Tuesday, July 17, 2012


NasLife Is Good
Last summer Jay-Z & Kanye West released Watch the Throne, as two of the hottest emcee’s in hip-hop, it was safe to say the “Throne” was theirs, however, thanks to Nas’ latest, it is time for Jay & ‘Ye rewatch the throne as QB’s finest comes out swinging and proves to be a strong contender. In one of the greatest comeback albums of all time and one of the best hip-hop records of the year and of his career, Nas hits on every verse and track for the first time since his 90’s prime. Mixing styles heard today in most contemporary artists in the genre, his own blend of lyrical power and a return to form that made him a household name two decades ago, Nas spits on everything from social issues, his public break-up with Kelis (even showing off her wedding dress on the front cover), being a father, battling record labels and most of all, showing and proving he still has got it. With some help from Large Professor, Rick Ross, Swizz Beats, Miguel, Mary J. Blige and the late Amy Winehouse, Life is Good is a record that needs to be heard.

Gaslight AnthemHandwritten 
Firing on all cylinders like Ayrton Senna, Gaslight Anthem brings the fury and power on their new record. New Jersey’s hometown heroes return with their fourth album and take a much more mature approach to the sound that has gained them international attention. For Handwritten, The Gaslight Anthem went to Nashville to write and record and while there, they took inspiration from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Pearl Jam and the music Nashville has to offer. Still sticking to the roots of Bruce Springsteen and Bouncing Souls, Brian Fallon and the boys add onto what they have cultivated and show progression in all the right ways and craft one of the best of the year and one of the best of their career. Handwritten is a simply stunning rock and roll record.

Frank OceanChannel Orange 
The Odd Future crooner finally releases his long awaited solo debut and shows it was worth the wait. Frank Ocean has had a lot riding on Channel Orange, not only was he one of the breakout stars of Odd Futures mass collective, he was also tapped by Kanye and Jay-Z to appear on Watch the Throne then became someone the fashion world looked to for inspiration then took a daring step to come out of the closet. Channel Orange proves he not only can live up to the hype and fame, but can also exceed expectations with his fine R&B style.

Jimmy CliffRebirth 
Much like Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash, Jimmy Cliff links up with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong to give homage to the artists that came after him and rejoin the mainstream. In his first album in nearly a decade, reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff opens up a new chapter and fanbase in his long career that has taken him from Jamaica to around the world. Rebirth is Cliff doing what he does best, being himself and pouring his heart and soul into his world and craft.

BaronessYellow and Green 
The chomping metalheads return with a new record that might be one the finest metal and loud rock records of the year. Much like Mastodon, Baroness take cues from metal’s past and progress in a fashion all their own and make no apologies for it, Yellow and Green is a reign of raucous riffs, pounding rhythms and in your face loud rock.

Twin ShadowConfess 
George Lewis, Jr. aka Twin Shadow returns with Confess and showcases his ability to be a one man TV on the Radio. Confess, the sophomore release from Lewis brings new wave, indie and electronica together and defies the sophomore slump only to be far superior than his 2010 debut, Forget.

Dylan Fox and the WaveMove on Instinct EP
The California garage band returns with a much more crisper and cleaner produced EP but still manage to hold onto the great grit and DIY enthusiasm of their past releases.

The Drowning MenAll of the Unknown 
The Drowning Men return with their new record, All of the Unknown and showcase their intense passion for music and sound again. All of the Unknown picks up where their last record, Beheading of a Songbird left off and brings together M83 style dance rhythms, the brooding appeal of The National and filters it through with a furious combination that bands like Manchester Orchestra and Archers of Loaf have mastered over the years. This is a record not to sleep on.

Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan 
The Brooklyn indie favs return with album number two and bring forth interesting and intricate sounds, catchy hooks and clever, passionate lyrics. Swing Lo Magellan hears Dirty Projectors build on the acclaim they began three years ago and give fans a reason to smile.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. FlyMaps 
The sophomore release from one of Britain’s most adored singer / songwriters, Sam Duckworth aka Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly., picks up where his self-titled debut left off. More of the same passionate songs about England, growing up and the childlike innocence that brings us back to nostalgia.

Mission of BurmaUnsound 
The legendary DIY outfit returns with Unsound and as it only adds to more music to their catalogue, it does not add a new chapter to their garage sound.

Prodigy of Mobb Deep H.N.I.C. 3 
In his first release from jail for gun possession, one of Mobb Deep’s most distinctive voices comes back with the third installment to his H.N.I.C. series and while production is up to par, his lyrics on the other hand, do not. Not adding or capitalizing on what he should, Prodigy falls flat and trying to stay current with artists like Wiz Khalifa, T.I., and Esther, he only brings the record into more of a forced commercial hip-hop record.

Marina and the DiamondsElectra Heart 
While Marina and the Diamonds did not take off in the U.S. the way they did in the rest of the world, Electra Heart will not help her case in America. Her follow-up to 2010’s The Family Jewels, is not only a desperate attempt to sound shocking and relevant like some of her contemporaries Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry, it only showcases her lack of wanting to say anything interesting at all even more. With production that sounds too similar to The Family Jewels, it just sounds like a forced radio friendly record that will not help her build and capitalize on her career.