It’s crazy raining outside right now and I’m doing my best to sit at this Starbucks calmly and not kick the crap out of someone who has left their little dog outside tied to a tree in the cold rain. Leave your dog at home if you really need the coffee and breakfast sandwich and then come back and take it for a walk. Seriously, it’s times like this when other people are lucky I don’t steal their dogs just to teach them a lesson or berate them in public.
And now for today’s new music! We’ve got a lot of great releases, three of which are from artists whom I would consider the queens of their respective genres.
Mary J. Blige — My Life II…The Journey Continues Act 1 (Interscope)
The top spot this week goes to Mary J. for a few reasons. Firstly, she is just insanely talented and has been in the business of sharing her soul through her music for longer than some of today’s other artists have been alive. Secondly, this album is hot and has so many fresh hooks she could start her own fishing business. Thirdly, and least importantly but really tickled me, even my stepmom knows who Mary J. Blige is and this is a woman who pretty much refuses to listen to anything but Josh Groban.
She gets the album started with a recording of a phone conversation between her and Diddy (or whatever the hell he’s going by these days), and basically tells the listener that this is not a replacement, but rather a companion album, for her first My Life installment. The conversation goes into the first song, “Feel Inside,” highlighting her vocals while Nas breaks things down in his rap. This sets the pace for the rest of the album and Mary flexes her own rap muscles while continuing to prove why she’s one of the industry’s best R&B vocalists. Oh, and she pretty much killed me with happiness by covering Chaka Khan’s “Aint Nobody.” I’m obsessed with that song but, above that, I am even more obsessed with the movie Breakin’, which was the first time I heard that song.
Kate Bush — 50 Words for Snow (Anti, Inc.)
I’m probably about to get flogged by a number of friends and strangers for this, but I’ve never really “felt” Kate Bush’s music. It’s not to say that I can’t understand some of the appeal, particularly when it comes to instrumental arrangements and lyricism, but it’s just not what penetrates my soul. I’ll admit, not liking it makes me feel as though I’m not as smart as other people — but music is such a personal experience, and like so many guests on Maury exclaim, Kate Bush “doesn’t knoooow me!” What I can tell you about her music that is universally true, is that it sounds darker than some of the grayest clouds I’ve seen. If her music were a character in a movie, it would most likely look like a character from The Dark Crystal. To see if that’s your jam or not, head on over to Spinner to stream the album in its entirety.
Rihanna — Talk That Talk (Island Def Jam)
I’ve been trying to write this mini-review for about a half hour because I haven’t been able to figure out whether I should talk about her music first or the fact that I have the most gigantic crush on her and think she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. I suppose I just got both out of the way right there but in a way, her entire package has to be spoken about together because combined, they’re like a one two punch to my senses of hotness.
Her music is what I would consider super-dance pop R&B, but there’s something special in not only her presentation but also her willingness to take risks. She is one of the first artists in this new crop of pop starlets, to have joined forces with a pop-punk band during her performance and change up her entire sound in a way that showed how versatile she really is. My goodness, I just love her and could probably wax poetic on how she kills me with her dance moves for another hour, but won’t.
Fonda — Better Days (Minty Fresh)
I didn’t know much about the band Fonda but when I went to their Facebook page I saw that we both like Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I knew I had to write about them. It’s been eight years since their last album, which would probably explain my ignorance but I’m still a little surprised to not have found them sooner since they were on Parasol, which was one of my favorite labels back in the day. I don’t know if their sound has morphed over the last eight years apart, but I like what I’m hearing currently. It’s indie rock lead by the contrasting sounds of singers Emily Cook & David Klotz‘s light voices combined with the heavy instrumentals playing behind them. Welcome back everybody!
Honorable Mentions: Yelawolf, Doomtree, Michael Jackson‘s Immortal, Vanessa Carlton‘s Christmas EP, The Loom, Daughtry, Chris Cornell, Gregory Isaacs, Javier Colon (he was the one who won The Voice and he’s also a close friend of a few of my friends, so definitely check him out), The Muppets soundtrack, The Black Keys, Action Bronson & Statik, Wayman Tisdale, Il Volo (Christmas album), Jenni Rivera (live album), Hollywood Undead, and Dropkick Murpheys.
As an added bonus for today, I thought I’d share a video from a group called The Pin Up Girls. When I first got a message from them to check out the video for “Girl Candy” I was like, “They know this is a gay site right?” Turns out the girl candy here is for other girls and the video has something for everyone in it. In fact, I am not usually attracted to the more butch variety of women, but the two in this video are adorable! And the others, well, hello!
That’s all for this week and I hope that those of you celebrating Thanksgiving have an incredible holiday to reflect on things you are truly grateful for and you have the chance to tell the people you love that you are thankful for them. That’s how I like to celebrate since the history behind the holiday is pretty screwed up. So, I’ll start by telling you all that I’m thankful for all of you for stopping by my column. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter & Facebook and remember to come back for your Weekly Women to Listen to tomorrow.