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CD Reviews

Review: Spoon's 'They Want My Soul' Is A Tour De Force

August 6th, 2014 1:00pm EDT
Review: Spoon's 'They Want My Soul' Is A Tour De Force
It rarely never hurts when your band gets is described as a ‘critical darling.’ For Austin, Texas indie-rock band Spoon, they exemplify the critical darling label. For years, Spoon has shown masterful consistency, delivering notable alt-classics such as “I Turn My Camera On” and “The Underdog.” On They Want My Soul, the band’s first new album in four years, Spoon continues to live up to its ‘darling’ title.

First and foremost, Spoon never misses a beat on They Want My Soul – it is a tour de force by all means. Opener and promo single “Rent I Pay” sets the tone from the jump with its ...
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Review: 5 Seconds of Summer Have a Knack for Catchy Choruses

July 26th, 2014 8:00am EDT
Review: 5 Seconds of Summer Have a Knack for Catchy Choruses
“You look so perfect standing there / in my American Apparel underwear / and I know now, that I’m so down.” Catchy! Australian teen band 5 Seconds of Summer master the art of the catchy chorus throughout their full-length, self-titled debut album. After previewing this knack on EP She Looks So Perfect, yet another young band – aimed at teens and younger – looks to dominate not only Summer, but pop itself.

5 Second of Summer don’t ‘slay’ overall as much as their choruses do, but they don’t fail either. The first couple of songs from 5 Seconds of Summer are actually pretty good (that tra...
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Review: 'Nobody's Smiling' Is Common's Best Album In Years

July 23rd, 2014 8:51am EDT
Review: 'Nobody's Smiling' Is Common's Best Album In Years
Cutting straight to the chase, Common, one of the Midwest’s preeminent MCs, delivers his best album in years with Nobody’s Smiling. Standing only 10 tracks deep (13 on the deluxe version), Common has delivered nothing short of a moody, meaningful tour de force that should get every rapper on his toes. Featuring exceptional production from NO I.D. and a couple of solid collaborations, Nobody’s Smiling has the goods to erase frowns of which it references.

“The Neighborhood,” featuring Lil Herb and Cocaine 80s, kicks off Nobody’s Smiling mysteriously and moody. James Fauntleroy’s voic...
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Music Review: Weird Al's 'Mandatory Fun' Is A Blast

July 21st, 2014 11:20am EDT
Music Review: Weird Al's 'Mandatory Fun' Is A Blast
When Weird Al Yankovic says that the ‘fun’ must be ‘mandatory’ on his latest album, he doesn’t lie. Mandatory Fun is exactly what it says it is – while and after listening, you must have fun! The parody king definitely delivers the goods across 12 tracks. There’s no ‘fails’ to be found, but some songs ring ‘golden’ from the jump.

“Handy” is a brilliant way to kick things off, with Yankovic parodying #1 hit “Fancy” (Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX). Among the most memorable lines include “I got 99 problems but a switch ain’t one” (verse two) and “Yeah check my big staple gun, my socke...
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CD Review: Concord America - "Suns Out Guns Out" (Post-Echo)

July 20th, 2014 5:34pm EDT
CD Review: Concord America - "Suns Out Guns Out" (Post-Echo)
Part Weezer, part Black Keys, but all cool would be an astute way to describe Concord America’s Suns Out Guns Out EP. Another way to describe this album is, well, just plain cool. While Suns Out Guns Out on the whole is an explosion of fuzzed out quirky indie rock – mind the latter - rock (the monstrous riffs of “Vanilla Bastard” are not to be missed, “Crown Vic” is sheer garage inspired madness). “So Gay” is the purest of diamonds in the rough; a hit single lying in wait that could impact at radio tomorrow if given the chance, and the fun doesn’t stop there on Suns Out Guns Out. There’s al...
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CD Review: I Can See Mountains - "Gone Beachy"

July 20th, 2014 4:54pm EDT
CD Review: I Can See Mountains - "Gone Beachy"
As fate may have it, rumors of the demise of Buffalo’s quirky powerpop merchants I Can See Mountains have been greatly exaggerated. After playing what many thought to be their farewell show last December, band members Matt Cox and Kevin Hoffman have emerged from the depths with a new EP in Gone Beachy, a three song release that heaps loads of sunshine upon listeners. From the massive opening riff of “My Aquatic,” which features the infectious wordplay and idiosyncratic songwriting that made the band a fan favorite in the first place and the bouncy call-and-response of the Blink-182-esque “S...
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Review: Marsha Ambrosius Keeps It Soulful on ‘Friends & Lovers’

July 17th, 2014 3:00pm EDT
Review: Marsha Ambrosius Keeps It Soulful on ‘Friends & Lovers’
“Run it deep like a running back / make you run it back…” While British R&B singer/songwriter Marsha Ambrosius seems to be literally referencing football, she’s actually referencing sex. In fact, much of Ambrosius’ sophomore album Friends & Lovers is devoted to the three-letter word.

Even with the sensual serving as a large part of the script, Ambrosius sells it exceptionally, often backed by moody, soulful production work. Additionally, she does move away from sex at times to dabble in ‘love.’ All in all, Ambrosius delivers a sound, stimulating R&B album that ranks among the year’s most...
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Review: Jason Mraz Delivers With Incredible Poise On 'Yes!'

July 16th, 2014 10:50am EDT
Jason Mraz - Yes
“So I won’t hesitate no more, no more / it cannot wait I’m sure / there’s no need to complicate / our time is short / this is our fate, I’m yours.” Sound familiar? It should as pop singer/songwriter Jason Mraz has elevated his profile considerably over the last couple of years, namely with one hella catchy song entitled “I’m Yours.” Mraz’s last two albums, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things (2008) and Love is A Four Letter Word (2012), were both “kind of a big deal.” The former landed Mraz two Grammys. Score!

Mraz returns with fifth album, Yes! following a two-year hiatus. Mraz’s lat...
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Review: Leela James Keeps Soul Alive and Well on ‘Fall For You’

July 8th, 2014 9:00am EDT
Review: Leela James Keeps Soul Alive and Well on ‘Fall For You’
Some of the best R&B singers are those who receive noticeably less recognition. Additionally, those same artists seem to try the hardest to keep soul flourishing. Regardless of its popularity, Leela James has faithfully been delivering soul for years. Latest studio album Fall For You, the artist’s fifth, doesn’t let up off the gas, remaining as soulful as everything else James has released.

Fall For You opens in electrifying fashion with “Who’s Gonna Love You More,” encouraging head-nodding and foot tapping with its soulful groove. Early on, James establishes command and control, show...
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Review: Trey Songz Triumphs On 'Trigga'

July 4th, 2014 10:30am EDT
Trey Songz Trigga
"They say all I talk about is sex." Yep, that’s about the size of it, and it's pretty big – no pun intended. The quote comes from modern-day R. Kelly and libidinous R&B artist, Trey Songz. Although the aforementioned quote is excerpted from an earlier song "Unusual" (Passion, Pain & Pleasure from 2010), it perfectly describes the unapologetic, sexed-up affair that is Trigga.

Given its degree of being oversexed, Trigga should be an 'epic fail.' Surprisingly, it's the exact opposite, as Songz delivers the album R. Kelly wishes he'd recorded. Trigga may be is shallow, but it’s brilliantl...
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