Songs of the Week: 4/3/2020

I only have two goals for this series: 1) Introducing the masses to great new music and 2) Giving myself an excuse to listen to every single new release on the Tidal streaming service so I can stay up with new music. Doing this on a weekly basis means that I have a one week window to get this up before the Tidal feed flips to the next set of records, so by posting song reviews rather than full album reviews, it allows me to get more out there and then if you choose to dig deeper, you can.

So… songs of the week for the release date of 4/3/2020.

  • Artist: Empress Of
  • Song: “U Give It Up”
  • Album: I’m Your Empress Of
  • Genre: Dance Pop
  • Notes: I’m Your Empress Of is the third full length from Lorely Rodriguez out of Los Angeles, California. The album is filled with electronic dance pop that sounds ready made for the club.
  • Artist: Thundercat
  • Song: “I Love Louis Cole”
  • Album: It Is What It Is
  • Genre: Acid Jazz / Funk
  • Notes: This is the 4th solo LP from this prolific funk, jazz and hip-hop bassist. He’s a much sought after musician especially after being a major player on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly album. Jazzy and funky, this guy is a cool cat for sue and he oozes that coolness here.
  • Artist: Black Atlass
  • Song: “Night After Night”
  • Album: Dream Awake
  • Genre: R&B
  • Notes: Well, this is interesting. Black Atlass is signed to XO records which is the label run by The Weeknd. And this album sounds exactly like a record from the boss. I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference it I didn’t know I was listening to first. Very intriguing to sign your clone but hard to argue since it’s a very good album.
  • Artist: Ant Saunders
  • Song: “Pedestrian”
  • Album: Bubble
  • Genre: R&B / Pop
  • Notes: Here’s a brand new one for me, I believe. Bubble is the first EP from Ant Saunders who got his career launched with the song “Yellow Hearts” which he first posted on Tik Tok. I’ve listened to a few YouTube stars that crossed over and of course many soundcloud artists but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one from Tik Tok before. But that track is on this EP as well as “Pedestrian” which is a really good R&B flavored pop track, so he’s on to something.
  • Artist: Everything is Recorded
  • Song: “03:15 AM / Caviar”
  • Album: Everything Is Recorded
  • Genre: Various
  • Notes: This is the debut album from Richard Russell who is the owner of XL recordings. With this, he created the songs, DJ’s and produced them while he let’s others do the singing and/or rapping. In this case, the mic is given over to Ghostface and well, Steed can’t get enough of Ghostface, ever.
  • Artist: Ashley McBryde
  • Song: “Voodoo Doll”
  • Album: Never Will
  • Genre: Country
  • Notes: I constantly hear female country artists say that they don’t get the respect and radio play they deserve and yet I hear female fronted country music all the time. I’m not fully entrenched in that scene, so they may be right but to my ears only, I don’t get where they are coming from. That said, I think the real test is here. I first heard of her on one of what seems like 12,000 country music awards shows on TV a few years ago especially in 2019 when her last album was nominated for a Grammy. But this album should make her a superstar. But let’s see if it will. She has a different look than 90% of the female country artists of today. She’s not blonde, she’s not all leg and she’s not a young girl. Here you’ve got a 36-year-old bad ass, short and tatted up looking completely different than your standard country superstar and not making pop-crossover material but that’s likely better than almost all of her peers. She’s got a fantastic voice, writes her own tunes and should be a huge superstar, as long as there’s no discrimination based on the fact that she doesn’t look like Carrie Underwood.
  • Artist: Leah Capelle
  • Song: “Triptych”
  • Album: Triptych
  • Genre: Alternative Pop
  • Notes: Man, what a debut album from this Los Angeles, CA singer. Throughout an album about dating, breakups and female empowerment comes sparkling pop songs, riffy rock track and hauntingly powerful mid-tempo tracks that bring all the feels. It was honestly hard to pick one track to spotlight here as the whole album is fantastic.
  • Artist: Kakkmaddafakka
  • Song: “Moonshine”
  • Album: Ontas?
  • Genre: Indie Dance Pop
  • Notes: The name of the group just simply fascinates me more than anything else. It’s Norwegian, so you know, it might mean something in particular though Google translate doesn’t work on it – but if it’s pronounced as it looks, then I think the group is named Cockmotherfucker. The 16-year old in me laughs. But the music is pretty good too – it’s a indie pop EP overall with very danceable qualities to it.
  • Artist: Zuzu
  • Song: “Get Off”
  • Album: How It Feels
  • Genre: Electro Pop
  • Notes: The debut EP from this London, England based singer is a blast of electro pop with a bit of a vintage 70s power pop feel to some tracks.
  • Artist: grouptherapy.
  • Song: “Ice Chips”
  • Album: this is not the album
  • Genre: Hip-Hop
  • Notes: I can’t find much out about these guys as using the google to just brings me to actual therapy sessions. And I don’t know why this isn’t the album because it seems like an album. But it’s all very mysterious. This is either two dudes or like 10 people – I don’t know – but it’s a great hip-hop record with some really catchy beats.

Tidal Catalog #38: Bon Jovi

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to an artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also thought that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Fast forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for too many details.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • However, compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.
  • Entrance Point: I was a Bon Jovi fan. Too embarrassed to admit it back in the day but now I’ll wear my “Bad Medicine” t-shirt proudly. That said, I had stopped listening to the band after 2002s Bounce and only knew the singles past that point.

All albums ranked on a 10 scale:

  • Bon Jovi (9)

Well, it might seem weird to have Bon Jovi’s debut album in the first slot before some of the classic records and especially when Jon Bon Jovi himself has said that they weren’t even a good band until the third album but despite the 9 million hair metal cliches on this record, it’s the most consistent with the least amount of filler. It only had one minor hit in “Runaway” and certainly hasn’t stood the test of time, nor would I even recommend you go back to it to hear how they started as a band but tracks like “Breakout” and “Come Back” are real good songs. It even weirdly enough has a song called “Shot Through the Heart” which is not an older version of “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Jon must have really liked saying that.

  • Have A Nice Day (9)

1995’s These Days saw the band get rid of most of their hair metal sound and move more to straight rock, but it was 2000’s Crush that kind of moved them to a more “adult” sound and with that, they went from a band your sister loved to a band your mom loves. The best of these adult records is 2005’s Have a Nice Day. It benefits from having a pretty great lead single in the title track and follow ups “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and “Welcome to Wherever You Are” are some of the better tracks Bon Jovi has released in the last couple decades. There’s certainly not much variety on this record as Jon wrote a dozen tracks with the same general vibe but it’s consistently good and that’s way more than I can say for most Bon Jovi records.

  • Slippery When Wet (8.5)

Slippery When Wet was much lower in my original post on Facebook but I decided to bump it up to #3 after listening to it again – I’m not 100% sure I should have but it is what it is at this. I try not to let nostalgia get in the way of the actual music and the non-singles tend to play out like filler but this damn record sold 28M copies worldwide on the basis of “You Give Love a Bad Name” “Livin’ on a Prayer” “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Never Say Goodbye,” which are some of the greatest songs of the hair metal genre.

  • Lost Highway (7)

Lost Highway is Bon Jovi’s country record, except well, it’s not. Sure, there’s a song with LeAnn Rimes and a song with Big & Rich on here and the title track has an inkling of that crossover country appeal but that’s it, an inkling. This album is another pretty consistent rock record and if a little pedal steel and some violins make this a country record, so be it. But in all the times I’ve listened to this, I’ve never thought of it as country. I can see why it appeals to the country crowd for sure as it’s got a bit more of a laid back vibe than most Bon Jovi records even in their later period and it’s the only record from them that has this overall sound but to me, this is just a chill version of Jon and the gang.

  • New Jersey (7)
  • Bounce (6.5)
  • Keep the Faith (6)
  • Crush (6)
  • 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong (6)
  • The Circle (5.5)
  • This House is Not For Sale (5.5)
  • One Wild Night (5)
  • Inside Out (5)
  • These Days (4)

There was once a dude named…oh, well, I don’t really know his name but he works at the record store by my house and he’s straight out of hair metal nation circa 1988 – lives and breathes the stuff. If he had said to me that he was in a third tier band like Jackyl or the Bulletboys, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about it. And at one point in 2019, I was in the store and he was playing Bon Jovi’s These Days. He started having a full conversation with another customer about how this is the best Bon Jovi record, full of great rock tunes and grunge tracks that make it clearly underrated and the most well crafted LP they have. I always think back to that conversation and wonder what he was smoking. This is a different record for sure and it’s grunge-y, trying to fit in with the era but it was also 1995, so they hit the tail end of it already. And really, the tracks are dull. They don’t have nearly the same punch as at least the hits do and thus, it all just sort of blends together. I mean, I’ve had conversations with this dude at the store before and he really knows his shit but I guess everyone is wrong sometimes. Except me. [laugh people, it’s a joke]

  • What About Now? (4)
  • This House Is Not For Sale – Live from the London Palladium (4)
  • Burning Bridges (3.5)
  • 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit (3)
  • This Left Feels Right (2.5)

Summary: 19 albums, average 5.6