Brandy, “Cigarette”

Brandy offers up some new melancholy music on the breakup tip. “Cigarette”’s  synth-driven audio, coupled with Brandy’s raspy alto, adds emphasis to the sadness conveyed by the tune. Miss Norwood sings, “Never say what you won’t do, ’cause in love you become a fool/Can’t deny I’m blinded by a devil in disguise/So I’m takin’ shots to the head, and after that/You can catch me smokin’ on a cigarette ’cause you left.” Rumor has it Brandy is working on a follow-up album to last year’s Two Eleven. This isn’t the strongest song for a single, but it’s a good teaser tune for = potential goodness to come.

Teedra Moses, “Secrets of Life”

Teedra Moses blessed us with her airy soprano in the name of charity. “Secrets of Life” is a “keep your head up” anthem created in the name of helping people affected by the foreclosure crisis to get back into homes and homeownership. All proceeds for purchases of this song go toward America’s Random Kindness, a non-profit organization geared toward helping said people in need. The no-frills song is simple and low-key. Teedra’s voice is the central focus and she carries the tune well.

Maryam Saleh, “Nouh al Hamam”

Here, Oddisee proves he’s a true producer with an unbiased ear for recognizing good music. He teamed up with Egyptian singer Maryam Saleh, who’s part of a collective of female singers from Tunisia, Lybia and Egypt. This song is the product of a Jakarta Records studio session where Oddisee and Maryam Saleh made magic. I don’t speak Arabic, so I don’t know what she’s saying. But the sound, an amalgamation of traditional Arab music and contemporary Western musical genres, is so fluid, haunting and rich that I couldn’t pass up the chance to post this. The song is part of a project entitled Sawtuha, Arabic for “her voice.”

Alex Isley, “Retro-Wilhelm”

Alex Isley, daughter of the legendary Ernie Isley, is back with a cover of “Retrograde” and “The Wilhelm Scream,” which were both written and performed by James Blake. Isley’s nod is a beautiful mashup of the songs. The song isn’t very lyrically driven, but Isley’s ethereal vocals blend in with the actual audio in a masterfully created mix perfect for mellowing out or meditation.  

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and love. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl or at