La Roux

“La Roux” (Polydor)

La Roux’s self-titled debut album is like a synth-pop ’80s dance party. Catchy lyrics combine with techno beats that are neither cliched nor obnoxious, and make the 50 minutes you spend listening to it worthwhile. La Roux’s voice is a beautiful soprano that floats on top of the rhythms to provide an ethereal melody. You don’t have to understand the lyrics to enjoy the songs, but her smart and sassy lyrical choices should be commended. The songs work both collectively as an album and as individual singles, making them ideal for mix-tapes. Not every song is a standout but that won’t matter when you are dancing around your room to this Brit’s awesome beats.

Written by Kelly Danver

“Good Things” (Stones Throw)

Aloe Blacc

Reminiscent of ’70s soul and funk, but with a kick of R&B, Aloe Blacc brings a nostalgic freshness to his second album as a solo artist. Horns, percussive keyboards and wah-wah pedal guitars groove underneath Blacc’s full-bodied, smooth voice. The singer croons about love in “Miss Fortune,” longing in “Mama Hold My Hand” and hardship in “I Need A Dollar,” the theme for the HBO show, “How To Make It In America.” The album is a quiet anthem for the everyday man and makes for accessible, easy listening.

Written by Madeline Twomey

“Wake Up!” (Columbia)

John Legend & The Roots

Colonials Weekend headliner Jimmy Fallon has lent the band from his late-night talk show to John Legend to make an album of human empowerment and the struggles of Americans at this point in time. This 21st century Marvin Gaye doesn’t skirt the issues. In “Our Generation,” he sings, “it’s all left up to us to change this present situation,” a direct message to the youth of America. The album has “D.C.” written all over it. The Ivy Leaguer takes Cotton Club music and mixes in modern hip-hop that will make the kids listen up and listen good.

Written by Rachel Lubitz

“The Boy Who Knew Too Much”


At first listen, the British pop singer’s second album is certainly as bouncy and carefree as his previous album “Life in Cartoon Motion.” However, behind the jaunty melodies and catchy pop music of several songs lie lyrics full of emotion and strength. Songs such as “Blue Eyes” and “Pick Up Off the Floor” are perfect for moving on after a broken heart, while “We Are Golden” and “Toy Boy” certainly bring back the well-received pep from MIKA’s debut album.

Written by Kelsey Grashoff

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