Real Estate – Atlas (Domino; 2014)
For their third studio album, the New Jersey indie rockers step out from behind the haze of their previous releases and confirm that they are more than just a novelty act. With their two previous albums, Real Estate has proven that simplicity is the key to their popularity. Their dreamy arrangements and pop melodies feel pleasant and nostalgic, and never required much investment from the listener. With Atlas, we are faced with a maturation. The lyrics speak of time, regret, and alienation and the production is more polished, creating a deeper and more complex listen.
The band may be growing up, but the core of what makes Real Estate feel so genuine remains intact: a bunch of suburban guys who want to have fun and play music. Who can complain with that?
Trial Track: “Talking Backwards”
Pharrell- G I R L (Columbia; 2014)
Pharrell Williams has truly outdone himself in his latest album, G I R L . It’s an adventurous summer-lovin’ album with an interesting set of guest appearances from artists across the music industry’s spectrum. This 10-song mixture has interesting collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, and Timbaland, to name a few. The best way to describe such an album is that it really tries to make you feel happy. It also has an emotional jazzy side to add a final touch. Already, the latest single off the album, “Happy,” has garnished 100 million views on YouTube alone. If you are looking for a summer time set list of tunes to jam to either in the car or in the club, G I R L is definitely an album for you. Finally, someone in the industry is making real music again, and still hitting the mainstream airwaves with a bang.
Trial Track: “Gust of Wind”
Trust – Joyland (Arts & Crafts; 2014)
Trust unleashes a more mature and complex sound on his sophomore effort, Joyland. Originally a two-piece effort, Trust is now composed uniquely of Toronto-based artist Robert Alfons. Following up his Juno-nominated debut album TRST, Alfons attempts to find a balance between upbeat, synthy house music and darker techno, and does so with relative ease. Most of Joyland has a lighter, dreamy feel to it: album opener “Slightly Floating” perpetuates a feeling of being caught up in a synth-fuelled dream. The album then moves into murkier soundscapes on tracks like “Are We Arc?” and “Four Gut,” all the while maintaining a retro-inspired dance-ability. Joyland also displays Alfons’ vocals more prominently than on his debut album, exemplified most notably on tracks like “Geryon” that showcase the Toronto musician’s semi-sinister sounding vocal-work. At times, the album borders on overly eurobeat techno, but tracks like “Barely” remind us that Alfons is able to create an atmosphere that is both intricate and fun.
Trial Track: “Barely”
Imogen Heap – Sparks (RCA; 2014)
Back in 2011, eclectic singer-songwriter Imogen Heap asked her fans to help her write her fourth studio album. The album, entitled Sparks, was released on March 3, and is the perfect update to her amazing sound. The album brings the same hauntingly beautiful voice, layering, and harmonies that put her on the map, yet with a more upbeat, different touch. While some of the songs on the album, like “You Know Where To Find Me” are reminiscent of “Say Goodnight And Go,” others, like “Xizi She Knows” are completely different, and bring an exotic new twist to Heap’s music. Heap collaborated with Deadmau5 for her song “Telemiscommunications,”and the unlikely duo’s work is beautiful and catchy. In “Minds Without Fear,” featuring the music-directing duo Vishal-Shekar,Indian music is layered onto Heap’s singing, giving a new spin to her music. “Neglected Space” is spooky and haunting, with Heap narrating to music, almost sounding like she is reading a poem.
Those who fell in love with Heap’s hit songs “Speeding Cars” and “Hide and Seek” will definitely appreciate Sparks.
Trial Track: “You Know Where To Find Me”