Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25 Releases, 2012

By: Sam Boyer, Blogs Editor / '90s Blogger

Get ready, world. It's my first Drop It Like It's Hot entry! And what a perfect week to write about. We've been graced with releases from two super rad '90s bands and a group of folk giants. Let's do this.

So after months of anticipation (and some dread after hearing the first single), Green Day dropped the first album in their planned trilogy, ¡Uno!. By some Internet voodoo, I got the album a week early and spent that time studying each track individually. Since Green Day happens to be my favorite band, I made it a point to listen to the album at least seven times before writing a review. Bottom line: ¡Uno! isn't terrible, but it's not great either. It's heavily influenced by GD's side project from a few years ago, the '60s garage rock style band Foxboro Hot Tubs. Very dance-y and quite simple. It's nothing like American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown. No grandiose political overtones here, just straight-forward pop-punk tunes (mostly) clocking in at less than three minutes each. The first half is pretty solid, but the second half is weak. "Oh Love" happens to be the last track, which is a mistake since it also happens to be the worst song on the album. But like I said, ¡Uno! isn't too terribly disappointing. We've still got two more albums in this trilogy. Be patient.

If you want a more in-depth analysis of ¡Uno!, check out my review for ACRN. Or if you're interested in the history of Green Day/my personal thoughts on the band, head on over to my '90s blog. End shameless self-promotion.

Speaking of '90s bands, No Doubt came back from the dead this week with their first album in 11 years. I thought "Settle Down" was a solid first single, so naturally I was excited to hear the rest of the album. It's a little more electronic than classic No Doubt, which isn't really a bad thing. The band has totally departed from their ska roots, though. That's a shame since that's what attracted me to them in the first place. But bands mature and evolve and blah, blah, blah. Push and Shove is a great pop record, but it doesn't have the same energy as Tragic Kingdom or Return of Saturn. That might be my '90s snobbery seeping through, but I'm still willing to admit that the album has its moments, particularly with "One More Summer." And it's better than Rock Steady, so there's that. Overall, it's a pretty good effort, especially after a decade-long hiatus.

And once again, if you're interested in my personal thoughts on No Doubt, check out my blog. Okay, now I'm done with my shameless self-promotion.

In non '90s-related album news, folk darlings Mumford & Sons dropped the follow-up to the hugely successful Sigh No More. I never really got into these guys, so I don't have the extensive knowledge needed to delve too deep into Babel. Upon first listen, it sounds like a pretty dreamy record. Not the M83 kind of dreamy, but the folksy campfire kind of dreamy. And boy, do these guys sure like frantic banjo-playing. I guess Babel is good in an abstract sense. If I happened to be more of a Mumford fangirl, I'd be all over this release. But I'm not, so you'll have to consult ACRN's review of it for a fair analysis.

Because it's almost Halloween and I have a love affair with Tim Burton (pre-Planet of the Apes Burton, that is), I couldn't resist adding the Frankenweenie Unleashed soundtrack to this entry. This is the collaborative soundtrack, not the Danny Elfman score. It features some rad musicians like Karen O, Kimbra, The Flaming Lips and Robert Smith. I also have to give a shout-out to My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero for Former Blogs Editor Cassie Whitt. "This Song Is A Curse" is a pretty fun tune.

Check Drop It Like It's Hot for new album releases each week! And for some killer album reviews, check out ACRN.com!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18 Releases, 2012

By: Carolyn Menyes, Managing Editor

For reasons unknown, the record industry decided to dump all of the year's most anticipated releases in September and October. Not that I'm minding now, but it did make for a dull summer. Can we just talk about that for a second? Like, when Kidz Bop 22 goes to No. 3 on the Billboard Charts, you know it's been a bad few months for new music. Sigh...

Luckily, this week is making up for it, and there's almost too much to consider. But, allow me to skim over the Sept. 18 releases that make the music nerd in me the most excited.

First, there's the long-anticipated fourth studio album from Las Vegas alt-dudes The Killers. Though their last studio album, Day and Age, was critically and financially unsuccessful, there are high hopes for Battle Born. The lead single, "Runaways," is synth-y, Springsteen-y and epic in all the right ways. The rest of the album tends to follow suit and shows The Killers returning to the Sam's Town era sonically. After many fans weren't so keen on their last release, I can assure you, Battle Born is everything a Killers fan would want from their first album in four years.

However, The Killers aren't the alternative band with the biggest break between albums to release something this week. That reward would have to go to Ben Folds Five, who put out their first album in 13 years, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.  The boppy, driving sound of Ben Folds' backing band distinguishes this from Folds' solo work from the past several years and, like The Killers, is quite welcome. The piano rock group put together a decent compilation of bitter, slow songs and upbeat poppy numbers. Regardless of the album's consistency, it's nice to have these '90s mainstays back.

The indie lover in me was most excited to find out Grizzly Bear's Shields dropped this week. After the brilliance of 2009's Veckitamest, it was hard to imagine what steps da Bearz could take next. The answer, I suppose, is a mostly solid follow-up. There's no "Two Weeks" or "Foreground" here, but Shields is distinctly Grizzly Bear, so therefore, it is distinctly awesome.

Other than those more rocky releases, the world gave us Carly Rae Jepsen's sophomore album Kiss, which features this little-known song entitled "Call Me Maybe." P!nk blew us with The Truth About Love. And, unfortunately, Kreayshawn is doing things. She released Something 'Bout Kreay. Gucci, gucci.

Stay tuned to Drop It Like It's Hot for more saucy album releases. Coming up: we got Green Day, Mumford & Sons and more! YAY!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 11 Releases, 2012

By: Hannah Cook, Editorial Director

First and foremost, welcome back to the unpredictable and spontaneously-updated Drop It Like It’s Hot. I realize we haven’t been holding up our end of the deal too well, but give us a break, would ya? It was summer, we had other engagements (like watching reruns of Reba and David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding). Our minds were basking elsewhere. It’s better late than never though, am I right?

Secondly, Hoobastank. You know, the guys who wrote “The Reason” (if you're too young to know, it's for the best), perhaps the most poorly constructed song in every sense ever to exist. Even a bajillion years ago when I still wore studded belts and American Eagle bell bottoms together (I was confused), that song sucked. Love and regret, the two most commonly and easily rendered themes in a song, absolutely lost in whiny voices and guitars. ANYWAY, they came out with a new album, Fight or Flight. From the looks of it, they’re trying to be more alternative and edgier. From the sounds of it, well. I don’t know because I can’t find the streaming of it and I don’t really care to try. But in the words of the most clever ACRN writer, Jacob Betzner, “Hoobastank’s newest album hooba-stanks.” Haha.

But onward and upward! Other than unsought reminiscing of rock radio in middle school, this week in music releases has a bright future.

To me, The xx always sound like they’re doin’ it  (like sex). Like, if I could imagine their music as the soundtrack to any kind of movie, it would be a sci-fi porno. Like Star Trek gone dirty — Spock-y style. That being said, I love it. I love the pillow talking-esque whispers and the chill beeps and buzzes. Their latest release, Coexist, lives up to all my expectations as a non-avid, but appreciating, listener.

It seems that The Avett Brothers were pretty quiet about this release.  That, or I just subconsciously counted myself out on being up to date with things. Still, they must be on to something big with The Carpenter since they played a snippet of “Live and Die” in a Gap commercial.  The album holds true to what the bros do best: pleasant acoustics and longing lyrics that make you feel like everything’s gonna be alright. But it’s nothing all too inspiring, just expected and easy to listen to. Except “Paul Newman vs. The Demons.” Who gave Scott (or Seth, I don’t know which one) an electric guitar and some balls? I’m kidding. Anyway, after all is said and done, no one can deny that The Avett Brothers put on a spectacular live show. My dad would agree.

David Byrne and St. Vincent go pretty well together in Love This Giant. Well, St. Vincent could go well with a chainsaw and Hoobastank singing “The Reason.” It’s a weird effort, and maybe even some age discrepancies glimmering here and there, but still a solid album.

In other releases, The Helio Sequence released Negotiations. I will be er…buying that, with little to no hesitation. I expect only great things from them. Unlike Hoobastank.