Recovery—Eminem: “Fuck my last CD; that shit’s in the trash.” Eminem drops some knowledge in his latest release, reminding us that we fell in love with him for his personality and passion. If you haven’t heard the full album yet, you’ve likely heard the single, Not Afraid; so take your response to that song, multiply it by infinity, and that’s how much you should love this record. It’s incredible that the rapper can so easily transition from barely poetic novelty-hip hop nonsense to this genre-defining masterwork. The bar has been set. Next time anyone plays anything off Relapse, push them down a flight of stairs.
Thank Me Later—Drake: At some point, we have to get past the fact that Drake was Jimmy from Degrassi. He clearly goes above and beyond to crush the association between him and teen melodrama, and it’s a damn shame that it’s not working. Most of his lyrics, while captivating and melodic, are at their core—psychologically immature. But we’re still listening, so fuck it. Keep doing what you do, Drake. After all, Blink 182’s still doing songs about the girls who broke their hearts in high school, and they’re, like, 40.
The Almighty Defenders—The Almighty Defenders: We’re a bit behind with this one—released in September 2009—but we’ve obviously not been paying enough attention. One could call The Almighty Defenders a “super-group,” if one recognized either of the amazing bands involved. The band is made up of The Black Lips and King Khan and BBQ Show, joining forces for the first time to produce 11 incredible “spirituals” that conjure up a dream of walking awkwardly into a Baptist Church only to realize the party’s being hosted by Satan with every blues, jazz, and rock god playing the devil’s music.
Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor—The Smashing Pumpkins: Surely the length of the title is more impressive than the actual album. To call this a “new Pumpkins album” is the rambling of a madman. Billy Corgan probably decided that it would be a fun experiment to see how much people who still buy CDs would pay for a CD. Answer: way-too-fucking-much. You probably won’t find this release for less than $30, as it comes in a wooden box with a little marble obelisk for some reason. The EP is 4 songs that wind up being a combination of Zwan and The Decemberists—which, in theory, would be pretty rad…but in practice, it’s wholly unsatisfying–especially when you try to pass it off as Pumpkins.
Brothers—The Black Keys: It’s nice to see The Black Keys switching up their sound, if only slightly. Not that I’ve grown weary of their perfected straight-forward rock n’roll/blues, but after an already extensive catalog, it’s pleasant to see some variation on the theme. I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t actively listened to The Black Keys before they were featured in the 2007 film Black Snake Moan, despite them having been around for the better part of the last decade. I was a fool, and I now accept the error of my ways.
Rebirth—Lil Wayne: I have to be honest and say that it took a while for Weezy to grow on me, but this album is such solid fucking gold that I feel mentally disabled for ignoring Lil Wayne for so long. We should all offer our thanks to Aerosmith and Run DMC for creating the genre of “Rap Rock” despite Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, etc, etc, etc. The difference, of course, is that Lil Wayne is a legitimately talented rapper who decided to rock out for an album, and we’re glad he did. His collaborations with Eminem, the gorgeous Nicki Minaj, and the power ballad “Die for You” are possibly the greatest tracks here, but that’s like saying that the white and red Smarties are the best. They’re all wonderful, so just shut up and eat your fucking candy.
–Alex G/likes when rappers are able rhyme words that should never, ever, ever rhyme.