I’m in a mood, so some of these are not going to be very nice:
Aloe Blacc – Lift Your Spirit
Other than a cool stage name and album cover, I don’t see much in Aloe Blacc. “The Man” is exceptionally dry as far as self-affirmation songs go, and the same can be said of “Wake Me Up.” It’s soft, not uplifting.
Aloe Blacc seems like a good guy with a positive message, but where’s the soul? His flat-line NBA All-Star performance did him no favors.
“Can You Do This” actually had some force behind it, but that it is obviously not his strength. If you listen to the album long enough, you eventually get to haunting “Ticking Bomb.” Here’s the song in action:
It’s subtle and dark, which is the opposite of everything he’s ever done, yet it gives you chills. But until Aloe Blacc can either show some soul or do away with it altogether, I won’t be on the bandwagon.
311 – Stereolithic
Look at the date. That should tell you everything you need to know going into this.
I have never reviewed a 311 album but I’m already tired of it. In the 1990s to early 2000s, I understood them. Their unique blend of reggae/grunge/ska had a place in that musical spectrum.
But, like almost every band from that era, they are now tragically irrelevant. Name a rock band from that time who made the transition to the 2010s. You won’t find much past Foo Fighters and Nine Inch Nails.
There was nothing new here as far as 311’s sound is concerned. It’s here if you want it, but you won’t miss anything if you don’t.
Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything
After listening to the first two albums above, this sounded like gold. Elbow presents a peaceful atmosphere, similar to the likes of Editors or The National, and they are just as enjoyable. This is their sixth album, yet I have never heard of them.
Low-tempo, seven-minute tracks make for a relaxing afternoon.
Updated Best of 2014 playlist:
Meg Myers has been on this playlist three years running. She’s a little disturbed, but talented.