Dig These Discs :: Weezer, Zayn, Brian Fallon, Gwen Stefani, Redfoo

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Friday April 1, 2016

Gwen Stefani releases her third studio album, the first she's dropped in ten years. The Santa Monica-based Weezer releases their tenth studio album this month, a self-titled joint with a white cover that they hope will be known as 'The White Album.' Grammy-nominated artist Redfoo, half the duo of LMFAO, releases his solo album debut this month, "Party Rock Mansion," under his new label Party Rock Records. The Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon releases his debut solo album, "Painkillers," singing about his search for a meaningful existence. English singer/songwriter Zayn, who made his name with the boy band "One Direction," set out on his own last March, and now releases his solo debut, "Mind of Mine."

"This Is What the Truth Feels Like" (Gwen Stefani)

Gwen Stefani releases her third studio album, the first she's dropped in ten years, and there's no doubt that this one's a winner. Her dozen breakup-themed songs were produced with producers Benny Blanco, J.R. Rotem, Mattman & Robin and Greg Kurstin. She wrote these very personal songs against the advice of her 'people,' and the singles have been well-received. She declined to drop it first on Spotify, and it still went to the top of the charts. Appropriately, she starts the album with "Misery," a metered cut with clap tracks that starts out, "Let you go, I got so used to being 'round you boy, I'm trying not care but where'd you go? I'm doing my best to be sensible. I'm trying not to care, but you're like drugs, you're like drugs to me." Interesting sound effects go into "You're My Favorite," her 'been there, done that' track. You turned her on "just like a switch" in "Where Would I Be?" with its ska sound and her trademark 'Hollerback' sound. And her "Make Me Like You" is a radio-ready cut that made for a great single back in February. Stefani sings about not wanting to embarrass herself with a messy rebound in the title track, the ballad "Truth," and follows it with the bouncy "Used To Love You," with that well-worn break-up rejoinder, 'I thought I was the best thing that ever happened to you?' She hits the high points of her register in the reggae-influenced, dramatic tune "Send Me a Picture," and gets heavy in the rap cut "Red Flag." "Asking 4 It" is another rap stunner in which she asks, "Are you sure you wanna love me?" She takes on 'Mr. Shady' in "Naughty," another track that is pure Stefani style. She finishes strong, with the R&B hit "Me Without You" and "Rare," laying her truth out for all to hear. Yeah, she's been hurt bad; but she's back, and stronger than ever.
(Interscope Records)

"Weezer/The White Album" (Weezer)

The Santa Monica-based Weezer releases their tenth studio album this month, a self-titled joint with a white cover that they hope will be known as 'The White Album.' The ten-song album comes on the heels of 2014's critically-acclaimed "Everything Will Be Alright in the End," and follows the band's return to their classic form. The album opens with the sounds of waves lapping the shore and seagulls cawing, with "California Kids." This rocking ballad is easygoing, like the band, with its call, "don't you worry, it's gonna be alright/ If you're on a sinking ship, the California kids will throw you a lifeline." A boy and girl, albatross around their necks, are trying to save their souls with the "Wind in Our Sail," in this cinematic, quirky cut; and launch "Thank God for Girls" has a nutty a capella bit about the girl in the pastry shop making you a big, fat cannoli for your hike. Women are great, says Weezer; things get a little stalkery-weird from there. They go for a traditional beach sound with "(Girl We Got a) Good Thing," with the occasional electric guitar thrown in for good measure. They pile on the feedback in their hit single, "Do You Wanna Get High," a grotty song about getting messed up and listening to Burt Bacharach. The nutty distortion continues in "King of the World," a song about making life great for you, despite past pain. The easygoing vibe of "Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori" will have you chuckling at their casual pain, and I love your long hair, but you just don't care," they sing in "L.A. Girlz." They get "Jacked Up" over you, with its crazy piano riff, and finish the album with "Endless Bummer," singing plaintively "I just want the summer to end...not all 19-year-olds are cool." It's the perfect intersection of their beach bum vibe and their Weezer élan.
(Crush Music/Atlantic Records)

"Party Rock Mansion" (Redfoo)

Grammy-nominated artist Redfoo, half the duo of LMFAO, releases his solo album debut this month, "Party Rock Mansion," under his new label Party Rock Records. Promoters say these 13 new tracks are a way for Redfoo to successfully explore a new range of emotions and sounds, "perfectly balancing his sense of humor, sex appeal and sensitivity for a diverse listening experience -- all rooted in Redfoo's classic 'feel good' mantra." He starts out strong with "Keep Shining," a classic anthem about partying until the sun comes out. Lots of synth and percussives go into Redfoo's beats, underscoring his message, "This is what we do when we party rock." A steam whistle opens his cut "Party Train," and Redfoo wants to know who came to this festival, calling those hipsters with ironic T-shirts up to the stage. It's a great place to rhyme "juice" with "caboose." "Too Much," a slice of the poppin'-bottles lifestyle, is fueled by beats and unsavory quips like "got so many bitches need to open a kennel." He's got his brew in a coozy to keep the cops at bay, and is checking the girls sunning their buns in "Beach Cruisin'." The cut "Booty Man" seems to be created for the sole purpose of twerking, from the beat to the lyrics, where Redfoo says, "we need more booties on the guest list." He gets a "Wooly Bully" vibe in "Lights Out" and gets explicit about what he wants to do to a party guest who's got him "So Lit." His "New Thang" sounds an awful lot like that old thang, "Talk Dirty" with 2 Chainz, and the beginning of "Juicy Wiggle" is very similar to Dolly Parton's "9 to 5." It's "The Twist" for a new generation, but watch out; all of Redfoo's checkers are chubby! His 'in da club' anthem is "Good Things Happen When Ya Drunk." The legendary Stevie Wonder helps out on the track "Where The Sun Goes," which sounds like classic LMFAO. A child's music box kicks off "Meet Her At Tomorrow," featuring Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. He finishes the album off with "Maybe," the closest thing to a ballad the album has. Kudos to Redfoo for his first solo effort, although we can't help feel as though it would have been better suited to a 2012 release, when people still cared about sassy party rock anthems.
(Party Rock Records)

"Painkillers" (Brian Fallon)

The Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon releases his debut solo album, "Painkillers," singing about his search for a meaningful existence. "We want our lives to matter to those around us," Fallon told The Wall Street Journal. "We want our time here to have a positive impact and not simply to pass by. Even if that costs us." Like his previous group efforts, Fallon's style is hard-rocking guitar anthems, with Springsteen-esque lyrics and lots of 'whoa-oh-ohs." In "A Wonderful Life," he's "calling all lonelyhearts" with his pleasantly gravelly voice, saying, "I don't want to survive; I want a wonderful life." Since his New Jersey-based band broke out in 2008, he keeps moving closer to that goal. The title track finds him "beaten to death with regret," and the acoustic cut "Among Other Foolish Things" finds him with her picture on his dashboard, singing, "And they say such foolish things like 'love, love, love is all you need.'" He feels like he woke up in somebody else's skin in the clap-track rock anthem "Smoke"; and the piano ballad "Steve McQueen" looks back at past heroes. Fallon writes a lot about classic America in the days of Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. He bemoans never ending up the lucky one in "Nobody Wins," and sings, "there's a hole in you now like the windshield was taken out," in the fast-moving "Rosemary," a track with a classic Gaslight Anthem sound. He sings about stopping to tell her he loves her at the "Red Lights," and share kisses and keeps secrets during those "Long Drives." Fallon looks for love like he used to have in "Honey Magnolia," and gets a bluesy rock feel in "Mojo Hand." He ends the album with the guitar ballad "Open All Night," singing, "I'm going back to New York City, I just can't wait no more for you." "Painkillers" is a great solo album for Fallon, even if it does sound like just another winning collection of rock anthems from The Gaslight Anthem.
(Island Records)

"Mind of Mine" (Zayn)

English singer/songwriter Zayn, who made his name with the boy band "One Direction," set out on his own last March, and now releases his solo debut, "Mind of Mine." The lead single, "Pillowtalk" debuted at number one in the UK, U.S., Australia, Canada and Ireland. His new album is an expansive collection of 19 songs, complete with an intermission. They're titled with odd capitalizations, like your five-year-old got to the keyboard. But you can't fault the guy for wanting to give it his best shot. In "PILLOWTALK," he juxtaposed a war zone and a paradise, and sings, "She's got her own reasons for talking to me/ she don't give a fuck about what I need," in the slow percussive "iT's YoU." He goes for a pop sound in "BeFoUr," and the sultry "sHe," singing, "Bright lights, she's fading, feels rights, she's crazy/ She wants someone to love, to hold her." When it's late night, red eyes, he needs her, 'cause they've been "dRuNk" all summer. He starts the second part of the album with the solid, synth-driven tune, "rEaR vIeW," which showcases Zayn's solid singing voice. He could have stood a few more cuts like this. His piano ballad, "fOol fOr YoU" is another solid track, as Zayn sings, "This love is tainted; I need you and I hate it/ You're caught between a dream and a movie scene, anyway, you know what I mean." His "BoRdErSz" is quirky, and his "tRuTh" and "IUcOzAdE" are slow R&B cuts. He spices things up with "TiO," singing, "I just wanna watch you while you take it off." "Found my life, in between shots and getting high, the cage I was in fell away when she asked me to dance," he sings in "BRIGHT," one of the album's best tracks. "He don't know your body, he won't love you 'LIKE I WOULD,'" sings Zayn in the most radio-ready of the collection. While this young man is clearly talented and easy on the eyes to boot, it's time he put away boyhood things; his music could benefit from some serious, sanguine soul-searching about exactly what stories he is trying to share.
(RCA Records)

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.