New Music Tuesday: Alabama Shakes, Nicki Minaj and more


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
cover of Arcade Fire,
Neighbourhood #1.”

Alabama ShakesBoys &
(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
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

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
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
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,
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,
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
has no relation to Roman
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

(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
. The six-piece is young but they are well-seasoned
musicians. I’m expecting a lot from them in the next few years.

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
, 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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