CD Reviews

Review: Leela James Keeps Soul Alive and Well on ‘Fall For You’

July 8th, 2014 9:00am EDT
Review: Leela James Keeps Soul Alive and Well on ‘Fall For You’
Some of the best R&B singers are those who receive noticeably less recognition. Additionally, those same artists seem to try the hardest to keep soul flourishing. Regardless of its popularity, Leela James has faithfully been delivering soul for years. Latest studio album Fall For You, the artist’s fifth, doesn’t let up off the gas, remaining as soulful as everything else James has released.

Fall For You opens in electrifying fashion with “Who’s Gonna Love You More,” encouraging head-nodding and foot tapping with its soulful groove. Early on, James establishes command and control, show...
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Review: Trey Songz Triumphs On 'Trigga'

July 4th, 2014 10:30am EDT
Trey Songz Trigga
"They say all I talk about is sex." Yep, that’s about the size of it, and it's pretty big – no pun intended. The quote comes from modern-day R. Kelly and libidinous R&B artist, Trey Songz. Although the aforementioned quote is excerpted from an earlier song "Unusual" (Passion, Pain & Pleasure from 2010), it perfectly describes the unapologetic, sexed-up affair that is Trigga.

Given its degree of being oversexed, Trigga should be an 'epic fail.' Surprisingly, it's the exact opposite, as Songz delivers the album R. Kelly wishes he'd recorded. Trigga may be is shallow, but it’s brilliantl...
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Review: Robin Thicke Sounds Desperate On 'Paula'

July 2nd, 2014 8:00am EDT
Robin Thicke - Paula
Not even a full year after Blurred Lines dropped, R&B artist Robin Thicke returns with a follow-up album, entitled Paula. Paula, named after Thicke’s wife, Paula Patton (with whom he is currently separated from), serves the role of heartbreak, reconciliation, and anachronistic retro-soul album. In other words, Paula is a 'jack of all trades' and a 'master of none.' Honestly, the only thing Paula masters is being a desperate, bore-fest.

Paula begins off-putting with "My Fantasy," a mix somewhere between Latin-jazz and adult contemporary R&B. The sound isn’t far-fetched for Thicke; it...
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CD Review: The Nearly Deads - 'Invisible Tonight'

June 28th, 2014 3:13pm EDT
CD Review: The Nearly Deads - 'Invisible Tonight'
The evolution of the Nearly Deads from their very well-received Survival Guide EP to Invisible Tonight, their debut full length, is palpable, evident right off the rip with the intensely mature “I Said,” one of the most powerful tracks you hear this year in the rock world. Enigmatic frontwoman Theresa Jeane, aka TJ, is the linchpin, a sheer force at the helm of this talented powerhouse outfit, and the proof is in the pudding as they say early and often on Invisible Tonight (check out the hook on the album’s title track, and her utterly lofty vocals on “Changeover”). Some of Invisible Tonigh...
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CD Review: Outline In Color - 'Masks' (Standby Records)

June 28th, 2014 3:11pm EDT
CD Review: Outline In Color - 'Masks' (Standby Records)
Exploding out of the blocks is Outline In Color’s latest, Masks, thanks to caustic opening salvo “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” a searing array of djent-rooted, stilted staccato riffs, blistering percussions, spiraling hooks, and Issues-esque vocals that can stop and turn on a dime (shout out to K.C. Simonsen and Trevor Tatro). Masks features its fair share of familiar metalcore we’ve surely all heard before (“Pick Your Poison,” “55,” “Con Artist Culture Vs. Pax Americana”), but there are more than enough above-average instances smattered about (the overarching, grandiose “Beaut...
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Review: Riff Raff’s Crazy 'Neon Icon'

June 27th, 2014 9:10pm EDT
Riff Raff, Neon Icon
Riff Raff, Neon Icon – an unorthodox review for an unorthodox album

"Ice on my hands, should have won a damn Grammy!" Hmm, memory serving correctly, being 'iced out' isn’t a qualification to win a Grammy. In unorthodox rapper Riff Raff's twisted, cocky mind, he is God's gift to rap. Listening to Riff Raff's album Neon Icon, it's somewhat difficult to decide if Riff Raff truly believes in himself as much as he leads on. Everything about Neon Icon is utterly ridiculous.

Begin with the album cover. Riff Raff is pictured in front of a neon backdrop holding a baby and a puppy, not exactly ...
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Review: Ed Sheeran’s Star Rises on ‘X’

June 26th, 2014 8:10pm EDT
Ed Sheeran, X – a review
Ed Sheeran, X – a review

British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran's profile has risen tremendously over the past couple of years. While 2011 debut album + didn't blow the charts away when it bowed, the album received a lift from his Grammy-nominated hit, "The A Team", a memorable and meaningful song by all means. Sophomore album X ("multiply") elevates Sheeran's stardom, delivering a captivating pop album.

"One" and "I'm A Mess" open X more minimal-minded, embracing Sheeran’s acoustic-pop and folksy side. "One" is the more understated track, pacing itself until the second verse adds ...
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Sam Smith Soulfully Depicts Unrequited Love On Debut

June 19th, 2014 4:30pm EDT
Sam Smith Soulfully Depicts Unrequited Love On Debut
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour – a review

Some of the most alluring pop and R&B of late hails from England. Britain has provided stateside listeners with an abundance of talent, including but not limited to Grammy-darling Adele, singer/songwriter Emeli Sandé, and recently full-throated soul machine John Newman. No British newcomer has more buzz behind him lately than Sam Smith, who anticipates a big-time breakthrough in the United States with debut LP In the Lonely Hour.

Smith's voice is indeed special – expressive and celestial in tone. Regardless of stylistic preference, Smith's instr...
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CD Review: Linkin Park - 'The Hunting Party' (Warner Bros.)

June 17th, 2014 5:51pm EDT
CD Review: Linkin Park - 'The Hunting Party' (Warner Bros.)
First things first, The Hunting Party is not Hybrid Theory. While it may find the band at their heaviest since 2003’s Meteora, it’s still an unfair comparison as they are two entirely different records indicative of two entirely different time periods. The Hunting Party sticks an emphatic middle finger in the face of today’s sterile rock scene as frontman Chester Bennington defiantly proclaims ‘No control/No surprise/I'm my own casualty/I fuck up everything I see/Fighting in futility’ during the opening seconds of “Keys to The Kingdom,” a clear result of Mike Shinoda and company being tired...
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Review: Miranda Lambert, 'Platinum'

June 10th, 2014 9:18am EDT
Review: Miranda Lambert, 'Platinum'
Miranda Lambert goes “H.A.M.” on her homerun latest LP Platinum

“I live in Oklahoma / and I’ve got long, blonde hair / and I play guitar, and I go on the road / and I do all the sh-t you wanna do…” Okay then! When one thinks of Miranda Lambert, the first word that comes to mind is ‘attitude’ (or maybe Blake Shelton, LOL). Anyways, throughout her latest, highly anticipated album Platinum, Lambert exudes the upmost confidence, delivering an album that’s as feisty as they come. Fearless, Lambert’s ‘firecracker’ spirit truly makes Platinum a worthwhile listen, 16 tracks deep.

“Girls” opens Pl...
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