New Music Tuesday: Alabama Shakes, Nicki Minaj and more

on

Have we all recovered from last week’s New Music Tuesday posts? I think

I have, thanks in large part to what I think was a great discussion in

the comments. Of course, it’s also thanks in large part to my top pick

for this week’s releases as well as Ane

Brun’s
cover of Arcade Fire,

Neighbourhood #1.”

Alabama ShakesBoys &

Girls
(ATO Records)

There is only one fault I can find with Boys & Girls: 36 minutes and 18

seconds is quite simply just not enough. I want — nay — I need more. Holy good lawd, this

album is spectacular. Singer Brittany

Howard
commands your attention with her vocal presence as though

she were about to school you on all of life’s hard lessons. I’ve

actually caught myself shaking my head in disbelief at how much

Southern rock ‘n soul they can pack into one song. Howard can throw out

a guttural yell and somehow instantly hook and reel you in to the story

she’s telling. I haven’t been able to see the group live yet, but I

have it on good authority that they are just as great in concert as

they sound on this album, if not better. You can stream the album,

easily one of this years best, in its entirety over at NPR. Check out their live rendition of the album’s

first single, “Hold

On
.”

Nicki

Minaj
Pink Friday…Roman Reloaded (Cash Money Records)

I’ll admit, I am a bit torn on the latest release from Minaj and her alter-ego. The first

listen through, I was able to find a few glimpses of hope. There are

times

when Minaj’s talents as a singer peek out like sunshine cutting through

some clouds. For as ugly as her alter-ego is, her voice has

the ability to take on some great R&B lilts. As for the voice I

associate with the performer, I can actually even say I’m fond of “Roman Holiday,” where the real (I’m assuming) Nicki

Minaj stands up. Yes, that voice grates on my nerves a bit, but she

spits

rhymes hard and I can’t hate on that.

It’s no secret she’s been working overtime to fit into the “pop darling

with an

edge” group. Her voice is also able to take on the Gaga/Madonna/Katy Perry (insert flavor of the

month) quality on songs like, “Beautiful Sinner” and “Whip It.” Fine,

whatever,

I won’t turn this column into “New Pop Music I Am Constantly Disappointed In For Its Lack of Originality.” Going beyond that, I am

having an increasingly difficult time with a lot of the lyrics being

tossed around these days. In Minaj’s case, it’s almost as though the

formula looks something like, “In my high-pitched crazy mode it really

doesn’t matter what I’m saying or if I’m saying anything at all! Just

sound like you’re passing a gallstone and people will be happy!” Or,

“Name drop + name of food + repeated use of ‘bitches, f-bombs or dick

jokes’ = instant classic.”

I started getting into “Come on a Cone” once I figured out she was

talking about how her “Ice was so cold it should come on a cone.” My

hearing isn’t very good anymore so it took me a long time to understand

what she was saying. (Wear ear plugs to concerts my friends! And maybe

don’t Q-tip your ears as hard or often as I tend to.) Originally I

thought she was telling us to use a butt plug, and I was going to

compare at least part of this album to doing just that! All I know is,

I

hope Sophia Grace and her hype

women aren’t looking forward to taking this album on the road with

them. There’s a lot of “Put my dick in yo face” up in here — which, no

thank you.

What I took as being a big slap to the face of my intelligence,

actually came during a song I had

been enjoying for a little while. “Stupid Hoe,” believe it or not, had

some potential. It even reminded me a bit of “The Percolator” for a hot

second. So, she says her alter-ego Roman

Zolanski
has no relation to Roman

Polanski
and I’m wondering if she means familialy or if she

expects us to think she picked

that name out because all the Lil’ rap

names were taken and she wanted to start a new, Eastern European,

could-be-confused-for-a-famous-pedophile trend in the

rap name game? Just how many dicks are supposed to be in my face

exactly?

(Song below contains lots of f-bombs, d-bags and is NSFW)

Of Monsters and MenMy Head

Is An Animal
(SKRIMSL/Universal Republic)

And now for something completely

different! When I think of Icelandic bands that I know of, they either

fall into the minimalist electronic category, like Múm or Sigur Ros, or the “You never know

what you’re going to get but it will most likely be a full on

electronic circus or a sweeping wall of orchestral sound” from Bjork. Of Monsters and Men pair better with

the sweet folky tunes of Mumford and

Sons
. The six-piece is young but they are well-seasoned

musicians. I’m expecting a lot from them in the next few years.

Jill

Barber
Mischievous Moon (Outside Music)

Barber’s ability to

embody a very young chanteuse of the ’50s and ’60s is pretty

remarkable. From her backup singers to each instrument played in

accompaniment behind her, she doesn’t step out of character for even a

second. There’s something

pretty romantic about Mischievous

Moon
, so I’d throw it on if you were having a date night in or

a small dinner party with a Mad Men

theme. (I’m assuming on the Mad Men. I don’t actually watch it unless staring at pictures of Joan counts.) You can stream the

album in its entirety over at Spinner.

Honorable Mentions: Obie Trice, The

Lumineers, Ravens & Chimes
, Candlebox

(what!!), Tyler Hilton, Elvis

Costello & The Imposters, The Futureheads, De La Soul, The Dean’s

List, Rascal Flatts, Wilson Phillips
(cover songs).

That’s all for this week’s post but feel free to hit me up on the Tweets, on Facebook

and if you’re in Chicago and looking for shows to go to, I just

launched a new podcast that you can check out and keep close

to your heart!

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