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Full Albums:

  • Coheed and Cambria, The Afterman: Ascension1
  • Electric Six, Absolute Pleasure2
  • Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream3
  • Muse, The 2nd Law4
  • Driver Friendly, Bury a Dream and Chase the White Whale5
  • Freddie Gibbs, Baby Face Killa6
  • Homeboy Sandman, First of a Living Breed7
  • Scarface, Mr. Scarface is Back8
  • Geto Boys, We Can’t Be Stopped9
  • Steel Panther, Balls Out
  • Death Grips, The Money Store10
  • Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 111
  • Electric Guest, Mondo12
  • Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls13
  • Masta Ace, Disposable Arts and MA_DOOM: Son of Yvonne14
  • The xx, Coexist15
  • Brother Ali, Us16
  • Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City17
  • Star Slinger, Volume 118
  • Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma19
  • How to Dress Well, Total Loss20
  • Jessie Ware, Devotion21
  • Purity Ring, Shrines22
  • Tame Impala, Lonerism23
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist24

Random Excellence:

  • Asher Roth, “Charlie Chaplin”
  • Bloc Party, “Banquet”
  • The Clash, “Complete Control”
  • Ghostface Killah, “Wu Banga”
  • Katy Perry, “Hummingbird Heartbeat”
  • Kings of Leon, “Crawl”
  • Left Lane Cruiser, “Crackalacka”
  • M.I.A., “20 Dollar”
  • Mos Def, “Hip Hop”
  • PackFM, “Happy Days”
  • Raphael Saadiq, “Stone Rollin'”
  • The-Dream, “Veteran”
  • Wale, “Let It Loose”25

Songs of the Weeks:

  • Ghost Town DJs, “My Boo (Hitman’s Club Remix)”
  • Queens of the Stone Age, “Misfit Love”
  • Junior Senior, “Move Your Feet”26
  • Mayer Hawthorne, “Can’t Stop (Dam Funk Remix feat. Snoop Dogg)”
  • New Found Glory, “Ballad for the Lost Romantics”27
  • The Police, “Voices Inside My Head”

Reviews:

1. In high school (when they broke into the consciousness of what seems to be most people with “Favor House Atlantic” and its awesome video) it was considered uncool to listen to this band, partly because of the vocalist’s high voice, the science-fiction subject matter, and prog-rock nature of it all that wasn’t supposed to be as cool as Britney Spears or what have you. Yet the older I get, the catchier they get, particularly since holy shit who cares if I like awesome guitar licks besides me? And how dare they write a story arching over multiple albums that I kind  of wish they’d printed as a couple of stories because that’d be easier for my personal consumption? It’s not like I can’t listen to both strong female vocalists over a piano and a strong male vocalist over some tasty metal riffs. Which is to say, this is an enjoyable album sure to get only more enjoyable; my personal favorite riffestival is “The Afterman.”

2. These dudes always strike me as a little odd. They’re right on the edge of balls-out metal while singing about the importance of dancing like they’re broadcasting live from a disco in the seventies. Sure, you could call that the format for rock, but something about it is still a little left of center. But you can tell they sure as hell put on an enjoyable show. The vocalist is hilarious, the riffs are catchy, and they know how to command an audience. This is the sum of their whole that might be better than even their studio-recorded work–a rare feat.

3. This is probably the best R&B album I’ve heard since some guy named Terius Nash put out an album. It’s catchy as all  hell and he’s modernized modern R&B guitar, as far as I can tell.  Pretty much amazing the entire way through, though I sometimes have qualms about “Pussy is Mine.” First of all, yes, that’s the title and the chorus–that’s the major qualm there. They also set it up like the engineer doesn’t realize Miguel’s sitting in the studio singing by himself, even though it’s the engineer’s job to know exactly fucking that. Even Miguel ends the song with a, to paraphrase, “OMGLOL, WE WUR REKORDING? JKJK DON’T ALBUMIZE THAT BAI” despite the synthesizer flares toward the end of the song and perfect transitions between surrounding songs. Sure, Miguel; I go into recording studios to sing songs I want no one to hear, too. But let me be clear: this song’s the only one that makes me hesitant on this album. He’s weaved some pretty amazing references throughout songs like “Candles in the Sun” and the eponymous track while still creating jaw-droppingly good hip shakers like “Use Me” and “The Thrill.” Which is to say that I’ll be able to get over my qualms very easily as I continue to listen the crap outta this mutha.

4. I neither had any idea this was out until I started seeing reviews for it nor understood all the disappointing reviews. I think they all want them to just make Absolution again, though that surprises me more because if they’ve been listening for so long, they’d know all Muse ever does is try to make something bigger than their last album. Maybe “Save Me” sounded a little too much like Porcupine Trees for my liking and it’s weird to listen to dubstep from the kings of Radiohead with distortion pedals and face-melting riffs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.

5. Gotta review the oeuvre after the hometown heroes get signed to a new record label.

6. Thank goodness he can still rap because the choruses are almost annoying sometimes. But still, “Bout it Bout it,” “Stay Down,” “My N*gga,” and “Breaking Bad” are pretty phenomenal. It’s all pretty great, but those are the highlights for me.

7. My theory is that he performs best when he’s on an LP. Chimera and Subject: Matter were alright, but this and The Good Sun have tasty nuggets everywhere. From Spanish-accented beats like “Cedar and Sedgwick” to singing choruses like his nickname should be Chamillionaire on “For the Kids,” he has a diverse and dense album. However, none of the highlights on it fly any higher than “Whatchu Want from Me?”

8. What a relief. Nothing but classics, complete with shout-outs to AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. What more could I want except more?

9. Please refer to the above, perhaps with the exception of the Ice Cube thing.

10. This was a little intense for me. I kept expecting it to coalesce into something more presentable. I mean, it’s a punk/rap album designed specifically not to do that, and I think that’s why I found myself resisting. “Hustle Bones” and “I’ve Seen Footage” were their most enjoyable tracks. It reminds me of how most current art seems to be a rejection of modern art in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. The ideal was to admire the beautiful, but now most art seems to be a tongue-in-cheek rejection of it that even makes Duchamp’s Fountain look super sexy. Then again, things are super fucked up so let’s fuck things up.

11. I didn’t get the sense that this was the same kind of concept album as The Cool or that he had any of the same characters he’s been rapping about for years, but that’s probably for the best. I seriously can’t understand why he can’t get beats that can parallel his rhymes (Pete Rock know) or why his rhymes always seem to near the whine levels of Drake. Except instead of being sad about how hard it is being popular, he always has the weight of the entire rap game, if not the entire world, on his shoulders. But “Lamborghini Angels” and “Put Em Up” are still the album’s highlights.

12. “The Bait” and “Waves” are passable.

13. It sounds like Kings of Leon and The Allman Brothers had a slower-paced baby. Which is sometimes good and sometimes awesome, particularly on “Hold On,” “Hang Loose,” and “Be Mine.”

14. The latter’s a solid album full of songs that sound like they’d be right at home in the early nineties. The former’s a concept album that seems to resemble life more than anything else. Where Masta Ace’s bleak outlook resulted in a girlfriend’s death and graduation to a somewhat dim future, it seems Kendrick Lamar’s album ended with a little bit more hope–but more on that later. This is a really dark album where it seems like Ace would’ve done better to pretend to be inside his local boxing gym rather than a college upstate. The few people who might not have done him wrong seem to be his girlfriend and his roommate. But he doles out punches as necessary. I particularly love how he has an “Alphabets” song. It seems to be the universal challenge that only excellent rappers appoint themselves.

15. My favorite song was “Tides,” though I’m not sure this album had the same powerhouses as the first album (“Intro,” “Heart Skipped a Beat,” and “Crystalized”).

16. “Bad Mufucker Pt. II” was way past the point when I realized I’d been missing out on this guy for a while, but easily the album’s climax. He built up to it with “Tight Rope” and “Babygirl,” then came down from it on the highs of “Slippin’ Away.” It’s the kind of classic beats with excellent rapping that reminds  me of another awesome white dude name Action Bronson. Well, the latter talks more about sex and food, but they’re both crazy talented and funky.

17. This is a big album packed into eleven songs. Not only has he crafted a big, eleven-song narrative but it also seems he’s created the first Christian rap album that no one wants to pee all over as if he’d started a band and named it Creed. Because that’s what happens, right? He accepts Our (?) Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in his life and stops gangbanging, or is it just me? I mean, it’s best to escape from one gang with a more socially acceptable gang if you ask me. After all the singles, EPs, and guest spots, people definitely expected something big, but I don’t know if anyone was ready for this. Concept albums, skits, guest spots, and so on have been out for years, but there’s a serious chance no one’s used them as cohesively as this before. At this point, I’m starting to feel like I’m just paraphrasing Big Ghost, but I also don’t think anyone’s going to be able to agree about it. I feel like it’s probably the lightning rod between top forty and hip hop heads. The people who want lyrics will keep coming back to this and the people who want non-stop top-40 hits already don’t give a fuck and/or already let hip hop die.

18. It’s almost entirely dancy. Like, right on the edge of wanting to get out of my seat to dance, only to realize the beat just changed. I could probably dance a lot to “Mornin’,” “Bumpkin,” and “Gimme,” though.

19. I know I’m supposed to like this…but I do not.

20. There’s some absolutely lovely R&B on here, particularly considering how white this dude is. I’m talking full-on hipster, which is why Pitchfork seems to love him way more than me. Where Miguel went for the flashy synthesizers and the explicit talk, he went for the metaphors and the light layers. But then again, Pitchfork and I agree that Miguel is pretty friggin’ great, so maybe this is worth another look besides just “Running Back” and “& It Was U.”

21. There’s a six-song streak of nothing but pure excellence between the second and seventh songs where my jaw would drop because every single song was better than the last. I mean, you could give this lady the instruction booklet for a blender and she could probably sing some gorgeous songs about heart (-shaped-vegetable) break and loss (of solid states). It’s a beautiful synthesis of lovely music and even lovelier singing.

22. Bizarrely enough, this was almost too electronic for me. Sort of right on the edge of too mellow and too quiet, though “Amenamy” and “Loftcries” had just the right kind of balance that I liked. I feel like I need to go back to see if I’m listening wrong or something.

23. Though I loved “Elephant” and “Feels like We Only Go Backwards,” I feel like Innerspeaker is the superior album. I’ll probably end up listening to both a bit, though.

24. There are just so many things going on. Not only does he explicitly address what a terrible state the business side of the music industry is in, but he raps about how strange it is to be white while rapping or a difficult love affair with Air Jordans. Each song’s a little vignette with an extremely cool and refreshing perspective; “Same Love” is probably the first rap song I’ve heard complaining about rap without being as sad about it as Lupe can be. Then “Thrift Store” is just the jam of the month (or three). For a first album, this dude came out swinging with all the right punches.

25. I still can’t get how much it sounds like The Neptunes forgot to go back and edit in Wale’s name in the chorus.

26. This was the jam in high school, and nothing was more exciting than remembering it in the last week–well, maybe the only thing more exciting was remembering how great the music video is.

27. Still with the high school thing: I’ve always felt this song’s sing-along at the end outweighs the pop-punk riffs, though it seems no one agrees with me. So here’s to us fools that have no meaning. I tip my glass to you.

Comment:

Two iPods died on me since my last twim, so I’m not really sure if I’ve really got every album and random piece of excellence here. Other exciting, but more certain, things since we last talked include seeing Action Bronson live at an event where Paul Banks chipped away high school me’s love Interpol with terrible, terrible music. Bronson even rhymed while walking through the crowd, so that kind of makes up for it. Well, that and how awesome The Alchemist is both on the ones and twos and while flippin’ luxurious tracks for people’s raps. My hope is that this uptick in excellent beats on many fronts is an indication that both the iPod situation will settle (good lookin’ out, Best Buy warranty program) and that it’s only onward and upward in ye olde 2k12 quest for the illest records.

I’ll be needing them as my weight training program continues. Though that sounds really impressive when I leave it all vague like that, it mostly just means I started doing squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. And to undercut that even further, it mostly just means being sore for most of my life. But my ability, like my beats, have been improving and I think that’s all I can do right now: just keep pushing it along.

Stay real and let’s hope they didn’t forget about Dre.

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