Music to Your Ears – Shakira, Linkin Park and Carly Rae Jepsen

HiNew music for new music listeners, I hope? Remember to comment responsibly below if you have a particular song or band you want me to check out – I’ll review it in a future article! For now, here’s the latest for May:

Noah Cyrus – I’m Stuck 

Who would have thought I would be talking about not just one, but two of the Cyrus girls in the month of May? Miley’s single “Malibu” was definitively heading for our sweet sixteen at the end of the year, but now I’ve got a familial challenger for the spot – little sister Noah has emerged on the musical scene, following in her siblings’ footsteps (older brother Trace is the frontman for pop-punk outfit Metro Station). Without the needless comparisons to her two elders, Noah certainly comes out on top immediately, progressing towards pop stardom with her first effort. Another single, “Stay Together” was decent, but “I’m Stuck” pins her for potential song of the summer status. She gets exactly what her future and present fans want, and delivers with aplomb. A tinder that sparks from its first moment, yet allows itself to be tender as the chorus rises, Cyrus is due for greater things on her own.

Carly Rae Jepsen – Cut to the Feeling

Before listening to this, I saw a lot about how there’s a strange stigma surrounding Jepsen since her breakout hit “Call Me Maybe”. It seemed that she would be a one-hit wonder, and when she wasn’t, people dismissed her even further, pretending that she was nabbing other pop stars’ images (Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, etc). After that, she continued to infuse her ebullience in everything she did despite the naysayers. Here, she elaborates on that, bringing one of the sharpest pop hits of the year. Unfortunately, critics still attempted to knock her down, pretending this would be one of those awful earworms along the lines of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” or Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. While it doesn’t help that this has a similar title to the latter, I don’t care. So what if it ends up being the anthem to one of those disposable Dreamworks’ animated films? It’s even better than the aforementioned earworms, and if we didn’t have songs to overplay on the radio, we’d get sick of everything. For once, this one also isn’t a track to get sick of. It’s one to dance until the sunrise.

Grizzly Bear – Mourning Sound

There are some bands you struggle to love, despite them being obvious up your alley choices for friends to introduce to you. I did enjoy 2008’s “Two Weeks” enough, but it never really outlasted that time period like other bands of their ilk did (Sunset Rubdown, Vampire Weekend, Animal Collective). Then they mastered the soundtrack for the great film Blue Valentine, and while I thought I enjoyed it at the time, it’s moreso that the songs really work well within the film and not elsewhere. It may just be me, because they have a solid following, and their new album will likely be near the top of year-end lists. Following that line of thinking, it’s a pleasant surprise that I’ve enjoyed their first single off of the album, “Mourning Sound”. Simple lyrics, steady drums, and a dreamy warble from Edward Droste satisfies even this curmudgeon.

Shakira – El Dorado

Much like earlier this month when I mentioned how fantastic Kendrick Lamar’s new album was, I feel that I can’t exactly expound upon Shakira’s newest album – as it’s mostly in a language I don’t know. Despite this, I can still guarantee the melodies and the instrumentals are a delight, and Shakira remains at the top of her game. Even with sporadic English, I understand the ardor and passion that Shakira’s words effuse, and with collaborators like Colombian stars Carlos Vives and Maluma, it’s wonderful that she returns to her homeland often to ensure her international stardom. One thing’s for sure, Shakira is still one of the greatest pop stars touring today.

Key Tracks: Perro Fiel / Amarillo / Comme Moi

Linkin Park – One More Light

At moments reminiscent of a past life, Linkin Park attempts to rekindle past glories with a grand return. Unfortunately, like some of our other favorite bands from our youth, it’s just never going to be the same. There are certainly some bright moments, like when Pusha T guests in a swift rap battle on “Good Goodbye”, but they just aren’t the Linkin Park that gave us “In the End” and “Numb”. That isn’t to say this is a good band, but most of the tracks sound like Imagine Dragons-lite, which is strange seeing as Imagine Dragons always seemed like a band inspired by Linkin Park’s original sound. I’m glad they’re still around, but much like Gorillaz and Franz Ferdinand, they just aren’t the same. Worth it to completists, but not to the casual Linkin fan.

Key Tracks: Talking to Myself / Sorry for Now / Battle Symphony

Next week we’ll cover some new albums from Bleachers, Halsey and Dan Auerbach.


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