After Fact Magazine picked them for their top third quarter 2009 album, Cloaks seemed to be working out. The few small bursts I’ve heard haven’t fully converted me, but there is something to be said for Cloaks’ odd fusion of dubstep with the harsher textures of early Cabaret Voltaire and the menacing repetition of Mescalinum United.
Michelle Branch Everything Comes and Goes
Releasing: 10 November
When I think of Michelle Branch’s forthcoming country album, Everything Comes and Goes, I think of a conversation about God I had with an old girlfriend. I said that I didn’t believe but thought that true belief exists as a part of someone, on an essential, inviolable level, and there’s nothing anyone can say or do to compromise it. She looked at me like I was a third-degree blockhead, so I conceded that yes, perhaps the belief or disbelief that at first blush seems so essential and inviolable is actually the product of eons of cultural conditioning, concerted assaults from sinister, powerful forces in the world; this made sense intellectually, but was still a viscerally unsatisfying concession.
Judging from her new single, “Sooner or Later” (not a cover of the 1971 Grass Roots hit), Michelle Branch country songs aren’t all that different from Michelle Branch pop songs. The guitars are a bit twangier, and when she pronounces “about” it sounds more like “abayowt”, which is not a word, but the chords are still simple, and the lyrics are still melodramatic in so calculated of a way as to remain completely unobtrusive.
It won’t be her first country crossover effort (see: the Wreckers’ Stand Still, Look Pretty), and she’s still cooing just as coyly as she was when she first came out with whatever song it was that made so many of the shy brunette girls in my high school class want to learn guitar. She was speaking to people then and she’ll speak to people now. All the PR dollars in the world can’t mess with that certain je ne sais qoui that connects artist and patron: you’re going to love the new Michelle Branch, or you’re not. It comes out November 10th.
The Arctic Monkeys new album Humbug officially debuted at number one on the UK charts this week making it the band’s third album to do so. Trying to follow up the success of 2007’s Favorite Worst Nightmare, the band went out into the American west to record with Queens of the Stoneage frontman Josh Homme in search of a new sound. Loosing none of their trademark cynicism or wit, the band slows down their tempo and brings up the low end crunch to create a powerhouse new album where lead singer Alex Turner abandons his snarky British punkboy voice to become what PopMatters’ Emily Tartanella calls “a husky voiced crooner”.
Despite his announcing a retirement from rap and hip hop, the superstar also known to his fans as Shawn Carter, Jay-Z has stepped back onto the scene with the upcoming release of The Blueprint 3, which follows the albums, The Blueprint (2001) and The Blueprint II (2002), both receiving warm reviews from critics all across the globe. The Blueprint 3 is set to receive similar accolade, with guest appearances from the likes of Kanye West, Pharrell, Drake, Alicia Keys, Young Jeezy, Kid Cudi and Rihanna. The first single, D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune), helped to create the massive buzz surrounding the album, and millions of Jay Z fans around the world will rejoice as this album prepares to captivate their ears and appetite for more of their favorite rap artist.
01 What We Talkin About (feat. Luke Steele of Empire of the Sun
02 Thank You
03 D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)
04 Run This Town (feat. Rihanna and Kanye West)
05 Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)
06 Real As It Gets (feat. Young Jeezy)
07 On to the Next One (feat. Swizz Beatz)
08 Off That (feat. Drake)
09 A Star is Born (feat. J. Cole)
10 Venus Vs. Mars
11 Already Home (feat. Kid Cudi)
12 Hate (feat. Kanye West)
14 So Ambitious (feat. Pharrell)
15 Young Forever (feat. Mr Hudson)