Entertainment » Music

Dig These Discs :: Madonna, Macy Gray, Amy Dalley, Screaming Females, Flying Colors

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Mar 27, 2012

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!

"MDNA" (Madonna)

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 รก 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)

"Coming Out of the Pain" (Amy Dalley)

In what may be the best break-up song since Alanis Morissette’s "You Oughta Know," Dalley drops "Peace Sign," a song that starts out, "I wouldn’t call it a break-up, I hate to say it out loud but I was just dumped." The twang in Dalley’s voice and her pacing even sounds a bit like Morissette, and the chorus runs, "I’m not trying to fight, I’m not wasting my time/ I’m just saying goodbye, one finger shy of a peace sign." This country singer and songwriter got her start entertaining at Dollywood, and relocated to Nashville in 1994 to form the Hillbilly Gypsies. She went on to gain notoriety when her song "Dream Too Small" was played on an episode of "Dawson’s Creek," and in 2003, signed with Curb Records and found her singles peaking on the country charts. Her title song captures the optimism of getting over a bad break-up and starting to see the positive again. Her song, "Breakin It Down" is a slow weeper, and "Somebody Said It Rained" is a tune about new love, with the lyrics, "We stayed wrapped up in a blanket for three days/ turned into two young lovers as we hungered for each other." "Saturday Night Situation" is a classic, shit-kicking, female country rock song, beginning "It was supposed to be a martini kind of night, but here come crazy Katie with her skirt jacked up real high/ and she said, ’Let’s get outta here and really do this thing right’, I’d rather be in a honky-tonk tonight." As weekends tend to go, someone starts riding the mechanical bull, things get ugly around midnight, and... well, you know the rest. "Damage is Done" is a song about paying the price for loving. "I May Love You Now" is a song about trying to avoid love, and "Civil War" is a dark song about broken promises. In "Round and Round," Dalley sings about finding a way to make a relationship work, singing, "It’s a sure thing, baby, we can’t lose." "Bottle It Up" is another tune about a sure thing, with Dalley wanting to bottle up their innocence and love. Things aren’t as secure later, when Dalley sings, "Too late to right the wrongs, ’I’m already gone’." "Some Goodbye" is another weeper about a crushing breakup, with Dalley singing, "What a way to break me, walk away without warning." Although Dalley is married to her engineer/writing partner Jack Sizemore, her music has a real Melissa Etheridge grit to it, and will resonate with acoustic-loving lesbians, who are always ready to sing out their woeful tales of love gone wrong. (Rockridge Music)

"Ugly" (Screaming Females)

This indie punk rock band from New Brunswick, New Jersey is set to release their fifth album on Don Giovanni Records, after having dropped their single, "It All Means Nothing" on February 11 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn. True to form, the track features shredding guitar licks, and the quirky, canned vocals that feel as though they are more UK than NJ. The band -- comprised of Marissa Paternoster on guitar and vocals, Jarrett Dougherty on drums, and King Mike on bass -- has always prided themselves on playing at DIY underground venues that permit access to the under-21 crowd. Their music has started to get some traction since they appeared on "Last Call with Carson Daly" in February 2011, and Paternoster has been compared to the "femme-shredder legacy" of Sleater-Kinney. The "Screamales," as they are known to fans, are known for their solid blend of punk urgency and ’70s-era guitar shredding. Their new album "Ugly" also blends in elements of dubstep and chillwave, and hearkens back to their first record, recorded more than seven years ago. "Extinction" is catchy, despite it’s fast-paced snarl, and "Red Hand" has a sweet bass intro peppered with struts from Paternoster’s electric guitar. "High" has a speeded-up Jim Morrison vibe, with a nice edge, that erupts into a shredding guitar riff. Paternoster’s bad-ass vocals dominate "Expire" and "Crow’s Nest". "Leave It All Up to Me" resonates with an Asian-music feel, and "Doom 84" has a stark, barbarian feel to it, channeling classic rock. Paternoster sings, "You can help me help myself," in "Help Me," a radio-ready hit. The final track on the album, "It’s Nice," breaks the mold with its acoustic guitar intro, and slowly unfolds with Paternoster’s quirky vocals building up gradually. Despite the sweet sound, its not all nice; the Screamales stay true to form with their lyrics, "Put me in your hand, drown the rat that gnaws at me/ your blood is on the bed, and I’m crushed under your memory." Not nice, but pretty sweet as punk rock goes. (Don Giovanni Records)

"Flying Colors" (Flying Colors)

Fans of Journey will dig this debut release from Flying Colors, a lovingly hand-picked team of accomplished musicians Mike Portnoy on vocals and drums, Dave LaRue on bass, Neal Morse on keyboards and vocals, Casey McPherson on lead vocals, and Steve Morse on guitar. The brainchild of executive producer Bill Evans, Flying Colors has found music chemistry and a strong mix of progressive, contemporary rock and vintage craftsmanship. Their seven-plus minute opener, "Blue Ocean" is a contagious exhibition of shredding electric guitar and spot-on drums, with vocal breaks that remind one of the hair bands of the ’80s. "Shoulda Coulda Woulda" has a harder feel, with choppy vocals, and "Forever in a Daze" opens with electric guitar, and chronicles a one-sided attraction. "The Storm" is a more modern rock song, with the hopeful chorus, "Don’t cry or be afraid/ some things only can be made in the storm." "Kayla" is a rock ballad with a tinny lute opening by way of Camelot, and moves into a passionate, guitar-driven love song to the titular woman, with a ripping guitar solo at the end. "Better Than Walking Away" is a sad ballad about the end of a relationship. "Love Is What I’m Waiting For" is a middling song about compromise in relationships, and "Everything Changes" is an rock ballad that is reminiscent in places of the Christopher Cross theme song to the hit ’80s movie, "Arthur," but with a lot more electric guitar. "All Falls Down" is a rapid-paced guitar-shredding song that evokes the Grim Reaper or neoclassical guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. "Fool In My Heart" is a made-for-radio rock song with the lyrics, "There is a fool in my heart that won’t let go/ but there’s something that I really want you to know. I always will love you forever, I will/ I know it’s been years since you left me; this fool loves you still." The album ends with an epic, 12-minute song, "Infinite Fire," that really shows off the skills of the band. Flying Colors is a bunch of very talented, experienced musicians making the most of their skills to tread over some fresh ground while capturing the feel of the rock bands of the ’80s. (Mascot Label Group)

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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