Advertisement
 
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsAlbum Review
IN THE NEWS

Album Review

FEATURED ARTICLES
ENTERTAINMENT
June 22, 2010
Eminem "Recovery" Interscope/Aftermath Two and a half stars Ever since Kanye West looped Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," the hip-hop zeitgeist has tilted toward techno. Skinny-jeaned stars Wiz Khalifa and Kid Cudi have rapped over Alice Deejay and Robert Miles, while Power 106 keeps house DJ David Guetta in heavy rotation. Admirably, Eminem has always ignored evanescent trends. Despite an over-reliance on gross-out gags and tired pop culture riffs, his last album, "Relapse," further plumbed the weird depths of his psyche, stringing together Hannibal Lecter fantasies and byzantine rhyme schemes to create something singular but scattershot.
ARTICLES BY DATE
ENTERTAINMENT
March 7, 2014 | By Mikael Wood
Give Rick Ross credit for playing to his strengths. Though the Miami rapper's new album "Mastermind" is largely a disappointment -- a stale rehash of ideas he's served up far more convincingly elsewhere -- Ross wisely focused on the record's best song for his performance Thursday night on "The Arsenio Hall Show. " And he didn't do " Sanctified " by himself, either, but brought out two of his A-list pals to the delight of Hall's audience: Kanye West and Big Sean, both of whom appear on the track on "Mastermind.
Advertisement
ENTERTAINMENT
January 15, 2013 | By August Brown
"New York City," the third song on Christopher Owens' debut solo album "Lysandre," is kind of an opposite-universe version of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side. " It's a sax-soaked tale of turning tricks in the big city, but zips along a major-key melody with a mix of hope and devastation. That blend has been the hallmark of Owens' writing since his time fronting the indie-rock band Girls. "Lysandre" isn't much of a departure But it does broaden the range and refine the writing that made him a troubadour of millennial drifters (and those who go to bed with them)
ENTERTAINMENT
March 5, 2014 | By Mikael Wood
A Top Dawg is on top of the Billboard 200. Schoolboy Q, part of the Black Hippy rap crew signed to L.A.'s Top Dawg Entertainment, debuted at No. 1 on Wednesday with "Oxymoron," the first of his three albums to be released by TDE in partnership with Interscope Records. The disc sold 139,000 copies in the week ending March 2, according to Nielsen SoundScan, enough to score Top Dawg its first No. 1 album. In 2012, Schoolboy Q's Black Hippy bandmate Kendrick Lamar debuted at No. 2 with "good kid, m.A.A.d city," which went on to sell 1.2 million copies and earned a Grammy nomination for album of the year.
NEWS
July 10, 2012 | By August Brown
Aesop Rock “Skelethon” Rhymesayers 3 stars Hip-hop has gone feral lately, with MCs transmitting freaky, woozy hip-hop through the Internet's outer orbits. But what to make of the weirdos who have always been with us? Ian Bavitz, the San Francisco MC who performs as Aesop Rock, was a leading light of a late-'90s/early-'00s strain of hip-hop that made a virtue of its flinty independence, sonic experiments and often inscrutable wordplay. “Skelethon” might be the album that takes those core aesthetic traits and spins them into whatever counts for stardom in today's underground rap world.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 11, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
A Devendra Banhart album is akin to an art exhibit of miniatures, the rewards contingent on the viewer's/listener's commitment to exploring each tiny detail in his microcosmic mise-en-scènes. Those rewards here more often are moments of smiling "ahhhhs" than of wide-eyed "A-has!" The indie folk darling's brand of Latin- and electronic-tinged pop yields a broad range of musical and sonic textures here. The lyrics range from snippets of ideas, such as the title track's brief rumination on acceptance of a missed opportunity to a slightly more elucidated homage to a musical hero ("Fur Hildegard von Bingen")
ENTERTAINMENT
September 4, 2012 | By Randall Roberts
Admit it. You thought you had Cat Power's Chan Marshall pegged - and maybe grown a little nervous that her smooth, smoky voice and increasingly carefree demeanor had settled into a blue-eyed soul groove that would soundtrack hipster dinner parties through the next decade. But "Sun" will prove you wrong. A big, confident, and captivating pop album that's so far removed from her Memphis-inspired previous album of originals "The Greatest" (In between, she released an album of covers called "Jukebox")
ENTERTAINMENT
January 21, 2014 | By Chris Barton
Can a jazz guitarist grow up idolizing Stevie Ray Vaughan? That may be a question for the purists in considering “Golden Age,” the debut album from Nir Felder, who took up guitar at age 13 and still plays the $250 Stratocaster he bought with the blues-rock legend in mind. Potential future covers of Kenny Burrell's “Chitlins Con Carne” aside, Felder is after more subtle, yet no less electric pleasures than his idol with a swift, lyrical flow sharpened in stints backing Greg Osby, Jack DeJohnette and Esperanza Spalding.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 28, 2012 | By Randall Roberts
Dan Deacon "America" (Domino Records) Two and a half stars (out of four) It takes nerve to title a record “America,” a loaded word if there ever was one, and acclaimed electronic music performer Dan Deacon is embracing the challenge. Deacon, whose middle-of-the-crowd gigs, in which he sets up his gear in the pit and rocks hard along with fans rocking hard to his music, are some of the most frenzied and inspiring shows I've seen in recent years. He's also a video artist and combines his frantic neon-colored mantra clips with like-minded music to create a modern-day A.V. overload writ large.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2013 | By Mikael Wood
In a memo sent to journalists covering this month's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the Neighbourhood asked that its early-afternoon set be photographed only in black and white. A silly request? For sure. But it's one entirely in keeping with the devotion to style that runs through " Sweater Weather ," this young L.A. band's current alt-rock radio hit, in which frontman Jesse Rutherford admires a lady friend's "little high-waisted shorts" before laying out his hopes for where their evening might go: "One love, two mouths / One love, one house / No shirt, no blouse.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 5, 2014 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
This post has been updated. See below for details. A "Game of Thrones" mixtape. Let that sink in for a second. Now. What would that sound like? War drums and pastoral lutes? Maybe some gutteral Gregorian chants? Music that sounds like Marcus Mumford's great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather? Lots of Iron Maiden? Deep tracks from Jethro Tull? No. When you think of “Game of Thrones,” you think hip-hop and reggaeton -- of course -- and if you don't, the series is hoping its new mix will set you on the proper course.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 3, 2014 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
As per its title, Pharrell Williams' first album in eight years is singularly focused on girls. No women or ladies appear through the 10 songs that make up the album, let alone any other men. (There is one queen, but she's from outer space.) Best known these days for his falsetto voice heard on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," singer-producer Pharrell doubles down on his pursuit of mainstream superstardom on "Girl," but in the process reveals his weaknesses as well.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 25, 2014 | By Mikael Wood
Beck made his name as a recycler, a smart, savvy searcher known for finding new value in old things. So it makes sense that the artist responsible for "Mellow Gold" and "Odelay," both high points of mid-'90s cut-and-paste pop, would eventually get around to recycling himself. That's more or less what Beck does on his latest album, "Morning Phase. " With the same downbeat acoustic vibe and many of the same players, the new record serves as a kind of spiritual sequel - a "companion piece," his camp calls it - to 2002's "Sea Change," on which the singer broke from his established collage aesthetic to offer up a dozen slow-and-low folk songs about the pain of heartache.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 24, 2014 | By Randall Roberts
One of the year's most anticipated hip-hop releases, Schoolboy Q's "Oxymoron" lives up to its buzz. Both heavy with bass and filled with memorable hooks, Q's long-gestating major label debut is tight in length and rich with intent. "Oxymoron" arrives in the wake of fellow Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar's Grammy album of the year nominated "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. " That's a lot of pressure for anyone's major label debut, but Schoolboy Q meets those expectations. "Oxymoron" presents 12 bass-heavy tracks upon which the artist born Quincy Hanley explores his neighborhood, his hedonism and his rough-and-tumble early life hawking Oxycontin tablets on street corners near his 51st Street and Hoover neighborhood.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 17, 2014 | By Mikael Wood
Might "American Idol's" slide into irrelevance be a boon for its talent? That's one takeaway to be drawn from the surprisingly strong debut by Candice Glover, who last year won the televised singing competition amid historically low ratings. A big-voiced soul belter, Glover ended a lengthy stretch of victories by white-guy guitar strummers, including Lee DeWyze and Phillip Phillips - reason enough to celebrate her win. But she's also made a better record than the last few "Idol" champs, one that doesn't sound like its quirks have been ironed out in an attempt to satisfy the show's once-enormous audience.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 10, 2014 | By Randy Lewis
What possible street cred could there be in a roots-country record sung by three New York-born, Los Angeles-reared sisters and produced by a guy who grew up in Santa Monica? Plenty, when the singers are Petra, Tanya and Rachel Haden, the triplet daughters of jazz luminary Charlie Haden, and that producer happens to be Ry Cooder. It's worth knowing that before the triplets' dad earned his stripes in the jazz world, Charlie spent many years performing country music with his family throughout the Midwest - a history he tapped in his 2008 album, "Rambling Boy," for which Tanya and Rachel were along for the musical ride.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 5, 2013 | By August Brown
Can we blame James Blunt for establishing that super-earnest British folkies can rule the mainstream pop charts? His treacly, inescapable 2004 single "You're Beautiful" earned huge sales and abject loathing from critics. His latest, "Moon Landing," is his sort-of attempt to get back to flintier, personal songwriting. He does manage to out-Mumford and out-Sheeran his countrymen on the rustic single "Bonfire Heart" (ironically, co-written with super-pop penman Ryan Tedder). Whether you want to hear James Blunt plowing that field is a conversation between you and your god. "Heart to Heart" has some upbeat sock-hop fun. But James Blunt titling a song "Always Hate Me?"
ENTERTAINMENT
July 9, 2012 | By Randy Lewis
The Zac Brown Band aims mighty hard to please, in its sweat-drenched shows and to a large degree on the group's first two albums. That makes the more relaxed tone of “Uncaged,” the southern rock outfit's third studio outing, modestly refreshing. The opening cut, “Jump Right In,” is a lively Caribbean-soaked call to good times, and “Island Song” likewise mines the Jimmy Buffett-Kenny Chesney school that extolls warm saltwater and cold beer as  they antidote to life's ills.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 10, 2014 | By Chris Barton
Though based in Brooklyn, 24-year-old saxophonist Ben Flocks sounds miles removed from the bustle of the city on his self-released debut. The California-born Flocks performed with Joshua Redman and Dave Brubeck while coming up in the Bay Area scene, and here he looks to Americana and blues for a soulful album inspired by his home state. Bookending the record with a steadily burning pace, the album's title track is its most irresistible. Atop a thick, head-bobbing groove, Flocks glides between Ari Chersky's guitar and Sam Reider's starlit Fender Rhodes.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 3, 2014 | By Mikael Wood
Little Mix touched down in the U.S. last year with surprising force, scoring the highest-ever chart debut for a British girl group's first album. (Sorry, Spice Girls.) But might success have come too soon for these alums of the U.K. "X Factor"? Where the women put across an up-for-anything spirit on their debut album, "DNA" - most memorably in the effervescent disco-funk jam "How Ya Doin'?" - here they sag under the weight of too many wind-swept piano ballads and booming productions seemingly modeled on Katy Perry's "Roar.
Los Angeles Times Articles
|