Musicality – Molly Hammer, Hercules & Love Affair, Oliver, Macklemores

Molly Hammer

Out of This World

(Molly Hammer)

Ten seconds into her debut album, and I’m a fan of Molly Hammer. Her sultry vocals immediately draw you in like warm light attracts insects. The combination of “Lazy Afternoon” and “I’m Gonna Go Fishin’” is a great way to begin the CD. It’s filled with jazz standards, and Hammer’s voice is perfect for it. I listened to this album on Spotify while at work at a local store, and the customers who walked in during that first listen adored it and were surprised to hear that Hammer is a local from Kansas City, Mo. She is also the sister of photographer Ann K. Brown, who shot various covers for Camp and, sadly, passed away in 2014. It’s no surprise to hear that Hammer is from a talented and artistic family. This album is an absolute joy. My favorite tracks are “Never Will I Marry,” “At Last,” and “Out of This World.”

Hercules &
Love Affair

Omnion

(Big Beat)

Hercules and Love Affair always have me thinking that aliens landed on Earth and they are more fabulous than I could have ever imagined. However, this album, which is their fourth, grounds them to this world. It’s a little more real and much more pensive. On top of some vicious dance beats, they reflect on not just the life near them, but also far away. It’s a more worldly album. The singing is thoughtful and sometimes a bit sad, which contrasts at times with danceable songs. However, this suggests that you can take the risk and combine the two. There is no rule saying that dance music is escapism. With this album, you can be aware of the world while the rhythm moves you. I can definitely get behind that message. My favorite songs on the album are “Are You Still Certain?” “Omnion,” and “Fools Wear Crowns.”

Oliver

Full Circle

(Interscope)

This is my first taste of Oliver, and I was ready for it. Described as electro-pop, it’s synthesizer-heavy with beats that kill. The melodies are extremely catchy, but not the super bubblegum pop kind we see strewn across the radio. Their beats are almost on the Daft Punk level. I can hear it in the song “Last Forever.” This duo is made up of Vaughn Oliver and Oliver Goldstein. They started as scratch DJs in the ’90s and have also worked with Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears. This album sounds like a celebration of the history of DJing and its varying styles throughout modern music. With 15 songs, it’s hard not to find something to like. To me, there isn’t one bad song on this album. I’m hoping to hear some remixes in the future. My favorite songs are “Space & Sound, “Chemicals (feat. MNDR),” “Go With It (feat. Chromeo), and “Wherever We Are” (feat. Elohim).

Macklemore

Gemini

(Bendo)

This is Macklemore without his partner in crime, Ryan Lewis. The R&B/rap duo was nominated for four Grammy Awards in 2014 for songs from The Heist, an album they made without the help of a major record label. The two are focusing on solo careers at the moment, and it’s interesting to see what they do now. This album is a bit calmer, with a chill vibe. It’s definitely a CD to blare in the car as you’re driving when you’re in no hurry for anything. It has a consistent overall tone, but it speeds up just a little in the second half. One of my favorite songs is “Good Old Days,” his collaboration with Kesha, who just released her own new album, Rainbow. That song is everything I love about Macklemore. It reminds me slightly of “Same Love” from The Heist, but only in style. It’s hard to choose my favorites, but others are “Over It,” “How to Play the Flute,” and “Miracle.”