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>So I had become a little bored with the music in my library. Listening to the same old R&B, or Pop, or The Beatles. I just wanted to hear something new and totally different. I checked in Rolling Stone magazine, iTunes, Wikipedia, Metacritic and asked for recommendations from IMDB’s Music Generalpage, and here are the four best that I found.

Now I’m usually really late when it comes to discovering the new Rock talents, but even I knew about the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. I still discovered them pretty late in their careers (their 2006 smash “Gold Lion” caught my attention, and at that point they were already on their 3rd album), but I was aware of the release of their 4th album It’s Blitz!“. On top of seeing them perform this year on “Saturday Night Live”, I remember seeing raves of the album on the aforementioned Music General page. After finally checking the album out, and allowing it to grow on me, I have to say this probably is one of the better albums released this year. Having not heard any of their previous albums, just a few select cuts, I can’t really comment on if this album differs from the sounds of the other work in their catalogue. What I can say is this album is full of energy, with excellent vocals from front woman Karen O, and the band (drummer Brian Chase, and guitarist Nick Zinner) jamming with full energy. Matched with the production from Nick Launay makes this album a seamless mix of 80’s era New Wave, Punk, Rock, Electronica and even Dance. The albums first two tracks “Zero” and “Heads will Roll” are more than appropriate album openers that grab you with their intensity, and the album never really disapoints afterwards. “It’s Blitz!” has a great balance with some great slower tracks like “Soft Shock”, “Runaway” and “Skeletons” thrown in the mix to show the bands full versatility, and they get plenty of opportunity to display some great lyricism as well. There’s not a wrong step on this album, though it does taper off towards the end, it is a better than average effort with everybody and everything working to their full potential.

Another similarly praised album with a similar sound that also has a lead front woman was “Fantasies” by Canadian rock group Metric. Though this album hasn’t had the time to grow on me, I will say that it was a great listen. I can’t pick any stand outs, other than the albums opener and first single “Help I’m Alive” which has amazing production value and an addictive hook “Help I’m Alive, My heart keeps beating like a hammer. Hard to soft, tough to be tender“. Their sound is a little more authentic Rock as opposed to the more electronic assisted “It’s Blitz”, and though there are occasional variations of sounds for the most part this album suffers from being a little one note. Which is fine because that one note is a great one, everything I heard I liked. The band is definitley skilled and brought alot to the album, and the lyrics actually kept my attention while listening thanks to the clarity of voice provided by lead singer Emily Haines. I may have to get more into the album, which shouldn’t be a problem. I do have to say that in comparison to Karen O, I did have a slight issue with Haines’ voice which sounded a little Pop-ish which sometimes didn’t match the major Rock sound backing it. Still overall, great listen.

Venturing totally out of the Rock genre and into a true Electronic sound, I listened to Dirty ProjectorsBitte Orca“. This is the first album I’ve heard in a long while that takes so many risks. In fact I shouldn’t even say this is an Electronica album, It’s probably more in the realm of “expiremental rock” or “jazz fusion” or a fusion of the both of those with Electronica. Whatever it is, it’s truly a sound that I’ve never heard before. A sound that is so unconventional that I’m actually surprised I like it. There is alot of tweaking of traditional melodies and rhythm tracks. There are elements from all different types of music including Folk, R&B, Country. With so many different techniques they use with the instrumentation you’d think the album really shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. The end result is actually a really chilled out sound despite all the electro blips and heavy percussion sound. I think “Stillness Is The Move” or “Temecula Sunrise” might be the best ways to describe this indescribably amazing album. It’s almost like listening to an album twenty years before it’s released. Simply put it’s a mindbending listening experience.

An album that’s a little more familiar comes from Animal Collective, whose “Merriweather Post Pavilion” is one of the best reviewed album of the year. The album is clearly Electronica meets Psychadellica and in that way it definitley works. The group works almost exclusively with electronic equipment, so the sound is very current with very minimalist tracks that build up into pretty amazing sonic experiences. The obvious nods to The Beatles (in “Also Frightened” and “Summertime Clothes”) and The Beach Boys (“Bluish” and specifically “Guys Eyes” has a real “Good Vibrations” feel to it) soften the sounds out. The album on the whole is another perfect Chill Out album, and by far the best track on the album is the first single “My Girls“. Easily one of my Top 10 Favorite songs released this year.

Lastly, I took a listen to The Prodigy‘s recently released 5th album “Invaders Must Die. I’m actually a fan of The Prodigy, so I would have listened to this album anyway. I was a little surprised by the album because while sticking to their normally agressive and intense style they’ve added a bit of musicality and melody to alot of their tracks. I like the group, but I’ve never really been all that fanatical about any of their albums outside of their US Breakthrough album “Fat of the Land”. 2004’s “Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned” was a solid album in their collection, but just a little too loud and abrasive for repeated listens. This effort definitley softens it up, with tracks “Thunder” and “Omen”. However, I’ve only listened to the album in full one time, and I’m sure that I’ll be re-visiting the album in the coming months because there were a bunch of standouts, including the aforementioned tracks and “Warriors Dance” and “Colours” among them. Not my favorite album I’ve heard this year, but definitley a keeper.

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