Broadway’s Carols for a Cure 2016 – Vol. 18 (Rock-It Science)
Need something to get you in the holiday mood? If you’re a fan of musicals, look no further than this album of performers from various Broadway shows singing a mix of classic and original holiday songs. I’m always a Scrooge when it comes to the holidays, but this is too nice. I was hooked at the second song – “I Can See the Light” by the cast of Hamilton, which has that Hamilton marching style. I came into this CD without any experience as to what it was, and I’m absolutely delighted by it. What a way to warm this Grinch’s heart. I can’t hate the song “Love Is Christmas” by the people of Waitress. It almost makes me angry at how undetestable this entire CD is. The proceeds also go to a good cause: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The best part of this album is how each song has the style of the musical that the performers represent. It’s a magical way to compose an album like this. There was even a song that I liked so much it made me cry. I will never say which one it was, but I will say it wasn’t “A Jellicle Christmas” by the Cats cast. My favorite songs, though, are “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by the Holiday Inn cast and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” by the Aladdin cast. Nothing will prepare you for this album.
Rhythm and blues lovers, I hope you’re paying attention to Keke Palmer. She’s just 23, but she is legitimate. I first started paying attention to Palmer when she released the saucy music video “I Don’t Belong to You,” featuring a surprise lesbian ending. My respect for her grew when she amazed and dazzled many as Marty Maraschino in Grease Live. She has range, and this five-song visual EP shows it. Every video is so different from the one before it in both music style and the video itself. She quickly gets serious, but then she gets silly without taking away from the depth of the first song. It shows that she is versatile. She can go slow, and she can do a more rhythmic and danceable style song. My favorite songs are “Doubtful” and “Hands Free.”
Electronics fans rejoice: Deadmau5 is back. This album comes about a year after Joel Thomas Zimmerman, the producer who performs as Deadmau5, announced he was suffering from depression. The first song, “4ware,” is somber, but the album’s pace really picks up in the middle of the second track, “2448.” That’s probably going to be where most electronica fans will really begin enjoying it. I like the song “Cat Thruster,” which has an ’80s to early ’90s video game feel to it. This album isn’t over the top; it’s actually rather calming for techno, which is a welcome shift from the dramatics of most electronic music. I don’t think this album will sway the opinion of people who hate electronica, but if you are one of those people, I would suggest “Imaginary Friends,” “Three Pound Chicken Wing,” and “Whelk Then.”
Awaken, My Love! (Glassnote)
This is a funky, soulful delight. Actor, writer and musician Donald Glover, known musically as Childish Gambino, stuns, as always, on his third full-length album. Glover doesn’t include as much rap on this album as he has previously, but I have to say I’m a fan of his vocals here. He has made himself sound vastly different from track to track, impressing me with his vocal range. But Glover amazes me most as a composer. He arranges this music beautifully, with many unexpected turns and time changes. Don’t expect the same old soul that modern days have gotten us used to. This is much deeper than that. This gorgeous album simultaneously feels nostalgic and modern. My favorite songs are “Zombies,” “Redbone” and “The Night Me and Your Mama Met.”