Monday, May 12, 2014

Ghost Stories by Coldplay REVIEW

The boy's are back. After a slightly disappointing album (not in my opinion, but the public's) in 2011's Mylo Xyloto, the Londoners make their return with the "stripped-down" Ghost Stories. Dealing with the pressures of a disintegrating relationship, Chris Martin sings of nothing but  love on this 9 song, 40 minute album. Filled with the ambient production of Paul Epsworth and others (even including Timbaland and Avicii), the album has a very laid-back and casual feel to it. Most of these tracks aren't really stand-outs on their own, but as a whole they combine to create a lightweight and fresh feel.

Opening with "Always in My Head", the light and delicate work of Jonny Buckland's guitar and the simple yet soothing sounds of Will Champion on the drum machine, the song has a airy and dreamy quality to it, which is maintained by the rest of the album.

Two of my favorite tracks on the album, "Magic" and "Ink" both use thumping beats to create an upbeat and cheery feel. Lyrically neither of these songs, or the rest of the album for that matter, are anything really special. But with Coldplay, its the sum of the parts that counts, and the sum in this case is truly magnificent.

"True Love" is an OK track that to me feels like "Ink" but with slightly less effort put into it, and a hell of a lot more annoying background sounds.

Arguably the centerpiece of the album, "Midnight" is one of two songs that don't seem to fit into this album whatsoever, with "A Sky Full of Stars" being the other. "Midnight" is reminscent of Kid A by Radiohead mashed with Bon Iver's vocoder vocals. 

The weakest part of the album consists of the two songs "Another's Arms" and "Oceans". While "Oceans" does sound the closest to old Coldplay we get on this album, the incessant sound of a sonar like beep in the background ruins any and all atmosphere that is trying to be achieved. "Another's Arms" lyrically and musically is nothing special, here let Chris Martin's lyrics tell you:

"Late night watching TV,
used to be you here beside me"

The best song on the album in my humble opinion is the simple yet striking piano ballad, "O". Sounding like a mashup of "Atlas" and "Clocks" it has neither the high production of those two songs, but retains all the emotion and sensitivity that those two have. It simply is the best piece of work that Coldplay have done in the last few years.

Choice Picks: "Always In My Head", "Magic", "Ink", "Midnight", "O"

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Turn Blue by The Black Keys REVIEW

The hard rockers from Akron, Ohio are finally back with their newest album since 2011's El Camino. This new album, Turn Blue, marks a shift from the hard rocking bluesy sounds of their previous albums and veers into a more psychedelic-pop sound which retains only hints of its blues heritage.

I have to admit, when I first heard "Fever", I felt like this album was going to be a dissapointment, even though "Fever" grew on me. However, the album is so varied in sound yet connected in themes that it has something for everyone.

The album begins with the ramblings sounds of a lone acoustic guitar in "Weight of Love" then transitioning into looping and snaking guitar solos from the genius of Dan Auerbach. Had Creedence Clearwater Revival begun their playing days in this modern age, this is the equivalent of that. Conjuring up images of a travel down a desert highway at sunset, the song sets the mood for the rest of the album. "In Time" begins with a Broken Bell-esque sound most likely contributed by producer Danger Mouse, which then transitions back into familiar Black Keys territory, with small looping guitar riffs and hard rocking drum beats. Others include the Bo Diddley inspired "It's Up to You Now" and the sexy sound of the 9th track, "10 Lovers".

The rest of the album continues upon that psychedelic sound and even as it seems to deccelerate down into bluesy slow jams, it quickly picks back up to the familiar fast paced sounds of the Keys.

With the production of Danger Mouse, the guitar and bass of Dan Auerbach, and the drums of Patrick Carney, the Black Keys have created an album that holds up to its own when compared to Brothers and El Camino. In fact the three albums may even be considered a trilogy, like Bowie's Berlin albums and Dylan's 1960s classics.

Album Highlights: "Weight of Love", "In Time", "Fever", "Year in Review"

Rating: 8.5/10