Remember when you were a kid and you mixed a bunch of different flavors of soda together and called it “suicide”? That’s kind of what this week’s new music releases are like. A mish-mash of randomness. I mean we have the lead singer of Bright Eyes, a former American Idol contestant, and an R&B girl sensation. That’s kind of like mixing Coca Cola, Orange Crush, and Dr. Pepper together.
So, your friends might give you strange looks if you play these three albums on shuffle at your next party, but as long as you have an open mind, you should be able to take each album for what it’s worth. And drink it up. Because, despite its name, “suicide” was always a ton of fun.
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band- Outer South
The whole time I was listening to Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band’s new album, Outer South, I kept thinking, “Why does this sound so familiar??” After listening to several songs, I finally had it. Conor Oberst is the lead singer of Bright Eyes and has an extremely distinctive voice. On this album, Conor leaves his Bright Eyes friends and joins the guys from the Mystic Valley Band. And you know what? He sounds a lot happier with this band; many of the songs are a lot more upbeat. Some of my favorites include “White Shoes” and “Spoiled,” but to be honest, the entire 16-song album was very easy for me to listen to over and over. I actually really love the last song on the album, the hillbilly-ish “Snake Hill,” which is actually mainly sung by Taylor Hollingsworth. It tells the story of a man whose mother always told him to stay on Snake Hill because he had poison in his bite. When he left the hill, “I discovered that a girl/Was what my mother tried to hide from me/She could make you feel alive/She could make you want to die/And that’s exactly what she did to me.” Though the song wasn’t even written by Oberst, those are some lyrics you would find coming right from Bright Eyes.
Elliott Yamin- Fight For Love
While I love American Idol for the opportunities it gives yet-to-be-discovered-singers, I sometimes hate it for the stigma it leaves on them. Elliott Yamin has that stigma. I feel like he’s having a hard time really making it because people think he’s just another product of American Idol. But Elliott is one of the most talented singers American Idol has discovered and his new album, Fight For Love, proves that he’s here to stay.
From the first notes of “Let Love Be,” I could tell I was going to like it; very smart to put that song first on the album. It was also at this point that I realized how much Elliott actually sounds like John Legend. Listen to “Let Love Be” and tell me I’m wrong. This is the ultimate in pop-y jazz. I was also extremely impressed with “Cold Heart,” which I can totally see as the next single, and “Can’t Keep On Loving You.” Though “Someday” was thrown as the last song on the album, it’s probably the most heart-wrenching for Elliott’s Idol fans. Remember Elliott’s mom who was in the audience of every show cheering him on? The two were extremely close and she passed away last year; he wrote this song for her. “How do I start to make sense of what’s left/Still carry the memory of you in my head/I’m just not ready to let you go yet/But I know you’re proud of the man that I am.” Tear. All in all, I hope this album helps Elliott break beyond American Idol and show the world that he’s an incredible singer, whether Simon is judging him or not.
Ciara– Fantasy Ride
Ciara’s long-awaited album, Fantasy Ride, is finally here. The strange thing is, I didn’t even realize it was coming until it dropped. Why haven’t I been hearing the singles from it? Usually Ciara’s all over the place and I shouldn’t really have to try hard to find her. But maybe its because the album isn’t very good?
Upon first listen to the album, I actually enjoyed the first single, “Never Ever,” which samples from Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” one of the best songs ever (in my opinion). But that is where my love for this Fantasy Ride ended. The album as a whole has some OK beats, but really lacks is fun that’s not cheesy. And, oh boy, is there a lot of cheesy. Take the lyrics in “High Price,” for example: “I should be in Iraq, Shawty/’Cause I am the bomb/Booty look softer than a McDonald’s hamburger bun.” What does that even mean?
The only really spectacular thing about Ciara’s album is all the special guests she has on it. Between Justin Timberlake, Ludacris, Young Jeezy, T-Pain, and Missy Elliott, you’d think this album would pack a little more awesomeness. To be honest, “Turntables” with Chris Brown is one of the best songs on the album. But it also involves Chris Brown, automatically removing its chances of being a single or even getting very popular. Really, this album should have been called “Ciara and Special Guests” and she should come out with her own “solo” album very soon.