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

    May 26, 2015 1:30 PM EDT 0 0 0 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 a ...

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

    May 26, 2015 11:30 AM EDT 0 0 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 their m ...

  3. 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 ...

  4. 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 ...

  5. 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 ...

  6. 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 " ...

  7. 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 ...

  8. 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 ...

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

    May 12, 2015 5:28 PM EDT 0 0 0 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 dea ...

  10. 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 ...

  11. 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 ...

  12. 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 ...

  13. 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 ...

  14. Tyler Farr Goes From Bro to Brooding on Sophomore Album ‘Suffer in Peace’: Album Review

    May 05, 2015 6:06 PM EDT 0 0 0 In country songwriting, fighting words are often leavened with robust wit. It couldn't have been lost on Tyler Farr that his first big hit, 2013's cheater-­confronting "Redneck Crazy," came off more menacing than amusing. But he& ...

  15. Mana Takes a Genre-Bending Left Turn With ‘Cama Incendiada’: Album Review

    May 04, 2015 4:00 PM EDT 0 0 0 On Maná 's last studio LP, 2011's Drama y Luz , the chart-topping Mexican band embraced gothic tales and angst. But Cama Incendiada (Burning Bed), despite its title -- and singer Fher Olvera's separation from Telemundo star Monica Nog ...

  16. Album Review: Mumford & Sons Rock Out But Keep Their Sentiment Intact on ‘Wilder Mind’

    May 01, 2015 4:27 PM EDT 0 0 0 Rock'n'roll transformations are as old as rock'n'roll. The Beatles made some of their best music post-moptops; Dylan incited helter skelter at the Newport Folk Festival. U2 had Zooropa, and Green Day did Broadway. Evolving -- it& ...

  17. Kehlani Releases the Year's First Great R&B Album With 'You Should Be Here'

    April 29, 2015 11:30 AM EDT 0 0 0 Rap was full of seemingly out-of-nowhere success stories last year, but the same was not true for R&B. As more types of music pilfer the genre's signature delivery -- and its singers -- for their own ends, it's tougher for R&B arti ...

  18. Album Review: Blur Comes to a Personal and Professional Crossroads on ‘The Magic Whip’

    April 28, 2015 2:44 PM EDT 0 0 0 In order to finish The Magic Whip , its first album in a dozen years, Blur had to revisit the past. This wasn't the ­distant past of 1994's Parklife or 1995's The Great Escape , cheeky Britpop triumphs that branded the London foursome ...

  19. Album Review: Reba McEntire Forgoes Radio Fare for Mature Ballads on ‘Love Somebody’

    April 27, 2015 10:44 AM EDT 0 0 0 There's really no template for Reba McEntire  to follow at this point. She's a star of a certain age -- 60, if you can believe it -- who's in the Country Music Hall of Fame but still has the drive to make radio-relevant music at a ti ...

  20. Album Review: Young Thug Exists In His Own Weird World On 'Barter 6'

    April 17, 2015 11:25 AM EDT 0 0 0 Most artists end up being defined by their limitations. At a certain point, songwriting will be hemmed in by imagination or ability. For rappers, voice often dictates range, and no one has more peculiar ways of using their voice than Atlanta's ...

  21. EP Review: The-Dream Shows a New Dimension on 'Crown'

    April 14, 2015 3:04 PM EDT 0 0 0 Terius Nash, the R&B singer, songwriter and producer who performs as The-Dream , specializes in creating tracks that are triumphant and crushingly melodic. Listen to " Fast Car " (2007) or " F.I.L.A. " (2010): These glistenin ...

  22. Album Review: Alabama Shakes Continue Their Southern Rock Renaissance on 'Sound & Color'

    April 14, 2015 12:05 PM EDT 0 0 0 Consider the Alabama Shakes the torchbearers for the new retro rock. The sound's first wave, sparked in the early 2000s by bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes (plus a ­thousand other groups with "The" in their names), was vie ...

  23. EXO's 'Exodus' Charges Into a New Era of Boy Bands: Track-by-Track Review

    April 03, 2015 9:47 PM EDT 0 0 0 More or less, you know what to expect from your favorite boy band: Backstreet Boys give us straight-forward bubblegum; One Direction  embraces '80s-tinged, rock-pop hooks; and you can count on incredible choreography no matter what genre TVXQ! ...

  24. Album Review: 'The Album About Nothing' Is Wale's Most Personal and Best Work

    April 02, 2015 2:13 PM EDT 0 0 0 Wale made his breakthrough with the Seinfeld -inspired The Mixtape About Nothing seven years ago. Since, the D.C. rapper has changed record labels, rebounding from the commercial failure of his 2009 debut, Attention Deficit , by topping the Billboar ...

  25. Havana's Daymé Arocena Bridges Gap Between Cuban & American Music

    April 02, 2015 11:15 AM EDT 0 0 0 Daymé Arocena’s vocal repertoire encompasses scatting, Afro-Cuban chanting, scratchy-throated whispers, and a deep, gusty laugh. On her cover of the classic “Cry Me A River” (not the Justin Timberlake track), the 22-year-old from Havana sings to a r ...

  26. Album Review: Ludacris' 'Ludaversal' Is His Moodiest Yet

    March 31, 2015 12:25 PM EDT For years, Ludacris has stood at the convergence of two implacably divided camps: hip-hop fundamentalists and casual, neophyte listeners. His flow is ideally suited to rowdy club pleasers, but he's a man of formidable substance, calling the ...

  27. T-Pain's Frustrations Show on His New Mixtape 'The Iron Way'

    March 30, 2015 1:21 PM EDT 0 0 0 Pop music and technology have always had an uneasy relationship, with arbitrary lines defining how much technology an artist is allowed to use before his or her music stops being "real." Nobody knows more about this problem right now than ...

  28. Eliane Elias on Returning to Her Home Country for 'Made in Brazil,' Being Blond & Female in Jazz

    March 30, 2015 11:30 AM EDT 0 0 0 The New York-based pianist-singer releases first album recorded in her native country in three decades. Eliane Elias arrived in New York as a jazz prodigy ready to take on the world she knew from listening to records in her native Sao Paulo. And she ...

  29. Album Review: Ian Parton Reinvents Songwriting Style on The Go! Team's 'The Scene Between'

    March 23, 2015 5:56 PM EDT 0 0 0 When it comes to second acts,  The Go! Team (aka songwriter/musician/producer Ian Parton) seems like a fairly unpromising candidate. The English artist almost single-handedly created one of the best debuts of 2004 with  Thunder Lighting Strike! -- a ...

  30. Album Review: Action Bronson Doesn't Mess With His Recipe on Major Label Debut 'Mr. Wonderful'

    March 23, 2015 1:15 PM EDT 0 0 0 Five years ago, Action Bronson  was a sous chef with big dreams -- until a workplace tumble left him sitting at home with a broken leg. He poured the new downtime into his sideline fantasy -- becoming a rapper -- and never looked back. Today, the Qu ...

  31. Lila Downs Talks New Album 'Balas y Chocolate' & Her Husband's Terminal Diagnosis

    March 23, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Watch video for single “La Patria Madrina” with Juanes. “I’ve seen hell; I’ve seen the news” sings Lila Downs at the start of the song “La Patria Madrina.” A video for the track flashes shots of deforestation, oil excavation, headlines of viole ...

  32. Buena Vista Social Club Readies 'Lost and Found' Album, Final Tour

    March 19, 2015 12:20 PM EDT The original Buena Vista Social Club album (1997) and subsequent albums featuring its stars were made in an analogue 1940s studio with a leaky roof. That studio had seen few changes since its customized acoustic panels witnessed Nat King Cole sin ...

  33. Depeche Mode's 'Violator' at 25: Classic Track-by-Track Review

    March 19, 2015 11:55 AM EDT 1.501 k 128 4 In the first half of the '80s, when Depeche Mode was just a baby-faced synth-pop band singing bubblegum love songs, America couldn't be bothered to care. The boys from Basildon, England, were neither as pretty as Duran Duran nor as ...

  34. Album Review: Awolnation’s ‘Run’ Is More of a Technical Achievement Than an Artistic One

    March 17, 2015 4:15 PM EDT Sandwiched between hits on the rock radio stations it dominated from 2011 to 2013, Awol­nation 's blockbuster "Sail" sounds like Nine Inch Nails covering Nickelback. It's dark, with crashing synths, scary violins and lyrics a ...

  35. Album Review: Twin Shadow Clears the Electronic Fog on Major-Label Debut ‘Eclipse’

    March 17, 2015 4:08 PM EDT On his third album, Twin Shadow pivots away from the past -- both pop music's and his own. But what has been sacrificed in the name of progress? Pop Shop Picks: Twin Shadow In recent interviews, George Lewis Jr., the 31-year-old singer/produce ...

  36. Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp A Butterfly' Challenges and Rewards: Album Review

    March 16, 2015 6:56 PM EDT 2.136 k 305 24 Kendrick Lamar 's second major label album,  To Pimp a Butterfly , was released on Sunday night to the kind of fanfare that, while not quite breaking the Internet, does prompt multiple trending topics on Twitter -- and some confusion o ...

  37. Radiohead’s 'The Bends' at 20: Classic Track-By-Track Review

    March 13, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Had Radiohead vanished after its first album, 1993's Pablo Honey , the quintet from Oxford, England, would be remembered as a decent grunge band with one novelty hit. That song, of course, is "Creep," a crushing outsider's an ...

  38. Album Review: Madonna's 'Rebel Heart' Blends Inventive Beats and Maximalist Pop

    March 05, 2015 2:04 PM EST In December -- as Madonna rushed out six songs from Rebel Heart after some truly ugly cyber-bullying -- she told Billboard she had recorded so much material that she had considered doing a double album. And indeed, there are at least two albums s ...

  39. Album Review: Electronic Duo Purity Ring's 'Another Eternity' Refracts Pop Through a Funhouse Mirror

    March 03, 2015 5:27 PM EST One of music's longtime laws is that the underground bubbles up. From jazz to blues, punk to EDM, the fringe always moves toward the center. Well, not anymore. Thanks to the frenetic pace and democratic nature of the Internet, conversations b ...

  40. 'A Guide to the Birdsong of South America': This Album is for the Birds -- Seriously

    March 03, 2015 5:17 PM EST Electronic artists make beautiful music with field recordings of endangered birds. The new album A Guide to the Birdsong of South America is not as scientific as the title might suggest, but the recording does capture the voices of actual birds -- ...

  41. Album Review: Brodinski's Debut, 'Brava,' Adds French Finesse to Trap Music

    March 03, 2015 2:09 PM EST France has long been a hotbed for cutting-edge electronic music, with  Daft Punk ,  Busy P  and  David Guetta  as notable alumni. But the new school of French electro is led by Brodinski, a 27-year-old sneakerhead from the city of Reims who favor ...

  42. Album Review: Ghostface Killah & BadBadNotGood's 'Sour Soul' Sounds Sweet

    February 23, 2015 4:23 PM EST Ghostface Killah 's full-length collaborative album with jazz troupe BadBadNotGood isn't your standard wine-and-cheese affair. On the impressive Sour Soul , the Canadian trio that built its profile through Odd Future and Gucci Mane cover ...

  43. Big Sean, 'Dark Sky Paradise': Track-by-Track Review

    February 23, 2015 3:00 PM EST Close to a year ago, things weren't looking so good for Big Sean . The G.O.O.D. Music rapper was in the midst of a breakup with former fiance and Glee star Naya Rivera ; it seemed to be on the verge of getting very public and very ugly. Ke ...

  44. Album Review: Kid Rock Grows Up and Gives Thanks on 'First Kiss'

    February 23, 2015 11:59 AM EST On his 10th studio effort Kid Rock is, to borrow the title of his annual sea cruise, chillin' the most. His first album since departing longtime label Atlantic for Warner Bros., First Kiss is hardly his most ­adventurous project, but it is ...

  45. Album Review: Swedish Troubadour Jose Gonzalez's 'Vestiges & Claws' Is a Study in Restraint

    February 17, 2015 4:29 PM EST Ever since his transfixing 2005 cover of The Knife 's "Heartbeats" earned him an international following, Swedish troubadour Jose Gonzalez has developed one of the most recognizable sounds in indie rock. His voice is a singular instr ...

  46. Album Review: Imagine Dragons' 'Smoke + Mirrors' Cherry-Picks Musical Styles

    February 17, 2015 1:34 PM EST Could anyone design a band more impervious to criticism than Imagine Dragons ? Formed at Utah's Brigham Young University and graduating to become Las Vegas, and then global, sweethearts, the group combines heartland earnestness with showbiz ...

  47. Album Review: The Mavericks Show Off Their Splashy, Seasoned Spirit on 'Mono'

    February 17, 2015 12:49 PM EST No matter how The Mavericks have been positioned in the business -- platinum-selling 1990s country stars or recently reunited Americana-Latin mash-up -- they've presented an alternative to whatever popular sounds surround them at the moment. ...

  48. 'Whitney Houston' at 30: Classic Track-by-Track Review

    February 14, 2015 9:00 AM EST 0 0 0 Few debut albums launch artists from complete obscurity into the heights of cultural and commercial appreciation like Whitney Houston 's 1985 eponymous set. Crafted under the careful eye of Arista Records' Clive Davis, the 10-song collecti ...

  49. Album Review: The 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Soundtrack Hits Hard Enough to Leave a Lasting Mark

    February 10, 2015 3:18 PM EST 0 0 0 If a billionaire control freak with a fetish for whips and chains were to make a mixtape for a prospective love slave, he'd do well to begin with Annie Lennox 's version of "I Put a Spell On You." Outwardly elegant, Lennox's ...

  50. Album Review: Father John Misty's 'I Love You, Honeybear' Is a Touchingly Bizarre Affair

    February 09, 2015 4:32 PM EST 0 0 0 Three years ago, singer-songwriter J. Tillman traded morose ballads for mordant wit, headed down the coast from Seattle to Los Angeles and rechristened himself Father John Misty . Surrounding himself with pedal steel, strings and vocal chorales, the ...

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