A touch of Danger.

Honestly, Norah Jones has never done much for me.  Although her accomplishments as a Grammy winning artist who regularly tops the charts are admirable, I had always relegated her to Barnes and Noble soundtracks.  Vocally, she doesn’t move me.  She makes me sleepy.  And then the laid back, coffee house trappings drive me further into an impromptu nap.  This opinion came with one exception.  Her contributions to the Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi produced album “Rome,” were lovely and fitting with its atmospheric and melancholy vibe.  So, when I heard she was reuniting with Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) to construct a new album, I was bemused.

Despite my disenchantment with Norah, I had implicit faith in Danger Mouse’s producing skills.  Honestly, between Gnarls Barkley, ‘The Grey Album”, “Rome”, and his collaborations with The Black Keys, I knew this couldn’t possibly be all bad.

So, I bought the CD.  The actual, physical CD.  Now that, my friends, is faith.

As a whole, “Little Broken Hearts” is a continuous stream of sorrowful and moody and almost continues that melancholy feel from “Rome”.  Truthfully, it suits Jones.  This slightly crazed and admittedly homicidal side of Norah is so much more interesting than the tunes I had previously heard over the speakers of Starbucks.  Here is an album that actually goes some place musically.  The listener can recognize the bitter pangs of a breakup in the lyrical content which at times, takes far darker turns which remind me more of Burton’s projects with Cee-Lo Green than Jones.  Somehow that airy, almost lazy sounding voice whispering to “Miriam” and her impending doom at the singer’s hands are surprisingly frightening.

I give this album a rating of “Wholly Worthy of Your Time.”  Standout tracks include “Miriam”, “After the Fall” and “Happy Pills”.

Go forth and listen!  For apparently, Danger Mouse can do no wrong.

2011 Music Restock

2011:  A good year for my music library

“Rome,” the concept album by collaborators Daniele Luppi and Danger Mouse (one half of Gnarls Barkley) featuring Norah Jones and Jack White.  This atmospheric and moody album was inspired by scores of Spaghetti Westerns predominantly directed by Sergio Leone.  Not only was this performed on vintage equipment (an increasing rarity these days) but the orchestra was made up of musicians who originally performed Spaghetti Western scores.  The entire moody album plays like the score to a film and inspires beautiful and varied visual imagery.   And despite its sometimes melancholy sounds, there is a subdued sensuality to it.  The vocal and lyrical contributions from Jack White and Norah Jones match the forlorn score perfectly.  Atmospheric and moody.  Hello soundtrack for life.

Okay, so Cee Lo Green’s “The Lady Killer” actually came out in 2010 but I didn’t get it until 2011.  This splendidly produced album was comparable to “Rome” in that it sang the imagery of a film or story to you.  The first single “Fuck You!” was bound to be a hit by its very nature but the rest of the album lived up to the first single’s hype, and maybe surpassed it.  Finally, we get cohesion from a solo Cee Lo album with his distinctive voice and soulful track composition.  From the upbeat tracks to the ballads, the lyrics are clever and the old-school vibe is on point.  Another album that is nearly perfect.  Cee Lo, I love how weird you are.

My countdown for Adele’s next album started right after I got finished listening to the first one so, it goes without saying that I was excited.  Adele’s followup to her debut album, “19” became both a critical and commercial hit.  “21” showcases the raw power of her voice which has the uncanny ability to turn even her mediocre tracks into spun gold.  She is a tremendous live performer and in an age where live performances are either good by virtue of their flashy antics, Adele stands alone moving audiences wearing understated black with a lone microphone as her prop.  Her songwriting has gotten clearer in relating her pains compared to the poetry from “19”.  I didn’t love every single track on this album but it was well worth the wait and she is worthy of the hype.  Heartbreak always makes for good albums.

Remember the days when you would literally count the hours until an album dropped and waited in line outside of Sam Goody or Virgin Records Stores or something with a tent and hot chocolate and pee in a water bottle.  For me that was this album.  So, I did the 21st century equivalent and waited until 12am precisely on July 12 and downloaded this album from Itunes.  Sorry guys, but I had been saving a giftcard for months so I could get it with no issues.  Incubus has not had a completely new album out since the 2006 release of “Light Grenades” and I was getting antsy.  The announcement of this album literally had me on edge until it finally debuted.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected but honestly, Incubus albums never really are.  Without realizing it, they single-handedly deliver albums never the same as the last and right now, they’re working on subtlety.   This album is all about nuance and lushness.  Incubus audiences are literally split over this album.  You either vehemently hate it, love it or enjoy it and appreciate it for their musical growth and the lush production.  I fall in the latter category.  Admittedly, it isn’t my “go-to” Incubus album but it is a beautiful album none the less.  Worthy of the wait?  Hell yeah.  This quintet always manages to improve from the last album both as a unit and as individual musicians.   This album allows the listener to hear individual nuance and brings even more musicality and refinement to their already impressive catalog.

I’m proud to say that after a year long drought, my Itunes library has been restocked and my ears are ecstatic! Keep it comin’ guys, keep it comin’.