RIDING ON ANTICIPATION
CHAOS AND THE CALM
British talents have taken the world by storm with the likes of Adele and Sam Smith. James Bay is no less special. Belting poetic lyrics in beautiful tracks such as “Let It Go” and “Hold Back the River,” Bay possesses not only that raspy slow-rock musician’s voice that is so desirable but also fashionable boho styling. A widebrim hat, long hair and a guitar on hand are part of his unmistakable trademark look, which may have partially accounted to his winning the Critics’ Choice trophy at the 2015 BRIT Awards. Give the album a listen or check out his live performances on YouTube; you’ll be instantly hooked.
This pop diva hasn’t thrown in the towel yet and instead teamed up with dance music vanguards Avicii and Diplo along with music iconoclast Kanye West to produce her thirteenth album. But aside from the who’s who with a hand in the record, including boxing legend Mike Tyson, “Rebel Heart” sounds a bit like a dime-a-dozen album with pop-dance beats and hip-hop nuances—just like what Miley Cyrus or Nicky Minaj deliver these days. While Madonna could’ve taken a different direction and made a big splash, the album shows that she’s only eager to regain the reigns of today’s lucrative pop scene.
SMOKE + MIRRORS
A second act to the lauded debut “Night Visions,” Imagine Dragons’ “Smoke + Mirrors” is a wellrecommended record. It’s got that alternative rock edge to it but also an eclectic touch of exotic instruments and catchy refrains. The overall tone is a tad more serious, yet this sophomore album is simply hard to fault. Also hard is picking a favorite out of the track list, but the three leading songs—“I Bet My Life,” “Gold” and “Shots”—are certainly great picks.
Riding on the advance of YouTube as a platform for musicians to gain recognition is French electronic music producer Hugo Pierre Leclercq, aka. Madeon. His 2011 video “Pop Culture” reached over six million views in a matter of days. Madeon’s debut album “Adventure” now relies on collaborations with alternative artists such as Passion Pit. For dance and electronic music enthusiasts, this is the album to have.
Scandinavian artist Björk released her ninth album earlier than scheduled due to an online leak. The nine tracks were created conceptually based on the singer’s breakup with artist Matthew Barney: The first three marking the progress of a dying relationship, then the ending and the last three the emotional recovery. “Vulnicura” is perhaps the easiestto- listen Björk album in the last decade.