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Album Reviews

Tulisa “The Female Boss”: Album Review

Island (2012)

It’s been quite the past 18 months for Tulisa Contostavlos. Elevated from vaguely familiar vocalist in chav-rap trio N-Dubz to tabloid-dominating household name (thanks to her unexpected appointment to The X-Factor UK judging panel), she’s also had to deal with the fall-out from a leaked sex-tape which has made her the punch-line to nearly every joke on British TV. Her debut album, The Female Boss, occasionally alludes to such troubles. […]

“Girl On Fire”: Alicia Keys Re-Kindled

RCA Records (2012)

By many standards, R&B songstress Alicia Keys seems to be an anomaly. With all the pressure upon artists in the R&B and pop markets to outdo one another in the over-the-top department—to say, wear and/or do more and more outrageous things—Keys has stayed quietly out of the fray, militantly refusing to shake her booty to sell her records, demanding that she be respected as an artist on the basis of […]

Chad Valley “Young Hunger”: Album Review

Loose Lips (2012)

Who knew that one-hit wonders Johnny Hates Jazz would turn out to be such a major influence for so many coolly-perceived artists more than twenty years on? Following the success of recent similarly retro efforts from Hurts and Ice Choir, Jonquil frontman Hugo Manuel is the latest unlikely suspect to explore the glossy soul-pop sound of the late 80s under the guise of Chad Valley. Recorded in the Norwegian countryside, […]

Phillip Phillips Views “The World From the Side of the Moon”

19 Recordings (2012)

Since vocalist Phillip Phillips first arrested America’s attention with his victory on American Idol Season 11, his advance single “Home” has further solidified his place in current pop culture. (You probably recognize the tune even if you don’t know who is singing it.) Now, with the release of his debut album The World From the Dark Side of the Moon, Phillips gives us an even greater taste of who he […]

Example “The Evolution Of Man”: Album Review

Ministry of Sound (2012)

Previously signed to Mike Skinner’s The Beats label, outspoken hip-pop chart-topper Example appears to be following in his former boss’ footsteps judging by his fourth studio album, The Evolution Of Man. Like The Streets’ woefully misguided The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living, the follow-up to 2011’s hedonistic Playing In The Shadows abandons the suburban geezer shtick that made some women want to be with him (and some men […]

Bjork “Bastards” Remix Album Continues Esoteric Trend

One Little Indian (2012)

Even by Bjork’s increasingly avant-garde standards, her 2011 eighth studio album, Biophilia, was a challenging listen. Self-described as a record designed to “define humanity’s relationship with sound and the universe” and initially released via a series of interactive apps, its blend of deliberately obtuse melodies, warped electronica and neo-classical stylings mesmerised and bewildered in equal measure. So with such an abstract palette of sounds to choose from, remix album Bastards, […]

Kate Nash Takes a Turn Toward Punk with “Death Proof” EP

Have 10p Records (2012)

Death Proof, the 5-song EP released this week by Kate Nash as a teaser for her upcoming album Girl Talk, is bound to raise a few eyebrows with at least some of her fans. While the British alternative singer-songwriter’s last album My Best Friend Is You took a turn from her original coffeehouse vibe toward more of a Motown/surf rock blend, Death Proof takes an even sharper turn into an […]

Kid Rock “Rebel Soul”: Album Review

Atlantic (2012)

As a performing artist, Kid Rock has always been a bit of an anomaly. Mixing genres like they were cocktail ingredients, the end result can be often confusing. His sound is largely a concoction of country, blues and hip-hop. And what do we call it? Rock & roll. Go figure. At the same time, perhaps unfortunately, Kid Rock’s persona feels also a bit of a caricature, in that it is […]

Fake Blood “Cells”: Album Review

Different Recordings (2012)

Having previously released material on Fatboy Slim’s Southern Fried Records label, London producer Fake Blood was widely rumoured to be yet another alias of Mr Norman Cook himself when a number of his tracks were debuted back in 2008. The man behind the pseudonym is in fact Theo Keating, formerly one half of 90s breakbeat duo The Wiseguys, now one half of The Black Ghosts. But judging by his debut […]

Lindstrøm Goes Back to Basics on “Smalhans”

Smalltown Supersound (2012)

King of the Norwegian dance-floor, Hans-Peter Lindstrøm bewildered most of his disciples earlier this year with Six Cups Of Rebel, a hugely experimental and proggy effort which lurched from 70s Blaxploitation funk to classical baroque in a manner which bordered on self-indulgence. As if to appease those who had previously climbed aboard his cosmic disco spaceship, the 39-year-old has swiftly gone back-to-basics for his third solo studio album, Smalhans. In […]

Green Day Builds On “¡Uno!” With “¡Dos!”

Reprise Records (2012)

With the release of ¡Dos!, the second album of Green Day’s three-part trilogy, there’s an inherent temptation/compulsion for writers and critics to tie it in with the band’s recent difficulties (namely, Billie Jo Armstrong’s onstage meltdown and current stint in rehab, followed up with the band postponing their tour). But now that I’ve made the obligatory mention of said difficulties, I’d like to talk about ¡Dos! apart from those issues, […]

Soundgarden “King Animal”: Album Review

Mercury (2012)

“I’ve been away too long,” belts out the raspy voice of Chris Cornell amid the opening track of King Animal, Soundgarden’s first studio release in over a decade and a half, and the album fans have been hoping for years would be made. While certainly not a masterwork for the band (give ‘em a break, they haven’t been around for while), it certainly does them justice and is at the […]

Lana Del Rey–“Paradise” Lost

Interscope (2012)

The title of Lana Del Rey’s new EP Paradise presents a bit of irony, because its dark, haunting and troubling themes really speak of anything but. Let me start by saying Lana Del Rey as a persona seems like a real dichotomy to me—a blending of two seemingly incompatible vibes. On the one hand, she comes off as this elegant retro-style torch singer, her low, sultry voice lilting over lush […]

The Weeknd, “Trilogy” – Album Review

XO/Universal Republic Records (2012)

Despite the things that producer cum R&B star The Weeknd does right on Trilogy, his studio debut, the songwriter’s tendency to do too much simply because he can threatens to diminish his significant accomplishments. Trilogy, as its moniker implies, consists of not one, but three, ten-track albums. Most of this material has been culled from The Weeknd’s earlier mixtapes, but with the inclusion of a few new tracks and a […]

Crystal Castles “III”: Album Review

Fiction (2012)

Very much a Jekyll & Hyde outfit, Canadian electroclash duo Crystal Castles are capable of producing moments of gothic beauty but are also prone to creating aggressively unhinged soundscapes that are the stuff of nightmares. Considering that the hugely charismatic but slightly terrifying frontwoman Alice Glass has claimed that themes of dystopia, oppression and corruption dominate the record, you’d expect their third album, simply titled, III, to fall even further […]