The short version:
Kylie Minogue—X: 7/10
Snow Patrol—Fallen Empires: 6/10
AWOLNATION—Megalithic Symphony: 8/10
Gotye—Making Mirrors: 8/10
Les Friction—Les Friction: 9/10
Zap Mama—A Ma Zone: 4/10
fun.—Some Nights: 8/10
This latest batch of music ended up being quite good. I picked up the album X by Kylie Minogue. It's a pretty decent dance CD, I say. I'm not really familiar with her other stuff... I say that and people say "oh you've heard of _______" or "of course you have; she's the one who sings _______" and I mostly just stare blankly at them. (For the record I have heard The Locomotion, though.) I think that Speakerphone is pretty intoxicating and is definitely one of the better dance songs I've heard in a while, with a cute . And Like a Drug and The One are good too. But I went back and listened to some of her older songs on Spotify like I did after discovering the existence of Robyn about a decade too late, and they just didn't really catch me.
Snow Patrol's got a new CD out, Fallen Empires. The first three tracks are great, and atypically, they aren't the singles. Called Out in the Dark, I'll Never Let Go, and The Weight of Love are all quite worthwhile. But the rest of the disc is downhill fast from there. There are a few other decent tracks but just too many duds. If the rest of the CD had maintained the quality level of those first three tracks, or even close, it would have been fantastic, but instead it's just pretty average.
I picked up the second Bitter:Sweet album, Drama. It's pretty much just like the first one. It's not bad. It's fun lounge-y music that one might expect James Bond to play poker to. If you're James Bond and need some music to play poker to, this is definitely the album for you. I suggest starting with Get What I Want, The Bomb, and Sugar Mama. By the time those are over if you haven't figured out who the jewel thief is, you're not going to.
AWOLNATION's debut album Megalithic Symphony is a lovely little electronic rock adventure. I discovered the band through this jaw-dropping YouTube video with a dirty-sounding name featuring their song Sail. They've got a cool sound, and they sound like they're having a lot of fun playing their music, which certainly isn't always the case. Besides Sail I really like Jump on My Shoulders and People, and also MF (which is technically from their EP, not that album). And if you happen to check out their music before April 6, you should totally come to their show in Seattle with me.
And so there's this Gotye album Making Mirrors. It's pretty great. I don't know what genre it is. Alternative maybe? Their hit right now is Somebody That I Used to Know, a sad breakup song, because who doesn't like sad breakup songs. My favorite is State of the Art, which has an amazingly awesome cartoon video that I absolutely adore that tackles the tough issues that other music videos won't: demon-possessed electronic organs that turn your family into robots and fly your house into space. And Eyes Wide Open is quite good too. Overall the disc just has a real charm to it that I find difficult to describe. But it's worth checking out.
One of my old favorite bands was E.S. Posthumus, which basically produced albums of action movie trailer music. Unfortunately it was a collaborative effort between two brothers, and one of the brothers died in a car accident a couple years back. The surviving brother has moved on and changed the style up a little bit. The self-titled album from his new band Les Friction is like a sci-fi rock opera. Individually, only a few of the tracks really stand on their own, but start to finish, it's a pretty phenomenal CD, and it definitely tells a musical story. Hearing powerful rock vocals on top of this over-the-top orchestral background is unexpected after a few albums of choirs singing dead languages (and made-up ones), but it still works strangely well. The album opens with Louder than Words, one of the better tracks, and one that builds up the tension and sets the expectations for what's to come. After that it moves on to Torture, which is one of the most magnificent songs I've heard in ages. I don't know; if you don't like that song, you must not like music or something. And finally, my third favorite song from the disc, World on Fire, comes halfway through. Mixing rock music with more grandiose orchestral instrumentation is certainly nothing new, but I've heard a lot of bad examples of it, and this is not one of those.
After that glowing recommendation, A Ma Zone by Zap Mama certainly doesn't sound as thrilling. I'd say it's pretty skippable. But maybe for its style of music it's great... I don't really know what style of music it is. Maybe it's like African pop or something? It's weird stuff. I heard it when I was a freshman in college and I picked it up really cheap to round out my collection. The good tracks are the three that I bought it for: Iko-Iko, Rafiki, and Kemake. I'm not really that thrilled about the rest.
Finally, I'd been waiting for Some Nights by fun. since picking up their first CD, and this one's quite excellent too. I love the way that the album leads up to their hit single, starting with Some Nights Intro (I love that they made a video for an intro track), then Some Nights, and then finally We Are Young. It stays strong throughout, with another high point later on being All Alright, which is a bit repetitive but still powerful. Highly recommended.