Monthly Archives: June 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Passenger – Whispers

Oh, darling, my chart's on fire.

Oh, darling, my chart’s on fire.

From busking on the streets to paving those streets with Gold and Platinum certifications, the 30-year-old performer known as Passenger is certainly more well known now than he was even a year ago. Born in Brighton, England, he’s been captivating audiences around the globe with his international smash “Let Her Go”, along with other moderately sized singles like “Holes” and “The Wrong Direction”. All three topped my personal chart last year, with “Go” ranking as my overall #1 song of 2013. This coming Tuesday, the singer/songwriter delivers his followup to 2012’s All The Little Lights, titled Whispers, into stores, and while a stream of followup singles have yet to escape the shadow of his career defining ballad, it’s one of the best things I could have asked for this year. It’s simple yet heavy, familiar yet refreshing.

Now, I am obviously not a casual fan of Passenger; I’ve been following his progress for a little under a year and a half now, have seen him live and met him, bought his music on multiple formats, etc. I’m a little biased. However, there is something on here for everybody, whether you’re a fan of his bare bones ballads or would like to see a more upbeat side to him. In fact, there are some rather content moments on here in the middle of all the introspective material. It’s what he knows best and he stays true to who he is with a slightly more produced sound and wider instrumental backing. Put it all together and you have one of the purest records of 2014, one that will be ranking highly on my year-end list.

Beginning with the percussive-driven “Coins In A Fountain”, we are immediately immersed in that natural vibe as Mike Rosenberg sings about a shifting view of romance: “Love is the last unicorn, love is the only song I’ll sing all night… love is the truest of words.” However, that tranquility turns into a much more passive aggressive attitude during “27”, a folk rock cut about life in the business and his status in it. The song comes off as an homage to 70’s singles like Billy Joel‘s “The Entertainer” and The Raspberries‘s “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”. The singer claims, “I write songs that come from the heart/I don’t give a f**k if they’re gettin’ to the charts or not,” and “I’ve written 600 songs, only 12 get sung,” referring to compiling the tracklisting for an album. You could liken it to an “I Hate” moment; it’s out there.

Highlights toward the middle of the effort include “Bullets”, which essentially comes off as a twangier version of “Holes” and serves some major harmonica action. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as a single down the line. When it comes to his tender, heart-wrenching songs, “Golden Leaves” is the loveliest of the bunch, an emotional string-filled story about a breakup and the inevitable longing that arises with it. He questions, “Do you remember how this started out?/So full of hope, but now we’re filled with doubt/I can’t live with you, but I’d die without.” (“Heart’s On Fire”, which arrives earlier in the lineup, is the more hopeful cousin to this track.) “Thunder”, following “Leaves”, is an upbeat and soaring number, bringing out the horn section as Rosenberg The Riddler offers up his words of wisdom: “I’m a choice you can’t choose… I’m yesterday’s paper, I’m yesterday’s news.” Luckily, the man and his compositions aren’t totally forgotten.

Towards the end of the set, we find the two best songs lyrically in the group. Track seven, “Rolling Stone”, no relation to the magazine, recounts Passenger‘s days as the wanderer he is when traveling the globe and pursuing his dream, yet also what he is leaving behind. In the first verse, he speaks: “Sometimes I feel I’m going nowhere/Sometimes I’m sure I never will/She said it’s ’cause I’m always moving/I never noticed ’cause I never stand still.” It’s a pretty poignant take on the matter and obviously, you can’t help but sympathize with the guy. He’s obviously not used to the stardom that he’s attained. “Riding To New York” is also worth it, a first hand account from the road of Rosenberg’s interaction with a man at a gas station while on tour in Minnesota. The subject, who is ill, relays to the singer that he’d like to “see my granddaughter one last time/Hold her close, and feel her tiny heartbeat next to mine/Want to see my son, and the man he’s become/Tell him I’m sorry for the things I’ve done.” It’s truly heartbreaking but so inspired.

There’s no doubt that Whispers won’t be as commercially successful as his last era; the lead U.S. single from the album, “Scare Away The Dark”, seems to be scaring more than satisfying radio programmers as it flirts with the top 30 on AAA radio and top 50 at Hot AC. These are obviously meager numbers compared to the massive “Let Her Go”. Yet, in terms of content overall, this is probably his best album. The variety is abundant and the songwriting is even more concrete than the last time around. For me, at least, it’s the quality release that makes the fan feel complete without giving into a more polished commercial standard. That’s how it could have gone; thankfully, it does not. At times it whispers and at times it roars, but it relates to us, and any kind of voice is better than no voice at all.

(Stream and purchase Whispers on iTunes)

1 Comment

Filed under Album Reviews

TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (June 3)

Will she be an "Automatic" #1?

Will she be an “Automatic” #1?

June so soon? Hard to believe, but a new month is here, which means the end of Q2 is just a few weeks away. Here’s what albums and singles are in stores for the week of June 3:

  • If there’s no significant surprise release this week (see full article here), then #1 next week should belong to Country singer Miranda Lambert, who has gone Platinum with her latest release (at least in the title.) The lead single from the effort is “Automatic”, a current top 3 single on the Country survey, while a collaboration with Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad”, is also raking in the spins. Regardless of where it lands, this one will be a hot seller. (iTunes)
  • The legendary Led Zeppelin has a total of three deluxe rereleases out today of their their first three albums: Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III. There are several configurations available, including individual downloads, CDs and vinyl records, as well as CD and vinyl box sets. The band will be all over the Billboard 200 next week. (iTunes) (Physical editions)
  • Rapper 50 Cent, a long ways away from the days of hit singles and albums, is out with his last effort, Animal Ambition: An Untamed Desire To Win. A single from it, a collaboration with Trey Songz called “Smoke”, reached the top 20 at Urban radio. Yeah, this one’s not really going anywhere, and that makes dollars and sense. (iTunes)
  • TV star turned Country singer Lucy Hale releases her debut album this week, Road Between. “You Sound Good To Me”, the leadoff single from it, recently reached the Country chart. Though radio and retail haven’t put up big numbers for it, her fan base could lead the way in making this a first week success. (iTunes)
  • Other releases out this week include: Birdy‘s Fire Within (iTunes), Bob Mould‘s Beauty & Ruin (iTunes), Dave and Phil Alvin‘s Common Ground (iTunes), Kelly Prices Sing Pray Love, Vol. 1: Sing (iTunes), L.P.‘s Forever For Now (iTunes), Matisyahu‘s Akeda (iTunes), Rush Of Fools‘s Carry Us Now (iTunes), The Orwells‘s Disgraceland (iTunes), the compilation NOW That’s What I Call Country, Vol. 7 (iTunes) and the original Broadway soundtrack to If/Then (iTunes).

New digital-only singles that you can buy this week include:

  • “Beautiful Agony”, a digital track from singer/songwriter David Gray. (iTunes)
  • “Day Drinking”, a new single from Country quartet Little Big Town. (iTunes)
  • “Hurricane Heart”, new from Louisiana soul and rock singer Marc Broussard. (iTunes)
  • “Long Drive”, another album track from Jason Mraz‘s forthcoming Yes! album. (iTunes)
  • “Stay With Me (Remix)”, a new duet of Sam Smith‘s hit featuring singer Mary J. Blige. (iTunes)
  • “Wastelands”, a digital single from Linkin Park‘s forthcoming album. (iTunes)

Next week, Jack White leads the pack of fresh releases and looks to take the top, while O.A.R. and Passenger also take a ride into stores. A full preview is coming on Tuesday!

Leave a comment

Filed under Album Reviews, Music News

Highlights from Adam’s Top 40: June 1, 2014

"Something" more than the hit single.

Just hold on, we’re going “Home”.

40. Young Rising Sons – High
39. Jesse McCartney – Superbad | HIGHEST DEBUT

35. American Authors – Believer (39)
34. Milky Chance – Stolen Dance (38)
28. Jamie Scott – My Hurricane (35) | BIGGEST MOVER
24. Christina Perri – Burning Gold (28)
22. Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake – Love Never Felt So Good (26)
14. Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars (18)

10. SecondCity – I Wanna Feel (13) | PEAK: #10
09. Coldplay – Magic (07) | PEAK: #01 for three weeks
08. Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better (06) | PEAK: #01 for one week
07. Graffiti6 – The Bridge (09) | PEAK: #07
06. Foster The People – Best Friend (08) | PEAK: #06
05. Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne – Rather Be (05) | PEAK: #05
04. Passenger – Scare Away The Dark (04) | PEAK: #04
03. Ed Sheeran – Sing (03) | PEAK: #03
02. Rixton – Me And My Broken Heart (02) | PEAK: #02
01. A Great Big World – Already Home (01) | PEAK: #01 for four weeks

Top 10 Next In Line:
1. Us The Duo – No Matter Where You Are (5)
2. Kiesza – Hideaway (4)
3. Hudson Taylor – Battles (3)
4. George Ezra – Budapest (6)
5. Saint Raymond – Everything She Wants (2)
6. Stu Larsen – Thirteen Sad Farewells (8)
7. Jason Mraz – Love Someone (-)
8. Lady Antebellum – Bartender (9)
9. Jacquie Lee – Broken Ones (10)
10. Jess Glynne – Right Here (-)

In The Mix:
Alex Clare – War Rages On (new)
Clean Bandit featuring Sharna Bass – Extraordinary
Colbie Caillat – Try
Emerson Hart – Hurricane (new)
James Blunt – Postcards
Janelle Monáe – Heroes
John Mayer – XO (new)
Kim Churchill – Window To The Sky (new)
La Roux – Uptight Downtown (new)
Marc Broussard – Hurricane Heart
Neon Trees – Text Me In The Morning (new)
Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
Sara Bareilles – Chasing The Sun
Sarah McLachlan – In Your Shoes
The Griswolds – Beware The Dog (new)
Twin Atlantic – Heart And Soul (new)

Chart Notes:

  • Looking to hold the top spot in the U.K. this week after a midweek report put him at #1, the Chicago DJ based in London named SecondCity jumps 13-10 on my chart this week with “I Wanna Feel”. It’s his first entry. The song is a flip of Toni Braxton‘s 1995 hit “You’re Makin’ Me High”. Though Braxton’s most successful days came before my chart began in 1999, she had a top ten hit of her own when “He Wasn’t Man Enough” peaked there in 2000.
  • The week’s Biggest Mover is from a familiar name, Jamie Scott with “My Hurricane”. In its second week in the top 40, “My” rises from 35-28. It leads off the album of the same name, due in stores on September 9. Scott also sings lead on “The Bridge” by his duo Graffiti6, up to #7 this week, while he co-wrote the #16 song, “You & I” by One Direction. That’s one hurricane full of hits!
  • He first made my chart as a part of the group Dream Street when “It Happens Every Time” charted for two weeks in 2001. Now, a 27-year-old Jesse McCartney earns this week Highest Debut with a solo number, “Superbad”, in at #39. His latest album, In Technicolor, is due in July. McCartney’s song officially goes to radio in a week and a half at the CHR format via label Eight0Eight and the INgrooves Music Group.
  • Also debuting in the top 40 is a group that’s gaining a lot of attention online and on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation. They’re a quartet who call themselves Young Rising Sons, entering at #40 with “High”. They’re the latest act to work with Dirty Canvas Productions, the same group behind the rise of American Authors. Terrestrial radio will eventually catch onto this one over the summer and fall; it’s catchy and ready to break ahead of the pack.

(See my full chart on the M4BCC message board)

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Charts