Artist: Katy Perry
Released: Oct. 21, 2013
Like current single “Roar,” Perry is focused here on responding to the adversity of self-repression—except on “Love Me,” her impressive vocals mix some crooning in with the roars. The song’s light verses are reminiscent of U2’s “Beautiful Day,” but contain a handful of delicate tones that demonstrate Perry’s prowess and sensitivity. As the song creeps into its chorus, the production picks up and resembles more of a typical upbeat Perry track, but it’s the calculated restraint of the verses that hit the right spots.
Open Ended Life
Artist: The Avett Brothers
Album: Magpie and The Dandelion
Released: Oct. 15, 2013
“Open Ended Life” is a real barn-burner: it’s a fun and exciting track, and literally talks about burning houses to the ground. That is the verse subject matter that sets up the chorus lines, “I was taught to keep an open-ended life /and never trap myself in nothin’.” The 2:20 and 4:06 marks are where the song is funnest; the first kicks off a blustering instrumental break capped of by a slick electric guitar riff, and the second delivers a good old fiddle solo.
Open-Ended Life* — http://www.youtube.com/
*The times and instrumentation may vary from the album version.
And It Stoned Me
Artist: Van Morrison
Album: Moondance (Deluxe Edition)
Released: Oct. 22, 2013
Other than his beloved “Brown Eyed Girl,” Van Morrison hasn’t gained the same traction with the average young listener that other passionate vocalists like Bruce Springsteen or James Brown. But Moondance is worthy of the four-CD, 60-track deluxe edition that was recently released, 44 years since it originally came out. It’s hard for the beauty of “And It Stoned Me” not to resonate—as Morrison belts out the sublime experience of being caught in an intense rain shower, we can participate in his cathartic moment.
Artist: DJ Khaled ft. J. Cole & Bas
Album: Suffering From Success
Released: Oct. 22, 2013
J. Cole owns this track. With a concentrated instrumental beat behind him, he exudes confidence with lines such as “Get smacked if you said I’m neck and neck with these square rappers,” and reveals some vulnerability with a line like “Cried myself to sleep on thousand dollar sheets.” He also sings the chorus hook, which unleashes the palpable frustration that is embroiled in the verses, yearning for a release from hell’s kitchen. Bas delivers a decent second verse, but this is the rare DJ Khaled song that may have been better off with just one feature.