Jake’s Take: New Music Reviews (The End of August 2017 Edition)

Fifth Harmony album cover

(Album cover property of Epic Records & Syco Records)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is hard to believe that August 25 is the final Friday of August 2017!

This year has gone quicksilver fast, and there is still time for artists everywhere to release new music.

In this edition, Jake’s Take highlights the fighters who faced numerous challenges along their respective journeys and how they became stronger artists in return.  Also, Jake’s Take introduces you to several up-and-coming artists who want to stake their claim in the music industry.

Without further ado, let’s get this party started!

Fifth Harmony by Fifth Harmony

It is amazing that Fifth Harmony is one of the few X Factor USA acts that have found mainstream success four years after FOX pulled the plug on the talent competition. However, the girls had to regroup after Camilla Cabello’s shocking end-of-year departure in 2016. While I admire the tenacity of Ally, Dinah, Lauren, and Normani of inspiring girls around the world, their music this time around is not my cup of tea. Despite having some star power producers and songwriters such as Ammo, Ester Dean, Skrillex, and The Monsters and the Strangerz, I cannot connect with their songs. I also miss hearing their natural and brilliant voices without having auto-tuned their vocals.  If you are a Fifth Harmony fan, then this album is for you; otherwise, I cannot recommend any of their tracks. F

Tracks to Download: None

 

(Cover art property of Wil Cohen; courtesy of LaFamos Press)

Unpredictable EP by Pontea

Since its inception, Jake’s Take has prided itself to introduce new artists that might be the next big thing in music. Electro-pop artist Pontea is one of the new artists that are highlighted in this edition of Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter recently teamed up with fellow up-and-coming producer Sando to create her debut six-track EP. Throughout the album, Pontea showcases the listener how she and Sando created a diverse soundscape that combined elements of R&B/Soul, pop, and house music. If Ms. Pontea plays her cards right, we can expect to hear more from this remarkable artist in the future. B+

Tracks to Download: “Unpredictable,” “Timeless,” “Tied Up,” & “Come Over.”

L O V E EP by Kirstin

Just like her Pentatonix band mates Kevin K.O. Olusola and SuperFruit, Kirstin Maldonado released her solo project. Do not get me wrong, I love Ms. Maldonado, but I am not connecting with this material. I do not know if the overproduction that consistently drowns out her magnificent voice or the material was presented to the record label, but this album is awful! F

Tracks to Download: None

Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift

It is never a good idea to pick a fight with Taylor Swift. Over the past few years, Ms. Swift’s rogues’ gallery of Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West, Calvin Harris, and David Mueller have trashed the pop star in the tabloids and the courtroom. However, Taylor had the last laugh with her first single off of her latest album: Reputation. While “Look What You Made Do” is the perfect revenge track that Ms. Swift co-wrote with Jack Antonoff and Right Said Fred, the listeners might walk away from the track that Ms. Swift has flushed down her core values. Over her 11 years in the music industry, Taylor Swift has always taught her fans to be confident, kind, and help out others. I am worried that this new version of the “Shake It Off” singer-songwriter is going to encourage her fans to go bad. While Ms. Swift has 14 tracks to release, I hope that there are some positive songs on this upcoming album. C+

 

(Album cover property of Mercury Nashville)

 

Life’s About to Get Good” by Shania Twain

2017 is shaping up to be Shania Twain’s comeback year. Ms. Twain will release her first studio album of original material in 15 years on September 29. One song that will help drive her comeback is “Life’s About to Get Good.” Ms. Twain shows that her songwriting skills are still razor sharp and with the assistance of producers Ron Aniello (Bruce Springsteen and Lifehouse) and Matthew Koma (Carly Rae Jepsen and Zedd). “Life’s About to Get Good” transports the listeners to the heyday of Ms. Twain’s iconic hits such as “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” and “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here.” It’s hypnotic guitar hooks and tempo will make listeners reach for their repeat options faster than putting on a cowboy hat. I cannot wait to hear what else Ms. Twain has in store for us next month. A-

 

(Album cover property of Ray Dalton)

If You Fall” by Ray Dalton

You may remember hearing Ray Dalton’s voice on tracks such as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us” and Madcon’s “Don’t Worry.” But now, Ray Dalton has released his first ever solo track: “If You Fall.” I think fans will enjoy his transition from hip-hop/soul to EDM and “If You Fall” is a strong club track that should be played in dance halls worldwide.  Mr. Dalton’s team of “If You Fall” co-writer Scott Effman (Kelly Clarkson and Chris Brown), producer Rufus Dipper, eight-time Grammy-winning mixer Michael Brauer, and Joe La Porta have done a brilliant job with this superb record, and I hope that big things are ahead for Mr. Dalton. A

Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Stewart featuring DNCE

One of the greatest news stories coming out of the recording industry is Sir Rod Stewart signing with Republic Records! The legendary performer’s first act with his new record label, remaking one of his signature songs with one of the most talked about pop rock bands of the year: DNCE. Who would have thought that Joe Jonas and Rod Stewart would ever get along vocally? I love this new arrangement, and I honestly believe that Rod Stewart’s voice is like fine wine, it gets better over the years. A-  

You Already Know” by Fergie featuring Nicki Minaj

Speaking of odd couples that rock, I believe a lot of pop and hip-hop music lovers would scratch their heads if they saw Fergie and Nicki Minaj’s names side by side on paper. However, after to listening to their collaboration, “You Already Know” is the perfect bridge between the Labor Day holiday weekend and the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. If there is any artist that you should get behind in the year of musical comebacks, I will place a bet on Fergie and her upcoming September 22 album: Double Dutchess. A-

Younger Now” by Miley Cyrus

The returning Voice coach has released her second single off of her upcoming sixth studio album, which is the title track. Just like “Malibu,” Ms. Cyrus co-wrote “Younger Now” with Oren Yoel, who also produced this track. One set of lyrics that would captivate both Miley’s fans and her lifelong detractors are “I’m not afraid who I used to be/No one stays the same.” I believe that Miley is talking about both her years as Hannah Montana and her controversial Bangerz days. Throughout the four-minute and nine-seconds track, she has embraced her mistakes and like anyone in life we all change as people. It is an excellent track, and I am glad that she feels so much “Younger Now.” B

 

(Album cover property of Republic Records)

Am I Talking to You?” by Baker Grace

Another new artist that I am introducing you is Republic Records recording artist Baker Grace. The 16-year-old New Jersey native specializes in both singer-songwriter and folk music genres. “Am I Talking to You?” is a strong debut track, because of the song’s sparse arrangement (Baker is strumming her guitar, while someone is offering drum percussion support). This decision highlights Baker’s lovely vocal performance. B+

 

(Album cover courtesy of EI: PR)

HGX” by Yes You Are

Several musical acts are breaking out of my hometown of Kansas City. One group is Yes You Are. The  electro-pop band consists of lead vocalist Kianna Alarid, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Jared White, lead guitarist and keyboardist Jacob Temeyer, drummer Joseph Wilner, and bassist Willie Jordan. Their breakout single, “HGX,” has been featured in Bad Moms, FX’s Tyrant, and MTV’s Scream. “HGX” is outstanding and I believe that listeners will be hitting the repeat button continuously! A+  

Got It Going On” by My Silent Bravery

The last artist that is featured in this edition of Jake’s Take: New Music Reviews is Boston-based My Silent Bravery. Fronted by singer-songwriter Matthew Wade, My Silent Bravery has been racking up strong social media support on Twitter and YouTube. What makes this feat impressive is that he is not signed to any record label. His latest single, “Got It Going On,” is a very tangy piece of ear candy. With hypnotic guitar hooks and catchy lyrics, “Got It Going On” should be playing on radio stations nationwide. I cannot wait to hear what My Silent Bravery has in store for us next.  A-

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

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar