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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Music 10/2/12

Mumford & Sons, Babel
Last week, we said we wanted to take a whole week to savor this album, and we're glad we did. It took everything we liked about the first album and amped it up. The banjos are louder and bigger, the songs more soaring, and the band more ambitious. Lyrically, this album wrestles with and finds hope in spirituality, and it also explores how this spirituality coexists with romantic life. There isn't a song we dislike. Favorites include the title track (the lyrics here are great), Below My Feet, Hopeless Wanderer, Lover of the Light, Holland Road, Reminder, Broken Crown, and The Boxer. The whole thing is beautiful, original, and passionate.
Album grade: A

Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven, single
We all know this guy can sing. His tenor voice is clear as a bell and versatile. This song is about how a woman and "her sex" take Bruno to heaven when he's been locked out too long, because love and miracles normally aren't his thing, but romance is a good substitute for spirituality. The song is catchy and likable even on a first listen. It's probably going to be overplayed on the radio. For us, it's another reminder that the modern religion is sex and romance, and we go to the gym and the clubs (churches) to pay homage and prepare ourselves for the spiritual encounter. Maybe we're overthinking it and it's just a fun beat. It's not as heavy on the synth and autotune as other recent aspiring hits, and for that, we are grateful.
Song grade: B

Taylor Swift, Red, single
This song is about an intense relationship that didn't last. The song has strong lyrics, but the melody isn't that memorable. It has the more country sound we like from Taylor, and she sounds good.
Song grade: B+

One Direction, Live While We’re Still Young, single
In this song, a boy tells a girl to let him sneak her out so that they can have a crazy night and have fun in their youth. It's heavy on the synth, pop, boy band sound, and beat. It sounds like most of what's been on the radio this past summer. It reminds us of their other songs too. If you like their stuff, you'll like this song. The words are fun and upbeat. No one is loving a girl just because she's both pretty and insecure, so that's a plus.
Song grade: B-

Cher Lloyd, Sticks and Stones
It's impossible to hate Cher if you youtube her X-Factor audition and subsequent performances. Her accent is adorable and so is she. But then Simon Cowell and the rest of the media got ahold of her. Now, she looks perfect, her eyebrows are better, she has great clothes, she's covered in a sheen of gloss and fakeness, and the cute awkwardness has vanished. Cher was born to be a pop star, sure, but Want U Back is a waste of her considerable singing talents. It's one of those songs that we know we should hate, but we don't change it when it comes on the radio either. It's a guilty pleasure with vapid lyrics about a girl who doesn't want her ex until she sees him with someone else. This is what happens when you let other people package you and write your songs. We listened to the album to see if there was a track with a smidgen of honesty or artistic value. 

The good news is that most of the songs are better and less annoying than Want U Back. She raps a lot. We kind of like that. Everything sounds good with an English accent, even white girl rapping. Not all the songs are bratty either, especially Oath, a song of devotion to a best friend. Playa Boi has surprisingly healthy lyrics. We can see why the song Swagger Jagger failed to garner acclaim. It's the worst song on the CD. We liked seeing Carolina Liar guest on her album, because we like about two of their songs, and they are good for ballads that give Cher a chance to show off her voice a little. We also liked the last song, Riot. In short, we didn't hate this and we expected to. It's fun. Still, we think she can do better.
Album grade: B

Tori Amos, Gold Dust
We really like her voice. This album is beautiful and relaxing. It's not catchy, and it's different from anything that's popular right now. It's kind of like Enya mixed with Broadway mixed with Sarah Brightman. Ha, we'd never want to listen to anything with that description...but we liked it. It made us feel good. Also, if you haven't already, check out her cover of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Album grade: A-

Chris Rene, I’m Right Here
The album only has eight songs. This was better than we expected. He doesn't embarrass himself. We don't think he'll ever make it big. He comes across as too dim when he speaks and he's not super hot. He's got some talent though, and he gives this all he's got.
Album grade: B

Muse, The Second Law
Muse is a weird assault on our ears that we don't get at all. Sorry. We've tried. We'll leave them to Stephanie Meyer.
Album grade: we can't even grade this

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