Arctic Monkeys / At The Apollo / Domino
More than one could argue live music is undeniably better than a studio album. But what proof do they have to support such a statement? Exhibit A: At The Apollo. Filmed in Manchester, England and recorded in Texas, the live album and video release is a collectors’ item for anyone who has let the Arctic Monkeys violate their ears. A live set by Alex Turner and the boys may sound like an exhausting experience, but the 20-song ruckus is exhilarating from start to finish. With the way the venue is set up, the crowd looks as if they’ve been banished (live CD makes up for that). But that’s because it forces the viewer to admire the stunning videography that was created to make a polished performance ideal for your couch and television set.
Gallows / Grey Britain / Warner Bros.
Signing to a major label hasn’t swayed Gallows one bit. Instead of being more commercial, the English hardcore punk band have released Grey Britain, an eerie and diabolical creature that feeds off shadowed political angst. The sophomore attempt may not spew adolescent poison like Orchestra Of Wolves, but it doesn’t need to. With terrifying riffs and spine-cracking chants, Grey Britain is a definitive hardcore record that takes the angst and depression out of a nation and channels it into something harmonically evil.
Download: “Black Eyes”, “The Vulture (Acts I & II)”
Meg & Dia / Here, Here And Here / Warner Bros.
Singling out a sound seemed incredibly easy for Meg & Dia when they first started, but with the release of Here, Here and Here, it seems as if they’re back to experimenting. The clash of emo-infected riffs and teenage-pop rhythms is simply awkward as it leaves listeners wondering whether they belong in the band’s projected audience. Dia Frampton’s poetic lines paint more pictures than ever (“I wait for him, like vultures wait for bodies”), but it’s not enough to help the group find the unique rock edge they once echoed.
Download: “Fighting For Nothing”, “Are There Giants Too, In The Dance?”
Ciara / Fantasy Ride / Sony Music
Despite alter egos (Beyonce) and those who travel in testosterone-filled dance troupes (Lady Gaga), Ciara is undeniably the Queen of Swagger. With Fantasy Ride, the Atlanta native has claimed the throne by toning her angelic voice to each track on her third record. At times she’s innocent (“Keep Dancing On Me”), lyrically tantalizing (“Like A Surgeon”) and hipper than the hop (“Work”) some of her R&B counterparts try to flaunt. Fantasy Ride may be an amusement park full of guest appearances, but Ciara’s versatility is what makes her the main attraction.
Download: “Love Sex Magic”, “Work”