Entertainment

Florence & The Machine, Florida Georgia Line and PartyNextDoor top this week's new music

By Darryl Sterdan, Special to Postmedia Network

Florence Welsh of Florence + The Machine performs at the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in Montreal on Friday, July 31, 2015. (John Williams, Postmedia Network)

Florence Welsh of Florence + The Machine performs at the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in Montreal on Friday, July 31, 2015. (John Williams, Postmedia Network)

NOW HEAR THIS

Florence & The Machine
Songs From Final Fantasy XV


They came to play. Like the title says, Florence Welch and her Machine’s latest EP features three songs cut for the upcoming chapter in the Final Fantasy video game series. But these aren’t just tossed-off ditties — one is a bombastic orch-rock epic, another is a grand near-instrumental, and the third is a sweet symphonic cover of Stand by Me. Fair game.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)



Young the Giant
Home of the Strange


It’s about time. After two albums of pleasantly superficial pop-rock, these Californians dig a little deeper this time around with politically tinged numbers that ponder the immigrant experience and the state of the American Dream — while honing their musical attack by adding a new-wave edge and heavier beats to their chiming melodies. They get our vote.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Jeff the Brotherhood
Zone


Are they in the zone or zoning out? The answer, of course, is yes. After tripping out on psychedelics for last year’s Global Chakra Rhythms, the Nashville bros reconnect with their inner garage-rockers on this 10th disc, riffing through ragged, rugged guitar-rock nuggets that hit the crunchy-sweet spot between grunge, Weezer and The Ramones. Pack a bong.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Viola Beach
Viola Beach


The tale is tragic. The music is not. Six months after perishing when their van plunged into a canal, these Brit up-and-comers topped charts with this mix of singles, demos and live cuts. And while the chiming bounce and joy of their festival-ready indie-pop won’t reinvent the wheel, their potential was clearly unlimited. It’s how they deserve to be remembered.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Atmosphere
Fishing Blues


Hooks and lines. Like fishing, Atmosphere’s eighth album in two decades has plenty of both. More importantly, it also features another batch of intelligent and revealing lyrics from rapper Slug, set against more artfully constructed tracks by producer Ant. Sure, the 70-minute set requires some patience — but there are worse ways to spend your time. Catch it.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

The Get Down: Original Soundtrack
Various Artists


Just call him Mixmaster B. With his usual flamboyant flair, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann fuses new and nostalgic on the soundtrack to his Netflix drama about New York’s fertile ’70s music scene. Disco-era gems mingle with cool covers, remixed oldies and classic-sounding cuts from Christina Aguilera, Miguel, Janelle Monae and his cast. Timely and timeless.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

The Beach Boys
Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions


God only knows why it took so long. Some 55 years after the Beach Boys’ first studio session, this two-disc set collects virtually every take — including previously unreleased demos and/or rehearsals of Surfin’, Luau, Lavender, Surfin’ Safari, Judy, Beach Boy Stomp, Barbie, What is a Young Girl Made Of, and a slower, sombre Surfer Girl. Cowabunga.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

The Turtles
All the Singles


Pride and joy, etc. Heavy on the etc. The ’60s California pop-rockers’ umpteenth anthology is as good as its word, compiling more than 20 hits and highlights from their career — including Happy Together and Elenore, natch — along with all the B-sides, some unissued singles, a Christmas offering and track-by-track liner notes. Gee, you’ll think it’s swell.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa for President


He’s making America freak out again. Just in time for the election, here’s a comp of oldies and goodies from the vast Zappa vaults. From rockers like Brown Shoes Don’t Make It to a soulful America the Beautiful to unearthed Synclavier fare and trenchant political analysis from the late iconoclast, it’ll make you wanna do the nasty on the White House lawn.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

DJ Snake
Encore


Turn down? Not the Snake. The eclectic French producer raises the stakes on his debut full-length, blurring the line between edgy EDM, melodic pop and trap-fuelled hip-hop with the help of everyone from Skrillex and Yellow Claw to Travis Scott and even some guy named Justin Bieber. One quibble: His irresistible 2013 banger Turn Down For What is MIA.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



Cass McCombs
Mangy Love


Words matter. Particularly with wandering California troubadour McCombs. Between his breezy delivery, dusty drawl and eccentric but understated indie-folk, it’s easy to take his striking ninth release for some long-lost JJ Cale album — until you realize he’s singing about blood in the streets, rancid girls and Medusa’s Outhouse. Just call him the ill wind.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Jarryd James
High


High and rising. Brisbane singer James is a big deal Down Under, thanks to his fragile soul-man croon and stylized alt-R&B tracks. Now he wants to translate that success to this hemisphere with this disc of new fare and hits from his 2015 Australian album. He’s sure got the goods — but whether he’s distinctive enough to top charts here is still up in the air.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Jackyl
ROWYCO


For those unclear: The first letters in that acronym stand for Rock Out, and the album cover sports a chicken. Because they’re classy. But these Georgia bruisers are honest about one thing; their eighth disc is an old-school southern-metal party spiked with Jesse James Dupree’s Jim Dandy rasp. Whether they live up to the full title is best left unexamined.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Thee Oh Sees
A Weird Exits


Sometimes there are no words. And sometimes there are. But ultimately, it makes no diff. Either way, California singer-guitarist John Dwyer and his latest batch of bandmates take you on another freakazoid trip to the centre of your mind — and the heart of their psychedelic garage — on the group’s 17th disc in 14 years. You might end up speechless too.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Joseph
I’m Alone, No You’re Not


One great singer is memorable. Three great singers — all from the same family — are unforgettable. Portland’s Closner sisters bring home that point repeatedly on their major-label debut as they harmonically intertwine their stunningly powerful pipes on lush, gently soaring creations that hit the sweet spot between alt-pop and indie-folk. Prepare to be wowed.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Tobacco
Sweatbox Dynasty


Do androids dream of dropping acid and playing the rave tent? Based on Sweatbox Dynasty, it seems so. The fourth disc from the alter-ego of Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman Thomas Fec smears the line between electro-pop and psyche-rock by mixing glitchy textures and lurching beats with spaced-out excursions and otherworldly vocals. Do the robot.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

WWWings
PhoeniXXX


No, Paul McCartney doesn’t have sticky fingers. These WWWings have nothing to do with those Wings. They’re apparently a trio of post-Soviet electronica artists who live in different countries, don’t reveal their real names and craft their claustrophobically noisy and rhythmically skittery soundscapes remotely over the Internet. What’s wrong with that?

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
Blind Worms, Pious Swine


Lights and shadows. You’ll get a bit of the former and lots of the latter on singer-guitarist Rodriguez-Lopez’s third of 12 biweekly releases. Come for his slow-burn devamp of Ellie Goulding’s dance-pop hit. Stay for 10 more like-minded alt-rock slow-burners co-starring Butcherettes frontwoman Teri Gender Bender. Return in a fortnight for the next volume.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

R&B AND RAP

Black Atlass
Haunted Paradise


It’s a bleak world after all. Especially in contemporary R&B. Coming on the glum heels of fellow countrymen like The Weeknd and Drake, Montreal-based Londoner Alex Fleming strikes a pensive pose on his debut full-length, surrounding his quavering falsetto and lyrical angst with atmospherically cold, starkly stylized slow jams. Music for lonely nights.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)



Tory Lanez
I Told You


We are all the heroes of our own stories. Lanez is no different. On his much-anticipated major-label debut, the Toronto rapper-singer born Daystar Peterson keeps it real (and real personal) as he ambitiously blends musical styles and dramatic vignettes to trace his journey from troubled teen thug to rising rap superstar. It’s a long story, but a compelling one.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

PartyNextDoor
PartyNextDoor 3


“Sounds like your party’s over,” croaks Jahron Brathwaite. Look who’s talking. The Mississauga singer-producer spends most of his third PartyNextDoor album brooding about his dysfunctional relationships in scratchy tones while an array of machines sporadically thwack and boom and chime tracks between R&B and dancehall. It feels like eavesdropping.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Rae Sremmurd
SremmLife 2


The bad news: Mississippi siblings Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi are back with another unlistenble platter of offensive rap misogyny and drug-fuelled hedonism for halfwit teenagers. The good news: According to one report, this might be their last disc together. The worst news: That probably just means they’ll release twice as many albums of this crud-blort.

RATING: 1 (out of 5)

COUNTRY & ROOTS

John Paul White
Beulah


He’s finally back from the wars. As in Civil Wars. Nearly four years after the folk duo’s acrimonious split, singer-guitarist White resumes active duty — and with more firepower than before. While acknowledging the haunting acoustic fare he’s known for, the Alabaman also turns up the volume with some downbeat, swampy southern rockers. A welcome return.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



Florida Georgia Line
Dig Your Roots


What roots? These bro-country lunkheads have been around for a total of three albums. Musically and lyrically, they’re as deep as a puddle of spilled beer. And on this tepid slog, they mostly trade party-hearty singles and double-entendres for wussy family-man ballads — and cameos by folks like Ziggy Marley and Backstreet Boys. If you dig that, dig in.

RATING: 1.5 (out of 5)



Lydia Loveless
Real


A sharp eye. A sharp wit. A sharp tongue. Countless singer-songwriters have them. But Ohio’s Loveless distinguishes herself by slicing deeper — “If self-control is what you want, I’d have to break all of my fingers off,” is a typical couplet. And this fourth disc doubles down by taking her robust vocals beyond alt-country into poppier terrain. It’s the real deal.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Coal Men
Pushed to the Side


They’re digging deep this time. The Nashville roots-rock trio mine a rich, pure vein of loneliness on their fifth full-length. Dark and smouldering, intense and compact, these slow-twanging tales of outsiders, fast riders and fringe-dwellers will endear them to fans of Dave Alvin, Buddy Miller and Tony Joe White. And ring true to anyone with a beating heart.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Cody Jinks
I’m Not the Devil


Well, not the devil you know. Metal fans might recall Jinks from ’90s thrashers Unchecked Aggression. These days, the bearded Texan is a country troubadour. While he’s toned it down, he’s no less intense — and between his warm baritone twang and grim ballads about life’s hard road, he’s far more memorable. Please allow him to reintroduce himself.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Justin Moore
Kinda Don’t Care


It doesn’t matter if Moore cares or not. Only if everybody else does. And it’s questionable that they will — while the Nashville journeyman’s fourth album sometimes packs more rock-guitar punch and grit than its peers, it mostly defaults to the slinkier grooves and sleeker sonics that are currently polluting the country air. Kinda disappointing, to be honest.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

IN THE PIPELINE

Aug. 26

The Album Leaf, Between Waves
Charlie Daniels, Nighthawk
De La Soul, and the Anonymous Nobody
Morgan Delt, Phase Zero
The Devil Makes Three, Redemption & Ruin
Dinosaur Pile-Up, Eleven Eleven
Céline Dion, Encore un soir
Jack Ingram, Midnight Motel
Britney Spears, Glory
Barbra Streisand, ENCORE: Movie Partners Sing Broadway
Butch Walker, Stay Gold

Twitter: @darryl_sterdan
dsterdan@postmedia.com