CD Reviews

Review: Jhené Aiko Maintains Poise On 'Souled Out'

September 15th, 2014 2:27pm EDT
Review: Jhené Aiko Maintains Poise On 'Souled Out'
Jhené Aiko definitely takes a different approach than many female R&B artists. Rather than delivering big, dramatic vocals, Aiko takes a cool, calm, and more poised approach. This contrast sets her apart, but at times, also leaves the listener desiring Aiko to push just a bit more. Still, her first full-length album for Def Jam has plenty to offer, showcasing Aiko’s tremendous artistic potential.

“She was born in limbo,” sings Aiko, “With the need to be as simple / as her makers and the made up things she dreamed.” “Limbo Limbo Limbo” kicks off the contemporary, alt-R&B affair uniquel...

Review: Lecrae Delivers Prudent, Inspiring Messages on 'Anomaly'

September 10th, 2014 11:45am EDT
Review: Lecrae Delivers Prudent, Inspiring Messages on 'Anomaly'
Hip-hop and religion seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. That’s not speculating upon religious or nonreligious stance of rappers, but rather church and rap seem to have little in common. Few rappers spread spiritual messages through their music – most are spitting about hook ups, the club, and the cash flow. Likewise, ministers aren’t exactly raving over the secular themes hip-hop artists thrive upon.

That brings in Lecrae. An MC with nothing short of an impressive flow, rather than spit about his come-up in the secular sense, Lecrae always has ‘the man upstairs’ and a higher...

Music Review: 'Nick & Knight' Is Better Than Expected

September 8th, 2014 6:30pm EDT
Nick & Knight
Had collaboration between boy bands/ members of boy bands occurred say 15 years ago, the buzz would’ve been ‘off the charts’ – nothing short of tremendous. Sure, there’s a following currently for Nick Carter and Jordan Knight as members of their respective boy bands, but it’s a bit more low-key. Even so, Nick & Knight actually deserves more notoriety than it’s receiving.

“One More Time” opens Nick & Knight with incredible energy. Bursting with enthusiasm, “One More Time” benefits from its sunny major key as well as a gargantuan chorus. The soulful rhythmic guitar plays a vital role i...

Review: Jeezy Keeps It Real On 'Seen It All'

September 3rd, 2014 12:53pm EDT
Review: Jeezy Keeps It Real On 'Seen It All'
The best way to describe rapper Jeezy is blunt. Jeezy is a ‘no BS’ dude, who calls it like he sees it. This has occurred every album he’s dropped, but may be particularly true of latest effort, Seen It All: The Autobiography. Anytime ‘autobiography’ is involved, the expectation is for the artist to reach deeper than ever into their personal story. While Jeezy comes off overconfident at times, he’s brutally honest, true to his artistry.

“1/4 Block” opens the album in druggy fashion – it’s about hustling cocaine. Besides the “quarter block,” references to cocaine come by way of lyrics ...

Maroon 5 'V' (Deluxe Edition) Review: Two Sides To One Successful Record

September 2nd, 2014 12:05pm EDT
As mentioned in our review of Maroon 5's Overexposed, this is a band that's constantly evolving. None of their records sounds quite like any of the others; whether or not that's a good thing depends on which incarnation you prefer. Fifth album V does its part to continue the group's transition into slickly produced pop-rock that began with Overexposed, yet what makes the record worth a listen are the few tracks where it breaks from effects and goes back to the band's true musicianship.

If you've heard the first three singles - "Maps," "It Was Always You" and "Animals" - you've got a good s...

Review: Ariana Grande Shines Vocally on ‘My Everything’

August 27th, 2014 9:50am EDT
Ariana Grande
On Ariana Grande’s sophomore album My Everything, things feel different from her debut Yours Truly from 2013. The voice still soars commandingly – there’s no difference there – but My Everything has more of the feel of a big pop album. Sure Yours Truly had some exceptional records itself and blended pop and R&B sensibilities much like this album, but My Everything feels as if Grande has better established her niche and is flexing.

My Everything is a solid second effort from Grande, feeling like the right album for the right time. That said, the album itself, while good, is by no means...

Review: Wiz Khalifa Brings More Of The Same On ‘Blacc Hollywood’

August 20th, 2014 9:21am EDT
Wiz Khalifa, 'Blacc Hollywood'
If nothing else comes across on a Wiz Khalifa album, the MC’s love of weed does. It seems as if no Wiz song is a go without a reference to smoking. While the honesty is appreciated, it is often overplayed, growing tiresome album in and album out. On third album of note, Blacc Hollywood, weed definitely remains part of Wiz. His shallowness as an MC as well, dominates his latest album. Ultimately, Wiz Khalifa is who he is, and nothing more.

“Hope” opens Blacc Hollywood, featuring up and coming artist Ty Dolla $ign. Chevy Woods provides a lengthy intro before Wiz ever spits one bar. Ulti...

Review: The Gaslight Anthem Show Consistency On ‘Get Hurt’

August 18th, 2014 1:29pm EDT
Review: The Gaslight Anthem Show Consistency On ‘Get Hurt’
After a two-year hiatus, rock band The Gaslight Anthem return with their fifth studio album, Get Hurt. Get Hurt follows a high watermark for the band, led by vocalist and guitarist Brian Fallon. 2012 effort Handwritten easily ranked among the best rock albums that year. Get Hurt maintains consistency and enjoyability, regardless if it trumps Handwritten or not.

“Stay Vicious” opens Get Hurt in excitedly. The riffs come ‘right at your face,’ while Fallon delivers the lyrics in gritty, emotional fashion. Interesting about “Stay Vicious” is the chorus pulls back, while the verses are...

Review: Porter Robinson Captivates On Electronic Album ‘Worlds’

August 13th, 2014 11:31am EDT
Porter Robinson - Worlds
It could be argued that the ‘drop’ is the most anticipated moment in electronic music. In EDM, there are some ‘benchmarks’ that the music itself generally tends to meet. One of the criticisms of electronic music is that it can be somewhat predictable, despite the rich palette of synths available. Porter Robinson seeks to give electronic music something of a different look on his debut album, Worlds.

Unlike so many of his colleagues, Robinson seems to give more thought to melody, shaping, and contrast. Sure, there are some of the expected ‘benchmarks’ throughout Worlds, but it is the...

Review: The Vamps Aim to Breakthrough Stateside on 'Somebody To You' EP

August 11th, 2014 3:10pm EDT
Review: The Vamps Aim to Breakthrough Stateside on 'Somebody To
Remember that time that Diddy said something to the effect that 'Bad Boy(s) don’t stop?' Well, in the case of the latest pop-band signing, YouTube don’t stop. British band The Vamps are the latest new discovery via the supremely popular video site and like their colleagues, The Vamps release the ‘EP’ before dropping their ‘full length’ debut stateside.

You can’t knock the business though the final product has is ups and its downs.

“Somebody To You” opens the EP exceptionally, setting the tone for the effort and gaining the attention of the listener. It doesn’t hurt to have one ...