Noise 101 – CD Reviews for April 7th
Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers has been met by a bit of hostility from fans, who call it his most commercial album. I’m not going to deny that it is, but given that this is Fiasco we’re talking about, that doesn’t exactly make it a Kanye West or Lil Wayne-inspired slack job.
It’s a pretty great album. No, it’s really great.
There are a few more mainstream tracks on the album than usual, definitely a push by label producers to have more radio-ready songs, but for the most part the album is as subversive, political, clever and just plain honest as you’d expect. “State Run Radio” stands out as this writer’s favourite track; it’s a clever play on an old subject to tackle something larger.
If one thing can be said for the album’s sound, it’s one of the cleanest hip-hop albums to come out in a long time. Every hook and chorus is clear, every beat is crisp and every track flows so well that I’m already prepared to call this one of the best rap albums of 2011.
— Aaron Chatha
Press play and get lost in the wonder that is Lykke Li. Her sophomore album Wounded Rhythms is a departure from her debut, but not in the sense that it is any less interesting or captivating. This time around she is more assertive than introspective. Her deep and soulful voice is grouped with striking drumbeats, emotionally charged lyrics and echoes that create a haunting but beautiful sound throughout the record.
“Get Some” is the album’s first single and is one of the most aggressive songs on the album. Explosive drums are met with Nina Simone-like vocals where Li sings, “I’m your prostitute, you gonna get some.” The bluesy “Youth knows no pain” is another gem. Again with thundering drums, but this tune is slightly dancier than some of the other tracks.
A Lykke Li album isn’t complete without a beautiful ballad, and “Love Out of Lust” is heart wrenching. Maybe it’s because I’m a chick, or because it’s so echoic and dreamy, either way it’s a stunning song.
— Vanessa Conley
Papermaps is a rock quartet out of Toronto formed by producer/songwriter Dean Marino; owner of Chemical Sound Recording Studio, which has hosted such acts as Tokyo Police Club, The Black Keys, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and C’mon. The band recorded in Marino’s studio, which is known for its atmosphere and a large collection of vintage music gear. Listen a few times to hear the vintage recording equipment translate on their latest release. The band has been recently featured on CBC 3, and on the acclaimed Americana Roots Music Authority website, No Depression.
Inspired by bands like Spoon, Big Star, Television, the Beatles and MGMT, Papermaps incorporates indie, experimental, shoegaze and electronica styles into a power/new wave genre of pop. Stand-out tracks are “Angela,” with fast-paced, rich orchestration; “Forever” is romantic and melodic, while “Wishful Thinker” features bare guitars and soulful lyrics. Ending the album seamlessly is the psychedelic, rootsy, guitar heavy “You are my Gallows.”
— Aysim Ela