If you hate trying to keep up with the latest in music, we've got the perfect segment for you, Tuesday Reviewsday. Every week we bring in our music experts to tell you what you should be listening to. This week Shirley Halperin News Director at Billboard Magazine joins A Martinez to talk about Adam Lambert and the band Bully.
Artist: Adam Lambert
Album: "The Original High"
Songs: "Another Lonely Night," "Rumors”
Notes: First up, a Swedish confection courtesy of the biggest hitmaker of the last 20 years, Max Martin. In fact, he just marked a milestone 20th #1 with Taylor Swift’s "Bad Blood."And here Max takes on Adam Lambert, working with his Swedish production partner Shellback to craft a pop album for a singer whose found mainstream success tough to hold onto.
Lambert was on American Idol on season eight, where he came in second place, but he managed to walk away a true Idol favorite. Still, two major label albums later, his career had kind of stalled. Adam’s label asked him to make an '80s covers record, an idea that he says didn’t really resonate with him. Or to quote Adam directly, "I love the 90s! Just call me the new VH1 spokesperson!”
Fortunately, the '90s dance sound is everywhere these days and as always Max Martin’s pop timing in impeccable. What is it about those Swedes?
Anyway, I picked a song that may not wind up a single but really demonstrates that sweet sheen that the Swedish are so good at. It's the song "Another Lonely Night."
There are a couple of special guests on "The Original High." One is Queen guitarist Brian May, a natural collaboration considering Adam has been singing as the frontman of Queen on multiple world tours.
And when Billboard spoke to Adam about this album, he described the creative collective that’s been built around Max Martin’s arsenal of songwriters in Stockholm. It’s called Wolf Cousins and one member of the pack is the singer Tove Lo.
She’s had a nice run of success with her debut album and the song "Habits." And she lent a hand to Adam on the track "Rumors," another goodie on "The Original High."
Album: "Feels Like"
Songs: "Milkman," "Bully”
Notes: This four-piece from Nashville is a total throwback to the early '90s, straddling the timeline, if you will, between post-grunge and indie punk.
Singer Alicia Bognanno has all the moves and all the chords and you can instantly hear the nods she’s giving – from Superchunk to Fugazi to Nirvana (in fact, her scream, which is all over this record, is often compared to early Kurt Cobain). There’s no secret language here or buried messages, just the raw snarl of rock.
But I particularly admire their song "Milkman." It clocks in at two minutes, four seconds. And because of this, I'm convinced that she's a girl after my own heart because a lot of bands, especially on their first albums, don’t always know how to edit themselves. But I’ll give extra credit to Bognanno, who, after studying recording in college in Tennessee, apprenticed under Steve Albini, one of the architects of the 90s sound, at his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago. That’s where this album "Feels Like" was recorded and Bognanno is also credited with producing, engineering and mixing the entire thing.
Clearly she’s very talented in the studio. She may however be challenged in the naming department. Try searching for Bully and you’ll see what I mean. And it’s not helping matters that another killer track on the record is also called "Bully,"putting this band in the company of double namers like Talk Talk and Bad Company.