New Release Sampler, 6/3/14
We've got something for just about every kind of music lover in our New Release Sampler this week. After nearly five years, 50 Cent has finally released a new album. Give it a listen -- hopefully you'll find it to be better than his pitching arm. Sassy country star Miranda Lambert's fifth album also drops this week. Platinum is not only the name of the album, but also the color of her hair and the name of her favorite beer. While we're on the subject of country music, check out Rhapsody's Ones to Watch artist for June, Lucy Hale, and her debut album, Road Between. Laura Pergolizzi (aka L.P.) has also just released her debut, Forever For Now. A strong, dramatic vocalist, L.P. recalls such greats as Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush. One of L.P.'s earliest proponents was David Lowery of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven acclaim, and fittingly, Camper's El Camino Real also hits this week.
Lovers of Latin pop will want to check out Camila's newest album, Elypse. The duo offers up some synth-laced soft rock on their third effort, but if you prefer the accordion to synths, then check out Norteño group Calibre 50's Contigo. Meanwhile, metalheads should check out new singles from Opeth, Mastodon and Chelsea Grin. And there's a whole lot more to discover -- just hit play. And keep reading for album reviews of our top five new releases.
Miranda Lambert's fifth album, Platinum, embodies all the things we love about the singer: her sassy sense of humor, her girlish camaraderie and her confident swagger. Nostalgia runs through "Automatic" and "Smokin' and Drinkin'": "It was one of those times when a real good time felt like such a long time ago," she coos on the latter, while Little Big Town offer lush background harmonies. Other highlights include the stompin' stunner "Little Red Wagon," the hilarious "Gravity Is a Bitch" and the soulful, Bonnie Raitt-meets-Van Morrison gem "Holding on to You." -- Linda Ryan
50 Cent epitomizes New York hip-hop, a community haunted by its glorious past. "I'm trying to make you feel like the first time," he says on "Winners Circle." With its airy hook by Guordan Banks, it's his sole concession to mainstream radio's mono-pop proclivities. Otherwise, Fiddy's still a "Hustler," as the album's best track makes clear. "You chase the hos, I chase the paper," he says, but he knows damn well that teenagers make the hits. So he adds "Smoke," a Trey Songz single that compares a fine lady to strong weed. It ain't Get Rich or Die Tryin', but these days, nothing is. -- Mosi Reeves
Laura Pergolizzi's third album comes after a decade-long recording hiatus, during which time she crafted tunes for Rihanna and Christina Aguilera. Those same pop instincts appear in this glossy showcase for her soaring vocals and quirky production. There's omnipresent ukulele, lots of whistling, orchestral swirls buttressing the Who-like power chords of "Night Like This." At times her galloping choruses and melodrama bring to mind Coldplay at their most arena-ready ("Into the Wild"). But good luck trying to nail down comparisons -- L.P.'s clearly marching to her own (cavernous, echoing) drummer. -- Jason Gubbels
Calibre 50 has the four-man formation of a rock band, with members on tuba and accordion joining a guitarist and drummer. Founded in 2010, the group has scored a string of regional Mexican hits and, with Contigo, are destined for more. On "Tus Latidos," the banda group transcends the genre, leaving aside the more traditional oom-pa-pa for a more understated style. The track talks about a romance that blooms on social media. The young members of Calibre 50 may be from Sinaloa, the cradle of the brass banda sound, but on Contigo, it's clear they are not playing their fathers' music. -- Judy Cantor-Navas
Parquet Courts combine the sharp-short sparseness of Wire with the twisty talking punk of the Minutemen and the offhanded slackerisms of Pavement. In short: critical gold. Their second album tempers the tempos a bit, elongates the jams and tempts the term Dylanesque with a focus more on nervous romance than their nervous futures: "You did your heart no favors when you taught me to crawl/ Waiting by the phone I craft my next apology." From the gospel-informed rave-up "Ducking and Dodging" to the list of pleas for a "mamacita" on "Instant Disassembly," they're quickly carving a style all their own. -- Dan Weiss