The short version:
Maroon 5—Hands All Over: 7/10
Lady Gaga—The Fame Monster: 7/10
Collective Soul—7even Year Itch: 6/10
Cage the Elephant—Cage the Elephant: 7/10
Massive Attack—Heligoland: 5/10
Two Fingers—Two Fingers: 6/10
I picked up Maroon 5's latest album Hands All Over. Realistically, if you liked their first two, you'll like this one, and if you didn't, you won't—the style is essentially the same. The opening track Misery has a neat sort of funky electronic vibe, but it doesn't really signal any real changes to the band's sound. Runaway and No Curtain Call are great too. There are a bunch of good songs on here, including a couple nice acoustic versions, but at some point I'm going to want something a little different after three CDs of fairly interchangeable music. In a few months I'll have no idea which disc any given track is even from.
Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster is sort of like an expansion pack for The Fame. It's more of the same, a little lower quality overall but pretty close. If you have The Fame you should also have The Fame Monster, and if you don't, you shouldn't. It's got Bad Romance, Telephone, and Alejandro.
Collective Soul's greatest hits album 7even Year Itch was a walk down memory lane. I guess I hadn't really realized just how many years it's been since high school until I found that Jason wasn't even familiar with the band or any of the various big hits on here: Heavy, The World I Know, and several others. There are other good songs, including Why Pt. 2, and then a bunch of okay ones. You get a lot of decent pop-rock music for your money, and it's some nice variety for my collection.
I picked up Cage the Elephant's self-titled debut CD after hearing the wonderfully infectious Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, the theme song for the game Borderlands which Jason and I had been enjoying co-op for several weeks. The opening track In One Ear is also excellent, and Back Stabbin' Betty is a lot of fun too. It's very energetic rock music, and I found it a refreshing change of pace. The other tracks on the disc are not quite as insanely catchy as my top two, but it's still fun to listen to from start to finish.
Massive Attack also has a new CD out, Heligoland. Much of their music is pretty slow and dark, and their new work is no exception. I like Pray for Rain, Girl I Love You, and Atlas Air, and there isn't really anything that's particularly bad, but it gets repetitive at times and isn't exactly brimming with musical energy. It probably wouldn't have really been worth it if I weren't already collecting their music.
In a strange mood I decided to pick up the self-titled CD by Wheatus. It's not something that I'd want to listen to very often, but it's sort of amusing occasionally if you're in the right punk-ish frame of mind. I got the CD for Teenage Dirtbag which is quite good, and then Truffles and Hump 'em 'n' Dump 'em are both decent, apostrophe overload notwithstanding.
Finally, I picked up the debut album from Two Fingers, a collaboration between one of my favorite artists Amon Tobin and Doubleclick, producing drum-and-bass tracks that guest vocalists rap on. It's an odd disc. The musical style isn't exactly the same as Amon Tobin's previous work, but it's similar. Some of the rap is questionable, and I'm wondering if I'd have been happier with an instrumental copy of the album instead. But, it's certainly not terrible. My favorites are That Girl, Straw Men, and What You Know. (On a side note, I do recommend Starkey's Universe EP for fans of electronic music. It's free if you sign up for a newsletter.)
Sort of a so-so batch of music this time. I tried out some new bands and styles with mixed results. Maybe next time will be better.