Album Reviews – 10/8/09

Beastie Boys - Ill Communication

Beastie Boys / Ill Communication (Re-issue) / Capitol


Everything and more show up on this comprehensive re-issue of The Beastie Boys landmark 1994 album Ill Communication. The album – now over 15 years old – represented a very ambitious outing for the boys back in the 90s, topping out at 20 tracks and displaying some real musical and lyrical maturity compared to earlier outings. The re-issue doesn’t disappoint these roots, upping the total to 32 tracks, including four songs previously only available on the Japanese release of the album – not to mention fresh modern remixes of tracks like “Root Down” and “Sure Shot” and two live recordings. Some of their raucous punk songs, heavy with lo-fi fuzz, sound a little dated by today’s standards, but that’s half the fun.

Download: “Get It Together (Buck-Wild Remix)”, “Sabrosa”

Anjulie - Anjulie

Anjulie / Anjulie / Universal

Star Rating 3

Anjulie isn’t an incredibly deep debut album, but it is full of songs certain to turn up accompanied by sexy videos on MTV, or maybe during establishing shots on The Hills. The album’s smooth R&B and sometimes flamenco-tinged songs are mainly the kinds you might hear at a club before it fills up – good for singing along to but lacking a thumping beat. “Jamba” has just such a thumping beat, and could be a serious summer single – it’s already being used on a Telus commercial. So, enjoy having the Pavlovian association of cell phones that get poor reception whenever you hear that song.

Download: “Some Dumb Girl”, “Jamba”

Florence + The Machine - Lungs

Florence and the Machine / Lungs / Universal

Star Rating 3.5

Gothic influences abound on the debut from London, England’s Florence And The Machine – but not in a sleazy Evanescence way. Lungs creates some dark and beautiful moments using strings sections – with an emphasis on the harp. Rather than cheapening this direction with lots of synth, or nu-metal aspirations ala Evanescence, Florence plays it straight, fusing upbeat pop drumming and soulful vocals to classical instrumentation. “Kiss With A Fist,” the poppy lead single also appearing on the soundtrack for the upcoming Megan Fox movie Jennifer’s Body, could be a Katy Perry or Avril single and, taken alone, doesn’t give an accurate portrayal of Lungs as a whole. However, when singer Florence Welch is being poetic, as on “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” she proves she can be a lot more than a fleeting one hit wonder.

Download: “You’ve Got The Love”, “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”

Anchor & Braille - Felt

Anchor & Braille / Felt / Wood Water Records

Star Rating 3

This project has been a while in the making for Stephen Christian, lead singer of Florida band Anberlin. Completed in mid-2008, Christian put off the release so he could commit to touring for Anberlin’s last album. This wait is hinted at in the title, meaning these songs reflect emotions Christian felt in the previous year or two – get it? However, the emotions heard on the album are no less heartfelt because of this pause, if anything, they’ve aged well. “Introspect” delivers with a refrain of “is this Heaven/ or is this Hell?” on top of an atmospheric guitar that gets nice and noisy towards the end. This transitions perfectly into the understated “Summer Tongue,” a ballad where Christian seems at his most vulnerable. As subtle and flowing as these tracks are, they walk a fine line between moving and forgettable. It’s clear Christian is feeling some very deep feelings – he just fails at consistently sharing them in an interesting fashion.

Download: “Introspect”, “Summer Tongue”

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