Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews (Week of December 2, 2016)

Starboy The Weeknd

(Album cover property of XO & Republic Records)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Welcome to the final 2016 edition of Jake’s Take’s “New Music Reviews”!

I have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get this party started.

Starboy by The Weeknd

The Weeknd is back! Last year, the R&B star took the world by storm with his 2015 smash Beauty Behind the Madness. The album awarded him with two Grammys and two American Music Awards. For this effort, The Weekend recruited a diverse group of songwriters and producers such as Max Martin, Cirkut, Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat, The Romantics, Diplo, Labrinth, and Savan Kotecha to assist him with crafting the tracks. Also, Daft Punk, Future, Kendrick Lamar, and longtime collaborator Lana Del Rey make cameos throughout the album. The Canadian singer-songwriter continued to stretch his dark R&B sound into other musical genres such as techno pop and Hip-house. While the Weeknd’s vocal range will continue to impress fans, I felt that Starboy had too many songs and should have been used for a B-side.  The slight problem that I have with this album is that there are songs such as “True Colors,” “Stargirl Interlude,” and “Attention” bore listeners. Other than that tiny issue, Starboy is a strong album. B+/A-

Tracks to Download: “Starboy,” “False Alarm,” “Rockin’,” “A Lonely Night,” & “I Feel It Coming.”

Blue & Lonesome by The Rolling Stones

It seems like nothing can stop the Rolling Stones. The band continues to sell out everywhere and perform epic and memorable sets. For the first time in the Stones’ legendary career, the quartet recorded a cover album that paid homage to their heroes. Sadly, this album left me divided. As much as I respect the Stones, I was wondering where were the fire and passion in Sir Mick’s vocals and the grittiness of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood’s guitars? Blues fans will love this album, but if you are a fan of the Stones, I would advise you to skip this album! D+

Tracks to Download: “Just Your Fool” & “Ride ‘Em On Down.”

(Album cover property of Hamilton Uptown LLC & Atlantic Records)

(Album cover property of Hamilton Uptown LLC & Atlantic Records)

The Hamilton Mixtape by Various Artists

Hamilton has taken the theater world by storm! Lin-Manuel Miranda’s spectacular production won over 11 Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Best Musical Theater Grammy. Fans freaked out when the Grammy, Tony, and Emmy-winning composer announced The Hamilton Mixtape. Miranda recruited a diverse group of artists to record some of the greatest hits from the production. Rap icons The Roots team up with Joell Ortiz, Busta Rhymes, and Nate Ruess for a heart-pounding “My Shot,” while Kelly Clarkson moved fans to tears with “It’s Quiet Uptown.”  Also, Sia and Usher brought the dance hall to the 1700s with “Satisfied” & “Wait for It” respectfully. Other artists who bring the house down with their covers include Alicia Keys (“That Would Be Enough”), Andra Day (“Burn”), Jimmy Fallon (“You’ll Be Back”), John Legend (“History Has Its Eyes on You”), and Wiz Khalifa (“Washingtons By Your Side”).  The Hamilton Mixtape is not only the strongest album that was released from the week, but it is probably one of the greatest albums of this year. Congratulations, Lin-Manuel Miranda and to all of the artists involved in this epic project, The Hamilton Mixtape is my final Album of the Week for 2016!  A+

Tracks to Download: “My Shot,” “Wrote My Way Out,” “Wait for It,” “Satisfied,” “It’s Quiet Uptown,” & “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)”

Perfectly Imperfect by Grace VanderWaal

I will be brutally honest; Grace VanderWaal should not have won this past season of America’s Got Talent. There were several music-based acts such as Linkin’ Bridge, Brian Justin Crum, Musicality Vocal Group, and Moya Angela that should have been in Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer’s position. Three months after Grace’s win and two months after headlining Las Vegas, Syco Records & Columbia Records released her debut EP. But, she proved me wrong. Grace’s debut showcases that she will be one of the Digital Generation’s leaders in the music industry as her superb songwriting shines through. She may put a smile on your face, and I hope that Grace’s crew assists her with her growth, because she may surprise everyone’s expectations. B-

Tracks to Download: “I Don’t Know My Name,” “Gossip Girl,” & “Light the Sky.”

(Album cover property of GOOD Music & Columbia Records)

(Album cover property of GOOD Music & Columbia Records)

Darkness & Light by John Legend

The final 2016 album that I am reviewing is John Legend’s Darkness & Light. This is Mr. Legend’s fifth studio album with Columbia Records and GOOD music. The Academy Award-winner and multi-talented Grammy award recipient wrote a bulk of his studio album with the next generation of songwriters such as Blake Mills, John Ryan, and the team of Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels. Also, Chance the Rapper, Miguel and Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard offered their vocals as guest artists. Legend continues to be his generation’s Marvin Gaye and Reverend Al Green as he continues to pens powerful passages that capture the imaginations of countless fans. A-

Tracks to Download: “I Know Better,” “Love Me Now,” “Penthouse Floor,” “Darkness & Light” & “Overload.”

Play That Song” by Train

I admit I am relieved that Train is dropping a new album of original material for the first time in three years. “Play That Song” redeems the San Francisco rock band from their abysmal attempt of paying homage Led Zeppelin. If music aficionados listen carefully, you would probably hear the timeless piano anthem: “Heart & Soul.”  This tune brings hopes to the holidays. I cannot wait to listen to what the band has in store for us in 2017. B+

Bad Things” by Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello

One of the hottest singles that have shaken up both the Billboard and iTunes charts is Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello’s intriguing duet: “Bad Things.” When listeners first hear the young MC, they might think that they hear an Eminem or Jay-Z protégé. You might be right because Machine Gun Kelly’s rap style might remind listeners when both rappers first appeared on the music scene. The Fifth Harmony member beautifully sings the chorus, which samples Fastball’s “Out of My Head.” “Bad Things” prove that both Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello are on their way to be their generation’s leaders in the music industry. A-

David Guetta Robin Schulz Cheat Codes Shed a Light

(Album cover property of TONSPIEL & Warner Music Group)

Shed a Light” by Robin Schulz & David Guetta featuring Cheat Codes

Three of electronic music’s brightest stars collaborated for one of the year’s last epic dance tracks. “Shed a Light” features Grammy-nominated producer Robin Schulz, two-time Grammy winner David Guetta, and rising young guns Los Angeles-based electronic trio Cheat Codes and this track will leave you with a smile on your face and put a bounce in your step. A

 

(Album cover courtesy of Effective Immediately PR)

(Album cover courtesy of Effective Immediately PR)

P.E.O.P.L.E.” by Milko

Jake’s Take continues to take pride in the fact that we introduce a rising music artist on almost every edition of Jake’s Take’s “New Music Reviews” to you, our loyal reader. Los Angeles indie pop trio Milko recently released their latest single: “P.E.O.P.L.E.” from their upcoming debut EP: Note to Self.  Made up of vocalist Kyle Setter, guitarist Chris Garcia, and drummer Pablo Garcia, this trio is out to change the dynamic indie rock scene that both Imagine Dragons and X Ambassadors have innovated. I can foresee their brutally honest lyrics and haunting rock sound might shake up the music world in 2017. B+

Film Club” by CHILDCARE

The last rising band that Jake’s Take that is introducing you to this year is UK post-punk group CHILDCARE. Made up of singer-songwriter Ed Cares, bassist Emma Topolski, guitarist Rich Legate, and drummer Glyn Daniels, CHILDCARE’s bold and vivacious sound will wake up listeners who have fallen asleep from their winter’s nap. The production value is superb, Cares’ vocals are some of the best I have heard this year, and on top of that, their artistry blows some of America’s up-and-coming bands out of the water. Congrats, CHILDCARE! “Film Club” is my last Song of the Week for 2016! A+

I do not own any of the clips that were featured in this article. They belong to the artists and their respective record labels.

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar