Parallax by Atlas Sound
Bradford Cox is one of the more interesting people in the music industry today. I mean you have the obvious (his physical appearance) but it’s his music that continues to keep people talking. His band, Deerhunter, has produced some great albums (Halcyon Digest was #5 on my best of 2010) and his solo project, Atlas Sound, has also done the same. Logos was a revolution as Cox mixed a surreal feel with themes of isolation and helplessness. His most recent album, Parallax, is more of the same, which produces two of the best tracks of the year (Te Amo, Terra Incognita) and a bunch of “good” or “fair” tracks. This album doesn’t match up to any of Cox’s other albums (including both Atlas Sound’s and Deerhunter’s work) but is still a good moody album. I am a little disappointed in the album as I expected more (the expectations were high after the release of Te Amo) and although that may be unfair, given the high quality of the album, I still yearned for more. Other than the two other signature tracks, the album gets lost in its own dull noise. Even with that, Parallax is an album to look for if you have never heard of Bradford Cox. He is one of the brightest talents around and someone who will continue to make interesting and groundbreaking music.
Signature Track: Te Amo
Take Care by Drake
I have never been a huge Drake fan but after his latest effort buy me a t-shirt. This is up there with some of the best rap albums I have ever listened too. It is a mix between hip-hop and soul that may frustrate some but will engage almost all others. Instead of endless fast-talking, Drake slows down quite a bit to let his beats flow and let his ideas grow. But there is a lot of rapping here (the album clocks in at 80 mins) and it is clever and full with a lot of great guest appearances. Lil Wayne is actually a good addition to the two songs he is on and Andre 3000 is excellent in the song “The Real Her”. His verse sounds so good that I really believe that there is something profound in its elegance and sarcasm (although I can’t find it in those vulgar lines). As I have said before the album does clock in at 80 mins but the running time isn’t that noticeable. For a lot of people the album will be picked apart so the length doesn’t matter for them but for those who dare to take the time to listen to it in it’s entirety will be rewarded. Like almost all great albums its strength is in its consistency. Each song is another chapter in a book that never becomes clear until the music stops. It is great to see a rapper throw away that ego that most need to have to survive and put out something that is truly theirs. Drake has stepped up in a big way and has made an album that is not only worthy of repeat listens but also the work of a mature artist.
Signature Track: Marvin’s Room
It’s been ten years since Incubus’s best album, Morning View, and after listening to their latest album it will have you feeling like it’s been a lot longer. Incubus took a break for a while and when they did finely come back together they decided to go in a different direction. This new direction is a much more chiller or maybe more soft rock than what we are used to and that’s ok. I don’t have a problem with the new direction because much has been done in the genre they are deciding to go into but I do have a problem with the outcome. The album really has no stand out tracks and is work to listen through. Brandon Boyd’s vocals keep the album from being miserable but it can’t help save it. Almost all of the songs are boring, the lyric’s too cheesy, and overall the production is uninspiring. Incubus is a good band who has made a handful of good if not great albums, so it is disappointing that their latest release is so lackluster. There are hints of hope in a couple of songs that this album may not be as bad after all but those moments come and go and we are left with something that will be nothing more than a black-eye in the Incubus discography.
Signature Track: Promises, Promises
Talk about an album that Coldplay needs to listen too, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming feels like an early Genesis album with colorful and spacey songs. M83 has created about 15 truly epic tracks that put’s Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto to shame. The album is a truly dreamy mix between 80s pop rock and some sort of space odyssey. The surprise here is not that the album has so much energy but that it is able to sustain it for so long. There is also a lot of music on this in respect to the track list. With 22 songs and clocking in around 80 mins, M83 didn’t hold back. He has created an album that never compromises with itself and lets things run their course when he intends it too. Not many artists are comfortable with making this much music and there defiantly isn’t many artists that can make 22 good tracks. This is the type of music that you can really only find outside of the mainstream world. Music that is so grand in scale and so inspired. Nothing here is tailored made for anyone and all of it is made for M83 and his fans. Forget Coldplay and forget U2 cause this is the music that should fill stadiums. This is the music that gives me hope that there are still musicians out there that believe in themselves.
Signature Track: Steve McQueen
Admittedly, I had never heard of P.J. Harvey until I came across her most recent album which is a shame because after some research I realized that she should of never been under my radar. Harvey is English and Let English Shake defiantly feels that way. Sometimes a mix between Pink Floyd and something you’d hear off an xx album, Let England Shake isn’t original but a perfect blend from a bunch of different styles. Sometimes the album has a jagged edge and sometimes it runs pretty smooth and those peaks and valleys work as an advantage. The songs don’t all sound the same and yet they work so perfectly together. There are even huge transitions between a single song, as the song All and Everyone feels like it was stitched together. This makes for a refreshing album. Harvey’s voice is imperfect here also as she sings a little too harsh here and there and yet that is something to love too. The imperfect nature of it feels as if you are hearing it for the first time live on the streets of London. Harvey is an interesting singer/songwriter and I just wish I had caught her stuff earlier.
Signature Track: The Colour of the Earth