create a fine, wabi-sabi effect to Ditto’s angelic woo-hoo-hoos. "Perfect World" follows, a song driven by a tambourine back beat, tinged with regrets that we don’t live in a picture-perfect world. This knockout trio from Olympia, Washington, made waves in 2006 with their breakthrough album, "Standing in the Way of Control." Ditto, a new MAC spokeswoman, is also a proud symbol of the fat-positive movement, an alt-punk version of Adele, if you will. "I’d love to stay and party but I gotta go to work," she sings as she sounds off for the intro to "Get a Job," sure to be one of the most sampled tracks of the summer. The mix of electronica and dub and the admonition, "You better get a job/ it was adorable when you were in your 20s, not so cute anymore now that your pushing 30" is sure to be on every sassy drag queen’s lips. Recorded in producer Brian Higgins England studio Xenomania and KBC studios in Portland, Oregon, the album is another fine example of the band’s constant evolution and innovation. Crediting her constant diet of ABBA songs for the band’s pulsing energy, Ditto said the band was, with "A Joyful Noise," trying to create their own brand of pop music. "Move in the Right Direction" is a face-paced, never-say-never pop song tied together with a bouncy electronic break. "Casualties of War" is a spare, percussion-driven song about broken dreams. The instrumentals hearken to punk roots, while the lyrics are positively Pat Benatar in their heartfelt, ’90s rock vibe, with Ditto singing, "you always had a habit of keeping score/ you might have won the battle but not the war." Talk about love is a battlefield! "Into the Wild" has a more classic rock feel with an edge, like something the ladies of Heart would put out, about leaving a lover who prefers the storm over the calm, and cities over islands. Ditto gets soulful in her track "Get Lost," a mix of classic dance club tracks studded with disco flourishes. The effect is very Deborah Cox meets the Supremes. "Involved" is another tune about denying the laws of attraction, with Ditto passionately singing, "I’m not in love with you/ I’m just involved with you." This disco-’70s vibe flows into the next track, "Horns," a beat-heavy, jive-talking song that lets the beat go on. "I Won’t Play" is a kiss-off song featuring distorted electronica/dub samples, with Ditto singing, "I’m on a first-name basis with your victims of love/ I gave you so many chances but you still blew my love." The album closes with "Love in a Foreign Place," a morning-after/ end is coming song with a dark beat, and the lyrics "They look right through me as I’m walking by/ not even so much as an evil eye." Spread the word; the Gossip is back, and they are making a joyful noise! (Columbia Records)
"Trespassing" (Adam Lambert)
America’s gayest heartthrob drops his new album, "Trespassing," a nice follow up to his post-"American Idol" debut album, "For Your Entertainment," which sold nearly 2 million copies worldwide. This new album will be released on May 15 in a standard, 12-track edition, as well as a deluxe edition, featuring 3 bonus tracks. Lambert collaborates with an all-star list of award winning artists, producers and songwriters including Pharrell Williams, Claude Kelly, Benny Blanco, Bonnie McKee, Nile Rogers, Sam Sparro, Dr. Luke and Bruno Mars. The album kicks off with a fast-paced, Latin-influenced title track, "Trespassing," with Lambert singing, "I was walking for some time when I came across this sign saying who are you and where are you from/ we don’t like when visitors come...no trespassers yeah, my ass, wait ’til ya get a load of me." "Cuckoo" is a choppy, quirky, electronic song about losing your mind in the party life, with Lambert singing, "Gonna party ’til they take us away." In this bouncy, Gwen Stefani-esque track, Lambert is "cocked and ready to blow, the crazy train is ready to roll." "Never Close Our Eyes" is another great dance club track with a solid dub rhythm, featuring Lambert singing, "I wish that this night would never be over/ plenty of time to sleep when we die/ so let’s just stay awake until we grow older." Its face-paced dance style is peppered with electronic flourishes. "Shady" creeps up on you like a panther, a fast-moving track with Lambert begging you to "turn me out, ’cause I’m feelin so shady." Bets on how long before someone takes this runaway train up on his offer? Lambert channels Wham-era George Michael in "Kickin’ In," a punchy, fast-moving, keyboard-driven pop song with Lambert singing, "She puts her shot glass down, she asks for another round/ girl, don’t you hit the ground." "Naked Love" is a bubble-gum pop confection, all rounded corners and bounce, with lots of whoa-whoa-whoas. Ditto for the slow jam, "Better Than I Know Myself," a song that will have teenage girls (and boys) singing into their hairbrush to their Adam Lambert poster. "Pop that Lock" features heavy electronic samples, and the lyrics, "release the pop and lock until you’re lighter than air". "Broken English" is another fast-moving dance track; it is followed by "Underneath," a slow ballad about digging below the surface and the sins to find what’s real. The same sound is found in "Outlaws of Love," another fine vehicle for showcasing Lambert’s dulcet pipes. In "Chokehold" Lambert bemoans the lover he can’t leave, and in "Runnin’," this story of bad love is complemented by an electronic drag that paints a dark mood. "Take Back" is all about regrets, talking issues into the ground, and the wish that we could take back what we said. The album closes with "Nirvana," a percussion-driven song about lovers finding a place where they can be free -- a nice parting message for Lambert’s LGBT teen fan base.
"Go! Pop! Bang!" (Rye Rye)
Baltimore newcomer and M.I.A. protégé Rye Rye brings together pop, rap, hip-hop, hardcore, and industrial in her debut album, "Go! Pop! Bang!" Although she seizes the rat-a-tat rhyme style made popular by Nikki Minaj, this 21-year-old artist from the projects of Charm City is working hard to make her own sound, saying, "If I do a hip-hop song, it doesn’t sound like a regular hip-hop track; it sounds fresher. I am doing my own thing." Her single "Boom Boom," has a style similar to Katy Perry’s "Teenage Dream;" released in February, it was very much of the moment. She kicks off the album with the bouncy track "Drop" a heavy percussion song that calls back to the good old days, with Rye Rye singing, "I’m a hood girl doin’ white girl shit." She moves into "Holla Holla," a call-and-response about playing the game and holding your own. Her track "DNA," featuring Porcelain Black, is an electronica/rap mash up with the choral break, "It’s in my DNA, I was born to shut it down." She teams up with Akon for the song, "Crazy Bitch" -- she’s so crazy, be he’s mo’ crazy, because he loves her and she’s trouble, sings Akon. In "Hotter," a rap song with an island-rhythm break, Rye Rye keeps it hot with her rapid-fire raps, spitting, "I got a smart mouth, like I got good grades" and "I’m not a round-the-way girl, I been around the world/ I buy my own diamonds, I buy my own pearls." She mixes slow pop with rap in "Sunshine," and in "Better Than You," she teams up with M.I.A. to cut up an old sample of the "Annie Get Your Gun" track, "Anything You Can Do" with a rapid-fire rap about all the things she does better than her competitors. Rye Rye sings, "I see you in the street straight rocking my shit...so while she do it small I do it real big. I show you how to do it like you was my kid..." Among the things she does better: she wears her tennys (sneakers) better, her hair and nails are better, her jeans are bluer, her Jays are newer. The R3hab Remix for "Never Will Be Mine" features guest artist Robyn’s fine singing voice in this melodic club mix that takes Rye Rye’s music on a totally different tack. "Dance" is a dance track that lives up to its name, opening with a roll of the snare drum before Rye Rye drops the one-two, saying, "Let me see that booty roll." She closes the album with "Shake Twist Drop," featuring Tyga, a bass-heavy dance track in which Rye Rye sings, "I ruined my favorite outfit, but that’s what going out is for." Well played, newcomer. (Interscope Records)
"Eleven" (Mr Fogg)
English electronic musician Mr Fogg drops his second album, an amalgam of soft vocals set over layers of subtle melody and bells, piano, strings, and brass. He set out to write 20 songs in five months; the ten he chose for the album are presumably the cream of the crop, and serve his reputation well. With a flourish of fairy-like xylophone chimes, the album kicks off with the track "Make a Fuss," a rather dark song that ends abruptly. A dub intro starts "Head Fuck," with Mr Fogg singing, "I’ve got things you don’t know you want, if you’d only open your eyes/ I’ve gotta water it down just ’cause your brain cannot adjust." The album is rife with melancholy, and influenced heavily by current events in 2011, hence the name. In "A Little Letting Go," a spare composition showcases the lyrics, "You’ve got a voice just like everyone else does/ you’ve got ideas filling up in your skull." A fine orchestral opener kicks off the slow ballad, "Black Eyes," a profoundly sad song. "Stay Out of the Sun" paints a future where those who venture outside must wear safety gear, or face ugly blisters; a metaphor for love, perhaps? This Reading/Berkshire-based electronic musician took his stage name from Phileas Fogg, the main character in the Jules Verne novel, "Around the World in Eighty Days," saying it was close to his Christian name, Phil. This fascination with sci-fi comes through his music, like "Plant No Seeds," an electronic-driven song with the lyrics, "If you never try then you’ll never know." Mr Fogg, who prefers to work alone, said his heavy use of instruments in "Eleven" reflected his desire to make a less machine-driven album than his first release, the 2010 album, "Moving Parts." In "Tightrope," strings back a steady machine beat, to nice effect. And bells lighten up "Levers," a somber song about surviving a house fire, with a deep bass guitar beat added later, a nice balance to Mr Fogg’s falsetto-high vocals. This bell intro is complemented with brass horns in "Sprint," with Mr Fogg singing, "When the building collapsed, you were standing on the porch. Stones grazed your heels on the way down." The album ends with "Oh Pearl," a piano-driven ballad featuring Mr Fogg’s fine falsetto to spare and lovely effect, as he sings, "Try to let in some daylight without getting burned." In "Eleven," a host of beautiful instrumentals disguise a world of pain. (Kompakt/Kicking Ink)
"Storm and Grace" Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Marie Presley follows in her daddy’s storied footsteps with the release of her new album, "Storm and Grace," a rich country, folk, and blues album that showcases her fine, deep voice while firmly staging her music somewhere between country and pop. She performed her moody, smoky single, "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet" on Good Morning America on May 15, and will perform later this month on "American Idol," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." In her title track, "Storm and Grace," an oom-pa-pa beat backs Presley as she croons, "You are the most beautiful man that I’ve ever known." The song reaches right to the heart. The album is a beacon call for Presley, challenging music critics and fans alike to revisit what they think they know about the first daughter of American rock and roll. She kicks things off with a country twang in "Over Me," a kiss-off song featuring rocking acoustics and piano, and Presley’s rich voice. This stripped-down musical foray suits Presley much better than her previous releases. At the same time, it speaks to the current climate of the nation, hewing closely to a bare-bones, no-frills Americana vibe. The lazy acoustics in "Weary" paint the mood, and the slow pacing of "Close to Me" transports the listener into a dreamy trance. Presley goes even darker in "So Long," a fast-paced song featuring fine acoustic finger-picking. She introduces some electronic distortion to nice effect in "Un-Break," a hard-rocking, unforgiving song with a catchy break reminiscent of ’80s rock/pop fusion. "Soften the Blows" is a sweet and sad country song with a rolling guitar. Presley sings, "When the well has no water and the wheels start to run off the road, where do we go?" In a time when the promises of the American dream don’t seem to be attainable, this song speaks to the multitudes. "Storm of Nails" features Presley’s soft vocals, fueled by keyboards, acoustic, and drums. It falls somewhere between Conway Twitty and The Cure, and oddly enough, it works well for that. She keeps things slow in "How Do You Fly This Plane?" a sleeper hit tinged with regret, with a soaring chorus. "I want to be like you, can you teach me how to be ’Forgiving’" sings Presley at the album’s end. With songs like these, no apology is needed. (Universal Republic/XIX Recordings)