In review: latest and greatest music

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Enimen – The Marshall Mathers LP 2

2013 has, without any question, spoiled the music scene from top to bottom with incredible projects from almost all of hip-hop’s elite, but it’s just not a party until Marshall Mathers weighs in. It’s safe to say since of the release of his sophomore album, The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem has become one of, if not the, biggest house-hold names in rap. After a brief period of silence from the Detroit wordsmith, the world of music went into a frenzy after Eminem revealed his next album would be a follow up to his career launching album, but does The Marshall Mathers LP 2 live up to the hype?

First off, it’s important to remember Eminem’s intention was not necessarily to create a sequel to MMLP1 and therefore the songs have a surprising range in style, and even features Eminem’s first solo attempt at singing. Admittedly, this might divide fans and spark some controversy as to whether Eminem has developed into too much of a mainstream sound, but The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is still chalk full of everything we’ve come to know and love about Eminem.

The most noticeable difference about this project, compared to others released this year, is an impressive display of work ethic and a clear head. While still giving us those hilarious one-liners and comments on today’s biggest celebrities, Eminem appears to have a new outlook on things and almost embodies an air of wisdom to go along with that after the many years of climbing to the top of stardom.

One of the bigger highlights of MMLP2 is the long awaited feature of Dr. Dre’s two biggest protégés. “Love Game” is a delightfully uplifting beat with tons of funny punch lines and a stellar performance from Kendrick Lamar, while “Rap God”, “Legacy” and “So Far” are also deserving of praise.

One of the most controversial and memorable tracks from MMLP1 and Eminem’s career is “Cleaning Out My Closet,” in which his mother and bad childhood are the main targets of some rather nasty lyrics. Surprisingly in “Headlights” Eminem retracts a lot of what he previously said and even apologizes.

In terms of production the album is put together very well and the beats reek of Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin. In contrast MMLP2 lacks some of the bite that can be found on other works like Relapse and 8 Mile but to answer the most important question, yes it does live up to the hype, although keeping an open mind while listening is key.

It’s evident Eminem is still undeniably number one when it comes to the rap game and hopefully it won’t be another three years before we get another glimpse into the troubled genius that is Marshall Mathers.
—TJ Mroz

 

Arcade Fire – Reflektor

The only thing I could think of while listening to Reflektor for the first time was “this is not The Suburbs.” I didn’t feel the immediate connection to it that I felt with their previous album, but by the second listen I had an appreciation for their new sound.

I think with a band as iconic as Arcade Fire it’s impossible not to compare their newest music with their older sound. With every album they’ve adapted their style, and I respect their willingness to experiment with their music.

Reflektor is funky, weird, and completely different from what I expected from them —and I mean that in the best way possible. I approached this album with an open mind, and because of that I can appreciate the weirdness. I encourage everyone to listen, and I’ll defend their weirdness to those who wont give them a chance.

—Kate Turner
Canadian indie favourites, Arcade Fire, knew they had to really impress with their latest effort, Reflektor. Coming off of the success and universal acclaim of the Grammy-winning The Suburbs, Arcade Fire had to set the bar even higher with their fourth studio album.

And they almost did just that. Almost.

This is not to say that Reflektor isn’t an extremely well-crafted album. It is, with hints of different influences scattered throughout the two-part, 75-minute long collection. Songs such as “Normal Person” and “Porno” showed off the band’s versatile nature — and the assistance of producer and former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy was definitely an asset. But some will probably label the album as long, drawn out and, at times, tiresome.  Just one listen to the recent single, “Reflektor,” gives off an indication of the direction that the band is going with the album.

It takes a while to appreciate each and every aspect of each track, something that was a lot easier with The Suburbs. Arcade Fire has definite;y taken a more detailed approach this time around. But its complexity can definitely be seen as a plus for many — just make sure you have the time to fully get into it.
—Justin Smirlies

Arcade Fire is back in all their weird indie glory with their new release Reflektor. Reflektor toes the line between mainstream success while still not alienating their original underground roots. Having risen to fame in 2004 with Funeral, it would appear to be difficult to figure out how to reinvent yourself after ten years and four albums.

Arcade Fire managed to succeed. This is the first Arcade Fire album that I listened to and immediately loved upon first listen.

Reflektor manages to cross several genres within 75 minutes—sometimes crossing genres within one song. With jazz, soul, electronic, indie and even disco influences, there is quite literally something for everyone in this new release. Sonically, this is one of the most diverse albums Arcade Fire has ever produced.

The title track “Reflektor” manages to stay in line with their previous sound while incorporating a danceable beat that is undeniably catchy. Unlike previous albums, Reflektor is a double album—though the necessity of this isn’t exactly clear.

Ultimately, this is one of the strongest albums that Arcade Fire has put out. It will be interesting to see how  they will grow and develop as they try to retain their indie roots with a mainstream fan-base.

—Cristina Almudevar

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