GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

March 6, 2014

Las Vegas Weekly

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46 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM MARCH 612, 2014 MILEY CYRUS PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE MARCUS A& E | NOISE Real Estate's sophomore release, 2011's Days, is easily this decade's worst-sounding best album. Through a laptop, the Jersey band's super-relaxed, jingle-jangle indie pop sounded mighty wimpy and unengaged. Blasting it in a car was a little better, but the foggy production still made you feel left out, like everything was happening two apartments down the hall. You kept listening, though, because that's what great albums make you do. The terriic news is that all and nothing has changed with Atlas. As the opening notes of "Had to Hear" chime in, it's clear somebody inally learned how to mic a studio properly. Everything else, thankfully, is pretty much the same: more loping pop melodies backed by twin-guitar and the twin vocals of Matt Mondanile and Martin Courtney, plus another irresistible instrumental break ("April's Song"). It's Days: New and Improved, basically, and you should introduce yourself. –Smith Galtney Pharrell Williams' enduring ability to stay atop the pop and hip-hop charts has much to do with his collaborators. From his time push- ing out kaleidoscopic beats as part of über-suc- cessful production duo The Neptunes to rakish appearances on hits by Snoop Dogg, Robin Thicke and Daft Punk, the 40-year-old is smart about the company he keeps. On his solid solo album GIRL—a record that comes on the heels of an Oscar nomination for the relentlessly peppy "Happy," which also appears here—Wil- liams again turns to his pals for creative boosts. Justin Timberlake lends vocal panache to the horn-sprinkled bubblegum soul cut "Brand New," while Daft Punk augments the string-sliced disco of "Gust of Wind" with ap- propriately mangled robo-funk backing vocals. Elsewhere, Miley Cyrus adds bellowing soul to the busy, hopscotching twang of "Come Get It Bae" and JoJo appears on "Freq," a sultry R&B hidden track that advocates for "individuality" (after all, it "makes life better") via silk-sheet sighs and shivering croons. The only real misstep is "Know Who You Are;" Alicia Keys' Mariah Carey-caliber warbling can't redeem the reggae-lite music and plodding tempo. Paradoxically, GIRL is most compelling (and focused) when Williams stays in the spot- light—from the funk-pop jam "Hunter" to the futuristic "Marilyn Monroe," a sleek synth-pop gem stacked with falsetto singing, corrugated guitar and dramatic strings. Without the added cushion of a musical foil, he has only himself on which to rely, and more often than not, he rises to the occasion. –Annie Zaleski A L B U M LUCKY STREAK Pharrell rounds up his famous friends for a solid 'solo' disc Just after 9 p.m. Saturday night, amid manic shrieks and flailing foam fingers, Miley Cyrus descended from her own mouth onto the stage of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, unfurling from a tongue- slide that lapped forth from a giant likeness of her head. The 100-minute show, which was as weird and meme-referencing as one might expect, offered Ren & Stimpy-style car- toons, 3D skulls and background dancers in furry costumes. Miley did her thang, accosting a giant pink Muppet during "FU," grinding on a hot dog during "Someone Else" and snuggling with some little people in a big bed during "Get It Right." It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, by her standards—a cannabis-emblazoned leotard here, a fan makeout there—hey, at least she's consistent. She nailed the dance moves, belted out the high notes and otherwise committed to every aspect of the performance, affirming her post-Disney identity with just two songs from her pre-Bangerz days and five covers. The latter gave Miley, seated on a stool in an over- sized T-shirt, the opportunity to showcase some real singing chops while taking a breather from beating us over the head with her newly "broken bad" persona. In many ways, her interpretations of other people's songs more effectively showcase the new, adult Miley than her controversial image rebranding ever has. Her versions of Outkast's "Hey Ya," Linda Ronstadt's "Ruler of My Heart" and Dolly Parton's "Jolene" revealed subtlety in her style and a no-frills range and ferocity in her voice. However you feel about her music, there's no denying that the girl can sing. But she's still got some growing up to do. Her take on Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness," while technically superior to the original, lacked the mel- ancholy that made it distinct. Similarly, her conventional sleek-and-sexy delivery of Arctic Monkeys' "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" all but declawed the original. Miley's got her "wild child" image on lock, but her commitment to pulling out the stops is starting to feel a little one-speed, and even her most soulful per- formances Saturday night could have benefitted from a little emotional nuance. When the tongue-wagging, booty-shaking hype dies down, it'll be interesting to see what remains of Miley—and what follows. aaabc MILEY CYRUS March 1, MGM Grand Garden Arena. C O N C E R T RELIABLY WILD Miley Cyrus gives us antics, of course, but also proves she can sing BY ANDREA DOMANICK > CHECKMATE Who needs pants when your tongue is your best accessory? A L B U M PHARRELL WILLIAMS GIRL aaacc REAL E STATE Atlas aaaac 46_Noise 1_20140306_CB.indd 46 3/5/14 3:59 PM

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