Trial track: “Take Care” feat. Rihanna
– Chris Hanna
Long Live the King is a six-song EP by indie crooners The Decemberists. The band already released a full-length album in January of this year, entitled The King is Dead, and these new songs are some of the outtakes from that album. Just like The King is Dead, these songs are heavily influenced by country music. They were, after all, recorded on a farm in the band’s home state of Oregon.
These outtakes and home demos may not have a story weaving them together like the band’s previous masterpieces The Crane Wife and The Hazards of Love, but they still stay true to The Decemberists’ talent of marvellously leading one track to the next.
This EP, short as it may be, is a last chance for fans to hear some new material before the band goes on an official hiatus (sigh).
Trial track: “Foregone”
Both in its songwriting and production, there’s a definite sense of confidence that shines through Parallax, the third proper solo release by Bradford Cox, under the moniker of Atlas Sound. Featured on the album art as a slicked-back greaser clutching a vintage microphone (and by legendary photographer Mick Rock, known for photographing iconic rock and roll musicians no less), we find Cox stepping out of the distorted haze of his bedroom and into the spotlight. Aligning himself with the persona of a modern-day Bowie, he croons his way through the 12 tracks of Parallax with fewer vocal effects, a cleaner production and a pop sensibility that makes the songs flow together more naturally than on previous releases. All of these factors allow this album to be his most accessible yet, securing Brandon Cox’s place as one of the important songwriters of our generation.
Trail track: “Te Amo”
– Paul Traunero
For Janet Jackson, 1986 was the year of Control. Her third studio album saw her release her father as her manager, allowing her greater musical success. A breakthrough record, Control is a coming-of-age album in which Jackson aggressively expresses her newfound authority. “Nasty” has Janet calling out sleazy men, while “What Have You Done for Me Lately” has her questioning her boyfriend’s indifference. Despite asserting a desire to be in charge, Control still possesses innocence. The ballad, “Let’s Wait Awhile,” expresses a desire to delay hasty sexual intimacy, “Lets wait awhile, awhile before it’s too late / You know you can’t rush love,” while “He Doesn’t Know I’m Alive” has Janet hanging up the phone on a crush, “I got his number, I call him up/Just to hear him say ‘hello’ / And when he answers I always hang up.” In spite of her famous family, Control made Janet a superstar. Now, 25 years later, Janet is one of the best-selling artists of all time and her success began with her decision to take Control.
Trial track: “Nasty”
– Kristen Dyer