Happy Friday everyone! You don’t have to be an avid cord-cutter to have heard that Voltron has been brought back to life by Netflix. If you didn’t know, now you do! A whole new 11-episode season has just been dropped like an anvil on Wile E. Coyote. And, to make a seemingly ordinary Friday in June that much better, there are two new alternative albums that I strongly recommend you check out. You wouldn’t know it by turning on the radio, but there is still good music being made out there. Best June 10th ever? Well, on 6/10/1963 JFK signed “equal pay for equal work,” but 6/10/2016 is now a close second. Soak it all in!
VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER
This much-anticipated brand new animated series is a collaboration between Netflix and Dreamworks (the geniuses behind Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, et al.). Am I too old to be watching “cartoons?” Perhaps, but forgive me if I want an animated palate-cleanser from my daughter’s incessant clamoring for Dora the Explorer or Jake and the Never Land Pirates!
If you don’t have Netflix, go out right now and “borrow” a login from a friend or family member so you can watch Voltron. Netflix won’t mind and you certainly won’t regret it. The new series season contains a one-hour pilot episode and 10 more 20-minute episodes. Obligations to my “job” and my “family” prevent me from consuming the entire season in one morning, but after watching the pilot, I can say it’s a solid offering. The animation, voice-acting and dialog are all pretty good, with just the right dose of humor (mostly from the token fat guy, and the great Rhys Darby). The pilot episode builds with a good pace, one lion at a time. There’s some plot, but just enough to keep the action moving. I like the new series, but I’m also not intimately familiar with the history of the franchise. If you’re a huge fan, you might have different feelings.
If you’re looking for more original streaming content that is a little off the beaten path, check out the 11.22.63 mini-series produced by Hulu. It’s a great adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Stephen King. Its 8 episodes were released earlier in 2016.
NEW ALTERNATIVE ALBUMS
KONGOS – a grooving South African-born alternative rock band with a splash of accordion – have built on the formula of their hit single “Come With Me Now” with their latest offering, Egomaniac. The new lead single “Take It From Me” feels like the old hit, yet it’s unique and somehow even better. There is quite a musical variety among the other album tracks. “I Don’t Mind” has a well-paced groove with some unique and infectious vocal cadences (“and I know what I know, girl, but I don’t know what I know when I know it”). I’m not as fond of their slower tracks, like “Where I Belong,” but those are easy enough to skip over. Unfortunately, the album didn’t debut on Spotify today, but hopefully it will be up and running soon!
Fitz and The Tantrums – a relatively new alternative/indie pop band from LA – are trying to surpass the success of their sophomore album More Than Just A Dream with a spankin’ new self-titled album. I thought it would be difficult for them to make songs better than “The Walker” and “Out Of My League,” but “HandClap” might fit the bill with an infectious bass line and a fun sample of saxophone. The rest of the album is upbeat and positive (undeniably more “pop” than the new KONGOS album), but there are a few misses. Still, even my least favorite tracks are pretty damn catchy. On the back half of the album there are some good rally/anthem type songs, “Get Right Back” and “A Place For Us.” Overall, I enjoyed the lyrical depth of the KONGOS album a little more, but this one is certainly worth streaming!
If you need more music to look forward to, The Avett Brothers are releasing a new album in two weeks (June 24) titled True Sadness. The pre-release single “Ain’t No Man” is a fantastic little jam. You’re bound to have a great weekend after a Friday like this one!