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CD Reviews

Charlie Puth Shows Potential On 'Nine Track Mind'

2/4/2016 9:09am EST
Charlie Puth Shows Potential, Lacks Oomph On 'Nine Track Mind'
It must be good to be Charlie Puth right now. WHO is Charlie Puth you ask? Oh, he’s just the piano-playing, pop dude who delivered one of 2015’s biggest hits, “See You Again” alongside Wiz Khalifa. After earning Grammy nominations for his breakthrough pop hit, the 23-year old newcomer drops his debut album Nine Track Mind. Listening to the album, Puth’s potential is apparent; so are the flaws.

“One Call Away” is a respectable start but don’t call it a spirited salvo; it lacks a bit of the killer instinct an opener should possess. For all of Puth’s efforts to rise to “soaring heights,” “...
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How Does Sia's Latest Album 'This Is Acting' Stack Up?

2/3/2016 2:45pm EST
Sia Showcases Moments Of Greatness And Flaws On 'This Is Acting'
2014 was a fantastic year for Australian singer/songwriter Sia. She released a number one album (1000 Forms of Fear) and scored two hit singles, most notably the Grammy-nominated “Chandelier.” Less than two years later, Sia returns with another new album, This Is Acting. There’s a catch though – most of the songs written by the songwriter were intended for other artists, not Sia herself. That said, sometimes Sia sounds superb and other times song and singer isn’t a perfect match.

“Bird Set Free” kicks the album off respectably. A soaring pop ballad, “Bird Set Free” shows off Sia’s powerh...
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Rihanna Returns From A 4-year Hiatus With ‘Anti’

2/1/2016 9:00am EST
Review: Rihanna Switches Things Up On 'Anti'
Following an uncharacteristic four-year hiatus, Rihanna returns with the oddest album of her decade-long career, Anti. Unlike previous albums jam-packed with hits, Anti lacks the catchy gems that made her a superstar. Even with a lack of surefire hits, Anti ends up being a compelling listen that will likely have to ‘grown on’ some listeners.

“I got to do things my own way, darling / Will you let me?” Hmm, what’s the best reaction to opener “Consideration” (featuring SZA)? Perhaps WTF is appropriate, considering this is Rihanna like we’ve never seen before. It settles in more with successi...
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Trevor Moran Shows Great Potential On 'Alive'

1/28/2016 6:00pm EST
Album Review: Trevor Moran Shows Great Potential On 'Alive'
On an EP, there is little room for error? Why – because it’s a brief snapshot into what an artist can offer. The EP has become popular because it is a preview of what is potentially to come from an artist. On his second EP Alive, beloved teen YouTube personality and recording artist Trevor Moran shows he has plenty to offer as an artist. Alive isn’t transcendent or anything along those lines (can a five-song EP be transcendent), but Moran has things rolling out right.

“Let’s Roll” kicks things off fiercely, with Moran’s feisty attitude translating clear as day from his YouTube channel. In ...
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How Does Tank's Album 'Sex, Love & Pain II' Stack Up

1/25/2016 9:21am EST
Tank Is Too Reliant On Trendiness On 'Sex Love & Pain II'
Following his tepidly selling, so-so 2014 album (Stronger), R&B singer/songwriter Durrell Babbs – best know as Tank – returns with Sex Love & Pain II, a follow-up to his Grammy-nominated original, Sex Love & Pain. A talented vocalist who’s penned songs for numerous artists, how does Tank’s latest effort measure up? Well…sometimes it’s great or, at least, respectable, while others it relies too much on trendiness and that god-awful thing known as conformity.

“SLP2” kicks things off lusciously, truly foreshadowing the pronounced role of sex on the album. Not a bad opener, it’s sophomore cut...
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Anderson Paak Electrifies On Breakthrough 'Malibu'

1/22/2016 1:54pm EST
Anderson Paak's Latest Album 'Malibu' Shows He’s Clearly An Arti
Sometimes it only takes a narrow opening to achieve greater success. For Anderson Paak, guesting on prominent West Coast rapper’s albums (Dr. Dre’s Compton and The Game’s The Documentary 2) has certainly elevated the talented R&B singer, rapper, and producer’s profile. Given his elevated status, Paak takes it and runs with it on his superb album, Malibu, clearly one of the early triumphs of 2016.

“The Bird” kick starts Malibu soulfully, clearly embracing a throwback vibe. The chorus isn’t the catchiest ever, it’s poetically penned: “A bird with a word came to me / the sweetness of a honeyc...
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Panic! At The Disco's 'Death of a Bachelor' Is Eccentrically Brilliant

1/17/2016 12:46pm EST
Panic! At The Disco's 'Death of a Bachelor' Is Eccentrically Bri
Brendon Urie is eccentric – no ifs, ands or buts about it! Eccentricity is what we love about Urie, aka Panic! At The Disco. As the final member of the eclectic alternative collective, Urie doesn’t miss a beat on Panic’s fifth studio album, Death of a Bachelor. If anything, Death of a Bachelor proves to be the band’s most ambitious effort yet.

Single “Victorious” gives Death of a Bachelor a fierce opening salvo, setting the tone for the entire course. All things unite terrifically: Urie’s left of center lyrics, his monstrously epic pipes, and terrific production work. This is Panic! At ...
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Ricky Dillon Aims High, Falls Short on 'Gold'

1/17/2016 12:44pm EST
Ricky Dillon Aims High, Falls Short on 'Gold'
Ricky Dillon is pretty terrific…when it comes to YouTube. But the thing is, few people want to be characterized as ONE thing – nobody wants to be pigeonholed. In an age where being a ‘jack of all trades’ is the M.O., even YouTube personalities seek to expand their craft beyond the lens. So, yes, Ricky Dillon, YouTube extraordinaire who loves to sing drops his debut album, GOLD. The question is, is it golden? Well…

GOLD will undoubtedly win over Dillon’s most faithful followers for the sheer fact he’s an electrifying personality and seemingly nice guy, but the 23-year old may have more of...
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David Bowie Delivers One Last Classic On 'Blackstar'

1/11/2016 3:30pm EST
David Bowie - Blackstar
Folks, prepare for an album that will blow your mind. That is what exactly occurs on rock vet David Bowie’s final endeavor, Blackstar. Though only comprised of seven tracks and released in the dead period known as January, Blackstar is a compelling, creative effort sure to stimulate the mind – most of all the ears. 69-year old David Bowie, who passed away January 10, sounds as potent as ever.

Opener and title track “Blackstar” is the centerpiece – the tour de force by all means. Enigmatic and chilling, “Blackstar” grips from the start and never releases the listener despite its ambitious...
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Review: How Does Rachel Platten’s ‘Wildfire’ Stack Up?

1/4/2016 1:30pm EST
Rachel Platten Warms Up January With Her Empowering 'Wildfire'
“This is my fight song / take back my life song / prove I’m alright song / my power’s turned on.” Sigh, how can one not feel motivated by such uplifting lyrics? “Fight Song” as well as other powerful, energetic songs are what fuel Rachel Platten’s major label debut, Wildfire. Interestingly it’s not Platten’s first album, but to most of the world, Wildfire is her introduction.

“Stand By You” gives Wildfire an inspired start. Perhaps it’s not game changing (how many times has standing by someone been a central theme?), but it certainly showcases Platten’s beautiful voice and upbeat perso...
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