Musicality – No Doubt, Cher Lloyd, Mika & Esperanza Spalding

Mika
The Origin of Love
(Casablanca/Universal)
The very first thing I noticed about Mika is his beautiful voice. The light harmonies are well-balanced and remind me a bit of the vocals of the band Fun. Though I wouldn’t quite describe it as funk, some of the songs do have a nice soft bounce to them. The music is soothing and surprisingly delightful, but it’s not the kind that puts you to sleep. This whole album would be really good to study or read to and I highly recommend it. The entire album is amazing. I didn’t see this one coming, because I didn’t have any previous experience with this artist, even though this is his third album. Now I’m going to have to check out the first two. My favorite song is “Lola,” which is no surprise because it was inspired by Fleetwood Mac. But all the songs should be given a chance. Another couple of favorites are “Underwater,” because of the piano, and “Love You When I’m Drunk,” which is all sorts of Ben Folds-style hilarious.
No Doubt
Push and Shove
(Interscope)
They’re back with the stuff that makes your heart thump, and Gwen Stefani is back with the people who helped make her famous. No Doubt has returned after 11 years since their last album. It’s been too long. Although Stefani has had no trouble coming out with hits as a solo artist, some people, like yours truly, are beyond excited about the reunion. In No Doubt’s early years, it was primarily a ska band, but its sound has evolved over 26 years into more pop-heavy and reggae styles. They go a little more out of the box on this one, and a lot of their songs are slower and mellow, often with some of the best and most powerful upbeat breakdowns that I’ve heard in a long time. The song “Settle Down” has already been circulating the airwaves, but my absolute favorite is “Sparkle,” because it is wonderfully timed and has a really nice, catchy rhythm. A few others that I really enjoy are “Push and Shove” and “Easy.” Although my cat has not been appreciative of my own recent renditions of No Doubt songs, I’m going to have this CD on repeat for a while.
Cher Lloyd
Sticks & Stones
(Epic)
If you’ve had the radio on, you’ve already heard Cher Lloyd’s “Want U Back.” Fans of pop should check her out. The album is fun and extremely catchy. It has several dance songs and many radio-ready songs. The musical style reminds me of a combination of Jessie J, Karmin and Katy Perry, and the vocals have a hint of Rihanna to them. The lyrics are optimistic and simple, but effective and much in the style of pop anthems, particularly in “Behind the Music.” If you are a fan of all things pop, check her out. The music is well-produced and would fit in any party mix. My favorite songs are “Beautiful People” and “Oath.”
Esperanza Spalding
Radio Music Society
(Heads Up International)
Though this CD came out a few months ago, I only recently was introduced to this impressively soulful artist. Esperanza Spalding is an amazing blues musician. She is a bassist and a singer. She is far from simple. She is all the best parts of jazz and blues rolled up into one charismatic blend of experimental funk-tinged music that is all too easy on the ears. Jazz lovers shouldn’t ignore this one; in 2011 she won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards. Her unique lyrics have depth, she is no doubt creative and I’m excited to see how her music will evolve. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one. My favorite songs are “Radio Song,” “Crowned and Kissed,” and “City of Roses.”

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