It’s already the second week of April.
If you weren’t already aware, this year is flying by, so now is your chance to slow things down and enjoy the music.
Browse through this week’s collection of In No Particular Order.
Did I miss anything? Do you agree? Let me know!
Gallant – Ology
Right from the get-go, I couldn’t help but think of similar artists. So, naturally I started writing a list of all the names that come to mind as I listen to Ology: The Weeknd, Sam Smith, Son Little, Leon Bridges, Usher, and Jack Garratt just off the top of my head. And all of these artists share a few similarities: each has a captivating vocal presence; be it soulful, powerful, or angelic falsetto, and each is deeply in-tuned to the wave of neo-soul and nu-R&B.
But the more you listen, and the more you’re exposed to his voice, the more this 23-year old singer blows them out of the water. Gallant’s range and pitch shifts are enough to induce full-body shivers, and his autobiographical lyrics are dense and complex.
With 16 tracks, Ology can feel like a bit much, exhausting almost, but what keeps it engaging and holds it together is Gallant’s powerful presence and delivery, and the handful of stellar hits thrown throughout the track listing.
As he sings, you can almost hear the influences and inspirations for the album; it’s a mixture of his suburban upbringing in the ’90s (his resemblance to Usher is uncanny at some points), being exposed to the greats of soul, R&B, and pop, and being alive in 2016. It jumps around between calming, silky R&B with tracks like “Bourbon”, “Episode”, and “Miyazaki”, and bass-pounding electronic R&B with “Talking To Myself” and “Open Up”. Finding a perfect in-between is his duet with Jhene Aiko for “Skipping Stones”, as the two croon and serenade back and forth beautifully.
Ology encompasses the strengths and appeal of the genre through 52 minutes of stellar production, captivating song writing, and engaging vocal work, pairing perfectly with a comfy couch and a rainy day.
Must-haves: “Talking To Myself” / “Weight in Gold” / “Open Up”
The Future of the Left – The Peace and the Truce of the Future of the Left
Brace yourselves, the end is coming.
Or at least it feels that way when listening to The Future of the Left. The Welsh post-hardcore/alternative post-punk band lead by lyricists and frontman Andrew Falkous have this weird, dark sense of humour that is unruly and cynical, but oh so much fun.
What’s more is their fifth album – oddly titled The Peace and the Truce of the Future of the Left – is groovy as hell (just listen to the opening of “Miner’s Gruel” or “50 Days Before the Hun”), but not something that can be taken in passively, otherwise the album’s character will be lost within the chaotic percussion and face-melting bass lines.
“If twenty therapists want to me tempt with their tit rings, they should know I own a werewolf and the sense to use it”.
From opener “If AT&T Drank Tea They Would BP Do” to finale “No Son Will Ease Their Solitude”, Falkous’ humour and confusing outlook of life makes for an entertaining half hour. Complete with odd narratives of weird reincarnation, giving your privileged daughter the boot, and mental breakdowns, the progressive structure of the aggressive arrangements met with quasi-spoken word singing gives it a one-punch gusto that hits hard and laughs in your face.
Head to their website to grab a copy.
Must-haves: “In A Former Life” / “Miner’s Gruel” / “50 Days Before the Hun”
The Lumineers – Cleopatra
Ah, that good ol’ Southwestern folk rock. Although The Lumineers are originally from New Jersey, they’re currently based out of Denver, Colorado, where their music feels at home.
After the phenomenal success of their debut record (you can still hear the faint echos of “Ho Hey” every time their name is said), there was great anticipation and excitement over their follow-up Cleopatra. And after they released the jangling, folk hit “Ophelia” back in February, that anticipation was doubled, even tripled.
Well, the day has come and The Lumineers have released their child into the world, and although we’ve already heard the best song from the album, the rest of the record is as good, if not better than their debut.
Cleopatra makes you want to dance, laugh, cry, and sing at the top of your lungs all at once. There’s something about lead singer Wesley Schultz’ rusty voice that allows for the jangling piano, foot stomping bass drum, and guitar to fill in the cracks to create a complete picture. The music is simple and welcoming, yet powerful and moving. The Lumineers have made it easy to connect with their music, and once the album makes its way to higher places, it’ll be a way for people to connect with one another, as the record revolves around storytelling.
With the unparalleled success of “Ho Hey”, The Lumineers were smart enough to not aim for another radio hit, instead they kept their music genuine, and true to their homegrown style making Cleopatra an enjoyable and meaningful follow-up.
Must-haves: “Ophelia” / “Gun Song” / “Cleopatra”