Dig These Discs :: All American Rejects, Peasant, Dev, Morgan Page, Katy Perry, Wilson Phillips
Katy Perry drops her complete collection of hits this month, and newcomer Dev follows up her hit "Bass Down Low" with her long-awaited CD. Wilson Phillips mine the hits of their parents, and The All-American Rejects keep building on their history of success. L.A. DJ Morgan Page spins his progressive electronic music, and indie acoustic artist Peasant bares his soul.
"Kids in the Street" (The All-American Rejects)
This Oklahoma-bred band hit pay dirt just a few years out of high school in 2005 with their self-titled debut. Their fourth new album of 11 songs and four bonus tracks finally hits the street, despite numerous delays since their promised Christmas debut. In "Someday’s Gone," originally released in December 2011, lead vocalist Tyson Ritter refers to his girl as "a bad trip I can’t come back from since December." Their single, "Beekeeper’s Daughter" premiered in an episode of "90210," with the twee lyrics, "You’re a pretty little flower, I’m a busy little bee, baby that’s all you need to see." It is followed by "Fast & Slow," a more angst-ridden rock song with a fast-moving guitar riff that seems set for radio play. "Heartbeat Slowing Down" is a slow-moving song full of regrets, with a soaring chorus. "Walk Over Me" is a thwarted love song with the lyrics, "I can’t believe her pretty feet walk over me." "Affection" is another angst-ridden love song, with Ritter singing, "Even when the roses die there are some thorns left in your side." "Walk Out the Door" is a harder-rocking song with the same message. Luckily, "I For You" chronicles a love worth dying for. The title track is a percussion-driven rock song about youthful passion, with the lyrics, "We’d get so high we got lost coming down/ we were kids in the street." The band’s slapshot sound comes through in "Bleed Into Your Mind," and "Drown Next to Me" is a spacey, electronica romp. The CD also includes demos of the band’s original songs, released last winter. (Interscope Records)
Bound for Glory (Peasant)
Pennsylvania singer/songwriter Damien DeRose began his DIY recording career at the tender age of 18, dropping two homemade albums before he began touring in 2008. He sings beautifully of his hopes and fears about life and love in this 13-track release, his fourth LP, and his first on his new London-based indie label, Schnitzel Records. His scratchy acoustic guitar is the perfect backdrop for DeRose’s songs. He kicks off with the title track, singing about sunsets and feeling blue. In "The Flask," DeRose vacillates between full-throated singing and a yodeling as he cries out his despair at his love, who is leaving. "Girls" is a dreamy song with the cadence of that old Bob Seger chestnut, "Night Moves" or an old Stones track, with the lyrics, "Girls, girls, they do it all the time, breaking someone’s heart." "I don’t want to be your friend any more," DeRose sings out in "We’re Not the Same," a simple, honest, acoustic song about a love that was never there. "A Little One" has a quirky, plucked-string sound, and a country music vibe comes out of the spare, "Doesn’t Mean." He sings out like Cat Stevens in "Amends," and "Gone Far Lost," a break-up song that benefits from a smattering of percussion. "Take It Light" is among the best on the album, with its catchy Cowboy Junkies feel and its insistence on love not being a fool. "Mother Mary" features solid acoustic chops as "Mother Mary and the baby [are] looking over me." The fast-rocking "Pretty Good" shows off DeRose’s skills as he sings this hook-up ditty, "You shook, you shook it right, and you took, you took all night, and you looked pretty good, and you felt like I thought you would." He slows things down again with "Stars," with a charming hum-track and a warning to his partner, "If I should come back, turn, turn away, because you know we won’t work it out." He wraps things up with "Don’t Let Me Down," a song about trying to be someone you’re not. There is something very plain and honest about DeRose/Peasant, something that is often absent in this age of auto-tune. It may not rock the club, but "Bound for Glory" certainly rocks. (Schnitzel Records)
"The Night the Sun Came Up" (Dev)
With a whisper-soft voice that cracks seductively when she hits lower notes, singer Dev is easy on the ears. Her new album, "The Night the Sun Came Up" kicks off with "Getaway," a song about getting out of the small town to find one’s fortune. The piano-driven song begins like a ballad, but features a hip-hop break in the middle to let Dev spit out some middling rap. She follows with the electronica-heavy "In My Trunk," in which she sings, "It was a late night, no Scrabble game night/ I’m a handful, ain’t I?" As it turns out, she’s got that thump, and it’s in her trunk. In "Me," Dev gives the kiss-off to all those record executives who didn’t know what to do with her, mixing electronica with adult contemporary. Lucky for her, the production team The Cataracs heard her cover of Amy Winehouse track "Back to Black" on Myspace, and saw some potential there. She moved to L.A. in 2009 to work with them, and found that her hits "Bass Down Low" and "In the Dark" became hits in the UK, Canada, and North America. She gives many props to them in her songs. And although she has been compared to Ke$ha, she doesn’t take kindly to the comparisons, seeking to blend electropop, dubstep, hip-hop urban, rock, and club music to make her own diversified sound. Her songs on this album, whose release has been delayed twice already, explore themes of sex, partying, and debauchery, and then swing to introspection and love. "Naked" is a Latin-influenced song featuring Enrique Iglesias that deals with an ex-lover who has tried unsuccessfully to move on, and "Lightspeed" is an electronic pop cut with a house feel. "Breathe" is a catchy club track with Middle Eastern sound, peppered with nutty accordian sounds, one of the best on this 11-track album. "Dancing Shoes" definitely falls into the "pretty" camp, allowing Dev to showcase her fine singing voice. The mash-up of electro and guitar in "Perfect Match" benefits from the addition of a string section. As Dev sings, "When you need to breathe I’ll make your heart beat twice as fast, like a cigarette and I will be your perfect match," making this song an ideal backdrop for a love scene in a blockbuster movie. She saves her biggest hit, "In the Dark" for the end of the album. The house beat with a saxophone back keeps this tune moving, to which its widespread use in Zumba routines can testify. Dev sings seductively, "Tell me baby is it wrong to let my hands do what they want/ Late at night I pretend we are dancing in the dark." She teams up with Fabolous for "Hands Up," a drum-driven mash-up of Dev’s talk-singing and the rapper’s classic patter. She closes the album with the folk-influenced "Shadows." Critics may still not be sure how to classify Dev, and her rhymes are far from genius, but you can’t argue with the hits she keeps racking up. (Universal Republic Records)