New Release Sampler, 7/1/14
Here we go again with another batch of new Rhapsody releases. By now you've probably heard about Robin Thicke's new album, Paula, his attempt to woo back estranged wife Paula Patton with songs like "Forever Love" and "Get Her Back." Trey Songz also returns with Trigga, which he says is "another dimension of my mind and emotion. It's vulnerable, but it's harsh." Meanwhile, fans of The Voice will be happy to hear Count On My Love, the debut album from Tessanne Chin, the Jamaican-born singer who absolutely floored us with her flawless soulful style. In country music, Colt Ford releases his fifth album, Thanks for Listening, in which he enlisted the help of country heavyweights such as Keith Urban, Justin Moore and Lee Brice, to name a few. Fans of more straight-up country should check out Old Crow Medicine Show's Remedy. Into rock? Then you will want to check out Seether's Isolate and Medicate and Corrosion of Conformity's IX. Like Pearl Jam? Try Red Wanting Blue's Little America. How about quirky reggae-fied alt pop? Check out Canadian band MAGIC!'s Don't Kill the Magic. We also have a bunch of new singles, including tunes from Adam Levine, Melissa Etheridge, Tank, Matt Nathanson, Sia, Korn and more. Hit play, and be sure to read our reviews of the week's top five new albums below.
Robin Thicke, Paula
Interpret Paula as a desperate plea to estranged wife Paula Patton, or an attempt to win back fans after his laddish Blurred Lines alienated so many of them. But don't compare it to Marvin Gaye's brilliantly tortured Here, My Dear. Thicke is too much of an optimist. This should be a serious affair, but after a few sincere ballads like "You're My Fantasy" and "Get Her Back," he can't help but lighten his mood with effusive yet underwritten pop like "Living in New York City." He loses himself in what-me-worry joy and helplessness, and his life and art suffer for it. -- Mosi Reeves
Seether, Isolate and Medicate
Isolate and Medicate, Seether's sixth full-length, is further proof that the South African group remains stubbornly committed to post-grunge's original mid-'90s sound. With riffs like slashing razors, falling somewhere between Silverchair and Bush, both "Suffer It All" and "My Disaster" find singer and songwriter Shaun Morgan at his most pissed-off and teeth-grinding. Possibly the album's most idiosyncratic cut is the country-meets-grunge brooder "Nobody Praying for Me." Then again, its catchy chorus is soaked in the kind of anger and dejection that has long been Seether's bread and butter. -- Justin Farrar
Trey Songz, Trigga
Trey Songz used to be the attentive lover who "invented sex." But on Trigga, he's a thirsty dog who brags on "Dead Wrong," "I f*ck 'em all the time, but you know I don't wife 'em." Blame it on the zeitgeist: R&B bad boys are dominant in 2014. Trey's the type of artist that refines trends, but doesn't really innovate them. Still, there are some great tracks, like "Cake," "All We Do" and the Mila J duet "Disrespectful." "Y.A.S.," where a former lover says "You ain't sh*t," may be a tacit admission that his big swingin' d*ck "on that late night sh*t" routine can't last. -- M.R.
MAGIC!, Don't Kill the Magic
The biggest Canadian reggae-fusion crossover act since Snow ("Informer," you remember) follows up its debut single smash "Rude" with a full-length that hews to gooey pop choruses even while tightening tempos, the better to show off its ambitions -- namely, what lead singer Nasri Atweh calls a "modern-day Police." Spiky tracks like "Stupid Me" and "Little Girl Big World" best display that New Wave-informed energy, but they mostly remain willing fools for love: not just "I'm gonna marry you anyway" but "I want to swim inside your ocean [wait for it] eyes." -- Jason Gubbels
Colt Ford, Thanks for Listening
On his fifth studio album, Colt Ford is still eulogizing what is near and dear to his Southern roots: girls who fish, muddy four-wheeling and farm life. And like any good party, Thanks for Listening celebrates with friends; Ford has an A-list of guest vocalists (Keith Urban, Lee Brice, Justin Moore, etc.) joining him on almost every song. Highlights include "Cut 'Em All," a beat-savvy, hard-hitting rap song that features Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, and the Jerrod Niemann-starring "Crickets." Both prove that Ford's sing-along hooks are still unparalleled in modern country. -- Linda Ryan