Armin van Buuren, Intense (Armada)
The world’s No. 1 DJ, leader of the #TranceFamily and host of A State of Trance radio show releases his fifth studio album, Intense. The 15 tracks show why Armin van Buuren is so revered in the electronic music world: He finds the perfect balance between the emotions of trance music and a modern edge to the sound. Also featuring a collaboration with Nervo, singers Emma Hewitt and Richard Belford, plus live orchestration and a nod to the origins of trance with “Who’s Afraid of 138?!” the album and its experience from start to finish are sheer perfection. ★★★★★
Kastle, Kastle (Symbols Recordings)
Funky forward-thinking fusion. The debut album from San Francisco’s Kastle melds intelligent bass music with a dash of soulful R&B, hip-hop rhymes, house and a bit of garage for a smooth-grooving offering that can entice a variety of audiences. Crossing from baby-making music to downtempo electronic innovation, tracks also have atmospheric elements and low-end lines that haunt while still having heart. Standouts include the sexy “Insatiable” and getting a bit sassy on house-y “Things We Can Do.” The album does lag a bit at times, like on “Respiration,” but overall a solid first offering. ★★★☆☆
Justice, Access All Arenas (Ed Banger Records)
There’s some difficulty in listening to an album that mainly showcases audience applause. Such is the case on Justice’s live album Access All Arenas. If you’ve seen Justice live, you can almost visualize the accompanying production; if you haven’t, the album can become annoying with the repetition of key Justice samples sprinkled throughout (“We. Are. Your friends” over and over anyone?). And was the 47 seconds of cheering, i.e. “Encore,” necessary to include on the album version? Save your money and stream it on Spotify. ★☆☆☆☆
Upcoming on Deanna’s Radar …
MAY 28: Sprechgesang anyone? The U.K.’s Tricky returns with his smooth lyrical pioneering trip-hop stylings with his next album, False Idols. The first release, “Nothing’s Changed” shows he’s still got it. JUNE 4: Yup, Filter is still around, and the band returns with its sixth studio release, The Sun Comes Out Tonight. JUNE 11: And for a dose of comedy, The Lonely Island releases The Wack Album.