Vigil and Thieves’ music is full of alternative melodies and poetic lyrics. Local to Kansas City, they have amazing energy in live shows and are touring a good chunk of the United States. Alternative fans should definitely check them out. Sarah Storm’s vocals are almost like another instrument, sometimes emotional like wailing brass, sometimes belting out like a tornadic wind. Steph Castor’s guitar powers the sound like a battery, with intriguing and creative melodies. At times, it sounds like she is two guitarists. The drums provide a perfect backbeat without stealing the sunshine and align perfectly with the bass lines. It all comes together into an addictive and meaningful sound, and it’s hard not to love it. This album is out Aug. 24, with an all-ages album release show that night at the Granada Theater in Lawrence, and their tour dates are at www.vigilandthieves.com. My favorite songs are “You Can’t Fix a Fracture With a Crutch,” “Stop,” and “Haunting.”
Ariana Grande is changing it up – not a complete 180 change, but she’s growing up and experimenting with her style. I’m a huge fan of this new variety of songs she is making. This album is nothing like its predecessor, Dangerous Woman. Several of these songs are in her classic pop diva style, which should help please longtime fans, but she throws in many surprises and some fun collaborations with Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj. Grande was going for a weird album and she delivered, but it’s weird in a good way. Even the song titled “Pete Davidson,” which is about her whirlwind relationship, isn’t bad at all. It’s short, but rather sweet. I loved the first two singles here, “No Tears Left to Cry,” and “God Is a Woman,” and they do a good job of representing what to expect from the rest of the album. Other favorites are “Breathin,” “R.E.M.,” and “Better Off.”
Maty Noyes starts this strong E.P. with “Spiraling Down.” The vocals remind me a tiny bit of Grouplove mixed with a faster version of Lana Del Rey, but strangely also a bit like when Gwen Stefani raps. The songs all have roughly the same style, but in genre they could not be more different. “Boys Like You” is my favorite. It’s a slower but catchy mix of pop and R&B with a strong backing melody. Noyes has an interesting lyrical range, moving from thoughtful and serious to fierce and a little bit raunchy in just a few beats. Another good one is “Perspective,” which has a great chorus that stayed in my head all day. Pop lovers should definitely check her out.
Every time I hear Sam Smith’s voice, I fall in love with him all over again. His deep soulfulness awakens me. In this song, his voice is mixed with an amazing piano and bass dance groove from EDM producer Calvin Harris, whose ability to compose a winning mix of sounds never ceases to lure me in. He just knows what works. This combination of artists is as close to perfect is you can get. The lyrics are a tiny bit repetitive, but not annoying. Everything else about this dance song more than makes up for it, and it’s hard not to move when you hear it. Fans of Smith or Harris will adore this track. If you’re not fans yet, this one will win you over. I hope they continue this brilliant alliance.