Dig These Discs :: Madonna, Macy Gray, Amy Dalley, Screaming Females, Flying Colors
April’s Dig These Discs is all about the divas! Check out the hot new double album by Madonna, the collection of crafty covers by Macy Gray, and a raucous country album about love and loss by Amy Dalley. Got a yen for gritty punk or guitar-shredding old-school rock? Screaming Females and Flying Colors fit the bill. Flowers are in bloom in this month’s Dig These Discs!
Lady Madge drops her double-album release, with 17 new tracks meant to show us that this first lady of pop music hasn’t lost her stuff. The verdict? She (mostly) hasn’t. "Girls Gone Wild" opens with Madonna intoning the Act of Contrition; then she lets us know that girls just want to have fun. In "Gang Bang," Madonna sings, "Drive bitch. And while you’re at it, die bitch." To staccato backdrop, the song ends with the platitude, "If you’re going to be a bitch, you’ll die like a bitch", and gunshots. "I’m Addicted" is a surefire dance club hit. It starts out with a smart synth intro, and Madonna jumps in with bouncy vocals, "Now that your name pumps like the blood in my veins, pulse through my body igniting my mind it’s like MDNA. Feels like a drug and I can’t get enough and it fits like a glove/ I’m addicted to your love." "Turn Up the Radio" is a pure bubble-gum pop ballad that seems to be geared toward listeners that are Lourdes’ age, imploring them to turn it up until the speakers blow. Madonna teams up with Nicki Minaj for "I Don’t Give A," a choppy intro lays it down-she don’t give a f*ck about you. After swallowing herself and diminishing her life, this wife has had enough. As Minaj says, "There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna, bitch!" The listener is peppered with fast-paced vocals, and the dramatic tension builds up at the end with an operetta-style flourish. She teams up with Minaj again for "Gimme All Your Love," another surefire hit. It opens with a cheer squad chanting, "LUV Madonna/ YOU you wanna". Madge pleads her case á la Toni Basel in "Hey Mickey," and Minaj jumps in later in the song to lay her style of flow, a la her alter-ego Roman. This bubble-gum pop resurfaces again for "Superstar," a light song full of ooh-la-las rhymed with "you can have the keys to my car." Madonna compares her man to Caesar, a gangster, Abe Lincoln, James Dean, John Travolta, a hotshot, and an angel. "You can have the password to my phone; I’ll give you a massage when you get home." Things start out sounding self-effacing in "Some Girls," as Madonna lets us know she’s not one of those girls who complains about the limo. Later, we discover she’s not like "some girls" -- she’s the best girl in the world. Madonna sings, "I’m a Sinner", and lets us know that she likes it that way. She gives her shout out to St. Christopher, St. Sebastian, St. Anthony, and even dishes out a Hail Mary. In "Love Spent," a jaunty banjo-plucked intro gets woven into synth for an interesting old world meets new result. The vocal tracks are dancey, like Deborah Cox, with Madonna urging her man "I want you to hold me like you hold your money/ Spend your love on me," and later adds, "Frankly if my name was Benjamin, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in." "Masterpiece" evokes "Live to Tell", with Madonna warning not to fall in love with a masterpiece, because, "after all, nothing’s indestructible." "Falling Free" is a ghostly love song, with the lyrics like, "Deep and pure our hearts align, and then I’m free I’m free of mine, when I let loose the need to know then we’re both free we’re free to go." "Dark eyes on a dangerous face, you are a ’Beautiful Killer’" Madonna sings in this radio B-side track. "You can call my name and I’ll be around, maybe I’ll let you shoot me down," she sings. "I Fucked Up" is a classic mea culpa, laying it all on the line. She made a mistake, blamed him for when things didn’t go her way, and now she’s owning up to it. Madonna rhapsodizes how perfect things could have been, and even includes this classic Woody Allen sobriquet, singing, "Wanna know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans." "B-Day Song" is a poppy, off-the-cuff song where the beat goes on, and the whole world is happy for Madonna’s special day. (Get a laugh over the lyric, "give me a spanking, start the day off right.") "Best Friend" is a dubstep electro treat, about a close lover/friend about whom she misses everything -- except the drinking. The collection closes with the dance club hit, "Give Me All Your Luvin’ Part 2," a hot remix of her Nicki Minaj-duo "Gimme" with a sample of LMFAO’s "Sexy and I Know It." Madonna’s hard work staying on the cutting edge pays off in her 12th studio album, featuring some of her freshest cuts in years. (Interscope Records)
"Covered" (Macy Gray)
Newly signed by 429 Records, Macy Gray releases "Covered," a collection of 13 handpicked covers (and three less successful spoken skits) that Gray says are among her favorites. She kicks things off with a ghostly version of the already chilling Eurythmics tune, "Here Comes the Rain Again," in her spare, cracked voice. "Creep" by Radiohead is equally sparse, with Gray singing, "I wish I was special, you’re so fucking special/ And I’m a creep". She gets a laugh with a cover of The Toyes, "Smoke 2 Joints," in which she sings, "I smoke two joints in the morning, I smoke two joints at night/ I smoke two joints in the afternoon, it makes me feel all right." Gray’s scratchy voice and witty delivery make for a spot-on track. Gray teams up with Layann Al Saud, Avery Albert, Happy Hinds, and Siena Stelber for "La La La," which segues into "Teenagers," another humorous tune. She gets serious with Metallica’s "Nothing Else Matters," which gets a rap intro ("The Power of Love") by Hugh Salk. Gray puts her quirky voice through an echo distortion for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Maps," one of the best cuts on the collection, as she sings, "Wait, they don’t love you like I love you!" "Love Lockdown/Buck" is a teaming up of Kanye West and Nina Simone songs, about which Gray has said, "She didn’t worry about what people would think or how they would compare it to anybody else. I saw how she just took that song and every song she ever did and made them her own." Gray does the same with this old-school track. She teams up with Idris Elba again, whose deep voice adds much to Colbie Caillat’s "Bubbly," a sweet, meandering song about attraction. And Arcade Fire’s "Wake Up" gets a catchy, upbeat drum line intro. The collection of covers is more hits than misses, although the short vocal intros and silly skits detract from the final product somewhat. Gray has a strong and very unique voice, and it is good to see her choose a selection of contemporary hits and make them her own. Check out her new album, and catch her performance in Lee Daniels upcoming film, "The Paperboy," to debut in May at the Cannes Film Festival. (429 Records)