We weren’t digging the single, “Me Without You.” As it turns out, that was the best song on the album. We hate when Christian artists just copy the popular stuff of today, and this happens here a lot. Toby is jumping on the electronic bandwagon, and sometimes he sounds a little like Owl City. We thought “Forgiveness” would be better, since we like Lecrae. “Unstoppable” is just annoying. Despite our tepid response to the album’s sound, we will say that we like Toby’s lyrics, for the most part. They are sweet and inoffensive. There WAS a song about how much he needed an Apple computer. That didn’t even work for a fun or humorous song. Product placement? Who knows. We also like a lot of his older stuff and, of course, DC Talk, but he’s not as good here. The album comes with a ton of remixes. We usually hate remixes, so we didn’t even listen to them. The best songs are “Speak Life” and “Favorite Song.” Really, we wish Toby would grow up a little. He’s 40. And white. You can only copy Top 40 for so long.
Album grade: D+
Welcome to Our House by Slaughterhouse. Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap.
We’re newcomers to this group, but it has a lot of good names on the album. They sang a lot about how hood they are and one of the songs, “Coffin,” is like a gang anthem, glorifying guns and violence. No, we are not your grandma, we just think there’s too much of that in rap. There really is a gang problem in this country. Is this their audience? But then we got into the meat of the album, and damn was it good. This is hip-hop/rap, you guys. Very enjoyable and well-produced. It’s not overproduced, and it has a good mix of guest stars. We were surprised. We were fully prepared to hate this, since it’s by far not our favorite genre. When the price comes down on amazon, we’re buying it. We hear their first tracks were even better, so we look forward to checking those out. We especially liked “Throw That,” “Get Up,” “Hammer Dance,” “My Life,” “Flip a Bird,” “Goodbye,” “Die,” “The Other Side,” and “Place to Be.”
Album grade: A
Havoc and Bright Lights by Alanis Morissette. Genre: Pop.
We didn’t like her last album, but this one is better. It’s obvious that she’s a happy new mom. It proves that she can do happy and sweet almost as well as she can do the angry stuff. Because feminists just aren’t rabid man haters. They can love being mothers and wives too. These songs are catchy and should please most interested listeners. She’s talented and really can’t make anything awful. The whole thing is nice.
Album grade: A-
Violent Waves by Circa Survive. Genre: Alternative
We’ve never heard them either. We didn’t like the lead singer’s voice. It went from buttrock to whiny, depending on whatever that sort of change would depend on. The whole thing just wasn’t our taste.
Album grade: C
Beautiful Surprise by Tamia. Genre: R&B/Soul
This would be good for people who really love Leona Lewis. Tamia has a good voice. It’s not high like Leona’s, but it’s clear and enjoyable. She needs better songs. There was nothing there that we wanted to hear again, and nothing that moves music forward at all. In the time of ADELE, the bar is set higher. It’s an average collection of love songs sung by an above-average vocalist.
Album grade: C+
Greater Than One by Dwele. Genre: R&B/Soul
What struck us about this album was that it felt so relaxed. This guy seems comfortable in his own skin and music. The songs are laid-back and mature. It’s all very pleasant, but not anything we feel like we have to buy or show people. It would be good background music for when you are just chilling. If you love this genre, you could do a lot worse.
Album grade: B-
Looking 4 Myself by Usher. Genre: R&B/Soul
Okay, points off for the “4.” Do we have to speak and write like 14-year-olds text? Usher is 33. Usher has been around and on the radio for so long, you know whether you like him or not. There’s nothing on this album that tops “Yeah” or “Let It Burn,” but these new songs are okay. Nothing special. We like that only a few of the songs are club songs with the heavy, throbbing, computerized beats. There are actual songs on this album. He’s not chasing the trends of today further than a few singles. He knows that the people who buy his whole album want to hear him sing and want to hear some depth.
Album grade: B
Infinity Overhead by Minus the Bear. Genre: Alternative.
Musically, it wasn’t bad at all, but we didn’t like the vocals. Something about them rubbed us the wrong way. We wish they would collaborate with a different vocalist because we loved everything that was going on with the background music.
Album grade: C+
Light for the Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson. Genre: Christian and Gospel
Andrew Peterson makes good Christian music usually. He’s not like the rest of those hacks on your regular Christian radio station. No offense meant, but most of it sucks major ass. Andrew’s words are great and his background music is good. Ben Shive worked on this too, and he’s also a major talent, both as a producer and artist/lyricist in his own right. This album was thoughtful and musically better than most Christian music. Mostly though, this is good because of the lyrics. Thoughtful, non-fundamentalist, not heavy-handed, and deep.
Album grade: B+
My Stadium Electric by Erin McCarley. Genre: Pop
This is the album we were most excited for this week. We love her voice and a lot of the stuff on her last album. This album was different. The songs were a little more indie/alternative and less pretty pop. We look forward to seeing this stuff on Grey’s Anatomy because that’s obviously what it’s for. In the end, we were bored with it. It’s not bad, but we don’t want it.
Album grade: C