Monday, September 28, 2009

Shameless Musical Promotion

This summer, music sucked. Dave Matthews Band released a great, joyful album in Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, and Eminem had a respectable release in Relapse (though his attempts at humor grew a little stale a little too fast); the Black-Eyed Peas, on the other hand, reached radio ubiquity with a disappointing The E.N.D.: though "Boom Boom Pow" was inventive (but obnoxiously overplayed) and "I Gotta Feeling" was the album highlight, too many songs sounded exactly like the song before it. Overall, the summer releases just didn't have the requisite heat, and my music listening reverted back to old favorites rather than new tracks. Thankfully, fall is here to save the day. With September coming to a close, this month saw the release of three wonderful new albums, which I am here to encourage you to listen to. They're not necessarily obscure artists; most were much-anticipated releases. But I hope you all give them a chance to be heard, as good music is finally back. The Resistance, Muse: This is the album I have not been able to stop listening to since I downloaded it. To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of Muse before; their music was good, but there was never really anything too distinct about them to me other than they had a much more symphonic production than most of their fellow alt-rockers. On The Resistance, though, Muse released an album thats not so much a collection of songs so much as it is a alternative symphony, casting Muse as a modern-day Queen in a concept album with a story that resembles George Orwell's 1984. My personal favorite tracks are "Resistance" and "United States of Eurasia," which is equal parts piano concerto and fist-pumping rocker with some Oriental melodics thrown in for good measure; it's essentially Muse's "Bohemian Rhapsody". Don't let the band's Twilight affiliation deter you; The Resistance is much better than anything associate with Bella and her sparkly bloodsuckers. Check out "United States of Eurasia" here: The Blueprint 3, Jay-Z: Pretty much just what you'd expect from the best rapper alive (sorry Wayne). After the fantastic American Gangster album, Jay-Z follows up with the second sequel to The Blueprint, and it doesn't fail to prove that he's still at the top of his game. My favorite tracks are, apart from first singles "Run This Town" and "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)", "Empire State of Mind", in which he and Alicia Keys wax rhapsodic about his native NYC, and "Young Forever", which samples Alphaville's "Forever Young" (a song I never thought I'd care about now) and offers Jigga's most introspective rhymes yet. Jay-Z has reinvented himself with this one by staying consistantly himself, which is all one can ask for. "Young Forever:" Man on the Moon: The End of Day, Kid Cudi: Simply the best rap debut since Kanye West's The College Dropout. Cudi introduces himself as a stoner rap pioneer, with his singles "Day 'n' Night" and "Make Her Say" already hits, but the rest of the disc is equally incredible. His beats are inventive and original, and if it does sound familiar, its because he helped produce West's 808s and Heartbreak last year. But Cudi establishes his own distinctive identity, and is never better than on "Up, Up, and Away (The Wake & Bake Song)", a joyful ode to not caring about what anyone says. A wonderful mix of rap, ambient, and punk, Kid Cudi has carved a niche for himself as one of the best rappers in the game today. "Up, Up and Away:" Comment and let me know what you think.

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