Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quick Spins

REMCollapse Into Now
For album number 15, the original college rockers keep the momentum going that trusted them out of the first decade of the new millennium. On 2008’s Accelerate (and the year’s best album), REM took back what was rightfully theirs, the crown of indie rock and showed that they still had the hunger, energy and passion that propelled them to become one of the most successful bands of all time.On Collapse into Now, the band takes that same energy and carries it across in what could be the band’s biggest retrospect without the use of a Greatest Hits package. Collapse Into Now in so manyways is textbook REM, it has the jangly guitars from Peter Buck, the high pitch backing vocals and thick bass lines of Mike Mills and of course, Michael Stipes signature voice and clever poetic lyrics. With vocal contributions from Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith and Peaches, REM take some of the people they have influenced and some of the people that haveinfluenced them along for their renaissance. Songs like “Oh My Heart” show a direct line and sequel lyrically to songs from Accelerate, while “Mine Smell Like Honey” and “Discoverer” sustain the momentum they rediscovered just a few years ago. This maybe album 15 for them, but the last two records find them being interesting again for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You
The debut record from one of New Zealand’s most talked about bands, The Naked and Famous was released last year in their home country but after sighing with Universal here in the US, Passive Me, Aggressive You is finally available here and it was worth the wait. You cannot pinpoint exactly what musical style The Naked and Famous play or stick them in a genre, they do everything across the board from new wave to rock to pop to electronica to even having hip-hop influenced beats, they are students of music and showing off what they love in so many clever and fun ways. This is a band to not sleep on and pick this record up; I promise it is a delight.

RaekwonShaolin Vs. Wu-Tang
One of the core members of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan cooks up another solo album of instant classics. With Cuban Links, Raekwon cemented himself as one of the finest solo artists to emerge from Wu, yet on Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang he now comes out swinging and keeping his worth and title as one of the best. It is a great hip-hop album of hard lyrics, perfect production and still gives you the same sense of fear that early Wu records did. With a slew of guests from Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Jim Jones and Black Thought, Shaolin Vs. Wu is going to be one of the year’s most talked about hip-hop albums from one of hip-hops most talked about artists.

Scattered Trees Sympathy
The outside Chicago band arrive with their debut and drum up an impressive first impression. Sympathy is a collection light and atmosphere folk inspired rock and roll. It is a gentle on sound but hostile on it’s lyrical story telling. The songs are inspired by love and heartbreak (well, really just the heartbreak and falling out of love) but something very worth listening.

ElbowBuild a Rocket Boys!
The Mercury Prize winning Brits return ingrand form with Build a Rocket Boys! The symphonic band should tour with an orchestra with them at all times because in order to recreate the beauty of these songs it will be the only way possible. Elbow have secured themselves as great musicians and singer Guy Garvey has secured himself as a great story teller. Build a Rocket Boys! is a lush, layered and textured release and a great follow-up to their international hit, The Seldom Seen Kid.

Noise is the Trigger
Edan’s right hand man Dagha and producer Pysch Major team up for a very old school hip-hop feel on their debut EP. Aggressive vocal delivery from Dagha and lo-fi production from Major, Noise is the Trigger is a creative sounding duo that have all the right formula’s going for them.

Ellie GouldingLights
The English songstress arrives very strong with her major label debut, Lights. Ellie’s powerful vocal’s over electronic beats and quality production make her a stand out from her contemporaries. She is certainly an artist to watch and Lights is the record that is going to usher her to the spotlight.

Wolf Gang
Taking fuzzy guitars, lo-fi soundand channeling it into a wall of noise EP, London’s one man band – Wolf Gang is here to rock your face off. With his EP that features only six songs and three of which are demos, it only leaves you wanting more.

Lupe FiascoLasers
After much delays and hype, Lupe Fiasco’s third album has finally arrived. Lasers; an ode to his fans and support system is in some cases classic Lupe and in others a commercial disappointment. Songs like “Letting Go,” “Words I Never Said,” “State Run Radio,” and “All Black Everything” show Lupe starting a fiasco with his aggressive delivery and political approach to his material that keep the record interesting and keep the listener engaged. However, songs like “Out of My Head,” “The Show Goes On,” “Till I Get There” are where he is trying real hard to find a radio single. We know Lupe is better than that and we know that even with the delays, his potential for greatness seems to slip up in areas.

Rival SchoolsPedals
The indie rock band returns after a near decade hiatus and drum up a very solid album. Nothing too exciting or that stands out, fans of the band will enjoy it but it is hard to tell if they will pick up a new audience from Pedals.

Does it Offend You, Yeah?! Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You
After much delays, battles with record labels and major line up changes, the band poised to be the next Prodigy return facing the sophomore slump. Their debut, You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Into was a fun, great, vibrant electronic album, the follow up is the band trying to be very serious but still trying to goofy and fun and it falls short. There are too many styles and cross genres that do not really work, yet the record does pull out a few gems but not enough to stand out. Better luck next time!

Rise AgainstEnd Game
Rise Against is a great band, they took political angst and channeled it in the void years when Rage Against the Machine were MIA. Now on Endgame and in a new era of politics and global change, the band are not discussing anything that they haven’t already said. Aside from the rhetoric, Rise Against’s latest studio effort is too polished, too clean and too over produced and is a disappointment, would have liked something much more raw.