CD Reviews

Single Review: Usher, 'Good Kisser'

May 23rd, 2014 1:40pm EDT
Usher, 'Good Kisser'
Usher’s on ‘autopilot’ on his suggestive, alluring single “Good Kisser”

Usher’s new single “Good Kisser” makes this super fan excited for the contemporary R&B male’s upcoming album. Don’t get me wrong, Looking 4 Myself wasn’t a bad album, but it also wasn’t his best album. Perhaps part of the issue was it was so pop-oriented, where Usher has been known for staying true to R&B circles. Regardless, “Good Kisser” definitely sounds like R&B, a la 2014. Usher gets nasty on “Good Kisser”, even if some of it he is able to pass off as being somewhat innocent. The first notion that he’s playin...

Review: Phillip Phillips, ‘Behind the Light’

May 22nd, 2014 8:15pm EDT
Phillip Phillips, ‘Behind the Light’
Phillips takes a step forward on his sophomore LP, though nothing supplants “Home”

“Searchlight” opens Behind the Light abruptly and somewhat indistinctly. The folk rumination kicks off the track, instantly channeling Phillips’ “Home”and of course one ubiquitous Mumford & Sons. Not long after the layers of acoustic guitar and banjos, Phillips begins singing. The thinking isn’t bad given the scope of the said hit, but also, the likelihood of replicating “Home” is a steep one. “Searchlight” doesn’t end up being a bad joint once it settles in, but I’m not sure that it’s more effective than...

Review: The Roots Continue To Transcend The Confines Of Hip-Hop On '…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin'

May 21st, 2014 11:34am EDT
The Roots - And then you shoot your Cousin
The notion that “hip-hop don’t stop” is certainly a true statement as the genre hasn’t really ended, but for a while, the trendy thing from more intellectual MCs – notably Nas – was asserting that “Hip Hop is Dead”. Perhaps it was an exaggeration, but Nas definitely had a valid point back in 2006, just as The Roots seem to have a valid claim not completely dissimilar on latest LP, …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin. Cousin definitely finds The Roots in conceptual form, waving the finger at the superficiality and shallowness of the rap industry these days, both musically speaking and as far as ...

Review: Coldplay, 'Ghost Stories'

May 20th, 2014 10:37am EDT
Coldplay, 'Ghost Stories'
On sixth album Ghost Stories, Coldplay opt for subtlety, mysteriousness, and restraint.

“I’m kind of a big deal.” That quote perfectly describes any album released by British alt-rock band Coldplay. Anytime the collective releases a new single or new album, you just know it is going to be huge news. Perhaps the only news that is on the same level as the quartet’s newest LP Ghost Stories is that of the separation between front man Chris Martin and his A-list actress wife Gwyneth Paltrow. What’s the connection between new album and breakup – well, Ghost Stories is all about a four-letter wor...

Review: The Black Keys ‘Turn Blue’ Channels Devastating Divorce

May 19th, 2014 1:45pm EDT
Black Keys Turn Blue
Divorce typically carries a negative connotation; it’s a heart-wrenching experience for both parties involved. Turning the horrid experience that is a divorce into an album certainly can be as therapeutic as a diary – it is a way to release the pain. Indie-rockers The Black Keys channel the topic of love gone wrong via divorce on their latest LP, Turn Blue, the follow-up to 2011 hit LP El Camino. Turn Blue is a very different album from El Camino, possessing a much darker, often pessimistic vibe. Genuinely upbeat, up-tempo tracks like “Howling For You” and “Lonely Boy” are hard to find with...

Review: Michael Jackson, ‘Xscape’ Proves To Be A Much Better Than Expected Posthumous Album

May 15th, 2014 8:45pm EDT
Michael Jackson, ‘Xscape’
“Couldn’t have said it better myself!” – my thoughts on another new Michael Jackson album that is, as excerpted from a previous post: “Let’s not kid ourselves at all here – Michael Jackson’s most important/best work has come and gone. No questions or skepticisms whatsoever. The classic albums that the late pop/R&B star previously released are what cement his legendary status, not something like the highly anticipated, posthumously released Xscape.” Perhaps I was a bit harsh or the slightest bit too pre-judgmental, but truthfully, unless MJ had released another Thriller posthumously someho...

Review: Hunter Hayes, 'Storyline' - An Enjoyable Listen Highlighting Strengths More Often Than Not

May 13th, 2014 9:45pm EDT
Hunter Hayes - Storyline
With all the talk of “blurred lines” these days, young country singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes very much exemplifies that sentiment throughout his albums. His latest album, Storyline, is no different. Hayes artistically doesn’t sound like your traditional country artist. Vocally, his tone is too pure, smooth, and ‘boyish’ in sound (not negatively of course). Pop sensibility is written throughout his artistic script, much like any number of youthful country artists (Taylor Swift), hence his fan base is one that doesn’t mind if their country follows the ‘prescribed’ script line by line. Storyl...

Review: Lily Allen's, ‘Sheezus’ Has Its Flaws But Makes Artistic Statement

May 13th, 2014 11:30am EDT
Lily Allen - Sheezus
Sometimes, even music critics find themselves confused or ‘on the fence’ about an album. Several listens can endear that confounding album to the respective critic, or make them further question it. British alternative pop singer Lily Allen is the sort of artist who catalyzes different reactions from any number of critics. Her third studio album, Sheezus is definitely one of the more arduous to nail efforts of the year. It is bold, unapologetic, and scattered. On the other hand, there’s plenty to rave about – at least in spots – and even despite Allen’s unforgiving persona, there is a degre...

Review: Lykke Li's 'I Never Learn' Brilliantly Captures Heartbreak

May 8th, 2014 8:30pm EDT
Lykke Li
Love and heartbreak are a universal topic, regardless of what place or walk of life you come from. Crafting the perfect or near-perfect heartbreak album, then, shouldn’t be a difficult task. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as making a truly distinct, thoughtfully crafted breakup album requires skill. Swedish alternative-pop singer Lykke Li luckily possesses the talents to craft that caliber of album, doing so exceptionally on I Never Learn. In the brief period of about 33 minutes, Lykke Li is able to produce one of the year’s very best albums genre aside, no questions asked. Though her...

Review: 'Days Of Abandon' The New Album From 'The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart'

May 5th, 2014 11:20pm EDT
Pains of Being Pure At Heart
"Days of Abandon" the new record from indie poppers The Pains of Being Pure at Heart reverses the course that the band started taking on 2011's fuzz pop masterpiece "Belong" and moves the band back into the realm of Felt and Teenage Fanclub inspired pop music. That's not a bad thing though, as Kip Berman's songwriting is stronger than it's ever been, and a lineup change has refreshed the band.

Peggy Wang, keyboardist and female vocalist, departed the group and has since been replaced by Jen Goma, of the shoegaze group A Sunny Day in Glasgow, and her presence on the record changes the dynam...