Dig These Discs:: The Goo Goo Dolls, Capital Cities, Alison Moyet, Kelly Rowland, Big Time Rush
The Goo Goo Dolls release their first new collection of hits in four years, and it proves worth waiting for. The L.A. duo Capital Cities released their debut LP, and may be the best band you’ve never heard of. After 10 years, former Destiny Child singer Kelly Rowland releases a hot new album of solo material. English blues singer Alison Moyet drops yet another collection of sultry stunners, and kid rock operation Big Time Rush releases a Nickelodeon-inspired collection of tunes perfect for fun in the sun.
"Magnetic" (The Goo Goo Dolls)
Perhaps the only good thing to come out of Buffalo in the ’80s, the Goo Goo Dolls is the union of guitarist/vocalist John Rzeznik, bassist/vocalist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin. Over the years, they’ve scored about 14 top-ten hits. Their new single "Rebel Beat" is already lighting up the hit list, with its catchy rock beat and lust for life, with the lyrics, "Is that your soul you’re trying to protect? I’d always hoped we would intersect." Their 10th studio album, "Magnetic," shows how the group has grown through the years. Strings provide a mature backing for the lost-love song, "When the World Breaks Your Heart," as they sing, "I can put it back together, write your name across the sky." "Slow It Down" is an endearing, confessional tune with nice acoustic pick work; the softspoken "Come to Me" also allows the guitar work to shine. Electric guitars keep "Bringing on the Light" jamming, and "Caught in the Storm" is a radio-ready tune with a sense of urgency behind it. "You’re such a mystery to me, I can never figure out, I’m always waiting to see what you’re gonna do/ how you’re gonna be to me," Rzeznik sings in the fast-paced "More Of You." The sound of the ’90s permeates "Bulletproof Angel," and the band really rocks on the track "Last Hot Night." Their sound is forlorn on the last track, "Keep the Car Running," reminiscent of early U2. The album also includes two live, supercharged bonus tracks, "Home" and "Black Balloon." The Goo Goo Dolls are classic rockers, and you’ll be glad they didn’t wait another four years to release this new collection of tunes.
(Warner Brothers Records)
"In a Tidal Wave of Mystery" (Capital Cities)
Los Angeles duo Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian drop their first full-length debut album "Capital Cities," a collection of 12 electronic/pop rock hits. Their first single, "Safe and Sound," presents an uplifting look at life, with the lyrics, "Even if the sky is falling down, I know that we’ll be safe and sound." It’s a comforting message, in today’s apocalyptic-minded world. Plus, you can dance to it! The two men have a natural chemistry, resulting in carefully crafted melodies, lead vocals sung in unison, and clever production built partly on a vintage analog synth. Some of their songs were released on a self-titled debut EP, which they toured around South America and Europe. "I want it all and nothing less/ I want it all and I want the best for you," they sing in "Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast." The simple drum/guitar combo is refreshing in a field littered with overworked tunes. Poppy electronics and horn solos mark "Kangaroo Court," and interesting vocal samples bring to life, "I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo." A wild disco sound, complete with clap tracks, comes through "Center Stage," and Andre 3000 gives a space-age sound to "Farrah Fawcett Hair." Sosah chimes in later with her fine, high voice for the love song, "Chasing You." The poppy keyboard in "Chartreuse" makes it easy to love; it is clever and swinging, and reminds one of the many superb hits of Steely Dan. "Origami" is a fast-moving, tongue-in-cheek love story, with lyrics, "I stole your diamonds and gold, what are you gonna do about it?" "Lazy Lies" has a Beach Boys/surfer dude feel, and "Love Away" brings early Beatles hits to mind. "Tell Me How to Live" reaches dark places, in spite of its loose feel. After signing with Capitol, the label re-leased their original songs before moving on to this new album. "We’ve been DIY for such a long time that it’s exciting to have this team of people behind us," said Merchant. The band will hit the road and visit over 30 U.S. cities in their "Dancing with Strangers" spring tour. Capital Cities could just be the best new band you’ve never heard of.
(Capitol Records/Lazy Hooks)
"the minutes" (Alison Moyet)
English blues singer Alison Moyet releases her eighth studio album, "The Minutes," and if her track record is any indication, this too will hit the top of the charts. Moyet has sold more than 2.3 million albums, with lots of top singles to boot. This former Yaz band member (no, not the female contraceptive) is probably most well known in the U.S. as the honey-voiced singer of Erasure and sometimes, Tricky of Massive Attack. But for this album, Moyet wanted the sound to be all her own, saying, "I avoided listening to anything during the process of writing and recording this album, choosing instead to be led by my own melodic voice, the one I now find myself with 30-years-in. We have made an album mindless of industry mores that apply to middle-aged women and have shunned all talk of audiences, demographics and advert jazz covers." Her first single, "When I Was Your Girl" has the feel of a Broadway tune, in the way it starts slowly and builds up into an orchestral crescendo. The single EP features a Manhattan Clique remix of the song, as well as Guy Sigsworths’ remix of "Changeling," a quirky tune with great drums and synthesizers. And on July 1, she’ll release her second single, "Love Reign Supreme," a fast-moving but deeply romantic tune. In her first track, "Horizon Flame," Moyet ramps up the intensity with this electro-inspired track with the lyrics, "Suddenly the landscape has changed/ horizon flame in the stream, what is square? Would you put the lights out? Dead/ Look at all the lights out there, could have been enough for you." Moyet’s sultry voice makes "Apple Kisses" shimmer, with her highs and lows sending chills up the spine. She goes for a dance club feel in "Right as Rain," with its deep bass beat and funky electronica effects. "Remind Yourself" and "A Place to Stay" are both slow, theatrical works, in the vein of her work with Massive Attack. And "Filigree" is so beautiful, one could cry. In September, Moyet hits the dykes, so to speak, with tour dates in the Netherlands, France and Germany.
"Talk a Good Game" (Kelly Rowland)
For some, destiny is what you make it. Former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland drops her first solo album in 10 years, "Talk a Good Game," and she’s showing she knows how to put her money where her mouth is. She riffs on an abusive ex and living in Beyonce’s shadow in the track "Dirty Laundry," but seems to make peace with her and Michelle Williams in songwriter Courtney Harrell’s "You’ve Changed," asking, "Ladies, y’all want to do it again?" The two provide backup for Rowland, in what I’m sure is a rich role reversal. But Rowland said Beyonce wasn’t offended when she heard the lyrics, which include the lines, "Bird in a cage, you would never know what I was dealing with. Went our separate ways, but I was happy she was killing it. Bittersweet, she was up, I was down." Rapper Wiz Kalifa chimes in for "Gone," one of Rowland’s personal favorites, which she recently premiered on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." Rowland channels Joni Mitchell’s classic hit "Big Yellow Taxi" in this tune about a guy who just can’t seem to understand that it’s over, giving good use to the line, "Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone." "It stands the test of time," she said. "The song is just timeless and I’m honored to have it on my record." She goes sultry in "Kisses Down Low," and reminisces about an old love in "I Remember." Rowland sings, "I was your lover, I was your friend and you never had to question it. Don’t know who to blame, no matter whose fault, somehow we lost it all." Earlier this year, Destiny’s Child reunited to record "Love Songs," a compilation of their most romantic melodies, circa 1997-2004. And Rowland, a current judge on "X Factor," will team up with The-Dream for a short tour this summer. From lying low to flying high, Rowland is making her mark on music this summer.
"24/Seven" (Big Time Rush)
Chances are, unless you’re a tween or have kids in your life, you won’t be familiar with Nickelodeon’s highest-rated live-action series and pop band Big Time Rush. The show tracks the adventures of four hockey players from Minnesota -- Kendall, James, Carlos and Logan -- after they are tapped to form a boy band. Creator Scott Fellows said he was inspired by the ’60s TV show/band The Monkees. The music is pure bubble gum pop, and fares much as you would expect from a prefab boy band, or perhaps not as worse, depending on where you draw your lines. Their first track, "24/Seven" intros with the familiar intro beats of The Cure’s "Head on the Door," before launching into an upbeat song about doing what you like, living your life and making every day a holiday. These are positive messages for youth, at the least. This follows in "Like Nobody’s Around," with the message to ditch embarrassment. "Get Up" encourages kids to stop waiting around and do something already. "Song For You" is all about that special girl whose face is tattooed on his mind, singing, "What I gotta do to get into your life?/ I can be a bad boy or I can be nice." Their tune "Crazy for You" is a pure beach tune, radio-ready for the kids’ summertime fun, and "Picture This" outlines the perfect day at the beach, cruising the boardwalk and playing arcade games, with the lyrics, "Do you see what I see/ you and me it’s like a movie scene, that’s the way you know it should be, the two of us together, can you picture this?" The album ends with a song about a rad girl that is "Amazing," and "We Are," an anthem of being young. Kids are going crazy over the show and the band, as evidenced by the fervor over ticket sales for their Summer Break Tour with Victoria Justice. Two tickets for the last train to Clarksville, anyone?