|Baby Be||Stoned & Alone|| |
|Fly High (feat. Nikkiya)||The First Agreement|| |
|Gold||Wild Country EP|| |
|Dream||Finally Home|| |
|Blue Sky Riders|
|Eclipse/Blue (feat. Kazu Makino)||Home|| |
|Beta Love||Beta Love|| |
|Ra Ra Riot|
|Goin' Up (feat. Wiz Khalifa)||Suzy 6 Speed|| |
|No Meu Pais||Ela|| |
|Dom La Nena|
|Television||Skeptic Goodbye|| |
Dawn Richard of Danity Kane and Diddy Dirty Money follows her 2011 mixtape A Tell Tale Heart with this independently released set, a 36-minute EP produced almost exclusively by collaborator Druski. These ten tracks are more refined than Richard's mixtape and should appeal to fans of Diddy Dirty Money's Last Train to Paris who are open to hearing material that is more personal and almost as sonicallly expansive., Rovi
Ra Ra Riot's third studio album, 2013's Beta Love, finds the Syracuse outfit delivering an electronic, keyboard-heavy effort that still retains much of the melodic songcraft and orchestral influence that marked their previous work. Having parted ways with cellist Alexandra Lawn in 2012, Ra Ra Riot were surely at a creative crossroads during the recording of Beta Love. However, the remaining bandmembers (vocalist Wes Miles, violinist Rebecca Zeller, guitarist Milo Bonacci, and bassist Mathieu Santos) did not replace Lawn and instead traveled to the warmer climes of Missouri to work with producer/engineer Dennis Herring (Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse) and a handful of guest musicians on crafting a more experimental, synthesizer-based sound. With lyrics and songs inspired by a variety of future-looking sources including author/keyboard inventor Ray Kurzweil and writer William Gibson, Ra Ra Riot employed various synthesizers to complement their already innovative mix of rock and classical instrumentation. The result is that Beta Love, while clearly a move away from the precise chamber pop of 2010's Orchard, is still an immediately infectious, harmonically intriguing album that subtly incorporates Zeller's classically trained violin chops into an even more unified band sound. In fact, Zeller's shiny violin is employed so deftly here, often in tandem with the synth lines, that the focus ends up being more on the overall sound of a song than on any one aspect of an arrangement. Also still a focal point here is Miles' angelic, resonant tenor croon that, matched with lyrics that delve into alienation in a modern world, robot love, and the eternal question of whether or not Androids dream, works as an emotional core for the album. He coos on the ebullient closing track, "I Shut Off," "Who wants a human love? A Death trap? A Suicide club? I do... I do..." While there is definitely an atmospheric, introspective, and somewhat experimental quality to many of the songs on Beta Love, as on the yearning, lyrical ballad "When I Dream," it is undeniably a dance album. Cuts like the bouncy lead-off "Dance with Me" and the positively euphoric title track are wide-eyed, neon-colored anthems that seem to find the perfect balance between Michael Jackson's "Rock with You," ELO's "All Around the World," and Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend." Which isn’t to say that the album sounds exactly like the work of any one of these artists in particular, but Beta Love does fit nicely alongside works by such similarly inclined contemporaries as Minus the Bear and Young Galaxy; bands who've explored synthesizers and '80s New Wave and adult contemporary as a way to expand their sonic palette. Ultimately though, whether robotic or human, binary or organic, it is Ra Ra Riot's gift for addictive, romantic songcraft that gives Beta Love its heart.
Matt Collar, Rovi
Initially, it's hard not to think of Blue Sky Riders as a Kenny Loggins project, as he's the one member of the trio who has considerable success under his own name. As it turns out, that's not the case at all. Blue Sky Riders is a genuine partnership, with Loggins happily collaborating with Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman, two singer/songwriters with a track record of country hits (and who just happen to be engaged). This isn't a collaboration that came out of nowhere: Burr and Loggins wrote together for the latter's 2008 album How About Now, discovering they had an easy, natural chemistry that's also apparent on Blue Sky Riders' 2013 debut, Finally Home. Pitched halfway between Loggins' folkier side -- at times the album is reminiscent of his earliest records with Jim Messina -- and the assured contemporary country-pop coming out of Nashville, Finally Home is amiable and tuneful, the sound of professionals enjoying their craft. At times, this does mean the trio gets a little cutesy in its high concepts -- building songs around the catch phrases "How's That Workin' for Ya," "I Get It," and "You're Not the Boss of Me" -- but such clever conceits aren't distracting because they arrive wrapped in sweet tunefulness and casual charm. Clearly, Loggins, Burr, and Middleman enjoy each other's company, trading lead vocals with ease, dabbling in a bunch of different styles, flirting with Celtic music on "Feelin' Brave," indulging in densely produced '80s soft rock on "Dream" and a bit of modern pop on "Say I Like It." Mostly, the music is very much grounded in the sound of hazily sensitive '70s singer/songwriters, a form that suits both Loggins and Burr, even if the latter was too late to capitalize on the boom. It's all comfortable, it's all easy, yet it's not lazy: it's the sound of old pros playing for the love of it once again, and it's hard not to smile along with their enthusiasm.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
After releasing Drift, his first album, Jason Chung diversified. He remixed the xx's "Islands," Charlotte Gainsbourg's "Heaven Can Wait," and a piece of Phillip Glass' Einstein on the Beach, and he also produced Kendrick Lamar's "Cloud 10." Given that activity, the mellowness and restraint of his second album is surprising. A pair of collaborations with vocalists actually heightens its pained, private sound; they both convey the feeling of regretfully watching a relationship slip away. "Eclipse/Blue," featuring Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino, switches from anxious thumps to hovering textures, while "Try," featuring Chaz Bundick (Toro y Moi)," is soft, fuzzy, and slightly off-center. Those appearances have a kind of lingering effect on the nine remaining tracks, all instrumentals. The glinting "Glue" and well-titled "Snap" excepted, they lack the muscle of Chung's earlier releases, but they're more evocative -- detailed enough to withstand numerous plays whenever comforting, if downcast and unobtrusive, abstract hip-hop is sought.
Andy Kellman, Rovi