Listen Up: July 2012

Overexposed
Maroon 5
$9.99 (Deluxe edition: $12.99)

With Adam Levine’s rising stardom, Maroon 5 couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate album name. The pop rock band, known years ago by heartfelt hits like She Will Be Loved, has transitioned into a big-name act in the music world and becomes more pop by the day. Will fame pay off and equal impressive album sales?
Payphone, the first single on Overexposed, floods radio stations and will undoubtedly pick up airtime throughout the summer. Levine’s auto-tuned voice makes him sound slightly chipmunk-like, but the catchy chorus makes it a true Billboard favorite. Wiz Khalifa joins the group for Payphone, which makes us wonder just who the rising band will partner with next?
Levine’s participation on The Voice contributes to the band’s national presence. Levine serves as a judge on the show alongside pop princess Christina Aguilera, country star Blake Shelton and one-hit wonder CeeLo.
Overexposed also marks Maroon 5’s first album release with the obligatory explicit tag. Our little old garage band has truly grown up and officially gone mainstream.
If you want to see Maroon 5 in concert this month, you’ll have to travel to Santiago, Chile. The band will be touring out of the country into fall, but visit maroon5.com to keep up with the band’s updating show schedule.
Maroon 5 also rereleased a deluxe version of Songs About Jane, the 2002 album that made the band a household name. Our advice: If you liked the old Maroon 5, go for the Songs About Jane rerelease. If you’re more into mainstream pop, consider Overexposed.

Suddenly
Israel Gonzales
$7.92

Every once and awhile, Fort Worth, Texas stumbles upon a local gem so talented, we’re not sure how we got lucky enough to cultivate such artists in our own city. With a voice John Mayer should be jealous of, Israel Gonzales supplies the perfect blend of heart and talent.
The soft guitar on the title track, Suddenly, showcases Gonzales’s musicality. Mellow tracks on the album give Gonzales’s music a summery feel, ideal for relaxing and reading by the pool or listening to on a long flight to the beach.
Gonzales said he drew his inspiration from Dave Matthews when he started because “he made playing the acoustic guitar so easy.” Listening to Gonzales play the guitar, it’s safe to say he mastered that ease as well. Now, he looks to Amos Lee, Gavin DeGraw, and John Mayer as role models for his developing sound.
As for Gonzales’s lyrics, we couldn’t have said it any better than he did: “My style of writing and singing is what makes me stand out from other artists. I enjoy writing fun-smart-quirky songs that usually contain soulful vocals, honest lyrics and colorful metaphors. My hope is to have the listener tap their foot to a nice melody or maybe even sing along to a catchy chorus!”
It’s always refreshing to find an artist who uses his talent for good. The kind-hearted artist played for the Danielle LeBlanc Memorial Benefit Concert for Battered Women & Children in May.

Wild Ones
Flo Rida
(price not yet released)

Flo Rida drops his fourth studio album hot off the trail of hit single and album namesake, Wild Ones. The hip-hop artist, who hails from Florida (no surprise there), has been accumulating fans since his first full-length album back in 2008 with the help of other famous rappers.
Low, featuring T-Pain, and In the Ayer, featuring Will.I.am, propelled Flo Rida to national stardom after his first album, Mail on Sunday, dropped. Thanks to his famous friends, hit radio stations gobbled up Flo Rida’s tunes and the rest is history. The rapper held his ground through two additional full-length albums and carved out his own unique identity with his party-starting hits.
Wild Ones, the first single off of the album, features the talented Sia, an Australian singer with a voice that nearly matches Rihanna’s. Sia stands out with her choppy blonde bob, but she may not exactly be a household name in the States. The Australian songstress collaborated with Christina Aguilera aiding in songwriting on Aguilera’s 2010 album Bionic before linking up with Flo Rida. Sia truly completes Wild Ones with her catchy melody that you won’t be able to get out of your head.
Whistle also stands out as a catchy single off Wild Ones. Flo Rida performed Whistle on the Season 2 finale of The Voice, much to the audience’s pleasure.
Flo Rida’s 2009 single Right Round holds the record for the biggest debut digital sales week for any single, according to Atlantic Records. It’s likely Wild Ones will bring in the big bucks, too.