ADAM LAMBERT – TRESPASSING (DELUXE EDITION)
The crown prince of glam rock is back with his second album, almost three long years after For Your Entertainment rocked the charts. Adam is still as fabulous (whew!) and is best when he dons his eyeliner and gives attitude. And boy oh boy does he give good attitude. Things have changed second time around; for the better. It’s almost like he’s grown up and found a sound and style that really suits him. The songs are mostly about love lost and gained, being bold and having a good party (sounds like the story of my life!) and genre-wise, Trespassing is more dance-pop with tinges of electro and rock for good measure. The combo is a sure-fire winner.
Trespassing is ballsy, brazen and often-times sexy, mostly with up-tempo tracks and the occasional ballad thrown in, like the first single Better Than I Know Myself – which has grown on me after multiple listens. There are plenty of punchy tracks on the album such as the title Trespassing, the very catchy Kickin’ It, the second single Never Close Our Eyes, Pop That Lock, Cuckoo, Naked Love and Shady (which features fellow homo Sam Sparro). Was the wait for album number two worth it? You betcha! Trespassing is destined to be a smash hit; one of those rare albums with so many potential chart-topping hits it’s impossible to know which song to listen to first.
USELESS FACT: Trespassing made history when it opened at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart – the first album by an openly gay artist to do so.
RATING: 9 out of 10
GOSSIP – A JOYFUL NOISE
You can’t miss three-piece indie disco punk band Gossip. From lead singer Beth Ditto’s distinctive voice to their neon and glitter-infused music videos, Gossip have balls. Which is kinda ironic considering Beth and drummer Hannah Billie are both gay and Gossip has been labelled a lesbian band. But that’s like calling Scissor Sisters a gay band. Or Elton John a gay artist. Or…well, we could debate this one for hours. What you need to know is that a) Gossip is fierce and b) Gossip is camp.
A Joyful Noise is actually their fifth studio album and critics have branded it a mess; largely citing the influence (some might say interference) of producer Brian Higgins (Sugababes, Girls Aloud). In truth, it’s not as good as their last effort, 2009’s edgy and oh-so-cool Music For Men. Long-time fans might find the lyrics a little bland and amateurish and the sound overly disco-tinged with too many dance beats. Newcomers to the Gossip groove will have probably heard (and loved) the radio-friendly first single Perfect World. Among the 11 tracks, there are some duds and there are some gems. But overall, A Joyful Noise is fun, funky and worthy of a listen.
USELESS FACT: Beth Ditto and her girlfriend Kristin are getting married next year in Hawaii.
RATING: 7 out of 10
ROXETTE – TRAVELLING
It seems South Africans just can’t get enough of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, better known as Swedish pop duo Roxette. They’re visiting the country a lot lately and their latest visit coincides with the release of their ninth (can you believe it?!) studio album, Travelling. The album is subtitled ‘Songs from studios, stages, hotel rooms and other strange places’. It’s a sequel to their 1992 album Tourism (which produced the smash hit How Do You Do!) in that it contains a mix of live performances and tweaked versions of previously unreleased or little-known works. But Roxette fans can breathe a sigh of relief; times may have changed along the way but this album still very much features their signature sound.
The three live songs are pretty good. There’s a live version of She’s Got Nothing On (But the Radio),a single from their last album recorded in Rio de Janeiro; a version of Stars recorded during a soundcheck in Dubai; and a very cool shout-out to the long-standing fans in the form of an orchestral performance of It Must Have Been Love. As for the re-imagined tracks, there’s plenty to love, including Touched By The Hand Of God, Me & You & Terry & Julie, It’s Possible (the first single) and Excuse Me Sir, Do You Want Me To Check On Your Wife?
USELESS FACT: Travelling was almost named Tourism 2, 2rism or even T2 but their record label convinced Roxette that titles with numbers in them don’t do that well.
RATING: 6 out of 10
VARIOUS ARTISTS – THE BEST CLUB ANTHEMS 2012
There’s much to enjoy on The Best Club Anthems 2012. The three discs, capably mixed by EMI’s Kevin Grenfell, contain hit after hit after hit and plenty of songs to get down and dirty on the dance floor to. The tracks are also premixed so if you’re in a party mood just pop in and push play. There’s everything from house to trance to commercial dance to electro with some pretty epic mixes in the, er, mix.
We shook our tail feathers to the thumping Albin Myers remix of Avicii’s Fade Into Darkness; Duck Sauce’s silly-but-catchy Big Bad Wolf; Bingo Players’ Rattle; Where’s Your Head At from Firebeatz; the uber-cool Big In Japan from Martin Solveig and Dragonette; the Armin Van Buuren remix of David Guetta/Usher’s hit Without You; the E4 remix of Mi Casa’s These Streets; Can’t Stop Me from Afrojack and Shermanology; the Pascal & Pearce remix of Childish Gambino’s hit Heartbeat; Fedde Le Grand’s stunning remix of Coldplay’s Paradise and my two favourite tracks on the entire album – Loca People from Sak Noel and the We Don’t Belong In Pacha remix of Emeli SandÃ©’s Heaven.
USELESS FACT: Sak Noel might sound like an odd name, right? It’s the DJ name of Spanish mixmaster Isaac Mahmood Noell. And now you know!
RATING: 7 out of 10
VARIOUS – GARETH CLIFF: IT’S THE WEEKEND BABY! 2
If you’re a fan of 5FM’s morning show you’ll already be intimately familiar with one of Gareth Cliff’s signature slogans – “It’s the weekend baby!” which, of course, signals the end of Phuza Thursday and the start of Party Friday. Hence the two-disc compilation album, which is designed to get you in a party mode. Disc one is a mix of 19 of the hottest tracks currently on the airwaves, while disc two is a bonus disc, dubbed Old Skool; a reference to another of the show’s most popular feature, the hits from not so long ago.
Wow! Disc 1 positively thumps with cool tunes. From the opener, Avicii’s Fade Into Darkness to the Rizzle Kicks’ catchy Mama Do The Hump; Control from Benny Benassi and Gary Go; Stereo Flo from Dada, Obernik and Harris to the funky Yolanda Be Cool and crystal Water collab Le Bump, it’s loads of fun. For Old Skool, they’ve chosen some awesome ‘remember-those?’ hits like Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart; Missy Elliott and Eve’s 4 My People; The Cranberries’ Zombie and Moloko’s Sing It Back.
USELESS FACT: Other popular features on Gareth’s 5FM show include Drunk News and News To Use Or Lose.
RATING: 8 out of 10
TRAIN – CALIFORNIA 37
The band who gave us the smash-hit Drops Of Jupiter is back with their sixth album. Sure, they’ll probably never achieve the same level of worldwide fame, success and oodles of radio play but Train have found a formula that works for them; easy-on-the-ear pop/rock. If you’ve yet to hop on the Train train (sorry, couldn’t resist the bad pun!) imagine Roxette meets Counting Crows. Or, put another way, a grown-up ABBA without the girls. It’s a little cheesy but, heck, California 37 is so catchy it’s hard not to be swept along by the stream of the 11 largely up-tempo songs that are mostly about love.
There are a few variations on the theme though, like the country-esque Bruises which also features Ashley Monroe on vocals and the opening track This’ll Be My Year, which is all about how times they have a changed. (I suspect there may even have been a little Bob Dylan in the inspiration behind the song.) So what should you listen to? Definitely the first single Drive By, You Can Finally Meet My Mom (which is a daft name for a song, but don’t let the title put you off) and the perky Latino-ish 50 Ways To Say Goodbye. California 37 is filled with guitar-strummingly beautiful music.
USELESS FACT: California 37 debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 chart, making it Train’s fourth top 10 album and their highest-charting album in the U.S. to date.
RATING: 7 out of 10