January was very intriguing month in the world of music. While many are anticipating the new releases from Sia, Bloc Party, and Rihanna, there were 3 particular albums that were released that were probably under your personal radar (but should be heard) including:
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Released January 15, 2016
The first time I heard of Anderson .Paak was on last year’s Dr. Dre: Compton album and I was like “who is the dude?” and “this dude is kinda tight”. His voice, his flow, his energy…..I was EFFIN hooked so as a music fan, I stalked him from his previous album Venice to the his collaboration NxWorries EP to this new album, Malibu.
The album is effortless AF!!! From the opening track “The Bird”, you feel so comfortable with his voice & flow. The purpose of the first track on an album is to prepare for a musical journey within that artist track after track. In short, the creativity of that artist will guide you throughout.
From “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance”, “The Waters”, “Parking Lot” and especially on “Lite Weight”, his artistry shines through. There is a reason why Dr. Dre officially added him to his Aftermath label because Malibu is the type of album and Anderson .Paak is the type of artist that music needs right now so treat your ears to it.
2. Adrian Younge – Something About April II
Released January 22, 2016
From his work with Souls Of Mischief, Hieroglyphics and Ghostface, Adrian Younge has a gift of making amazing music and there is no greater example than this latest volume of Something About April. For those who have not heard Volume I (buy it or stream it NOW!!!).
This volume is a bit more intimate than the previous effort. Adrian Younge is a great musical arranger especially with Loren Oden who damn near steals the album with his voice alone. There are some great stand out tracks on this obvious choice would be to go “Magic Music” featuring Raphael Saadiq but I would again recommend the opening track on the album “Sittin’ By The Radio” featuring Loren Oden.
3. David Bowie: Blackstar
Released January 8, 2016
First off, shame to all who claim that David Bowie changed their lives……when in all actuality, you more than likely loved his hits but not his albums.
That being said, the very first time that I ever saw him was on a Betamax tape of Saturday Night Live by way of my dad’s collection when he was the musical guest (Season 5, 1979). I was 5 years old & he performed “The Man Who Sold The World” and it was visually breathtaking. His passing was sad for musicians & visionaries all around but what he left us will be an absolute exclamation point on his legacy.
Blackstar is an eerie posthumous masterpiece in which both the true Bowie fans, the music lovers and the fashionable posers (who think that Bowie covered Nirvana & not the other way around) will appreciate his final album.
As you begin your musical journey, the 9 minute title track makes time insignificant just by the vocals alone. “Lazarus” is just a true treasure for the simplicity of the track itself.
The masterfully sullen tone of Blackstar haunts you throughout and, quite honestly, it’s an album for the musician/artist within us all. We would all be so lucky to leave something like this behind for all to remember us by.
“Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now”
– from Lazarus by David Bowie
Greg J. Harmon is an independent music critic based in Brooklyn, New York. “I Have Accepted My Past, I Strive To Live In The Present & I Constantly Dream About The Future” and with all that being said, Music helps me accomplish all that and so much more. I’m just an ordinary man with an extraordinarily knack for music.