New Music Releases: Week of February 12, 2016

By: Jacob Elyachar,

Welcome to another exciting edition of New Music Releases! Let’s get things started.


Elton John Wonderful Crazy Night

Elton John’s “Wonderful Crazy Night” is an instant classic. (Album cover property of Mercury Records)

Wonderful Crazy Night by Elton John

Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin are one of my all-time favorite songwriting teams. Between Bernie’s superb lyrics and Elton’s outstanding arrangements, they have conquered countless music charts and earned numerous awards throughout their nearly 50-year-partnership. Wonderful Crazy Night continues to show the gold standard that both longtime fans and critics expect from this dynamic duo.  In addition to the fantastic tracks, Wonderful Crazy Night reunites the legendary piano man with the Elton John Band, who last recorded with the Kennedy Center Honoree on 2006’s The Captain & The Kid.  I really hope that the Recording Academy takes notice and remembers this album for the 2017 Grammy Awards, because it is a brilliant album that highlights Sir Elton’s musical legacy. Congrats, Mr. John! Wonderful Crazy Night is my Album of the Week! A+

Tracks to Download:Wonderful Crazy Night,” “Blue Wonderful,” “A Good Heart,” “Looking Up,” “Guilty Pleasure” & “England and America”

It’s Not Over…The Hits So Far by Daughtry

I cannot believe that it has been 10 years since Chris Daughtry and his band released their self-titled debut album. Their first greatest hits album, It’s Not Over…The Hits So Far, showcases the evolution of their sound. From hard rock tracks such as “It’s Not Over” and “No Surprise” to pop rock anthems “Home” and “Feels Like Tonight,” the album essentially captures what makes this band special to its fans. While it would have been nice to have had “What I Want” (their 2006 collaboration with Slash) and “Long Way Down” (their 2009 collaboration with Timbaland) on the album, I am glad that the band decided to release new material for this milestone album.  Congratulations, Daughtry on your 10th anniversary and here’s to 10 more years of wonderful music.  B

Tracks to Download: “It’s Not Over,” “Long Live Rock & Roll,” “Life After You” & “Torches

Drive North by SWMRS

One rising act that I predict will make a splash in the music industry is Oakland-based punk rock band SWMRS. Composed of Cole Becker (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Max Becker (lead vocals and lead guitar), Joey Armstrong (drums/percussion/backing vocals) and Seb Mueller (bass and backing vocals), this quartet has breathed new energy into the punk rock genre thanks to the combination of their vicious guitar licks, edgy vocals and stalkerish lyrics. I am very surprised that this group has not been signed by a major record label, because they could be the Green Day of Generation Z. I hope that SWMRS have a long and successful career in this industry. A-

Tracks to Download: “Harry Dean,” “Turn Up,” “Figuring It Out,” “Uncool” & “Miley


Caleb Johnson Holding On

Caleb Johnson’s “Holding On” is a brilliant comeback song! (Album cover property of Big Johnson Records)


Holding On” by Caleb Johnson

When some artists lose their recording contract, they think it is the end of the world. Not Caleb Johnson! The American Idol XIII winner parted ways with Interscope late last year but emerged like a phoenix with his first single off of new label: Big Johnson Records. This song is absolutely epic! I wished that whoever was in charge of Caleb’s debut record used this track on Testify because it would have dominated the rock charts! However, by going on the independent track, Caleb would not only possibly regain the fans that he possibly lost during the Interscope era, but also cement his status as a force to be reckoned with in the rock music scene. Congrats, Caleb:” Holding On” is my Song of the Week! A

Make Me Like You” by Gwen Stefani

The last time, we received a solo Gwen Stefani studio album was in 2006, when she released The Sweet Escape. A lot has happened to Ms. Stefani over the past ten years: she became a mom and fashion entrepreneur, reunited with No Doubt, became a coach on The Voice, divorced husband Gavin Rossdale and quickly found love in Blake Shelton. “Make Me Like You” is Gwen’s second single off of her upcoming album: This is What the Truth Feels Like and instantly will take listeners back to Gwen’s The Sweet Escape days. Kudos to Ms. Stefani’s co-writers and production team (Semi-Precious Weapons’ Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels, and Mattman & Robin) for bringing Gwen back to the forefront in the Top 40 category. I can’t wait to see this single be performed live at the Grammys. B+

Stand in the Light” by Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith’s debut album since he won The Voice is quickly approaching.  While I am a little surprised that a bulk of Something Beautiful is filled with covers, after listening to “Stand in the Light” that I realized that Universal Music Group’s A&R group might have found a rough time coming up with finding original material to fit Jordan’s one-of-a-kind voice in a limited time span. Lauren Christy’s “Stand in the Light” fits Jordan like a glove, and the production value is fantastic. I hope that we get to hear more of these types of songs from Jordan in the future. A-


Dan + Shay's "From the Future Up" foreshadows the future in country music. (Album artwork property of Warner Music Nashville)

Dan + Shay’s “From the Future Up” foreshadows the future in country music. (Album artwork property of Warner Music Nashville)

From the Ground Up” by Dan + Shay

When it comes to country music, I am very picky about which acts I listen to and rally around. However, when I wandered into the iTunes country section, I found a song that took my ears by surprise: “From the Ground Up” by Dan + Shay.  This duo’s impeccable songwriting and production knowledge (assisted by country music mainstays Chris DeStefano and Scott Hendricks) made me pause this critique and realize that not only Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney have a bright future in the country music industry, but also might be the millennial generation’s keepers of inspirational and down-to-earth country music.  I hope that they continue to persevere and build their audience because they could be one of the greats. A

I do not own any of the clips that are featured in the article. They belong to the artists and their respective record labels.

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar