Sunday, March 30, 2014

Daley- Days+Nights (2014)

Why did I review the album? My sister told me about Daley about a year ago, but I never took her advice and listened. Then I heard Those Who Wait and couldn’t get my hands on enough of Daley’s music.
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again?  I will revisit this albums many times

I’ve said many times that my favorite genre is 90’s R&B. But, as time passed people grew tired of R&B and rap (and pop) has taken its place. I believe the main reason for this is that R&B is traditionally slow and to some, a bit boring.
Well, Daley should change that perception with this album. It uses lively beats to speed the pace of the songs, but uses his delivery and voice to balance the fast pace, merging traditional 90’s R&B delivery with modern up- tempo beats that are prevalent today.
The album sports some variety as well. Its backbone deals in relationships, but also ponders what, if anything, can we do to help someone that cannot help themselves (She Fades). Alone Together changes the pace of the album.  
At 12 songs, it’s a bit shorter than I’d prefer, but what is provided is golden.
The crowning achievement of this album is its ability to use up-tempo beats and merge it with soulful singing and content.

My Favs
3. Blame the World
2. Time Travel
1. Alone Together
Overall Rating: 83 with a recommendation to Buy

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kanye West- Yeezus (2013)

Why did I review the album? Kanye has made three of my favorite albums (College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation)
Did I like it? No
Will I listen again?  No
I will not do a track by track analysis of albums I do not like because it is highly likely I’ll repeat myself multiple times which is waste of your time and mine. If the artist didn’t realize his/her error the first or second time, it’s highly unlikely s/he’ll change tactics on later tracks. Instead I'll review one track that i did like and one that I did not. The song that I like will suggest what the artist could have done to make the rest of the album stronger.The one that I did not like will serve as an example why I did not like the album.
I respect Kanye for experimenting with his music despite the possibility of failure. For that reason I will listen to every album he releases. That said, just because he creates something different doesn’t mean it works.
The biggest problem with this album is that it changes too much. On this album he changes the sound, flow and content. Almost like Kanye West created a new artist. There was too much change wrapped in one album and it destroyed any positive experience I could have with this album.  Experimentation with music works best when the artist changes one thing from his/her repertoire.  This formula works because it fosters innovation, but keeps enough features consistent to avoid alienating the audience. Even if the person does not like the element the artist changed, there is still enough of the original artist in the song that the person will still like the song. At worst, the person would notice the attempt to try something new and not like the song, but appreciate the effort.  
He definitely creates something new, but the question is, will you like it?
To test your affinity for this album I’d listen to Hell of a Life on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The song captures the sound that permeates this album. If you can handle that song, this album might be worth listening to.
Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean you won't like it.
I’d like to hear from people that did enjoy the album to find out why.
My Favs
3. Blood on the Leaves
2. I’m In It
1. Bound 2

Overall Rating: 50 with a Not For Me recommendation 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pharrell Williams- G.I.R.L. (2014)

Why did I review the album? I like Pharrell
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again?  Yes
I’ve never been so enamored with an album. I liked it so much that I initially put a BUY rating on this album. But when I strap a buy rating on my review, I’ve decided I must buy the album as well. That forced me to reflect on my reasons for listening to music. I listen to music because I appreciate an artist’s ability to tell a story through music. This album does not do that, so I will not buy it. (It does tell a story, but not one that I think is good enough to support)  Despite that, I hope other people will.
Pharrell’s aim with this album was to provide a fun album where he could talk about his infatuation with women. As tired as the idea sounds, I enjoyed it a lot. The main reason is that he managed to discuss an overused topic without falling into the usual tropes. He makes it interesting by relating the courting of a woman to hunting, or saying he doesn’t want an all-star woman, just a different one. Usually that message would annoy me, but the candor he uses in stating it disarmed me.
Pharrell is a brilliant producer, but this album proves he’s not a lyricist. The lyrics are base and rely on charm and delivery to succeed.  
This album lacks variety as it is ALL about women. But, the lengths he is willing to go to attract woman and the different tactics he uses to do so give each song originality. This album paints Pharrell as a debonair man that can relate to any woman.
I wonder why his label decided to release the album now. It’s the perfect summer album because the atmosphere the music produces. It’s the kind of music you can open the windows (of a car or house) and listen to, but it’s March, so most people will not be able to.
I can completely understand those that do not like the album. At its core its an album about charming woman, a subject that’s overused in music, and the lyrics are mediocre with no depth. But, I found the album charming despite its shortcomings.  
If you are looking for content, you’ll be sorely disappointed, but if you’re looking for an album that’s an easy listen with plenty of charm, you will enjoy this album.  
My Favs
3. Gust of Wind
2. Brand New
1. Know Who You Are
Overall Rating: 80 with a recommendation to listen then decide

Saturday, March 8, 2014

JoJo- #LOVEJO (2014)

Why did I review the album? It’s not an album it’s an E.P, but I decided to break my own rules because I love her music
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again? Every day until her album is released
On February 14, 2014 JoJo officially released this EP as a thank you to her fans. Truthfully, there are other reasons for her to release the EP, but I don’t care. I’m just happy to hear my favorite singer releasing music. There are four tracks on #LOVEJO, an intro and three songs, all covers. For me, an effective cover
1.       Pays homage to the original
2.       The artist adds something new to make it his/her own
My favorite thing about the covers is the range of artist. She starts with Anita Baker, an R&B singer, then Phil Collins, a pop-rock artist, to Katherine Battle an opera singer. It’s an interesting group of artists and shows her knowledge (or at least the amount of music she’s exposed herself to).
If you do not know her music, I suggest giving her a try. This EP is a good indication of the music found on her mixtapes. Her albums are more pop influenced. I love her, and you may as well.
Best of luck to her and thank you for the free music.
My Favs
3. Take Me Home
1. Caught Up In a Rapture
Overall Rating: N/A with a recommendation to GET IT NOW… IT’S FREE

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Toni Braxton & Babyface- Love Marriage & Divorce (2014)

Why did I review the album? I’ve never listened to a Toni Braxton or Babyface album, so I thought I’d try something new
Did I like it? Yes
Will I listen again?  Yes
Something tells me I should like this album more than I did. Braxton voice is simply one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. She can manipulate her voice at any range and does so without effort. But she has enough experience to fall back to suit her partner and the atmosphere of the song on most duets. Babyface does a good job supporting Braxton and chooses tones that highlight his strengths. Also the beats range from a 70’s disco throwback to typical 80’s beats. They are very relaxing and enjoyable.
So, Why the low score? Well, two problems. The track listing doesn’t work for me. I think it was motivated by an attempt to mirror the up and down nature of a relationship, but it made the album hard to follow and broke the rhythm of the cd.
 Secondly, although the music is great to listen to, I don’t think the artist connected with the material in most cases. It felt as though someone gave them lyrics and said “sing this please.” Because they are professional singers, it sounds great, but I didn't feel the emotion I’d expect from the emotionally charged lyrics and subject matter. 
 Also, there is NO variety. Since the name of the album is Love, Marriage and Divorce, I figured a large majority of the album would be about that subject, however I thought it would shift in a few different direction keeping relationships as the main focus, but it did not.
Still I like the album. Braton's beautiful voice and the relaxing beats are enough to carry the album.  
Anyone that’s been through a divorce will relate to this album, but it will likely garner a mixed reaction from everyone else.
My Favs
3. Hurt You
2.  Reunited
1. Where Did We Go Wrong
Overall Rating: 69 with a recommendation to listen then decide

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jay-Z- Magna Carta... Holy Grail (2013)

Why did I review the album? Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers
Did I like it? Not as much as I expected to
Will I listen again? Yes, to select songs
In his song “On to the Next One” Jay opens the song with the line “Hov is on that new s***.” In the last few years, an evolution of music has taken root.  Beats take center stage while content is less important. On its own, that is not a bad thing, but speaks to the evolution of rap.  True to his word, Hov tries to make music using this new model. To his credit, he does it well. In my opinion, better than anyone currently using this model to create music. But, I don’t like this model. For me, the appeal of rap is its ability to tell a story through the use of cunning metaphors and an alluring flow. This method essentially ignores that aspect of rap. If beats are your main concern, then you’ll enjoy this album. But, if content is your goal, a large portion of tracks will leave you wanting more. For this reason, I truly love some tracks, but remained apathetic to others.
In the first verse of “On to the Next One”, he also says, “n***** want my old s***, buy my old albums.” 
Well, I’ll take his advice.

My Favs
3. Nickels and Dimes
2. Holy Grail
1. Part II (On the Run)
Overall Rating: 75 with a recommendation to listen then decide