The closer we come to Christmas the larger the list is of albums released. If you have not checked out the new release albums this week, here are the highlights and notable albums of the week.
This week was full of variety. Once again I live by the words of Duke Ellington “There are only two kinds of music, good and bad.” So with no genre bias let’s get to it. Here are my thoughts.
A Perfect Circle – Three Sixty
As we should know now I do not rate greatest hits albums for once you reach this point the name speaks for itself. This super band formed in the aftermath of Tool. They inspired a lighter form of California metal that took us from the late 90s into the millennium. They sold a ton of records even though they have only released 3 original albums. They’ve been promising a new album for the past five years. This album gives the highlights of their albums in chronological order and even has one new track, still no word on the new album though.
Cody Simpson – The Acoustic Sessions (EP)
I hate to begin on a low note but I don’t believe this kid. This is a case of the label attempting to get some extra Christmas money from the thirteen-year-old girls that would buy an album of Cody breathing. It doesn’t sound authentic. There are no change ups to the originals. No special moments, in fact it sounds like they just swapped out the background music and left the original vocals from the album versions. Not much here.
Score – 4
Chris Brown – X Files (EP)
Chris Brown released a nice teaser with guest appearances from Busta Rhymes, Ludacris and Kid Ink. Though it’s available for free download, stores are also charging for it. I state this fact so you don’t get fooled into purchasing a product that the label is giving away. The worst part about the EP is it’s over shortly after it begins. It only has six songs on it, but Chris didn’t hold back. No tracks to skip, this is a solid R&B release.
Score – 8.5
Various Artists – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
To amp up the Friday release of the film came the soundtrack that sets the tone. The album is very easy flowing, laid back and relaxed. It’s full of ballads that are very theatrical. There were really no upbeat songs to be found, but I never found myself feeling like this was a bad thing. It sounds like every song was specifically recorded for the film, which is always a good thing when it comes to soundtracks. There are some great songs on the project, but the highlight for me was Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. She did an amazing job and her version is better then the original sang by Tears for Fears in 1985. Other appearances include Christina Aguilera, The Weeknd, Coldplay, Ellie Goulding, Imagine Dragons and more. The album flows nicely and was truly a smooth surprising ride. The trip was well worth it.
Score – 9
Slim Thug – Boss Life
Keeping the underground Houston sound alive is Slim Thugger the self-proclaimed boss of the south. Though he doesn’t attempt to step out of element and try anything new, he continues to do what he does best. This has kept him relevant even after the big Interscope deal fell through several years ago. He doesn’t have a lot of subject matter, but lyrical content is not what a fan would listen to Slim for. Songs about being the boss and how he’s in a class above the rest. He runs through loose women and speaks on his spends most of the album promoting the pimping lifestyle. The production on the album complimented him well and I appreciated the tribute to the West Coast with samples from NWA and Snoop Dogg on a few tracks toward the end of the album. I can’t say that he has grown a lot, but somehow I found it to still be very effective. If nothing else, he will please his core fan base that has been with him since day one.
Score – 8
Jake Bug – Shangri La
He has a Tom Petty sort of sound blended with Johnny Cash. He brings a folk rock feel and doesn’t do a bad job. The first half of the album is a fresh feel. Rick Rubin is credited as producer, which is always a plus. As an artist I felt safe to say that he gives the industry something worth savoring. Regarding the album as a whole I’m not raving about it but it’s original and worth listening to if you’re looking for an old school rock feel.
Score – 7
Yo Gotti – I Am
After having such big radio success in the past, I expected him to go all out commercial. However, not to take away from him but he was not a consistent force on the album. He actually does a better job then anticipated but not good enough to raise a fuss in the review towards recommending you need to hear this. The album is above mediocre and like many of the rap albums this week, he continues to cater to the target audience that has been there from the beginning.
Score – 6.5
Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell
A rare find these days as heavy metal music takes a back seat to the limelight. The metal powerhouse has had better albums in the past but their latest release is a solid metal album that holds steady for their core fan base. I was actually impressed that they were able to put together an aggressive album in a time where most metal bands seem to be taking a softer approach.
Score – 6
Daughtry – Baptized
Chris Daughtry didn’t win American Idol, but what he did do is form the band Daughtry and go on to have a career more successful than many of the artists that won. With their latest release they stick to a cliché format of pop song writing with a hint of alternative and country sounds. Well, what I should say is they did what they always do. I feel as though the last album was more progressive and they took more risk. That’s not to take anything away from their current release. It’s a solid radio ready album with well-written lyrics and production to compliment. Not as artistic as their previous works, I do feel like they took a step back rather than forward. It still works.
Score – 7
Webbie – Savage Life 4
While Webbie is another hip-hop artist stuck in his ways with not many subjects to speak on, he is definitely loved by his fan base. With the absence of Lil Boosie (in jail) Webbie is all they have. I’m shouting from the rooftop in relief as I listen to this album “thank you”. I’m not a big fan but the last Savage Life album was an inch above terrible. I would like to tell Webbie fans that they can breathe. This album is much better in regards to production and lyrics. The hooks do get very repetitive and he only has a few things to say when boasting about his Savage Life, but he keeps it interesting and the album flows well.
Score – 6.5
Beady Eye – Be
This is my first Beady Eye experience and I enjoyed the alternative modern-day Beatles sound for about five songs in. The lead singers voice began to annoy me the further I listened to the album. He sounds like he’s singing through his nose. That’s neither here nor there. The album had its moments but it never leaves the mood set from the opening track. I thought the music and sound was good, but eventually I was bored and yearning for something else to listen to.
Delta Rae – Chasing Twisters (EP)
This was also my first experience with Delta Rae. I haven’t heard their first album but the new extended single is theatrical and original. Only five tracks on this project but all five fit in the theme and make for a great experience. Not sure how to categorize the sound. It’s alternative pop, country and hint of soul. It’s a definite gem on my list of releases this week.
Score – 8
Nature – Seasons Changed: Fall Edition
This rapper got his start from hanging with early 90s Nas. You may remember him as a member of the Dr. Dre produced group The Firm that features Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown and Nature. He’s been hard-working in the underground New York scene since and off concept alone he receives thumbs up from me. Keeping New York alive with a classic gritty New York sound.
Score – 6
Young Jeezy – 36 Below (mixtape) Hosted by Rick DaRuler
Young Jeezy releases a mixtape for free download where he does what he does best. Plenty of featured guests along the way over a classic lo-fi sound. Not the best quality but worth the ride for Young Jeezy fans.
Score – 5
In conclusion, it was a good week. A lot of releases and a lot of music to process. The true highlights of the week belong to The Hunger Games, Chris Brown, Delta Rae and Slim Thug. So busy with the current week, I’m in fear of looking ahead to next week. I know that it will be filled with releases from all genres including all of the holiday albums to come.
10 – Instant Classic – must have
09 – Great Album just short of classic
08 – Good Album recommend checking out
07 – Above average more upside then down
06 – Worth the listen, has a few moments
05 – Average, maybe core fan base will enjoy
04 – You’re not missing much if you skip this one
03 – Bad album let down
02 – Trash- don’t waste your time
01 – Everyone involved in this album needs to reevaluate their life