RJD2 – The Colossus
RJD2 came out a few years back and was consider to by many to be the next DJ Shadow. With his soulful down tempo mostly instrumental Hip Hop, he quickly built a good following. But after a few albums, he started moving into an indy rock type of vibe and he even started singing on them. While he was expanding his sound, he lost some of the edge that made his music special.
With The Colossus, RJ seems to have returned to his roots a little. Some of the songs are built on samples, which is where he really shines. Overall the album has a bit of an R&B vibe to it, much of the music is rooted in soul and there are a few soul singers on the album. But it does delve into that rock vibe at times and when the rappers show up, its obvious RJ can still drop a dope beat to for them to rhyme over.
Vampire Mooose – The Reel
Vampire Mooose’s debut was a wild ride through spastic hardcore, jazzy breakdowns and funky interludes and was actually a great album. Their follow-up, Serenade the Samurai was a bit of a disappointment; as if they expended all that they had on the debut and just went through the motions on the follow up. After that, I assumed they were done. But I happened across their new album, The Reel recently and had to give it a listen.
Glad I did, while not quite as creative as their debut, it is much better than their last one. Reflecting the title and the albums packages, the songs are all pieced together by movie clips. The songs are technical, yet manic and heavy, the vocals are growled with the occasional cleaning vocal. While not for everyone, The Reel is a pretty good album.
Lil’ Wayne – Rebirth
I am not a fan of Lil’ Wayne, never really understood his popularity, but I’ll admit that when I heard he was doing a “rock” album, I was interested. I always appreciate when people push their boundaries and try new things. Unfortunately, in the case of Rebirth, it really isn’t much of a experiment. Wayne takes pretty basic and formulaic rock and throws his auto tuned singing/rapping over it. The songs are all simple, the lyrics are weak and seriously, the auto tune thing is horrible. The album was continuously pushed back and obviously over-produced. A rock album, recorded with a live band should have a rawer and more spontaneous sound, but here the music all fits perfectly into a pop format. Overall the album is a pretentious bore.
Sade – Soldier of Love
Sade is an iconic singer who has managed to maintain a successful career without overdoing it. She and the band come together, put out an album, tour a little and then they disappear until its time to drop a new album. Over the years, she and her band have been able to remain fairly consistent, yet always refreshing. When you hear a Sade song, it’s obvious who it is, but it’s also unique. Soldier of Love is no exception. The music is classic Sade but has been modernized. The singing is classic Sade but with an edge. Musically, the album has a crisper, more urgent feel yet lyrically its all about heartbreak. Solider of Love is dark and full of despair but at the same time it’s beautiful and uplifting.
Massive Attack- Heligoland
Massive Attack may not have invented trip hop but they have pretty much perfected it. Over the years, they have delved into house, drum and base and even movies scores, but they have always shined when making trip hop. After a mild stumble with 100th Window, they return with Heligoland, a dark and somber piece of work that could vary will have been a soundtrack to a movie about a dystopic future. Where others electronic producers often throw in everything including the kitchen sink, Massive Attack always rely on a minimalist tradition. The elements of each song are simple and sparing, yet the song structures are diverse and intricately laid out. Each piece of music is matched perfectly with the guest vocalist, which range fro Horace Andy to Tunde Adebumope from TV on the Radio. Heligoland is an excellent release that deserves to be heard by all.