Fall Out Boy Folie à Deux
The pop punk band Fall Out Boy is back with a new album called Folie à Deux, which translates to“A madness shared by two.”It's not clear if this“two”refers to songwriting duo Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz, or Wentz and his celebrity bride Ashlee Simpson. But either way, Jim and Greg both think that Fall Out Boy stands out from the rest of the mall-punk crowd. Greg is especially impressed with Stump's vocal abilities. He thinks there are some terrific, short and sweet tracks on the album and recommends listeners Try It. Jim thinks Fall Out Boy consistently delivers the goods and predicts that one day Greg will join him with a Buy It rating.
Britney Spears Circus
If you've heard about Britney Spears' new album, tour or documentary, then you know that she is trying to stage a comeback–her second in just over a year. The record at the core of it is aptly named Circus. As Jim and Greg explain, Britney is not only aware of her life dramas, but she's commenting on it. But the comments she, or perhaps her music team, are making are very disturbing. Take the track "Blur," which Greg imagines could only be describing a drug-fueled date rape. But, both critics admit that while troubling, the songs are some of the best-produced of her career. Circus is truly a guilty pleasure, and Jim and Greg give it a Try It rating–at your own risk.
The Fireman Electric Arguments
The Fireman is Paul McCartney's attempt at anonymity. But, when you are Paul McCartney, nothing is anonymous. In 1993, the Beatle teamed up with British electronica producer Youth as an artistic pet project. Now they are back with a more traditional album called Electric Arguments. Jim is a fan of the psychedelic soundscape tracks–McCartney practically invented the genre after all. And he appreciates the quick, punk rock approach to recording. But, as with most of his solo albums, Jim finds Electric Arguments wildly inconsistent. He gives it a Try It rating. Greg, on the other hand, really admires the songwriting on this album. The pairing of McCartney's trademark melodies with Youth's production is intriguing. And, McCartney has successfully removed much of the sentimentality that bogs down his other records. Greg gives Electric Arguments a Buy It.
Kanye West 808s and Heartbreak
One of the albums making news this week is from rapper Kanye West. The Chicago native had planned to release a new album in his college series, but after the death of his mother and a bad breakup, he created an intensely personal album called 808s and Heartbreak. The 808 drum machine is used heavily, as is the Auto-Tune device. Those effects take some getting used to, but according to Jim and Greg, they are integral to creating the sense of introspection and loneliness. Jim appreciates the rapper's attempt to make an existential record, especially one inspired by Phil Collins. He wishes there was more acoustic musicianship, but Jim finds 808s and Heartbreak to be fascinating and gives it a Buy It. Greg agrees, calling the album one of the most personal released this year. He also gives it a Buy It.
The Killers Day & Age
On their 3rd album Day & Age, The Killers have teamed up with Madonna producer Stuart Price, further confusing their identity. Are they Nu-New Wave? Are they Nu-Springsteen? Or Nu-Dance Pop? Greg's answer is that they are merely a great singles band. Brandon Flowers is not a great lyricist, but there are a handful of great, glam rock pop songs on this new album, and together with the handful of other tracks from their previous albums, he predicts they'll have a hell of a compilation one day. But for now he gives Day & Age a Try It. Jim is less kind. He finds the album over-produced and packed with the worst steel drums and saxophones he's heard in a long time. He gives it a Trash It.
Rivers Cuomo Alone Vol. 2 - The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo
The Weezer album might have gotten a Turkey vote from one of our listeners, but how does frontman Rivers Cuomo fare on his own? The singer just released Alone Vol. 2 - The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, and according to Jim and Greg it's full of the heartfelt, intimate songs that fans of the Blue Album expect from Cuomo. Greg sees Weezer's recent songs as being written for the masses, while these are written from the heart. Whatever your take on Weezer is, both Jim and Greg give a Buy It to The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo.
Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy
Some fans thought this day would never come, but Guns N' Roses has finally released Chinese Democracy, their first album in 17 years. But, perhaps by Guns N' Roses we should say Axl Rose, since he is the sole surviving member. It would be hard for any album to live up to this many years of expectation, so Jim and Greg try to stick to the music when giving their review. Greg explains that Axl has gone farther on this album than he ever has before, and that is what is most aggravating as well as endearing about the singer. He's certainly a risk taker, but with great risks, of course, come great falls. Greg was impressed by some of the experimentation, but describes the record as sort of a Frankenstein monster. He recommends listeners Try It. Jim says there are so many elements — Spanish guitars, mellotrons, and even movie clips — that it's hard to just hear songs. But, he admits that with the exception of the ballads, half of the record isn't bad at all. He also gives it a Try It.
Beyonce I Am...Sasha Fierce
Beyonce and her alter-ego have a new album out called I Am…Sasha Fierce. The album contains two discs, one comprised of ballads (the Beyonce side) and one comprised of funkier, up-tempo tracks (the Sasha Fierce side). Greg explains that Beyonce has reinvented being an R&B diva in the 21st century by putting the emphasis on songs. But, that's where this release falls through for him. The songs are not as strong, and he doesn't buy the Sasha Fierce attitude. For Greg this is a Trash It. Jim couldn‘t disagree more. He thought the ballad side had surprising range. Another pleasant surprise was Beyonce’s take on europop dance music. The second disc is full of great party tracks, and Jim recommends listeners Buy It.
The Knux Remind Me in 3 Days
The Knux is a hip-hop brother act originally from New Orleans. Their new album Remind Me in 3 Days follows the release of a successful MySpace hit "Cappuccino." Jim admits that they aren't the greatest of rappers, but he was blown away by their enthusiasm. That enthusiasm extends to the inventive production as well. Greg agrees, calling the duo“audacious.”But he notes that while they bring in lots of reference points, they are completely unpolished in a refreshing way. Both critics give The Knux debut a Buy It rating.
Next up Jim and Greg review Deerhunter's third album Microcastle. Jim describes the lead singer Bradford Cox as being obsessed with Brian Eno and My Bloody Valentine, so listeners can imagine they are kindred spirits. Jim thinks these two discs are brilliant and gives them a Buy It rating. Greg agrees that you can hear Cox's love for experimentation in this sound. He didn't hear much expression lyrically, but luckily the sound makes up for it. For sheer ambition alone, Greg gives Microcastle another Buy It.
Q-Tip The Renaissance
Q-Tip has released his first solo album in over a decade. The former A Tribe Called Quest member is hugely influential in the hip-hop world, so Jim and Greg were eager to hear The Renaissance. Jim thinks the rapper had a bit more to say back in the day, but finds his voice to still be great. Greg agrees and was happy to hear that there is nothing dated about the sound of the album compared to his last one. Both critics recommend fans Buy The Renaissance.
Lindsey Buckingham Gift of Screws
Lindsey Buckingham has released a new album called Gift of Screws. It's the third solo album from the Fleetwood Mac singer/songwriter, and Greg notes that Buckingham is much more experimental when he's on his own. But unlike with his previous record, Jim finds Buckingham to be also be much more joyful. He and Greg are both impressed with the guitar work and give Gift of Screws a double Buy It rating.
The Vivian Girls The Vivian Girls
The next album up for review is from The Vivian Girls. The band is getting a lot of buzz, particularly after the recent CMJ Conference. They get their name from the controversial artist Henry Darger, and both Jim and Greg think you can hear his themes of innocence and violence in the Vivian Girls' music. The production is extremely lo-fi, but the record is filled with wonderfully complicated and short pop songs. The Vivian Girls gets another double Buy It.
John Legend Evolver
The first album up for review this week is Evolver by R&B artist John Legend. Legend first emerged on the scene after touring with Kanye West and has since released two successful albums. On this third one Greg thinks the title may be overly optimistic.“Evolver”implies growth, but Greg hears more of the same, and even less so. This is Legend's most commercial sounding record, and if Greg were going to assign it a color it would be beige. Jim agrees about the blandness of this album. He essentially“hates”the boring, mid-tempo sound and feels betrayed by Legend, an artist who at one point had so much promise. Evolver gets a Trash It from Jim and a Try It from Greg.
Parts and Labor Receivers
Parts & Labor also has a new album out called Receivers. The band, who visited the show as a trio, is now a quartet. And, as Jim and Greg explain,“Evolver”is a more apt title for their album. For Jim it's as if their sound went from black and white to Technicolor. He calls the record“amazingly tuneful,”and says they are now up in the realm of great noise-rock bands like Pere Ubu. Greg thinks the lineup change is responsible for the expanding sound. The drumming is less chaotic and more trancelike. And the melodies are amazing. Greg calls Parts & Labor one of the best bands working today, and their album gets two Buy Its.
AC/DC Black Ice
According to Dr. North's study if you like harder rock you tend to be gentle and creative, but also suffer from low self-esteem, and a bad work ethic. On the plus side you will probably be happy to hear the next review. Classic hard-rock group AC/DC is back with a new album called Black Ice. After waiting eight years for a new release, fans are probably curious to hear what's new. The answer is not much. While they are trying out a new distribution model by making their album available only at Wal-Mart, AC/DC is not trying out a new sound. On Black Ice you‘ll still hear the band’s hallmark rhythms and riffs. Jim and Greg aren‘t disappointed though. They’ve heard this sound for over 30 years and it's still a great one. Greg just wishes their new release was as short and sharp as their former ones. He gives it a Try It, and Jim goes with a Buy It.
Bob Dylan Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006
Bob Dylan has added another album to his“Bootleg Series”called Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006. Its songs were primarily from the recording sessions for three albums: Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind and Modern Times, but for Jim and Greg it's almost like a brand new Dylan album. Greg explains that these new versions give a fresh perspective that isn't bogged down by Daniel Lanois' original production. Jim was not a huge fan of this Dylan period, but he loves that he can hear the singer/songwriter having fun with the songs. Both critics give Tell Tale Signs a Buy It.
Oasis Dig Out Your Soul
With their first two records Oasis re-invigorated the British pop world. Now they are back with number seven. Jim thinks that now it's time for Noel and Liam Gallagher to consider a career change. Perhaps stand-up comedy? He finds Dig Out Your Soul laughable, especially the pace. If Noel had picked up more of the slack the album might have been more successful, but Jim has to deem it a Trash It. Greg actually grew to be a fan of Oasis' earlier work, but he agrees with Jim on this one. He admits that they shamelessly rip off The Beatles, but that's the least of the Gallaghers' problems. Dig Out Your Soul is merely a third rate rip off, and the lyrics are even worse. So Liam and Noel get two Trash Its.
T.I. Paper Trail
T.I. went straight to #1 this week with his new record Paper Trail. Unfortunately that's not the only headline the rapper has made. In a few months he's scheduled to serve a year long prison sentence for gun possession. But, as Greg points out, that should‘ve made for great fodder for songwriting - should’ve being the operative word. He sees Paper Trail as a missed opportunity to do something deeper. Rather, this is T.I.'s most commercial record. It's packed with a handful of terrific tracks, but not enough to warrant a Buy It from Greg. Jim agrees; He enjoyed the hook-filled songs, but was left wanting more out of T.I. He recommends the rapper use his time away to channel his more poetic inspiration - Tupac Shakur. Therefore the album gets two Try Its.
TV on the Radio Dear Science
The final album up for review is by Brooklyn indie band TV on the Radio. Now on major label Interscope, they've become one of the most talked about groups. Greg even put their last album in the #1 slot on his Best of 2007 list. Jim was not as big a fan of that record, but admits this one is stronger. They have success with their up-tempo tracks, but Jim becomes skeptical when the group slows down. He thinks they set their horizons a little too wide, and gives Dear Science a Try It. Greg is more positive. Return to Cookie Mountain was like a soundtrack to such a dark period in the world. With Dear Science, he can almost hear the clouds parting. The album is“weirdly optimistic”to Greg and deserves a Buy It.
Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue
After releasing a successful solo debut, Jenny Lewis is back with a new record called Acid Tongue. While the first album was something of an accident, this one is much more thought out, with a cast of famous helpers including Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson and She & Him. Jim could've done without some of their appearances, but loves this record“to pieces.”He explains that Lewis tries out a variety of styles, but all the songs are linked by an emphasis on strong vocals and natural recording. Greg completely agrees. He is less sour than Jim on Lewis‘ other project, but thinks that on her own she’s made another two much better albums. Acid Tongue gets two Buy Its.
Lou Reed Berlin
Twenty-five years after releasing the original version of Berlin, Lou Reed is back with a live version, as well as a film recording. Back in 1973, the record was almost universally panned, but Jim and Greg both believe that it deserves a second look, and this live album is the perfect way to do it. Greg describes the songs as harrowing, but also beautiful. It's not an easy album to listen to, but Reed brings his old songs new empathy. He gives it a Buy It rating. Jim thinks fans are better off purchasing this album than the first one, especially when you consider that Berlin 1973 wasn't recorded very well. He also gives Berlin: Live at St. Ann's Warehouse a Buy It.
Metallica Death Magnetic
Metallica's ninth album Death Magnetic has already soared to the top of the charts, but did it deserve to? As Jim and Greg explain, there's been a lot of controversy surrounding the way the album sounds. It was mixed for radio, rather than headphone listening, and is much louder and more distorted than it should be. But that's not even its biggest problem. Both Jim and Greg were shocked at how bad and insincere singer James Hetfield's lyrics are. So awful sound + awful lyrics = a Trash It, right? Well, not quite. Jim and Greg were impressed by the guitar-playing and think that the album is better than other recent Metallica efforts. Death Magnetic gets two Try Its.
Kid Rock Rock 'n Roll Jesus
Kid Rock's 11th album, Rock 'n Roll Jesus, was released last year, but has become the surprising hit of the summer. Atlantic Records is crediting keeping the album out of iTunes with the huge sales, and is looking at this as a new business model. As a Wall Street Journal article explores, avoiding iTunes runs against conventional logic since it's the number one music retailer. But, many labels want to find a way around Steve Jobs' stronghold and begrudge the power of the single. Jim and Greg think some artists only have a single or two in them, and explain that Kid Rock might be one of them. They say there's no reason to add to the 1.7 million copies Rock 'n Roll Jesus has already sold and give the album a Trash It.
Brian Wilson Smile
One musician who always seems to be buried, followed by an unearthing, is Brian Wilson. The former Beach Boy has had so many comebacks, Jim and Greg aren‘t even sure where he’s coming back from. Is Brian back again with this new record, That Lucky Old Sun? Greg explains that some people are saying this album is on par with Wilson's two masterpieces, Pet Sounds and Smile. But this critic thinks that's an insult to his previous efforts. He finds this album nostalgic, but takes too long to become emotionally resonant. And, the songs are weighed down by cornball lyrics courtesy of Van Dyke Parks. Jim completely agrees and wonders if the troubled artist actually made this record. If he did, he's merely cashing in. If he didn‘t, it’s quite a con. Either way That Lucky Old Sun gets a double Trash It.
Ra Ra Riot The Rhumb Line
After impressing critics and fans with their 2007 EP, Ra Ra Riot now has a full length album called The Rhumb Line. You can count Greg as one of those fans; they were one of his Buried Treasures last year. Now with this release, he's impressed with a number of songs, but doesn't feel the album as a whole does them justice. He wishes it had more of the energy or propulsion of their live act. For that reason he recommends people Try It. Jim can't even go that far. He finds the band to be as pretentious as Vampire Weekend and doesn't understand what all the buzz is about. He gives The Rhumb Line a Trash It.
The Walkmen You and Me
The Walkmen recently released their fourth proper album called You and Me. The band has always presented a rather boozy mood, so it's fitting that Jim describes this album as about as fun as a hangover. He compares their sound to Tom Waits meets The Velvet Underground, but doesn't think they pull it off. Jim is also not impressed by the instrumentation and gives You and Me a Trash It. Greg thinks The Walkmen do a great job of creating a murky, lost in space vibe, but wishes there was more variety. He thinks only about half of the songs are successes, and would therefore recommend listeners Try It.
David Byrne and Brian Eno Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
While Jim and Greg are certainly the top duo in rock and roll, there are some runner ups, including the artists up for review this week. After nearly 30 years, collaborators David Byrne and Brian Eno are back with a new album called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. The musicians first came together when Eno produced some Talking Heads albums, and later they teamed up for My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Now Eno and Byrne have made what they're calling an "electronic gospel" album. Greg thinks they‘ve succeeded. Byrne’s vocals are not traditionally gospel, but have never sounded better. And the subject matter, which is about rising above tough times, certainly hits gospel themes. He gives the album a Buy It. Jim agrees, but doesn‘t want listeners to think that he gives that rating merely because he’s an Eno fan. He didn‘t think their first collaboration was all that successful, but this one is much more enjoyable and more accessible. He wishes Byrne didn’t dominate the singing so much, but also gives Everything That Happens Will Happen Today a Buy It rating.
Jonas Brothers A Little Bit Longer
Disney is cashing in big yet again with another group of stylish, singing kids. The Jonas Brothers' new album A Little Bit Longer sold over 500,000 albums in its first week. They're also the first group since N'SYNC to have two albums in the Billboard top ten list in the same week (the other album being their self-titled release). Greg is impressed by Disney's marketing machine, but now understands that all it takes to sell records is cute boys. He doesn't think the album is very good, calling it“mild-mannered”and“chaste.”Jim doesn‘t like it either, but isn’t sold on the chastity. He thinks that "BB Good" is seedier than it appears and is also aggravated by the group's bombastic, Broadway-inspired singing style. He gives it a Trash It. Greg doesn‘t buy into Jim’s theory about a darker Jonas Brothers subtext, but also gives the album a Trash It.
Brazilian Girls New York City
After seeing Brazilian Girls wow crowds at Lollapalooza, Jim and Greg wanted to review the latest album from the international quartet called New York City. Jim compares the group to Stereolab, with influences in '60s lounge music, as well as German krautrock, but explains they are more danceable. He loves lead singer Sabina Sciubba's on-stage and on-record persona which is part Nico, part Jane Birkin and part Astrud Gilberto. He gives the album a Buy It. Greg is less enthused. He finds the album to be pleasant, but less up-tempo than previous efforts. He wishes they had more to say and thinks it's just merely background music. He gives it a Try It.
Zack de la Rocha One Day as a Lion
Ever since Zack de la Rocha quit Rage Against the Machine he has been talking about his upcoming solo album. It's been eight years, but an EP has finally been delivered called One Day as a Lion. De la Rocha brought Mars Volta drummer John Theodore onto the record for percussion, and de la Rocha plays keyboard under his vocals. The lyrics are as politically charged as ever, but Jim is sick of the bombastic silliness of de la Rocha's“revolutionary nonsense rhetoric”and says that the lyrics warrant a Trash It rating. But he gives the music a Try It for the drums alone. Greg gives the album a Try It, saying that it's nothing that hasn't been done before. He likes the sound of the album, but thinks that a similar artist like Saul Williams does the style much better.
Black Kids Partie Traumatic
Black Kids released four songs last year on their MySpace page, became one of the most hyped bands at last year's CMJ music conference and garnered huge praise from many critics. Their first full-length album is called Partie Traumatic. Jim hates the“sneering hipness”and“desperate sexuality”the album emits. Greg thinks Black Kids isn‘t going to last much longer, acknowledging the backlash that the album has already incurred. He doesn’t understand why the band's singer, Reggie Youngblood, "a black kid from Florida," tries to sound like The Cure's Robert Smith. They both find the album insincere and annoying, and it gets two Trash Its.
Randy Newman Harps and Angels
"Anti-singer-songwriter" Randy Newman just released his first new album in nine years called Harps and Angels. The Oscar and Emmy-winning musician, who has been best known lately for his movie soundtracks, is again combining humor and politics with his New Orleans-style piano playing — a combination Jim describes as being as poignant as popular music can get. Newman's searing critiques are brilliant, prompting Jim to give the album a Buy It. Greg agrees, noting that Newman accurately casts stones at himself as well as others, and warns listeners that they won't hear a lot of contemporary sounds. But, he thinks Newman is as good as ever and also gives Harps and Angels a Buy It.
Spiritualized Songs in A&E
Psychedelic shoegazers Spiritualized also have a new album out called Songs in A&E. The“A&E”in the title refers to Britain's“accident and emergency”hospital wards, where Spiritualized founder Jason Pierce recently spent a lot of time due to a near-fatal bout with pneumonia. As Jim and Greg explain, this personal crisis definitely informs much of the album. Greg wishes Pierce had been more concise with this theme, though. He enjoyed the first half of the album, but found that the songs, like Pierce's health, only got weaker. He gives the album a Try It. Jim doesn‘t think Greg enjoyed the album in the correct context. The pace of the record, which includes a number of instrumental interludes, mirrors the band’s live show. He thinks Songs in A&E is the band's best effort since Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space and gives it a Buy It.
Miley Cyrus Breakout
The name you are sure to hear this year, especially if you are a parent, is Miley Cyrus. The tween sensation has shed her Hannah Montana alter-ego to release her first solo album Breakout. While much of the talk about Cyrus concerns her rocky road to adulthood, Jim and Greg focus on the music. Greg hears nothing out of the ordinary: "assembly line pop rock." It's like second-rate Go-Go's, which isn't a bad thing, but he hopes fans graduate to something more interesting after this album. Greg gives Breakout a Try It. Jim is much more enthusiastic, calling the album“absolutely wonderful.”It's exactly what he would encourage parents to give their kids. He gives it a Buy It.
The Hold Steady Stay Positive
Jim and Greg review two of the bands who appeared at last weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival. The first up for review is The Hold Steady. Their fourth album, Stay Positive, continues with the band's literary bar music formula, but according to Greg, the emphasis has been moved away from guitarist Tad Kubler's riffs and hooks. Greg wishes there was more great guitar work and less“harpsichord filagree.”He gives Stay Positive a Try It. Jim has never been a Hold Steady fan, but was impressed with their performance at Pitchfork. On record is another story. He agrees with Greg about the keyboards and describes Stay Positive as overdone and a whole lot of nothing. Jim gives the album a Trash it.
King Khan and the Shrines The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines
The day after The Hold Steady took the stage, Pitchfork fans were wowed by the antics of King Khan and the Shrines. Jim was less wowed with Khan's own wardrobe malfunction, which he felt distracted from the music. He's impressed with Khan's collection of past recordings, The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines, which is almost like Iggy Pop meets James Brown. Greg hears Nuggets-era soul, and thinks The Supreme Genius is a great introduction into Khan's music. Both critics give the album a Buy It rating.
The first album up for review this week has been making headlines for some time now. Nas first announced that his new album was going to be titled N-gger, but months later he made the album untitled, presumably because of pressure from record stores and racial leaders. With or without the title, Greg explains that there are big statements about race all over the record. But, that's not such a good thing. He asks how“rebellion can sound so dull?”Jim agrees that Nas blows it lyrically, but likes the beats. He gives it a Try It while Greg goes for a Trash It.
Girl Talk Night Ripper
Girl Talk's fourth album Feed the Animals mashes up over 300 songs and creates a party soundtrack for the summer of 2008. Greg Gillis is the man behind this music, and he has yet to receive written permission from any of the artists he has sampled. Somehow, nobody has tried to stop him either. Greg refers to Gillis as a "reluctant poster-boy for the Fair Use Doctrine." Jim thinks that Feed the Animals is better than Gillis' breakout, Night Ripper. Greg thinks that this record is all about the dance floor and will appeal to a mass crowd. They both give the album a Buy It rating and remark that the album can be bought (a la In Rainbows) for whatever price the consumer offers on the Illegal Art website.
Beck Modern Guilt
Modern Guilt is the 10th album from post-modern poster boy Beck. Beck has always gone for adventurous producers, and this time he's paired with DJ Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley. Greg thinks this is the most exciting“sounding”Beck record in years, but believes the innovative production is masking some poor songwriting. He only hears half a great record and gives Modern Guilt a Burn It. Jim is surprised to hear this because he has finally learned to stop worrying and love the Beck,“weirdo”that he may be. Jim loves the unlikely combination of sounds and the soulful writing and gives the record a Buy It.
Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
The latest band to break out on the Sub Pop label is Fleet Foxes. While they haven't reached Nirvana or Shins status, Jim and Greg agree that this is a band to watch. Fleet Foxes belongs to the "freak folk" music club, but Jim much prefers their deeper, more convincing sound. He loves their beautiful harmonies and melodies and is impressed by their deep influences, especially considering how young their members are. Greg agrees, adding that the sound is entirely their own, full of untraditional arrangements and dense atmosphere. Both critics give Fleet Foxes, their self-titled debut, a Buy It.
My Morning Jacket Evil Urges
My Morning Jacket has a new album due out this week called Evil Urges. The band has been hugely successful straddling the line between indie rock and jam band music. As Jim says,“They‘ve been everything to everyone.”But now they’ve given up the“backwoods”setting, and not for the best according to Jim and Greg. Both critics hear a ton of experimentation, but nothing that is impressive. Rather, they found themselves asking what My Morning Jacket was thinking. Songs like "Highly Suspicious" almost seem like a joke. Jim wasn't a big fan before, but he really hates this record and gives it a Trash It. Greg wishes there was a rating level below that, but he'll have to settle for Trash It.
Lil Wayne Tha Carter III
Lil Wayne has been an inexplicable sensation for years, but now that has translated into big sales. The rapper's third album, Tha Carter III, sold over a million copies in its debut week alone. This is the first time sales numbers have crossed into seven figures since 50 Cent's The Massacre in March 2005. Jim and Greg explain that you are certain to hear a lot about Lil Wayne all summer long, but the question is whether or not he deserves such success. Greg explains that the rapper is all over the map lyrically and musically on this album, but that's not such a good thing. He loves that“bullfroggy”rapping style, but wishes the album was more focused. Jim doesn‘t think Wayne is as outrageous and off-the-cuff as people perceive; he sees this release as a very carefully executed and marketed attempt at a crossover. The subject matter isn’t without subtlety, but some of the production is terrific. Both Jim and Greg give Tha Carter III two Burn Its.
Alejandro Escovedo Real Animal
Alejandro Escovedo has been making music since the late '70s, and now he's back with a new album called Real Animal. Escovedo has had a checkered career that's been mostly under the radar, but has worked with some of the most influential musicians in rock history. A lot of these names pop up on Real Animal, but as with other releases, Jim doesn‘t think Escovedo delivers the goods on record. He’s much more impressive live. Jim can hear the riffs pilfered from Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Lou Reed and doubts he'll ever listen to this album again. He gives it a generous Try It. Greg thinks Jim missed a good deal of the album. To Greg, the pilferings are more homages, especially to Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter. The emotional temperature of this album is so high that Greg thinks listeners should Buy It.
After months of anticipation and a high profile iTunes publicity campaign Coldplay's new album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends has finally been released. This album follows up three multi-platinum releases, making the band one of the biggest of this century. The Chris Martin-fronted act sought out Brian Eno to take their music to the next level, but neither Jim nor Greg hear anything particularly groundbreaking. In fact, they both think X&Y was a little more radical. Greg appreciates the sound of this record, but wishes Martin had more to say. And, as far as arena rock anthems go, Jim doesn't think anyone does it better these days. But neither critic thinks listeners need to invest money in this album. Viva La Vida gets two Try Its.
Weezer Make Believe
Weezer is back with yet another self-titled album, and on this release they return to their roots. 2005's Make Believe showed the band's foray into arena rock, but now Rivers Cuomo, with a little help from his bandmates, is going back to its more complicated, heartfelt compositions. In fact, Greg thinks Cuomo is regressing emotionally as well as musically. He wishes the singer's angsty lyrics reflected his adult life and can only give Weezer a Try It. For Jim the whole album is about the track "Heart Songs," which portrays what it's like to fall in love with music. If the whole album was as good as that song it'd be an instant classic. But Jim still gives the new Weezer a Buy It.
Usher Here I Stand
Usher, one of the reigning kings of R&B, has a new album out called Here I Stand. This is the fifth album for the crooner, and the first since he has gotten married and had a child. How do Jim and Greg like the more mature Usher? Jim appreciates his take on an old art form. It isn't radical, but refreshing, especially compared to some of his raunchier counterparts. Greg wishes Usher had a stronger identity and relied less on his collaborators. But, both critics think Here I Stand is worth a listen and give the album a Try It rating.
Al Green Lay It Down
Lay It Down is the latest release from Reverend Al Green. The Memphis-based soul singer collaborated with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of The Roots for the album, which also features guest spots from Anthony Hamilton and Corinne Bailey Rae. Jim notes that Green could sing the phone book and make it compelling… and his lyrics are about as interesting as that. He's trying to sing love songs, but whether they are about earthly or divine love is unclear. Greg agrees that the material is not very strong, but Green's amazing voice overcomes it. Both Jim and Greg think Lay It Down is worth a listen and give the album a Try It rating.
Los Campesinos! Hold on Now, Youngster...
Welsh group Los Campesinos! has released their first full length album called Hold on Now, Youngster…. The seven-piece indie pop band first appeared on Greg's radar at SXSW. He was impressed by their exuberance, but admits that you have to be in the right mood for that level of enthusiasm. The formula can't sustain an entire album though, so Greg gives Hold On Now, Youngster… a Try It. Jim agrees about the rating, but was more put off by the band's lyrics. Like many indie bands today, these songwriters can be mighty pretentious. Jim really wanted to love this album, so he gives Los Campesinos! an angry Try It.
Nine Inch Nails The Slip
Jim and Greg next review an artist who is popping up a lot on the show recently: Nine Inch Nails. In fact Trent Reznor's new album The Slip is the fifth volume of music he's released this year-more than his entire output between 1986 and 1989. But is being prolific such a good thing? It is if you don't have to pay for the music. Neither Jim nor Greg think The Slip is on the same level as some of Nine Inch Nails' earlier, more meticulous albums. But, both critics think the free release is definitely worth a listen. They give it a Try It.
Flight of the Conchords Flight of the Conchords
One of the most successful music acts this year actually comes from TV. Flight of the Conchords, the fictional band portrayed on the HBO series of the same name, has a new self-titled album. And, while they're stuggling musicians on their show, the duo debuted at #3 on the billboard pop chart, outselling Ashlee Simpson. There's a long tradition of satirical rock acts, from Spinal Tap to theMetalocalypse's Dethklok, but Greg thinks that Flight of the Conchords is better suited to the small screen than his CD player. The first couple of songs were smart, but after that he thought the parody went sour. Jim dismisses Greg as a scrooge; he loves the faux-folk music and thinks the music matches the humor. Flight of the Conchords gets a Trash It from Greg and a Buy It from Jim.
Elvis Costello Momofuku
Elvis Costello has a new album out called Momofuku, which is named after the creator of instant ramen. Costello made news after he decided to release a vinyl record a month before the digital/CD release, but Jim thinks the real news is the speed at which the singer/songwriter made it. Costello has released a number of albums and dabbled in a number of genres, but he isn‘t known for his expediency. Greg wishes that Costello didn’t dabble so much and would stick to his stripped down rock roots. Jim agrees, citing Costello's fantastic, pared down performance during his tour with Bob Dylan. Both critics wish this Ramen concoction had fewer ingredients. Greg gives Momofuku a Try It, and Jim gives it a Trash It.
The final album up for review comes from Santigold, an artist Greg highlighted during the SXSW episode. He has been a fan of her songwriting since he knew her as Santi White, an A&R executive turned musician. He thinks the songs are as strong on her self-titled debut, which features production from people like Diplo and Switch. He gives the album a Buy It. Jim is put off by the branding of Santigold, and what he thinks is blatant ripping off of M.I.A. But he‘d be willing to forgive Santi if her voice wasn’t so irritating. He gives Santigold a Try It.
The Roots Rising Down
Hip hop group The Roots released its 10th album this week, Rising Down. The band started out with a more neo-soul vibe, but as Greg points out, over the years The Roots have gotten a lot harder and edgier. Some of the album's songs are downright creepy, and Greg loves ?uestlove's drumming. But he can't go so far as to give it a Buy It. Jim has loved a number of Roots' albums, especially 1999's Things Fall Apart, but he finds their efforts inconsistent. This time around The Roots called in a number of guest stars, but Jim wishes they had stuck to their own members. Rising Down has some good moments, but both critics can only give it a Try It.
Now onto the U.K.'s answer to hip hop… trip hop. Portishead, pioneers of the moody, sample-based genre, also have a new album out called Third. It's the group's first album in 10 years, so fans have been heavily anticipating what they have to offer. But, Greg is concerned that people accustomed to the cool, sophisticated sound of 1994's Dummy will be taken aback. Third is no dinner-party soundtrack. It's jarring and subversive, but Greg loves it. Jim agrees, but doesn‘t think it’s actually a radical reinvention. Singer Beth Gibbons has always been moody, only now she is looking outward rather than in. And the music is still filled with synths, beats and weird sounds. Both Jim and Greg give Third a Buy It.
Madonna Hard Candy
If there's any artist who is the opposite of a one note wonder, it might be Madonna. The pop diva prides herself on her chameleon-like ability to transform from one look or genre of music to another. So, how does she fare on her 11th studio album Hard Candy? Greg thinks not so well. Madonna teamed up with super-producers Timbaland and Pharrell to give her an up-to-date sound, but Greg thinks it's more retro than cutting edge. For the first time the notorious button-pusher seems kind of bored to Greg. He gives Hard Candy a Trash It. Jim is shocked to hear this review. He had fun listening to Madonna for the first time in years. The beats are there, the grooves are there, and he recommends people Buy It.
Tokyo Police Club Elephant Shell
After getting raves with their 2006 EP, Tokyo Police Club have finally released a full-length album called Elephant Shell. The four-piece band from Ontario signed to Saddle Creek Records to record 11 songs, but don't expect a denser album. This effort is still a quick jaunt into garage rock, power-pop, and new wave that ends before you know it. But, neither Jim, nor Greg, is complaining. Jim loves their great sense of melody and high-energy enthusiasm. His only quibble is with the band's minor diversion into indie-rock pretension. But, overall he gives the record a Buy It. Greg also loves the tightly constructed arrangements, but notes that the band's lyrics still haven't developed much. He appreciates their exuberance but thinks they still have room to grow. He gives Elephant Shell a Try It.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
On the heels of Cave's critically acclaimed side project Grinderman, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are back together for a new album called Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! Both Jim and Greg loved the Grinderman album. In fact, it took Jim's number one slot last year. But, while that record got an A+ from Jim, Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! merely gets an A. Both he and Greg are impressed with Cave's ability to get stronger with age. He loves Cave's brilliant, intellectual lyrics that are full of humor and gives the album a Buy It. Greg agrees that the songwriter really amped up the humor, along with standard Cave topics like sex, death and religion. Amazingly those subjects fit into hook-filled pop songs, prompting Greg to give the album another Buy It.
Disfear Live the Storm
Switching musical gears entirely, Jim and Greg move on to the new album by Swedish metal band Disfear. Sweden is one of the metal capitals of the world, and Live the Storm is the band's sixth album. And with this latest release, Disfear, new vocalist Tomas Lindberg and producer Kurt Ballou, have brought their music up to a new level. Greg thinks their sound and playing have never been captured better. And, while they are hard to understand, listeners who want to parse the provided lyrics won't be disappointed. Jim puts his opinion more simply: Either you Live the Storm or you don't. In other words, either you want to rock out to Swedish metal or you don‘t. And if you do, you won’t be disappointed by this album. Disfear's Live the Storm gets two Buy Its.
The Breeders Mountain Battles
Sister act The Breeders also have a new album out called Mountain Battles. While Kim and Kelley Deal had enormous success in the '90s alt-rock era with Last Splash and the single "Cannonball," they've only released one album this decade. So is Mountain Battles worth the wait? Unfortunately Jim and Greg would say no. While pop tracks like "It's the Love" hearken back to the willfully amateurish, hook-filled songs of Last Splash, Greg was disappointed with the remainder of the record. He suspects Kim Deal may have lost her hook-writing ability. Jim never really understood the appeal of The Breeders, and this album was particularly difficult for him to listen to. There were long stretches with no beat, no melody, and worst of all, no spark. Both critics give Mountain Battles a Trash It.
Moby had one of the biggest selling albums of all time with 1999's Play, and now he's back with his eighth proper album Last Night. Jim and Greg describe the record as a one night tour of the New York underbelly. The music illustrates Moby's return to his disco roots, and as Greg discusses, the electronic artist really understands the drama in dance music, as well as the spirituality. He explains that between the beautiful melodies, emotion and beats, Last Night is a terrific album beginning to end. Jim has never been shy about being a Moby fan. He appreciates how the artist has never tried to be“cool”and how he has such an“old-school”appreciation of melody. As much as they hate to do it, both Jim and Greg agree and give Moby's new album a double Buy It.
Destroyer Trouble in Dreams
The final album up for review this week is Trouble in Dreams from the Dan Bejar-fronted project Destroyer. Many listeners will recognize Bejar for his work with the New Pornographers. But, neither host can recognize Bejar's strengths, which are so evident on N.P. albums like Challengers, on the Destroyer release. Greg says there are a few good songs, but doesn't think his sound holds up in an entire album. He gives Trouble in Dreams a Try It. Jim goes even further, accusing Bejar of breaking every bad indie rock rule in the book. There are affected vocals, bad melodies and pointless lyrics, according to Jim. He gives the new Destroyer a Trash It.
Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple
Next up is a review of an album that's sure to make news in 2008. Gnarls Barkley has released their highly anticipated second album The Odd Couple. This is the follow-up to 2006's successful release St. Elsewhere, which featured the hit single "Crazy." The genre-blending duo consisting of singer/songwriter Cee-Lo Green and DJ Danger Mouse went for an even darker mood on this album, and both Jim and Greg think it's a success. Jim loves the psychedelic universe Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse created-one that's part soul, part rock, part hip-hop. He admits that there are no "Crazy"-style singles, but gives The Odd Couple a big Buy It. Greg was impressed by how the two men take traditional pop genres like British invasion and Motown, and update them for the 21st century. And beneath the psychedelic swirl of sounds are great melodies and complicated lyrics. Greg seconds the Buy It rating.
The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely
Like Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs had a successful debut album in 2006. Now, Jack White, Brendan Benson and company are back with a follow-up called Consolers of the Lonely. From the start this project was clearly an opportunity for Jack White to step outside of the boundaries of minimalism that contain the music of The White Stripes. But at the core of all the instrumentation and experimentation of the first Raconteurs record were strong melodies. And for Greg, that's where the second album falls short. In addition to missing the great songs of the White Stripes, he found himself longing for their humor and eroticism. There isn't really anything appealing to Greg on Consolers of the Lonely, and he's not sure why the band rushed it out. Jim, who is an admitted fan of the art rock genre, says there is nothing worse than a bad art rock record — and this is a really bad art rock record. He notes that the band has made a point to encourage listeners to take in the album as a whole, but thinks this is terrible advice. There are only a couple of good tracks on the album, so listening to it as a whole was not an enjoyable experience for Jim. He calls it awful and depressing. Looks like our two hosts need the consoling. They both give the new Raconteurs a Trash It.
One of the most buzzed about events at the festival was the debut of songs from R.E.M.'s new album Accelerate. The band played its first show at SXSW, as well as Austin City Limits. (You can hear their live performance of "Fall On Me" during the show.) Jim and Greg both saw the rock veterans perform and have listened to the new album. So what's the verdict? Jim's feelings are mixed. R.E.M. is a band that has meant a lot to him in the early part of their career, but has disappointed him in the past decade. They've never reached the peaks they did with albums like Life's Rich Pageant, Murmur and Automatic for the People. He thought the ACL live show was better than recent tours, but not amazing. And the same can be said of Accelerate. They've returned to their roots, but not to form, and Jim can only give it a Try It. Greg was actually pleasantly surprised to hear the band re-invested again-for the first time since losing drummer Bill Berry. That was an incredible loss for the other three members, and Accelerate is the first album in years that can stand up to their earlier work, according to Greg. He hears a renewed urgency in Michael Stipe's voice and the emphasis placed once again on Peter Buck's guitar. Greg gives Accelerate a Buy It.
Beach House Devotion
The Baltimore duo Beach House has a new album out called Devotion. This is the indie pop band's second effort, and they are back with a slow, dreamy sound that many compare to Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500. Jim and Greg agree — this is definitely a sound they've heard before, and much better. Greg says Devotion is a one-tempo album and challenges anyone to differentiate one track from the other. Jim agrees and can't understand why the band is getting such hype. The Beach House album gets two Trash Its.
Goldfrapp Seventh Tree
Goldfrapp is another duo with a new album out called Seventh Tree. The British electronic act formed in 1999, and since then Jim and Greg have disagreed on each album, including 2006's Supernature. Now it seems they are destined to disagree once again. Goldfrapp has returned to its bucolic, trip-folk roots and Greg is happy to hear it. He appreciates their orchestration and lead singer Allison Goldfrapp's voice and gives Seventh Tree a Burn It. Jim admits that recently he's been dissing duos a lot on the show, but he can't recommend this album. He finds it completely boring and gives a Trash It rating.
Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV
Following in the footsteps of Radiohead, who successfully released an internet version of In Rainbows, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has a new web release called Ghosts I-IV. The four-part instrumental release comes on the heels of an album Reznor produced and digitally released by Saul Williams. This time Reznor is offering fans different listening options at different prices. Whether you want a free, nine song collection, or a $300 box set, there appears to be something for everyone. But is the music worth your time or money? Jim was a big fan of Reznor's last record, a concept album called Year Zero, but this time he is more interested in hearing what other artists will do with these instrumentals. He thinks Ghosts I-IV is worth a listen but only as a Burn It. Greg found Reznor's production to be as inventive as ever and would recommend people Buy It — at whatever level they choose.
The Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust
This week's final review is of Lust Lust Lust, the third album from Danish pop duo The Raveonettes. Jim and Greg both agree that one of the primary influences of the band is The Jesus and Mary Chain. Just like the Scottish group, The Raveonettes's music is full of heavy, feedback-drenched guitar. It's a sound Jim describes as "Velvet Underground meets Phil Spector." Greg is impressed by guitarist Sune Rose Wagner's minimalist technique; he understands the importance of not overplaying. But, over a dozen tracks he thinks the sound is a little“samey”and can only give Lust Lust Lust a Burn It. Jim finds the album entirely too derivative. He explains that if he wants to hear sexy, dark garage rock, he might as well get out his Jesus and Mary Chain record. Jim thinks there's no reason to own The Raveonettes' album and gives it a Trash It.
Michael Jackson Thriller 25
This season's big records are starting to be released, beginning with the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest selling albums of all time: Thriller. Michael Jackson is the latest artist to try to re-market his music to a new generation. So in addition to the original album, listeners also get remixes of his hits with artists like Will.I.Am and Kanye West. It's an interesting concept, but neither Jim nor Greg think that any of the remixes are successful. They also agree that while Thriller is a classic, it's not even Jackson's best album. They give Thriller 25 a Trash It.
Onto the next Jackson…Janet also has a new album out called Discipline. After listening to the S&M-inspired title track, Greg explains Janet appears to be erotica-obsessed on the entire album. He thinks she's become more and more one-dimensional over the last decade and wouldn't recommend anyone purchase this latest effort. Jim agrees. He doesn‘t think there’s anything wrong with an adult woman exploring her sexuality, but Janet's exploration is overdone and sad. Discipline gets two stern Trash Its.
Sons and Daughters This Gift
Next up is This Gift, the second full-length album from Sons and Daughters. The Scottish quartet first gained attention after opening up for fellow Domino artists Franz Ferdinand. Now, with the help of producer Bernard Butler, they've really come into their own. Singer Adele Bethel has been moved into the position of front woman, and the updated roots sound, influenced by X, has a more pop sensibility. Jim and Greg agree that each track is a hook-filled winner. They give This Gift two Buy Its.
Sia Some People Have Real Problems
After releasing albums by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, Starbucks' Hear Music label is finally putting out music by someone under 40. Sia is an Australian singer/songwriter who made a name for herself by appearing on various TV soundtracks and providing vocals to groups like Zero 7. Now she's released her third album Some People Have Real Problems. Greg is very impressed by the artist's soulful singing, but he has major problems with her songwriting. He describes the record as a boring, overproduced, tarted-up pop record with one of the worst covers he's ever seen. He gives the music and the art a Trash It. Jim completely disagrees and can't believe that a Feist fan wouldn't get Sia. He finds her lyrics to be filled with smart social commentary and gives it a Buy It.
Erykah Badu New AmErykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War
Ever since 2000's Mama's Gun, Erykah Badu fans have been waiting for a follow-up. Jim and Greg are included in that anticipatory group. She's finally back with New AmErykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, but Jim and Greg warn that listeners should not expect the same sound. Badu has taken "neo-soul" to an even more neo level. Greg describes it as a murky, psychedelic sound that owes as much to Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock as it does traditional soul artists. While it's not an easy listen, it's worth your effort according to Greg. Jim asks the listener to imagine Badu jamming with George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield and a psychedelic band somewhere in New Orleans. If that sounds like something you'd like to hear, both hosts urge you to Buy It.
Black Mountain In the Future
The final album up for debate this week is In the Future from stoner rockers Black Mountain. Jim and Greg describe the genre as something you either get or you don‘t. So if you’re the type of listener to get down to the heavy, psychedelic metal sounds of bands like Kyuss and Fu Manchu, you‘ll find this record to be pure, headbanging joy…at least according to Jim. Greg is also a fan, but he’s impressed with how smart the band is and how relevant their lyrics are. Whether or not you choose to pay attention to the lyrics, both critics recommend that you Buy It.
Herbie Hancock River: The Joni Letters
Jim and Greg don't like to give too much airtime to the Grammy Awards, but there was one upset worth mentioning (other than Amy Winehouse not getting a visa). Beating out big names like Winehouse, Kanye West, The Foo Fighters and Vince Gill for Album of the Year was veteran jazz musician Herbie Hancock. Hancock is a critically acclaimed pianist who many listeners will remember for composing the 1983 jazz-hip hop fusion track "Rockit." But, according to Greg, this is a case of“right artist, wrong year.”Hancock's winning album River: The Joni Letters is by no means the musician's finest work. With the exception of the one track on which Joni Mitchell sings, most of the songs have unsuccessful vocals. Greg gives this“muzak”album a Burn It. Jim calls River a“stultifyingly mediocre record”that isn't a fair representation of the year in music. The Recording Academy might give the album an award, but he gives it a Trash It.
The Moldy Peaches & Kimya Dawson Juno
Before Jim and Greg launch into their discussion of the best movie soundtracks of all time, they review the soundtrack that's currently getting the most buzz. Juno, the little movie that could, is not only a success at the box office, but with music consumers as well. The soundtrack became the first Rhino record to hit #1 on the Billboard chart, and it was even able to topple Alicia Keys' recent release. Rhe success of the Juno soundtrack is surprising considering how obscure many of the songs are. The album is dominated by tracks from The Moldy Peaches and its former lead singer Kimya Dawson. The success is also surprising to Jim because, well… he hates it. He's gone on record as not liking the movie, but Jim also thinks the album is completely unsuccessful. He finds Dawson's songwriting amateurish and childish gives the soundtrack a big Trash It. Greg agrees, explaining that it doesn't seem like Dawson knows the difference between childlike and childish, or between cute and cloying. He says Juno is really tough to listen to and also gives the soundtrack a Trash It rating.
Sheryl Crow Detours
After an intense few years of that included a public breakup, battle with cancer and adoption, Sheryl Crow has a new album out called Detours. As Jim and Greg explain, this album has Crow returning to her Tuesday Night Music Club roots — much to their relief. The songs on Detours are breezier and more upbeat than they've been in previous years, despite heavy topics like heartbreak and global warming. Greg thinks the songs are more personal and bring Crow to a higher level. He gives the record a Buy It. Jim was also sucked in by the album, calling her catchy, hook-filled, bar-room sound enticing. He gives Detours another Buy It.
Van Hunt Popular
The first album up for review this week is Popular by soul singer Van Hunt. Jim and Greg both received their review copies, and were excited to talk about the album on the air. Then, they saw a post on Van Hunt's blog. The singer announced that he had been cut from the Blue Note roster and wasn‘t sure if the album would ever see the light of day. Both Jim and Greg agree that this is a shame. Jim admits that Van Hunt isn’t reinventing the wheel, but he borrows from all the right places. He thinks the singer has great style and great taste and loves this record to pieces. Greg calls the album lean and sparse, and says that it will be jarring to most R&B fans. But, he hears more of Van Hunt himself in this album, rather than just Prince and Sly Stone. Both Jim and Greg urge listeners to seek the music out online, and if they could give it a Buy It, they would.
Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
Next up is the self-titled debut from quartet Vampire Weekend. The indie rockers have been getting a lot of buzz for months now after releasing an EP. Now, with the release of their new album, they're being referred to as the next big indie stars. But, both Jim and Greg disagree with the hype — Greg feels it's unfair, and Jim feels it's completely unwarranted. Jim hates this album and finds it to be pretentious both musically and lyrically. He explains that the Paul Simon-esque African rhythms feel contrived, and the mentions of Louis Vuitton, Benetton and Oxford Commas are more prep than they are punk, earning Vampire Weekend a Trash It. Greg disagrees and says the music has clean guitars, rhythms and a sense of humor. It's a perfectly pleasant pop record — a Burn It that's a victim of hype.
Saul Williams The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust
But, the real question is whether or not The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust is worth your $5. Greg calls the album a dissertation on the Black American experience. That's no small topic for sure, but he enjoyed Saul Williams‘ lyrics more when he got personal towards the end. The real star of the album is Reznor’s production which is as intense and skuzzy as ever. Jim agrees, saying that the album is sonically and conceptionally mind-blowing, and would've been a contender for his best of last year. Both critics give The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust a Buy It.
Lupe Fiasco The Cool
Rapper Lupe Fiasco has a new record out called The Cool. The Chicago native, and recent Letterman guest, got attention with his 2006 debut album Food and Liquor. With this second record, the self-professed nerd has taken a turn for the dark. His music is reflecting the serious subjects that have always been apparent in his lyrics. Greg admits that at times Fiasco borders on preachy, but he was impressed by the complexity of The Cool and gives it a Buy It. Jim was a little lost by some of the lyrics, but finds the music incredibly inventive. He thinks people who deny that rap is music should listen to this and also gives the record a Buy It.