Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Give The People What They Want (Daptone; 2014)
Although Give The People What They Want was written and recorded before the diagnosis of Sharon Jones’ pancreatic cancer, we can’t help but feel that this fifth studio album stands as a testament to her strength and resilience. Now fully recovered from her treatment, Jones demonstrates that an artist can remain relevant without adhering to fleeting trends. Authenticity has always been the key to her success, and Give The People What They Want is surely dishing out plenty of that. The tracks are a mixture of soul and funk that could each have easily been Motown hits from the late 1960s or ‘70s. As always, the real gem is Jones’ powerful vocals that are perfectly suited to both the deep funk grooves and soulful ballads. Jones’ triumphant comeback is finally giving the people what they need!
Trial Track: “Making Up and Breaking Up”
– Paul Traunero
Against Me! –Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble Music; 2014)
Against Me!’s newest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, is a perfect evolution of the band’s sound. It has been a long and eventful three and a half years since the group’s last studio album, White Crosses. Laura Jane Grace, formerly Tom Gabel, the band’s lead singer, came out as a transgender woman in 2012. Transgender Dysphoria Blues brings Against Me! back to its punk roots. Musically, the band combines the clarity of its more recent releases with the distorted guitars of its older tracks. The manner in which Grace belts out genuine feelings of both happiness and total alienation leaves nothing to be desired. Lyrically, this album does not touch on politics like its predecessors often did. Instead, the album focuses mainly on Grace’s personal life as she dealt with gender dysphoria. With Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me! proves that it is still one of the best punk bands around.
Trial Track: Black Me Out
Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter (Fueled By Ramen; 2014)
Three years and a half after the release of their well received eponymous album, Californian quintet Young the Giant is back with a recipe mixing old and new. Their distinctive, stunning vocals and catchy melodies are blended with a different sound that borrows a lot more of pop than indie-rock/alternative, debatably making the album overproduced.
Yet, it seems that everyone stands to gain from the new path. Objectively, YtG’s sophomore album is well balanced: from great arena rock hymns like “It’s About Time,” to the enchanting lullaby “Firelight” that proves lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s talent, we can’t deny the band has made an overwhelmingly pleasing album.
We can ignore the pop-ish path recently taken, and hopefully Young the Giant will give “Paralysis,” the final track off the album that closes with a questionable ‘fade out’, the flamboyant finale it deserves on March 6 at Metropolis.
Trial Track: “Firelight”
– Béatrice Viens Côté