New Release Sampler, 8/5/14
We have plenty of new music to check out this week, including a new album from multiplatinum hard rockers Godsmack. The Boston group's sixth album, 1000hp, is the follow-up to 2010's The Oracle, which debuted on Billboard's Top 200 chart at No. 1. Meanwhile, indie fans will want to check out Spoon's eighth album, They Want My Soul, another great addition to their already impressive catalog. We also have the debut album from Rhapsody's Ones to Watch artist for the month of August, The Wind and The Wave. The indie folk duo's From the Wreckage is chock full of smart, infectious, handclap-along songs. But one of the best surprises this week comes from indie pop duo The Rosebuds, whose Sand + Silence , produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, _is a hooky slice of near-perfect alt pop.
In other sounds, urban gospel singer Smokie Norful's Forever Yours highlights his soulful, uplifting voice beautifully, whether he's singing slow ballads or more up-tempo, R&B-infused jams. Country fans will want to take a listen to Sunny Sweeney's Provoked, which features songs that painfully chronicle the downfall of her marriage, but also more shoot-from-the-hip, irreverent gems. We also have hot new singles from Counting Crows, Mary Lambert, Sergio Mendes (with John Legend), The Presets, Imogen Heap, Faith Evans and so many more. Hit play, and read our reviews of the week's top five new albums below.
Spoon, They Want My Soul
Spoon's signature one-chord style has gotten meatier and weirder as they've searched for a second act to their success with 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Polarizing Transference, released in 2010, had Spoon's meanest sonics to date, and four years later, They Want My Soul doubles down on the chunky groove of "Written in Reverse" with the nasty Stones riff of "Rent I Pay" and the ominous, piano-driven "Rainy Taxi." But the group's also going somewhere else: The Cibo Matto-recalling trip-hop of "Inside Out" is new, as is the danceable "New York Kiss" and the 3/4 time R&B of "I Just Don't Understand." -- Dan Weiss
When, on the title-track opener, Sully Erna howls, "Time to rewind/ Back to 1995/ When we were nothing," the frontman isn't kidding. Godsmack's sixth album, 1000hp, sounds like a long-lost collection of recordings from the mid-'90s. The band made a wise move. Rather than slather their jams in flavor-of-the-month EDM beats in an embarrassing attempt to stay "hip," the Boston rockers instead go back to basics: riff-raging post-grunge for bros. Godsmack are, in fact, so '90s that on "Turning To Stone" they even dust off that weird acoustic-guitar sound Alice in Chains busted on Jar of Flies. -- Justin Farrar
Sunny Sweeney, Provoked
While like-minded shoot-from-the-hip female country singers such as Brandy Clark, Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves have had the opportunity to bask in the spotlight, Sunny Sweeney has been frustratingly left in the dark commercially. Provoked could be her turning point: Sweeney has been writing with both Clark and Monroe, as well as The Pistol Annies' Angaleena Presley, and the resulting songs are smart, irreverent and brutally honest. There's so much to appreciate here, including devastating breakup songs "Carolina on the Line" and "My Bed," and the gloriously rebellious "Bad Girl Phase." -- Linda Ryan
Andy Grammer, Magazines or Novels
You can tell this blue-eyed soulster honed his craft busking the busy boardwalks of Santa Monica -- he knows how to please a crowd. Sex-positive and woman-friendly, Grammer returns to the mild hip-hop influences that marked his breakout debut three years ago, kicking off a funky hoedown on "Honey, I'm Good" and bumping alongside beefy horns on throwback "Forever." The cutest song here ("Holding Out") rides a sweet reggae groove while honestly detailing how somebody managed to hang on to his virginity until the right girl came along: "A little bit of prayer/ A little bit of porn (sorry)." -- Jason Gubbels
Smokie Norful, Forever Yours
On this album, Smokie Norful applies his silky-smooth voice to a gospel album in the form of a love letter to God. On Forever Yours he's as full of emotion as Robin Thicke or Ed Sheeran as they sing about romantic love, but the object of his affection is otherworldly. It helps that Norful is a master at genre-jumping, working in R&B, dance, upbeat praise and worship, as well as big ballads. Producers on the project include everyone from Aaron Lindsey and Derek D.O.A. Allen to Elvis Williams and Warryn Campbell, helping to create a diverse album with a notably wide range. -- Wendy Lee Nentwig