May 23, 2019

Khalid – Free Spirit – RCA

FourScore
By Kristi Kates | May 4, 2019

Seventeen tracks in all make up Khalid’s latest, a set that expands upon his ’80s-influenced 2017 debut album, which established him as a chart-friendly R&B-pop singer who can veer easily into other genres. Sometimes, though, it seems like it would be better if he took a little more care with those wheelhouses he ventures into; for every collaboration with someone like Disclosure (the result being the grooving dance tune “Talk”), there seems to be a mishap, like his team-up with guitarist/singer John Mayer on “Outta My Head,” which quickly devolves into generic muzak. **
 
MonstaX – We Are Here – Starship 
K-Pop outfit MonstaX, which survived the gauntlet of the Korean music competition show No Mercy back in 2015, is back with its third collection of tunes. After several experiments with N’Sync-esque vocals and hip-hop, this effort is one that finds the group settling into a distinctive sound. What works: dance-floor pop and vigorous beats on tracks like the bombastic “Rodeo”; some unexpected electric piano on “Play It Cool”; and an absurd yet undeniably catchy refrain on “Alligator.” ** ½

Sara Barielles – Amidst the Chaos – Epic
Barielles is a multi-faceted performer who’s taken the stage at all the major music awards shows, written a successful Broadway musical (Waitress), and notched a No. 1 radio tune (“Love Song”). She’s now on her fifth solo album, one earmarked by her conventionally structured pop. Expect recognizable radio-friendly melodies: like “Fire,” with its multi-Barielles in the choruses; “Wicked Love,” with its deceptively upbeat tones; and the album’s final track, which brings in none other than John Legend for “A Safe Place to Land.” ***
 
Griz – Ride Waves – GRIZ
Griz’ latest comes across as a big, uneven, funky hangout session in which he throws around sounds with a glossy list of hip-hop names. He gets Wiz Khalifa behind the mic with him for “Find My Own Way,” brings in the legendary Bootsy Collins for “Bustin’ Out,” teams up with DRAM for “It Gets Better,” and brings in Snoop Dogg for “My Friends and I Pt. 2 (feat. Snoop Dogg and Prob Cause). He even veers into the alternative-rock world by busting one out with Matisyahu on a reggae-inspired tune. With all that talent, you’d expect a little better result. ** 1/2

Trending

Welcome to Michigan’s Most Remote Brewery

After years of planning and honing his beer-making skills, this spring, Patrick McGinnity plans to open Beaver Island’s first microbrewery. Opening a craft brewery is challenging. Opening one on a remote island in Lake Michigan that’s either a 15-minute plane ride or a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride from ... Read More >>

Gaylord: A boomtown Up North

Gaylord native Gary Scott had moved to Indiana, where he and some partners started a business to invest in distressed properties. He was talking to a banker in Detroit about real estate in Bloomington when he asked what kind of deals might be available in northern Michigan. ... Read More >>

CBD Laws: Dazed and Confused

The sign outside of Family Video in Kalkaska lets drivers know the store has more than just movies. The sign reads: “CBD PRODUCTS NOW AVAILABLE HERE! CHECK IT OUT.” CBD is short for cannabidiol, a kind of chemical compound that occurs naturally in hemp and marijuana plants, but does ... Read More >>

Small Up North Towns on the Rise

Spotlight on Bellaire (pictured)Seems Traverse City isn’t the only place in the region making those “Best of” lists. The Antrim County hamlet of Bellaire was recently named to the list of Best Lakeside Towns in the U.S. by Country Living Magazine, alongside the likes of Vergennes, Vermont, Greenville, ... Read More >>