The short version:
Linkin Park—Minutes to Midnight: 6/10
Cut Chemist—The Audience's Listening: 4/10
As I've mentioned before, I've been listening to the new Linkin Park CD, Minutes to Midnight. This is an interesting disc. On one hand, it's clear that they've changed musically, and this album has a bit more variety than the previous two. On the other hand, it's not as good. There's much more emo whining. Some of it replaces screaming (though, oh my, there is still plenty of screaming), and some of it replaces rap—my favorite band member Mike Shinoda is sitting on a chair in the back for most of this disc. Many of the songs are slow and, well, bitchy. Take Valentine's Day—it's not bad, but it's not great, and it's pretty much just three minutes of Chester bitching about how much it sucks to not have a girlfriend on that particular holiday. Deep. Musically, there's just something different between that and their much earlier My December, and I don't really know what to call it besides whining. Besides practically dropping their rapper, they've also seemingly reduced the subtle electronic components of their previous albums. It's purer rock, which might appeal to some, but a lot of what I liked about Linkin Park was their rapper and DJ.
Anyway, I've painted the picture that I hate the disc, and that's not true. Overall I think it's still pretty decent. It's not really what I was expecting or hoping for, but it could have been worse. My favorite tracks on here are the excellent and peppy Bleed it Out, the interesting In Pieces, and the single What I've Done, which is almost a musical summary of the album as a whole.
I've also been listening to The Audience's Listening, the first solo album by the DJ who left Jurassic 5, Cut Chemist. It's weird. The CD it reminds me of most is Since I Left You by The Avalanches, except it's not as good. The Avalanches disc is great because it's so odd, with new sounds around every corner, but this one doesn't quite pull it off—(My 1st) Big Break is a good example of this. The best track by far is The Garden, though I am also attached to the weird song featuring Hymnal, What's the Altitude. Anyway, it's pretty average. Cut Chemist should have stayed with Jurassic 5; he fit the band better than their new DJ, and I'm not convinced from this CD that there's a reason for him to be putting out solo records.
Best B-side that only made it onto one of his singles and not the main album? The Audience is Rural. It's a little over-the-top, but fun.
I've also started We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse, which sounds pretty much exactly like all of their other albums: insane bipolar yelling.