Dig These Discs :: Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, Tegan & Sara, Brett Dennen, Goo Goo Dolls
Ariana Grande releases her third studio album, originally titled "Moonlight." Tegan and Sara follow up their 2013 smash hit "Heartthrob" with "Love You To Death," and their eighth studio album is another stunner. Longtime rockers from Buffalo New York, vocalist and guitarist John Rzeznik, vocalist and bassist Robby Takac, and drummer George Tutuska release their eleventh studio album, eleven tracks recorded at Bear Creek Studio in Washington. The five statuesque ladies of the pre-fab band Fifth Harmony, created on "The X Factor" in 2012, release their second album, "7/27," a reference to the date the group formed. Northern California folkie Brett Dennen releases his sixth studio album, a stripped-down collection of folk-pop songs recorded in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb.
"Dangerous Woman" (Ariana Grande)
Ariana Grande releases her third studio album, originally titled "Moonlight," and it already marks the biggest first-week for a female artist in 2016, outside of Beyoncé, of course. It's an ambitious 17 tracks that sees this former child star coming into her own as a grown-up singer. Luckily, Grande seems to be in on the irony, as her album cover features her in mouse ears -- with a sexy latex shine. Her first track is "Moonlight," and has her crooning, "I never knew you could hold moonlight in your hands, until the night I met you." Her lead single, "Dangerous Woman" was released in March, followed by the promotional cut, "Be Alright." Additional tracks trickled out one at a time. On the title track, her breakout single for this album, she sings the sultry chorus, "Something about you makes me feel like a dangerous woman." Her poppy "Be Alright" has an upbeat message that everything's going to work out fine. Grande wants "a little less conversation and a little more 'touch my body'" in "Into You." She goes for a reggae feel in "Side to Side," with some extra pizzazz courtesy of Nicki Minaj. Lil Wayne chimes in on the slow jam, "Let Me Love You," with its cool stutter effects. She's "Greedy" for love in a '70s disco-era throwback, and goes for drama when she teams up with Macy Gray for "Leave Me Lonely," telling her man if he walks out that door, don't bother coming back. He gives her the good shit 'erryday' in "Everyday," featuring Future, and she isn't even thinking of leaving him, not even "Sometimes," in the following track. Funky bass lines and snap tracks give an olde-timey feel to the ballad, "I Don't Care." She's got that hood love, and it's good love, but it makes her make "Bad Decisions" in the track perfect for when you're riding in your whip. She doesn't want to behave in "Touch It," and employs cool effects in the regrets song, "Knew Better/Forever Boy." Grande slows things down in "Thinking Bout You," wondering, "Where the hell are you when I need you?" She ends the album funky with "Step On Up," and the final cut, "Jason's Song (Gave It Away)."
"Love You To Death" (Tegan and Sara)
Tegan and Sara follow up their 2013 smash hit "Heartthrob" with "Love You To Death," and their eighth studio album is another stunner. The album shines right off the bat, with the fast-moving indie electro-backed cut, "That Girl," singing the lines, "Nobody hurts you like me/When did I become that girl?" Everyone will say that it's crazy and we won't last," but she insists this love ain't for the "Faint Of Heart." The Quin twins dropped their lead single "Boyfriend" on April 8, to critical acclaim. It's another of their bouncy anthems, with pro-LGBT lyrics: "You kiss me like your boyfriend, you call me up like you want your best friend, you turn me on like you want your boyfriend, but I don't wanna be your secret anymore." She's "Dying To Know" how you and that other bitch ended up in a "You Oughta New" song for today's set. Hit her back; you owe her that. "Stop Desire" transports the listener back to the '80s, listening to a young Joan Jett times two, tearing up the guitar along with our heartstrings. She's got you right where she wants you, back against the wall, and promises she won't let you fall. They slow things down a bit with the intense track "White Knuckles" with its refrain "cry, cry wolf, I don't know what I'm gonna do." The piano ballad "100X" showcases the girls' strong voices with cool echo effects as they sing about leaving a bad relationship way past its sell-by date. Like old Johnny Cash, she'll walk the line just to "B/W/U" and she doesn't need a white wedding, either. The edgy "U-Turn" calls for a love song to the person who turned it all around for her. They finish an excellent album with the metered, "Hang On To The Night," closing things up strong and steady. The duo is taking their new album on tour now, and promises to release a video clip for each track.
"7/27" (Fifth Harmony)
The five statuesque ladies of the pre-fab band Fifth Harmony, created on "The X Factor" in 2012, release their second album, "7/27," a reference to the date the group formed. The still have some classic girl-power anthems, but there's also a number of mid-tempo songs about love and romance. They kick things off with "That's My Girl," with co-writer Tinashe rap-singing "Who's been working so damn hard you got that head on overload/ Got yourself this flawless body," about a girl that's 'good to go.' Their latest single, "Work from Home" features Ty Dolla $ign, is already breaking records; it's the first top-five single from a girl group in a decade. In the electro cut "The Life," they're partying until they see the daylight, and are doing life straight with no chaser in "Write On Me." That four-letter word gets tossed around, and she can't front no more, in "I Lied." Hansen's powerful hook carries the über-catchy "All in My Head (Flex)," the only song on the album that the group co-wrote, which is great, in spite of its cameo by Fetty Wap. They slow things down in "Squeeze," and promise they won't leave you for that 'money man' with a house and a Benz, in "Gonna Get Better." She's usually fearless; so why is she so "Scared of Happy"? "Not That Kinda Girl" pays homage to Prince, with a rap break courtesy of Missy Elliott. It's one of the best songs they've ever recorded. Just so you know, you're pretty fucking "Dope," sing the ladies. They finish with the moody track, "No Way," two imperfect lovers finding middle ground. Fifth Harmony launches their summer tour on, you guessed it, July 27 in Manchester, NH, with over 30 tour dates lined up including shows in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and more.
(Syco Music/Epic Records)
"Boxes" (Goo Goo Dolls)
Longtime rockers from Buffalo New York, vocalist and guitarist John Rzeznik, vocalist and bassist Robby Takac, and new drummer George Tutuska release their eleventh studio album, eleven tracks recorded at Bear Creek Studio in Washington. They kick off the album with "Over and Over," encouraging you to 'turn it up' with the lyrics, "old enough to know and young enough to live again, stare into the mirror but no one that you know is there." Their "Souls in the Machine" has a real anthemic, folksy rocks song, like something from Bruce Hornsby & The Range. He wants to see what you see in him, sings Rzeznik in "Flood," which benefits from female vocals by Echosmith's Sydney Sierota. He follows it with another yearning-for-love song, "The Pin," singing that he'd give everything to know he's still in your heart, at least before you pull that pin and blow it all up. The title song finds him wanting to preserve their love in "Boxes," singing, "you are the memory that won't ever lapse." The classic guitar cut "Free of Me" is impassioned, and "Reverse" has him "holding out for something more, like a drug that I abused." He promises he won't forget you, even if you let him go, in "Lucky One," and brings those memories with him everywhere in "Prayer In My Pocket." Their first single, "So Alive" melds piano with and drums for a pop sound, with Rzeznik singing, "Get up, get up, stand like a champion / Take it to the world, gonna sing it like an anthem." They wrap up this pretty package with "Long Way Home," singing, "when your hope is sinking like a stone I will take your hand, I will walk you home." The Goo Goo Dolls will spend the summer touring with Collective Soul and the Tribe Society.
(Warner Bros. Records)
"Por Favor" (Brett Dennen)
Northern California folkie Brett Dennen releases his sixth studio album, a stripped-down collection of folk-pop songs recorded in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb. Dennen has said that Paul Simon's "Graceland" was one of his favorite of all-time albums, and you can see the influence in tracks like "What's the Secret," the feel-good tune with a wandering melody and the rejoinder, "What's the secret? I don't know, I'm wasted." His single, "Cassidy" is a "story of love and longing where you are in a place of paradise but feeling a pull for somewhere else." When Dennen sings, "Cassidy, with the ocean in your hair," it sounds like an old chestnut from the Grateful Dead. He achieves a breezy island sound in "Stand Up For It," and "Burning Spirit," and gets folksy in "Bonfire." Dennen is introspective about loneliness in his guitar ballad, "Strawberry Road," and the mournful "Where We Left Off." Just a touch of percussion keeps "Another Life" moving along at a good clip, as Dennen sings about love in another lifetime. He's like Dionne Warwick, looking for the way to "Tengboche" rather than San Jose in a Latin-inspired cut, and finishes the album with "By Your Side," singing, "there's an invisible thread between us all, so here I am full of mistakes, caught in a hologram." Dennen takes his album on an extensive tour that runs through the summer.