Average Rating: 3.64
Rating Variance: 0.24
Objectivity Score: 66% (Fairly Balanced)
Sort by: Rating | Release Date | Rating Date | Name5.0 classicfun. Aim and IgniteAfter leaving this as a 4.5 for over three years, I am finally ready to take the plunge. It's just that good.4.5 superbBen Folds Five The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold MessnerButterfly Assassins SylviaThe Killers Sam's Town4.0 excellentAndrew Bird The Mysterious Production Of EggsAndrew Bird Armchair ApocryphaArctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am...Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst NightmareArctic Monkeys Five Minutes With Arctic MonkeysBen Folds Rockin' The SuburbsBen Folds Five Whatever and Ever, AmenBen Folds Five Ben Folds FiveButterfly Assassins Butterfly AssassinsDr. Dog FateFlight of the Conchords The Distant FutureJohn Mayer ContinuumKanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted FantasyLCD Soundsystem This Is HappeningLCD Soundsystem Sound of SilverSteel Train TrampolineTaking a marked departure from their debut album, Steel Train has released a consistent yet diverse record that is at times exhilarating, introspective, surprising, and painfully honest. There is not one weak song in its near-hour of fantastic music, from the xylophone-rock opener "I Feel Weird" to the near-country ballad "Women I Belong To" that closes out the album with heartbreaking sincerity. One of the more promising sophomore offerings of recent memory, 'Trampoline' never disappoints and never gets old.
Standout tracks: Alone on the Sea, A Magazine, I've Let You GoSteel Train Steel TrainThis is really good. There is some truly great stuff on here.The Avett Brothers EmotionalismThe Avett Brothers The Second GleamThe Avett Brothers The GleamThe Format Dog ProblemsReally the best way I can put this is this: If not for tracks 3 through 5, 'Dog Problems' would be a classic. As in, 5.0. This album is amazing. Incredible. Even perfect. But only for 9 of its 12 tracks.
The album starts off with the mind-blowing one-two punch of "Matches" and "I'm Actual," but then immediately descends into inexplicably frustrating normalcy over the next three tracks. "Time Bomb" starts off okay but ends up having an average chorus. Then "She Doesn't Get It" really gets old after a couple listens. And "Pick Me Up" is just... well, weird. But then out of nowhere, "Dog Problems," possibly the best four minutes of music you'll ever hear (seriously), rights the ship, and from there it's smooth sailing through the end, when "If Work Permits" works itself into such a fantastic frenzy it can't help but self-destruct in a perfect blaze of glory.
Tracks 3-5 aren't really bad, per se, but when they're book-ended by incredible works like the title track and "I'm Actual," they just don't stand a chance. Add to that some truly baffling issues with how the tracks are mixed and you've got... well, you've still got a really, really excellent album.
Standout tracks: Dog Problems, I'm Actual, SnailsThe Hush Sound Like VinesThe Hush Sound So SuddenThe Killers Hot FussThe Killers SawdustThe Last Shadow Puppets The Age Of The UnderstatementThe Strokes Is This ItPicking favorite tracks from The Strokes' famed debut 'Is This It' is a tremendously difficult task. Partly because every single one is so damn good, and partly because they all sort of sound the same. Julian Casablancas' melodies are absolutely beautiful, which may sound strange considering the garage rock guitars backing him, but it's true. Questionable mixing and production may initially make the album harder to listen to than it should be, but once you've got the incredibly infectious songs in your head you won't be able to get them out.
Standout tracks: Someday, Last Night, Hard To ExplainTrain Drops of JupiterVampire Weekend Vampire Weekend3.5 greatArctic Monkeys HumbugArctic Monkeys Suck It and SeeBen Folds Songs for SilvermanBen Folds Ben Folds LiveColdplay Viva La VidaColdplay Live 2003Coldplay is a big band, and it takes a big release to convey just how immense their live performances are. Luckily, 'Live 2003' is such a release. The CD reveals the raw power that is unleashed when these songs are played live, but the DVD really showcases the band at its best, highlighting their superb lighting, infectious on-stage energy, and heart-warming crowd interaction. From the instantly dynamic opener "Politik" to the perfect ending of "Amsterdam," this is fantastic 2-disc set is the closest thing you'll find to being at an actual Coldplay show.
Standout tracks: Amsterdam, A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Everything's Not LostDeath Cab for Cutie PlansFlight of the Conchords Flight of the ConchordsWhile the Flight of the Conchords' television show may not believably convey the sheer hilarity of their live performances, it more than makes up for it with its delightfully deadpan characters and dialogue. Without the context of the TV show or a live audience, though, not all of their material packs the same punch. But fans would be wise to pick up this release for fully fleshed-out versions of the songs they know and love. Strangely, the only track that truly disappoints is the well-known "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros." Its new lyrics don't match up to the ones they replace, and the lyrics left in place just don't sound quite the same as they used to. I guess this is just a band that truly has to be seen to be believed.
Standout tracks: Inner City Pressure, Robots, Business TimeFoxy Shazam Foxy ShazamWow. This may be Foxy Shazam's third album, but the fact that it's their first eponymous release should clue you
in that things are different this time around. Much different. The band has managed to channel its incredible
energy away from nonsense vocals and into tight music and pristine production. This is 42 straight minutes of
crazy, insane, outlandish, over-the-top, in-your-face, rocking and rolling pop goodness that somehow manages to
retain, and even flaunt, its musicality. Imagine Meatloaf leading a band that is one part The Darkness, one part
Queen, and one part pure cocaine, and you have something of an idea of what this album sounds like. Get ready
to be blown away.
Standout tracks: Bombs Away, Oh Lord, The Only Way To My Heart...Sufjan Stevens IllinoisSufjan Stevens is a bona fide songwriting machine. Stevens released a new album every year
from 2003-06, the pinnacle of which was 2005's 'Illinois.' Strangely enough, it's also his
only album to feature tracks that aren't actually songs, as 6 out of the 22 tracks are
snippets of sound under a minute long. Some help connect songs, some are just fun, and a
couple are simply unnecessary filler, which is not something the already 74-minute long
album needs. Regardless, the actual songs here are superb examples of refined, affecting
writing that combine to create one hell of a concept album, and one of the more influential
releases of recent memory.
Standout tracks: Casimir Pulaski Day, Come On! Feel The Illinoise!, ChicagoThe Avett Brothers I and Love and YouThe Avett Brothers The CarpenterThe Avett Brothers again team up with Rick Rubin, again with varying degrees of success. No, it's not as consistent as 'I and Love and You' or as impactful as 'Emotionalism,' but the 'The Carpenter' is still a solid album that provides a couple additions to the brothers' already impressive case for inclusion in the songwriters hall of fame.
Standout tracks: February Seven, The Once and Future Carpenter, LifeThe Hush Sound Goodbye BluesThe Hush Sound is back, and they've brought their pure pop goodness with them. Living up to the expectations set by the ridiculously good 'Like Vines' is no easy task, but 'Goodbye Blues' handles it with ease, revealing a darker, more mature Hush Sound. Frustratingly, it's also a Hush Sound that A. is still completely incapable of breaking free of the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/coda mold, and B. features extremely little of Bob Morris.
Standout tracks: Hurricane, Honey, Medicine ManThe Killers Day & AgeAnother album, another new sound for The Killers. This one is 100% glitz and glamour. Not the nitty-gritty, real-life glitz and glamour of the immaculate 'Sam's Town,' but ethereal, transcendent glitz and glamour. 'Day & Age' packs twice the synths of 'Hot Fuss' and twice the sound of 'Sam's Town' - if that's even possible. If you didn't like The Killers before, you're certainly not going to now, but if you have a special place in your heart for bands that strive to be larger than life, that strive to be something... *more*... Brandon Flowers made this just for you. The album takes an inexplicable stumble with "Joy Ride," a whole mess of what-were-they-thinking, but quickly picks back up with the show-stopper "A Dustland Fairytale."
Standout tracks: A Dustland Fairytale, Losing Touch, SpacemanThe Strokes AnglesThe biggest challenge facing The Strokes upon their return, of course, was how to stay relevant. Their answer to that was apparently to throw together some old, some new, and see what happens. And for the most part, it works. The best tracks here are those that sound like the Strokes we all know and love, but the different directions taken on most of the tracks are a good start, if not entirely original (the band unabashedly channels Tom Petty, Queen, and RHCP, just to name a few). Some of this treads dangerously close to filler territory, but that may be a testament to just how good the "old" tracks are.
Standout tracks: Machu Picchu, Under Cover of Darkness, Taken For a FoolTrain TrainTrain's self-produced debut is such a solid effort from beginning to end, it's surprising that "Meet Virginia" was the only successful single. The album's effortless atmosphere makes it hard to believe the band members made this with money they threw together. Twangy guitars, tight drumming, and soulful vocals that carry honest lyrics are mixed to perfection here. Even the final hidden track, a low-key acoustic jam, showcases singer Pat Monahan's expressive singing and inspired songwriting.
Standout tracks: I Am, Meet Virginia, Heavy3.0 goodBen Folds SupersunnyspeedgraphicBen Folds single-handedly proved that good music can be successfully released online with his series of internet-only EPs, but at the last minute decided to release his best tracks from the experiment as 'Supersunnyspeedgraphic.' Consequently, this truly is more of a compilation of tracks, more than a single, cohesive work. Folds' case isn't helped by the fact help that a whopping one-third of the tracks are covers, albeit very good ones. Connected it's not, but 'Supersunnyspeedgraphic' is still full of fantastic songwriting, unexpected covers, and mind-blowing piano playing.
Standout tracks: Bruised, Rent A Cop, There's Always Someone Cooler Than YouBen Folds Way To NormalBen Folds tried. He really did. He masterminded the incredible 'Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner,' but it was met with universal disdain. He created the introspective 'Songs For Silverman,' but no one seemed to care. So really, what more can you expect from him? Of course, this is his best-selling album yet. Sigh.
Standout tracks: Kylie From Connecticut, Dr. Yang, CologneBrandon Flowers FlamingoBrandon Flowers' debut finds him with ambitions as lofty as ever, but they are sadly unrealized without the rest of The Killers. 'Flamingo' is an uneven album: opener "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" is honestly just awful, but "Playing With Fire" showcases some of Flowers' strongest lyrical work to date ("Rolling river of truth, can you spare me a sip / The holy fountain of youth has been reduced to a drip"). On first listen much of it comes off as poppy nonsense, but repeated listens actually reveal welcome depth to a number of tracks.
Standout tracks: Only The Young, Playing With Fire, CrossfireColdplay LeftRightLeftRightLeftColdplay's 'Live 2003' is now 6 years old, and well in need of a follow-up. The 9-track 'LeftRightLeftRightLeft' isn't exactly of the same caliber, but for a free download, it's a welcome reminder of what happens when you put these guys in a room with thousands of loving fans. The collection of live performances focuses on the band's more recent material, duplicating only "Clocks" from the 2003 release. Fans will find something to love in every song; others should be prepared to be blown away by the sheer beauty of "Fix You."
Standout tracks: Fix You, Death And All His FriendsFlight of the Conchords I Told You I Was FreakyThe second season of Flight of the Conchords was ever so slightly less brilliant than the first, and the corresponding album acts accordingly: not quite as good as the first, but not far behind. The duo's incredible musicianship is not as apparent this time around, and is especially lacking on "We're Both In Love With A Sexy Lady" and the album's title track, both of which completely abandon any concept of melody before they even start. But "Carol Brown" is the most promising Conchords track since last year's "Inner City Pressure," and even the less accessible tracks here have no shortage of the genius rhymes and humor that propelled the Conchords to stardom in the first place.
Standout tracks: Carol Brown, Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor), Petrov Yelyena And Mefun. Some NightsI'll just say I'm being very generous with a 3.Jack's Mannequin Everything in TransitThe opening 3 tracks of Andrew McMahon's solo project are so incredible, it's almost a shame to rate the album anything lower than a 4.5. Sadly, 'Everything In Transit' can't rsustain the sheer greatness of the initial ten minutes for 11 tracks. The remaining half hour of music is good, if melodically weak, but one can't help but wonder what could have rbeen if every track was of the same quality as "Bruised."
Standout tracks: Holiday From Real, The Mixed Tape, BruisedJet Shine On'Shine On' improves on the good, and throws out the bad, of Jet's 2001 debut 'Get Born.' The high-energy classic rock songs are still here, but this time they're slightly more original, and noticeably more refined. The tracks that resembled jumbled messes of noise are gone, and replaced with more thoughtful, toned-down tunes. The song that really pushes the album to the next level, though, is the title track. Although its similarity to Oasis' "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" is too blatant to deny, it still showcases a depth nobody thought Jet capable of.
Standout tracks: Shine On, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Stand UpJet Get BornIf this was the first time this material was ever presented, 'Get Born' could easily be a classic. This is straight-up rock and roll, loud, raucous, and fun. Unfortunately for Jet, it's also decades-old rock and roll. Nothing on here is in any way original, but I'll be damned if "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" isn't a fantastic tune regardless, and "Rollover D.J." even features some incredible organ playing by the legendary Billy Preston.
Standout tracks: Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Cold Hard B****, Move OnJulian Casablancas Phrazes for the YoungFrom the man behind one of the most fabled bands of the past decade comes a puzzlingly uneven release that certainly has its moments. Unfortunately you'll be hard-pressed to remember those moments after the 8 songs span a whopping 40 minutes. 'Phrazes for the Young' starts off strong with three straight upbeat, catchy tunes. From there, however, things start to get messy. "4 Chords..." would be a pretty good song if it wasn't somehow stretched out over 5 minutes. Actually, the same goes for the next four songs as well. Let's put it this way: if you're still awake by the end of the dreary closer "Tourist," you'll wish you weren't. Casablancas deserves credit for being boldly experimental with his solo effort, but overall it's almost unbearably lethargic.
Standout tracks: Out of the Blue, Left & Right In The Dark, River of BrakelightsKeane Hopes & Fears'Hopes and Fears' seems to have it all: vintage keys, sweeping synths, and soaring vocals. But something, somewhere, is keeping it from being a truly great album. It could be that the somewhat thin production prevents the full impact of the more powerful tracks from being felt. Or it might be the strange tendency of songs to temporarily slip into a minor version of the hook for two bars here and there. Actually, it may just be the incredibly annoying effect the electric piano is presented through in "We Might As Well Be Strangers." In any event, 'Hopes and Fears' showcases true potential, but just doesn't have that extra *something* to propel it to the next level.
Standout tracks: Bend and Break, Bedshaped, Can't Stop NowOneRepublic Dreaming Out Loud'Dreaming Out Loud' is an interesting debut for OneRepublic. While it proves that Ryan Tedder's songwriting scope is not limited to hit singles for divas, it does not prove that he can come up with an entire album's worth of consistent, cohesive songs. A deliberate, dark track here and there is fine, but 13 of them in a row is a bit much. His voice is downright impressive, but would be put to much better use on tracks that aren't so damn dark and lethargic. Here's hoping his next effort contains some central theme that keeps things moving.
Standout tracks: Come Home, Stop and Stare, ApologizeReel Big Fish Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live At 35 tracks, 'Our Live Album...' is more than just a live album; it's practically the definitive collection of Reel Big Fish's greatest hits. In between the vulgar, arrogant, and generally hilarious banter, even a complete stranger to RBF is sure to find plenty of songs to enjoy over and over. The album sounds great, seamlessly integrating recordings from a half-dozen or so live shows. While this allows the band to create a "best of" collection of "Suburban Rhythm" versions, it also causes the who experience to run a little long. And when the DVD documents the band overdubbing guitar and horns right over the original live recordings, you have to wonder how close to an actual RBF show the whole thing actually sounds.
Standout tracks: Beer, Take On Me, S.R. (The Many Versions Of)The Fray How to Save a LifeTo call The Fray "huge" would be a drastic understatement, but in 2005 they were practically unknown outside of Colorado, which is what makes the sheer quality of 'How To Save A Life' so surprising. Their sound, while not groundbreaking, is undeniably refreshing. Their lyrics are excellent. Their codas are out of this world. Some of these songs are downright beautiful, but while there isn't a single bad one on the entire album, some do start to sound the same after a while. Isaac Slade's forced delivery may turn off some listeners, but the superb lyrics still manage to shine through.
Standout tracks: How To Save A Life, Heaven Forbid, ViennaThe Killers Battle BornFor all of its fame in producing the lyrical head-scratcher "Human," 2008's Day & Age was perhaps most notable for its inclusion of the first truly bad Killers song in "Joy Ride." Unfortunately, the chinks in the armor are spreading on 'Battle Born.' The less appealing tracks on the group's least consistent album yet range from peculiar ("From Here On Out") to forgettable ("Deadlines and Commitments") and even downright awful ("Here With Me"). And at 12 tracks long, one couldn't help but think that at least one of these could have been cut from the album. But a number of other songs are guided by an undeniable emotional force carrying Brandon Flowers to new heights as he shouts, "there's no surrender, 'cause there's no retreat" among "the wreckage of broken dreams and burned-out halos." After a rocky ride, The Killers reward dedicated listeners with the epic title track closer, which is honestly one of the best songs the band has ever produced. In the end, there is no choice but to average the album's good with its bad, leaving the overall experience somewhere in the middle.
Standout tracks: Battle Born, Runaways, The Way It WasTrain For Me, It's YouOver the past decade, Train's sound has evolved from lazy bluegrass to mainstream pop-rock. 'For Me, It's You' combines the feel of each of their previous 3 albums into one that features the maturity of 'My Private Nation,' the originality of 'Drops of Jupiter,' and the fun of their eponymous debut. Unfortunately, an otherwise great album is marred by the inclusion of two substandard tracks, "Give Myself To You" and "Always Remember." Excepting these two blunders, 'For Me, It's You' truly showcases Train once again at the top of their game.
Standout tracks: All I Ever Wanted, Skyscraper, For Me It's YouTrain My Private NationGiven Train's success with the strings- and piano-drenched single "Drops of Jupiter," it's not surprising that their sound on 'My Private Nation' has changed significantly from their first two albums. While Pat Monahan's lyrics and vocals remain solid, the new pop/rock sound inevitably leaves songs sounding less original than previous Train material. The album, overall, is quite good; its quality is just hidden beneath a layer of mainstream production.
Standout tracks: Calling All Angels, When I Look To The Sky, Your Every Color2.5 averageThe Lonely Island IncredibadFor all of the great things The Lonely Island has accomplished in their previously little-known existence, their first commercial album is, sadly, somewhat of a disappointment. As a whole, 'Incredibad' is immature, inconsistent, and messy. It doesn't help that all of the best material is pushed together; tracks 3-6 are some of the very best on the album, but once you get past them, what's left is largely poorly-conceived filler. Download the popular tracks and skip the rest; they're not worth the time or money.rStandout tracks: Jizz In My Pants, I'm On A Boat, Sax Man
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