New Music: Passion Pit, Nas, Joss Stone and Elle Varner

I always feel guilty when I find music I like and don’t share it in a timely manner.  Here is my list from the past few weeks (spoiler alert: I saved the best for last).  Enjoy!

 

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Passion Pit – This is a sort of screechy, electro band from Cambridge, MA, which I wouldn’t have pegged to give us screechy music.  Their new album, “Gossamer,” has some songs on it that are a little quieter and (in my opinion) more thoughtful.  I wasn’t head over heels with the album as a whole, but I liked “Take a Walk,” which has a nice steady beat, and “Love is Greed,” which I thought had an interesting message.

 

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Nas – I first became acquainted with Nas on the “8 Mile” soundtrack as a very angry rapper.  Fast forward almost a decade, and it turns out Nas has a bit in common with the average middle aged Joe.  That really angry edge is missing on “Life is Good” (maybe the album title is a clue), and he’s a bit relatable in his concern about his daughter and struggles with a crummy marriage (possible reference to his short union with Kelis).  I like both of the aforementioned songs (“Girls” and “Bye Baby”), and I’m always a sucker for a duet with Mary J. Blige (“Reach Out”), plus there’s a posthumous duet with Amy Winehouse in “Cherry Wine” that is good.

 

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Joss Stone – I have liked Joss ever since I first heard her and mistook her for one of my beloved black R&B faves.  I was shocked to find she was a little blond from Britain.  Her latest album, “The Soul Sessions, Volume II,” finds her covering more obscure songs from the seventies and eighties.  I liked this album okay, but I don’t think it’s one of her stronger albums.  Nonetheless, I did like “I Got The…” and “The High Road.”

 

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Elle Varner – You know how excited you get when you discover someone new and you know right away that you love them? (that might just be me)  That was how I felt when I saw Elle Varner, who I had never heard of previously, in the iTunes new releases last week.  Her debut album, “Perfectly Imperfect,” is an ideal album title.  I am smitten with this R&B beauty and her voice full of awesomeness (her mom was a backup singer for Barry White!), but she doesn’t sugar coat her naughty side either.  My favorites are “Only Wanna Give It to You,”, “Sound Proof Room, “Oh What a Night” (referring to a drunken night out) and “So Fly,” which she definitely is.  I loved this album, so it was hard to choose only a few to recommend.  In my mind I am a beautiful black woman with an unbelievable voice, and my mirror and my kids can’t convince me otherwise!

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