Reviews of Relatively Recent Records

This week will be short and with somewhat predictable reviews, since I’m just getting back in the flow of when I can write…..stay tuned for next week tho.  I will attempt to do a little better than this.  However, if you haven’t heard some of these, then my reviews goes as follows:

R.E.M. – Accelerate

One of the best albums they’ve ever made.  The previous album (Around the Sun)…basically sucked ass, but they really came on with a very strong and direct rock performance.  From what I’ve read, they made the recording schedule into 3 week sessions, in three different cities, respectively, to push the pace….and to stop Stipe from thinking too hard about the lyrics.  U2’s The Edge also insisted they use producer Jacknife Lee to help the process along.  Uncut gave it 3/5, as reviewer John Mulvey stated, “Accelerate is a simple, pragmatic record built on an uncomfortable truth: sometimes, even the best bands have to retrace their steps, if only to remind themselves what they’re really good at.  Indeed, although I will have to give them an extra star for their efforts.  4/5.

The Roots – Rising Down

This is a very late review, however…I don’t give a shit.  It’s not great…it’s definitely not even “very good” in comparison to other Roots album, but it’s still better than most of the albums that will come out in the hip hop scene of 2008.  The album features a more “now” factor with not only the state of current affairs, but that state of the group.  As featured in the Source, the band seems to be more and more…Black Thought and ?uestlove……and then the rest of the band (altho, the keyboardist Kamal seems to also have been a mainstay.)  With Black probably hitting the solo arena sometime soon, I have a sneaking suspicion that we might not even get a new Roots album for a while.  You better cherish your catalogue.  And as a sidenote, be on the lookout for Wale….some are lukewarm on him after all the hype, but I (Kahron) think he might turn out well.  4 out of 5 (as a regular album), 3.25 out of 5 (as a Roots album).

CéU – CéU

First of all, she’s hot.  Let’s get that out of the way.  Ok, so…..the album is also pretty good.  A nice mix of samba, soul, jazz, and electronica.  She’s got a real smooth voice…..very confident and relazed.  And she doesn’t try to over-sing, while at the same time, she’s never overmatched by the music.  4 out of 5

Thoback of the Week:

Herbie Hancock: The Herbie Hancock Box

From Jazzitude:

The Herbie Hancock Box, a 4-CD set that examines the totality of Hancock’s work on the Columbia label, gives good insight into just how varied the keyboardist’s output has been. Much of the first two discs draw on the late ’70s/early ’80s work done with VSOP, essentially a recreation of Miles Davis’ second great quintet from the ’60s with Freddie Hubbard substituted for Davis. There is also solo piano work and a duet with Chick Corea. The third disc focuses more heavily on Hancock’s electric work with a variety of bands from his Mawandishi sextet to Headhunters and beyond. The final disc is meant to present the music of Hancock that has most directly influenced other trends in modern music, such as his groundbreaking single “Rockit.” The set isn’t chronological, instead grouping Hancock’s music into blocks that are similar in mood or in style. It’s an impressive array of music, and as long as the listener isn’t coming to this purely as a jazz listener or (less likely) a rock or techno listener, it provides an outstanding opportunity to sample Hancock’s work through the ’70s and ’80s.

From me:

This was actually released in 2002, and re-released in 2004…..however, it’s still dope..and I’m sure half of you reading this don’t know any of his songs outside of “Rockit.”  This set is a nice primer for Hancock inquirers, or otherwise, on a genius musician that even Pharrell has talk to/about/admired.  The guy is still winning Grammys for best album (2008 – River: The Joni Tapes).

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