New music to kick off 2023

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Cover of RuPaul's latest album
Cover of RuPaul's latest album

Will Love’s Music Memo

SZA album cover "SOS"
SZA album cover “SOS”

SZA

SOS is the highly anticipated second studio album by SZA, her first since 2017’s Ctrl, released five years ago. The album features guest appearances from Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers, Travis Scott, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and an astonishing 23 track setlist (25 when you include the web release bonus tracks). This is impressive, especially today when artists are releasing shorter songs and even shorter albums.

The album has received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. SZA has mastered the art of channeling deep lyrics into a very smooth, suave sound. The end result is an extremely relatable and intimate body of work. SOS is easily one of the best albums recently released if not the best. When you listen to the album you can almost rationalize the astronomical cost of SZA’s upcoming tour which will feature two local stops in March.

The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins album cover "ATUM"
The Smashing Pumpkins album cover “ATUM”

Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Acts is the 12th studio album by The Smashing Pumpkins. This is volume one in a trilogy that will feature two upcoming additional releases. Billy Corgan describes Atum as a concept album, and moreover, a sequel to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Machina/The Machines of God. Each album act will feature 11 songs, with each release spaced 11 weeks apart. Thereafter, a physical box set featuring all 33 songs, plus an additional 10, will also be released.

Overall, the album has a more guitar-driven sound. That aside, the album is diverse in sound, particularly because it goes in multiple directions. There is something here for every type of Smashing Pumpkins fan. Decades later, it is admirable to witness how passionate The Smashing Pumpkins remain with their music, and continue to give fans quality work. Artists of all genres should take note; concept albums such as this are a treat for fans. They tell a story, and cheers to act two.

MGMT

MGMT's new album cover
MGMT’s new album cover

MGMT has always been an enigma due to their extreme unpredictability musically. Their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, instantly won over millions of fans with its infusion of indie rock and electro pop. To this day the album remains an indie fan favorite. However, their dramatic change in sound with the release of their sophomore album, Congratulations, heavily disappointed fans despite the fact it featured several gems. Nevertheless, most fans held out hope, yearning for a return to the sound that made them a success. However, by the release of their self-titled third album, the band had lost many. I will never understand why MGMT completely changed their sound so abruptly especially considering their debut release sold over two million copies, the sound personified the indie rock blockbuster era, and tracks such as “Kids,” “Electric Feel,” and “Time to Pretend” are easily some of the best of its genre.

Recently, MGMT released their first live album, titled 11•11•11. The album is from a live performance the band held at the Guggenheim Museum on 11/11/2011 and was released eleven years to the date later, on 11/11/2022. The album brings with it a wave of heavy nostalgia, albeit it is bittersweet listening to it 11 years later, given the direction they took their music. The band’s fourth studio album, Little Dark Age, gave hope as it sounded like the band was dipping their foot back into their original sound. Let’s just hope they go full blown “Oracular Spectacular 2.0” on the fifth studio album. Advice: listen to the fans.

RuPaul

Cover of RuPaul's latest album
Cover of RuPaul’s latest album

The premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 15 was also accompanied by the release of RuPaul’s new album, Black Butta, a very clever marketing move especially considering the growth of the series.

Drag Race aired on Logo circa 2009 – 2016, then VH1 circa 2017 – 2022, and continues to move up on the network circuit to prestigious MTV. This is a big move which correlates with all things LGBTQ, and drag, becoming mainstream. Bravo, Ru, bravo. The queen is seemingly taking over. The 10-track album is a dance-fueled bop from start to finish.

Will Love’s Top 5 | the beats to kick off the new year

  1. Stephen Sanchez & Em Beihold – “Until I Found You”
  2. Vedo & Chris Brown – “Do You Mind”
  3. Taylor Swift – “Bejeweled”
  4. SZA – “I Hate U”
  5. Beyonce – “Cuff It”

Concerts Coming to the Garden State

SZA – March 4-5, 2023 – Madison Square Garden 

Janet Jackson – May 20, 2023 – Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena 

Taylor Swift – May 26t-28, 2023  – MetLife Stadium 

Shania Twain – June 9, 2023 – Freedom Mortgage Pavilion  

Sam Smith – August 8, 2023 – Madison square Garden