K. FLAY — ‘Every Where Is Some Where’
THE GOOD: Illinois singer/rapper K. Flay (born Kristine Meredith Flaherty) dodges the sophomore slump with a genre-bending winner.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: After a failed start with RCA and independently releasing a critically acclaimed debut, K. Flay now finds herself at Interscope. However, “Every Where” is hardly a major-label bid for the mainstream.
Lyrically, Flay likes her sex, drugs and other nocturnal pastimes. Musically, we’re smacked upside the head with a cool mix of streamlined dance pop, grisly guitar-driven alt-rock and seedy, hip-grinding hip-hop. Flay flanks it all with a not-so-pretty, bad-ass rock ‘n’ roll attitude. It’s a razor-sharp combination that never lets up.
From the flirtatious “High Enough” to the aggressive “Black Wave” (“Don’t test me!”), Flay doesn’t let her vulnerability completely rise to the surface. And she doesn’t exactly sound susceptible while singing “The President Has a Sex Tape.” Treat her right or you’ll live to regret it. Ignore this album and you’ll regret that too.
BUY IT?: Yeah.
BONOBO — ‘Migration’
THE GOOD: Electronic artist Simon Green (aka Bonobo) comes back with an accomplished sixth.
THE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: On the surface, “Migration” might seem like just another down-tempo or ambient techno album — a mostly instrumental set with a handful of guest vocalists showing up on a few tracks to add a little electro-pop flavor.
And yet, “Migration” works extremely well as a cohesive work while not falling into the more common trappings of its genre. First of all, while the songs with vocals are refreshing, they’re not the stand-out tracks here. Green’s twisting-and-turning instrumental bits are just as compelling. The steady synths across “Outlier” wash over you. The majestic vocal samples on “Figures” are divine.
Second, the record never wears out its welcome. Despite being over an hour long, there’s a cool ebb and flow to the whole affair. Just when matters get all-too-dreamy, Green snaps us back to attention with a sharp-focused rhythm. And yet we never completely leave this “otherworld” until the music’s over.
BUY IT?: Yes.
NITE JEWEL — ‘Real High’
THE GOOD: California singer/songwriter Ramona Gonzalez (stage name Nite Jewel) embraces your best night out circa 1995 on her fourth full-length album.
THE BAD: Sequencing? The second half of the record kind of crawls. However, that could be the late-night “come down” after some heavy partying.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Real High” plays like the perfect cross between early ’90s new jack swing and Todd Terry-remixed Everything but the Girl. The R&B influences hail from the mainstream, but the record is still innovative enough for the underground. Add a few Euro-flavored echoes deep within these mixes, and the tracks become even more exotic.
From the breezy shuffle carrying “Had To Let Me Go” to the modern poppy bounce lifting “The Answer,” both the record’s grooves and melodies are highly infectious. The songs take hold, and once you’re locked in their rhythm, there’s no escape. Gonzalez also possesses the perfect voice for her own material; it’s slightly flirtatious but always commanding. She’s strong yet fun — the perfect date.
BUY IT?: Surely.