Zion.T brings back old school in ‘Mirror Ball’
With his distinctive voice, rising hip-hop star Zion.T has released his latest EP “Mirror Ball,” surprising listeners with his take on throwback, old-school trot sounds.
The four-track EP feels like a tribute to 1930s Korea, with the album lead track, “Miss Kim” incorporating the traditional sounds of Korean trot-style beats and the artist’s reggae-soul infused voice to create a truly unique addition to today’s music scene. The almost polka-like, staccato trot accompaniment to the track is a refreshing change from the typical hip-hop tracks that are being released today and make it almost impossible not to listen to it again.
“Mirror Ball” also includes the tracks “Going Crazy,” “Modern Boy” and “Madame.” Although “Going Crazy” and “Modern Boy,” which is just a 57 second skit piece, are really just filler, “Madame” is another track that could be listened to on repeat, with its slow-tempo, tear-jerking sound that feels as though it could be the soundtrack for a classic black-and-white mobster flick.
Since his debut in 2011, Zion.T has been slowly making a name for himself as one of the nation’s premier solo hip-hop artists. He released his first full album, “Red Light,” in April. “Mirror Ball” is a great follow-up release for the artist, and a must-hear album for listeners looking for a stroll through the sounds of the past.
(firstname.lastname@example.org)Beyonce reaches new heights on 5th album
(Columbia Records/Parkwood Entertainment)
Beyonce is a beast. Her fifth self-titled album, released in surprise form late last week, is a collection of songs that highlight Beyonce’s evolution as a woman and artist. It’s her strongest and most cohesive album to date.
What‘s most appealing about “Beyonce” is that it shows -- in the sound and method of release -- how she isn’t conforming to mainstream and commercial standards: The songs, while some will find success as singles, play like a unified assembly, instead of a loose body of work (that‘s a hit at the slew of contemporary pop singers who are singles artists). On the gloomy “Haunted,” Beyonce even hints at the album’s future success (or lack thereof): “This probably won‘t sell,” she says. “I don’t trust these record labels, I‘m torn.”
The album marks a powerful time for Beyonce. While her competitors include acts like Katy Perry, Rihanna and Lady Gaga -- singers who consistently release chart-topping songs -- Beyonce jumps back in front of the pack with an album that is both commercially appealing and artistically enticing.
She kicks off the 14-track set in a supreme way with the Sia-penned ”Pretty Hurts,“ a mellow R&B number about the sickness behind attempting perfection. It’s matched with a beautiful video -- as are the other songs -- and features lyrics like, ”It‘s the soul that needs surgery.“ That’s followed with the Jay Z-assisted ”Drunk in Love,“ a strikingly thumping, sexually charged jam that‘s irresistible. And sexuality is a large part of Beyonce’s album.
“Bue,” which includes the voice of her daughter Blue Ivy, closes the album and features Beyonce‘s beautiful tone and pitch. And that’s just it -- ”Beyonce“ is pitch perfect.
(AP)‘Nashville’ soundtrack slick and solid
"The Music of Nashville Original Soundtrack Season 2, Volume 1”
(Big Machine Records)
Like the rare, maybe mythical man who only reads Playboy for the articles, some must surely claim to watch ”Nashville“ solely for the music.
That‘s no crime -- those who aren’t much for sudsy nighttime soaps would do well to check out the ABC show‘s songs on ”The Music of Nashville: Original Soundtrack Season 2, Volume 1.“ While the storylines strain credulity, these sonic underpinnings hold the show together -- as should be the case with a series set and filmed in Music City.
The actors sing their own parts, and the leads, Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton, do fine jobs at the mic. Yet the true revelations are found in the musical chops of others, such as Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio.
”The Music of Nashville“ runs the gamut from the slick and sassy (“Can’t Say No to You,” “Trouble Is”) to tender, deeper cuts (”Why Can‘t I Say Goodnight,“ ”This Town“). Still, less can be more: The acoustic, demo-like take of ”Ball and Chain“ sung by Palladio and Bowen on the show is preferable to the Stetson and rhinestone-laden version on the soundtrack by Britton and Will Chase.
Overall, this collection has many hooks worth a listen -- and could hook a few more viewers who might typically forgo froth on TV.