Album Reviews: N.O.R.E. AkA P.A.P.I., The Neighbourhood, Queensryche, Kid Cudi, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses)


The Neighbourhood

"I Love You."

Producers: Justyn Pilbrow, Emile Haynie

Columbia Records

Release Date: April 23

This darkly moody album aptly culls together indie rock and R&B, bolstered by layered, ambient production and singer Jesse Rutherford's amalgamated rap-croon. Single "Sweater Weather" and echoing "Afraid" best showcase the band's edgy, subtle hooks, which all come together in a strangely lovely and deeply compelling way. -EZ




"Frequency Unknown"

Producer: Jason Slater

Deadline Music/Cleopatra Records

Release Date: April 23

After declaring himself the mastermind behind Queensryche's repertoire, the day of musical reckoning arrives for singer Geoff Tate. His first album with a new lineup certainly has enjoyable moments--like the ruminating "Fallen" and "In the Hands of God"--but sounds nothing like the finely crafted rock he once created with his former bandmates. -CT



Kid Cudi


Producer: Kid Cudi

Republic Records

Release Date: April 16

Kid Cudi has been a purveyor of rap experimentation since his 2009 debut. He comes full circle with new clarity on "Indicud," where songs like "Solo Dolo Pt. II" and "Lord of the Sad and Lonely" reveal a more confessional side. The tracks are pensive, but pack moments for raging--just like Cudi himself. -KI



N.O.R.E. aka P.A.P.I.

"Student of the Game"

Producers: various

EOne Music

Release Date: April 16

On "Student of the Game," the Queens native delivers the same level of energy that he has for more than 15 years. The single "Tadow" offers ricocheting rhymes with the help of 2 Chainz, Pusha T and French Montana, while Lil Wayne Auto-Tunes the hook on "She Tried." The Superthug has returned. -KI



Willie Nelson

"Let's Face the Music and Dance"

Producer: Buddy Cannon

Legacy Recordings

Release Date: April 16

Backed by his Family band, Nelson takes on chestnuts from the '30s up to a stark remake of his own 1989 track "Is the Better Part Over." He's in robust voice and picking form throughout, deftly handling Irving Berlin, Carl Perkins, Frank Loesser and especially the Django Reinhardt instrumental "Nuages." -GG



Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses)

"The Low Highway"

Producers: Steve Earle, Ray Kennedy

New West Records

Release Date: April 16

Pulling out the Dukes name for the first time in 26 years sends a bit of a message from Earle, especially on rocking first single "Calico County." He dishes out folk and bluegrass as well on the 12-song set, and offers a travelogue of roads that he's trodden with masterful confidence. -GG


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