This is the second album from Boston-based singer/songwriter Michael Angelakos who records mostly as a one-man-band under the name Passion Pit.
His debut album three years ago, titled Manners, earned solid notices and some club play for its clever indie synth pop and this sophomore album promises to perform even better.
Some have compared Passion Pit favourably to the sunny pop of Fun. (sic) and The Lightening Seeds. However, my
geezerly ears take me back further to 10cc/Godley & Creme (their mid-’80s electro pop hits Cry and I’m Not In Love) on the delightful ear worm Mirrored Sea with its highly FX’d vocals.
Angelakos hires some outside help with Erato for the light orchestral pop of On My Way that has earmarks of Brian Wilson, while there is some flowery psyche-pop found in the mix of Love Is Greed that again recalls 10cc and late ’60s meditation era Beach Boys.
Gossamer is a heady listen but as a one-man-band, sometimes Angelakos could use some outside advice or an editor as some of these songs about relationships get a bit too wordy even if they do manage to hold your interest.
One of the better indie synth-pop albums released in a while.
Sparkle: Soundtrack (RCA)
This film Sparkle hits the big screen next week and will probably make a bit of a stir as it was the very last project Whitney Houston was involved in before her untimely passing.
The movie is a remake of the 1976 film of the same title that featured Aretha Franklin and this all-black cast follows mostly the same story line about a female trio loosely based on The Supremes and their rise to mega success.
Houston plays the mother to lead actress
Jordin Sparks and it is her song, an R&B gospel flavoured His Eye Is On The Sparrow, that is the feature track and most likely main selling point.
However, this soundtrack also re-records several songs as written by the great Curtis Mayfield for the original soundtrack that includes a couple of Aretha’s remade hits. These include Something He Can Feel that is destined to chart again with its warm R&B grooves and honeyed doo wop background vocals, as well as the hit Jump with its spunky, funky soul.
The lead off song is a cool retro chittlin’ circuit styled song, I’m A Man, sung in high falsetto be Ceelo Green (who also stars in the movie) that might have you rethinking Green’s gender given his incredibly high range.
There is a hint of hip hop in the Motown flavoured Yes I Do by Carmen Ejogo, while the closing three songs are new compositions by R. Kelly that do not match up as well as the vintage stock from Curtis Mayfield.
Still, a fairly solid soundtrack CD even if it is somewhat short at only 11 tracks.
Ray Chen: Tchaikovsky,
Mendelssohn Violin Concertos (Sony)
Ray Chen is a big new talent on the classical music scene and his stature just keeps growing
with each new release. The young Australian-
raised virtuoso only has three albums to his credit this early in his career.
Chen won two highly prestigious awards in the last year with both the Menuhin and Queen Elisabeth Violin Competitions and he did this with his performances of Pete Tchaikovsky’s Concerto For Violin And Orchestra In D Major and Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto For Violin And Orchestra In E Minor—both of which make up this new album.
Chen plays with the greatly appreciated Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra led by Daniel Harding. These recordings had The Times raving: “Chen’s artistry blazes,” while Die Zeit chimed in with: “Polished style…melting delicacy…superb.”
These two extended compositions are extremely well known Romantic masterpieces and mark Tchaikovsky’s only venture into a violin concerto. This is also Chen’s first effort with an orchestral recording.
For classical neophytes there are scads of liner notes and essays regarding the music in the inner booklet.