“You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” — The Strypes
A sloppy guitar riff starts off “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover”, stumbling over the one-two punch of a rolling bass line and simple drumbeat. Clocking in at a punk-ish 2 minutes and 16 seconds, this tune embodies The Strypes’ appeal, fusing the urgency of the Arctic Monkeys with the leather jacket cool of The Strokes. “Snapshot” is the group’s recent debut, released on Virgin Records.
“California Man” — Drake Bell
Remember Drake Bell? Well, this Nickelodeon kid star has come pretty far on his third album for Surfdog Records. Working alongside his childhood idol, Brian Setzer from Stray Cats, “California Man” finds Bell fusing rockabilly influences with a surf swagger. “California Man” is Bell’s take on a classic song by the Move, a 60’s duo known for short, psychedelic pop songs. “Ready Steady Go!” hit shelves this past Tuesday.
“Luna” — Fear of Men
Every once in a great while, a band drops a debut album that sounds like they’ve been recording together for decades. Fear of Men is one such band, bringing a spellbinding pop brilliance to “Luna.” Like The Smiths, Fear of Men deals with dark themes, but masks it under a sugary sheen of guitar and falsetto that perfectly characterizes the group’s infectious sound. “Loom” is a dream pop masterpiece.
“Warpath” — Ingrid Michaelson
Made available this Tuesday on her sixth studio recording, “Lights Out”, “Warpath” finds Ingrid Michaelson channeling her inner Adele as she boasts a “Rumor Has It”-like strut. Michaelson is clearly in her element, despite straying from her trademark piano and ukulele driven pop. She brings attitude and compelling harmonies to this brief, defiant song.
“Forever Be” — Kelis
Food is both the focus and title of Kelis’ latest record, but on “Forever Be” the husky voice of this soul singer is hungering for love. Kelis punctuates hypnotic lines of strings and crisp piano with a forceful \narrative, uniting the discordant elements that texture this ballad. “Food” is a retro sounding synthesis of classic rhythm and blues and modern pop. Recommended for fans of Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.
Retro Pick of the Week:
“Carry On” — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Choirs of heavenly angels couldn’t match the harmonies produced by this folk-rock quartet from 1970. “Carry On” opens with a single acoustic guitar, which beats out a syncopated rhythm that provides the undercurrent for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s vocal juggernaut. Electric guitars weave in and out of this tune, and become most pronounced in the song’s crystalline second half. “Carry On” is a beautifully nuanced pieced of music that rewards multiple listens, inspiring awe each time.