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There is nothing conventional about Robyn Rihanna Fenty. It only takes a few notes on her newest album Anti for that reminder to set in. “I got to do things my own way,” Rihanna warns in the opening song “Consideration.” This has always been her legacy. More than anything else, Rihanna has consistently come across as real. On Instagram, she positioned herself as a self-governing force with an affinity for blunts and middle fingers. This is the version of Rihanna we came to know — the one who played by her own rules and did so with endless bravado and confidence.

At the same time, she became a hit-making algorithm pumping out songs for neon lights and sweaty last calls. And we danced to it, because it was good. We spent our Friday and Saturday nights with Rihanna bumping to one of her 13 number-one singles. She became the pop star we wanted her to be because she did it brilliantly.

But until now it just didn’t completely feel like the Rihanna we had been shown. Anti, Rihanna’s eighth studio album, feels more like the artist behind the hitmaker, the authentic Rihanna.

It’s not what we expected. If her last seven albums were flashing lights and booze-soaked adventures, Anti is a solo Friday at home with a bottle of wine. It works, because it’s good. With the possible exception of “Work” featuring Drake, this album is devoid of any club bangers. Those songs were for us. Anti is for Rihanna.

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Floating between soul, rock, r&b, and pop, Anti never fully commits to one genre. The grainy, blues adjacent “Higher” sounds like a drunken plea from a scrubbed Rihanna. Each note of “Desperado” drips with the fuck-you attitude she has worked to perfection. The likely hit of the album, “Kiss It Better,” shows introspection absent in past songs. But the most obvious example is Rihanna’s cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.” Rihanna lends her voice to a genre not usually belonging to her, echoing instead of re-imagining the song completely.

With the exception of “Work” featuring Drake, this album is devoid of any club bangers. Those songs were for us. Anti is for Rihanna.

While always present on some level, this version of Rihanna hasn’t fully been exposed. There is a confidence in self, an underlying Bad Gal quality to the album that seems more like the yacht partying and blunts in bathrobes versions of her. These are the type of songs that couldn’t have been written for anyone else.

The Rihanna who tweeted “I’m crazy, and I don’t pretend to be anything else” seems very present singing “Tryna fix your inner issues with a bad bitch / Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage / Fuck your white horse and a carriage,” on “Needed Me.”

This album feels like a glimpse at the inner workings of Rihanna’s brain. The off-camera version. From front to back, Anti tells the story of self-exploration, growing up, and coming full circle. With the album already platinum, the understated Anti is Rihanna’s biggest statement yet.

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Solemn. Melancholy. Almost cacophonous in its softness. Daughter’s music has always had the ability to somehow silence my thoughts, but these were nonetheless what went through my mind during my first listen of Not To Disappear.

Daughter is a three-person band from England, and since their formation in 2010, they have released two albums, four EPs and three singles. Not To Disappear is their second album, released three years after 2013’s If You Leave. Despite the gap, Not To Disappear retains the eerie melancholy that has defined Daughter’s contribution to the indie folk genre.

One could not be blamed for dismissing Daughter’s music as depressing. It is. With songs characterized by loss, vulnerability and loneliness, it’s hard to come upon one that will make you want to get up and dance. If You Leave was the epitome of this notion. Featuring soft, slow tracks with words that were better off imagined as whispers had they not been sung, the album inspired a hazy, dreamy feeling framed by endless lyrical metaphors.

Where If You Leave was soft and somber even at its most emotional, Not To Disappear abandons the listless loneliness and replaces it with a more blatant desperation.

Not To Disappear is a reflection of this same idea, but Daughter has taken a few steps in a different direction. When they first announced their second album in September 2014, guitarist Igor Haefeli claimed that the band was playing with a “rockier dynamic” this time around, influenced by all the touring they’ve been doing over the year, and this attempt becomes apparent in stronger crescendos and more insistent guitar and drum lines.

Where If You Leave was soft and somber even at its most emotional, Not To Disappear abandons the listless loneliness and replaces it with a more blatant desperation. The new dynamic brings the album somewhere as gritty as the indie folk genre can allow it to go. This second album works with themes of nostalgia and memory, is more reflective than cathartic, and while previous songs were hazy and dreamy, Not To Disappear feels grounded. The music is still solemn, still hardly ever above a whisper, but somehow louder and more defined.

The album begins with “New Ways,” a song that feels a lot like being wound up tight, but instead of this feeling being drummed up into a climax then released in a song equivalent of a denouement, the feeling continues throughout the whole album, leaving the whole picture exposed and raw. The songs themselves have their own climax and denouements, defined by fluctuating tones that take you somewhere low and dark one moment before erupting in weeping tracks and higher voices, or vice versa.

The lyrics are more honest, relying less on similes and more on personal confessions. The album’s frantic tone creates a feeling of helplessness, manifesting as a plea for help in some songs and as a resigned acceptance in others.

Not To Disappear takes a bolder approach to Daughter’s music, while nonetheless retaining the same intimacy and vulnerability I’ve slowly come to appreciate. Criticisms can be made out about the band’s repetitive nature, but those fade easily behind the lucidity this album has managed to achieve. It’s mature, it’s numb, and though some songs felt like they could have easily belonged in a previous album, I got what I came for, and more, when I heard Daughter had released a new album.

Photo Credit: 4AD

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Tomi Milos/ANDY Editor

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56 Nights - Future

Future absolutely destroyed 2015 and it all started with 56 Nights. Following the likes of Monster and Beast Mode, 56 Nights goes about asserting Future’s exponential growth as an artist since his very public breakup with Ciara with a slew of hyper-personal tracks many do a disservice by dubbing “turn-up bangers”. Despite how heavy they go in the club, songs like “Never Gon Lose” and “March Madness” do everything but glorify narcotics. Anyone who listens closely to the lyrics will be able to perceive how Future is driven to drugs as a coping mechanism and only resorts to self-celebratory verses to mask his deep pain.

 

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In Colour - Jamie xx

Everything about Jamie xx’s modus operandi reeks of deliberateness. His debut solo record is titled In Colour, and befittingly sports a rainbow-hued cover that also hints at what lies inside. Just like his music with his band The xx, Jamie’s efforts on In Colour are rich in emotional depth and range. The eleven-track record has a stunning array of highs and lows, as well as what is probably the song of the summer in “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”. While that particular Young Thug collaboration is the most obvious ear-worm, the rest of the songs all reward multiple listens in which their genius subtlety comes to light.

 

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Return To The Moon - EL VY

The National didn’t release an album this year with its members either focusing on their families, or investing energy into solo projects, but all of them have released stellar material regardless. Matt Berninger’s collaboration with Brent Knopf is arguably the most immediately gratifying of the bunch. Return To The Moon finds Berninger at his most self-aware, making fun of both himself and all the dad-rock jabs that his work gets from critics. The title track is a pitch-perfect example of the occasionally formulaic catharsis that Berninger’s band aims for, while the rest of the record decidedly distances itself from any comparisons.

 

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The Names - Baio

Chris Baio has released solo material for some time now, but Vampire Weekend’s extended break has allowed the bassist-turned-producer to put out an extremely polished record in The Names. The quiet, intellectual that Baio comes across as in interviews marries his exuberant on-stage personality on the record. Sometimes uncomfortable, but always danceable, The Names is a heartwarming foray into electronic music by a talented musician who reveals himself to be an academic in his devotion to learning a new craft, but not in blending his knowledge into a cohesive product.

 

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I Don’t Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside - Earl Sweatshirt

While Odd Future has ceased to be interesting, Earl has remained a brilliant outsider unhindered by the tunnel vision of his old peers. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside sees Earl remind us how miserable he is, but in much more inventive fashion than usual. While listening to someone’s personal struggle can get grating, what makes Earl’s continued forays down that path rewarding is that he has matured much more than his former friends. Whereas Doris had a lot of misplaced anger on it, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside has a much grander scope and is ultimately about recovering from the bleak episodes that he recounts.

 

 

 

Vannessa Barnier/ANDY Reporter

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RULES - Alex G

Before getting signed to Domino last year, Alex G dropped this lil album on Bandcamp. G has since put out other albums this past year, but it was something about the comfortable, lo-fi, bedroom-cooing featured on RULES that made it trump 2015’s Beach Music. It was only in 2015 that this album, along with TRICK, was mastered in a studio and made commercially available. Domino’s reissue put RULES on the map for me, and contributed to it becoming my most-played album of last year.

 

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Homespun - Jordaan Mason

From the first seconds of Jordaan Mason’s Homespun, you can predict how intimate the album will sound in its entirety. You can hear Mason walk in and sit down on the first track as they join you in the experience that is this album. Homespun is a vulnerable piece that was made as a gift to Mason’s husband, who convinced Mason to share this album publically. This album is Mason’s attempt at an ambient-sounding album with warmth and sounds they weren’t hearing in the ambient genre. The result is a comforting record.

 

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Carrie & Lowell - Sufjan Stevens

As a mainstream artist, the heartfelt nature of Sufjan Steven’s Carrie & Lowell was rather unexpected. This album affected a lot of listeners since high-profile musicians — for the most part — don’t use their music as an opportunity to tell hyper-personal stories about themselves. Listeners of this album often admit to crying to the songs, noting that this is a confessional album that really hit them. This is a sad album, but I’ve heard sadder albums. For what it’s worth, I overplayed Carrie & Lowell in 2015, and will continue to do so in 2016.

 

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A New Place 2 Drown - Archy Marshall

This year, Archy Marshall moved away from his moniker, King Krule, and released an album under his own name, in partnership with his brother, Jack. A New Place 2 Drown was accompanied by a book, as well as a short film to fully explore the themes of brotherhood and art in the release. With murmuring and static, Marshall released an album that showed more sides of him than he had cared to display in his previous albums. His deep, beautiful voice vibrates out his poetic lyrics and went well with the lethargic tempo of the album.

 

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Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress - GY!BE

Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress came out on the last day of March, when I was ending a relationship that I had hardly let begin. Luckily for me, GY!BE released this track after a long hiatus and just in time to save me from sinking into personal despair. This album is every bit reminiscent of GY!BE’s past work without being derivative. This LP is home to the usual drone-y ambience with some added gusto that makes the listening experience all the more rich. I’d recommend listening to this when you catch yourself staring out of a window.

 

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In your Facebook status, list 12 albums that have stayed with you over the years, and that mean something to you personally. Then tag some friends to pass on the trend. Sounds easy enough right? There is actually more involved to this simple request than one may think.

These new trends of nominations have taken over Facebook for the past couple of weeks now. It all started with the outrageous “neknominations”, in which people videotaped themselves shamelessly consuming alcohol, passing it along to their friends as a challenge.

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Thankfully this form of nominations slowly transitioned into another more productive form “feed the deed”, where people instead filmed themselves doing a good deed. Somewhere along the way, the nomination trend has landed to where we are now, which some may call “recnoms” or “album nominations”.

As stated in the beginning of the article, this form of nomination requires Facebook users to list 12 albums that have some sort of sentimental meaning to them. This is a more expressive form where Facebook users can share their personal taste in music. It seems like an easy task to complete, but in reality is actually quite difficult. Just like in the neknomination videos, viewers constantly judged participators by their actions and choices. Having participators openly know that they are being judged based on their music creates a sense of fear as well as stereotypical issues.

Different genres of music all have their own titles, which includes a huge variety of country, indie, r&b, hip hop/rap, EDM/house, classical, and so on. These genres of music are usually categorized and affiliated with different social groups based on stereotypes. We have all thought of these stereotypes in our heads and linked music choices to certain social groups. Some commonly heard categories include “Hipsters” who are identified with listening to indie rock or obscure alternative music, the “Mainstream” who typically listen to Top 40 or whatever is played on the radio repeatedly, or even the “Partiers or clubbers” who blast their EDM or house trap music.  These are only a few common associations that are not written in stone.

The fear that is brought upon participators with listing their choice of 12 albums is simply which social group they will be affiliated with based on their choices. No one wants to be associated with a social group that they don’t feel a part of.

Though some are the opposite and do not experience fear, but see this as an opportunity to try and label themselves as part of a social group that they want to be associated with. This is starting to become problematic since even though music is meant to be expressive, it should not necessarily be expressive of ones social status.

So instead of worrying about everyone judging you based on your personal preferences, remember to be true to yourself. Music is a representation of you, not your social group. The daunting task of your Facebook nomination really can be just as easy as the instructions sound.

Or you could just forget the whole thing all together by not posting anything, and you can enjoy your own music without sharing it with the rest of your online world.

10.
Holy Fire
Foals

Foal’s third LP opens with “Prelude,” a four-minute track thrumming with energy and pent-up rage. Most are familiar with the demons that haunt lead singer Yannis Philippakis and it’s clear that the anxiety that coloured Antidotes and Total Life Forever are even more prominent in the songwriting and instrumentation of this album. Holy Fire is therefore not a record for relaxing, but rather for screaming and breaking shit to (e.g. “Inhaler”). Anthemic jams like “My Number” are as fun to belt out alone in your room as they are at one of their raucous shows.

The rest of the album also sounds fantastic live, which I was happy to discover at the Kool Haus last May. It was a pleasant surprise to find that fans were not shy of moshing or crowd surfing and I had a terrific time throwing my weight around to tracks like “Milk and Black Spiders” and “Providence.” That is, until a girl’s flailing arm knocked my glasses off. For a few seconds, I anxiously tried to locate them myself before the entire pit stopped moshing and someone shone their SLR camera’s flash to help me find them. My frames had to be realigned and now sport a few unsightly scratches, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of hearing this fantastic record in person for anything (including unscathed frames).
- Tomi Milos

9.
Reflektor
Arcade Fire

When I look back on the growth of the Montreal-based band from Funeral released back in 2004, all the way to The Suburbs, which won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, I do so with a smile on my face because they consistently retain a distinctly Canadian sound for the whole world to hear. And when they announced Reflektor, their success meant that the stakes were higher than ever before. Reflektor had to deliver.

Thankfully, Arcade Fire has done it again. The songs are edgy, experimental, but still preserve the strong musicality that has made the band so critically and commercially acclaimed. The title track in particular represents an ambitious and unique rhythmic experience and features Haitian percussionists. Tracks continue to stay strong, moving and attractive with “We Exist,” “Here Comes the Night Time,” and “Afterlife.”

There’s something special about Reflektor – something beyond the intelligent chord changes and punchy choruses. There’s an intangible element, an intricate, but thoughtful and accessible musical quality that underscores Arcade Fire as not only one of the best Canadian bands, but as the artists behind one of the best albums of the year.
- Michael Gallagher

8.
Overgrown
James Blake

With increased confidence in his production and vocal abilities compared to his previous works, James Blake is able to place more emphasis on his expressive croon and engage listeners into a unique, one-of-a-kind experience. Overgrown’s continuously shifted textures and nuances support broad and repeated emotional phrases that pull at as many heartstrings as possible.

Whether you connect more with the admission of being flawed from “Voyeur,” the subtle sexiness of “Retrograde,” or any other emotion conveyed on the album, the only sure thing about the experience is that you will feel something as a result of Blake’s lyrics and instrumentals. You may not be able to put it into words, due to Blake’s production offering multiple interpretations in each short track, but you will realize that these different emotional possibilities result in what seems to be a completely new listening experience with each play-through.

Overgrown can somehow be reflective, sad, sexy, positive and energetic all at the same time, and will continue to grow in stature and promise for repeated listens.
- Shane Madill

7.
Shaking the Habitual
The Knife

This is 96 minutes of being uncomfortable. Even if discussion — or rather blunt and direct statements — about conventionally controversial topics, such as feminist and queer theory, environmentalism and structuralism, or injustice and corruption, do not affect you, then there is still the continuous drone and screech of bastardized samples underneath ear-piercingly high vocals to provoke a reaction.

Shaking the Habitual draws the listener in like a good horror movie and refuses to let go. The softer midpoints of the album provide momentary release and hope for comfort before it is snatched away, often with progressive buildup rather than with sudden stimulus.

Shaking the Habitual is fearless in this endeavour, and is not recommended for casual listening in the slightest. This is brutal and awkward art that continues to push the boundaries of what is thought possible in conventional electronic music. It is something that you may not even want to finish, but are compelled to for a seemingly inexplicable reason. Deep and impactful art tends to be uncomfortable to admire, and this is no exception.
- Shane Madill

6.
Beyoncé
Beyoncé

“I’m a grown woman,” Beyoncé asserts on the album’s funky West African-inspired bonus track, “I Can Do Whatever I Want.” Beyoncé’s fifth album adheres to her proclamation of self-empowerment. Beyoncé is a musical, visual, and commercial tour de force. The album was released without any prior announcement or promotion. Each song is accompanied by a stunningly aesthetic video. Sonically, Beyoncé defies conventional pop formulas and encompasses a wide range of sounds.

The album is more experimental in sound than Beyoncé’s previous solo efforts. Seemingly dissonant soundscapes are seamlessly woven together. Her vocal style shifts radically from one song to the next, but it never feels forced. Many of the album’s sounds are not new; Beyoncé has borrowed musical elements from her contemporaries. The falsetto, breathy vocals on “No Angel” are reminiscent of Ciara’s sensual ballad, “Promise.” The sultry, soulful slow jam, “Rocket” is an obvious nod to the funkified sex songs of D’Angelo.  But these elements  are imbued with a poise and virtuosity that is distinctively Bey. Or rather, distinctively Yoncé.

Yoncé is an alter-ego that we haven’t met before; she is lusty, sexual, and confident. On “Jealous,” Beyoncé exposes her fragility. She is home alone, drunk and naked, waiting for her man to come home, when suddenly Yoncé appears. Yoncé doesn’t sulk. She throws her freakum dress on and hypes herself up: “I look damn good, I ain’t lost it,” she declares. On the surface, this line references her impeccable postpartum physique, however it is representative of much more.

Beyoncé refuses to conform to societal expectations of maternity. While she acknowledges the beauty of motherhood on “Blue,” she informs us throughout the album that this one identity does not preclude her others. Beyoncé is a full-fledged woman: fierce, brave, sexual, vulnerable, anxious.

When Beyoncé dropped on Dec. 13, the Internet exploded. Twitter and Facebook feeds wouldn’t look the same for weeks. When Queen Bey speaks, people listen. Especially when her message is as bold, creative, and effortless as it is on Beyoncé.

Bow down, bitches. The album is ***Flawless.
- Josh Spring

 Check back next week for numbers 5-1!

 

Album: Red

Artist: Taylor Swift

 

I’ve been a semi-closeted T. Swift fan ever since her self-titled album first released in 2006. Usually, it’s only teenage girls who share my love for her, but with Red I’ve found that her demographic has suddenly changed. No matter where you go, I promise you that someone will be (rather shamelessly) listening to Tee Swizzle.

Considering the difference in her sound on this album, it’s not so surprising. With Red, Swift is experimenting, having approached different producers and by exploring new genres. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” is possibly the catchiest tune of the summer, with sarcastic voiceovers that somehow sound endearing instead of annoying. “I Knew You Were Trouble” makes use of dubstep, while the title song “Red” includes an auto-tuned chorus. But perhaps the most relevant song is “22,” which begins with a hipster reference and continues along in an “I no longer give a fuck” vein.

And while there are the requisite Swifty ballads (“Begin Again,” “All Too Well”), certain ones are complimented by featured artists like Ed Sheeran in “Everything Has Changed” and Gary Lightbody in “The Last Time.” Swift said that the album title comes from all of her recent feelings, summed up in one passionate colour. But perhaps if you listen more closely, you’ll feel green-tinged envy, blue-hued tragedy, and glowing yellow “Starlight,” too.

 

Palika Kohli


Album: Former Lives Artist: Benjamin Gibbard

 

Achieving success with both Death Cab For Cutie and the Postal Service, it was only a matter of time before Benjamin Gibbard released a solo album. And now seems a more opportune time than ever, following his public break-up with Zooey Deschanel. Those expecting to hear an earnest, heart-wrenching album will be shocked to find Former Lives surprisingly upbeat. Complete with catchy lyrics and poppy tunes, you can’t help but tap your foot as you listen along. Gibbard claims that Former Lives summarizes the past eight years of his life in a single collective experience. Though songs cover a range of topics, the album still remains a cohesive entity. “Bigger Than Love,” a duet with Aimee Mann, captures the hope of reigniting a dwindling romance, while “Teardrop Windows” personifies Seattle skyscrapers, pitting the Smith Tower against its nemesis the Space

Tina Cody


Album: NumbersArtist: Mellowhypes

 

Those who aren’t already fans of Odd Future may be unaware of MellowHype, one of the many sub-groups in the rap collective. Though most have either jumped on the Odd Future bandwagon or sworn off anything associated with the group, albums like Numbers are deserving of a good listen from anybody with a fondness for hip hop.

The biggest improvement on this album from MellowHype’s previous two is Left Brain’s production. It’s been almost five years since his debut as a producer, and his progress with layering and beats has grown by leaps and bounds. Hodgy Beats, the rapper of the duo, is one of the more established rappers in Odd Future, and he makes this even more obvious on Numbers.
For those who never stopped loving MellowHype’s more traditionally dark and eerie tracks, give “Grill” and “Beat” a try. Songs like “Untitled L” and “Monster” remind me of the dynamic chemistry that separates this duo’s sound from their other groups in Odd Future.

The many guest spots keep the album varied, from Frank Ocean dropping in for a subtle but melodic chorus in Astro to verses from Earl Sweatshirt and Mike G on “P2” and “666.”

Brody Weld


Album:The Inner MansionsArtist: Teen Daze

 

The Inner Mansions opens with “Heart of God,” a reflective, ambient piece that immediately sets Teen Daze’s latest record apart from the rest of his discography -  it’s more evocative of Julianna Barwick’s ethereal vocal studies than Balearic house or disco. The soft, shimmering pads that mark the Fraser Valley-based producer’s style are still ubiquitous, but The Inner Mansions finds him substituting gauzy guitars for glo-fi funk.

Tracks like “Discipleship” are rhythmic exercises anchored by a four-on-the-floor beat that’s constantly being reinvented. Likewise, “Divided Loyalties” features layers of cymbals and hi-hats caked in hazy effects that mutate around a 4/4 kick drum.

Although “Always Returning” closes the LP on the same meditative note that is opens with, the mood of the album is undone by its disjointedness. “Spirit” dips into post-rock territory, while parts of “By Love” could be mistaken for Yanni. “Union,” the album’s biggest offender, resembles some of No Age’s less confrontational work.

It’s hard to fault Teen Daze for evolving musically, but The Inner Mansions is ultimately let down by its indecision.

 

Michael Skinnider


Most people reading this article were probably introduced to music at a young age by their parents. For me, a cassette would be played as everyone went about their household business. Skipping tracks wasn’t allowed. My mom had a beat-up cassette of Paul Simon’s classic Graceland. I wasn’t old enough to understand the shady South African politics that governed the production of the album, and I happily spent many hours humming along to catchy songs like “Gumboots” and “You Can Call Me Al.” My love affair with the album came to a tragic end when I heard the dreaded screech come from my boom box and opened it to reveal the tape unspooled beyond repair.

Looking back, I realize that listening to an album was once an immersive experience. It was important to sit close by so you could flip sides when the time came. There was also something very moving about the general cohesiveness of the albums of yore. Artists relied on a strong record to sell and then tour behind, so they made sure to create a thematic release that could lend itself to drawn-out listens. Perhaps the best example is Radiohead’s Kid A. Full of ambient washes and mesmerizing loops, it deviated from the group’s prior material, but above all it played like a story — and a great one at that. Today, the music industry has become so commercialized that many people are wondering, what happened to the music coming first – coming above all else?

Musicians aren’t solely responsible for the blame. To keep their shifty “fans” attention, artists are forced to churn out single after single. The thought of creating a concept album might seem ludicrous to the financially struggling musician who more often than not has to retain a day-job in order to make ends meet. Even concerted efforts to please fans can bite them in the foot in this digital era where album leaks are the norm. Most artists aren’t even able to make the music they want to if they want to make a living.

That said, things aren’t quite as bleak as I’ve suggested. Frank Ocean, a singer who only recently caught the attention of the mainstream media, just released a stunning epic with Channel Orange. But it wouldn’t hurt to go crate-digging for records when you visit your parents for the holidays. You might find something surprisingly enjoyable.

 

Tomi Milos

Green Day - American Idiot

American Idiot is one of the most controversial albums of the last twenty or so years, mostly because of its clearly "political" nature and overblown and bizarre concept. I,however, have no problem with either, and in some cases they make the record more interesting. While Green Day may not be the most well-informed when it comes to politics, I applaud them for attempting something different from the usual derivative pop-punk album.

Some of the songs on here are even pretty good. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is one of the best pop-punk songs I've heard in a while, “Give Me Novocaine” is an underrated rocker and “Whatsername” is a solid closer. But unfortunately, there are some annoying tracks; “Holiday” immediately comes to mind as being one of the most irritating songs of the last ten years. Other duds, such as the boring “Are We The Waiting” and the uninteresting “St. Jimmy” add nothing to the album.

The big talking points of American Idiot are the two nine minute songs, “Jesus Of Suburbia” and “Homecoming”. The former is fairly interesting, with its intricate structure and many different parts. “Homecoming” is the stronger of the two, and features Tre Cool singing for one of the few comic relief moments on the album. Regardless of its political wisdom, this is a strong pop-punk album whose pros outweigh its cons and while some may disagree with me, that's fine - all

I ask it that you listen with an open mind.

3 out of 5.

- Alexander Sallas

 

Megadeth - Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?

Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? was, for a while, my favourite Megadeth album. This has since changed (with Rust In Peace overtaking it in my books), but that doesn't make this CD any less fantastic. It boasts some amazing tracks, from thrash anthem "Peace Sells," to the superb "Good Mourning/Black Friday," to closer "My Last Words." The guitar playing on this album is incredible - every song features at least one wickedly fast guitar solo (most contain two, three or even more), and the rest of the instruments are superb as well. I find that there are three main points of discussion with this album: Mustaine's vocals, the production, and the length.

First, I thoroughly enjoy Mustaine's vocals. He may not have the sleekest voice ever, but his trademark “snarl” fits the music perfectly. He really has established his own style, and it works.

Second: the production. I own the 2006 re-release of this record, so I can't really comment on it since it has been improved. But I will say, however, that the rough production only increases its raw sound.

Finally, the length. Here is where the main problem lies. At only thirty-six minutes, this record flies by. With that said, though, every song on here is quality, and I would take an awesome thirty-six minute album over a terrible 78-minute one any day. However, a song or two more would have been welcome here. The bottom line: should you buy this? Yes. It is a classic thrash album that should be heard by anyone who considers themselves a metalhead (and everyone else for that matter).

4.5 out of 5

- Alexander Sallas

 

 Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
You’ve casually referenced Bob Dylan before. I promise you that you have – whether you were aware of it or not. He himself once said, "The songs are there. They exist all by themselves just waiting for someone to write them down. I just put them down on paper. If I didn't do it, somebody else would."

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is his second album, the one that established Dylan as a legitimate artist at the age of 22 and led to his rise as an icon during the 1960s protest movement.

It begins with “Blowin’ in the Wind,” the anthem of every freedom movement that has occurred since it was released. Perhaps that’s because we are the same age as Dylan when he produced this album—that right now, we get it; maybe it’s that we can relate to it when we’re in the middle of a midterm, staring into space, because there we are: looking for the answer that’s blowing in the wind.

Dylan sings of long-distance love in “Girl from the North Country” and then laughs about it in “Down the Highway”. He is disgusted by the politics of war in “Masters of War” but again finds a satirical perspective in “Talkin’ World War III Blues.”  His contradictions spell out your latest existential crisis, and then he sends your emotions a shock with the poignant accuracy of his words in “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”

Dylan’s true artistry lies in his lyrics. His rhythm is punctuated with messages that will resound forever. He reminds you of the power of all things blue – the stormy haze of it in your dreams at night, the depths of it as you stare out at the sea, in the endless expanse of the sky, and finally in a haunting melody that wakes you from a prolonged stupor.

4 out of 5

- Palika Kohli

 

The Clash – The Clash

It’s sort of funny how the noisiest, grungiest, shoutiest bands are often the ones with the most to say.  In 1977, The Clash reinforced this by releasing a self-titled album with more political messages than guitar chords.

Amidst the beautiful noise of the English punk band’s overdriven guitars are statements on everything from the Americanization of Europe (“I’m So Bored With The USA”) to the ailing job market of 1970s England (“Career Opportunities”).   The scope of their insight is pretty formidable too.

“Remote Control” is a complaint song about bureaucratic control of local concerts, whereas “White Riot,” with the line “all the power’s in the hands of people rich enough to buy it,” rings true about capitalism on a global scale.

The craziest part of this album is that it was hugely successful, peaking at the 12th spot on the billboard charts and becoming known eventually as one of the greatest punk albums of all time. The Clash’s self-titled album may be over three decades old by now, but it’s still a shining testament to the general rule of politically inspired music: if you are loud enough, you will be heard.

4 out of 5

- Brody Weld

 

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