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You don’t know how long I’ve been sitting on this next flock of Album Reviews I’m about to speed past.
I’ve begun drafts like once every week but than got the BLOCK (the one for writers), so I’m just going to be quick and succinct now to get them over with. Great albums though, and I wish I had the discipline to give them the full reviews they deserve. But it’s more important for me to have this done than to show off my grasp on English vocabulary. So here we go.
Jack White, “Blunderbuss”
I’m not the biggest Jack White fan, but I have enjoyed the out put I’ve heard from his various musical identities (most famously with The White Stripes but also with groups The Dead Weather, The Racounters, and others) and I realize he’s one talented dude. I expected “Blunderbuss”, his first solo album, to be entirely overrated and hyped by the Hipsters (he’s basically a Hipster/Indie god, one of the few artists to go from underground to mainstream and maintain credibility amongst that very particular group). Fortunately the album is actually quite stellar and any hype or praise it’s getting is actually deserved. “Blunderbuss” shows his skills as a musician, but also manages to find a balance between very fun and light material like “I’m Shaking”, “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” and “Love Interruption” to more serious and creative stuff like “Freedom at 21” and “Weep Themselves To Sleep”. It’s not necessarily a totally new style for White as some of it does recall his work with all of his previous groups. That’s okay though because this is a sound that’s pretty much specific to him, so the Blues/Rock/Alternative mixing on the album at least is familiar to fans of his. Overall it’s a very pleasing album, one that I could listen to from start to finish. It has a nice flow to it, and is diverse enough so that it doesn’t bore you at any point.
Rating: 4 of 5
Best: I’m Shaking, Weep Themselves To Sleep, Freedom At 21
Dawn Richard, “Armor On” EP
Dawn was my favorite Danity Kane member (or the “Making The Band” Band), and naturally my favorite member of Diddy’s now defunct Dirty Money. She’s talented and unique, and clearly someone who loves and understands music and it’s represented on her EP “Armor On”. At 10 tracks long, this EP is actually a lot better than a good number of R&B/Dance albums by more established acts. The stand out of the album though is it’s production, handled mostly by Druski, and Dawn’s ability to add such soft melodies to such abrasive and harsh electro beats. The beauty is how the production, her vocals, and the writing all blend to make something like the drum and bass sounds on “Black Lipstick” or the electro-tribal mash on “Heaven” seem so natural and organic. “Armor On” is very creative and fresh, even when there are heavy inspirations from the likes of Kanye, Sade and Brandy it’s all mixed in interesting ways to make something that feels really new. And it’s a risky album from a new artist, instead of going for what’s popular she actually seemed to stick to what she was feeling and it shows.
Rating: 4.5 of 5
Best: Heaven, Scripture, Black Lipstick
Gotye, “Making Mirrors”
I still have to say I’m shocked that Gotye’s single “Somebody That I Used To Know” has become so big on the mainstream Pop charts, but hell he deserves it. What you get on that song, nice lyrics and catchy hook and organic instrumentation, is what his album “Making Mirrors” is all about. It’s a very diverse mix of genres, you probably won’t like everything, but there is more than enough there to show that the guy has talent and a great knowledge of music and how to use it. Gotye plays with different styles from the very Motown-ish “I Feel Better” to (what seems like) a Beatles homage on “Easy Way Out”, and varying 80’s artists like Genesis and The Police, even Electronica on “State of the Art”. Gotye has a great grasp on each sound and does a good job of executing. A very above average album, especially compared to a lot of other current releases, so he definitely deserves the notoriety his hit single is giving him.
Rating: 4 of 5
Best: State of the Art, Somebody That I Used to Know, Eyes Wide Open
When the whole “Dub Step is the New Thing” came around 2009, Rusko was one of the preferred names of the genre. His 2010 album “O.M.G!” was definitely a good introduction to the Dub Step sound, and more skillfully done than a lot of what I’ve heard elsewhere. “O.M.G!” isn’t entirely gold, as some of the stuff gets a little too jarring at times, however when compared to his 2012 release “Songs” you actually miss that hard edge. Alot of online comments I’ve read about “Songs” associate it with yet another sub-genre Bro Step, which apparently is Dub Step’s more commercial and melodic cousin, and “Songs” is comprised of mostly Bro Step stuff. It’s not necessarily a good look. To me it sounds like Dub Step mixed with Pop mixed with the now obsolete 2 Step sound. Sometimes it works, as “Somebody To Love” and “Dirty Sexy” (which sounds like he wanted Rihanna, and had to settle for the chick he got) are fun, but sometimes it’s way too light and rather annoying like on “Pressure” and “Asda Car Park”.
The best thing about “Songs” though is he peppers the album with some amazing Dancehall/Dub sounds that are easily the best on the album. “Mek More Green” “Be Free” “Skanker”, they all feel like classic Dub feel but with that 2012 edge to make them fresh. “O.M.G!” provided some decent Dancehall inspired tracks, most notably “Rubadub Shakedown”, but “Songs” completely bests those cuts. Both albums do offer some really good and some bad, but Rusko remains a very interesting player in the Music game these days.
Rating: “Songs” 3 of 5, “O.M.G!” 3 of 5
Best: Scareware, Mek More Green, Skanker