Kings of Leon ~ Only By The Night Friday, October 03, 2008 @ 15:53:42 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Kings of Leon
CD Title: Only By The Night (RCA)
Like last year's Because of the Times, Only by the Night is long on
astral, arena-ready largeness, with blippy keyboards, droney guitars and whoa-oh-oh
backing vocals. Frontman Caleb Followill cranks up his Allman Brothers howl,
turning out big choruses with sometimes tough-to-parse lyrics and deep-feeling
melodies reportedly influenced by pain meds he began taking after shoulder surgery.
- Christian Hoard, Rolling
In the context of a career arc this level of creativity makes perfect sense.
Their sound has had a good five years to grow from post-adolescent indie to
full-blown, manly stadium glory. All those U2 support slots have now been fed
back into the machine. And, like U2, a timely change of production team (losing
Ethan Johns but retaining Angelo Petraglia) brings a new focus.
- Chris Jones,
Where surprises could be found with each previous release to give even casual
fans something to appreciate, Only by the Night delivers an even serving
of Ritalin coma stadium rock destined to raise their prime age demographic.
I can’t see this getting them invited to a UN meeting any time soon, but the
Hard Rock Café will surely save them a table.
- Filmore Mescalito Holmes, Pop
Ne-Yo ~ Year of the Gentleman Friday, October 03, 2008 @ 15:51:39 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Ne-Yo
CD Title: Year of the Gentleman (Def Jam)
Beyond its genuine lyrics, Gentleman also proves that Ne-Yo is a brilliant
pop omnivore, gifted with a silky voice and an ability to pull everything from
the Beatles to Stevie Wonder to clubland synths under his sonic umbrella. He
plays quick beats off slow vocals on the Stargate-produced "Closer," deploys
clarinet and harpsichord on the Seventies-pop "So You Can Cry" and pulls out
tinkling piano for "Lie to Me," a real-talk meditation on unfaithfulness.
- Caryn Ganz, Rolling
The Year of the Gentleman is one of those rarities where every song
could legitimately be a single. He mines a slow-burning vintage Prince-ly groove
for the stunningly effective "Fade Into the Background," especially when paired
with the alternate-ending "So You Can Cry." Ne-Yo has gotten so good that he
can even pull off "I'm sorry I won't attend your pity party/I'd rather go have
calamari" in grand style. That's a sign this is clearly Ne-Yo's Year.
- Glenn Gamboa,
On his third disc in as many years, the 28-year-old Southerner with the Michael
Jackson falsetto not only wears his heart on his sleeve, he lets it bleed down
his (no doubt high-thread-count) cuff. From the let's-hear-it-for-the-girl paean
''Miss Independent'' to Year of the Gentleman's self-deprecating ''Why
Does She Stay,'' he clearly worships at the Church of the Lady Superior. But
by the time he hits his stirring finale, ''Stop This World,'' you'll be ready
to take him home to Mama.
- Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment
Metallica ~ Death Magnetic Friday, October 03, 2008 @ 15:49:48 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Metallica
CD Title: Death Magnetic (Warner Brothers)
In the Eighties, thrash metal wasn't a scene, it was an arms race: riffs kept
speeding up, drum kits got bigger. But with 1991's Black Album, Metallica
opted for unilateral disarmament, slowing their tempos, shortening their songs
and smelting their chugging guitars and piston-powered drums into armor-plated
pop hooks. After that, the band rushed from one reinvention to another, starting
with the Southern-rock infusion of 1996's Load and culminating in the
muddled, bizarrely produced group-therapy session of 2003's St. Anger.
No longer: Death Magnetic is the musical equivalent of Russia's invasion
of Georgia - a sudden act of aggression from a sleeping giant.
- Brian Hiatt, Rolling
Death Magnetic enacts the band's process of recovery, using a tried-and-true
method: game therapy. Throughout Death Magnetic, the band presents its
music as existing in its own space, uninfluenced by fashion or the news, true
only to its own rules and pleasures - like a game.
- Ann Powers,
Los Angeles Times
Though dubbed Death Magnetic, the album is more of a rebirth, with
Metallica exploring the past, but applying what they’ve learned during their
20 years at the top of the heavy metal slagheap, which means more finesse when
marking their territory.
- Jaan Uhelszki, Spin
Jennifer Hudson ~ Jennifer Hudson Friday, October 03, 2008 @ 15:48:11 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Jennifer Hudson
CD Title: Jennifer Hudson (Arista)
With her Oscar-winning performance in Dreamgirls and roles in movies
like Sex and the City and the upcoming The Secret Life of Bees,
Jennifer Hudson's singing career had become almost an afterthought. With the
release of her formidable, self-titled debut CD, it is now deservedly back in
- Mesfin Fekadu, Associated
Like Jennifer Holliday before her, Hudson possesses a mighty voice and a sometimes
excessively showy style that lends itself more to Broadway than the pop charts.
When she reins it all in with the right song, as she does on the smart Ne-Yo-penned
first single "Spotlight," Hudson is a charmer. But on the new CD, she gives
you far more calculated and overdone bombast than soulful nuance and subtlety
- Rashod D. Ollison,
Hudson's meaty voice dovetails well with the tough or mature songs. She's
one of R&B's few young singers whose voice has resisted the influence of modern
mall culture to retain a sense of place - specifically the South, with its hold
on soul. That explains why she also soars on the CD's sole gospel number, "Jesus
Promised Me a Home Over There."
- Jim Farber, New
York Daily News
BB King ~ One Kind Favor Saturday, September 06, 2008 @ 17:39:29 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: B.B. King
CD Title: One Kind Favor (Geffen)
Burnett did not produce a casual club set. The pianist is Dr. John, who - bolstered
by Jim Keltner on drums - regularly rolls King’s Mississippi-Memphis blues toward
New Orleans, especially with the second-line beat of “See That My Grave Is Kept
Clean.” Blues scholars could parse King’s deliberate homages to and divergences
from models such as Walker, Big Bill Broonzy and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The
album’s pristinely remodeled ambience is no more a purely vintage style than
the stereo (rather than mono) recording is. But the ache, the anger, the elegance
and the edge of King’s blues are undiminished and authentic.
- Jon Pareles,
New York Times / Access Atlanta
On One Kind Favor, King revisits the influential blues of his youth,
but don't expect some acoustic front-porch Delta simulation. King, as always,
transforms the music, employing his usual urban sophistication. At the same
time, there's something special going on here. With producer T Bone Burnett
building a bottom end that rumbles like a city bus, King pushes himself hard;
no band of hard rockers out there can match the icon's jagged solo on T-Bone
Walker's "I Get So Weary." Oh man, is it heavy.
- Justin Farrar,
This isn't just B.B. King's best album in years, it's one of the strongest
studio sets of his career, standing alongside classics such as Singin' the
Blues and Lucille. Where those early titles highlighted his youthful,
wailing vocals and stinging guitar, this one plays to King's current strengths:
the tear-stained vibrato of his mature voice, punctuated by raunchy licks.
- Marty Kemp, Rolling
Brian Wilson ~ That Lucky Old Sun Saturday, September 06, 2008 @ 17:35:45 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Brian Wilson
CD Title: That Lucky Old Sun (Capitol)
It's by no means an unqualified success: too often, Wilson lets his cornball
sensibility get the better of him, most glaringly on "Mexican Girl", whose descent
to a tasteless farrago of mariachi horns and Chicano clichés ("Hey bonita muchacha/Don't
you know that I wantcha?") is the album's least rewarding aspect. But overall,
it's probably better than we could reasonably expect from this most tragically
flawed of pop geniuses.
- Andy Gill,
A series of compact tunes and spoken reveries written by Wilson with Scott
Bennett and original Smile lyricist Van Dyke Parks, That Lucky Old
Sun is blatantly nostalgic in its pre-acid California dreaming (the title
cover was a 1949 hit for Frankie Laine) and echoes of Wilson's early less-troubled
bloom: the surf-side doo-wop of "Good Kind of Love," the deep saxes and vibraphone
in "Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl."
- David Fricke,
Aside from proving he's still got some of the best vocal harmonies around,
Wilson's That Lucky Old Sun shows he's a powerful conveyer of images,
sparking all the senses with his poetry. The words on the album - written by
collaborator Scott Bennett - make it easy to imagine being on Venice Beach watching
the homeless, or staring at the smog-drenched skyline of L.A.
- Monica Cady, Live
The Game ~ LAX Saturday, September 06, 2008 @ 17:24:19 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: The Game
CD Title: LAX (Interscope)
Oh, the drama! In his short career thus far, Jayceon Taylor has proven a swami
of media orchestration: introduced as the protégé of a hip-hop legend; gained
notoriety for breaking from said legend and beefing with a certified star by
album two; pondered retirement while recording and promoting his third album.
Which would be unbearable if he didn't continue to improve as an artist.
- Dan Nishimoto, Prefix
He's not afraid to put his influences out there - sometimes a little too directly,
as he gives props to N.W.A. in "State of Emergency" or in his flurry of shout-outs
to LeBron James and all things Cali. He's also not afraid to take some risks
in his rhymes. "He's leaking like a project sink, busted open like a hot dog
link," he spits in "Bulletproof Diaries" with Raekwon.
- Glenn Gamboa,
LAX is an intense and remarkably focused record - almost every syllable
concerns Compton, gangsta rap and (as one song title has it) "Game's Pain"
- but the minor-key, would-be emotive beats of tracks such as" Money"
or the Kanye West-produced "Angel" (featuring rapper Common) don't
bring the best out of his expressive flow.
- Angus Batey, The
Randy Newman ~ Harps & Angels Saturday, September 06, 2008 @ 17:06:31 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Randy Newman
CD Title: Harps & Angels (Nonesuch)
Newman works with piano, an orchestra and a Dixieland-style combo, using American
musical tradition to amplify irony and yank heartstrings. The best moments echo
classics like "Sail Away" and "Louisiana 1927," songs that mixed pathos and
bruised patriotism with brutal wit. The set's keystone is "A Few Words in Defense
of Our Country," released on iTunes last year.
- Will Hermes,
This album will only take up 36 minutes of your time. It'll make you laugh
and cry. After all, it's Randy Newman.
- Nick Reynolds,
Randy Newman could have titled his first new studio album in nine years More
Songs About Politicians, Dubious Old Men, and Humanity's Ineptitude, but
that would have been too obvious. Harps & Angels is a much better title,
because, like Newman’s best work, it hides its darkness in phony sunshine -
after all, this is the guy who wrote a song from the point of view of a God
who gets his kicks watching people suffer. God doesn’t make an appearance here,
though the narrator of the title track embellishes his near-death experience
to make a good story.
- Zeth Lundy, Boston
Beck ~ Modern Guilt Saturday, September 06, 2008 @ 17:02:26 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Beck
CD Title: Modern Guilt (Interscope)
Clocking in at just over half an hour in length and containing only 10 songs,
this could have been Beck's Contractual Obligation Album (it's his last release
for Interscope), but the mercurial performer seems to make interesting and enduring
music even when he's not trying very hard.
- Tjames Madison, Live
"Orphans" evokes the freewheeling spirit of the Zombies' Odessey
and Oracle; the chug of "Gamma Ray" purrs along an autobahn; "Chemtrails"
is an aptly titled puff of spectral Floydisms. On the title track, meanwhile,
producer Danger Mouse strikes more production gold, providing the perfect backdrop
for one of Beck's most beautiful vocals in years.
- Craig McLean,
In the last few years, Beck has freely sailed the seas of electronic and alternative
music, but he is now back on land with Modern Guilt, an album that gravitates
mostly toward electronic music and that, unfortunately, only has a couple of
songs that really stand out ("Modern Guilt," "Orphans"). The problem has nothing
to do with the fact that this CD is more electronic than acoustic. The sound
is poor, and it sounds as if Beck were actually singing out of a barrel. Also,
the beat doesn’t change from one song to the next, and if you don’t listen carefully
to each song, you could not tell when tracks change. Despite Beck being one
of the most creative and versatile musicians in recent years, the songs of this
album have no depth. Let’s just hope that Beck surprises with his next.
- Ernesto Sánchez, Amazon
Death Cab For Cutie ~ Narrow Stairs Thursday, June 05, 2008 @ 19:49:33 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Death Cab For Cutie
CD Title: Narrow Stairs (Atlantic)
It's playing against type for a guy with one of rock's purest voices - a vibrato-less,
bell-clear high tenor whose choirboy quality only throws the darkness here into
relief. "No Sunlight" documents the death of an optimist over a perky New Wave
backbeat. The feedback-spiked "Talking Bird" portrays a passive-aggressive lover
whose devotion seems tinged with loathing. And "You Can Do Better Than Me" -
where a man decides to stay in a troubled relationship "out of fear of dying
alone" - comes across as a jaunty, Pet Sounds-style organ-rock stroll. Who knew
timpani and sleigh bells could sound so unnerving?
- Will Hermes, Rolling
Narrow Stairs, Death Cab's second album for Atlantic and sixth proper
LP overall, is one of the darkest and most muscular in the band's discography,
but they're still aiming for the same place: your heart. It's an album about
growing and changing and becoming resigned to the fact that you'll never be
truly content - not even if you quit that day job, achieve your rock'n'roll
dreams, and find yourself in a loving marriage. At times, the maturation feels
forced; the more adventurous moments here are experimental only for such a high-profile
group, and they don't play to Gibbard's sentimental, word-weighing strengths.
- Marc Hogan,
Narrow Stairs is a markedly different album to its predecessor. Ben
Gibbard's distinctive voice is still there, but musically it's a dense, challenging
affair with the layered guitars on "Bixby Canyon Bridge" and the discordant
piano and bass of single "I Will Possess Your Heart" setting the tone
for the whole album. Anyone expecting the lush warmth of Plans may be
- BRowan Collinson, BBC
3 Doors Down ~ 3 Doors Down Thursday, June 05, 2008 @ 19:46:56 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: 3 Doors Down
CD Title: 3 Doors Down (Universal)
On their self-titled fourth disc, 3 Doors Down offer the strongest collection
of their career, and fortunately separate themselves a bit from the mainstream
rock crowd - think Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd for clarity (coincidentally,
former drummer Daniel Adair left to join Nickelback and his replacement, Greg
Upchurch, is a former member of Puddle of Mudd).
- John Kosik, Associated
It's a little hard to tell who 3 Doors Down is on their eponymous release.
The album starts out hard with the rocker "Train," but vocalist Brad Arnold
comes in with lyrics that are sappy and uncertain of themselves, as though he
were taking a stab at vulnerability, but doesn't want to seem "fancy," as they
say. The following track, "Citizen/Soldier," stays somewhat more on-message,
but that message is a clouded and unspecific jingoism. Without delving into
the particularities of a soldier's duties and responsibilities, the exaltation
thereof rings a bit hollow. Production for the album is excellent, and musicianship
is always pitch-perfect, but a thorough listening to the album leaves us wanting
more. If the musicians had struck a wrong note, if Arnold had let the mask slip
a little, 3 Doors Down would've sounded more human and been more captivating.
- Marguerite French,
Great rock bands know how to not only shake listeners with thundering guitars,
but also feed their souls with thoughtful lyrics that echo the complexities
of the human experience. 3 Doors Down succeeds powerfully on both levels with
this brilliant album. The band's fourth studio set is already off to a great
start at radio with the hit "It's Not My Time," just one of 12 memorable tracks:
"Train" is a hard-edged anthem about escaping to a better life, and "Citizen
Soldier," written at the request of the National Guard to be used in promotional
spots, is a musically aggressive and lyrically poignant tribute to those serving
in the military. Taut musicianship, well-crafted songs and potent vocals make
this a landmark album in an already multiplatinum career.
- Deborah Evans Price, Billboard
Usher ~ Here I Stand Thursday, June 05, 2008 @ 19:45:01 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Usher
CD Title: Here I Stand (Jive)
It's a thin line between smooth and super-safe, and Usher flops back and forth
over it throughout his new album, Here I Stand. He's apparently trying
to reconcile his R&B playa-with-a-heart past with his married-and-grown present
and it's not totally working out.
- Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Here I Stand, which was released in the U.S. on May 27, 2008, is definitely
as good - if not better - than his last studio album, 2004's Confessions.
Simply put: Usher's in zero danger of losing his mojo.
- Mark Edward Nero, About.com
With strobe synths stuttering beneath sweeping vocals, "Love in this Club"
is the sort of soaring club jam that is a definitive summer jam. Nothing else
here quite reaches those heights. Second single "Moving Mountains" undercuts
Usher's impeccably smooth vocals with barely audible noise churn, reinforcing
the lyrics' themes of abandonment, futility and loss. Though, overall, the melodies
on Here I Stand are slightly duller than on Confessions, this
is very much in line with Usher's previous work, balancing conventional R&B
with hip-hop flourishes.
- Sam Chennault, Rhapsody
Jason Mraz ~ We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things Thursday, June 05, 2008 @ 19:42:59 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Jason Mraz
CD Title: We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things (Atlantic)
Given the funky guitar, airtight horn punctuations and occasional falsettoed
"whoo!," it seems like Mraz has been spending some quality time with MJ's Off
the Wall of late. He pulls it off with varying success, alternating the
blue-eyed funk pop with coy girl-crazy pap, er, pop and overtly sentimental
numbers (grab the Kleenex for "Love for a Child"). The showpiece might be the
sunny "Lucky," a duet with the do-no-wrong princess of beach bums, Colbie Caillat.
- Nate Cavalieri, Rhapsody
Mraz strikes a sometimes precarious balance between impassioned love and stolid
maturity, and the songs on We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things reflect
that, with the equilibrium constantly in flux. Thick horn explosions ramp up
the overindulgent points of love while Mraz's trademark "man and a guitar" style
remains a focal point of the new album. "Make It Mine" and "Butterfly" both
scream radio hit, with their playful glitz somewhat masking the singer-songwriter's
kindred respect for love. His duet with Colbie Caillat, "Lucky," will turn some
heads even as the era of the male-female duet seems to have faded significantly
in this sort of music. What makes "Lucky" such an outstanding ballad is that
both Mraz and Caillat are excellent individually in the verses as well as together
on the chorus.
- Tony Pascarella,
The disc opens on a tune that feels like a straight-up throwback. “Make It
Mine” lays down a smooth funk that might have come from a mid-career Boz Scaggs
album or even Joe Jackson, punched up by a Chicago horn section, and topped
by a mellow and airy Mraz vocal. Who would have expected that this first track
would contain (seriously) a trombone solo?! But there it is - catchy and fun
but in a way that seems at least 30 years out of date.
- Will Layman, PopMatters
King's X ~ XV Thursday, June 05, 2008 @ 19:40:56 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: King's X
CD Title: XV (Inside Out Music)
Mother’s Finest and Circus of Power had a baby and asked UFO to be the Godfather
and they christened it King’s X. Such is the groove that is the 15th release
from Texas’s own King’s X entitled XV. While Ty Tabor, Gary Gaskill and
Doug Pinnick have been putting out one quality cd after another for almost two
decades, “XV” may prove to be their seminal release to date.
- Kim Thore, All
In 2008 King's X is as vital and vibrant as ever. XV finds the trio
of Doug Pinnick, Ty Tabor and Jerry Gaskill in excellent form. The band's fifteenth
album has some of the heaviest songs they've done in a while. It's also packed
with King's X's trademark groovy medium tempo songs and a couple of ballads.
- Chad Bowar,
In other words, XV is another prototype King's X mood swing collection,
but the way these guys shift vibes with barely a thought in the same way Doug
Pinnick and Ty Tabor trade off vocal duties (not to mention Tabor’s habitually
crafty and instinctive guitar solos) makes for a reliable and trustworthy listening
session. More proof positive of the sheer class King's X brings to a fringe
rock table that always has seats reserved for them.
- Ray Van Horn, Jr., The
Buddy Guy: Chops, Attitude Still Strong at 72 Saturday, May 03, 2008 @ 17:23:26 CDT Topic:Major Artists
If you're looking for bracingly strong viewpoints on music, business and culture,
five-time Grammy-winning blues legend Buddy Guy is your man. Indie-Music.com
caught up with him recently, in the run-up to the May 31 Elk Creek Blues Festival
in eastern Kentucky, which he will headline, and he didn't mince words on any
subject that arose in the conversation. Guy was one of the wave of late-1950s
guitarist-singers, along with Otis Rush and Magic Sam, based on Chicago's west
side, who were known for a more fiery, forthrightly passionate delivery than
previous generations of Windy City players. He came from north from Louisiana
in 1957 and cut several blistering sides for Eli Toscano's Cobra label, and
then Willie Dixon took him to Chess, where he spent much of the 1960s.
The Roots ~ Rising Down Friday, May 02, 2008 @ 15:00:39 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: The Roots
CD Title: Rising Down (Def Jam)
The Roots' once-jazzy urban hang suite has become a den of indignation. Kicking
off the Philadelphia hip-hop band's 10th CD is a snippet from a 1994 conference
call with then label Geffen, in which rapper Black Thought goes apoplectic.
This is the first of many bad vibes on Rising Down, which turns the downcast
mood of 2006's haunting Game Theory outward at the world at large, with
gripes about drug laws, school shootings, conflict diamonds, and - that most
alarming bellwether of our times - BET programming.
- Sean Howe, Entertainment
It's gotten to the point where I can't even imagine the Roots being soft anymore.
Not to be dismissive of their first few albums, which were thoughtful without
being mushy or maudlin, but their three recent records - the underrated/overhated
alleged-sellout The Tipping Point, the Def Jam-released tightly knit
return to rawness Game Theory, and now Rising Down - are so singularly
focused on a kind of distilled, uninhibited force that it's now difficult to
think of the Roots as anything but intelligently aggressive firebrands.
- Nate Patrin,
This sort of thematic tack is old hat for the Roots, who have been making
music of “urgent means” and concern for years now - at least since Things
Fall Apart, and most intensely underscored on 2006’s masterful Game Theory.
Rising Down serves up an infuriated and uneasy take on a well-trod methodology
that transforms mere fin de siècle paranoia into point-of-no-return panic. Throughout
Rising Down, the Roots (with a seemingly endless reserve of guests that
includes Dice Raw, Peedi Peedi, former Roots member Malik B., Common, and Talib
Kweli) touch upon global warming and the hypocrisy of the American healthcare
system, police brutality and the provocations of crime, life during wars of
absurdity and principle, and, ultimately, how the only way out of it all is
access to ridiculous wealth and/or industry.
- Zeth Lundy, PopMatters
Leona Lewis ~ Spirit Friday, May 02, 2008 @ 14:58:46 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Leona Lewis
CD Title: Spirit (J-Records)
Spirit is a very well rounded album for a debut offering from Leona.
You can hear that she has been in the studio for a long time with some of America's
hottest producers. There is quite a range from "I Will Be" with moments
of American Idol's Carrie Underwood, a nod to Timbaland with "Whatever
It Takes" and a charming cover of Roberta Flack's "The First Time
Ever I Saw Your Face".
- Corin Baird, Handbag
It’s a shame - everyone loves a rags-to-riches fairytale, and by all accounts
Lewis is a sweet girl - but no surprise. Spirit pays quivering lip service
to ideas of beauty and talent and “specialness”, but is ultimately too manufactured
even to be great manufactured pop. If Lewis is looking for the greatest love
of all - public adoration - she will have to do better than this.
- Victoria Segal,
It's no surprise that Leona Lewis has been compared to the likes of Mariah,
Whitney and Celine - and not just because she's got the pipes to hold her own
among that fearsome triumvirate. The first album from the British reality show
winner-turned-superstar also smacks of the heyday of divadom: synths, glistening
production, hypersentimentality and full-throated, full-throttle vocals, the
kind Mariah hasn't graced us with since the '90s. Come on: Isn't "Footprints
in the Sand" (complete with gospel choir!) just begging the drag queens of the
world for a hyperbolic impersonation?
- Rachel Devitt, Rhapsody
E=MC2 is nearly a clone of The Emancipation of Mimi - from the
exotica-tinged hip-hop hybrid that kicks it off ("It's Like That" there, the
T-Pain duet "Migrate" here) to a speaking appearance by her pastor, Clarence
Keaton, on the finale. In between is another carefully calculated mix of mainstream
R&B in its dance, pop and old-school manifestations.
- Richard Cromelin, Los
Mariah Carey embraces her extremes: She's either grinding out R&B-hop or singing
syrupy ballads, talking dirty or cuddling with a Hello Kitty. Her tenth studio
album is no different: It starts in a club and ends in a church.
- Caryn Ganz, Rolling
Daydream. Butterfly. Rainbow. Glitter. No, those aren't the names of
Barbie's pet ponies, they're the ridiculously saccharine titles of Mariah Carey's
albums from 1995 to 2001. So when she called her 10th studio CD The Emancipation
of Mimi three years ago, it was clear that she intended to drop the cutesy
shtick, let down her weave, and start getting real. It was a clever move. Emancipation
was the lucky strike that updated Carey's sound with bass-heavy flavor and reversed
the downward spiral of her sales. Now, with E=MC2 - another bold title
- she's out to prove that her comeback was no fluke.
- Margeaux Watson, Entertainment
Portishead ~ Third Friday, May 02, 2008 @ 14:47:41 CDT Topic:Major Artists
Artist Name: Portishead
CD Title: Third (Mercury)
What has been roughly ten years in the making finally sees release in the form
of Third, the aptly titled release from the Bristol-based trio known
in part for helping standardize trip hop in the mid ’90s. With the exception
of a few scattered contributions and a Beth Gibbons solo album the group has
been largely unspoken for in commercial recording since its 1997 self titled
release, ever since mystique and anticipation have blossomed around the band’s
absence. Now releasing an album of new material, matching its first two releases
with an eleven song tracklist, Third may act as a question rather than
an answer to the band’s layoff. Not only does Third’s release question
whether or not Portishead is still relevant in a changed musical landscape,
but it also suggests asking whether or not the trip hop Chinese Democracy
was simply worth the wait.
All in all, Third is the album Portishead have wanted to make for nigh
on a decade and a half. While it is most definitely their opus grand, there's
also a sense of closure about the album as a whole, and if this were to be the
last record Portishead were to ever make, they couldn't have wished to go out
in a more spectacular fashion. Timeless.
- Dom Gourlay,
It’s a daring album, not exactly commercial but with so many interesting ideas
and so much atmosphere that each passing listen filters a little more light
on its subtle ways.
- Simon Cosnys, The
Whether inspired by their own stagnation, market forces, or producer Jacknife
Lee, the decision to lift the rock restraining order worked wonders: Accelerate
corrals 35 minutes of the fastest songs Stipe and Co. have written in decades,
all performed with a sense of joyous purpose that clearly comes from a "Fuck
it, let's just do this" attitude. They haven't sounded this surprised with themselves
since 1998's Up, haven't made an album this consistent since 1992's Automatic
for the People, and haven't redlined so engagingly since 1986's Lifes
Rich Pageant, whose terrific "These Days" lives on in spirit here.
- Josh Modell, Spin
Accelerate is the first studio album by that post-Berry stage band,
and it is one of the best records R.E.M. have ever made. Much of Accelerate
was cut in live-band takes and even tested onstage during a run in Dublin last
summer, and it shows. Guitars are front and center, in slashing-chord and rusted-arpeggio
crossfires, as if you've got R.E.M.'s 1982 EP Chronic Town and the Sex
Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks spinning in your CD tray at the same
- David Fricke, Rolling
Accelerate is the name of R.E.M.'s new album, the band's 14th, and
it attempts to port that newfound vigor to the studio, not just by trading longtime
producer Pat McCarthy (on board since 1998's Up) for U2 associate Jacknife
Lee, but also by pairing down the excess and sharpening the focus. Accelerate
might as well be called Reverse, as it self-consciously aspires to recapture
the spirit (if not necessarily the sound) of R.E.M.'s prime. Throughout its
11 songs and 35 minutes, only two tracks top the four-minute mark, and many
run less than three. But velocity is not the same thing as vitality, and brevity
is not the same thing as urgency. Accelerate ultimately isn't so much
a back-to-basics move as a redefinition of what "basic" even means to an arena
rock band. Accelerate's broad strokes, big riffs, and beefy production
(the album was reportedly recorded in "just" nine weeks) are admirable, as is
the disc's concision, but its success is still more as a step forward than a
- Joshua Klein, Pitchfork