CD Reviews: The-Dream, Zo! and Quadron

Sultry R&B

The-Dream, IV Play, (Def Jam)

As successful as The-Dream’s solo career has been, it’s mind blowing that his fifth studio album, IV Play, is so awful. His vulgar and overwrought sex talk drains the replay value from these 18 tracks. Whether it be the corny “Michael” or the cheesy sexual innuendo of “Equestrian,” The-Dream has hit the creative wall. Even support from Beyoncé, 2 Chainz, Jay-Z and Pusha T is wasted as each seems to phone it in. If you dig deep you may find a gem (“Self-Conscious”), but the diamonds are surrounded by so much that it’s better you not waste your time. ★☆☆☆☆

Grown-Up Soul Music

Zo!, ManMade (FE+)

As part of the Foreign Exchange family, one can expect Zo! to continue the trend of mature soul music. The multi-instrumentalist enlists the likes of Phonte, Sy Smith, Carlitta Durand and Jeanne Jolly to lay vocals over his silky-smooth production. The sassy “Body Rock” epitomizes ManMade’s fetish for ’90s R&B flair. Most of the album feels like something pulled from smoky speakeasies where dwellers snap their fingers in appreciation. Whether it be the feel-good vibes of “Show Me The Way” or funky bass groove of “We Are On The Move,” Zo! nails the R&B aesthetic. ★★★★☆

Euro Soul

Quadron, Avalanche (Epic)

The dynamic Danish duo’s second album, Avalanche, proves that Robin Hannibal and Coco O won’t remain R&B’s best-kept secret for much longer. Avalanche is a thing of musical bliss: Coco O’s sweet vocals and Hannibal’s breezy production work wonders. Songs such as “Favorite Star” and lead single “Hey Love” beg for mainstream acceptance without being pretentiously progressive. They even grab hip-hop’s current wunderkind Kendrick Lamar for “Better Off” without having to bend their sound to conform to Lamar’s unique wordplay. If people were whispering about Quadron before, Avalanche will have them shouting. ★★★★☆

Disc Scan

Upcoming on Andreas’ radar …

JULY 2: Juicy J looks to ride his recent wave of success apart from Three Six Mafia as he drops Stay Trippy. JULY 9: Super bassist Thundercat and his funky grooves will invade our ears with Apocalypse. JULY 16: The highly anticipated solo album from Pusha T, My Name Is My Name, finally hits the shelves, and with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint behind him we can expect some great music.

Suggested Next Read

A Time-Traveling Murder Mystery Makes 'The Shining Girls' Shine


A Time-Traveling Murder Mystery Makes 'The Shining Girls' Shine

By M. Scott Krause

South African writer Lauren Beukes came up with a killer premise for her latest novel, The Shining Girls (Mulholland Books, $26). What if a murderer could travel through time, stalk his victims as children and return to murder them as adults? It’s a gimmick, yes, but also a clever narrative tool. All that time travel allows Buekes to shift dates (from 1930s-era Chicago to the 1990s) and points of view (from murderer to victim and back again) whenever she likes.