|Tegan And Sara|
|Higher Ground (2003 - Remaster)||Mother's Milk|| |
|Red Hot Chili Peppers|
|Body Work (Feat. Juicy J, Meek Mill, and French Montana)||Fear Of God II: Let Us Pray|| |
|Date With The Night||Fever To Tell (Explicit Version)|| |
|Yeah Yeah Yeahs|
|Never Run Away||Wakin On A Pretty Daze|| |
|Love Spreads||Second Coming|| |
|The Stone Roses|
|The Full Retard||Cancer 4 Cure|| |
|Heavy Feet||Hummingbird|| |
|Born On the Floor||I Want Some|| |
|Jayou||J 5 (Deluxe Edition)|| |
|Stay Useless||Attack On Memory|| |
|Dropla||Wondrous Bughouse|| |
|Saturn||Black Magic|| |
|Kill The Noise|
Having wooed the world with their post-punk indie-rock sound, Canadian sisters Tegan and Sara Quinn decided to embrace a lighter and more synth-driven sound for album number seven. They may still sing about heartbreak, frustration and disappointment in songs like 'How Come You Don't Want Me?' and 'Goobye, Goodbye,' but the duo's lyrics are now lit up with a fresh layer of optimism that's a fine fit for the sparkling electro-pop production. This change of mood imbues the album with a pleasing buoyancy which pairs well with the sisters' enduring knack of coining a catchy killer hook. Heartthrob is a successful new direction.
Rory Ford, Google Play
With his 2011 debut full-length, dubstep-via-fractured R&B producer James Blake delivered on the promise of his earlier singles while at the same time overhauling his sound, moving away somewhat from the sample-heavy dubstep of those tracks to a sparser atmosphere. The album focused more on Blake's equally haunted piano and vocal lines, submerged elements of implied rhythms, dubstep's subsonic bass resonance, and ghostly samples to create a picture of restraint and contained emotional upheaval. The album felt not so much like the calm before the storm, but like silently watching a hurricane slowly and soundlessly move closer from the distance. Sophomore album Overgrown offers a similar feeling, but Blake approaches the songs here with even more restraint and a subtly deconstructed take on pop. Subtlety is perhaps Blake's greatest attribute on Overgrown, with what could even be the album's heaviest moments blurring into a pleasantly melancholy whole through deft production choices. Take for instance "Take a Fall for Me," a partially rhythm-less track featuring Wu-Tang's RZA in an extended set of rhymes over a looping sample of static and processed backing vocals, and samples that recall Tricky's earliest work. The jagged edges of a track like this could render it awkward with more obvious production, but Blake's touch pushes even RZA's toughest verses into a rainy, lamenting place. The skeletal piano of the debut returns on tracks like "DLM" or the gorgeous album-closer "Our Love Comes Back," which has the faintest hints of Chet Baker's springtime loneliness buried in Blake's mumbling blue-eyed R&B vocals. Brian Eno even shows up to collaborate on the sputtering rhythms of "Digital Lion," perhaps the most hyperactive track here, though only in relative terms. Somewhere between the vacant echoes of dub and trip-hop, dubstep's sample-slicing production, and the contained heartbreak of a singer/songwriter playing piano to himself in an empty room, Blake has crafted Overgrown. It's understated to the point of invisibility at times, with Blake subtracting even himself from the songs, allowing the lead vocals or hooks to be consumed by the song at large. Though the stormy textures and somber reflections are pretty specific to a particular mood, Overgrown finds and fits that mood perfectly. While it might take listeners a few spins to find the right head space for the album, once they get there, it's an easy place to get lost in.
Fred Thomas, Rovi
Philadelphia songsmith Kurt Vile's 2011 album Smoke Ring for My Halo was a definitive shift for the artist away from home-recorded overexposed fuzz pop toward a more sprawling, textural, and most markedly introspective style. The follow-up, fifth album Wakin on a Pretty Daze, continues in this direction, but pushes the changes begun on Halo with even more articulate production, extended exploration in lengthy songs, and even deeper looks inward, if all approached through Vile's one-of-a-kind fog. Beginning with the nine-plus-minute "Wakin on a Pretty Day," the album immediately takes the mantle from its predecessor, offering up wistful interplay between acoustic and electric guitar tones, Vile's dour mumbled vocals, and an overall emotional sense caught somewhere between the hope and promise of youth and the exhaustion of everyday life. It's this deceptively complex perspective cloaked in seemingly lunkheaded guitar heroics that makes Vile so interesting and helps keep the compositions on Pretty Daze captivating even as many of them stretch past the six-minute mark. "KV Crimes" comes on with a lazy classic rock riff but beneath its stony shuffle and sneery vocals lies a heart of both melody and a palpable sense of diminished excitement being reborn. Longer tracks like "Girl Called Alex" and "Goldtone" capture the dark wistfulness of Where You Been-era Dinosaur Jr. or the dreamy driftiness of Neil Young at his most guitar-centric peaks. Much like his former/sometimes band the War on Drugs, there's an undercurrent of working-class rock à la Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen here (Vile even drops the lyric "Springsteen... pristine" in one song). However, with the spaced-out vaporous jams of Wakin on a Pretty Daze, it becomes clear that Kurt Vile isn't aiming to ape or even update the canon of classic guitar-based songwriters, but is very much his generation's chapter of the evolution of rock. Easily his most focused and accessible work, Pretty Daze is the strongest so far in a chain of releases that seem to suggest there are even greater heights to be reached.
Fred Thomas, Rovi
As one half of the Virginia duo The Clipse, Pusha T was responsible for one of rap's more singular oeuvres, setting literary drug dealer tales to the sound of crashing spaceships. With his first solo outing, Pusha's wordplay is no less sharp but his focus has suffered, bending to simple radio tropes and buried by his illustrious cameo list (50 Cent, Rick Ross, Diddy). The production recalls the noodling prog-rap experiments of Kanye West, whose G.O.O.D. Music imprint released the record, but unsurprisingly, it's Clipse producers The Neptunes whose bouncy pair of contributions snap the rapper back into his original form.
– Andrew Noz, Google Play
A pivotal album for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1989's Mother's Milk turned the tide and transformed the band from underground funk-rocking rappers to mainstream bad boys with seemingly very little effort. Mother's Milk brought them to MTV, scored them a deal with Warner Brothers, and let both frontman Anthony Kiedis and the ubiquitous Flea get back out into a good groove following the death of co-founding member Hillel Slovak. With a new lineup coalescing around the remaining duo with new drummer Chad Smith and guitarist John Frusciante, and with producer Michael Beinhorn again behind the boards, the band took everything that The Uplift Mofo Party Plan hinted at, and brought it fully to bear for this new venture. If anyone doubted the pulsating power that leapt from the blistering opener, "Good Time Boys," it took only a few bars of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' outrageous, and brilliant, interpretation of the Stevie Wonder classic "Higher Ground" to prove that this new lineup was onto something special. Wrapping up with the aptly titled and truly punked-out "Punk Rock Classic" and the band's own punched-up tribute to "Magic Johnson," Mother's Milk was everything the band had hoped for, and a little more besides. Effortlessly going gold as "Knock Me Down" and "Taste the Pain" careened into the charts, the album not only set the stage for the band's Blood Sugar Sex Magic domination, it also proved that funk never died; it had just swapped skins. [The 2003 reissue of Mother's Milk includes six bonus tracks, five of which are previously unreleased, including the "Salute to Kareem" demo and a live version of "Crosstown Traffic."]
Amy Hanson, Rovi
For all the talk that The xx's second album would be more influenced by the beat-driven remix and production work that band member Jamie Smith has done since 2009's self-titled debut, Coexist sticks largely to the UK indie-electronic trio's already well-established strength: restraint. As ever, The xx mine a vein of minimalism in which the smallest moves make massive impacts: a sliding, single-string guitar lead or bobbing bass line; the inviting space in-between Smith's spare but kinetic beats; the sensual tension between Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim's gently tug-of-warring vocals. There are fresh elements here—the wavering steel drums and muffled, clacking beat of "Reunion," the resounding piano chords on "Swept Away"—and maybe some new confidence to Croft and Sim's singing—but for the most part Coexist doubles down and further distills The xx's singularly subtle allure.
Eric Grandy, Google Play
Displeasure is El-P's speciality. Ever since his days with '90s indie-rap pioneers Company Flow, the rapper/producer has used his platform to rally against the ills of society. He's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. With Cancer 4 Cure, his third solo album, he continues to refine Public Enemy's wall of noise model for the digital era, immaculately stacking a seemingly endless supply of distorted samples, synth wheezes and violent drum stabs. They shift and shatter quickly, while El's sardonic and single-minded raps shout down global conspiracies in strings of apocalyptic images. None of this is new ground for the rapper; in fact, he's mostly treading the same circles he always has. But at least he's doing so with a righteous stomp.
Andrew Nosnitsky, Google Play
Though it's not really a proper album, the Make-Up's 1999 singles compilation I Want Some is nevertheless their most dynamic, focused, and expressive collection of songs. Rave-ups like "Pow! To the People," "Every Baby Cries the Same," "The Untouchable Sound," and "Free Arthur Lee" showcase the development of the group's kinetic grooves and Svenonius' charismatic vocals, but quieter, introspective songs like "The Choice" and "Little Black Book" prove their versatility. The gritty pop of tracks like "Walking on the Dune" and "Born on the Floor" completes I Want Some's portrait of the Make-Up as one of the underground's most stylish -- and substantial -- bands.
Heather Phares, Rovi