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Calvin Harris, “18 Months” (Columbia Records)
Calvin Harris’ third album, “18 Months,” plays like a greatest-hits record, and it is hard to shake the feeling that the electronic singer-DJ-producer is trying to sell us something that we already have.
A lot of the tracks have been released by their collaborator, and listening to them again on his CD is more nostalgic than anything else. However, the record reminds us just how good Harris is.
Working alongside female vocalists such as Kelis, Rihanna and Florence Welch, Harris seems to instinctively know which song suits which performer: There’s monster hit “We Found Love,” the perfect pop song with Rihanna; Kelis is the star of “Bounce,” with its funky repetition; and “I Need Your Love” with Ellie Goulding couples her twinkling dreamy voice with the electronic direction that Goulding herself uses on her new album.
But highlights aren’t just with female acts. Rapper Tinie Tempah, who experiments with pitch, is on one of the best tracks, the playful “Drinking From the Bottle.”
“18 Months,” with its big, thumping European beats, shows that Harris’ future is bright, whether lending his vocals — like on the hit “Feels So Close” — or producing in the background.
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By choosing to hop across the pond and record his forthcoming EP and album in Glasgow, Scotland, the Southern California singer-songwriter Matt Costa intentionally made himself a fish out of water. The result: his bittersweet new single, “Good Times.”
“Every night, after we got done recording, I would walk back to my flat above Sauchiehall Street; folks were shuffling in and out of bars,” Costa tells Rolling Stone. “I’d stop, get a drink, then head up to the room. I started thinking about all the ‘Good Times’ those folks were having and how it seemed like they would never come to an end. In the early morning, it would die down and everyone disappeared to their corners of the city. I would wake up to the sound of seagulls, head downstairs and do it all over again.”
“Good Times” is an anthem for the ambivalent. As Costa sings, “Everyone smiles for a sad song/ Especially when they’re riding high.” This dichotomy is backed by the heavy texturing of a solid downbeat, folk-rock acoustic guitar and a jubilant horn section.