The Decemberists / The Hazards Of Love / Capitol Records
The Hazards of Love is far more determined than your average concept album. Its seventeen tracks blend seamlessly, each elaborating on one central story with themes of magic, mystery, and naturally, love. Even though the album tells a woodsy medieval love story, not every track sounds like the folksy duet “Isn’t it a Lovely Night?” For example, “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” opens somberly with a baroque lament, steps into an upbeat pop anthem, drops naturally into a groovy jam where Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond does a spot-on Grace Slick impression, and then proceeds to do it all over again once more. Those lacking the patience for interludes and reprises might not appreciate The Decemberists’ ambitious The Hazards of Love, but those willing to brave the hazards will be rewarded with an enduring love.
Download: “The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid”, “The Hazards Of Love 4 ( The Drowned)
– Dan Rankin
Lamb Of God / Wrath / Epic Records
You could never accuse Lamb of God of being all that subtle in their message, or in their music. On Wrath, the band sounds more raw, and less produced than in previous efforts. The vocals are guttural but still chant-worthy, often more reminiscent of hardcore punk than metal; not reverb-heavy like on their previous album Sacrament. Despite some moments of masterful acoustic work, the guitar work is mainly brutal and concise, working rhythmically to give each song a head-bangable groove.
Download: “Set To Fail”, “Broken Hands”
– Dan Rankin
Keri Hilson / In A Perfect World / Interscope Records
Finally after spending numerous years in the industry writing tracks for artists such as Britney Spears and Ludacris, Keri Hilson has come into her own. Her debut In A Perfect World isn’t as promiscuous and sleazy as most female hip-hop records, but it doesn’t have to be. Hilson explores the boundaries Timbaland has laid down for her and points out she’s no career sidekick. Her voice is what defines her as an artist, because even though her debut may not be a sweat-drenched club thumper, it shows she has a sultry and sensual voice that’s a hook, line and sinker in itself.
Download: “Turnin Me On”, “Knock You Down”
– Joshua Khan
Ace Enders & A Million Different People / When I Hit The Ground / Vagrant Records
After hearing the first minute of the record, one can instantly be taken back to a time where acoustic melodies are full of unspeakable emotions. A time when Ace Enders was more than just a rare listen. When I Hit The Ground entrances listeners by introducing them to fresh melodies and addicting riffs that remind them of a past that included early Novembers. Enders’ third solo record is undoubtedly the singer’s best relese yet as saying his vocal efforts and musicianship are utterly mesmerizing is a bold understatement.
Download: “Sweeter Light”, “Over This”
– Joshua Khan