All Time Low / Nothing Personal / Hopeless Records
Creating a “summer record” is a craft that requires more patience, skill and creativity than shaping pottery. Although they have done it before (Put Up or Shut Up EP), All Time Low has slipped and molded Nothing Personal: a record only teenage girls would elope with. Alex Gaskarth’s voice shows promise and potential, but it’s not used to the full effect. Tracks like “Sick Little Games” and “Stella” are injected with brain-teasing hooks, but like most of the album, they aren’t as adventurous and bold as the unexpected gem “Therapy”. Nothing Personal is polished and catchy, but it’s a reflection of an everyday pop punk record. Until they go past the boundaries so many similar bands have established, the quartet will have to realize they will never reach that all-time high.
Download: “Therapy”, “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)”
Wilco / Wilco (The Album) / Nonesuch Records
Simple yet complex, the seventh record from Wilco is a gentle rollercoaster fueled by unusual inspirations and heartfelt emotion. Although there isn’t nothing loud to shout about, Wilco (The Album) makes an extravagant type of noise in its own way. Almost every musical number bellows honesty and teasing riffs which will glue listeners to whatever form of material they are sitting on. Such creativity can plainly be seen in songs like “Solitaire” and “One Wing” because even though their musical bodies seem dark, they contain a bright light that oddly pleases the senses. That complex pleasure should be seen as a major accomplishment, not a rare musical art form.
Download: “You And I”, “One Wing”
Rob Thomas / Cradlesong / Atlantic
Matchbox Twenty may be long and gone, but Rob Thomas is still alive and crooning. Four years since his first solo effort, the once-loved frontman has released Cradlesong, a 52 minute record that’s creative lyrics-wise but not quite rock. With a massive hit in “Her Diamonds” (in Australia anyway) and emotional tracks like “Hard On You” and “Snowblind”, the album seems like an absolute success but the reality is its wrapped in the essential aspects of pop music. Because of that, Cradlesong isn’t for the 90s’ fanatic as its more suited for those who can lend an ear to the even softer side of Rob Thomas.
Download: “Her Diamonds”, “Snowblind”