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Published : 2014-09-05 20:01
Updated : 2014-09-05 20:01


R&B singer Tank unbalanced on ‘Stronger’

Tank
“Stronger”
(Atlantic Records)

Tank made a mark in R&B over the years for earnestly pouring his heart out on ballads such as “Maybe I Deserve” and “Please Don’t Go,” as well as writing songs for Jamie Foxx, Aaliyah and others.

Showing passion is Tank’s strong suit, but the singer lacks some of that fervor on his latest release, “Stronger.” He sounds like a different version of himself on the first half of his sixth album, and that’s not a good thing. On the upbeat tracks “Dance With Me” and “I Gotta Have It,” he fails with simple lyrics and draggy production. “Same Way” is also an unattractive melody that lacks spirit and swagger.

But Tank finds his stride toward the end of the 10-track album, especially flourishing on “Hope This Makes You Love Me,” as he looks to prove his worth to his mate. His lyrics are more fine-tuned on the smooth piano-driven songs “If That’s What It Takes” and “Thanking You.”

The title song is also a winner, saving Tank’s album from being a total disappointment. (AP)


Grande’s ‘My Everything’ is everything

Ariana Grande
“My Everything”
(Republic Records)

This is how you follow up an impressive debut: simply step into the recording booth, and be amazing yet again.

Maybe it’s easier said than done, but Ariana Grande manages to pull off the feat with her sophomore release “My Everything,” the successor to last year’s near-pop perfection “Yours Truly,” which topped the Billboard 200 chart and spawned the hit single “The Way,” featuring Mac Miller.

Admittedly, Grande’s sophomore effort doesn’t go in a radically different direction (she was on the right path to begin with), but big changes are there.

Additional collaborations with rappers, including Big Sean, A$AP Ferg as well as Iggy Azalea on the successful single “Problem,” might tempt critics to accuse Grande of relying on old formulas. But she shows growth, busting out of familiar genres, and exploring electronic dance music on the second single “Break Free,” featuring Zedd, and again on the David Guetta-written “One Last Time.”

Sure, “My Everything” was a safe bet -- but only in the best of ways. For some fans, the listening experience will be like returning to a delicious little restaurant they’ve recently discovered, and finding that the food is as good as they thought it was the first time. (AP)



Ty Segall at height of his powers

Ty Segall
“Manipulator”
(Drag City)

In another time and collective mental headspace Ty Segall might have been a pop star.

With his dreamy new album, “Manipulator,” the Los Angeles psych rocker has perfected a sound -- the bright, shiny 1960s garage rock variety -- that once fired the imagination of a generation. Alas, these days the average 20-something music fan is focused on something quite different. Yet with sheer tenacity, an exhausting release schedule and a gift for fuzz-tone freakout, Segall has navigated his way from cult hero to wider acclaim with spots on the late night television circuit and in glossy fashion magazines.

Segall seizes the moment with “Manipulator,” dispensing with the 27-year-old’s usual fine layer of scuzz for a polished sound that’s been burnished to a high gloss.

There’s an infectious funk on the album’s best tracks, and songs like “Feel,” “Tall Man Skinny Lady,” “The Crawler” and “The Connection Man” avoid mere revivalism with this updated groove, an overall guitar aggression and a very modern sense of paranoia.

The album positively shimmers and in a lot of ways serves as a career summation for Segall so far. Call it the end of Stage 1. As such, it begs the question: What’s next? (AP)

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