J. Cole Leads Albums to Check Out: This Week In Music

December 10th, 2014 8:00am EST
J. Cole performs at Made In America concert in Philadelphia Phil
Who has dominated the fall (musically)? Taylor Swift has dominated the fall. While her dominance continues onward towards Christmas, the week of December 9 does have some notable new efforts dropping. The biggest album to watch is one few know little about – J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Can Cole put some pressure on Taylor Swift? It’s possible as he put some pressure on Kanye West in 2013. Cole does indeed lead albums to check out this week, which also includes Carrie Underwood’s greatest hits compilation.

1) J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (Columbia)

J. Cole gives rap fans ...

57th Grammy Awards Nominations: Reactions, Snubs and Surprises

December 8th, 2014 2:13pm EST
Reactions To The 57th Annual Grammy Awards Nominations
Think of the Grammys as a musician’s Super Bowl – it’s kind of a big deal. On Friday, December 5, the 57th Annual Grammy Awards nominees were revealed to the world. After much speculation, here’s some thoughts on some of the bigger nominations. These aren’t predictions – just thoughts on deservingness, snubs, and surprises.

Record of the Year:

“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX

“Chandelier,” Sia

“Stay With Me,” Sam Smith

“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift

“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor

Ultimately, the nominations for record of the year are solid. Snubbed is Pharrell Wi...

2014's Biggest Breakthrough Musicians

December 7th, 2014 11:00am EST
Biggest Breakthrough Musicians Of 2014
Some succeed and some don’t. It’s a very simplistic statement, but a true one that’s applicable to any number of things. In the case of musicians in 2014, whether it’s fair or not, some crashed and burned, while others excelled. Excelling doesn’t mean that the respective musician sold a lot of albums (few did), but it does mean these artists established their brand, making a name for themselves. Here are the biggest breakthrough musicians of 2014.

1) Iggy Azalea

Don’t we all wish we could’ve had as “Fancy” a year as Iggy? Nicki Minaj can throw all the shade she wants, but one fem...

Mary J. Blige Leads Albums To Check Out: This Week in Music

December 2nd, 2014 9:56am EST
Mary J. Blige
Back in 2005, one of the holiday season’s smartest album releases was Mary J. Blige’s The Breakthrough. The Breakthrough is considered to be one of the preeminent R&B albums of 00s, no questions asked. Besides its savvy R&B IQ, why was the release so smart? The reason is because it ended up selling 727,000 copies to debut commandingly at #1. Blige has never surpassed or matched those numbers again, but one has to think that she’s a frontrunner among new releases this week with The London Sessions.

1) Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions (Capitol)

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J....

CD Review: His Dream Of Lions - 'Part II'

December 1st, 2014 7:33pm EST
CD Review: His Dream Of Lions - 'Part II'
An impressive array of profound, heart-on-sleeve showmanship (“Next Stop, Fall City”) mingles with slightly less weighty offerings brimming with precision hooks and captivating melodies (“The Ordinary,” “Dreams Equipped”) throughout Part II, an EP that offers up a lot to like as a mere six-song clip. There’s the Jimmy Eat World meets Something Corporate meets Get Up Kids swagger of the opening single “The Pace Car” and the deliciously not-so-subtle underlay of keys on the subsequent “Summer Song,” not to mention the set closer “All the Salt In the World,” which somehow manages to encapsulat...

CD Review: Falling Through April - 'Risks And Rewards'

December 1st, 2014 7:26pm EST
CD Review: Falling Through April - 'Risks And Rewards'
Risks and Rewards is bookended by two solid entries littered with modern rock tropes including, but not limited to, explosive hooks, churning guitars and euphoric melody (“Breakdown,” “In Control”), though the solo in the latter is not to be missed. But in the case of Risks and Rewards, it’s not about how Falling Through April starts, or even how they finish. It’s all about the journey, not the destination as they say, as the body of the EP morphs in something entirely different and unexpected, something akin to say Yellowcard or Jimmy Eat World, as 90’s alt-rock meets emo-pop to create a t...

Does Taylor Swift Have A New Boyfriend?

December 1st, 2014 3:00pm EST
Is Taylor Swift's New Boyfriend Rocker Matt Healy?
Despite reports that singer and songwriter Taylor Swift has decided that she would rather embrace the single life, rumor has it she is quietly dating rocker Matt Healy.

Swift met up with The 1975 singer at his concert in Hollywood, where she was joined by best buddy Selena Gomez the day prior to the American Music Awards.

The singer and rocker met up backstage and quickly exchanged numbers.

Radaronline revealed that the British singer revealed in a radio interview that he did in fact meet up with Swift and the two became fast friends.

"We exchanged numbers,” Healy, 25, said in a radio...

CD Review: Letters From the Fire - 'Letters From the Fire'

November 29th, 2014 3:17pm EST
CD Review: Letters From the Fire - 'Letters From the Fire'
At a terse five song clip, there's nary a lull on Letters From the Fire's volatile and fiery eponymous debut EP. Channeling the modern rock stylings of Trapt and Edgewater, Letters From the Fire, a band once fronted by former Candiria singer Carley Coma, deliver a stunning collection of rock entries, a record that, while criminally short clocking in under 20 minutes, offers no shortage of standout tracks. Perhaps the most recognizable of which is the bands stellar take on the Beatles timeless “Eleanor Rigby,” one of the best versions of this song you’ll hear this side of Godhead. The tremen...

CD Review: If I Were You - 'The Sleepless' (Manifest Records)

November 29th, 2014 3:14pm EST
CD Review: If I Were You - 'The Sleepless' (Manifest Records)
The Sleepless really hits its stride with single “Memories,” a stunning offering that puts the very best of If I Were You on display – combining explosive, spastic riffs and guttural barks with soaring vocals and driving, angular melodies, all laid atop a bed of non-offensive synth-led electronics. This formula continues to shine as The Sleepless progresses (“Moving On,” “Finding Home”), though the album is far better of when the band focuses on the lighter side of the coin (“Fading Away” feat. Shannon Egan), because when stray too far the other way (“Made New”) they just end up sounding li...

One Direction Score Fourth Number One Album With ‘Four’

November 27th, 2014 9:03am EST
One Direction Score Fourth Number One Album With ‘Four’: This We
'Tis the season where album sales are elevated and the music industry breathes a sigh of relief – until the deadness of January that is. While there have been few victory laps (besides Taylor Swift’s 1989), the numbers are stronger than earlier in 2014. That said, reliable chart-topper One Direction scored a fourth number one album with Four. Although 1D got it done, there is a ‘but’ to the scenario.

Four landed at a familiar spot for 1D, but did so in somewhat underwhelming fashion. Sure the 387,000 copies the British-Irish boy band moved is exceptional, but falls below both prognostic...