In the Cookie Jar
Taylor Swift dropped her latest album Lover and it can only be described as her most honest, political, and bravest collection of songs. While we previously were preoccupied with her romantic entanglements and her skirmishes with fellow pop stars like Katy Perry, the material on Lover more than stands on its own.
Right off the bat, the early summer anthem “Me!” (with Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie) showcases Swift in a frothy and fun duet, complete with marching band accompaniment and an exuberantly youthful message. “You Need To Calm Down” gained a massive amount of publicity, be it from the uber-positve LGBT/Equality message or the all-star video, featuring everyone from Todrick Hall to the boys of Queer Eye. On Lover, Swift has taken her country roots and firmly put her fans on notice: this down home girl is here for equality for everyone, and is no fan of the current occupant of the White House. Taylor’s foray into daring and experimental sounds continued with tracks like “Cornelia Street,” a pure and breathy anthem with hints of electronica, and the glistening “Death By A Thousand Cuts.” She continues her political activism on “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince”, which speaks to Swift’s disillusionment with the political world while “Paper Rings” tosses on a sixties/girl group style vibe that instantly has your feet tapping. “London Boy” gets a little help from Idris Elba in the intro while “The Man” is a song where Swift turns gender on its ear and asks the question that many woman ask, “would they be treated the same way if they were a man?”
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The biggest surprise on this package is the beautifully somber and stunning, “Soon You’ll Get Better” which has Swift being joined by fellow political activists The Dixie Chicks to tell the story of Swift’s mother’s battle with cancer. Grab your dancing shoes for this album and a tissue for this absolutely remarkable track.
New Jersey based artist SYNES is slowly emerging as one of the biggest names in electronic music across the Garden State. His latest single “Something’s Got To Give” has gotten the remix treatment from a lofty bunch of talented remixers, which take SYNES’ dark and brooding vocals to a truly new level.
The “Maraud3r Tech Mix” gives the track an industrial feel, while the “Kc Anderson Deep Remix” is exactly that; it tosses a smoother vibe onto the track and makes it almost an early afternoon or late morning style of track.
The “Dirty Disco Mainroom Remix” is one of the crowning achievements on the package, putting a heavy house and main room style beat behind the track, giving the vocals a peak hour feel. “Deanne’s Shout out Loud Mix” is a dub in almost every sense of the word, with some infectious beats tossed in while “Oba’s Afrotecha Mix” gives the track a super unique flair and a world music vibe, complete with heavy percussion throughout. This track is going to help to put this burgeoning artist on the map as a force to be reckoned with in Jersey music. All SYNES point to seeing much more of this artist at your local pride festivals and on the dance charts.
From the first singular strains of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” we are made completely aware that Kristin Chenoweth’s “For The Girls’ is something very special. This Broadway belter has stepped into the recording studio for another full-length album of some of our favorite standards but this time she has some very talented company joining her on some of the tracks. The ladies chosen for some of the duets are picture perfect, with each selected perfectly for the song they are featured on. Pop diva Ariana Grande joins Chenoweth to slink through a breathy version of Lesley Gore’s classic girl power anthem “You Don’t Own Me,” while the dynamic Jennifer Hudson joins Chenoweth and the iconic Reba McEntire (a Chenoweth dream duet partner) on Peggy Lee’s “Woman.” Like three saloon singers gathered around a piano, this trio of vocal gymnasts meld their individually powerful vocals onto a slick and belt-heavy musical extravaganza. The duet that will have the most people talking—with good reason—is Chenoweth teaming up with her idol Dolly Parton on Parton’s own signature track, “I Will Always Love You.” Chenoweth and Parton’s voices are, in a word, divine together. Chenoweth starts the track before Parton herself joins and the moment you hear these two voices join together, the reaction is close to tear inducing. Listening to Chenoweth fulfill a lifelong dream to record with Dolly Parton makes this version of the song that much sweeter.
The remaining tracks on For The Girls include glorious movie standards like Celine Dion’s “When I Fall In Love” which in Chenoweth’s hands is a yearning song of love, while Dinah Washington’s “What A Difference A Day Makes” is a retro tinged piano bar stunner. The album is closed by “Desperado,” a male-led track from the Eagles that Chenoweth makes her own. Hearing her peel back the story that these lyrics tell like an onion is a wonder to behold. She has recreated a stunning love song in her own unique and stunning vision.
TOY ARMADA & DJ GRIND FT. BRIAN KENT
Toy Armada and DJ GRIND have been having an absolutely epic year. From a headlining World Pride event to numerous remixes throughout the summer, this remix duo is proving that their talents expand far beyond just spinning in the DJ booth. Their latest track “Just Say Yes” partners them with a name familiar to dance music aficionados, the fantastic Brian Kent, making his return to the dance floors with this spectacular track. Of course, having a vocalist like Kent and a team like Armada and GRIND working on the track would mean that it would be receiving a spectacular remix package, and that is exactly what has happened.
Right from the start, the “Leo Frappier Anthem Mix” places the track firmly where it belongs—right in the middle of the dance floor, heavy beats and building vocals included. The “Deanne Summer” tosses a bit of an 80s style vibe on the track, with some different percussions leading the song in a unique direction while the “Leo Blanco Club Mix” is that good old fashioned kind of slamming peak hour remix that so many people have come to expect from this DJ team, including some signature late night and circuit stylings. Of course the “Wayne G & Porl Young Remix” definitely stands out on its own. It gives the track a bit of an extended build in the beginning, letting it progress naturally. The chorus breezes in and helps craft the perfect kind of Low Tea Anthem to help usher out the last drops of a stunning summer for dance music.
TOP TEN with DJ Matt Bailer
- Kideko – What Is It (Extended Mix)
- CIARA – Thinkin Bout You
- AVA MAX – So Am I (Steve Void Remix)
- DOLLY PARTON – 9 To 5 (Butch Le Butch Remix)
- LIZZO – Truth Hurts (Barry Harris Remix)
- LIZZO – Cuz I Love You
- EMILY PERRY – Summer On Lock (Moto Blanco Remix)
- NU SKY & ESKUCHE ft. GEMMA SHERRY – Work That (Extended Mix)
- N.Y.C.C. – I’ll Keep My Light In My Window (Mikeandtess Remix)
- LADY BRI – So Good