Eminem / Recovery / Universal
Relapse was Amy Winehouse drunk off absinthe as it just didn’t make sense. Recovery can easily be pictured as Eminem’s last attempt to extinguish his past, but its simply a representation of the old Marshall Mathers we used to know. An artist who took illustrious samples and guest spots, wrapped them in unpredictable rhymes and carelessly threw them out the window for the world to see. There’s an abundance of confusion and forced talent on Recovery, but the dark humor and syllabic protests cover Eminem’s flaws. Rabbit fell down the hole a long time ago and the most we can do right now is applaud his effort to finally climb out.
Download: “Love The Way You Lie (ft. Rihanna)”, “No Love (ft. Lil’ Wayne)”
Miley Cyrus / Can’t Be Tamed / Hollywood
When teen boppers hit puberty, they usually ditch the Pop-Tarts in favor of experimenting. Most bearhug an addiction like late-night partying. Miley Cyrus’ third studio disc shows she jumped the gun on growing up. Can’t Be Tamed is a reflection of a musician trying to tie the worlds of Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift together. The material induced with heartache melodies (“Two More Lonely People”, “Scars”) and Cascada rip-offs (“Permanent December”) tries to be original, but it trips before it can even make it to the stage. A track like “Stay” highlights Cyrus’ ability to mesmerize, but doesn’t help the album get on its feet, thus making it a worthy dance release for adolescents heartbroken over a crush.
Kele / The Boxer / Glassnote Records
If you couldn’t stand Bloc Party’s Intimacy, chances are you won’t be able to cuddle with Kele Okereke’s solo debut. The British musician known for his vocal swoon taps into his electronic side with The Boxer, fondling nightclub fuzz and despair. There’s an endless supply of samples and toe-tapping synth beats that make the album flow with a sense of perfection and give it the ability to flirt with Okereke’s history, but it just doesn’t seem right. Similar to the time when you first discover that the Power Rangers are indeed fake and not roundhouse kicking enemies into a world of pain. In other words: Bloc Party is officially dead.
Download: “Unholy Thoughts”, “Everything You Wanted”
VersaEmerge / Fixed At Zero / Fueled By Ramen
Writers would be quick to pull the trigger and compare Sierra Kusterbeck and VersaEmerge to a redhead bombshell with pipes but it doesn’t do the Florida act any justice. For a debut, Fixed At Zero clashes bedroom poetry and experimental rock with a hiss that will ring in your ears for days. Kusterbeck’s evident vocal range powers the entire record but its the raw, harmonic sound that has you thinking how you ever came across such a polished work that’s lost between the world of Coheed And Cambria (“Mind Reader”) and My Chemical Romance (“Up There”). No need to be frightened listeners, the devious pop voice tangled in creativity is only begging you to sing along. That is, if you can hit the notes.
Download: “Stranger”, “Lost Tree”
In Fear And Faith / Imperial / Rise
When I first heard Underoath’s Define The Great Line in 2006, I literally had to grab my jaw off the floor and put it back into place. The progression was discombobulating. In Fear And Faith’s second full-length isn’t as life-changing because its 2010 and metalcore bands sprout like new Macbeth kicks but its bewildering in its own right. Untamed breakouts like “Bones” and “Afterthought” sport a war between vocalists back-dropped by vintage post-hardcore rhythms your old goth flame would drool over. In 2005, Imperial would have been a prized possession but in a year like this, its enough to show growth. Wake up America, this is one Rise act worth lending your ears to.
Download: “Bones”, “Afterthought”
Automatic Loveletter / Truth Or Dare / Sony
Juliet Simms has a torn voice that cries for attention, but not to be comforted, just to be heard. The rasp known around the pop punk world has taken a stand with the debut Truth Or Dare but with a collection of lovesick songs that drift in and out unknown territory. Often fueled by hate and other complex emotions, Simms cloaks herself in pop and tries to be that innocent songstress with toes pleading to dance but then reveals a lip ring and kicks out thunderous choruses born with a bit of punk flair. The Hot Topic appeal is there and so is the bundle of talent behind the instruments and the mic, but will the heartache sound Automatic Loveletter seems to be going for survive? If you’re not looking for material similar to early works like “When We First Met”, then it might.
Download: “Fade Away”, “Story Of My Life”