CD Reviews

How Good Is Kendrick Lamar's New Album, 'To Pimp A Butterfly'?

March 23rd, 2015 11:53am EDT
Kendrick Lamar
Albums that are hailed as contemporary masterpieces are hard to come by in modern times. Few efforts receive such high distinction, but across the board, Kendrick Lamar’s debut album "good Kid, m.A.A.d city" was considered to be one of those truly special, transcendent albums. How does one follow-up a juggernaut? The answer is to simply release yet another juggernaut – another album that has fans and critics alike raving. On "To Pimp A Butterfly," that’s exactly what Kendrick Lamar does – release another awesome, transcendent LP.

Over its brilliant course, "To Pimp A Butterfly" never ...

Madonna Didn’t Need To Prove Anything With Rebel Heart

March 16th, 2015 7:00pm EDT
8 Takeaways From Madonna's 'Rebel Heart'
When a legend enters the room, the whole room stops – literally! Madonna is definitely a legend who has established herself among music’s visionaries, no questions asked. Even after long cementing her status as being “it,” Madonna continues to release albums placing her mark upon pop culture. Her latest album Rebel Heart is the latest slice of the pie, and honestly, it’s one of Madonna’s best albums in some time. Forget the unfortunate leak/controversy that surrounded its release; There’s plenty to love and respect about Rebel Heart. Here are eight takeaways from Madge’s latest piece of...

Kelly Clarkson Looks To The 80s For Inspiration On New Album

March 9th, 2015 2:15pm EDT
Kelly Clarkson - Piece by Piece
“Now I am invincible / No, I ain’t a scared little girl no more.” Indeed on seventh album Piece By Piece, Kelly Clarkson shows why she has had staying power long beyond her days as the first American Idol winner. Piece By Piece is a flashback to the 80s – filled with dance, new wave, and stylistic cues popular ‘back in the day.’ Ultimately, it’s another sound offering from Clarkson, though not necessarily the crème de la crème of her discography.

“Heartbeat Song” initiates Piece By Piece. As expected, it features a big chorus, a perfect match for Clarkson’s pipes. Not overdone, “Heartb...

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band Is Dynamic And Truly Special

March 9th, 2015 11:27am EDT
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Who exactly is Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band? Great question! They are a FIERCE trio mixing the blues along with country music. Both country music and the blues are infused with energy separately, but at the hands of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, that energy grows exponentially – no exaggeration. Comprised of Rev. Peyton, wife Washboard Breezy Peyton, and Ben Russell, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is dynamic and truly special. Their latest album, So Delicious is truly special as well.

“Let’s Jump A Train” opens So Delicious with a ferociousness, driven by its constant rhythm an...

Review: Big Sean Brings The Heat On 'Dark Sky Paradise'

March 2nd, 2015 11:30am EST
Big Sean - Dark Sky Paradise
“Oh God!” How many times has Detroit bred MC Big Sean uttered that phrase? On his third studio album Dark Sky Paradise, Sean strives to establish himself as a heavyweight in the rap game, even if he has no shortage of skeptics or haters. His previous album Hall of Fame wasn’t a hit like his debut Finally Famous, so Sean aims to step up his game the third time around. Dark Sky Paradise isn’t perfect, but there are plenty of exceptional moments to be had.

Opener “Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)” is somewhat off-putting, yet establishes the overall tenor of the album. As listeners have become accu...

Review: Imagine Dragons Keep The Momentum Rolling On ‘Smoke And Mirrors’

February 22nd, 2015 6:20pm EST
Imagine Dragons
How does a breakout rock band follow-up a double platinum, Grammy-winning debut album – The very best that they can in all honesty! With Night Visions, Las Vegas rock collective Imagine Dragons constructed a juggernaut, led by an even more gargantuan single “Radioactive” and a superb follow-up with “Demons.” Sophomore album Smoke and Mirrors rightfully arrives with ‘larger than life’ anticipation, and for Imagine Dragons’ efforts, for the most part, album two does well for itself.

“Shots” initiates Smokes And Mirrors epically, alluring with it synths, slick production, and addictive ch...

8 Takeaways From Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’

February 17th, 2015 8:30pm EST
8 Takeaways From Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’
The music industry got a serious lift on Friday the 13th of all days – who would’ve thought? Why – well one ubiquitous Canadian rapper/R&B singer named Drake released a surprise album entitled If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Anytime that Drake drops anything, it’s huge – gargantuan! After listening to Drake’s 17-track fourth album, here are eight takeaways to sink your teeth into.

1) Drake’s loaded – aka he’s rich!

One thing that Drake is NOT hurting for is money. The dude is frickin’ loaded peeps! As if everybody didn’t already know this fact about Drake, he spends plenty of...

Review: Estelle Shows Off Impressive Vocal Prowess On 'True Romance'

February 16th, 2015 6:00pm EST
Review: Estelle Shows Off Impressive Vocal Prowess On 'True Roma
When the name Estelle comes to mind, there is one song most will cite without question: “American Boy.” “American Boy” was the British singer/rapper’s breakout hit, winning her a Grammy along the way. That said there is more to Estelle’s than “American Boy,” and on her fourth studio album True Romance, Estelle shows off immense artistic versatility. True Romance has a bit of everything, oscillating between boldness and conservativeness, all the while finding the Estelle on top of her game. Throughout its course, Estelle’s vocals are always on-point.

“Time After Time” initiates True Roma...

Review: Fifth Harmony Keep It Fierce On 'Reflection'

February 9th, 2015 2:30pm EST
Fifth Harmony - Reflection
The US version of X Factor certainly couldn’t be called a success, much to Simon Cowell’s chagrin. The first season victor, Melanie Amaro, never even dropped an album. What a mess! Regardless, the short-lived show did deliver one group with impressive potential in Fifth Harmony. After a hot single (“Bo$$”), debut album Reflection became victim to the delay bug. Even so in February 2015, Reflection finally saw the light of day, and the results are ‘fiercely’ good!

“Top Down” initiates Reflection, smothered in swag and something of a tongue in cheek approach. Riding with the top down i...

Review: Ne-Yo Lacks Inspiration And Punch On 'Non-Fiction'

February 2nd, 2015 4:30pm EST
One question – what happened to the old Ne-Yo? The R&B singer/songwriter had a magnificent run between debut album In My Own Words and third album, Year of the Gentlemen. Since Gentleman though, Ne-Yo has lost some of his luster. Sure, fourth album Libra Scale was sound, but didn’t receive the same recognition as previous efforts. Fifth album, Red would become the most flawed of his career, despite standouts like “Lazy Love” and “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself).” Similarly, sixth album Non-Fiction suffers from its share of flaws.

Non-Fiction begins in off-putting fashio...