This week it seems like everyone and their mama decided to release albums. Surprisingly, there are many albums for which I am really letting my freak flag fly. (I saw the opportunity for alliteration and had to take it). If you didn’t catch Part 1 of New Music Tuesday, make sure you check it out after you finish this.
Estelle — All of Me (Atlantic Records)
Estelle is one of those singers that get me excited whenever I hear she’s got something new to drop. Her voice is so smooth and classic but she isn’t afraid to try new things and push some of the pop boundaries.
Earlier today I was writing about NNeka and I have seen a lot of comparisons, understandably so, to Lauryn Hill. In fact, Ms. Hill asked her to open for her on tour. Well, now I’m listening to Estelle and if ever there were a follow up to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill‘s classroom interview conversation, Estelle has peppered it throughout this album. Unlike some people I won’t mention, Estelle actually even shouts Miseducation out in her song “Speak Ya Mind.” I think it’s actually kind interesting that the chorus to “Speak Ya Mind” sounds like it was taken from Adina Howard‘s “Freak Like Me” and Estelle’s last huge hit was “Freak.”
From front to back, I love All of Me. I’d also like to praise whoever made the decision to end the album with “Do My Thing,” featuring Janelle Monáe. That song is such a jam, it only makes me wish the album never ended.
Julia Nunes — Settle Down (Mordomo Records)
It’s cool to see Julia releasing a legit album after really only knowing about her from being a fan of her ukulele cover sessions on YouTube for the last few years. Her voice, regardless of what she’s singing about, gives me a happy-go-lucky, optimistic feeling. I mean, she even wrote a happy-sounding song about burning the roof of her mouth on pizza! The only time I wouldn’t suggest listening to an album like this is if optimistic people make you want to punch someone. Otherwise, enjoy this while doing some sunny day driving. Unfortunately, I can’t find an embedable song but here’s a link to stream her tracks on Soundcloud.
The Cranberries — Roses (Timeless Solutions)
Dolores O’Riordan sounds as good as ever. It’s been years since “Zombie” made it on to one of my mix tapes and, as far as I can tell, the band has picked up right where they left off. Unfortunately, nothing is grabbing me as a powerful reminder of what I’ve been missing all these years. It’s not bad, but I don’t think Roses has a very long shelf-life.
Carolina Chocolate Drops — Leaving Eden (Nonesuch Records)
Wow, this trio has kind of blown my mind. I love the sweet old Southern styles they’ve been able to weave together in completely unique was. They start with a ho-down and seem to play a mixture of covers and originals spanning different eras of the Southern music scene. The fiddles and banjos are just as easily played together as they’re played with beatboxing, slide guitars or castanets. I am willing to bet a lot of money that this group is incredible to see live. Stream the entire album at the Nonesuch website. The song below isn’t from the most recent album but should give you a good idea of the treat you’re in for.
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny — Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose (Mute Artists ltd.)
Well, if the album’s title doesn’t scream “This is going to be a little weird!” then I don’t know what does. Of course, I love it! Let’s get weird y’all! Beth & Co. have the perfect mixture of indie rock oddity (a la St. Vincent) combined with musical theater dramatics. Each song that I’ve listened to just gets better and better. I’m really excited to play the hell out of this. You can stream it all over at Spinner.
I’m pretty sure that’s enough for one week. Way to be an overachiever, Leap Year! As always, feel fee to follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or make the scraps of food on your plate into a portrait of my profile picture. Stay swell!