- Last Updated: 11:08 AM, July 10, 2012
- Posted: 11:17 PM, July 9, 2012
Albums of the Week
“Swing Lo Magellan”
THE bewildering concept albums that Dirty Projectors used to release were finally ditched in 2009 with the far more playful “Bitte Orca” — and it’s a direction that the Brooklynites are continuing with “Swing Lo Magellan.” Here, it’s easy to spot how singer Dave Longstreth is making his band more accessible — if the wonky beats of a song such as “About To Die” were credited to Timbaland instead of Longstreth, it would be welded to the Hot 97 playlist and a Pitchfork-approved download. At the same time, his ear for melody is becoming similarly refined, as the harmonic warmth of “Dance For You” demonstrates. The cerebral element hasn’t disappeared, but the main difference is that Longstreth now seems more adept at using his body and soul to express the intricate goings-on in his head.
ZAC BROWN BAND
AFTER almost a decade of success in the country-music world, you can understand why the Zac Brown Band would feel the need to stretch themselves beyond the genre that has defined them for so long. But “Uncaged” is where those courageous artistic intentions come embarrassingly unstuck. The sound of the Georgians trying their hand at reggae on “Island Song” is cringe-worthy in the extreme, while the sexy-time R&B of “Overnight” is more likely to bring about tittering than titillation. By comparison, the more familiar bluegrass twangs of “The Wind” are more accomplished, and all the more enjoyable for it. Brown and the boys have certainly journeyed out of their comfort zone here, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of us will want to follow.
Downloads of the Week
MUSE has never exactly been shy about showing their pomp and ambition, but with their latest blast of stadium rock (commissioned by the International Olympic Committee to be the official song of London 2012), they have outdone themselves. Packed with Matt Bellamy’s outrageous guitar work, operatic vocals and even a selection of Cossack-like chanting, “Survival” is like listening to the entire Queen back catalog condensed into five minutes. You can’t help but feel that somewhere in the rock ’n’ roll afterlife, Freddie Mercury is enthusiastically nodding his approval.
“This Is Love”
LET’S give the Black Eyed Pea some credit: He sure knows how to make a dance party anthem that will sound great after a few drinks on a Friday night. But for anyone who isn’t in a state of recreational euphoria, “This Is Love” (taken from the upcoming “#willpower” album) is simply an overproduced patchwork of irritating noise compounded by Will’s laughable lyrics. “The dope crusader, funky terminator/ I created me a rocker, just so we could rock it later,” is his bewildering boast at one point. Sounds like his rhyming dictionary is broken.
LOVERS of nu-metal are understandably delighted that System of a Down got back together on the reunion-tour bandwagon. But anyone holding his breath in anticipation of new material would be better off exhaling and seeking out this track from System singer Serj Tankian’s impressive latest solo album, “Harakiri,” instead. A histrionic mix of idiosyncratic metal riffs and Tankian’s anticapitalist bile, it recalls SOAD at something close to their vicious best.