This edition will focus on albums, plus a podcast and a live show too. Again, comments are always welcome.
Tim McGraw “Sundown Heaven Town”
Tim’s latest album has guest appearances from Kid Rock and his wife, Faith Hill. Overall, the album is very solid. But on a few of the tracks, he has some pop overtones and I don’t feel that they fit him, like on “Lookin’ for that Girl.” Tim famously complained about putting pop in my country on one of his old songs. The album has a good mix of uptempo songs and ballads. The duets are some of the best songs — I’m surprised he has never done a duets album. Grade: B+
Dave Koz “Collaborations (25th Anniversary Collection)
Dave is celebrating 25 years in the business with this collection. It contains some of his greatest hits, along with collaborations with other artists (Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow) that appeared on their albums, plus a couple of new songs too (including “Let It Go” from “Frozen”). A nice overview for a long career. Grade: A-
Rihanna “Untitled 7th Album”
Rihanna has yet to release her official 7th album, but she has released a number of songs in the past year: 3 singles, plus 3 from the soundtrack to the animated movie “Home” in which she supplied the voice for one of the main characters. The songs are pretty eclectic taken together… you have the folk-pop of “FourFiveSeconds” song with Paul McCartney and Kayne West; and the attitude and anger-driven “Bitch Better Have My Money.” The best ones are “Towards the Sun” and “American Oxygen” for me… who knows whether any of these songs will even be on the official album when and if it gets released. Grade for all 6 songs: B- (Editors note: the album has a title — “Anti” — but no release date yet).
Pentatonix “PTX, Vol. III”
They have the plumb spot of opening for Kelly Clarkson on her “Piece by Piece” tour this year. This 5-member acapella group rose to fame on “The Sing-off” reality competition, plus on their Youtube channel where they put their own spin on other people’s songs. This EP has covers (Sam Smith, Clean Bandit) and some originals (See Through and On My Way Home) too. Grade: B+
Big & Rich “Gravity”
The latest album from the duo of John Rich and Big Kenny, offers nothing new for the fans. It is a pretty lackluster collection in my opinion. Very forgettable. Too bad, cause I really like these guys. Grade: D
Rascal Flatts “Rewind”
Another solid collection from the country trio. They have their uptempo numbers and ballads too. A couple of the songs are co-written by Meghan Trainer of “All About That Bass” fame. Grade: B-
Carrie Underwood “Greatest Hits: Decade #1”
Country-pop queen and American Idol alumnus, Carrie Underwood, shines on her first greatest hits collection. It is a very ambitious set, featuring 25 songs including alternate takes, live versions, plus 2 new songs). She has proved she is a force to be reckoned with. Grade: A-
The B-52’s “With the Wild Crowd! (Live in Athens, GA)”
New-wave pioneers the B-52’s first live album was recorded in front a hometown crowd. There are 5 songs off their previous studio album “Funplex” — which are the weakest songs on the collection. But on their classics, they still shine. Not as fun as being there, but still enjoyable. Grade: B
From the editors of Billboard magazine, this fun podcast is great for pop music lovers who follow the charts. They discuss who’s #1 on the pop charts as well as on the Hot 100 albums chart too. You’ll learn interesting tidbits of music trivia too. Narrated by Keith Caulfield and Katie Atkinson of Billboard. Plus they often have special guests too. Take a listen. Grade: A-
The dance sensation is back for it’s 20th anniversary tour. It is a celebration of Irish step (tap) dancing. The music is fantastic, and will have you tapping your toes and clapping along. The show was as great as I remembered it. You have solo numbers as well as group numbers too. Plus they bring in Latin, American tap (where there is even a dance battle) and even Russian dance into the mix too. This is a feel good show. You will be amazed as how fast these dancers can move their feet. And did I mention there are a bunch of hot guys (and girls) in it? Grade: A-
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for Valentine’s Day for friends, family and loved ones.