Tyler, The Creator-Cherry Bomb (2015)

My Rating: 42% (D-)

Pitchfork Rating: 67%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 69%

Average Rating: 62%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. DEATHCAMP
  2. BUFFALO
  3. PILOT
  4. RUN
  5. FIND YOUR WINGS
  6. CHERRY BOMB
  7. BLOW MY LOAD
  8. 2SEATER
  9. THE BROWN STAINS OF DARKEESE LATIFAH PART 6-12 (REMIX)
  10. FUCKING YOUNG / PERFECT
  11. SMUCKERS
  12. KEEP DA O’S
  13. OKAGA, CA

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

I don’t know, half asleep?

Thoughts on Album Cover:

This album cover was actually the first thing that convinced me to check Tyler out.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

No.

Final Thoughts:

Before I was even listening to Tyler, The Creator, I remember reading an interview with him about the negative reception of this album. He said something along the lines as people being upset about what he was rapping about now, saying that he used to rap about having to live with his grandma and that just wasn’t his life after becoming an artist. Of course that makes sense, your art will change dependent on how your life changes, but I don’t think that’s why it was negatively received, it was received negatively because it’s not a good album. Seriously Cherry Bomb just isn’t a good album, it’s boring, it’s kind of R&B at times, and most the album I was waiting for Tyler to start going hard on the mic, but whenever he did, which is a rare moment on Cherry Bomb, it was too little too late. I’m glad Tyler didn’t keep going down this road. Boring album.

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Method Man-The Meth Lab (2011)

My Rating: 82% (B+)

Pitchfork Rating: 40%

Rolling Stone Rating: 60%

Metacritic Rating: 59%

Average Rating: 60%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Intro
  2. The Meth Lab (Feat. Hanz On & Streetlife)
  3. Straight Gutta (Feat. Redman, Hanz On & Streetlife)
  4. Bang Zoom (Feat. Hanz On, Streetlife & Eazy Get Rite)
  5. 50 Shots (Feat. Mack Wilds, Streetlife & Cory Gunz)
  6. The Pledge (Feat. Hanz On & Streetlife)
  7. 2 Minutes Of Your Time
  8. Worldwide (Feat. Hanz On, Uncle Murda & Chedda Bang)
  9. Soundcheck (Feat. Hanz On & Carlton Fisk)
  10. Water (Feat. Chedda Bang)
  11. Lifestyles (Feat. Cardi, Eazy Get Rite & Freaky Marciano)
  12. The Purple Tape (Feat. Raekwon & Inspectah Deck)
  13. Intelligent Meth (Feat. Masta Killa, Streetlife & iNTeLL)
  14. Symphony (Feat. Hanz On, Streetlife, Kash Verrazano, Carlton Fisk & Killa Sin)
  15. What You Getting Into (Feat. Streetlife & Donny Cacsh)
  16. Another Winter (Feat. Hanz On, Streetlife & Carlton Fisk)
  17. Rain All Day (Feat. Hanz On & Dro Pesci)
  18. So Staten (Feat. Hanz On & Hue Huf)
  19. Outro

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for laid back gangster hip hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I love it, cool colours.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Absolutely.

Final Thoughts:

In a market where hip hop heads and critics pretty much demand innovation and experimentation, a few emcees hold up a middle finger, drink a Colt 45, and continue doing things their way, one of those emcees is Method Man, and it’s business as usual on The Meth Lab. Critics don’t like this album, but Method Man could give a shit, this is an album for Wu-Tang Clan fans, and they should be delighted, because I sure as hell am. This is solid hip-hop, it’s lots of fun, and it’s pretty simplistic, it’s not going to be my favourite album, but you know what? I’m not looking for a groundbreaking album from Method Man, I’m looking for old school hip-hop, and the man delivers on The Meth Lab.

Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister-Planetarium (2017)

My Rating: 50% (D)

Pitchfork Rating: 60%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 72%

Average Rating: 61%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Neptune
  2. Jupiter
  3. Halley’s Comet
  4. Venus
  5. Uranus
  6. Mars
  7. Black Energy
  8. Sun
  9. Tides
  10. Moon
  11. Pluto
  12. Kuiper Belt
  13. Black Hole
  14. Saturn
  15. In The Beginning
  16. Earth
  17. Mercury

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking to brush up on the solar system, I guess.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Reminds me of something from the 80’s, it’s neat.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not in the least.

Final Thoughts:

Sufjan Stevens Planetarium is a swing and a miss. He continues to try to flirt with electronic music, and it is not so great this time. The concept album is all too familiar without being very memorable, seriously there have been too many albums that explore space like this. The few songs that do stick out are good, but they’re not even close to comparable to B-Sides from Sufjan’s better albums. This album seems like it was a lot of fun to make, but it’s really not that fun to listen to. It’s just a big yawn, when it should be a lot of fun. Overused concept. Mediocre songs. Skip this Sufjan.

J. Cole-4 Your Eyez Only (2016)

My Rating: 45% (D-)

Pitchfork Rating: 67%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 75%

Average Rating: 62%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  2. Immortal
  3. Deja Vu
  4. Ville Mentality
  5. She’s Mine, Pt. 1
  6. Change
  7. Neighbors
  8. Foldin Clothes
  9. She’s Mine, Pt. 2
  10. 4 Your Eyez Only

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for a rap album that’s more R&B than actual rap.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I actually love this album cover, it really fits the concept.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not in the least.

Final Thoughts:

J. Cole caught my attention from his flow on the song My Nigga Just Made Bail by Bas, I was totally on board with his crew after that style. Unfortunately I’m not sure he has quite delivered an album that has lived up to my expectations from that verse. 4 Your Eyez Only fails to be a Hip-Hop album, it’s just not. There’s very little rapping on it and it’s mostly repetitive R&B. When he finally gets around to rapping, I was already somewhat pissed at what he made me sit through that it’s just too little too late. The title track 4 Your Eyez Only, coming in at just under 9 minutes, is the jewel that you have to wait to the very end to hear. Most would’ve given up but I’m glad I stuck it out for it. I usually have a hard time listening to songs that pass the 5 minute mark, but this track remains entertaining throughout its entire play. Putting the best track at the end is typical J. Cole bullshit, now I have to get into the next album he releases hopping that he will release an album like the finally song, there’s still hope for Cole, but damn dude this album was really rough.

John Mayer-The Search For Everything (2017)

My Rating: 71% (C++)

Pitchfork Rating: 49%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 61%

Average Rating: 60%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Still Feel Like Your Man
  2. Emoji of a Wave
  3. Helpless
  4. Love On the Weekend
  5. In the Blood
  6. Changing
  7. Theme From ‘The Search For Everything’
  8. Moving On and Getting Over
  9. Never On The Day You Leave
  10. Rosie
  11. Roll It On Home
  12. You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

At a family gathering and they ask you to put something on.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s ultimately a good cover, a part of me feels like he’s saying: “look how attractive I am” but that’s definitely more my problem than his.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Nope.

Final Thoughts:

John Mayer is one of those artists that is polarizing, there are strong camps on either side talking about him being the greatest (they usually point to his guitar work) and there’s people who say he is the worst (they point to his radio-friendliness and personality). Somewhere in the divide are the few of us who pick and choose between albums and sometimes even just tracks. The Search For Everything is one of Mayer’s albums I’ll cherry-pick, it’s a mix of his styles so honestly it feels more like a mixtape or playlist than an album (a trend that seems to be gaining momentum as of late). The songs that sound like they could be off Continuum are going right on shuffle, the ones that sound like they’re from Paradise Valley were passed pretty quickly. Mayer isn’t my favourite, but he’s nice music and he’s easy to put on for older folks without getting under anyone’s skin.

Roots Manuva-Run Come Save Me (2001)

My Rating: 82% (B+)

Pitchfork Rating: 41%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 62%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. No Strings…
  2. Bashment Boogie
  3. Witness (1 Hope)
  4. Join The Dots
  5. Black Box Interlude
  6. Ital Visions
  7. Kicking The Cack
  8. Dub Styles
  9. Trim Body
  10. Artical
  11. Hol’ It Up
  12. Stone The Crows
  13. Sinny Sin Sins
  14. Evil Rabbit
  15. Swords In The Dirt
  16. Highest Grade
  17. Dreamy Days

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing a rap album to listen to while walking downtown at night.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super original, love it! Fits the sounds so well!

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Abso-friggin-lutely.

Final Thoughts:

Any Gorillaz fans will recognize the name Roots Manuva, he gave a spectacular performance on their song All Alone on their crown jewel Demon Days. He’s a big deal in the UK, but kinda unheard of up here in Canada. But he should be played a lot more! His sound can go from anything to fun alt hip hop: ex. Join The Dots to introspective sad rap much like the stuff coming out of Seattle (Grieves comes to mind) such as songs like Sinny Sin Sins where he talks about his Pentecostal upbringing. He can also do songs that capture hearts much like Method Man’s You’re All I Need, Roots has Dreamy Days a ballad like love song sure to be relatable to more than a few. Bring it all together with muddy, dark, and often overpowering beats and we get Run Come Save Me, a hip hop album not to be missed.

Grouplove-Big Mess (2016)

My Rating: 59% (D+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: 60%

Metacritic Rating: 64%

Average Rating: 61%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Welcome To Your Life
  2. Do You Love Someone
  3. Standing in The Sun
  4. Enlighten Me
  5. Good Morning
  6. Spinning
  7. Cannonball
  8. Traumatized
  9. Heart of Mine
  10. Don’t Stop Making It Happen
  11. Hollywood

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for happy sounding pop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s pretty cool, love the amount of colour

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not in the slightest.

Final Thoughts:

If there was ever a front heavy album it would be Grouplove’s Big Mess. It’s just so easy to take shots at this album, but I’ll refrain because I like these guys. The A-Side is pretty catchy, but it falls apart half way through, the voice gets grating, the lyrics get juvenile, the music becomes so repetitive it just makes me feel like I’m stuck in a mall. Grouplove has made some solid tunes, but they can’t really make a solid album, I feel like if they just spent more time putting together a concept album we could really have something to write home about, but for now we can snag the catchy pop tracks and leave the annoying mall music behind.

B.B. King & Eric Clapton-Riding With The King (2000)

Record Review Requested By: Zak Eburne

My Rating: 60% (C-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 60%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Riding With The King
  2. Ten long Years
  3. Key To The Highway
  4. Marry You
  5. Three O’Clock Blues
  6. Help The Poor
  7. I Wanna Be
  8. Worried Life Blues
  9. Days Of Old
  10. When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer
  11. Hold On I’m Coming
  12. Come Rain or Come Shine

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Half asleep and need something to not pay attention to.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Pretty awful, it’s just really corny and on the nose.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Nope.

Final Thoughts:

Riding With The King was an overall boring experience, it just did next to nothing for me. A couple songs were pretty alright, but nothing was really worth writing home about. The problem with it is that they both kinda just jammed more than they actually put an album together. I know it’s dangerous to compare genre’s but when two other heavyweights (Kanye West and Jay-Z) put together an album we got Watch The Throne, a truly amazing album that was full of the two lyricists trying to one up each other. Not the case with Riding With The King, it was just two legends hanging out and kinda hoping something great would happen, it didn’t.

Zion I-The Take Over (2009)

My Rating: 63% (C)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 58%

Average Rating: 60.5%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. The Taking
  2. Geek To The Beat
  3. TakeOver
  4. DJ DJ
  5. Antenna
  6. Caged Bird Part 1 Feat. Brother Ali
  7. In The Mornin’
  8. Radio
  9. Gumbo
  10. Country Baked Yams Feat. Devin The Dude
  11. Coastin’
  12. Juicy Juice
  13. Peppermint Patty
  14. Bring In The Light
  15. Legacy Feat. Ty & Jennifer Johns

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting a good mix of African beats with some alternative hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Love it, it really fits the overall vibe of the album, and is just really beautiful.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

It’s funny, before sitting down to listen to the album as a whole I would’ve said absolutely, but seeing as there is a lot of dead space between the songs I’m really into, I’d say no now.

Final Thoughts:

I got into Zion I at the same time as other artists like Blackalicious, The Mighty Underdogs, and Brother Ali. So he automatically gets points for being grouped with those groups who were really important to my musical formation in High school. The Take Over is a pretty okay inclusion in my music library, the only problem is that there are quite a few misses for me on this album, but the songs that land are solid.

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