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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 01
Warm up to these winter music releases
Arts & Entertainment
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Warm up to these winter music releases

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Money in your stocking? Early tax return? Got an iTunes gift card from your boss? Start spending that holiday cash because there's a lot of great winter music releases to get you through the frosty weeks ahead, including Oscar contenders, Grammy nominees, and leftover Christmas fare. Here are 10 albums to put on your must-buy list.

Calling All Hearts
Keyshia Cole

Hail the return of R&B sensation Keyshia Cole, who doesn't disappoint on her fourth studio album, which opens with the biting number 'I Ain't Thru,' featuring red-hot Nicki Minaj. For reasons unknown, many female musicians turn bland after becoming mommies (Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair), but Cole sounds fresh and very alive on this track list, which includes some knockout ballads ('Long Way Down') and sweet jams ('If I Ever Fall in Love Again').

Tron: Legacy
Daft Punk

French electronic geniuses Daft Punk leap into the world of cinema by composing the soundtrack for Tron: Legacy, a flashy remake of the sci-fi classic. Fans of the Parisian duo expecting dance numbers will be greatly saddened, as 'Derezzed' is the only track with a techno pace - everything else, while dramatic and beautifully composed, sounds suited for dreamy, action-film sequences.

The Best of Nelly Furtado
Nelly Furtado

'I'm Like a Bird,' Nelly Furtado's first single, was a huge hit and earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Since then, she's explored her Portuguese roots ('Forca') and even released an entire album in Spanish (2009's Mi Plan), but returns to pop on every other album. Songs like 'Say It Right,' 'Turn Off the Light,' 'Maneater,' and 'Promiscuous,' all included on this two-disc greatest hits package, are what we really love her for.

Sigh No More
Mumford & Sons

England's biggest breakout act of the previous year is folk-rock quartet Mumford & Sons, who marvelously intertwine string instruments with parlor piano backgrounds and harmonious vocals. 'The Cave' (SGN's Top Ten Singles/Tracks, 2010) and 'Little Lion Man' are the standout tracks, but the entire album screams 'pub crawl on a rainy night.' The group is also a 2011 Grammy nominee (Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals).

Rock of Ages: Original Broadway Cast Recording
Various Artists

Learn the songs before it comes to town. Rock of Ages, the jukebox musical featuring '80s pop-rock hits like 'Harden My Heart' and 'Sister Christian,' descends from Broadway to the Paramount Theatre for a six-night engagement February 8-13. American Idol alum Constantine Maroulis reprises his Tony-nominated lead role for the Seattle production, and you can sing along with him and the cast by grabbing a copy of the soundtrack now.

Recovery
Eminem

The frontrunner for Album of the Year at next month's Grammy Awards is this baby, the latest release from hip-hop superstar Eminem. The Detroit rapper collaborates with Rihanna, Lil Wayne, and Pink on a bold set of tracks that are filled with confessions, apologies and reawakenings, though the best cut is 'Talkin' to Myself' featuring Kobe (not the basketball player), where Em takes responsibility for his two previous shitty albums. Another 2011 Grammy nominee (Album, Record and Song of the Year, Best Rap Album).

Glee: The Music - The Christmas Album
Original Cast

Yet another collector's item for Glee faithful. This album showcases most of the songs performed on the December 7 episode, but notably absent is the cast's gorgeous rendition of 'Welcome Christmas' - sung at the end of the show in the faculty lounge - and kd lang's sly take on 'You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.' On the plus side, 'The Most Wonderful Day of the Year' and 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' - performed as a duet by two Gay characters - is good enough to start planning your 2011 holiday party around.

Peace Love Ukulele
Jake Shimabukuro

'Bohemian Rhapsody' on ukulele? Yes, please. Hawaiian musician Jake Shimabukuro, who assisted Bette Midler in a performance for the Queen of England last year, releases his newest collection of songs that also includes a cover of Leonard Cohen's timeless 'Hallelujah.' The Oahu native is a worthy singer-composer himself, validated on the delightfully strummed '143 (Kelly's Song)' and the gently plucked 'Go For Broke.'

Inception (Music from the Motion Picture)
Hans Zimmer

A prime Academy Award contender for Best Original Score, Zimmer's soundtrack is as otherworldly and complex as trying to sit through this summer blockbuster. Like the movie, it's a wild ride packed with intense strings and dark synthesizers - mildly electronic, certainly suspenseful. Zimmer, who's composed dozens - maybe hundreds - of scores for motion pictures, really nailed it with this one. A 2011 Grammy nominee (Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media).

Contra
Vampire Weekend

Around this time last year, Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij outed himself, giving Gay men further reason to embrace this stylish indie band. Contra is the New York quartet's sophomore release, and as on their debut, they sparkle on Afro-pop numbers that seem almost catered to their preppy schoolboy image. 'Cousins' (used in the film The Kids Are All Right), 'Run,' and 'Diplomat's Son' are the coolest tracks. A 2011 Grammy nominee (Best Alternative Music Album).

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