Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon: Kid Cudi
To be honest I didn’t even know that Kid Cudi was releasing an album only a couple hours before it was actually released. Kid Cudi took a different approach with this album release, much like Beyoncé but not as high caliber as her. Taking risks without promoting the album will be the topic of discussion for most people. This 10- track album into Cudi’s life, within those 10 tracks, four has no words in them just the instrumental. I was upset with this choice by Cudi because I could understand if you have one track that is an instrumental but to have four tracks of a 10 track album kind of takes away why people listen to an album. I wanted to hear Kid Cudi not an instrumental although I understand its part of his space theme. Although those songs without word wasn’t that bad, adding a sci-fi out of space kind of feeling with the different melodies and drones in the background, it would have been way better if Kid Cudi had a couple of verses to go with those tracks. One of my favorite tracks on this album, track six; “Too bad I Have To Destroy You Now” because this was one of the tracks that he raps, on bringing back the old Cudi that fans love all around the space themed beats. “Satellite Flight,” track three on the album, most people are familiar with because he released it a while back. I feel that this song defines where he was trying to go with this album, trying something different and new on his new musical journey. Overall, I was disappointed with this album due to much reason. I felt on this album Cudi focuses more on singing rather than rapping like he usually does. I think he does the humming too much in his songs. You could tell that Cudi is taking an emotional journey with this album with the tone of his voice and what he is singing about. I hope he will do a much better job in his new movie Need for Speed than this album.
Review written by: Nigel Blair
Album: 1990+: Jae Millz
Young Money veteran signee Jae Millz starts off 2014 with his new mixtape 1990+ hosted by DJ Self. He has dropped a number of mix tapes and has not released an album in years; however with 1990+ he continues to maintain a solid reputation. The entire album has a 90s theme, hence the title, and Jae Millz delivers the theme very well. With some of the most recognizable instrumentals from popular and critically 90s songs along with Jae’s modern flow forms a different sound. It is a nice relief from the overly common formula mix tapes that the current generation has. Majority of the production on the mix tape is nothing short of superb considering the beats are from some of the most successful singles in the 90s. The instrumentals used range from Wu Tang’s C.R.E.A.M. and Ice Cream, Camp Lo’s Luchini, Junior Mafia’s Get Money, and others. As far as Jae Millz himself, this is where the mix tape falls short of good, but still holds solid delivery. Millz knows how to flow on the beats considering he’s a veteran New York rapper, so making a decent song on old legendary east coast instrumentals is a simple task.
Unfortunately it is too simple. Millz who was once known for his lyrical prowess and punch lines does not do himself justice with this one. He doesn’t say anything that would make you want to rewind his verse or sit there in awe while bobbing your head in rhythm the song. As far as subject matter he doesn’t talk about much either. Therefore it leaves one feeling like there was something missing. The album is simply satisfying riding music; great to listen to while driving
somewhere. In other words, it’s pleasing to the ears but doesn’t satisfy your mind or grasp genuine interest. Be wary of profanity. I give 1990+ 3 out of 5 stars.
Review written by: Tylre Phipps
Formula, Vol. 2: Romeo Santos
Romeo Santos is looking to bridge the gap between the genres of hip-hop and Latin in his sophomore studio release, Formula, Vol. 2. The album boasts many big name cameos as stars of Latin music like Carlos Santana and Marc Anthony bring their veteran talents to young Romeo Santos. Star power in the hip-hop world boasts as just as much, if not more with the inclusions of current juggernauts Drake and Nicki Minaj.
On “Odio,” Santos serenades the track just as any of his other songs on the album to begin with an almost more urgent feeling as the topics of the song revolve around hate. Almost immediately Drake pops into the track to go into to his trademark soft, emotional singing voice testing out his level of bilingual talent in his best Spanish verse. He later goes back to what he is known for later in his fully English rap verse nearing the conclusion of the song. Both artists’ styles complement each other so nicely in this melting of Latin, hip-hop, and pop music that is a surefire radio hit.
Rap diva Nicki Minaj shows off her Spanglish skills on the track “Animales.” As the title suggests, the song is very primal and features the cunning rhymes of the Young Money affiliate. The song leans heavy on a lot of sampling techniques and fast-break verses often heard in modern hip-hop. This style is a nice break from the repeating style of Santos’ Latin serenade. Minaj goes full Spanglish in her raps as she goes off with lyrics like “Dominica, Puerto Rico / Fly me out where it’s warm, not frio.” The multilingual verses add to being listened to by a much broader audience, making it an instant replay for fans of both Santos and Minaj.
Barring the two songs mentioned earlier, much of the rest of the album lacks variety. After a few of the songs, Santos’ sultry serenades stop having meaning and just start to get repetitive and boring. Although, “Necio” does retain some variety in the form of legendary guitarist Carlos Santana. The production of the song really puts emphasis on the guitar all over the song, giving it a Latin rock feel to it. One of the lone guitar solos within the album flows nicely on track as it complements Santos’ extraordinary voice.
Although many of the songs feel repetitive, Formula, Vol. 2 is worth a listen due to the songs on the album, which transcend genres beyond Santos’ native Latin styles. Pure Latin fans will justly enjoy the album as a whole much more than the average music listener, but those special songs with those ever so popular cameos will slowly make a fan out of a first time listener. On future projects Santos should ride the wave of momentum out of the obvious singles and stick with the multi-genre experimentations that highlight Formula, Vol. 2.
Review written by: Addison Hurlburt
My Own Lane: Kid Ink
Kid Ink has blown up since he was a 2012 XXL Freshman class with some prestigious rappers, like Danny Brown and Macklemore. I’m not typically a fan of the harder, club-banging genre of rap, but I decided to give it a listen, hoping to be pleasantly surprised like I was with albums like Trinidad Jame$’s Don’t Be S.A.F.E. and A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord. Unfortunately, I was not.
I found there to be three main types of songs on My Own Lane; club staples, pop slow jams, and harder bangers. The first is best expressed by the song, “Show Me (feat. Chris Brown).” Lyrically, that song is lackluster and border-line boring. Chris Brown’s chorus is frail and just nothing special. The saving grace for this track is the beat, much like many of the tracks on this project. I love the strong drums and the lower static synths during the verse. They give the song a fun-loving, party feel. There are a lot of other songs that sound similar to this on the LP, like “Iz U Down (feat. Tyga),” “Rollin’” and “Main Chick (feat. Chris Brown).”
The second type of sound Kid Ink uses on My Own Lane is best shown on the song “Tattoo of My Name.” This ended up being one of my least favorite songs on the LP. The beat is one of the worst Kid Ink raps ever. It’s just boring, with two repeated notes and stuttered hi-hats. Lyrically, it’s a rap love ballad about getting his name tattooed to some girl. That aside, the song, as a whole, feels phoned in. Songs, like “We Just Came to Party (feat. August Alsina),” have the same sort of feel with the same limp-wristed attempt at a radio smash.
While I felt the other two types fell-short, the harder, more inventive songs are where Kid Ink excels. On songs like “Hello World,” “The Movement,” and “Murda (feat. Pusha T),” there are sounds that you will not hear on anything else on this LP. My favorite of these is the former. I loved the beat with the fun piano riffs, percussion brushes, and echoing claps. His lyrics are just your standard “I’m back and let’s get it” song that you would probably hear on lots of other LPs in his genre. When the chorus hits is where I was hooked. This album would’ve been innovative for its genre if it was all like these tracks.
Upon listening to My Own Lane, I found Kid Ink to be a lot like Big Sean. They have similar flows, voices, and subject matters. They are both have a pretty good ear for beats, but an average to below-average rapping ability. The handful of songs that I mentioned that weren’t ordinary saved this album from being a flop for me. He is going to get a lot of radio play, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan.
Review written by: Adam Migirditch
As Sure as the Sun: Ellie Holcomb
Thanks to Andrew Peterson for his post on twitter praising Ellie Holcomb’s sound. A new artist has come into the light of Christian and Gospel song. She has been writing music since the confessional romance stories of her college years. She writes and sings lyrics inspired by her faith and experiences from life. Her music in As Sure as the Sun
has already inspired Peterson as a fellow songwriter among others to believe. Listening to Ellie Holcomb’s new album is relatable to waking up in time to see the sunrise in the morning. Her music has a very tranquil vibe with endearing melodies that make for a calming sound. Each song is easy and enjoyable to listen to during the album in a relaxed
mood. The lyrics she writes are hopeful in the songs with a bit of an added edge to them. A good example is “The Broken Beautiful” which has a fun and playful beat playing off Ellie‘s voice. As Sure as the Sun is filled with catchy inspirational songs, which makes playing the album an enlightening experience. Each song soars with Ellie’s voice of
belief and strength, which is well put in “Night Song.” Her lyrics bring her listeners out
of the darkness and into the light full of hope. A constant message is to have faith and
love in life, which resonates in this album. “I Want to be Free” ends her album perfectly with the lyrics “So take away this fear, take away this doubt and let me know that you’re here.” Her music has even been known to bring some listeners to tears. I recommend listening to her songs “As Sure as the Sun” “Marvelous Light” and “The Valley.” Each
song plays as a clear message of Ellie Holcomb powerfully delivering with her voice.
Review written by:Lisa Cohen
Do Not Engage: The Pack A.D.
In an attempt to keep Garage style Rock & Roll alive. Musical duo Becky Black and Maya Miller of The Pack A.D. have released their latest album, “Do Not Engage” and while it may be a little rough around the edges; it’s definitely worth giving a listen to especially if you’re a Bluesy/Garage Rock & Roll kinda’ person. Their style is probably most comparable to The Black Keys, The White Stripes, and even The Killers (Though the last one is a bit of a stretch). The
album definitely starts off strong with the first two tracks “Airborne” and “Big Shot” being particularly stand-out. “Airborne” with its super relaxed tone and quality rhythm makes it sound very similar to The Silver-Sun Pickups (A fantastic Alternative Rock band if you’ve never heard them). And “Big Shot”
probably being my favorite song off the album, it’s the kinda song you imagine a movie character walking around to just thinking about life. It’s a very laid-back beat that I feel like anyone can enjoy and Becky’s vocal work here really stands out. After this however the biggest problem with the album comes through, after these first two songs, the album feels a little too mellow. It’d be fine if a few of the songs were really chill but it seems as if the whole album is based around that word. Chill. And again if the
songs were a little more diverse in nature it’d be fine, but they all kinda blend together which makes it hard to tell the individual songs apart from one another. “Creepin’ Jenny” is also a track of note, but however not because of Becky’s wonderful vocal work, more-so for Maya’s drumming, she provides an extremely solid beat for the song, so much so that you sorta’ forget to listen to the lyrics. Finishing the album is the track ‘Needles” which takes a dramatic turn into a slow and serious nature which is nice seeing as how it’s the only change of pace for the album. All in all, the album’s good, it just isn’t great. I’d recommend this to anyone who’s already a fan of The Pack A.D. or is looking for a new Bluesy Rock sound, but it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if you decided to pass on this one.
Review written by: Cole Monfalcone
Avril Lavigne: Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne’s latest self-titled album is all over the place, with a wide variety of style. She seems to be at a war between her angst-y side, romantic side and fun-loving
personality. The album immediately begins with a bang with the song “Rock n Roll,” which immediately grasps your attention and brings a familiar feel to it. I can definitely foresee this fun pop tune being her next radio hit. “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” and “17” are both nostalgic of Lavigne’s rebellious and carefree teen years. They are catchy and have lyrics that beg to be sung
along with. “Sippin on Sunshine,” and “Bitchin Summer,” both need to be put on hold until after
the freezing winter. But they are feel-good songs that fit Avril Lavigne’s mantra of letting loose
and having fun. Just wait until June and you won’t be able to help singing along. The album
takes its first turn to a different direction in “Let Me Go,” which features Lavigne’s husband Chad Kroeger from Nickelback. This is one of my favorites because it digs into the painful realities of a breakup but in a surprisingly soothing way. The married couple’s voices blend well together, creating a beautifully somber song. Marylyn Manson makes an appearance in “Bad Girl,” where Avril Lavigne’s inner rocker is brought out. With the intense guitar-playing and
Manson’s exhilarating shrieks behind Lavigne’s shameless vocals, a wonderfully chaotic and
defiant song is formed. The album could have done without the techno-pop song “Hello Kitty.”
Her voice was bratty- sounding and the song was on the obnoxious side. “You Ain’t seen nothing yet,” is a catchy pop-rock tune that is a nice relief from the previous track, although it doesn’t really stand out. She uses vocal effects halfway through that adds to the playfulness of the song. In “Hello Heartache,” the raw emotions of heartbreak are openly exposed and through the simple lyrics you can hear the sorrow in her voice. “Falling Fast” and “Give You What You Like,” continues to feature Lavigne’s lighter more sentimental side. Lavigne’s lighter vocals fit perfectly within these songs serene atmosphere. “Hush Hush,” is a nice way to end the album. It features a melodic piano in the background that really compliments her harmonized voice. “Avril Lavigne” started off boldly and in-your-face, and by the end it had calmed down and got in touch with her fragile emotions. Avril Lavigne definitely gets to keep her title as the “motherfreaking
Review written by: Missy Feola
English Sensational and talented model, songwriter, singer, musician, DJ, and former singer for the band Theaudience, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, finally released her fifth overall studio album
Wanderlust, January 20, 2014. Sophie is known for her unique mixed style of mainstream pop,
nu-house, disco, dance-pop, and influences of 1980s electro pop. This features the elements of pop, folk, and indie rock. If you’re a fan of the classic indie rock you will love this album.
Wanderlust features 11 mind blowing songs, “Birth of an Empire,” “Until the Stars Collide,” “Runaway Daydreamer,” “The Deer & the Wolf,” “Young Blood,” “- Interlude -,” “13 Little Dolls,” “Wrong Side of the Sun,” “Love is a Camera,” “Cry to the Beat of the Band,” and “When the Storm Has Blown Over.” The two hit singles from Wanderlust are “Young Blood” and “Runaway Daydreamer.” “Runaway Daydreamer” has to be the best out of the two because of its mellow tone. This song just makes you want to escape the world and daydream all day. The song is beyond amazing it’s not all over the place, its stays at a constant flow and tone.
One word to describe this song is relaxing. “Runaway Daydreamer” is a beautiful and soulful
song over all; it puts you in a relaxing and mellow state. I even found myself pressing the replay button about 10 times over and over again; it’s easy to drift off and get lost into the song. It’s one of those songs that can help you escape from your everyday obstacles. “Young Blood” on the other hand may not be the best out of the two. Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s vocals are angelic, pleasing, and slivery; her singing ability is out of this world great. If you’re having a bad day and you just want to escape from reality for a moment listen to Wanderlust, it will put you in
a relaxation state of mind. Wanderlust is a heck of a promising album that can’t disappoint, if you’re used to Sophie’s style.
Review written by: Alan Taylor
The Marckus Shaw EP:
Rocky Diamonds makes his return starting off 2014 with The Marckus Shaw EP and this project immediately catches its listener’s attention. The EP is just 6 tracks but every song holds its own. Fortunately because it is an EP, it is a very focused project with substance matter focused on how life and enemies have treated Rocky Diamonds since his last release. The EP opens with the song “On Me” and Rocky discusses how he has been much of a recluse since as he becomes more successful, the
people around him he can trust less, and the only one he can trust is his self. Then the song ends with a skit voiced by Rocky speaking of how he starts off with a number of friends who will “hold you down” and ends with Rock “being alone”. The next song opens up with an echo of the skit. Much of the EP is actually quite personal, and the first song on the release is a prime example. The EP was titled perfectly as it is mostly about the struggles and experiences of Marckus Shaw rather than his rap persona Rocky Diamonds. He even references the death of close friend and fellow rapper Fly Henderson, who passed
away in 2012, in the song “I Pray”. This is actually a nice break from his usual formula as a brief look into the trials of the person behind the moniker adds to the subject matter of this release. Rocky was never the type to use impressive lyrical content and clever lines, but the way in which he records songs displaying intense emotion, makes him convincing as an artist. Therefore all of which he discusses throughout the EP can be felt by listeners. The production of the EP isn’t anything new but still captures one’s attention. The production throughout is very high quality, but just isn’t anything different. Other than the substance matter, what really is worth the applause is simply how Rocky Diamonds flows and sounds. He simply does not sound like a commercial rapper or resembles any commercial rapper even though he seems to be trying to develop a commercial image. This EP is definitely a worthy distraction while fans anticipate his next release and is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Be wary of explicit content.
Review written by: Tylre Phipps
Pixies have released their 2nd
alternative scene, but it isn’t too impressive. Nothing on this EP really stands out to me, and I
would be surprised if I saw any of these tracks on the better half the charts. Their song “Blue
Eyed Hexe” has a strong electric guitar lead that makes it sound very alternative, which is fitting for the band’s musical reputation. It reminds me of something that would come out of the Led Zepplin era of the ‘70s – heavy guitar riffs and that steady drum beat. Lead singer Black Francis transitions from his normal singing voice to screaming vocals for a short amount of time in the song. It seems random and throws the whole song off for a brief amount of time, until he returns
to his normal vocals. “Magdalena” is a track that really emphasizes Francis’ haunting vocals, especially when the chorus comes around. The electric guitar plays a big part of the song, and the hard fade out at the end will leave you feeling like your world just got a little darker. “Greens and Blues” is my personal favorite off of the EP. It’s a more subtle song for the Pixies. They retire the dominant sound of the electric guitar for this song and add the acoustic guitar instead.
The electric and acoustic guitars create a sound that is refreshing to hear off the EP. Francis’ rough voice sounds much better with the softer sound. You can feel the emotion in his voice as
he sings, and the acoustic guitar gives the song a more personal feel to it. I would say this track would be the most likely to chart off this EP. “Snakes” is a track that has a rocking guitar riff that introduces the electric guitar as a crucial instrument in it. This song sounds the closest to what mainstream alternative sounds like. Once again, Francis’ haunting vocals give the song an eerie feeling to it. However, it is still very similar to some of the other songs on the EP. Overall, the album was pleasant to listen to, but as I said before, no track really jumped at me and made me
think it would climb the charts. The first EP in this series got mixed reviews, and if it’s anything like this one, I can understand why. Hopefully the other EPs will provide some songs that really
grasp the talent this band has.
EP in their own series of EPs. The sound is typical for the modern
Review written by:Kelly Kuehn