Michael Franti & Spearhead – Soulrocker
By Tessa Perkins
This ninth album from Michael Franti & Spearhead is a collection of socially conscious tunes and upbeat danceable tracks that will make you want to get up and groove — and make the world a better place while you’re at it.
The first single, “Crazy for You,” is a joyful track written for Franti’s wife Sara, about love keeping us grounded amidst a crazy world. “Good to Be Alive Today” is another standout that has a more sombre tone with direct references to the tragic events we hear about in the news, climate change, and the general state of our world. Despite this, the song promotes gratitude for all the good in the world and presents a hopeful message for positive change.
“We Are All Earthlings” reminds us that we’re all in this together and we need to work together and love each other. With its dance beats and build-up to a nice breakdown, this song would be at home in a nightclub or your next house party. For a sunnier summertime track, “Summertime is in Our Hands” does the trick for backyard barbecues or lazy beach days.
Full of infectious rhythms and thought-provoking, political lyrics, Franti’s rhymes roll naturally off the tongue. When he sings about important issues, you feel compelled to listen and care.
Keith Urban – Ripcord
By Courtney Miller
Ripcord is Keith Urban’s latest country offering, and features his signature chill guitar licks. However, the eclectic combination of featured artists such as Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, and Nile Rodgers makes for an odd creation.
The album’s entirely formulaic — Urban’s been using the same method for years now. At the same time though, Ripcord’s enjoyable, and even seems to branch out a bit despite Urban maintaining his style. There’s an electronic and sometimes pop-like undercurrent to the new album. I’d call it his most experimental record to date: an upbeat collection that’s got energy to spare.
“Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)” is a tribute to Urban’s late-father. Pitbull’s collaboration, “Sun Don’t Let Me Down,” has the rapper shouting “Mr. Worldwide” in the midst of the song and, well, it’s good that Urban also recorded a Pitbull-less version. If we wanted rap, we’d get some.
All in all, it’s another great addition to Urban’s discography that’ll satiate country fans until the next one arrives.
Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death
By Courtney Miller
It’s hard to believe that Love You to Death is Tegan and Sara’s eighth album. They’re still cranking out the electro-indie-pop we know and love, but there is a sophistication and maturation that shines through.
Like most of their work, the ups and downs of relationships past provide the fuel for their music. Though some casual listeners may complain that they always write about the same things, I think it’s important that they write about their experiences and that there’s a sense of honesty in their work.
Take “Boyfriend,” the only official single from the album thus far. Anyone — queer people especially — who has served as the experimental relationship or “test drive” of a questioning person can identify with it. Finding that recognition is never a bad thing.
However, “That Girl” might be the best song on the album. There’s a playful tone to the keyboard, a majesty to the bridge, and an intelligent discussion lyrically. All in all, it’s a mature, nuanced pop album.