Well the fall season is fully upon us as today is the first day of autumn. Over the past 3-4 weeks a huge number of albums have been coming out, here are a few I've chosen to review:
1) Jay-Z "The Blueprint 3"
Jay-Z has consistently dominated the rap game since his first record. Granted he's had a few clunkers (kingdom come anyone?) but for the most part he's a legend. The Blueprint 3 was much hyped as 2009's "Black Album", but I would have to say it's not on the same level. There are some classic fiery Jigga tracks (Empire State of Mind, DOA, Run this Town, etc etc) but there are also a few throwaway tracks (Venus vs Mars, etc.). Overall an improvement for Jigga, and a good way to end the blueprint trilogy. 7.5/10
2) Kid Cudi "Man on the Moon"
Admittedly, I am not a big fan of Kid Cudi, so you should know this going in. Anyway, I had heard mixed reviews about this album so I decided to give it a spin. Was a little surprised about how "out of the box" this record sounds. Definitely not your typical radio rap album, it's filled with electro-spacey beats and personal lyrics. OK, so Cudi can come creative, but to me this is just sounds second rate tracks that couldn't make it on 808's and Heartbreaks (which is dogshit to begin with). Guest spots by MGMT and and Ratatat will make this a sure hit with weirdo college electro-indie nerds. 5/10
3) Raekwon "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II"
Oh wow, finally, this month, we have the long awaited sequel to Raekwon's 1995 masterpiece "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx". Fourteen years seems like a longtime to wait, but this record is solid all around. Classic minimal Wu beats with Raekwon's trademark complex flow make this a must listen for any self-respecting Wu-Tang fan. My favorite song might actually be the unreleased track that comes with the album, "The Badlands" featuring ill verse from the likes of Ghostface. Modern classic. 8/10
4) Paramore "Brand New Eyes"
Paramore has long been a guilty pleasure of mine, so you know I downloaded their new LP follow up to 2007's "Riot!". Sure enough, this record brings that same pop-punky sound coupled with Hayley Williams' clear-as-a-bell voice to make some real alterna-teen bangers. This record has a few more mid-tempo tracks than I would prefer, but these tracks are definitely well written. When the band does kick it up, it's well worth the wait. 7/10
5) Alice in Chains "Black Gives Way to Blue"
Nineties grunge masters AiC return after a long hiatus, mostly caused by the death of frontman Lane Staley. Luckily, they found a replacement who could fill the large shoes of Lane. BGWtB could easily have been recorded in 1996, as the band mixed heavy wah drenched guitar riffs with haunting vocal melodies. This record is sure to turn the heads of even the AiC purists who doubted the new vocalist. 7.5/10
6) Maximum Penalty "Life & Times"
NYHC OG's Max Pen are dropping their first release in a while with "Life & Times", and, I've got to say, it's pretty impressive. In a world where most old school hardcore bands can't seem to recapture the magic of the 80's and 90's, Maximum Penalty are doing a pretty good job. Not only do they discover their old "Easy Side Story" writing style, but expand upon it into a modern hardcore classic. 8.5/10