The Black Keys
Thanks to the success of bands such as The Killers and Kings of Leon, the alternative rock genre has taken a profound hold over the grown-up ‘90s generation. That may explain why The Black Keys’ eighth album “Turn Blue” immediately topped the charts in the US and Australia when it was released in early May. Sound-wise, it marks a progressive transition from the highoctane previous album, “El Camino.” The tracks “Turn Blue” and “Bullet in the Brain” are much more subdued, relying on melodious echoes over dirty guitars and thundering drums. The fact that one part of the duo, prolific guitarist Dan Auerbach, was going through a divorce during the album’s formulation likely serves as the reason for this marked change in temperament.
IN THE LONELY HOUR
An up-and-coming vocal powerhouse, UK artist Sam Smith possesses undeniable vocal talent. Gaining attention from popular collaborations and a performance on Saturday Night Live, his debut album “In the Lonely Hour” proves that the 22-year-old can fend for himself. Having already reached number one in the UK, standout album tracks include “Stay with Me” and “Leave Your Lover” which reveal a personal longing for true love.
THE NEW CLASSIC
Hot on the heels of British sensation Adele is Ed Sheeran. The scruffy singersongwriter showcases his musical versatility in his second album, X (meaning “Multiply”). The opening number “One” is raw and honest, sending chills when Sheeran hits the chorus with high notes and touching lyrics. Yet things take on a more upbeat personality in “Sing,” where Pharrell Williams serves as the genius collaborator and producer on a track which serves as a prenight out tune.
Lana Del Rey
With alluring echoes and orchestral timbres that construct the dramatic sound plot, “Ultraviolence” makes up for the aural intensity that the previous album lacked. The choruses, such as those of “West Coast” and “Shades of Cool,” are delivered in unexpectedly slow tempos or high-pitched voice, their unusual nature demanding a replay. For many, it is definitely an album worth listening to but for some, the “love” overloaded lyrics may be a turn-off.
Bringing RedOne the man behind Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on board as the executive producer seemed a safe bet. However, Lopez’s eighth album “A.K.A.” only confirms the clichéd existence she’s carved out for herself: A sexy Latina who knows how to shake her best assets. The track “I Luh Ya Papi” reiterates the same pop music formula “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” did a decade ago; the formula was new then but it certainly isn’t now.
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