Dig These Discs : Britney Spears, R Kelly, Muse, A Swinging Birdland Christmas, Leona Lewis, Childish Gambino
"Community" star Daniel Glover drops the rap in "Because the Internet," and sex machine R. Kelly goes downtown (and everywhere else) in his 12th studio album, "Black Panties." Enjoy the new tracks from Britney Spears, the Princess of Pop, and Muse’s live album. Get jazzy for the holidays with the Birdland Swinging Christmas and Leona Lewis’ first holiday album! Ooh, baby, it’s cold outside on December’s Dig These Discs!
"Because the Internet" (Childish Gambino)
Star of the NBC sitcom "Community," Daniel Glover aka Childish Gambino drops his second rap album. His stage name was reportedly found from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator, but as monikers go, it seems to fit the bill.
His first single, "3005," generated some critical acclaim, and later, "Sweatpants" and "Telegraph Ave." were released (or leaked). The latter song finds Glover cruising through Oakland, and generates the album title. "Sweatpants" is a hilarious song about Glover’s persona Gambino, with lyrics like, "Don’t be mad because I’m doing me better than you doing you."
This 19-track bounty is a concept album featuring a variety of styles and a lot of shorter musical interludes. "So Fresh Prince they about to bring the show back," he sings in the funny "WORLDSTAR." The short interlude "dial up" sounds like a serenade to space from a Casio keyboard. Chance the Rapper chimes in one the old-school track "The Worst Guys," and Glover teams up with his love, songstress Jhene Aiko for the duet "Pink Toes," which features Glover as a coke dealer with Aiko riding shotgun, and the talented Azealia Banks sings on "Earth: The Oldest Computer."
Piano chords mark the interlude "Playing Around Before the Party," but "The Party" is an electro Jimi Hendrix experience about a wild party that ends with, "I didn’t invite all these people to my house, get the fuck out my house!" The percussion bangs in "No Exit," and ranges from distorted electronic static, to the chirp of crickets, to a car trunk being opened.
"Shadows" is a talk-rap in the vein of Jurassic 5, and "3005" has the wordplay pattern of an Eminem song with an R&B chorus. He croons in "Flight of the Navigator," and give the truncated Luther Vandross treatment to "um." He closes the album with "Life: The Biggest Troll," a rumination on regret that cuts off mid-song. It’s time to get Childish.
"Black Panties" (R. Kelly)
If there’s one thing you can say about R. Kelly, it’s that he’s an unapologetic super freak. His 12th studio album, "Black Panties" is all about tapping that ass.
Kelly dives right in to the sexing, pun intended, with the song "Legs Shakin,’" in which he sings, "Going down, downtown, do it till your legs shakin’," boasting that his tongue is like a Jacuzzi jet. He is remarkably single-minded, singing in his next song "Cookie" that "I love to lick the middle like an Oreo."
Kelly serves it up strip-club style in "Throw This Money on You," and portrays an early morning phone call in the humorous and heavily misogynistic "Prelude." He goes down on his knees and sings a love song to the vadge in the filthy, funny "Marry the P***y."
Kelly is perhaps our nation’s foremost connoisseur of cunnilingus, and this album is a surefire boot-knocker. He advises a girl to drop that zero and get with this hero in "You Deserve Better," and croons his promise "I’ll be good to you" in "Genius."
Kelly Rowland lends her fine soprano to "All the Way," a superb slow jam that compares love to addiction. Kelly outlines his journey from rags to riches in "My Story" singing, "I went from being broke to sleeping in Versace shirts." He gives props to his crew in "Right Back," to God in "Shut Up" and pops bottles in the club in "Spend That," the obligatory "make it rain" song. He pulls out his girls’ tracks in "Crazy Sex," and sings, "Imma imma tear it up," in "Tear It Up," with help from Future. He doesn’t equivocate in the track "Show Ya P***y," smoking blunts and getting laid right in the club.
He takes the same party to the bedroom in "Physical," and closes the album out with the freaky track "Every Position." From the streets to the sheets, R. Kelly’s new album will take you all the way, with no apologies for the extended detour through Pussyville.
"Live at Rome Olympic Stadium" Muse
The English rock band Muse releases their fourth live album, shot in 4K hi-def during their The 2nd Law World Tour concert in Rome on July 6.
With Matthew Bellamy on lead everything, Christopher Wolstenholme on bass and Dominic Howard on drums and percussion, the band moves through spacey, progressive rock and electronica in 13 dramatic tracks. The song "Panic Station" is a quick-moving, catchy tune you’ll find yourself humming along to. It was nominated for Best Rock Song for the 2014 Grammy Awards.
They jam in the bleak "Resistance," reminiscent of a Radiohead tune, and following the theme of uprising against authority, a la George Orwell’s "1984." Then the guys go to outer space in "Knights of Cydonia," using the iconic five tones from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," as they ride on horseback to Mars. "Animals" has an early-era punk sound, a la the Smiths, which builds up to a great drum break. They slow things down in "Explorers," singing, "Free me from this world, I don’t belong here, it was a mistake imprisoning my soul."
The same tormented mien marks "Follow Me" and a deep bass drum keeps the slow pace in "Guiding Light." The distorted buzz in "Madness" adds a pleasant fuzziness to what is among the album’s best picks. The band jams in the anthemic "Supermassive Black Hole", and "Uprising," which has Bellamy singing, "They will not con-fucking-trol us, and we will be victorious!" They end with "Starlight," another song set in the heavens. The synthesizer melds with the audience, singing along with Bellamy to give the feeling of ascending.
Known for their extravagant live performances, Muse finds a perfect outlet in this live concert album, which allows them to exert unbounded energy with the help of thousands of screaming fans. An extended edition features the band performing 24 songs. Check the DVD for the complete concert, and look forward to their next album going back to a more "raw" rock style.
"Britney Jean" (Britney Spears)
Despite her promises that this was the album we’d all been waiting for, Britney Spears’ eighth studio album "Britney Jean" has had disappointing returns with the weakest opening week in her career, both in sales and on the chart.
Spears is getting some leverage with her popular singles "Work B**ch" and "Perfume," which casts her as the other woman. A new Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood begins right after Christmas, and will keep her in the public eye for the foreseeable future.
Say what you will about this Mississippi-born American pop icon, but through her skyrocketing highs and plummeting mental breakdown lows, she has always proved entertaining to her legions of fans. The 14-track album is perhaps a bit more ambitious than this "Femme Fatale" needed to attempt, but it’s not without its bright spots.
A Katy Perry pop sound surfaces in "Tik Tik Boom," and electronic dance beats add pep to "Body Ache." She explores the dubstep craze in "Til It’s Gone," and adds a crazy Indian-influenced intro to "Passenger." Little sis Jamie Lynn chimes in on "Chillin’ With You," singing, "I had the time of my life, and I’m feelin’ alright because I don’t got to worry bout a thing," before going into a beat break reminiscent of a Gwen Stefani song.
Spears’ whistle intro in "Don’t Cry" jumps on the recent busking bandwagon of bands like Mumford & Sons. "Brightest Morning Star" and "Hold on Tight" have similar intros, and "Now That I Found You" has a positive message of self-love. Her newest collection of songs may not be the cats’ pajamas, but at the end of the day, she will always be "Britney, bitch!" Nothing can ever take away the joy that Spears has brought us through the years, shaking our ass on the dance floor to tracks like "Toxic" and "Gimme More." Long live the Princess of Pop!
"A Swinging Birdland Christmas!" (Assorted artists)
Freshly minted from their rollicking holiday shows at the Birdland, Jim Caruso, Klea Blackhurst, Billy Stritch and Aaron Weinstein release a collection of 10 Christmas favorites, plus a few familiar songs thrown in for good measure.
Things kick off with Kay Thompson’s "Holiday Season," adding an Ethel Merman patina to the affair. The talented artists take turns with the verses, and add a friendly sense to it, that is casual and funny without pressing it. The piano tinkles for Irving Berlin’s cold-weather classic, "I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." New stuff comes in the form of "Santa Claus is Near," which exhorts everyone to get to bed before his sleigh lands on the roof, with electric guitar riffs from John Hart.
Similar riffs appear in the holly jolly Christmas classic, "The Man With the Bag." Charming strings show up in the percussion-heavy "Sleigh Ride" and the religious classic, "A Child is Born," which is lovely but doesn’t quite fit the upbeat mood of the album. They mash-up "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow" to create a jolly melody.
Looking for someone to kiss when the clock strikes midnight? That’s the stuff of the sentimental "What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?" The album ends with the "Jingle Bells Mashup," featuring the arrangements of Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand and Kay Thompson. Not a bad legacy to pay tribute to!
"Christmas, With Love" (Leona Lewis)
British songwriter Leona Lewis has parlayed her 2006 win on the third season of "The X Factor" into a respectable career, having sold more than 20 million records since her 2007 hit debut, "Spirit."
This year, she gets into the spirit with her first holiday album, "Christmas, With Love," which already debuted at number 25 on the UK Albums Chart. The songs are inspired by Motown hits with a retro throwback feel.
Lewis said that after singing a classical rendition of "Ave Maria," that she would be interested in recording an album of classical hits in the future. Her vocal range spans four octaves, and her operatic training puts her in the perfect position for such a project, able to move from highs to lows without strain.
Her first single, "One More Sleep" is an upbeat holiday hit about a woman counting down the days for her true love to join her for Christmas. She gives the grand, over-the-top treatment to the classic, "Winter Wonderland," and slows down "White Christmas" to a raggedy, R&B track. She puts her pipes to the test in "Your Hallelujah," and the result is high, fine soprano, almost to the point of falsetto. Her voice rides up and down the scales in the rocking holiday new classic, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." Clap tracks add a lot to the whimsical "Mr. Right," and the poppy "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" is a welcome novelty.
Lewis is just as strong on the religious-themed holiday songs like "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night." She’s currently working on her fifth studio album, but this talented diva certainly has what it takes to record that album of classical hits.