We're about halfway through the year now, and there's been quite a few albums I haven't gotten around to reviewing, so here are some brief reviews along with a my usual rating of the album:
8.8 [MUST LISTEN]
Twenty One Pilots - Vessel (Jan. 8): Some strong
tracks (Ode To Sleep, Holding On To You, and Guns
For Hands), with a wide variation of sounds and style.
Overall, Vessel is a solid record to kick back and jam
8.5 [MUST LISTEN]
A$AP Rocky - LONG.LIVE.A$AP (Jan. 15): An album
filled with smart rhymes, and excellent craftsmanship.
Every track is important to the album. Even the fun, almost
generic hip-hop/rap track Fuckin' Problem fits in perfectly,
and even with the chorus reading "I love bad bitches that's
my fuckin' problem" it still creates an extended depth to
Local Natives - Hummingbird (Jan. 29): An excellent
follow up to their outstanding debut LP. Hummingbird
brings back the unique harmonies, hand claps, and stellar
guitar riffs that we heard on 2009's Gorilla Manor. The
fifth track on the album Breakers is one of my top favorites
from this year.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II (Feb. 5): II falls short
of the bands previous self titled debut, but still deliverers
a few good psychedelic tunes (From The Sun and Swim
9.4 [MUST LISTEN]
Foals - Holy Fire (Feb. 11): Yet another amazing
record from the British band. Holy Fire delivers
exactly what their first two LP's did and then some.
A fantastic ratio of slow tempo tracks (Late Night,
Stepson and Moon) and upbeat/heavy tracks (Inhaler,
Bad Habit and Milk & Black Spiders). One of the better
albums of the year.
Atlas Genius - Atlas Genius (Feb. 19): A very impressive
debut from the Australian duo. Very smart lyrics as well
as great production work on the tracks. A lot of the tracks
share a similar sound and the album lacks depth, but the
groovy hooks keep you interested and your toe's tapping.
8.7 [MUST LISTEN]
Keaton Henson - Birthdays (Feb. 25): Yet another
unforgettable album from the UK singer/songwriter.
His voice and lyrics hold so much emotion and beauty,
anyone who has experienced serious heartache will
connect with his songs.
David Bowie - The Next Day (March 12): It's hard
to believe that after releasing countless amounts of
amazing records since the 70's that Bowie would still
be doing it, but believe it or not, he's is.
The Next Day proves that he's still got it and that the
rust still hasn't hit.
Wavves - Afraid Of Heights (March 26): I like to put
Wavves in the genre of Coke-rock. These guys are
crazy, and it shows in their music. Really great riffs
and hooks bring Afraid Of Heights to life.
Cold War Kids - Miss Lonely Hearts (April 2):
An extremely weak effort from this group. Nothing
about this album really stands out. It just feels like
the Cold War Kids were uncomfortably forced to put this album out.
Tyler, The Creator - WOLF (April 2): Odd Future's
rambunctious leader's WOLF is really something
special. Tyler always has a great story to tell, and this
is one of his most intimate and detailed. He brings
something very unique and fantastic to the Rap genre.
Kid Cudi - Indicud (April 16): Probably the weakest
of Cudi's three LP's. Still very well crafted and produced,
but the lyrics don't hit quite as hard as on his
Man On The Moon's.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito (April 16):
One of the best efforts from the band. Karen
O's dynamic vocals and the amazing production
help deliver a very good album.
9.8 [MUST LISTEN]
Chance the Rapper - Acid Rap (April 30): A very
pleasant surprise. Chance has something really special
going. Not only are his verses smart, but his music is
crafted magnificently. Acid Rap may be a mixtape, but
it should be treated like a finely crafted album.
She & Him - Vol. 3 (May 7): One of my favorite
collaborative teams. Zooey and M.Ward deliver
another excellent album. Full of catchy tunes and
fun hooks, Vol. 3 is a fantastic listen.
30 Seconds To Mars - Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams (May 17):
A very tired effort from a band I've enjoyed very much
over the years. The band seems to be over expressing the
albums theme instead of letting the listener discover it
from subtle hints.
9.3 [MUST LISTEN]
The National - Trouble Will Find Me (May 20):
Another incredibly written album by The National.
Matt Breninger's voice and lyrics compliment the
keyboard, drums and guitar so perfectly. Don't Swallow
The Cap, I Need My Girl and Fireproof impressively
stand out most on this album.
9.6 [MUST LISTEN]
Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends (June 4): An
outstanding and blindsiding album. I was so pleasantly
surprised with how much I loved this album. I had like
their previous LP In The Mountain, In The Cloud, and
expected this to be about the same, but it completely
blows it out of the water. Insane hooks and melodies,
flawless production, incredible lyrics, and great depth
make Evil Friends one of the years best.