Manufacturer: Warner Bros.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers of the quadruple-platinum smash Blood Sugar Sex Magic returned revitalized and reunited with Californication four year later, which was perhaps their most anticipated album ever. Most importantly, Californication marked the homecoming of guitarist John Frusciante, a key ingredient in the group's most successful albums. His return signaled the energized re-emergence of one of rock's premier emotional, powerful and exciting bands.
Manufacturer: Rhino/Warner Bros.
This is the "greatest hits" album we've been waiting for: all of Prince's biggest hits packed onto one disc. Arguably the most influential artist of the '80s, Prince is one of the very few musicians of this or any other era to find a massive and intensely loyal audience while still being praised by critics and musical contemporaries alike for his bold experimentalism and prodigious instrumental skills. His brash, high-NRG mix of pop, rock, funk, and psychedelia picked up where Sly Stone left off, and the result was music that was revolutionary in its sonic experimentation and provocative fashion. This collection brings together the absolute best of Prince's Warner Bros. recordings - perhaps the most important recordings since the '70s - on one hit-jammed disc. Taken literally, this album's title is sure to cause endless arguments. Nothing from Dirty Mind, not a trace of the early anthem "Controversy," no "Erotic City"--no non-LP cuts at all, save some edited single versions--and a cold shoulder to the criminally out-of-print Gold Experience. Damn. As a compendium of 17 key A-sides from 1979 to 1992, however, The Very Best of Prince is (ahem) a quick-'n'-dirty review of the days when the Artist was, in the estimation of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, one of the weirdest musicians in the Top 10. Blessed with both creative cunning and the wish to reach every listener possible, Prince revitalized rock and soul modes from the sex-crazed ("Little Red Corvette") to the cryptically spiritual ("Purple Rain"). Often he blurred lines between attitudes as surely as he did musical ones; the New Testament image of "Thieves in the Temple" became in his hands a complaint about a stolen girlfriend. Though a fine party artifact, this disc is still likely to prove too scanty even for many casual Prince fans. --Rickey Wright
Ocean Avenue is the major label debut album from the five-piece Yellowcard. Produced by Neal Avron (Everclear, New Found Glory), the album sees the band update the popular SoCal pop-punk sound with help from classically trained violinist Sean Mackin.
2012 release from the Icelandic outfit formed by singer/guitarist Nanna BryndÂ¡s HilmarsdÂ¢ttir. Their rapid rise transpired in just one year. Nanna, who began as the acoustic act Songbird, recruited extra hands to bolster her sound for a solo show. She liked how her vocals commingled with guitarist/vocalist Ragnar "Raggi" _Â¢rhallsson's, so they started writing songs together and in 2010 morphed into Of Monsters And Men. As victors of 2010's MÂ£siktilraunir, the new group earned a slot on the influential Iceland Airwaves festival later that year, followed by Seattle's radio station KEXP posting "Little Talks" from a Living Room Session filmed there, setting the telltale ripple effect in motion. Though their reach is growing broader, the group's appeal has remained distinct: Their music is as fantastical as it is pretty.
Vinyl LP pressing. 2012 release from the Icelandic outfit formed by singer/guitarist Nanna BryndÂ¡s HilmarsdÂ¢ttir. Their rapid rise transpired in just one year. Nanna, who began as the acoustic act Songbird, recruited extra hands to bolster her sound for a solo show. She liked how her vocals commingled with guitarist/vocalist Ragnar "Raggi" _Â¢rhallsson's, so they started writing songs together and in 2010 morphed into Of Monsters And Men. As victors of 2010's MÂ£siktilraunir, the new group earned a slot on the influential Iceland Airwaves festival later that year, followed by Seattle's radio station KEXP posting "Little Talks" from a Living Room Session filmed there, setting the telltale ripple effect in motion. Though their reach is growing broader, the group's appeal has remained distinct: Their music is as fantastical as it is pretty.
Manufacturer: WEA/Fueled by Ramen
Having earned widespread acclaim with their 2009 debut album, Aim & Ignite, fun. decided to raise the stakes with this album, their first on Fueled By Ramen, by teaming with noted producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Drake).The first single from Some Nights, "We Are Young (Feat. Janelle MonÃ¡e)," has generated quite a buzz, hitting the top 3 on The Hype Machine music blog aggregator in its first week of release, not to mention the top 5 on iTunes' "Top Alternative Songs" sales ranking. What's more, "We Are Young" has received major airplay from KCRW's influential Morning Becomes Eclectic, while USA Today applauded the "baroque indie-popsters" for "(making) a counterintuitive play for the big time, slowing down for the massive singalong chorus."
BLINK 182 TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET Their formula is simple enough--equal parts teenage humor and brattiness combined with infectious guitar hooks that just beg to be cranked up on the stereo. But with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, the guys in Blink 182 may have delivered their best album to date, a punk-pop fusion that's so consistent you'll wonder which of the 13 tracks will become radio hits (any has the chance, really). Yes, as with Dude Ranch and Enema of the State, the songs here revolve around falling in love ("The Rock Show," "First Date"), falling out of love ("Online Songs," "Happy Holidays, You Bastard"), and plenty of other ways to kill time while away from school ("Reckless Abandon"). And yes, these guitar-driven songs all pretty much sound the same, but Take Off never gets boring. There's too much nervous energy here, too many slight variations in the arrangements, and too many hilarious lyrics that you won't want to miss. Parents may remember that the Buzzcocks used this same shtick in the late '70s, older siblings may remember that Green Day did it well not so many years ago, but Blink fans know that their band is more clever than anyone else playing today. The bonus tracks are throwaways, but that's OK--the threesome have given us plenty to bop our heads to here. --Jason Verlinde
Amnesiac picks up where "Kid A" left off - recorded during the same sessions as its companion. Thom Yorke has compared the sound of Amnesic like this: "If you look at the artwork for 'Kid A'... well that's like looking at a fire from afar. 'Amnesiac' is the sound of what it feels like to be standing in the fire." Tracks include: "I Might Be Wrong," the first single, "Life in a Glass House," "You and Whose Army?" "Hunting Bears" and more. More song-driven and acoustic than Kid A, Radiohead's Amnesiac isn't quite "Kid B," but it is unquestionably cut from the same far-out cloth, as the band revels in fascinating quirks and abject nihilism. It's also the first time in Radiohead's career that a new record hasn't meant a complete shift in artistic priorities. Surely, however, regardless of which was released first, they both deserve recognition; after all, Amnesiac, like Kid A, is an amazing piece of work. Only lightly augmented with electronics, songs like "You and Whose Army?" and "I Might Be Wrong" almost sound like they came from a typical five-piece rock band. You may even believe the band still employs a guitarist after hearing Jonny Greenwood's wistful surf-guitar lead on "Knives Out" or his subtle but noticeable contributions to the anticapitalist rant "Dollars and Cents." But inevitably, the band continually shifts gears, moving into Boards of Canada territory on "Like Spinning Plates" and delivering dark, bass-laden oddities like "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors," a fuzzed-out piece of avant-garde techno that could just as easily be on an Autechre or Aphex Twin record. The song's half-sung, half-spoken vocal was laid down by either a heavily distorted Thom Yorke or, just perhaps, a loquacious microwave oven. Either way, the music always has momentum, regardless of whether propelled by man or appliance. Radiohead as a band understand how to make rock interesting again, and in the end, that's all they set out to do when they recorded Amnesiac, as well as Kid A. It's more than can be said for the bad frat-punk, teen-...