The short version:
Air—10,000 Hz Legend: 6/10
Maroon 5—It Won't Be Soon Before Long: 8/10
Modest Mouse—We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank: 4/10
World of Warcraft Black Temple soundtrack: pretty good
I've been listening to yet another Air CD recently, 10,000 Hz Legend. This one's fine, but not as good as the last two I bought. It's a bit weirder than Moon Safari and Pocket Symphony. My favorite tracks here are Electronic Performers (:30 sample), The Vagabond (featuring Beck, full track), and People in the City (:30 sample). My award for the most bizarre song I've heard in a while, though, goes to How Does it Make You Feel?, performed with synthesizers, computer speech synthesis, and real voices. This is what it sounds like when a computer whispers sweet nothings in your ear.
I've also been checking out the second Maroon 5 album, It Won't Be Soon Before Long. This one's a tough one to rate. I like their first album better, but this one is more mature and has a certain something I can't quite put my finger on. It could just be the sharper production, or that it's even more sultry than Songs About Jane. Maybe this one's slightly darker, but if it is, it's not in a solemn way; it's just as energetic as their last. You wouldn't know it from the opener, If I Never See Your Face Again, though, which sounds like business as usual. Right after that are Makes Me Wonder and Little of Your Time, more excellent tracks. All of those are a bit more electronic-sounding than their previous hits, so maybe that's it. It's absolutely worth checking out if you liked their last CD, and if you didn't like their last CD you won't like this one, even though the sound is a little different. (Apparently the Circuit City version of the album has an extra track, Story, which fits the rest of the album appropriately.)
I've also listened to the new Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. The title is clever but the music isn't that new. I can't really tell much of a difference between this and their previous music, except that their last album was more pop-friendly. It's a disc full of the strange sounds and insane screeching you expect from Modest Mouse if you've heard their music, but for some reason or another it's not as endearing this time around. Maybe I'm just not in the mood for it. My favorites here are March into the Sea, Missed the Boat, and Education, but there are a lot of misses on here, at least for me. It's an obnoxious CD, though it's unfair to call it a bad one per se.
Finally, I've also been listening to the Black Temple soundtrack from the latest World of Warcraft patch. They added another hour of music in the last patch, and like almost all of the music they've added to the game since the initial release, it's pretty good game music. It's a pity that most everyone turned the in-game music off long ago to play their own stuff. There's a nice mix of atmospheric sounds, choirs, and orchestral themes—it sounds quite a bit like the music from Act V of the Diablo II expansion, actually. The biggest downside is that it's not an album; it's a bunch of short mp3 files that come with the patch, meant to be played in a particular order but interspersed with gameplay as the adventurers progress through the temple. It would work quite a bit better in a single-player game, I think; the sort of hardcore people who will get to hear this music in the game will have voice chat running, and by the time they hear the end, they'll have been listening to the first parts over and over for weeks as they practice the different bosses and encounters. Probably none of them play with the game music on anyway. I don't have any links to share, unfortunately. While it's all freely downloadable, it's buried in 8 GB of game files.
Up next are Ben Folds, The Mars Volta, and some opera.
Currently listening: Newsboys—Everyone's Someone, Mute Math—Transformers Theme (pretty funny)