Oct 23, 2010

2010: Weezer - Hurley

It seems Weezer are now pumping out a new album each year starting with Red Album (2008), then Raditude (2009) and now with Hurley (2010). With most bands you'd probably think this was a bad thing. With Weezer this is hardly the case, as Rivers Cuomo has proved to be one the most consistently great songwriters out there. Usually recording dozens of songs that end up unreleased, some of them you might wish he had switched out with the songs he ends up putting on the record.

Hurley was much anticipated among fans as a 'return to form' due to Weezer switching to an indie label and displaying with the single 'Memories' a more unpolished sound similar to that of Pinkerton. This is true to some extent, although the songs hardly differ much from the band's recent output. There are moments of a more raw vocal from Rivers, other than that, this is mostly power-pop with a bunch of great hooks.
There are however a few nods in Pinkertons direction, with more synthesizers and the incredibly nonsensical 'Where's My Sex', which gets tiresome after only a few listens, despite displaying some interesting melodies.

This isn't really anything out of the ordinary for a Weezer album. There are the usual self-aware, sometimes ironic lyrics of Rivers, often detailing sadness and love. Several of the songs are instant Weezer-classics and rate among their best work, noteably 'Memories', 'Hang On' and 'Time Flies'. Be sure to check out the bonus tracks.

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Sep 9, 2010

2010: Ed Harcourt - Lustre

Ed Harcourt is certainly not new to the singer-songwriter genre, Lustre marking his fifth album. With Lustre, Harcourt shows that his songwriter skills are at their peak.
From the angelic vocals in the title track to the howling Tom Waits-inspired vocals on 'Heart of A Wolf', Ed Harcourt proves yet again that he still has the ability to create clever melodies with highly emotional lyrics, delivered with his usually melancholy and lush vocals.

But the soundscape is far from monotone as Harcourt uses a wide variety of instruments from the mellotron-driven 'Haywired' to the xylophones(?) on the joyfully melodic 'Do As I Say Not As I Do'. However, nearly all of the tracks are driven by Harcourt's piano, which is employed brilliantly in both melancholy and upbeat poppy songs. The lyrical imagery is also very scenic in it's detailing of love and marriage and all that comes with it; themes ranging from using love as an escape and insanity to the acceptance of becoming a parent.

Overall, from the cover to the closing track it is apparent that Lustre is an epic and sweeping album, which is sure to impress with all it's different sounds and almost confessional lyrics. Lustre is among Harcourt best efforts and stands as one of the most impressive albums released this year.

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Mar 8, 2010

2010: Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

Five years after Demon Days, Gorillaz have finally released their third studio album, stating it will be their last. Plastic Beach is a worthy follow-up to Demon Days, though it is certainly different in a lot of areas. Listeners may notice the huge array of collaborative artists on all but four tracks, with regulars like De La Soul. Although the vast amount of collaborative artists on this album are impressive (such as Lou Reed), the tracks with Damon Albarn are usually the most enjoyable, (especially the two tracks with Little Dragon). It doesn't have as cool raps as 'Clint Eastwood' or 'Feel Good Inc.', but what it does have is a set of impressive electrified and synthed up melodies that are addictive as hell. Most of the songs Albarn sings on (including those with Little Dragon) do however have a more emotional appeal, such as the aptly named 'On Melancholy Hill'. There are still cool songs though, like the fast food-themed 'Superfast Jellyfish'. Other highlights include the absolutely brilliant 'Empire Ants' and the deliciously eerie 'Plastic Beach'. However, certain tracks can get a bet tedious after a couple of plays, but even so, there are still certain elements in those songs that keep them from getting dull - such as the bass-line in 'Welcome To The World of The Plastic Beach'. The intro to 'Sweepstakes' will certainly have you fast-forwarding to the verse/chorus. All in all this is another solid release from a special 'band', proving that they don't need to rely on gimmicks to succeed in making interesting music.

Score: 7.5/10

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Feb 27, 2010

2010: Gorillaz - Plastic Beach [Preview]

I'm sure you're all quite thrilled about Gorillaz, seeing as they have created some of the most interesting music released in the last decade. Jumping from trip-hop to pop/rock several times within the same album. The group, lead by former Blur vocalist Damon Albarn are releasing their upcoming album 'Plastic Beach' on the 8th of March, and have done an excellent job at keeping the album off the internet so far. With only one week until release, it certainly beats Demon Days which was leaked several months prior to its scheduled release. A mix containing several snippets of the album was recently released (download here), which doesn't set itself much apart from previous albums. But there are traces of funk/soul (2:20), synth pop (4:25) which sounds just brilliant. For those interested though, the album will be available for streaming on NPR on monday the 1st of March here.