Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shakira Is Back On Amazing New Album

Latin superstar Shakira released her tenth album and the self-titled record is great. It redeems her after her last two albums 2009's She Wolf and 2010's Sale el Sol. While each record had a few great songs, the rest didn't hold up. On Shakira, Shakira makes up for lost time.
The album is a very experimental affair. Whether channeling No Doubt on the reggae and ska inspired first single "Can't Remember to Forget You" which features Rihanna and on "Cut Me Deep" which features Canadian reggae rock band Magic! or going country on "Medicine" with Blake Shelton, Shakira gets the job done.
Shakira also gets back to the world of rock music on this album. Her last few albums had Shakira hiding her rocker side but on songs like "Empire" she's back to rocking out. Her album is also very pop oriented. "The One Thing" is a poppy ode to her son. Also she recalls her Latin music roots on tracks like "You Don't Care About Me" and "Loca por Ti," one of the album's songs that is sung in Spanish.
Her songs reflects the happiness of her relationship with Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué. "23" recalls the beginning of their relationship as it was the age he was when they met. "Broken Record" is an adorable song that  addresses the feeling of being in love."Spotlight" is about finding love with Piqué in the public eye and how she knows that he loves her for who she is and not how much money she has. It is one of the album's best songs and showcases a heavy rock vibe.
The other best song on the album is "Dare (La La La)." This song is a dance-pop anthem with an electronic sound that mixes in Brazilian instrumentation. The song is the most mainstream and poppy song on the record. This song is surely meant to be a huge hit single. 
Shakira is one of Shakira's best albums and  one of the best pop albums of the year so far. If this is any indication of how the rest of 2014's pop albums will be, we're in for a treat.

Karmin Release Great Debut Album

Pop duo Karmin have always been original. Their mix of pop, dance, hip hop and acoustic music has always been good. On their debut EP Hello, the duo and real life couple, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan, had a few great songs but the rest were lackluster and annoying.
On Pulses, the group's debut album there are many more great songs than there are bad ones.
"The album's best song is still first single "Acapella." The song is a breakup song that features Heidemann at her best as a rapper and singer. While the song was a flop commercially it's still the duo's best song. However there are other great songs on the record. From the touching breakup ballad "Neon Love" to the third single, the hip hop title track there are lots of good songs.
Pulses also has Karmin experimenting with new songs. "Drifter" is a song that is highly influenced by dance music. There is even a dubstepish breakdown. Also "Gasoline" is a reggae track that recalls a more hip hop version of No Doubt's most reggae moments.
However not all songs on the album work. Second single "I Want it All" is an annoying cut that mixes in disco and funk that comes off as silly and annoying. "Nights Like This" recalls a more tame version of Miley Cyrus and Kesha while "Tidal Wave" is just boring.
However tracks like "Hate to Love You" and "Try Me On" make up for it. The duo also write with a few high profile people. Martin Johnson, lead singer of Boys Like Girls, produced and co-wrote "Acapella" and "Neon Love" while crunkcore duo 3OH!3 co-wrote "Puppet."
Karmin have shown that they can grow to make great music if given enough time and brilliant people to work with.

Taking Back Sunday Mature On Sixth Album

Taking Back Sunday have redeemed themselves on their sixth album Happiness Is. Their fifth album, 2011's self-titled album had a few good moments but very few of the songs were memorable. On new album the band more than make up for that.
The best songs on the album are the first single "Flicker, Fade" and "Better Homes and Gardens." Both deal with breakups but they're mature and adult. The latter has some of the best lyrics that Taking Back Sunday have ever come up with. Both these songs are touching and emotional and leave the listener feeling what front man Adam Lazzara sings.
"You'll never be happy/ But it was all for nothing/ Yeah it was all a waste/ You held on tight and for dear life/ But it was all for nothing," Lazzara sings on the chorus.
Other highlights include "Stood a Chance," "Beat Up Car" and "Like You Do." These are all classic Taking Back Sunday and like the rest of the record, are great.
There truly are no bad songs and I have no negative comments to make about this album. It shows that just because a band gets older, doesn't mean they need to lose their edge. Taking Back Sunday only get better with time and this record shows it.

The Pretty Reckless Get Better On Second Album

Last month The Pretty Reckless released their second album of grungy hard rock. Going to Hell is a lot better than their debut which came off as singer Taylor Momsen doing bad Courtney Love impressions.
While there are some great songs on Going to Hell, the band's sophomore record is hardly a masterpiece it does have some great songs.  The album starts off on a strong point with the records first three singles "Follow Me Down," the title track and "Heaven Knows" are some of the best songs on this record. They're heavy, fun and sexy with badass rock and roll swagger. These songs are on the same level as the only two good songs off of their debut album Light Me Up, "Miss Nothing" and "Just Tonight."
The album's other two highlights are the very sexual hard rocker "Sweet Things" to the political and violent "Why'd You Bring a Shotgun to the Party?" These songs are phenomenal and make this album worth getting.
However, the rest of the songs don't really stick out. "Burn" and "House on a Hill" are very much stereotypical hard rock songs. The rest of the songs on the album could just not have happened The five great songs could have just made a great EP instead of a full album.
The Pretty Reckless have proved that they're improving. If they keep along the path they're on maybe they'll have an amazing fourth album.