Hideaway EP
(Island Records)
I’m thoroughly impressed by this Canadian singer and songwriter. She provides vocals with meaning, and the singing is haunting, crisp and emotional. The four songs on this EP are fantastic. They are a mix of R&B and pop, but with indescribable zest. I was in for a shock when the last track played and it was a rendition of “What Is Love” that I never imagined. They took a dance song that most of us secretly loved to a point of shame and turned it into something slow, soulful and hauntingly sweet. I’m keeping track of this artist, because it will be far too long before I hear another song from her. She is a talented lady. Not only is she working on her own songs, but she has also written songs for Rihanna that are in consideration for her upcoming album. Kiesza’s main single is “Hideaway,” which is great, but also look up and listen to “Giant In My Heart” and “What Is Love.”
Vigil & Thieves
Defective: Book One
If you’re looking for a fresh alternative band, check out this debut album from Vigil & Thieves of Lawrence, Kansas. This trio is has an alternative turn-of-the-century sound with cosmic and dramatic vocals. The lyrics are live poetry. The overall sound is raw and striking. The guitar riffs are fast and melodic. The drums are subtle, full, and appropriate. Sometimes drums in alternative bands seek more attention than is needed, but smart drumming means knowing when to simply accentuate the music and when to shine. It’s clear that these musicians have put some thought into their songs. They aren’t taking things lightly, and their tour schedule shows that they are on a mission. If you live in the United States, chances are they will be near you sometime in the next few months. My favorite songs off the six-song album are “Monsters” and “Made This Up.” Make sure to visit to check out their debut album.
Basement Jaxx
(Atlantic Jaxx)
This British duo’s entire album is amazing. It starts off with the song “Power to the People,” which sounds like a world celebration. I’m a sucker for steel drums and brass instruments. Most of the album is techno-laced dance songs with a hip hop edge to the vocals and bass. Overall, it’s uplifting ― a great remedy for a sour mood. As I was listening, my body may have been cleaning my small apartment, but my mind was dancing at a massive party in the Bahamas with tanned, sweaty, happy people. Many people probably have already heard Basement Jaxx on their popular song from 2001 called “Where’s Your Head At.” The song “What’s the News” grew on me and reminds me a bit of Scissor Sisters. The range of styles and songwriting that Basement Jaxx shows is truly impressive.

Ariana Grande
My Everything
(Republic Records)
It’s painfully obvious to compare this 21-year-old singer to Mariah Carey, but the resemblance in both musical style and voice is hard to ignore. Comparisons aside, though, Grande’s vocals are powerful, and the high notes she hits could shatter your grandmother’s finest china. This solid, well-produced album has already created radio hits, such as “Problem.” I’m not even sick of it yet, which is surprising, considering how many times I have heard it. Grande shines by herself on the album and is further brightened by working with notable artists like Iggy Azalea and Zedd. My favorite song is “Break Free,” featuring Zedd. Pop lovers will definitely enjoy this one.

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