Matt Berninger has been a terrible lyricists, but the man’s haunting vocal delivery backed by his band’s musical style is all the reason why people, including myself, have fallen in love with The National over the years. One of the most critically acclaimed Brooklyn band’s returns with their fifth record, High Violet, and have poised themselves to be the next REM. I say this because they will be the one college radio or indie band that people will emulate for years to come and are about to break through in a major way. High Violet is a dark, moody introspective record – wait – that is every National record, but this is darker, moodier and much deeper than others, it is also the band’s most polished effort and Berninger's finest lyrical achievement as well. High Violet is a full on crescendo of emotion from start to finish and is easily not just the band’s best, but one of the years best as well.
FINAL GRADE: A+
Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
I do not think the world is ready for Flying Lotus, at least on a major level, Cosmogramma is the reason why, this album is light years ahead of its time and something that needs to be taken it all at once and then in small dosages. LA beatmaker Flying Lotus has infected the musical world with a powerful new drug – his own beats. Combining dubstep, techno, electronica and letting it flow all into a seamless mix, he will slowly gain attention to his work if he keeps up at this pace, hell, Thom Yorke is such a huge fan not only did he ask FlyLo to come on tour with his new solo project, he even guest vocals on a track. Flying Lotus is an artist to watch and Cosmogramma is a record to indulge in.
FINAL GRADE: B
Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle
I love this band, more particularly I love this band’s live show, they simply are one of the greatest live acts anyone will ever see. However, I am still waiting for a record to capture this gypsy punks live style on disc. The band’s latest and major label debut, Trans-Continental Hustle, brought the band to singer Eugene Huntz new home city of Rio and enlisted the heavy hitting producing capabilities of Rick Rubin behind the deck. Like the city it was recorded in, it is a liberal melting pot of culture and creativity and is fun, but fails to capture a progression in sound from these traveling animals.
FINAL GRADE: B-
The Fall - Your Future, Our Clutter
With album number God-knows-what and lineup number…, oh at this point it does not even matter and who is counting?! British punk vet Mark E Smith and his latest incarnation of The Fall are here with Your Future, Our Clutter. A nice record for the current state of Britain, arriving just weeks before the major Prime Minister elections, Smith, displays his angst with the current state of British Union. The man has cranked out so many albums through his three decade plus long career, it is fascinating to still hear him deliver some solid material.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Minus the Bear - Omni
Minus the Bear are one of those bands that have developed a sort of cult following through the years. Pounding the pavement on the road and releasing quality music while doing it, their latest Omni is a far departure from what we have herd from them in the past. Though some may say it is a stepping stone in the right direction, I find the record falls flat in areas where it could have really been driven home. Fans I am sure will eat this album up, however, the casual listener might just hit skip.
FINAL GRADE: C
We Are The Fallen - Tear the World Down
Former Evanescence members team up with a former American Idol contestant to sound like…Evanescence. Singer Carly Smithson may have not won America's favorite karaoke contest but she will not go down without a fight. The best part about this band is her vocals; surging with energy, power and grace, she single handedly makes Amy Lee look like a faint memory to her current band mates. We Are The Fallen is perfect for those that like acts like Flyleaf, Lacuna Coil and of course that band from the Daredevil soundtrack.
FINAL GRADE: C
Chase Coy - Picturesque
Girls love Justin Bieber, it has to be the bowl haircut. Girls love guys in emo bands, it has to be the sensitive lyrics. Girls love guys with acoustic guitars, it has to be those summer camp nights. Girls will love Chase Coy. This kid has that package and appeal; a young lad taking his emo style lyrics, strumming them along on his acoustic with his Bieber haircut. His major label debut, if pushed correctly will cause "Coysteria."
FINAL GRADE: C
Hole - Nobody's Daughter
Oh Courtney Love, how I loathe thee…Let me count the ways… Love maybe on the fast track to becoming the female Mark E Smith of the Fall, by just having a revolving door of members every time they release new material and stamp the name of the band on it. Love like her friends or foes, who can keep track these days - Billy Corgan, Axle Rose, are doing the same thing and it poses the question - Does this mean it is really that band with just the front man as the sole original member? In their cases, I guess so. Nobody's Daughter is just another failed attempt from Love to revive her fledging career. Generic guitars, drums and lyrics, it makes you wish it was 1992 again when she was writing with the first good lineup.
FINAL GRADE: D