1. The Velvet Underground Clean Out the Vault With 'Loaded' Box Set & Dazzling 'Matrix Tapes'

    November 20, 2015 7:00 PM EST At this point, 50 years after the Velvet Underground formed and 45 years since Lou Reed left the band, there’s not a lot to say about this endlessly influential group that hasn’t already been said -- and not a lot to hear that hasn’t already been ...

  2. Adele Powers Through a Lifetime of Regret & Weariness on '25': Album Review

    November 19, 2015 12:25 PM EST 0 0 0 Adele Adkins is still a young woman -- just 27, which is to say two years older than the number on the cover of her third album. But she’s determined to sound as old as the hills. The love-wracked ingénue of 21 has given way to a lioness-in-winter, ...

  3. CeeLo Green Tries to Atone for Past Sins on Comeback ‘Heart Blanche’: Album Review

    November 16, 2015 4:27 PM EST 0 0 0 CeeLo Green 's fifth solo LP ­probably should've been called My Bad instead of Heart Blanche . With songs like " CeeLo  Green Sings the Blues" and an intro promising "a look into my soul underneath my celebrity skin," i ...

  4. Brown Eyed Girls Further Refine Their Roles as K-Pop Provocateurs on 'Basic': Album Review

    November 11, 2015 8:11 PM EST 0 0 0 What does a pop act do when they've already pushed the envelope so many times? After a decade together, Brown Eyed Girls have broken cultural boundaries (2009's "Abracadabra" video and choreography showed a girl group could succe ...

  5. Grimes Maintains Outsider Ethos But Yields to Mainstream Pull on 'Art Angels': Album Review

    November 09, 2015 4:40 PM EST 0 0 0 You could write a fascinating alternate history of music by following the progressions of weirdos and outsiders who, after a few albums, yielded to the gravitational pull of mainstream music: the Velvet Underground , Yoko Ono , the Tubes , Genesis , ...

  6. Bob Dylan's Most Prolific Period Revisited (Again) in 'Bootleg Series Volume 12': Album Review

    November 06, 2015 7:30 PM EST With  Bob Dylan ’s longstanding bootleg series and its elongated  contextualization  of his universally lauded craft, the scholarly reconsideration of archival recordings has become something of a cottage industry for our most famous bard, as we ...

  7. Alessia Cara Balances Idealism and Cynicism on Debut ‘Know-It-All’: Album Review

    November 06, 2015 12:22 PM EST 0 0 0 At 19 years old, Alessia Cara has become a heroine for awkward outsiders. On her breakout single, "Here," the Drake -co-signed Canadian singer-songwriter embraces being the antisocial type who would rather hug the walls than follow typical ...

  8. One Direction Points the Way Forward on Swan Song (For Now) ‘Made in the A.M.’: Album Review

    November 06, 2015 11:52 AM EST 0 0 0 With the sudden departure of Zayn Malik  in March, One Direction , one of the ­biggest boy bands in history, officially became a foursome. This naturally bolstered the Beatles comparisons fans have been making since 2011, when these new-millennium l ...

  9. f(x) Doesn't Miss a Beat on '4 Walls': Album Review

    November 02, 2015 10:10 PM EST 0 0 0 Last summer, f(x)  hit a wall when original member Sulli  took a hiatus from the act leaving many speculating discord inside the underrated-yet-extremely-consistent quintet. She officially left the group in August this year just as f(x) was announce ...

  10. The Neighbourhood Veers From Alt-Rock to R&B With 'Wiped Out!': Album Review

    November 02, 2015 2:46 PM EST 0 0 0 On its 2013 debut,  I Love  You , The Neighbourhood  came off like a goth  Maroon 5 , ­making ­soulful alt-rock for the shady SoCal dream world occupied by Lana Del Rey (see the Alternative No. 1 "Sweater Weather"). The band got help from ...

  11. 'Ork Records: New York, New York' Box Set Reflects on Big Apple Punk Label's Storied (and Shady) Past: Album Review

    November 02, 2015 2:28 PM EST 0 0 0 The best bands that played CBGB in the mid-1970s -- the ones with ­pizzazz, songs, looks and ­ambition -- were ­corralled by major labels. Now that New York's Bowery is no longer a ­moonlit sewer, a few of those groups have been celebrated with ...

  12. 5 Seconds of Summer Goes From Boy Band to Men With 'Sounds Good, Feels Good': Album Review

    October 23, 2015 2:56 PM EDT 16.865 k 462 51 For its sophomore album, Sydney quartet 5 Seconds of Summer tasked itself with resolving the “boy band vs. rock band” conflict that has plagued the group since it became a superstar by touring with One Direction . Sounds Good Feels Good ne ...

  13. Carrie Underwood Mixes Country's Past and Present on 'Storyteller': Album Review

    October 23, 2015 2:16 PM EDT 0 0 0 Don't look now, but  Carrie Underwood , at 32, already has a decade of stardom behind her. Much has changed in the country landscape during that time, its center nudged noticeably closer to pop by hitmakers lifting vocal styles and production v ...

  14. The Replacements' 'Tim' at 30: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

    October 18, 2015 9:30 PM EDT 0 0 0 When the Replacements signed with Sire Records in 1985, fans must’ve feared the major label gears would grind away all the amateurish charm that made these guys great. This was, after all, a gang of four Minneapolis goofballs as famous for their boo ...

  15. Bruce Springsteen's 'The River' at 35: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

    October 17, 2015 9:50 PM EDT 1.226 k 269 85 Maybe it’s the lack of a great backstory that makes Bruce Springsteen ’s fifth album, The River --  released 35 years ago today, on Oct. 17, 1980 -- such an overlooked and underappreciated set of songs. Bruce Springsteen to Release Long Awa ...

  16. Lorde-Approved Duo Majical Cloudz Finds Beauty in Raw Honesty on 'Are You Alone?': Album Review

    October 16, 2015 2:24 PM EDT 0 0 0 When Majical Cloudz were handpicked by Lorde to open a month of dates on her 2014 North American arena tour, the Montreal duo, with its handheld mic and a keyboard perched on an ironing board, was almost comically dwarfed by the venues and the headl ...

  17. Christine & The Queens' Heloise Letissier Reimagines Her French Debut for Stateside Appeal: Album Review

    October 16, 2015 1:44 PM EDT 0 0 0 After minting herself as pop royalty in her native France and earning praise from Madonna and Mark Ronson with 2014 debut LP Chaleur Humaine , Christine & The Queens (alter ego of singer-songwriter Heloise Letissier) spent the bulk of 2015 court ...

  18. The Game Proves He's Still Relevant With 'The Documentary 2' and '2.5': Album Review

    October 16, 2015 1:37 PM EDT 0 0 0 The Game works best when left for dead. See his classic debut, 2005’s The Documentary , where Compton, Calif.’s Jayceon Taylor survived a homicide attempt to become rap’s T-1000, an android assassin shape-shifting to channel past West Coast greats. ...

  19. Indie-Rock Vets Deerhunter Break New Ground on 'Fading Frontier': Album Review

    October 16, 2015 1:31 PM EDT Over the course of five albums and multiple side projects, Deerhunter has unassumingly established itself as one of the most reliably great rock bands of the past decade. Ten years into that prolific career, the Atlanta quartet has produced its mo ...

  20. Demi Lovato Lays It All Bare on 'Confident': Album Review

    October 16, 2015 12:24 PM EDT 0 0 0 Since her emancipation from the Disney Channel’s clutches, Demi Lovato has become one of pop’s leading motivational figures, wailing songs about self-empowerment and talking to Congress about destigmatizing mental illness. Openly discussing her stru ...

  21. Tracy Morgan Performs at Comedy Club for First Time Since Crash

    October 13, 2015 2:52 AM EDT 0 0 0 Tracy Morgan is continuing his comeback. The 46-year-old 30 Rock alum, who is returning to Rockefeller Center's Studio 8H this weekend to host Saturday Night Live , tweeted Monday that he had just performed his first stand-up routine since the ...

  22. No Doubt's 'Tragic Kingdom' at 20: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

    October 10, 2015 7:22 PM EDT 6.041 k 274 162 By the time No Doubt pogoed onto most people’s radars with Tragic Kingdom , released 20 years ago today (Oct. 10, 1995), the Orange County band had been through enough drama for two or three episodes of Behind the Music . The story begins ...

  23. Toby Keith Shows Off New Tricks (and Jimmy Buffett) on ‘35 mph Town’: Album Review

    October 09, 2015 1:11 PM EDT 0 0 0 Radio hits by country’s leading men have been criticized for relying on the usual tropes of trucks, pretty girls and six-packs. While Toby Keith certainly has drawn from these subjects during his 20-year career, his 18th studio LP, 35 mph Town , byp ...

  24. Janet Jackson Shows Off Her Resilience on 'Unbreakable': Album Review

    October 06, 2015 6:20 PM EDT 0 0 0 Janet Jackson ’s voice is a flute in an orchestra of trumpets and trombones. Unlike her ’80s coequals Madonna and Whitney Houston , Jackson had little success at the start of her career, especially given the expectations that came with her last name ...

  25. Avicii Expands His Musical Reach on 'Stories': Album Review

    October 02, 2015 3:59 PM EDT 0 0 0 It’s time to stop calling Avicii EDM. If 2013’s  True was out to prove that a dance icon could ease into the pop arena, Stories is his bid for multi-format crossover. It’s also more playful and easeful than the debut, even as it expands True ’s reac ...

  26. Oasis' '(What's the Story) Morning Glory?' at 20: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review

    October 02, 2015 9:30 AM EDT 0 0 0 Every few years, a British guitar band comes along and reminds everyone how bloody great British guitar bands can be. For all their wit and energy and funny haircuts, these groups tend to make crackling first albums and then flounder on the follow-u ...

  27. ‘Hamilton,’ the Best Broadway Musical in Years, Boasts an Equally Thrilling Cast Recording: Album Review

    October 01, 2015 2:33 PM EDT 1.431 k 330 21 2015’s best rap album isn’t by Drake , Kendrick Lamar or Dr. Dre  -- it’s the cast recording of Hamilton , a vital companion to the most creative, most talked-about musical to hit Broadway this millennium (read Billboard's cover story ...

  28. Irish Rockers Girl Band Bring the Noise on Powerful Debut ‘Holding Hands With Jamie’: Album Review

    September 25, 2015 6:16 PM EDT 0 0 0 Biologically speaking, the sensations of pleasure and pain are closely related, and Ireland’s Girl Band (a deliciously noisy quartet that is, naturally, all-male) straddles that line with no small amount of glee. On its full-length debut, Holding Ha ...

  29. King of Country George Strait Gets Personal on 'Cold Beer Conversation': Album Review

    September 25, 2015 4:34 PM EDT With a total of 60 Billboard No. 1 singles ( more than  Elvis Presley , more than  The Beatles ), George Strait has made it all seem effortless. His 29th studio album, which the singer co-produced with Chuck Ainlay, will likely add to that tal ...

  30. Ryan Adams’ ‘1989’ Taylor Swift Cover Record Takes 2010s Synth-Pop to Alt-Rock Past: Album Review

    September 24, 2015 11:42 AM EDT 3.113 k 176 39 Fourteen years since his biggest hit “New York, New York,” Ryan Adams’ idiosyncratic career arc takes him to “Welcome to New York,” the opening of a full-length take on Taylor Swift’s 1989 . Like Swift, the 40-year-old rocker is a Gotham tr ...

  31. Slayer Still Shreds on ‘Repentless’: Album Review

    September 11, 2015 4:06 PM EDT 0 0 0 There was a time when it seemed Slayer could do no wrong. While 1980s thrash compatriots Metallica , Megadeth and Anthrax shifted musical direction or floundered commercially, the quartet persistently churned out some of the most extreme and thrilli ...

  32. Dr. Dre's 'Compton: A Soundtrack' Lives Up to Its Cinematic Aspirations: Album Review

    August 10, 2015 5:34 PM EDT 0 0 0 Not so long ago, rappers equated their albums, songs, studio sessions, even their partying with “making a movie,” as if their life moments were epic big-screen fare. But none -- save perhaps Kanye West ’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy  -- has ev ...

  33. 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. ...

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

    July 31, 2015 5:46 PM EDT 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 C ...

  35. 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 ...

  36. 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 ...

  37. 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 ...

  38. 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 ...

  39. 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 ...

  40. 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 ...

  41. 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 ...

  42. 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 ...

  43. 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 ...

  44. 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 ...

  45. 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 ...

  46. 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 ...

  47. 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. ...

  48. 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 ...

  49. 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 ...

  50. 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 ...

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