The Cramps-Songs The Lord Taught Us (1980)

My Rating: 59% (D+)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 59% (D+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. TV Set
  2. Rock On The Moon
  3. Garbageman
  4. I Was A Teenage Werewolf
  5. Sunglasses After Dark
  6. The Mad Daddy
  7. Mystery Plane
  8. Zombie Dance
  9. What’s Behind The Mask
  10. Strychnine
  11. I’m Cramped
  12. Tear It Up
  13. Fever
  14. I Was A Teenage Werewolf (With False Start)
  15. Mystery Plane
  16. Twist & Shout
  17. I’m Cramped
  18. The Mad Daddy

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing some 80’s in your life.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Hilarious I like it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not this one.

Final Thoughts:

The Cramps are on a list of 1001 Albums to Listen to Before You Die, and honestly their album Songs The Lord Taught Us didn’t do a lot for me. I understand that there might be some influential merit here, but to me it just sounded like a mix between Elvis and Aerosmith and those have never been guys I’m that into. I personally gravitate towards The Clash when it comes to my old school rock, so hearing these guys just sounded watered down or weak. Ultimately The Cramps didn’t do a lot for me, I wouldn’t have included them on the 1001 list but that’s just from preference and not education.

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CunninLynguists-Rose Azura Njano (2017)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 100% (A++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Red, White & Blues (feat. Jason Coffey)
  2. Riot!
  3. Red Bird
  4. Violet (The Upper Room)
  5. Gone (feat. Trizz)
  6. Any Way The Wind Blows
  7. Mr. Morganfield & Ms. Waters (A-Side)
  8. Jimi & Andre (B-Side)
  9. Hustlers
  10. Oh Honey (feat. Farah Elle)
  11. No Universe Without Harmony
  12. Earth To Venus (Tiny Orange Star)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing some sleepy hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Love the album cover, super original and rad.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Absolutely!

Final Thoughts:

This release by CunninLynguists really caught me off guard, honestly, I haven’t thought much of their stuff in the past. I’ve had their album Dirty Aces and thought it was alright but nothing special. Then I saw this new release on iTunes and liked the cover enough to add it to my library and give them a second chance, I never dreamed it would be this good. Seriously Rose Azura Njano strikes all the right chords for me, jazzy beats, sleepy flows, political unrest, etc. It’s all put together beautiful making it to be one of the best hip hop releases in recent years. Who would’ve thought it would’ve come from CunninLynguists? Quite the surprise, makes me wonder if I was wrong about their past work.

Caribou-Our Love (2014)

My Rating: 55% (D+)

Pitchfork Rating: 86%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 84%

Average Rating: 74% (B-)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Can’t Do Without You
  2. Silver
  3. All I Ever Need
  4. Our Love
  5. Dive
  6. Second Chance
  7. Julia Brightly
  8. Mars
  9. Back Home
  10. Your Love Will Set You Free

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing to chill out to some electronic tunes.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Beautiful album cover.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Nope.

Final Thoughts:

Caribou’s song Silver was getting tons of radio-play with similar artists such as Tame Impala and Future Islands. Rollingstone also put them in a list of greatest albums of the year so I took a chance with Our Love. Unfortunately it just didn’t impress me. The song Silver is great, there’s no doubt about that, but as far as Our Love is concerned I found it contained just as many misses as hits. As is the case with electronic music there can be a lot of dead tracks between the ones worth your time. Would I say I hate this album? No, I just found it really boring for the most part. Caribou has made some worthwhile tunes, but their album game needs some adjusting.

Common-Electric Circus (2002)

My Rating: 69% (C+)

Pitchfork Rating: 65%

Rolling Stone Rating: 60%

Metacritic Rating: 80%

Average Rating: 69%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Ferris Wheel (Feat. Vinia Mojica & Marie Daulne)
  2. Soul Power
  3. Aquarius (Feat. Bilal & Erykah Badu)
  4. Electric Wire Hustler Flower (Feat. Sonny Sandoval)
  5. The Hustle (Feat. Omar & Dart Chillz)
  6. Come Close (Feat. Mary J. Blige)
  7. New Wave (Feat. Laetitia Sadier)
  8. Star 69 (P.S. With Love) (Feat. Bilal & Prince)
  9. I Got A Right Ta (Feat. Pharrell)
  10. Between Me, You And Liberation
  11. I Am Music (Feat. Jill Scott)
  12. Jimi Was A Rock Star (Feat. Erykah Badu)
  13. Heaven Somewhere (Feat. Omar, Cee-Lo Green, Bilal, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu & Pops)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Just taking it easy on a rainy lazy day.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s kind of ugly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not this one.

Final Thoughts:

Common makes great tunes, but not always great albums, which is exactly the case with Electric Circus, a fairly uneven record with some catchy tracks dispersed throughout. Hip-Hop is a hard genre to make a completely even album, what with the tendency to over-use interludes and the constant guest appearances, but that doesn’t excuse the case here. Sometimes I wonder if emcees are actually putting together a planned album, or if they are just putting a seemingly random set of tracks that they had stored for a rainy day, regardless Electric Circus is certainly not a bad album, it’s just uneven and a little sloppy at times.

Common-Be (2005)

My Rating: 86% (B++)

Pitchfork Rating: 86%

Rolling Stone Rating: 80%

Metacritic Rating: 83%

Average Rating: 84%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Be (Intro)
  2. The Corner (Feat. Kanye West & The Last Poets)
  3. Go! (Feat. Kanye West & John Mayer)
  4. Faithful (Feat. Bilal & John Legend)
  5. Testify
  6. Love Is… (Feat. Luna E)
  7. Chi-City (Feat. Kanye West)
  8. The Food (Live) (Feat. Kanye West)
  9. Real People
  10. They Say (Feat. Kanye West & John Legend)
  11. It’s Your World (Feat. Bilal)

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

A jazz fan that wants to get into hip-hop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s original and now kind of iconic, I’m a big fan.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

For sure!

Final Thoughts:

Common is no stranger to mainstream hip-hop heads, mostly because Kanye and him collaborate quite often. His albums are usually pretty solid choices, if not a little too predictable, but Be is a definite stand out in his discography. From the opening track the listener is reminded that Hip-Hop is only a bastard child of Jazz, and Common reminds us that the two genres can and should be meshed together. The album is consistently political, positive, and chill. Common is on top of his game, he has something to prove on this album, his voice must be considered whenever hip-hop is being discussed. Common stands out as a solo act, it’s awesome to see him take the reins on Be, I feel like this album was in very good hands, and I’m stoked to look into the rest of his discography to see what else he does with hip-hop.

Coachwhips-Bangers Vs. Fuckers (2004)

My Rating: 91% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 91%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. You Gonna Get It
  2. Extinguish Me
  3. I Knew Her, She Knew Me
  4. Purse Peeking
  5. Dancefloor, Bathroom
  6. I Drank What?
  7. Evil Son
  8. Thee Alarm
  9. Recline, Recline
  10. Harlow’s Muscle of Love
  11. Goodnite Goodbuy

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Angry and need something to rock out to.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Lol wut?

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I already do, it’s awesome!

Final Thoughts:

Coachwhips were a logical progression for me, being as I’m such a John Dwyer fan it was only time until I listened to this album. It’s not incredibly different than his other stuff, but it’s different enough that it’s worth checking out. Really fast paced, really muffled vocals, really loud. It’s a lot of fun if you need to wake up, rock out, or get rid of some of that pesky teenage angst, looking at you Holden Caulfield.

Cage The Elephant-Tell Me I’m Pretty (2015)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 73%

Average Rating: 81%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Cry Baby
  2. Mess Around
  3. Sweetie Little Jean
  4. Too Late to Say Goodbye
  5. Cold Cold Cold
  6. Trouble
  7. How Are You True
  8. That’s Right
  9. Punchin’ Bag
  10. Portuguese Knife Fight

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for a classic rock album mixed with a little bit of pop.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I absolutely friggin’ love this album cover, I couldn’t stop looking at it when I first found it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Hellz yeah.

Final Thoughts:

I’ve been with Cage The Elephant since the very beginning and it’s been one heck of a ride. I really loved their self titled album then I kinda lost interest in them for their follow up, which was really a noise rock album. But now they’ve become more radio friendly and I surprisingly like the outcome. It’s not original Cage, but it’s still really great music.

Common-Black America Again (2016)

My Rating: 67% (C+)

Pitchfork Rating: 79%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 88%

Average Rating: 78%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Joy And Peace
  2. Home
  3. Word From Moe Luv Interlude
  4. Black America Again
  5. Love Star
  6. On A Whim Interlude
  7. Red Wine
  8. Pyramids
  9. A Moment In The Sun Interlude
  10. Unfamiliar
  11. A Bigger Picture Called Free
  12. The Day Women Took Over
  13. Rain
  14. Little Chicago Boy
  15. Letter To The Free

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Mad at the way things are going and want a positive voice to share your frustrations.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s really great, really original.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not really.

Final Thoughts:

Black America Again is an obviously politically charged album with a lot to offer to those of us fed up with the system, but it’s not as epic as one would hope. There are a few really great tracks to sink (Red Wine and Letter To The Free being standouts for me). But as far as albums that will have any lasting impression I don’t think this will be one of them. The album is filled with a lot of dead space which makes it difficult to find its theme, especially when you really want some biting lyrics from Common. He performs admirably and passionately as is to expected from him, but it’s more of the same, not an album that necessarily stands out as either his crown jewel or a major misstep, it’s just another addition to his discography that I’m happy to have, but not writing home about.

The Civil Wars-Barton Hollow (2011)

Record Review Requested By: Trevor Loken

My Rating: 89% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 71%

Average Rating: 80%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. 20 Years
  2. I’ve Got This Friend
  3. C’est la mort
  4. To Whom It May Concern
  5. Poison & Wine
  6. My Father’s Father
  7. Barton Hollow
  8. The Violet Hour
  9. Girl With the Red Balloon
  10. Falling
  11. Forget Me Not
  12. Birds of a Feather
  13. I Want You Back
  14. Dance Me to the End of Love

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking for a male female duo to make your heart melt.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I don’t know if I totally know what’s going on on it but I think it looks pretty elegant and fits their style.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah it’s be lovely on vinyl.

Final Thoughts:

The Civil Wars were yet another mental block group for me, people really loved them, but I kind of just wanted to find my own thing. They’re one of the few popular duo’s that really work well together and make music for people from varying music tastes. It’s one of those sounds that most of us can agree on. The tracks are really mellow and catchy on Barton Hollow, I’ve been listening to I’ve Got This Friend for years and their version of I Want You Back is extremely sad and beautiful. A popular group that lives up to their reputation, at least on this album they most certainly do.

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