Looking for new music? Look no further than your local Queens Library!
Every month, our expert staff will bring you the best of what's new in our physical and digital collections.
Check out our music recommendations for August 2017!
Glen Campbell, Adiós
American music legend Glen Campbell died on August 8, two months after his last LP, Adiós, was released. It was recorded five years ago, when he was entering the degenerative stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but he was still able to lay down the basic tracks. In his career, Campbell released over 70 albums of country, rock, and pop, and his biggest hit, “Rhinestone Cowboy,” sold over 2 million copies in 1975. He went on to host a variety show on TV and appear in movies with stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Although he had already released his “final” album in 2010, Campbell decided to do one more after completing his farewell tour. Watch the video for the title track.
Patti LaBelle, Bel Hommage
The Godmother of Soul and original singer of 1974’s megahit “Lady Marmalade” is back. Philadelphia’s Patti LaBelle has been recording hits since the 1960s, first with her group the Bluebells (later called Labelle) and then as a solo artist from 1977 to today. Along the way, she’s acted on Broadway, created a successful brand of sweet potato pies, and appeared on Dancing with the Stars. On her first album in 12 years, Patti transitions from soul and R&B to jazz and pop standards. It is a little strange at first to hear her hold back her distinctive, dynamic voice to capture the mood of the songs, but there are still plenty of fireworks to be had. You can stream the whole album on Freegal
2 Chainz, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
The rapper known as 2 Chainz (real name Tauheed Epps) was born in Georgia and began his musical career as part of the duo Playaz Circle. That group caught the attention of Ludacris, who signed them to his label and released two albums that got them national attention. 2 Chainz then went solo and released his landmark, number-one album Based on a T.R.U. Story. He is now on his fourth solo LP, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, and the critics say it is his best work yet. Guests on the album include Drake, Nicki Minaj, Migos, and Pharrell, so it has star power to spare. In an interview for the album, 2 Chainz claims he never goes into the studio with anything written down; the producer tries out a few beats and he extemporizes the rest. Listen to the clean version of the single “Realize."
Ricardo Arjona, Circo Soledad
How does a basketball player from Guatemala become one of the most successful singers in Latin America? Like many, he started by appearing in a telenovela, where his good looks and traditional ballads got him noticed. Once he had a fan base established, he moved on to rock and pop and took on the nickname “El Animal Nocturno.” His fame skyrocketed as he kept expanding his musical palette to keep from getting pigeonholed and stale. His latest LP is a kind of retrospective of his styles, with songs ranging from acoustic ballads to Latin pop to guitar-heavy rock. He considers it his best and favorite album to date. Hear it for yourself on Freegal.
Chuck Berry, Chuck
Long live rock and roll! It is a shame that Chuck Berry didn’t live long enough to see the release of his final album, especially since he hadn’t put out any new material since 1979. In a way, he’s had plenty of new songs, just written and performed by other artists who took his signature guitar riffs and changed them just enough to avoid a lawsuit. No matter—the eight new songs and two covers on Chuck prove once again that Mr. Berry could still play better guitar at 90 than most musicians half his age. Even though his voice is no longer young, the songs themselves could fit right in on any of his albums from the 1950s. There is only a hint of an elder statesman looking back at his life. This is an album of celebration, not nostalgia. Watch the video for the song “Big Boys”
Mary J. Blige, Strength of a Woman
The Queen of Hip Hop Soul has come a long way since her 1992 break-out album What’s the 411?. Mary J. Blige has released 8 multi-platinum CDs, won 9 Grammy awards, acted in movies and on TV, and even launched a perfume that broke sales records. Her 13th album has not been unlucky; it debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Top 200 and has spawned two number-one singles. Guest artists Kanye West, Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled, and others help Blige bring her music to a new generation of fans. As a Bronx native, Mary has always had a lot of support in the New York City area, and her concerts are always a hot ticket. Whether you’re a fan of R&B, soul, pop, or hip hop, you’ll be sure to find a lot to like here. Check out the video for the title track.
Katy Perry, Witness
Katy Perry has come a long way since her 2008 hit “I Kissed a Girl.” Since then, she has become one of the best-selling and most popular singers of all time, with over 100 million records sold and the most watched halftime show in Super Bowl history. Not bad for someone who started as a gospel singer from California. Her current album Witness continues Katy’s exploration of electropop and EDM, with lyrical themes of female empowerment and personal refection. The result isn’t always cohesive and the production is sometimes quite strange. However, it is to her credit that she is willing to stretch her creative muscles and not just deliver a platter of what the people want. Watch the video for the latest single (and one of the slower songs) “Save as Draft.”
Phoenix, Ti Amo
Phoenix is an alternative rock band from France with synthpop leanings. They’ve been recording and touring since 2000, but their big break was in 2009. That’s when their song “1901” became a surprise smash hit internationally. Suddenly, Phoenix was on every late night show and featured in every big festival line-up. Their new album indicates that on their subsequent world tours, they liked Italy the best. It is practically a love letter to Italian discos and La Dolce Vita. Like their friends in Daft Punk, Phoenix have captured America’s imagination and helped us to forget about “freedom fries.” Watch the video for the first single from the album, "J-Boy," which takes place on an imaginary Italian TV show.
Bryson Tiller, True to Self
While R&B has been mixed with hip hop for years, Bryson Tiller has taken that fusion to a new creative level. The fact that he does it all himself, with no featured guests on any tracks, just adds to his stature as an artist. He writes the songs, sings the lyrics that are best expressed in melody, and raps the rest. It can be a delicate balance, but Tiller manages it with a style that has great crossover appeal. As proof, his second album True to Self debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. While there are no guests, the songs do feature some well-known samples from SWV, Travis Scott, Ice Cube, and many others. The samples add to the themes of the songs but don’t detract from Tiller’s voice. You can stream the whole album from Freegal.
John Mayer, The Search for Everything
Whether it’s blues, pop, folk, jazz, soul, or comedy you’re looking for, John Mayer has something for you. When he isn’t out touring with Dead & Company, he is an accomplished solo performer. John plays many instruments, but mostly sticks with guitar and piano. When he is writing songs, he doesn’t necessarily know what style or form the end product will take, but lets the process develop organically. John’s earnest musical persona is often at odds with his “man about town” personality, and he is often in the tabloids as much for his celebrity dates as he is for his music. His latest LP The Search for Everything was preceded by two EPs and the hit single “Love on the Weekend.” The album is a mix of styles and John experiments with a variety of production techniques. The result is not cohesive, but each song speaks well for itself. Listen to the whole album on Freegal.
Halsey, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Named after a subway stop in Brooklyn, Halsey is an electro-pop singer and songwriter who achieved fame by collaborating with the Chainsmokers on the song “Closer.” Her second LP Hopeless Fountain Kingdom is a concept album loosely based on Baz Luhrman’s cinematic version of Romeo and Juliet. She says she was inspired by a recent relationship gone wrong, and song titles like “Hopeless,” “Sorry,” and “Bad at Love” seem to prove the point. The songs are more radio friendly than her first album, but that has led to some criticism that Halsey is trying to please others more than herself. Her fans didn’t seem to notice, as the album debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Listen to the track “100 Letters.”
Lady Antebellum, Heart Break
Lady Antebellum is a country pop music trio from Nashville. They have three certified platinum albums and nine number-one singles. Not bad, considering their lead singer Hillary Scott was rejected twice in the first round of American Idol. Their latest album was released after a three-year hiatus when the members took time to record solo projects and work on the children’s charities they sponsor. Heart Break went straight to number one on the Billboard country music chart, proving that their fans are patient and loyal. Watch the video for the upbeat first single “You Look Good.”