1. Rapper Gunplay Shows Both Sides of His Personality on Wild Debut ‘Living Legend’: Album Review

    July 31, 2015 5:51 PM EDT 0 0 0 Some critics view rapper Gunplay as a caricature: braids in a ball, pills in a pile, guns on the floor. And sure, the Miami native has called himself the “human L.A. riot,” but he also has articulated a street survivor’s remorse in compelling ways. ...

  2. Natalie Imbruglia Takes on the Boys With a Feminine Twist on ‘Male’: Album Review

    July 31, 2015 5:46 PM EDT 0 0 0 In 1997, Natalie Imbruglia sprinkled fairy dust all over “Torn,” her hit Ednaswap cover. On Male , her first album since 2009, the Aussie singer-actress works more remake magic on tunes originally performed by such male acts as Neil Young , Death Ca ...

  3. Migos Set the Trend -- Again -- With ‘Yung Rich Nation’: Album Review

    July 31, 2015 11:50 AM EDT 0 0 0 Since their 2013 breakthrough mixtape  YRN , the exuberant, motormouthed trio of Quavo, Takeoff and Offset, collectively known as Migos , have settled into their role as Atlanta trap rap’s most reliable and influential party-starters. That tape hous ...

  4. Bea Miller Rebels With Rocking Debut ‘Not an Apology’: Album Review

    July 27, 2015 11:45 AM EDT "I'm not a paper doll/Can't make me what you want," Bea Miller seethes on "Paper Doll," one of the many songs on her debut album marked by resistance to authority figures and chugging rock riffs. The mantra suits th ...

  5. AC/DC's 'Back In Black' at 35: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

    July 25, 2015 9:00 AM EDT 10.746 k 312 264 On AC/DC 's Back In Black , half the song titles would make badass tattoo slogans, and the other half are things you'd say to someone in a bar at 2 a.m. This alone doesn't make the album that special (the same is more or le ...

  6. Sublime’s New Iteration Wears Even Thinner on Reggae-Rock Rehash ‘Sirens’: Album Review

    July 21, 2015 6:34 PM EDT Weed has become more potent since deceased Sublime vocalist Bradley Nowell sang a cover of "Smoke Two Joints" on his band's seminal 40 oz. to Freedom in 1992. Still, you'd have to be pretty high to not be at least a little of ...

  7. Future Pledges Allegiance to Highs & Lows of Self-Medication on 'Dirty Sprite 2': Album Review

    July 21, 2015 1:20 PM EDT 0 0 0 On DS2 , the third major label album from Atlanta's Future , the rapper makes things clear from the outset: "I just f---ed your bitch in some Gucci flip-flops," he announces on opener "Thought It Was a Drought." He then admi ...

  8. Country Singer Ashley Monroe Goes Adult Contemporary With ‘The Blade’: Album Review

    July 21, 2015 1:00 PM EDT 0 0 0 No song has endeared Ashley Monroe more to critics -- especially those with a disdain for contemporary country -- than "Weed Instead of Roses," an irreverent honky-tonk about chemically enhancing a stale sex life. Songs like this have led ...

  9. Prince Royce Makes a Play for Pop’s Throne With ‘Double Vision’: Album Review

    July 21, 2015 12:38 PM EDT 0 0 0 In the Spanish-speaking world, Prince Royce is already a brand-name ­superstar. He scored his first No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart with his 2010 debut at the age of 20. That song, "Corazon Sin Cara," was a soft-focus ode to ­unconditio ...

  10. The Chemical Brothers Make a Triumphant Return After Five Years With ‘Born in the Echoes’: Album Review

    July 20, 2015 4:09 PM EDT 0 0 0 In The Chemical Brothers ' world, it's always 1997. Dig Your Own Hole , the commercial breakthrough of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons' long-running electronic-dance ­partnership, came out ages ago by the rapidly progressing standards of c ...

  11. The-Dream Sticks to the Script on ‘Crown Jewel’: Album Review

    July 20, 2015 3:41 PM EDT 0 0 0 Months after ­co-writing Rihanna 's 2007 smash "Umbrella," Terius " The-Dream " Nash released Love/Hate , an album of insistent R&B songs about fast cars and women with winking hooks like "Show me the green light.&q ...

  12. Years & Years’ Debut ‘Communion’ Is Filled With Confessional Synth-Pop: Album Review

    July 03, 2015 10:30 AM EDT 0 0 0 Five years ago, when Sam Smith and Disclosure were still teen unknowns, fellow Brits Years & Years were an indie-leaning quintet with live guitars and drums. Now that soulful house music is among England's chief exports, and the group has m ...

  13. Alt-Rockers X Ambassadors Take a Page From Imagine Dragons on ‘VHS’: Album Review

    July 03, 2015 9:00 AM EDT 0 0 0 The stalled momentum of 2013's alt-radio breakouts Imagine Dragons has left the door open for another genre-­neutral act to invade the airwaves, further redefining what a rock band in 2015 can be. Enter X Ambassadors , who share the Dragons ...

  14. Meek Mill Shows the Dark Side of the American Dream on 'Dreams Worth More Than Money': Album Review

    July 02, 2015 7:03 PM EDT 0 0 0 Meek Mill 's long-delayed Dreams Worth More Than Money  may be just the Philadelphia rapper's second official full-length but it feels like much more.  F ollowing up his 2012 debut,  Dreams & Nightmares ,  Mill's cultural footprin ...

  15. Ryn Weaver Makes Smart Move With Alt-Pop Debut ‘The Fool’: Album Review

    June 26, 2015 6:12 PM EDT 0 0 0 On debut LP The Fool , pop anomaly Ryn Weaver , 22, strikes a difficult, delicate balance between personal and universal. Her rebellious lyrics draw from both her real-life struggles as a woman and an artist and celestial themes that transcend them. ...

  16. The Rolling Stones' Iconic 'Sticky Fingers' Reissue and 'From The Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971' DVD Give a Vintage Front-Row View: Review

    June 25, 2015 1:57 PM EDT 0 0 0 The Rolling Stones are possibly the most fiscally fit rock band in history, so it's wildly out-of-character that they've been so lax about digging into their voluminous vaults. While everyone else was cleaning out their closets during the ...

  17. James Taylor is Still Soul-Searching on 'Before This World': Album Review

    June 23, 2015 5:29 PM EDT Like all New Englanders, James Taylor loves road trips. "My favorite thing is to miss my home when I'm gone," sings the 67-year-old Massachusetts native on the bluesy "Stretch of Highway," a cut from Before This World , h ...

  18. Miguel Chooses His Path (Sort Of) on 'Wildheart': Album Review

    June 23, 2015 10:00 AM EDT 0 0 0 Ever since his 2012 breakthrough hit single "Adorn," Miguel Pimentel has faced a contradiction: There's the 21st-century loverman vibe much of his public wants him to incarnate -- a new-generation R. Kelly, without the repellent bagga ...

  19. Vince Staples Paints a Vivid Picture on His Full-Length Debut 'Summertime '06': Album Review

    June 22, 2015 3:35 PM EDT 0 0 0 Most people look back at the summers of their youth as a dreamy mix of beach trips, bike rides and puppy-love crushes. But rapper Vince Staples , on his debut full-length Summertime '06 , has different memories: running from police, dead bodies ...

  20. Nate Ruess’ Solo Debut ‘Grand Romantic’ Is Better and Brighter Than Its Singles: Album Review

    June 22, 2015 2:03 PM EDT 0 0 0 Nate Ruess  has been a busy frontman for nearly 15 years -- the first half spent with pop-punk trio The Format , and the rest with Fun. , whose surprise Grammy-winning breakthrough in 2012 turned him into a star. The latter's big-belted, blue-c ...

  21. Dance Music Godfather Giorgio Moroder Returns After Three Decades With All-Star 'Deja-Vu': Album Review

    June 22, 2015 12:46 PM EDT 0 0 0 When dance music inevitably builds a hall of fame (probably somewhere on the Vegas Strip), Giorgio Moroder could ­justifiably be the first inductee. As one of the founding fathers of disco, Moroder was among the first musicians to introduce ­synthes ...

  22. 2PM Are Subtle, Seductive Gentleman on 'No.5': Track-by-Track Album Review

    June 18, 2015 8:05 PM EDT 0 0 0 Last year, 2PM  showed off their party-boy sides with their funky  Go Crazy!  album that incorporated new and unexpected sounds to their proven R&B formula. Less than a year later, the sextet are back with No.5  that represents their fifth, full ...

  23. Epik High Defy Conventions, Electrify Audiences in New York: Live Review

    June 16, 2015 6:40 PM EDT 0 0 0 By the standards of most K-pop concerts, Epik High shouldn't be playing to an earsplitting, sold-out crowd. The trio's last album was made up of emo hip-hop cuts, they don't perform choreography, there's no flashy stage setup, tw ...

  24. Scottish Producer Hudson Mohawke Goes From EDM to Rap and Back on 'Lantern': Album Review

    June 16, 2015 2:49 PM EDT 0 0 0 Back when Hudson Mohawke was crafting bombastic synth-scapes in his mom's Glasgow ­basement in the 2000s, the idea of him collaborating with Lil Wayne and Pusha T was but a left-field electro nerd's distant fantasy. Years later, the produc ...

  25. Kacey Musgraves' 'Pageant Material' Is Sharper and More Nashville-Friendly: Album Review

    June 16, 2015 11:11 AM EDT 0 0 0 The Southern adage "Don't get above your raisin'," memorialized as a song title by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs in 1951, has long been a guideline for ­country artists. It even dictates their choices in pronouns: always the hu ...

  26. Don Omar's 'The Last Don II': Track-by-Track Review

    June 15, 2015 9:36 PM EDT 0 0 0 Album revisits reggaeton star's 2003 debut. Back in 2003, Don Omar , a rising reggaetón act from Puerto Rico, released his solo debut album. The Last Don -- featuring the likes of Daddy Yankee and Hector “El Father,” came in the wake of hugely ...

  27. Of Monsters and Men Sink Their Teeth Into 'Beneath the Skin': Album Review

    June 15, 2015 3:00 PM EDT 0 0 0 Should some intrepid director make a movie out of My Head Is an Animal , the 2011 debut from Icelandic arena-folk ­adventurers Of Monsters and Men , he or she will need lots of wildlife wranglers and CGI but only a handful of actual actors. A surpri ...

  28. Muse Aims High But Hits Somewhere in the Middle With ‘Drones’: Album Review

    June 12, 2015 4:29 PM EDT 0 0 0 Muse treads between sublime and ridiculous more than any rock band in recent memory, with jaw-dropping pretention that makes it hard to tell if they're just having a laugh. Drones is, of course, a concept album, about, ­according to the liner n ...

  29. Tamia Makes Stability Seductive on 'Love Life': Album Review

    June 12, 2015 2:56 PM EDT 0 0 0 Few singers make marriage sound as sexy as Tamia does on her sixth album, Love Life . Monogamy anthems are a staple for the singer, 40, who has been married to former NBA star Grant Hill for 16 years. On Love Life , she elegantly touches on the vexi ...

  30. Mariah Carey's Self-Titled Debut at 25: Classic Track-by-Track Review

    June 12, 2015 2:30 PM EDT 7.525 k 897 4 Revisiting the 11-track collection that jumpstarted one of the most successful stories in pop music history. After the flash, glitz and glamor that governed '80s pop music, the woman who would become the next decade’s biggest act seemed ...

  31. Chi-Town Rapper Lil Durk Balances Grit and Gloss on Major-Label Debut: Album Review

    June 09, 2015 11:44 AM EDT 0 0 0 Since the steely Chicago rap subgenre known as drill exploded in 2012, Lil Durk , 22, has arguably become the scene's most consistent voice. He earned cult status with his Auto-Tuned, half-sung flows, but the melodies never distracted from the ...

  32. Jamie XX Taps Dance Music’s Past for Wildly Imaginative Debut ‘In Colour’: Album Review

    June 08, 2015 5:19 PM EDT Jamie xx is 26 years old, which means he was barely out of diapers during the heyday of '90s U.K. rave culture, which provides the heart, soul and inspiration for his jaw-dropping solo debut, In Colour . The xx member (real name: Jamie Smith) ...

  33. Jason Derulo Struggles to Find Himself on His All-Star ‘Everything Is 4’: Album Review

    June 08, 2015 12:25 PM EDT Jason Derulo 's 2014 smash "Talk Dirty" was more than a comeback hit for the pop veteran: It was a much-needed game-changer. After years of producing slick, inoffensive dance singles like "Whatcha Say" and "The Other ...

  34. Diplo’s Major Lazer Finds Its Footing In the World of Pop With 'Peace Is the Mission': Album Review

    June 05, 2015 12:45 PM EDT 0 0 0 Long a quirky, inconsistent side project of dance's busiest all-over-the-place producer, Diplo 's reggae-inspired Major Lazer outfit comes into sharper focus on its third album. Known for his muscular beats, the Mad Decent boss recently to ...

  35. Chiquis Rivera Pays Tribute to Mom Jenni Rivera and Makes Her Own Mark With Debut Album 'Ahora': Track-by-Track Review

    June 02, 2015 1:03 PM EDT 0 0 0 The late, great banda singer Jenni Rivera once said “haters are just confused fans.” So it makes sense that although Jenni’s eldest daughter Chiquis seems to have an equal ratio of the latter to gung-ho cheerleaders, this in no way has deterred her ...

  36. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment Aim To Melt Your Cynicism On 'Surf'

    May 30, 2015 3:28 PM EDT 0 0 0 The origins of Surf , Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment's new release, are hard to explain. A lot of the attention the album's received stems from the involvement of Chance the Rapper , a virtuosic MC from Chicago, though this isn ...

  37. A$AP Rocky’s 'At.Long.Last.A$AP' Is the Perfect Experiment: Album Review

    May 29, 2015 11:39 AM EDT 0 0 0 Two years after Beyonce 's self-titled coup, the term "surprise album" has become a misnomer, especially in hip-hop. In the first three months of 2015, Drake , Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt all dropped records with little to no w ...

  38. Boosie Badazz Presents His Post-Prison Second Chapter on ‘Touch Down 2 Cause Hell’: Album Review

    May 26, 2015 1:30 PM EDT Baton Rouge, LA., hometown hero Boosie Badazz (formerly Lil Boosie ) has always rapped with palpable urgency. His voice, ­arguably his most distinctive feature, is a piercing drawl that demands attention and drips with pathos. But after finishing ...

  39. Florence & The Machine Displays Different Kind of Vulnerability on ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’: Album Review

    May 26, 2015 11:30 AM EDT 1.867 k 71 0 Since Florence Welch made her debut in 2009, she has created music that turns heads and widens eyes. There's no doubt she's a ­flamboyantly imaginative writer and a captivating vocalist and performer. Yet her first two albums, with ...

  40. SHINee Embrace Old & New Sounds on 'Odd': Track-by-Track Review

    May 21, 2015 6:15 PM EDT 0 0 0 Despite initially debuting with a R&B sound , SHINee is arguably most exciting when experimenting -- like when they mashed two album tracks together to promote the "hybrid remix" single "Sherlock" in 2012 or added a pop senti ...

  41. Shamir Serves Up Sass and Style on Disco-Inspired Debut ‘Ratchet’: Album Review

    May 19, 2015 3:47 PM EDT 0 0 0 It's not just Shamir Bailey's curiosity that makes him special. This is 2015: Shame on any young artist who doesn't love Taylor Swift , Michael Jackson and '80s noise rockers Scratch Acid -- all of whom this 20-year-old Las Vegas ...

  42. Pop Duo Twenty One Pilots Makes a Hot Mess (in a Good Way) on ‘Blurryface’: Album Review

    May 19, 2015 3:40 PM EDT 0 0 0 The great thing about being a pop duo that treats genres like a toddler treats Legos is that even your ­mistakes are fascinating. Such is the case with Twenty One Pilots ' Blurryface , the fourth album by Ohioan road ­warriors Tyler Joseph and ...

  43. Jamie Foxx’s ‘Hollywood: A Story of a Dozen Roses’ Is a Disjointed Outing: Album Review

    May 18, 2015 3:57 PM EDT 0 0 0 Jamie Foxx returns to music with his fifth album, Hollywood: A Story of a Dozen Roses , and little left to prove. He's a double-threat with an Oscar, two Grammy Awards and hits like "Blame It" with T-Pain and Kanye West 's " ...

  44. Rico Love Steps Out On His Own With 'Turn The Lights On': Album Review

    May 18, 2015 11:35 AM EDT 0 0 0 In an interview in January , singer-songwriter/producer/rapper Rico Love identified a turning point in his career: a trio of ballads he wrote several years ago for Melanie Fiona ("4 AM"), Mary J. Blige ("Mr. Wrong"), and Trey Son ...

  45. BoA Makes a Stylish Return to Her K-Pop Throne on 'Kiss My Lips': Track-by-Track Review

    May 15, 2015 6:46 PM EDT 0 0 0 With nearly 15 years in the entertainment industry, BoA has little to prove in Korea, where she's widely regarded as a pioneer in K-pop's modern-day international platform. After delving into multiple genres throughout several territories ...

  46. Country Songwriter Chris Stapleton Copes With Loss on Triumphant Solo Debut: Album Review

    May 12, 2015 5:28 PM EDT Chris Stapleton's backstory is something out of a country myth. His dad was a coal miner; the Nashville singer-songwriter, 37, who has written for everyone from Adele to Tim McGraw , was moved to record his solo debut, Traveller , after his d ...

  47. Best Coast Outdoes Itself on Surprisingly Sharp ‘California Nights’: Album Review

    May 12, 2015 2:39 PM EDT Long past the height of their hipster popularity, Los Angeles surf-rockers Best Coast have unexpectedly served up their best album. Since the band first emerged in 2009 as a girl group-meets- Jesus and Mary Chain duo, its sound has undergone sever ...

  48. Snoop Dogg’s Pharrell-Produced ‘Bush’ Is a Half-Baked Effort: Album Review

    May 12, 2015 1:10 PM EDT 0 0 0 As an idea, Snoop Dogg 's 13th solo album, Bush , sounds great. It's his return to character after the detour of 2013's reggae hybrid, Reincarnated (recorded as Snoop Lion), and his first with a single (and ­singular) producer since h ...

  49. The Beatles' 'Let It Be' at 45: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

    May 08, 2015 3:35 PM EDT 0 0 0 Over the course of 16 months beginning in early 1969, an ambitious project that was titled  Get Back  and intended to document the back-to-basics rebirth of the Beatles devolved into  Let It Be , a heavily fussed-over hodgepodge of live and studio c ...

  50. Ciara Misses an Opportunity on 'Jackie': Album Review

    May 06, 2015 12:40 PM EDT 0 0 0 Coping with an all-too public breakup often yields raw, humanizing creative boosts for music stars -- Marvin Gaye 's withering Here, My Dear is the classic -example. For R&B singer Ciara , whose sexy turn-up jams have always been more style ...

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