Oliver The Penguin-Button Pusher (2009)

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. Girls & Boys
  2. Scissors & Glue
  3. Paper Airplane
  4. Pictures By the Seashore
  5. Pressing the Function Key
  6. Do I Leave My Heart Here
  7. Mad Scientist
  8. From Long Sleep
  9. Second Chances
  10. Something Like Love

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Walking home from a great first date.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Pretty chill.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

What an underrated band Oliver The Penguin is, I love every one of their tracks on Button Pusher, and that’s not just being generous, I legitimately love this album. It’s kind of like a band formed around the song Nothing Better the song on The Postal Service’s Give Up. Oliver The Penguin is a more mature Owl City, with both female and male vocals, their songs are usually pretty flowery, mostly about relationships, but there is a certain level of maturity and creativity behind their music. I love this band and wish I could find more of their stuff, but for the time being I guess I’ll just have to stick to Button Pusher.

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Abstract Rude-Rejuvenation (2009)

My Rating: 71% (C++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: N/A

Average Rating: 71% (C++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Hip Hop Ryde
  2. Rejuvenation
  3. Nuff Fire
  4. The Conch
  5. Thynk Eye Can (Haiku D’Etat Mix)
  6. TV Show
  7. Sadly Ever After
  8. Tomorry
  9. Diggin It?
  10. Aaron, Ab, Abbey
  11. Rsvp (Wanna Party)
  12. Man Down
  13. Is What It Is
  14. Parables

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting to meditate with hip hop in the background.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

I friggin’ love this album cover, something about it just works so well.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah but it’ll probably cost an arm and a leg.

Final Thoughts:

Abstract Rude is one of my favourite emcees to come out of The Good Life Cafe, his flow is so chill and his lyrics are always interesting. I remember getting into his song All Day as well as being entranced by his work on Life Goes On with Pigeon John on the Is Dating Your Sister album. Abstract is unique (congrats if you get that joke), I honestly can’t say I’ve come across an emcee quite like him. Rejuvenation is one of his most consistent albums, even though it didn’t get a great rating from me there are some true gems on here. His album making skills are questionable at times, but I’m willing to dig through his discography to find the best one. Rejuvenation is a great start for Abstract Rude enquirers  but I bet there’s a better album to start with. Give me time and I’ll dig it up for you.

Mos Def-The Ecstatic (2009)

My Rating: 88% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 80%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 81%

Average Rating: 83%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Supermagic
  2. Twilite Speedball
  3. Auditorium Feat. The Ruler
  4. Wahid
  5. Priority
  6. Quiet Dog Bite Hard
  7. Life In Marvelous Times
  8. The Embassy
  9. No Hay Nada Mas
  10. Pistola
  11. Pretty Dancer
  12. Workers Comp
  13. Revelations
  14. Roses Feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow
  15. History Feat. Talib Kweli
  16. Casa Bey

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Looking to a sequel to Black on Both Sides.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super unique, I like it a lot.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Almost bought it the other day.

Final Thoughts:

I was too young for this album when I bought it, well, maybe that’s not quite right, I was just not in the mindset to get into this Mos Def album. For the most part it remained buried in my iTunes Library, until I decided to revisit it and see if it was as mediocre as I recalled. I was wrong, so wrong. Mos Def is incredible on The Ecstatic, he delivers his signature flow with wit, venom, and passion. The album is an incredible experience, it’s especially impressive to hear how he mixes both an experimental sound with an old school flow. The Ecstatic is a unique listen that Hip-Hop heads and even experimental fans will find joy in.

DOOM (MF Doom)-Born Like This (2009)

My Rating: 76% (B-)

Pitchfork Rating: 80%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 77%

Average Rating: 78%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Supervillain Intro
  2. Gazzillion Ear
  3. Ballskin
  4. Yessir (featuring Raekwon)
  5. Absolutely
  6. Rap Ambush
  7. Lightworks
  8. Batty Boyz
  9. Angelz (featuring Tony Starks)
  10. Cellz
  11. Still Dope (featuring Empress Starhh Tha Femcee)
  12. Microwave Mayo
  13. More Rhymin’
  14. That’s That
  15. Supervillainz (featuring Kurious, Mobonix & Slug)
  16. Bumpy’s Message (featuring Bumpy Knuckles)
  17. Thank Ya

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Needing to get some anger out/concentrate on a new project.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super odd, fits Doom’s style.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

Doom is at his angriest on Born Like This, there’s something that has changed him when he released this album. A depressing epiphany of some sort proceeded this album, and we can thank it for the dirty, dark, and much more focused rhyme style of Doom. I do miss the jokey rhymes that Doom was known for saying, but I can’t help but enjoy this more angry version of the villain. As always Doom shoots his albums in the foot by using so so many interludes, it’s really the only reason his albums get such a low rating, we don’t need interludes anymore, I don’t understand the draw to them in the rap genre, if you must, tack em to a beginning or ending of song, don’t make it a separate track and make us think we’re getting more than we actually are. Born Like This is Doom’s darkest offering, visit if you dare.

Maxïmo Park-Quicken The Heart (2009)

My Rating: 96% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: 55%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 61%

Average Rating: 70%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Wraithlike
  2. The Penultimate Clinch
  3. The Kids Are Sick Again
  4. A Cloud Of Mystery
  5. Calm
  6. In Another World (You Would’ve Found Yourself By Now)
  7. Let’s Get Clinical
  8. Roller Disco Dreams
  9. Tanned
  10. Questing, Not Coasting
  11. Overland, West Of Suez
  12. I Haven’t Seen Her In Ages

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Wanting an album to tune out to.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Pretty not great.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yeah even though that cover will look stupid.

Final Thoughts:

Maxïmo Park is one of those bands who have found their sound and are content to make albums that kinda all sound the same, for them it works because I like their style and I don’t find it too boring, but I could see why some would be sick of the formula. It sounds like an early 80’s band this time, something like The Smiths or even The Clash at times. Is it groundbreaking? Hell no, it’s really simple, but it’s in its simplicity that it shines. 12 tracks, nothing overly experimental that could rub fans the wrong way, just an album played to plan that I find super easy to mellow out to.

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.

N.A.S.A.-The Spirit Of Apollo (2009)

My Rating: 75% (B-)

Pitchfork Rating: 16%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 64%

Average Rating: 51.7%

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Into
  2. The People Tree Feat. David Byrne, Chali2na, Gift Of Gab & Z-Trip
  3. Money Feat. David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge, & Z-Trip
  4. N.A.S.A. Music Feat. Method Man, E-40 & DJ Swamp
  5. Way Down Feat. RZA, Barbie Hatch & John Frusciante
  6. Hip Hop Feat. KRS-One, Fatlip & Slim Kid Tre
  7. Four Rooms, Earth View
  8. Strange Enough Feat. Karen O, Ol’ Dirty Bastards, Fatlip
  9. Spacious Thoughts Feat. Tom Waits & Cool Keith
  10. Gifted Feat. Kanye West, Santogold, & Lykke Li
  11. A Volta Feat. Sizzla, Amanda Blank & Lovefoxxx
  12. There’s A Party Feat. George Clinton & Chali2na
  13. Whachadoin? Feat. Spank Rock, M.I.A., Santogold & Nick Zinner
  14. O Pato Feat. Kool Kojak & DJ Bãboa
  15. Samba Soul Feat. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien & DJ Qbert
  16. The Mayor Feat. The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah, Scarface & DJ AM

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Want a mash up of tons of critically acclaimed musicians from hip-hop to blues/funk.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s super random, just like the whole album, love it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly.

Final Thoughts:

This is one of those absolutely amazing albums that just went unnoticed, and I’m baffled why that is. I mean look at that star studded list of featuring artists, are you freaking kidding me? This is a music fans dream of an album and I for one am not letting it slip away without giving it the proper appreciation. The album as a whole may have only gotten 75%. But the songs that work, work really well. Please listen to these guys. You’ll thank me later.

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