By Stacey Jay Cavaliere
Frank Ocean
Def Jam
Marina and the
Electra Heart
Passion Pit
Columbia Records
R&B crooner Frank Ocean made headlines recently when
he posted an open letter on his blog describing feelings he
had for another man when he was young, citing the experience as his first love affair. Ocean thanked the man for
his influence, and also thanked his mother and friends. “I
don’t know what happens now, and that’s all right. I don’t
have any secrets I need kept anymore,” he wrote. “I feel
like a free man.” With that, Ocean is the first mainstream
R&B/rap artist to come out, with support from peers such
as 50 Cent, Jay-Z and hip-hop legend Russell Simmons.
The big announcement came on the heels of Ocean’s
first solo release, channel ORANGE. The album’s lyrical
content includes unrequited love, socioeconomic disparities, religion and the struggle of being a disillusioned
youth. Standout tracks include “Thinkin Bout You,”
“Sweet Life” and “Pyramids.”
With channel ORANGE, Ocean has made an outstanding debut musically and a brave move personally,
both of which are sure to secure this talented artist as a
longtime staple and leader in both the R&B and LGBT
Ocean is set to open for alternative heavyweights
Coldplay on their European tour this summer and will
tour solo soon after in the United States.
Welsh singer-songwriter Marina Lambrini Diamandis,
known by the stage name Marina and the Diamonds, has
released her sophomore album to rave reviews, fulfilling
every expectation from critics and fans alike.
Two years after her debut, the talented new wave/pop
performer once again exhibits her clear and classy vocal
abilities, proving herself to be an unstoppable up-andcoming talent in the pop music world. Showing her flexibility and diverse musical styles and influences, Electra
Heart is a sophomoric success.
The powerhouse players Marina has brought in to
help produce the album include the skilled production
of Dr. Luke, Diplo, Cirkut and Greg Kurstin, all of whom
have worked with artists like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and
Ke$ha. This was a smart move, making the album precise
and pristine.
The album’s first single, “Primadonna,” has already
gained huge radio airplay and is heard in clubs around
the world. Other standout tracks include the up-tempo
and catchy “Power and Control” and the sultry “Sex
While the album isn’t full of much lyrical substance,
it is a fun, danceable album that will please pop music
fans and provide a wonderful soundtrack when prancing
around the pool this summer.
Lead singer Michael Angelakos, of the electro-pop group
Passion Pit, has faced some serious demons this past year,
publicly addressing his mental health issues, canceling several
tour dates and checking into a New York mental hospital to
treat his bipolar disorder. While the troubled singer seemed to
have too much going on in his personal life, he still managed
to write, record and co-produce the album Gossamer.
The driven synths and the up-tempo beats may make
this album seem like a fun indie dance record, but the
lyrical content is quite the opposite. Angelakos confronts
many of his demons and becomes much more upfront
and personal on this release.
In a recent interview with Vinyl Magazine, the artist
explains, “On Gossamer there is more of a dichotomy
between the lyrics and music. You hear my lyrics more
precisely … they have a lot to do say about what the last
two years of my life have been troubled with.”
This honesty and vulnerability is what makes true
artists, and that’s proven by Passion Pit. Standout tracks
include “I’ll Be Alright,” “Cry Like a Ghost” and the slow
but steady “Constant Conversations.”
Angelakos and the Passion Pit crew have released a
great album, proving themselves to be a mainstay in the
music world and an inspiration to fans. While the songs
on the album penned by Angelakos address some pretty
sad and heavy topics, like mental illness, lost love and
suicide, the brave singer doesn’t wallow in his sadness.
Gossamer is cathartic, strong and forgiving.
Passion Pit will perform Sept. 11 at the Marquee
Theatre in Tempe.
Stacey Jay Cavaliere is prevention coordinator for one n ten and a freelance writer. He can be reached at
[email protected]
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August 2, 2012
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