Fitz and the Tantrums – HandClap
I’m absolutely a huge fan of Fitz’s last album, 2013’s More Than a Dream. Their big single from that is still played everywhere from commercials to gas station radio playlists. It’s ubiquitous and the band deserves to have a great follow-up. Well, here it is: HandClap, continuing that trend of combining two words to form one. Whatever you feel about the title, the dancy track is worth it. It immediately got me moving in my seat, and that’s what I wanted from their next stuff. Singer Michael Fitzpatrick’s vocals are also a bit more subdued, if you found that a slight disagreeable. It’s still knowingly him, but he doesn’t shriek over the downbeat. If this is a sign of things to come in their next album, I’m all for a resurgence in Tantrums.
Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
Coming off the tragedy that was the Bataclan Nightclub massacre, Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal) needed some therapy. He found it by secretly recording and producing an album with that other great white Duke, this one American – Iggy Pop. David Bowie’s best friend found himself in the same great depression after knowing one of his longtime contemporaries would be dying in January. The result was Post Pop Depression, one of the first great rock albums of 2016. After Bowie’s funereal Blackstar dropped the weekend before his death, Iggy Pop came forward with the first track “Gardenia” and subsequently relieved us of the worry that the last great rock album had been released. Pop is still as deft at the vocals as he ever was, and the guitar work is definitely drummed up a bit by adding collaborators like Homme and QoTSA’s Dean Fertita. Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders also pushes through some great percussion, particularly in the track Sunday. I implore you to seek this out if you’re missing the great 70’s era of rock, and while that implies an era-specific sound, I don’t suggest that. I merely expect that you’ll appreciate, like me, that people like Iggy Pop are still doing what they do best, and recovering from some of the most poignantly low points in their lives. It might help lift you up as well.
3OH!3 – BASMF
If any of you remember 2009’s massive hit Don’t Trust Me, then you’ll be happy to hear the band that re-popularized(?) Helen Keller has returned with a bass-heavy….promise that they’ve returned. While I enjoy this kind of stuff as background noise, it’s nothing unique. It’s nice to see that a band that was definitively a one-hit wonder is trying one last time, but this won’t place them back in the collective pop or dance memory. If anything, we’ll remember that this sort of spelled the coming of dubstep and we’ll drive them out of our stereos. Still, this is kind of fun….just play it one more time, guys…
Kanye West – Famous
This next album, The Life of Pablo, is supposedly going to make Kanye’s career. Not sure about that, he’ll still be relevant through his upcoming presidential bid in 2020, but either way, this is a strange song. He immediately calls out Taylor Swift, and the most interesting aspect of the track is Rihanna’s contribution. Perhaps that’s just my admiration for the latter singer, but it lifts this significantly. I’ve always appreciated West’s tempo and he certainly has an ear for production, but his lyrics never truly capture me. Whatever I say, you should form your own opinion on the song and the later album, but this is an oddly eclectic mess, and a kind of forgettable one at that.
Biffy Clyro – Wolves of Winter
Nothing special here, though the undertone is much more ominous than the last song I reviewed. I expected that to be more nefarious, but this has an undercurrent of dread lifting us out of the bass to some higher range vocals. After the big reveal of the actual chorus, nothing really stands out beyond that initial excitement, unfortunately. I’d say it’ll take a few listens to get in on this track, and I’m sure it’ll be a mainstay on rock radio for the next month or so. Interesting that both these songs end abruptly. Theme week?
Nick Jonas (feat. Tove Lo) – Close
Boy, Nick sure has changed. I wasn’t ready for it, though I knew it was coming. As white bread as I’d always considered the Jonas Bros, Nick blasted out of that trio to become one of the most played R&B stars of the last two years. Jealous was one of the blockbuster tracks of 2015, and here he teams with Tove Lo in order to capture that essence of her masterminded Habits(Stay High), which I considered one of the best radio hits of the last calendar year. So a team up here is only natural, and while it sounds like both of those previous songs, it oozes with sensuality nonetheless. I can imagine this with a stranglehold on the charts through April, if not the summer.
The Lumineers – Cleopatra
As you may have guessed from my previous review, where I adored their track Ophelia, then you’ll know I have high hopes for the full album that will be coming shortly (April 8). The eponymous track from that forthcoming album is just as melodic, shaking off any ill will their obnoxious first album hit had borne them. While not as beautiful or even memorable as Ophelia, it’s proof that the band will be sticking around for at least a few more years. I can imagine folk-lite fans will swarm the venues for the tour that launches this spring.
Jillian Jacqueline – Self-Titled
An infectious little EP from a poppy country singer, Jacqueline is apparently making a name for herself on indie internet outlets, so I expect to hear bigger things from her during the year, especially if a tour pops up in the next few weeks, or a full length album appears before we lose track of her. As far as pop country goes, I predict she’ll be the next big thing. She has the Dickensian name for it, at least.
Tune in next week when I finally get down to business with Santigold’s latest, 99c – as well as new stuff from Weezer, The Joy Formidable and Explosions in the Sky!