Uptown Special

Even if you've been living in a cave for the past year or so, you've likely heard the chart-topping single off this album, featuring Bruno Mars, because “Uptown Funk” will be damned if it doesn't give it to ya. It's dance-friendly and fun, but whatever, so is the rest of Mark Ronson's Uptown Special, loaded as it is with old-school disco and funk jams given glossy electro-treatments by the British DJ/songwriter/producer. Considering that general aesthetic, cynics might say Uptown Special serves as a heavy-handed successor to Daft Punk's 2013 neo-retro classic, Random Access Memories. And they'd be right. But they'd also be right to gush about Ronson's featured collaborations with Kevin Parker, the force behind Australian psych-rockers Tame Impala. (Summary: Everything Parker touches turns to gold.) “Daffodils,” for instance, is a bangin' bit of club-fodder built around one strutting riff, first played on guitar and then with monster synths. Then there's the the bouncy lo-fi affair “Leaving Los Feliz,” which fades with harpsichord reminiscent of the Baroque-inspired bridge in The Beatles' “In My Life.” And for that, it's the sweetest moment on Uptown Special. Also, if you've always wanted to hear rapper Mystikal's best James Brown impression, you're about to get lucky.