Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quick Spins

Smith & BurrowsFunny Looking Angels
Tom Smith of Editors and Andy Burrows, formerly of Razorlight combine to prove that Christmas music does not have to be tacky, corny and pop garbage. In what could be one of the finest albums of the year, Funny Looking Angels stands on its own as not just a record inspired by the holidays but more of a record inspired by our hard times. The duo display fine songwriting and trading vocal duties, Funny Looking Angels is a beautiful reminder that the holidays are more about a time of reflection than giving. It also makes you hope that these two team up again.

The Black Keys El Camino
The duo return with Danger Mouse behind the decks and prove rock and roll and the blues are very much alive and kicking. The last time The Black Keys and Danger Mouse joined forces it was for the Keys 2008 release, Attack and Release, which happened to be the bands most subdue and more bluesy effort, El Camino is the reverse of that, it is a driving rock record. Any fan of The Black Keys, new or old will love it.

The Roots undun
The Roots release their third album in 18 months and prove again they are not just the hardest working band in music but one of the best. The hip-hop legends return with a concept record about a fictional character Redford Stephens and his life in the urban jungle and fight to get out. Musically it picks up right where last years great effort, How I Got Over left off, lyrically, Black Thought is back on fire and displays that the emcee can still tell a story in song like Bob Dylan. With some help from Sufjan Stevens, Aaron Livingston, Big K.R.I.T., Phonte, Dice Raw, P.O.R.N., Truck North, Bilal The Roots tell a captivating story.

Amy Winhouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures
The late Amy Winehouse’s first posthumous release is bittersweet, it displays all that could have been. With assistance from the producer that made her a global sensation, Mark Ronson goes over Amy’s final demos and records and bundles together a fantastic tribute to the now iconic singer.

Mr. OizoStade 2
The Ed Banger Records producer returns to display his own antics and shows why he is one of the supstars on the famous French label. Stade 2 is in every way the record that the other Ed Banger artist – Justice should have made. Fantastic hard and glitchy sounds mixed with his own European flair.

Jimmy CliffSacred Fire EP
The reggae legend with help from Rancid’s Tim Armstrong on the decks returns with a collection of covers. Cliff, one of the greatest performers and voices in the world puts his own spin on classics from The Clash, Rancid, Bob Dylan and more. It is a beautiful interpretation of these classics and good signs as to what is to come from Cliff and Armstrong together.

Mobb Deep Black Cocaine EP
Going on with their reunion, Mobb Deep release a small collection of new material that is on fire. Black Cocaine EP is a hopeful foreshadowing as to what the legends will do next on a full LP, a much welcomed comeback.

NeroWelcome Reality
The British dubstep group finally arrives with their long awaited debut. Welcome Reality shows Nero using the ambient dubstep sound that has made them a buzz back home and beyond. As the genre made big steps into the main stream in 2011, Nero will help lead the way and door to open wider in 2012.

The Antlers – (together) EP
The Brooklyn indie rockers return with their second release of 2011 and while not as strong as their LP, Burst Apart, it shows the band doing something they rarely do – have fun. With covers from The xx and help from Neon Indian, The Antlers spread out their flavor and tastes through this small EP.

Jeff Clay A First Time for Everything
The LA singer-songwriter releases his debut solo venture and shows that wearing your heart on your sleeve can prove big things. A First Time for Everything is a romantic sounding acoustic record that has Clay showing us what he has got.

GallowsDeath is Birth EP
The first new material from the British hardcore band since the departure of their front man, Frank Carter. With new vocalist Wade MacNeil, all the character that Frank had has gone from Gallows but the brutality is still there. This really does sound like a new band and rebirth for the titans.

Rihanna Talk the Talk
Rihanna has managed to release a new album every year since 2009 and the pop diva keeps getting progressively worse. How much can one person sing about the same thing? We get it Rihanna, you love wild sex and like to party, but just as you begin to show us your interesting and darker sides, it turns around into the same processed garbage we have heard through the years. Even her sampling of The xx’s “Intro” sounds like a studio processed cover rather than a straight sample and borrow from the British indie band. It is an unfortunate thing for Talk the Talk and Rihanna, she is a talented singer with a seductive voice but the album just is a redundant reflection of her career.