Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews: Week of September 28, 2018

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(Bitmoji property of Jake’s Take)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

Welcome to the very first New Music Reviews of Fall 2018!  We have a lot of new music that we need to unpack, so let’s get this party started!

Tha Carter V by Lil Wayne

One of rap music’s influential emcees surprised fans and the music industry by dropping his long-awaited and “final” album, Tha Carter V. Lil Wayne unleashed 23 tracks that featured superb beats from a plethora of collaborators including Swiss Beatz, 2 Chainz, DJ Frank E, DJ Infamous, and DJ Mustard. Fans should also keep an ear out to Ashanti, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, and the late XXXTentacion, as they appear on the album.  Tha Carter V also features two members of Lil Wayne’s family including his daughter, Reginae Carter (“Famous”), and mother Jacinda, who appears four times in the album.  Lil Wayne was very bold in revealing personal issues such as suicide attempts (“Used 2”) and when he learned he was going to be a father (“Open Letter”). Tha Carter V is a sturdy opus that showcases Lil Wayne’s legacy in the rap world. Hopefully, this is not the last we have heard from him. B

Tracks to Download: “Uproar,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Mona Lisa,” & “Famous”

 

(Album cover property of Warner Bros. Records)

Dancing Queen by Cher

Entertainment industry icon Cher’s latest studio album celebrates the legendary Swedish recording group ABBA’s legacy. Dancing Queen is not the “Believe” singer’s first dip into the ABBA swimming pool as she performed “Fernando” and “Super Trouper” as Ruby Sheridan in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. With the help of ABBA founder Benny Andersson and producer Mark Taylor, the Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy-winning performer breathed new life into these iconic songs. The only downside of that album is that she re-recorded “Fernando” over “Take A Chance on Me” and “Honey, Honey.” Despite that small setback, I believe that Cher’s Dancing Queen will introduce a new generation of music lovers to these beloved tunes. A-

Tracks to Download: “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” “SOS,” “Waterloo,” & “Dancing Queen.”  

Bridges by Josh Groban

Throughout out his career, Josh Groban never met a musical genre he could not conquer. Whether it was opera, pop, or Broadway, the “You Raise Me Up” singer delivered excellent vocals. Bridges bring all of these elements together. For his eighth studio album, he tackled songs in four different languages and was not afraid to share the album with distinct and powerful vocalists such as Andrea Bocelli, Sarah McLachlan, and Jennifer Nettles. A significant amount of Bridges’ success was not only the song selections but also the fantastic arrangements.  That combination along with excellent production from Bernie Herms, Toby Gad, Steve Jordan, and Dann Huff, makes Bridges one of the best pop and classical crossover albums of 2018. A-/A  

Tracks to Download: “Granted,” “River,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Run,” & “99 Years.” 

It’s About Time by Nile Rodgers & Chic

For the first in 16 years, legendary funk music sensation Nile Rodgers and his ensemble group, Chic, released a full-length studio album.  While it took four years to record, It’s About Time introduces their iconic sound to a whole new generation of fans.  All ten tracks feature a plethora of rising artists such as Hailee Steinfeld, Lunchmoney Lewis, Mura Masa, and Stefflon Don while counterbalancing with a diverse group of established artists including Craig David, Emeli Sande, Lady Gaga, and Sir Elton John. Nile Rodgers and Russell Graham handed all of the massive lifting production wise, while the “Get Lucky” collaborator co-wrote a majority of the album with co-writers such as Lewis, Anderson Paak, Philippe Saisse, and Teddy Riley. There are some great tracks, but the most radio-friendly (and best song on this album) is “I Want Your Love,” their collaboration with Lady Gaga. B-

Tracks to Download: “Sober,” “I Want Your Love,” & “Dance With Me.”

 

Angel City Chorale One World

(Album cover property of Angel City Chorale)

One World (Live from Los Angeles) by Angel City Chorale

Friends to the blog, Angel City Chorale, made a significant impact on this past season of America’s Got Talent (AGT). Following their appearance on the hit NBC talent competition, the superb choir released their latest live album: One World (Live from Los Angeles). Under the impeccable direction of their artistic director, Sue Fink, Angel City Chorale showcase their outstanding multipart harmonies as they performed music from a variety of composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Annie Lennox, John Williams, and Mel Brooks. The group also revisited two of their beloved songs from their AGT run: “Africa” and “Baba Yetu,” which earned the Golden Buzzer from guest judge Olivia Munn. One World (Live from Los Angeles) will uplift music lovers’ spirits. A+   

Tracks to Download: “Baba Yetu,” “Africa,” “Hold On,” “1000 Beautiful Things,” “Blazing Saddles,” & “I Go to the Rock.”

“Keep Reachin’” by Quincy Jones, Mark Ronson, & Chaka Khan

Netflix is celebrating Quincy Jones’ legacy as a music pioneer with a new documentary, Quincy: A Life Beyond Measure. While the documentary is expected to highlight some of Jones’ musical achievements, he teamed up with Mark Ronson and fellow music icon Chaka Khan to record an original song for the film. “Keep Reachin’” showcases the “Tell Me Something Good” singer at her finest, while perfectly captures the essence of Jones’ life. B+

Artists to Watch:

Artists to Watch is back with three new performers and bands that might shake up the music industry.

(Album cover property of Val Alden; courtesy of Gramophone Media)

Van Alden by Van Alden

Up first is Van Alden. Van Alden is fronted by two-time Big Brother runner-up and clothing designer Paul Abrahamian. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter gave fans a glimpse of his world by using a combination of pop noir and synthpop music.  Abrahamian showcases a promising future as a singer-songwriter as he successfully transports dark and moody tracks transport listeners to bleak City of Angels. B+

Tracks to Download: “Never Die,” “Sinners,” “Boheme,” & “Otherside.”

March” by Emma’s Lounge

Asheville, North Carolina-based Emma’s Lounge is a quintet based in Asheville, North Carolina. This band features Logan Venderlic, Meg Proffitt Heathman, Mackenzie Richburg, Emma Forster, and Brendan Bower. Emma’s Lounge focuses on folk-wave music.  “March” is their latest single off of their upcoming record, Confluence. “March” is an impeccable jam band that would make listeners groove and dance.  I hope that Emma’s Lounge could reach the national music stage in the next few years. A-

 

(Album cover property of Jani Ugrin; courtesy of LaFamos)

Coltrane” by Anja Kotar

Anja Kotar rounds out this edition of Jake’s Take’s New Music Reviews. Slovenia’s native daughter traveled to Los Angeles with hopes to become a recording artist. Her latest single, “Coltrane,” could put her on the path to superstardom. Anja’s dynamite vocals will blow listeners away and cement her success in the industry. A

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

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar