GLAD RAG DOLL, by Diana Krall
Diana Kralls Glad Rag Doll instantly grabs your attention, and not just because of the provocative cover art featuring the lovely singer decked out in, well, not much.
Its the songs, and T Bone Burnetts usual excellent production, that are the real draw here.
There are no lilting orchestras or dreamy string quartets followers of Krall have come to expect. Sure, her signature piano is there, along with her smoky vocals, but its Marc Ribots guitar that establishes a ghostly, vaudevillian feel to the mostly jazz songs Krall covers.
Everything comes together to serve the Prohibition-era theme of the record perfectly. Even a song written in the 1950s Doc Pomus Lonely Avenue seems right at home.
Throw in a tasteful amount of Mellotron, ukulele, banjo and bass and Glad Rag Doll rocks. It rolls. It swings. It shuffles. Its sexy, sly, intimate and exhilarating.
Scott Bauer, AP
KALEIDOSCOPE DREAM, by Miguel
Miguels sophomore effort Kaleidoscope Dream oozes sex with a bit of rock n roll and funk, further elevating and pushing the elasticity of R&B like other acts including Frank Ocean, the Weeknd and Jhene Aiko.
The Grammy-nominated singer had mild success with hits Quickie and Sure Thing from his 2010 debut All I Want Is You. Hes also recognized for his feature on rapper Wales Lotus Flower Bomb in 2011 and his stellar three-volume EP Art Dealer Chic released earlier this year.
The new albums first single Adorn, which is No. 1 on Billboards R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart, is a sensual, addictive jam.
The 11-track set is packed with bedroom grooves including the 808-booming Arch & Point and the melodious, erotic Use Me.
Miguel proves hes a master of wordplay on Do You ..., a mellow, hippie love ode produced by Jerry Wonda, where he croons Im gonna do you like drugs tonight. He also flexes his alternative edge on Dont Look Back, which samples the Zombies Time of the Season.
He leaves the bedroom for the more conscious, stirring tracks like Candles in the Sun and the top-notch Wheres the Fun in Forever. On the track, co-written by Alicia Keys, Miguel sings, Tomorrows just a day away, tomorrow isnt promised/Wheres the fun in forever. Celebrate.
The albums title track is aptly named with a mesmerizing blend of funky bass line, electric guitar, strings and layered vocals.
Stacy A. Anderson, AP
QUALITY STREET MUSIC, by DJ Drama
DJ Drama has earned respect in the music industry for boosting numerous careers of rappers such as Lil Wayne, T.I. and Young Jeezy through his popular mixtape series, Gangsta Grillz.
The success of the mixtapes helped ignite Dramas popularity too: He is one of the few DJs in hip-hop to land a record deal, releasing his debut album, Gangsta Grillz: The Album in 2007.
Now, Drama returns with his fourth offering Quality Street Music, 15-tracks of hard-thumping, high-energy street anthem songs. The album features a cast of rappers and singers that includes Drake, Common, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain and Llyod.
Drama makes it all work with his uniquely assembled combination of artists meshed alongside solid production work. This is clear on the albums singles, My Moment featuring 2 Chainz, Meek Mill and Jeremih, and We In This Bitch with Young Jeezy, T.I., Ludacris and Future.
One of the albums highlights is the Cardiak-produced Never Die, featuring Jadakiss, Cee Lo Green, Nipsey Hussle and Young Jeezy. With Cee Lo singing chorus, each of the rappers talks about how they were able to survive their own gritty streets.
Other standout songs are the V12: The Hitman-produced tracks Clouds featuring Rick Ross, Miguel, Pusha T and Curren$y, and Same Ol Story, with Kid Ink, Schoolboy Q, Corey Gunz and Childish Gambino.
There are some downfalls here, but overall Drama delivers another respectable album. He continues to show hes one of hip-hops top curators, creating a musical platform for artists so they can all flourish together.
Jonathan Landrum Jr., AP