First Impressions: September 2012

Every Tuesday, a new batch of music hits the masses. These small miracles deserve honest recognition and we deserve good music.

“First Impressions” is a weekly summary of popular releases after giving it one or two listens. This is in no way the final assessment, but the first impression is usually the most important. I will give a unique rating (numerical ratings are too subjective) and a small description.

I spent more time worrying about format than content, so this will be better from now on. And because I decided to start this now, I am making up for lost time by cramming all of September into this one post. Spotify users, enjoy.

Sept. 4

Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Rating: A tangled mess

A lot of people like this band, I do not. I really have nothing to say except that if you like psychedelia or having your brain scrambled, enjoy.

Sept. 11

Dave Matthews Band – Away from the World

Rating: A departure, but decent

I had to consult my DMB expert on this one because I, admittedly, am not. I loved Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King because it was different and a bit wild and it had heart. Away from the World is kind of like that, but in a different way, with a different purpose. Content-wise, it’s like the older DMB, but musically belongs with Groogrux as a different sound, but won’t drive the true fans away. I need more time with it.

The xx – Coexist

Rating: Masterpiece

This thing is pure gold. The album narrates Love in it’s purest sense: living, loving and losing. Vocalists Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft do such an amazing duet of the male/ female relationship and the mood almost never deviates from somber. The subtle beats, when isolated, are actually pretty fun and could be used in electronic dance songs. In the context of this album, however, they are scaled back and and add to the haunting beauty. Expect to read more about this album come December.

Blaqk Audio – Bright Black Heaven

Rating: Lead singer of A.F.I. gets digital = Almost cool

This is the second album from this duo and they are getting soft and closer to merging with current A.F.I. Davey Havok is awesome and so is electro rock, so this can be a very enjoyable listen if you are into the David Bowie meets Depeche Mode kind of thing. I am going through a dark electronica phase, so in my expert opinion, this album is just filler.

Hoobastank – Fight or Flight

Rating: Nothing new here

I’m pretty sure I had a post recently about rock bands becoming stale because they don’t evolve musically. Here is a good example. If you like Hoobastank, this album probably falls somewhere in the middle. It has the same sound as usual Hoobastank, which after five albums you’d think would change. I bet you forgot they existed.

Sept. 18

Nelly Furtado – The Spirit Indestructible

Rating: Leaves an impression

I cannot defend this as the first album I listened to that week. I was a little bit surprised because I actually enjoyed a few tracks. The title track is legit, Nas shows up for some reason and there is an adorable ballad near the end I think called “End of the World.” I admit that when I heard this, I fell asleep halfway through. It was a rough week.

The Killers – Battle Born

Rating: Enjoyable, only because they took the easy way out

I love The Killers, but this just didn’t feel like a Killers album to me. There was something Bruce Springsteeny and Bob Dylany about it. Brandon Flowers had that solo album a couple of years ago and apparently that wasn’t enough to curb his easy-bake love song formula. This album is good because they used a successful recipe that many other bands have used, but that’s not how The Killers got here. They were fun, they were challenging and they were bold. Hopefully, they got this out of their system and will return to the good days next time. “Flesh and Bone” is awesome.

P!nk – The Truth About Love

Rating: It’s no Funhouse

I confess that I made it just past the halfway point and called it quits. I got it, she’s edgy and angry. I predict this album will have less than half of the hit singles that Funhouse had. If it does, then it’s only because half the songs contain explicit content about her not being the typical pop princess. Ironically, it borders on that type of music with pop/hip-hop type production. Plus, I thought she was happy now, so the content doesn’t add up. Eminem appears on “Here Comes the Weekend,” and I only know that because I smelled his presence ever since P!nk appeared on Recovery.

G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer

Rating: Great, but we’re not worthy

I thought Watch the Throne was as high on swag as one musician could get. This album, according to Kanye West’s Jupiter-sized ego, puts him on a galactic pedestal so far above everyone else that we can merely bask in his excellence. We are scum. He is so far gone that I am afraid we will never see a Graduation or 808s and Heartbreak again. That said, this is some good music, pun intended. Kanye raps circles around everybody on this album, so any track without him is somewhat of a let-down. Kid Cudi is the only artist on the album who goes solo for “Creepers,” which is surprisingly one of the strongest tracks. John Legend and Teyana Taylor come out of nowhere with “Bliss,” which is the lone rap-less song, and it too is solid. Big Sean grew on me a little bit. A little.

Grizzly Bear – Shields

Rating: Still trying to comprehend it

Again, I had to consult a Grizzly Bear expert for this one and he told me that this album was about the band going for a more rock-and-roll style. I will say, when you listen to Shields with that mentality, it is cool to see how they spin classic rock to today’s alternative and create something fresh. It’s not my cup of tea, but I have been giving it a chance and it does grow on you.

Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss

I know you all are going mad over this album, but I have yet to splurge on this sure-fire gem. I’ll listen at some point. Maybe.

Sept. 25

Mumford and Sons – Babel

Rating: Predictable

I just knew this album was coming. It was the same with Santigold and Sleigh Bells. A band hits the scene with a unique sound and that leads to huge success. It’s so successful that the only route to the sophomore album is further down that same path. This is Mumford and Sons the way we like them: big folk jamming and heartfelt lyrics. It’s good. I just think the first album is better. We’ll see.

Green Day – ¡Uno!

Rating: ¡So-so!

This band is an example of phenomenon that deserves its own post, so I am not done with this topic. But Green Day is not the rebellious pot-stirrers they used to be, and the die-hard fans are probably sick when they hear albums like this. I know Billie Joe Armstrong doesn’t like being on equal ground as Justin Bieber, but they are losing their anti-establishment edge while their music becomes eroded by misguided anger. It sounds a lot like 21st Century Breakdown, with each track stuck in a fast-pace modern punk-rock quagmire. It kind of loses you after a while.

No Doubt – Push and Shove

Rating: Nostalgically refreshing

The music industry gets so saturated with fake bands these days and that makes the true musicians more valuable. Most of them came about in the 90s, so I embrace their new material in 2012. No Doubt is just so chill with that ska/ reggae feel and can still rock out with the occasional ballads. They only succumbed to the dub-step phase in the title track, that featuring Busy Signal and Major Lazer, and even that came out cool. Man, I’ve been listening to so much new music, I forgot how cool this band was.

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