By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Welcome to Jake’s Take’s Music Reviews!
Among the selections that are highlighted in this edition include a country group goes pop; a Tony-nominated actor sings Jazz, the return of Usher and an EGOT icon sings Broadway with two influential Silver Screen actresses from the Millennial Generation.
Let’s get this party started!
Wanderlust by Little Big Town
When I heard that Little Big Town will be collaborating with Pharrell Williams, I knew that it was going to shake country music to its core. For all hardcore country fans who think that the quartet is leaving the country industry, Karen Fairchild stated in a Billboard interview that this was going to be a pop album. It is okay for musicians to experiment with new genres and I believe that this collaboration will blow fans away. The former Voice coach helped the group expand their horizons by exposing them to elements of R&B, Disco, and EDM. Also, keep an ear out for Justin Timberlake…who provided vocal support for “C’Mon.” This album might be the biggest surprise of the year, and I am happy to announce that Little Big Town’s Wanderlust is my Album of the Week! A+
Tracks to Download: “One Dance,” “C’mon,” “One of Those Days,” “Work” & “Miracle.”
Last Year Was Complicated by Nick Jonas
Nick Jonas returns for his third solo studio album. iTunes’ editors described Last Year Was Complicated as “a polished breakup album” and “reflects Nick Jonas’ transition into adulthood.” The iTunes editors took the words right out of my mouth, and this album is filled with a lot of adult innuendos about sex, alcohol, and sexual affairs. The sound is catchy but at the same time…I am having a hard time dealing with the former Disney star advising his listeners in “Champagne Problems” to ‘keep drinking.’ The tracks are co-written by a ton of rising talent including Mattman & Robin, Jason Evigan, Julia Michaels, Sir Nolan and Priscilla Renea, but there are not a lot of radio hits on this album. Sorry, Nick! Better luck next time! D+
Track to Download: “Close”
Egomaniac by KONGOS
KONGOS is one band that I kept a very close eye on over the past couple of years. The South African born-American raised quartet is made up of four brothers: Johnny, Jesse, Daniel, and Dylan. These guys have fused alternative rock, Kwaito, and hard rock into one intricate sound that has caught the ears of many fans around the world. Egomaniac is their second studio album signed to Epic Records and the Kongo Brothers continue to step their artistry by tackling the consequences of fame all throughout their 13 tracks. Their sound will not only intrigue music lovers but will also gain them new fans and potentially radio play on both Top 40 and Rock radio stations. Well done, guys! A
Tracks to Download: “Take It from Me,” “The World Would Run Better,” “I Want It Free,” “Autocorrect” & “Birds Do It.”
Leslie Odom, Jr. by Leslie Odom, Jr.
The actor who plays Hamilton’s main antagonist, Aaron Burr, took a brief break from the monster Broadway smash to re-release his first solo studio album. The Tony-nominated actor transformed into a professor as he sang his way through a playlist that would be a part of the ideal “Broadway 301” university class. A good majority of the tracks come from the Great White Way’s golden era (the 1920s to 1970s), and his voice is smooth as velvet. If you are a Broadway lover or interested in theatre history, this is the album for you! B+
Tracks to Download: “Look for the Silver Lining,” “Autumn Leaves,” “The Guilty Ones & “I Know That You Know.”
“Crash” by Usher
I was wondering when Usher would drop original material soon. The former Voice coach along with Justin Timberlake and Enrique Iglesias are the best male vocalists in the Top 40 radio circuit. Usher and his creative team (Carlos St. John, f a l l e n and Lee Stashenko) have done an impeccable job getting the “Scream” singer back in the music game with this superb R&B track, which could be one of the R&B/Soul songs of the summer. A-
“At the Ballet” by Barbra Streisand featuring Anne Hathaway & Daisy Ridley
Barbra Streisand is one of the greatest entertainers of all time! Her vocals continue to raise the bar for singers in multiple musical genres. This August, Ms. Streisand will release her latest duet album: Encore-Movie Partners Sing Broadway. The EGOT icon will partner with some of cinema’s finest and take them on the tour of the Great White Way. For the first single, Ms. Streisand recruited fellow Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway and rising ingénue Daisy Ridley and the trio sang A Chorus Line’s “At the Ballet.” Ms. Streisand’s golden vocals will give listener chills while Daisy Ridley’s vocal performance is a revelation. This collaboration is my Song of the Week! A+
“When I Fall” by Ali Brustofski
J-14 recently premiered Ali Brustofski’s latest music video: “When I Fall.” When you listen to the song, listeners will instantly feel like they are in the middle of a colorful collaboration between Ali and either David Guetta or Zedd (who both EDM giants should collaborate with the New Jersey-based singer). Ali’s vocals are solid, and I think I would put in her same vocal power category as Jessie J and Cassadee Pope. I am going to predict that Ali has a bright future ahead in the music industry. B+
“Kills Me” by Ben Mitkus
The final piece of music that is highlighted in this edition of Jake’s Take’s Music Reviews belongs to Swedish YouTuber Ben Mitkus. His latest single, “Kills Me,” will remind people of old school Nick & Aaron Carter, Justin Timberlake, and Ricky Martin meets new school artists Olly Murs and Bruno Mars. “Kills Me” is an instant Bubblegum Pop smash that should be played on American radio stations, because this song could become this summer’s anthem. Kudos to Ben’s record label, Capitol Records, for finding an excellent artist. A-
I do not own any clips that are featured in this article. They belong to the artists and their respective record labels.