Staff Picks: Music

Solange and Beyoncé

I bet it’s a bit daunting to make music when your sister is Beyoncé, but Solange is doing well for herself. I enjoyed the Motown feel of her 2008 album Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams, but I’m loving her new EP True. Both are available for checkout at KPL. 

 And for anyone who just can’t wait until the Super Bowl half-time show, KPL has plenty of Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child for your listening pleasure.

Music

True

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AngelaF

Night Moves

The Minneapolis band Night Moves are difficult to categorize but their debut album should be on everyone’s iPod. They draw from an array of rock and roll influences, stitching their lyrical elements together to form a solid sound of catchy tunes born of fuzzed out, alt-country mixed with glam-rock grooves. Standout songs include Horses, Country Queen and Headlights.

Music

Colored Emotions
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RyanG

Featuring Norah Jones

I have always been a big Norah Jones fan.  She is one of the few artists to have passed a tough test in my household:  I can play Come away with me in my alarm clock every morning to wake me up and I still enjoy the CD.  There are not many CDs that stand up to this test.  So you can understand my pleasure when I discovered a Norah Jones CD that I hadn't heard before in the KPL collection.  It's called Featuring and is a CD of duets and collaborations between Jones and a wide variety of singers and musical groups.  And when I say "variety", I mean it!  This CD is so neat in that it showcases how versatile Jones is with her distinctive and soulful voice pairing her with artists and groups such as Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, the Foo Fighters, and Ryan Adams.

The CD starts strong with a track from The Little Willies.  Jones and friends formed The Little Willies in 2003 and came out with their second album For the Good Times in 2012.  (You can also find them on another excellent CD in the library's collection:  Putumayo presents Americana.  It's bound to put you in a good mood!)  I was unfamiliar with Sasha Dobson prior to this CD, but her duet, Bull Rider, is fantastic!  I have requested her CD through MeLCat and look forward to become more acquainted with her music.  Halfway through the CD, Jones and friends adopt a totally different style in Take Off Your Cool with Outkast, Life is Better with Q-Tip, and Soon the New Day with Talib Kweli.  A few songs later, there is a duet with Ray Charles…need I say more?  Who doesn't like Ray Charles??  But then, in my humble opinion, the CD reaches its pinnacle with track 15:  Creepin' In with Dolly Parton.  I love Dolly.  Always have and always will.  This song makes me want to dance and sing over and over again as I play it on repeat.

Basically, what I hope this blog conveys, is that this compilation of songs is wonderful.  Each and every song is as delightful as it is different.  I highly recommend this CD for your listening pleasure.

Music

Featuring
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Elysha Cloyd

Frank's Ocean - Care for a Swim?

It’s not even summer anymore (far from it, actually) and yet I’m still listening to this album on a relatively consistent basis. It’s just a good album. For all the controversy that surrounded Frank Ocean’s personal life in the mainstream pop scene, it’s a shame that certain critics disregarded the music and assumed it was all merely a PR gimmick to sell albums.

Truth is: even if Frank Ocean’s “coming outwas an expertly timed plan to garner popularity, he didn’t need it. The music stands brilliantly enough on its own legs. Quite FRANKly (harharhar), this is just what modern R&B should sound like.

I can respect the fun aspect of a well-produced Usher, Chris Brown, or Rihanna song as much as the next person from my generation. They’re fun in a party/club setting. But Channel Orange is just on a completely different level. The lyrics are far more diverse and compelling, and the music is actually unique and complex. There are moods and ideas represented on the album besides the standard “Hey, let’s party.” and “You’re a person I’m attracted to. Isn’t that wonderful?!” It all has a unified feel and tone, like there was a real attempt to make an album, as opposed to just a collection of singles. And even the songs that have more of a “good-time, fun-loving” feel to them still retain an organic edge that sets them apart from their contemporaries.

It’s intimate but vulnerable stuff. It feels real. It feels more like art than industry. That’s a big deal for music within any modern or contemporary category. And hey, I'm still listening to the album 6 months after its release. So, hats off to Frank!

Music

Channel Orange
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JohnL

When? Where? WHO?

I never really was much of a Who fan. I was familiar with a fair amount of their popular hits, and had dabbled in listening to some of their albums throughout my fairly brief existence on this planet, but never really felt much connection or excitement with the music. However, a friend of mine recently introduced me to some of their live material; that’s when I realized just how ignorant I was all along.

Most people are actually quite familiar with The Who’s crazy live repertoire (my ignorance was in the minority) but I still feel the urge to point out the obvious: Keith Moon’s drumming is frantic and insane; John Entwistle has the coolest bass style of probably anyone to have ever played rock music; Pete Townshend conjures tones from his Hiwatt stacks that sound like demons riding a chainsaw; and Roger Daltrey supplies the perfect vocals to carry the band powerfully from song to song.

It’s good stuff. I wish more modern bands could compete with the raw, on-stage energy that The Who dish out consistently from track to track. It’s a total domination of the stage and audience, and it’s totally awesome even 40+ years later.

Music

Live at Leeds
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JohnL