September was full of great releases, so many that I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the awesome music. We finally got that NIN record we were promised, some punk rockers got their grown and sexy on, and Janelle brought the grooves.
Nine Inch Nails, ‘Hesitation Marks‘ You know that DivaJulia and I are huge fans of NIN, and Trent Reznor, but I can’t say I was anticipating this one. It’s been a long wait for this album, and I think that’s what kind of scared me. Over the past couple of years some of my favorites bands (I won’t call them out) have returned with lackluster, uninspired music that I had to force myself to get into. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about with ‘Hesitation Marks.’ I could see hardcore NIN fans being split on this one. It is a return to the original sound, but songs like “Copy Of A” and the lead single “Came Back Haunted” wouldn’t really fit onto ‘Pretty Hate Machine.’ It is also much different than it’s predecessor ‘The Slip,’ no crunching guitars or get stuck in your head choruses like the songs from ‘With Teeth.’ The angst and anger are still there though. For a guy that is married with kids you’d expect Rez to have a different outlook on life, but on “Find My Way” and the oddly poppy “Everything,” it’s still a dark world for Trent. The pounding, almost hip-hop-ish beats will make this a treat for the audiophiles that brought the enhanced version. While this might not be anyone’s absolute favorite NIN output, it’s still damn good and worthy of a listen. Check it on NIN.com store.
Janelle Monae, ‘The Electric Lady’ Janelle Monae is all about aesthetics. Her spunky, punk attitude and black and white uniform are a part of an image that isn’t contrived like the looks of some of her pop peers. It’s like she’s a superhero that doesn’t have an alter-ego. On her third release, Monae continues her Android saga with the help of some famous friends. Prince joins her on “Givin Em What They Love” which has some Rufus & Chaka Khan funk to it. Prince-lite, Miguel lends his voice to the sultry “PrimeTime” where Janelle tells us that she doesn’t want to be mysterious. Though she does have a great singing voice, I love the moments where she drops some rhymes, like on the title track with Solange and “Q.U.E.E.N.” with Erykah Badu. The guest stars compliment ‘The Electric Lady,’ Janelle is the star, jumping from R&B to rock like she’s flying over buildings questioning herself and the world around her. Monae is a hard one to peg, and for some people a hard artist to get into, so maybe it’s good that we get to see her without a mask on. This her most accessible effort and a good place to start with newcomers. Check it out on iTunes.
Arctic Monkeys, ‘AM’ The Arctic Monkeys have come a long stylistically, but I wondered how natural of an evolution this was for the band. ‘AM’ doesn’t sound like it’s made by the same band that put out 2006’s ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,’ and while I thought there was too much of Josh Homme‘s influence on subsequent releases, but they have found a nice balance between their rock roots and new found swagger. The Alex Turner on ‘AM’ could, as they say, “get it,” while the old one would have been laughed at and probably kicked for even looking your way. His lyrics are what make the Arctic Monkeys so interesting to listen to, and here they are sexy and complex without being too try-hard. Citing Outkast and Aaliyah as influences, there are definite hints of R&B on songs like “Do I Wanna Know?” which also has a great clap along beat. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and “One For The Road” have a cool, old school rap vibe about them. Homme does make an appearance, vocally, on the album, but this is pure, and new Monkeys, all grown up. iTunes.
Some other goodies to check out:
Drake, ‘Nothing Was The Same’ iTunes
Pixies, ‘EP1′ pixiesmusic.com
2 Chainz, ‘B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time’ iTunes
MGMT, ‘MGMT’ iTunes
Natalia Kills, ‘Trouble’ iTunes