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New Music Monday: Adele, Aaron Taylor, Rick Ross & Bruno Mars

Adele and Bruno Mars return this week with two very different albums. One feels like therapy and the other is uplifting.

New Music Monday 2021-11-22

Thanksgiving is later this week and college campuses across the country are about to empty for their 5-day break. It’s starting to get cold here in Binghamton and I can see the line of cars driving out of the McIntosh factory from the top of the hill. Nobody invited me to come along on our recent factory tour and that’s okay. One year of college tuition is akin to one of their fancy power amplifiers like the MC3500 MKII but I not sure where I would be sleeping if I bought one. How large is the shipping box? Adele could definitely afford a pair of those.

Can we talk about Adele for a second because I feel like I might be a lone voice of dissent this week in regard to 30 and why it isn’t the masterpiece that everyone is making out to be.

I grew up listening to Adele and absolutely marvel at her voice. She’s earned every penny of her success and when you’re not supposed to make it because you don’t look like Taylor Swift or fit into a certain box that the music industry wants female artists to exist inside — you have to be exceptional.

But I’m going to call BS when I see it in regard to her new album for the simple reason that I have no interest spending $30 to listen to someone scream at her therapist.

Because that’s what this album is — a form of therapy for Adele that we have to be subjected to until she releases 35 in 5 years and hopefully has some other life changing experience to tell us about.

Divorce sucks. But did she have to focus on such a negative topic after 19 months of the world being stuck in a pandemic that is accelerating again in Europe?

Music is supposed to make one feel a wide range of emotions because human beings experience joy, pain, grief, success, failure, anger, and love on a daily basis.

Love. Maybe what the world needed right now was more of that. Not a lengthy exercise in self-loathing while she earns millions a week in revenue.

Jackie Wilson understood about how to sell a love song. So did Sam Cooke and Freddie Mercury.

Adele risks becoming everything she rebelled against when she broke into the music industry and it doesn’t take much research online to see that she’s already been on Oprah and raving about her new life in the Hollywood Hills.

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It doesn’t feel authentic or very Adele to be honest. Amy Winehouse died far too young for us to know if she would have become a homogenized plastic doll to keep the music industry executives happy while screwing over artists with pathetic streaming revenue. I suspect that Amy Winehouse, who had a lot of demons and came from a broken home, would not have sold out in the end. She could sell the hell out of a song and it always felt authentic.

Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak: An Evening With Silk Sonic (Aftermath Entertainment – Atlantic Records, Qobuz, 24-bit/44.1kHz)

This album came with a lot of hype and the duo have delivered an album with some super cool, funky energy that makes you want to dance. Funk Gods, Bootsy Collins and Thundercat join Mars and Paak adding some much needed soul to the music and this album might be one of my favorites of 2021; the pacing is excellent and this is one of those records that makes you want to cruise down the boulevard with the top down, breeze pushing back your hair, and the lights letting all the ladies now that you’re here. Collins and Thundercat make “After Last Night” a future funk classic in nightclubs all over Miami and Los Angeles. Get your groove on people.

Rick Ross: “Outlawz” (Epic, Qobuz, 24-bit/44.1kHz)

Rick Ross has a very interesting music career; most of it rapping about the perils of the drug trade. The Miami-based rap star has crossed over into soul and pop more than once and his latest single is a surprising track that was co-written by Jasmine Sullivan. Sullivan, Ross, and 21 Savage blend a rather savage mix of rap, soul, and hip-hop into one of the best hip-hop/soul tracks of the year. The lyrics are NSFW but it’s a pulsating track that has an anthemic quality to it.

Aaron Taylor: “What Do You Do” (Gold Edit)(featuring Tarriona ‘Tank’ Ball and House Gospel Choir)

Smooth like butter and very similar to Ady Suleiman and a really soulful track that is perfect for background music while studying. The London born-and-raised musician makes “groovy beats, heartfelt ballads” and grew up listening to soul, R&B and gospel, naming Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo as some of his key influences.

Keys N Krates: “Original Classic”

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Keys N Krates is a Canadian electronic music band formed in 2008 out of Toronto, Ontario. The group consists of drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse and turntablist Jr. Flo. The band started as a live hip-hop act reliant on rough a cappella loops on top of heavy bass-driven beats.

“Original Classic” has a decent beat but it feels more like fodder for a commercial than an album. The video makes zero sense. Perhaps I was too hard on Adele.

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