Dig These Discs :: Rocketnumbernine, Backstreet Boys, Selena Gomez, Rudimental
Dig These Discs salutes kid rockers this month, with Bieber’s maybe-ex Selena Gomez’s new album, plus a new cut by old-school former boy band the Backstreet Boys. From across the pond, brotherhood is strong in the London-based bro band RocketNumberNine, and all styles come together in the U.S. debut of the UK band Rudimental’s banging album.
"Stars Dance" (Selena Gomez)
Kiddie TV/film star Singer Selena Gomez is finally 21 years old and is celebrating the momentous occasion with the release of her new solo debut album, featuring the number one double platinum hit "Come & Get It," as well as the track "Birthday," a sing-song clap track. Her newest single "Slow Down" is a sultry Latin-influenced tune, profiled in the accompanying music video via a night on the town in Paris, hitting the dance floor. "I just want to feel your body right next to mine, all night long," she sings, with the help of Auto-Tune. "I think ’Come & Get It’ was more of that sensual vibe and is very beautiful and ’Slow Down’s a little bit harder, so we kind of went for more darker themes. And it was fun. The dancing was great and we got to shoot it in Paris, so that was amazing and unbelievable," she told MTV News. With its sonorous hand drums and the whimsical ’na na na’s’ the track is an ideal summer breakout hit. Too bad the title track can’t measure up; it’s a lukewarm piece of fabricated drama. She does a little better with the reggae-inspired youth power anthem, "Like A Champion." Gomez has been linked romantically to stars Taylor Lautner and Justin Bieber; her reported breakup with the Beebs is said to have inspired her song, "Love Will Remember," as she sings, "We lit the whole world up before we blew up/ I still don’t know just how we screwed it up." Rumor has it that the original track included a voicemail from Bieber, allegedly proclaiming his love for Gomez. "That’s the most personal track on the record, for sure," Gomez said in an interview with InStyle. "It’s not an aggressive approach to what people are probably expecting." The lyrics of "Forget Forever," which has Gomez singing, "Our love was made to the rule the world/ you came and broke the perfect girl," surely has some people speculating as well. She seems to go for a Nicky Minaj vibe in "B.E.A.T.," but doesn’t quite meet the mark. Her "Write Your Name" is reminiscent of the bouncy tracks on Madonna’s latest "MDNA" album (and a whole lot more age appropriate). She gets a big dance club feel in "Undercover," but unfortunately, her voice just can’t carry the weight of the tune. Gomez took a break from singing to star in the films "Hotel Transylvania" and the Harmony Korine coming-of-age film "Spring Breakers," and plans to go on hiatus following the release of "Stars Dance" in July. She backs up this grown-up vibe in "Undercover," singing, "Find me in the shadows, and pull the shades down until tomorrow." Few could fault Gomez for the amount of work she has done in her short life; she is certainly no slouch when it comes to filming TV shows, movies or animated shorts, or even starting her own clothing and fragrance line. But among her Disney cohorts, she isn’t the most talented of singers. Still, she’s young, cute and newly legal, and maybe for now, that’s enough. (Hollywood)
"In A World Like This" (The Backstreet Boys)
Twenty years ago in Orlando, Florida, A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell came together to create The Backstreet Boys, setting off what would become a littered landscape of prefabricated boy bands. They rose to international fame...and then, they grew up. To their credit, they came back together when other boy bands might have walked away, regrouping in 2005 to release "Never Gone." The band teamed up with New Kids on the Block last year for a successful NKOTBSB tour through North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Now, they celebrate their 20-year reunion with this eighth studio album, the first to feature all five original members in six years. The album starts out with the simple acoustic/drums arrangement "In A World Like This," a simple, sweet love song. "No one else can teach me how to love again because you left a permanent stain on my heart, and I’m feelin’ it," they sing in "Permanent Stain." A true love’s words are a symphony and her breath gives life in "Breathe." Perhaps this is the crying "Madeleine," to whom the BSBs sing, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Deep bass drums punctuate the "find the truth in a child’s eyes when the only limit is the sky," they sing in this classic BSB track, "Show ’Em (What You’re Made Of)," among the best on the album, along with the foot-tapping song "Trust Me." They harmonize in the syncopated "Make Believe," singing, "like angels on fire we burn the sky." And they go for funky and smooth in the bluesy track "Try." "Love Somebody" has a catchy hook, and "One Phone Call" has clever lyrics, as they sing, "every single night feels like 25 to life...I’m guilty as charged, cause I went and broke your heart." "Feels Like Home" is a classic shout-out song to all their stops along the way, and "Soldier" is an upbeat song about sticking with something until the end. The BSBs have always succeeded by pulling on the heartstrings of their (primarily female) fans, and this album is no exception. After 20 years, the lesson to take with you is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Count on the Boys to thrill the ladies for decades to come. (Independent)
After a slight delay, RocketNumberNine -- the duo of London-based brothers Todd Page on drums and Ben Page on synths -- has released their latest album, "MeYouWeYou." With a name taken from a song by space jazz crusader Sun Ra and musical influences from Detroit to London to Africa and beyond, RocketNumberNine, has spent the last eight years shaping their sound into what it is today. The two invite listeners to delve into their tribal Chingford roots with this hard-hitting modern dance music. After a chance meeting and short tour with the band Four Tet, they have condensed their electronic dance/punk/jazz mash-up into more digestible bits for a nine-song album. The deep bass in their tribal techno track "Rotunda" creates African percussive rhythms that just manage to distract from the ear-splitting electronic samples. The sound of this is very much a live music sound altered with levels of drums, riffs and synth, at points even evoking the feel of a marching band’s drum line. This sound resurfaces in the stellar track "Black and Blue," and again in "Slide," working with the eponymous ’slide’ groove sound. An early house music sound comes out in the quirky track "Lone Raver," and a crispy, burning sound saturates "Deadly Buzz," which grows in intensity throughout the four and a half minute run time. Their intro track, "Lope" is a carefully metered explosion of drums and guitar, with thrilling percussive thrown in for good measure. Cowbell and triangle set the pace in "Steel Drummer," and vocal distortions provide an otherworldly, alien intro for "Symposium." This all-instrumental album isn’t one you can sing along with, but it just might make your next late-night road trip whiz by in a pleasantly discordant blur. (Smalltown Supersound)
The UK outfit Rudimental is about to drop their debut album, "Home," and by all accounts, the crew of Piers Aggett, Kesi Dryden, Amir Amor and Leon Rolle are about to become big stars. The album is already Number 1 on the UK charts, selling almost 63,000 records in the first week. Their eclectic sound blends garage, house, jungle and R&B for an exciting sound that cascades with emotive vocals and harmonies. Their track "Baby" is a sultry R&B-influenced track with electronic flourishes and vocals by MNEK and Sinead Harnett. "Waiting All Night" is a sultry song that sounds both old school and modern at the same time, with the lyrics, "I’ve been waiting all night for you to tell me, tell me that you need me, tell me that you want me." Its rapid-pace percussion backing is infectious and raises the stakes, and Ella Evre’s backing vocals don’t hurt any. Angel Haze lends her gritty intro vocals on "Hell Could Freeze," sounding like Macy Gray made a cameo, only to be usurped by a rap break. The alternation between the two leaves the listener caught between this folksy vibe and rap. John Newman & Alex Clare chime in on "Not Giving In," a song that picks up Motown influences, and then meshes them with an ’80s girl-band sound. The mishmash seems discordant, but somehow works. And that is the key for all of their songs. This band seems to have the "kitchen sink" approach to music making, throwing a heap of fabulous styles together with little fuss or pretense, sitting back and watching it grow legs. Their hit single "Feel the Love," which also features vocals by Newman, just surpassed the 20-million-view mark on YouTube. Rudimental shows their whimsical side by including "DJ chatter" backing that touts the song as the UK’s first breakout summer track. Their cut "Spoons" has an old "Everything But the Girl" vibe, and "Right Here," featuring Foxes, is a solid dubstep track. The Rudimental crew will take their act on the road this summer, kicking off their North American tour on Aug. 2, starting in Montreal and ending in Philly by Aug. 31. Be sure to check them out; by the time they stop moving, they’ll be on a fast track to the top.