CD REVIEW: Miley Cyrus, ‘Bangerz’

HMO102813MILEYGoodbye, Hannah Montana; hello tongue-wagging, midriff-baring, inappropriately twerking Miley Cyrus. Slipping out of her child-star skin, the infamous booty shaker leads a band of misfits to independence and self-empowerment on Bangerz, a fully realized breakout from Billy Ray’s former Disney-star daughter. She’s not so innocent anymore, and that’s the point. At 20, Miley marks each song on her fourth release — from the single that launched her reinvention, “We Can’t Stop”, to the “edgy” vulgarities on “Do My Thang” — with the same defiance of the tattoo she got without telling her mom. It’s actually kind of … liberating.

It’s just not all that surprising of a girl gone wild: “Love Money Party” — a song so straightforward it makes Ke$ha look like a code that needs cracking — is exactly what’s expected of a collection that has derived its name from the British word for sausage. Thankfully, Bangerz takes some interesting detours: “SMS”, featuring Britney Spears, is rooted in delicious Euro-house; “Adore You”, a strange way to launch and really kind of drudging, is sweet-sounding Cyrus, who parts the hardcore image for this vulnerable slow jam; “My Darlin’” is a bizarre-but-not-bad and shockingly moving, collaboration with rap emcee Future that works a “Stand by Me” sample into fuzzy synths and a booming bass line.

Then there’s “4×4” where old Miley lingers in the twang leanings of the track’s “Cotton-Eyed Joe” gallop. It’s weirder than watching her hold up a fat foam finger on the VMAs. And in the case of Bangerz and its coming-out celebration, weird is good — and sometimes, even damn inspirational.

Three stars.

HMO102813HAIMHaim, Days Are Gone.  The charm of sibling trio Haim — twentysomething hipster sisters inspired by all the best early ’90s music you’ve been missing — is just the half of it. The fast-rising California girl group obviously knows their way around a spirited easy-on-the-ears melody, and the ones on their outstanding Days Are Gone are ready to take over the charts. The blog-buzzed “Forever,” originally released on EP last year, features Danielle Haim’s whipped phrasing, a frenzied sound and a handclap breakdown, all coalescing into a thrilling pop piece. Percolating underneath these grooves are the throwback sounds of TLC, Prince and the Eurythmics, yesteryear’s heavy hitters who, along with Fleetwood Mac, have clearly laid the foundation for Haim’s R&B-tinged, classic rock-toned nu-folk. With the funkiness of a late ’80s jam, the title track — co-written with Jessie Ware, whose electro-soul presence just subtly shows up — sounds as awesomely old-school as it does new millennial.

When the chorus comes, it’s as if Florence Welch went back a few decades and recorded one of the era’s biggest hits. A standout, certainly, is “Falling”, a punchy girl-power chant delivering an “if it gets rough, it’s time to get rough” mantra. And “The Wire”, with its vintage rock bop, is a sonic burst of divinity. Haim’s songs aren’t fussy, they’re not overproduced, and besides their obvious brilliance and infectiousness, what these girls do so well is make something new out of something old.

Four stars.

— Chris Azzopardi

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Make it twerk: The Big Freedia interview

BigFreedia1A lot of folks never heard the work “twerk” until last month, when Miley Cyrus’ embarrassing jiggling at the MTV Music Awards went viral. But the dance move has been around for decades, and no one knows it more than NOLA gal Big Freedia. Our celeb stalker Chris Azzopardi sat down with the Queen of Bounce to discuss the controversy, her very special gender identity and her new reality series.

Big Freedia likes big butts and she cannot lie — but, for the purpose of the dirty dance du jour known as twerking, size ain’t no thang.

“You just gotta know how to work it,” says the New Orleans-cultured bounce-music trailblazer, who asserts that even a little pancake fanny can do the job. “They have lots of flat asses in New Orleans, and they definitely know how to work ‘em.”

Expect those rumps to work and twerk on Big Freedia’s new reality show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, now airing for an eight-episode run on the cable music channel Fuse. For its kick-off last week, the network hosted a throng of ass-shakers in the Big Apple. Drawing 350-plus twerkers, the first event of its kind broke into the Guinness World Records. Why now?

“Everything has its time and season,” Freedia says, “and right now is the time and season of the twerking.”

And for proof, look no further than this year’s MTV Video Music Awards last month, where Miley Cyrus generated a flurry of bad buzz for twerking up on Robin Thicke. Even Freedia wasn’t impressed.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WHAT’S BREWING: Equality becoming Republican problem, hate crimes and Miley’s middle finger up

Gov. Rick Perry

1. A new study shows that it’s becoming more tricky for Republicans to oppose same-sex marriage, as Gov. Rick Perry found recently. According to the Washington Post, it used to be that you were either for it or against it. Now, as more states legalize equality and polls show more than half of all Americans support equality, it’s a net gain for politicians to support equality as well.

2. As more people support equality, hate crimes against the LGBT community, including murder, also increased last year. USA Today reports biased-based crimes were up 13 percent. Although 61 percent did not report the crimes to the police, more than half of those who did found indifferent attitudes from the police. Offenders were mostly strangers and were mostly white, heterosexual men.

3. The LA Times reports that an ally of the LGBT community has added a new symbol of support. Miley Cyrus has a new tattoo — an equal sign — on her middle finger.

—  David Taffet

Miley writes for the gays

If I’m not shooing away a certain co-worker desperate for Miley Cyrus’ latest CD (hi Ramon!), then I find this piece on the teen queen. Her album hasn’t even been out a week and Cyrus bombardment has already ensued. Even as such, this piece of entertainment news was surprisingly impressive.

Miley had a very touching and open-minded moment Monday night that we should all recognize. At her performance at the House of Blues L.A., she performed a song off her new album titled, “My Heart Beats for Love.” “I wrote this for my gay fans,” Miley said. “Everyone has the right to love each other and no one should feel discriminated or judged for that.”

The best part of the piece is the question and poll posed to everyone. At the end of the article, we’re asked “Do you think Miley Cyrus should sing about gay relationships, or do you prefer she leave homosexual issues out of her music?” followed by a voting poll asking the same thing. The lone comment was in support of her taking on the issue, but really, it just feels like writer Liz Gellar wanted to egg on a heated debate. Or perhaps the people at Gather.com. By the looks of the votes though, it looks like most people are pretty cool with it.

— Rich Lopez

—  Dallasvoice

What's Brewing 6/4/10: Family Research Council, Bill O'Reilly, Miley Cyrus

1. Joe.My.God. has obtained a financial report showing that the Family Research Council paid $25,000 to lobby members of Congress to oppose a resolution denouncing Uganda’s plan to execute homosexuals. In other words, the Family Research Council actively supports the death penalty for LGBT people. In other words, they don’t just hate us, they’re literally trying to kill us.

2. Remember that gay McDonald’s ad from France we posted here the other day? Well Fox News host Bill O’Reilly doesn’t like it. In fact, he says if there’s going to be a gay McDonald’s ad, there should also be one that features al-Qaeda. Wait a second, doesn’t he mean that other terrorist group, the Family Research Council?

3. OMG, Miley Cyrus totally pretended to, like, kiss a girl on stage last night!!! (It’s at the 1:08 mark in the above video.)

—  John Wright

Miley Cyrus at AAC last night

Miley Cyrus took over the American Airlines Center last night. Even though you might think Ms. Cyrus is just for tween girls and their willing parents (well, it is really), a couple of colleagues just had to have their Miley fix. Chance and Ramon added to their unusually busy concert itinerary with Miss Hannah Montana herself. They danced and Tweeted the night away but I asked them to write up the show from their seats — again.

—  Rich Lopez