Album: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Label: Interscope Records
U2’s Atomic Bomb is a safe and predictable album that may frustrate the avid listener. This 11-track album is an uneven blend of subdued Euro-techno tempos and signature guitar reverberations, seemingly borrowed and reworked from previous studio sessions. Lead singer Bono contemplates more personal rather than political issues throughout intimate ballads about love, the loss of his father and a faith in God. The single “Vertigo” is a return to the experimental, energetic classic U2 sound, but is displaced among other serious, and confessional tracks. Atomic Bomb confirms that U2 has aged since the days of War and the Unforgettable Fire. Atomic Bomb only carries U2 into its 25th year with a quiet rather than a forceful bang.
Artist: Gwen Stefani
Album: Love, Angel, Music, Baby
Gwen Stefani’s solo-debut album excellently separates her from a near 20-year stint with the successful band No Doubt. Stefani has crossed the line from a rocker with flair to an electronic disaster. L, A, M, B combines all the requisites for dance-club hits – repetitive lyrics, fast beats, and catchy choruses – but never catches your attention. All 14 tracks have the same bland, electronic beat backing lyrics about money, hooking up in the back of cars, and harajuku girls (there’s even a whole song dedicated to them). Creatively, the album is a step back for Stefani, who has worked hard throughout her career to establish herself as a strong female rock-n-roller. No Doubt fans as well as fans of good music will be extremely disappointed by this attempt to go solo. With below average album sales and average billboard chart appearances (the album peaked at 7), Stefani will hopefully learn to stick to what she’s good at.
Album: Dead and Dreaming (an Indie Tribute to the Counting Crows)
Label: Victory Records
As more and more artists make greatest hits albums, more and more sub-par artists make tribute albums to those legendary bands. This is the case with Victory Records’ release of Dead and Dreaming an indie tribute to the band Counting Crows. The record features moderately known emo/screamo artists Boys Night Out, Hidden in Plain View and The Junior Varsity covering songs that helped defined music of the 90s. Adam Duritz and the Counting Crows spent much of the decade perfecting popular songs like “Angels of Silences” and “Mr. Jones” only to have them destroyed by over zealous teenage musicians with underdeveloped compositions and weak vocals. Punchline’s out of control electric guitar and too-fast drums overtake their cover of “Round Here” causing them to lose the beat several times throughout the song. The few decent songs on the album “Colorbliind” by Between the Buried and Me and “A Long December” by Bayside refuse to insert an inkling of originality, leave listeners longing for the Crows.
Artists: Jay-Z and Linkin Park
Album: Collision Course
Label: Warner bros./Roc-a-fella/Def Jam
Jay-Z vs. Linkin Park’s “Collision Course” is an absolute draw between Southern California’s powerful alternative metal crew and Brooklyn’s finest hip-hop mogul. Linkin Park and Jay-Z have launched an intriguing course suited for all. Perhaps this is the true “best of both worlds,” after the divorce of R/B and hip-hop with Jay-Z and R. Kelly’s tour. Hip-hop has found a familiar partner in crime and reentered this courtship with rock – which, like hip-hop, is a rebel of society representing a different end of the spectrum.
Collision Course, equipped with 6 fusions of each artist’s best, is accompanied with a DVD documenting the creativity and amazing chemistry between two groups that no one would have ever expected to collaborate. With the distinct styles of each artist, the CD integrates LP’s feelings of insecurity and anger with Jay-Z consistent arrogant swagger and confidence of being a constant hustler. Do not be mistaken, although Jay-Z is a tyrant on each track, LP meets him head to head, locking listeners in a trance with their vocalist Chester Bennigton, and leaving them hooked with their electronic rhythms, guitar rifts and creative beats in songs like “Dirt off Your Shoulder/Lying from You” and “Jigga What/ Faint.””Numb/Encore,” the first single to launch this album, is one of the highlights which helps ease the listener’s transition to a new sound.