Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (2010, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach, Stylo, Empire Ants
After seeing them live, my view has changed a little about this album. It's hard to categorize Gorillaz into one genre and this album proves how diverse their sound is. "Orchestral Intro" is just what it says. It's not too classical or anything. It's just the right sound to set a light mood and smoothly transitions to "Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach". It features a smooth R&B sound with great band elements and smooth rapper Snoop Dogg make it an even cooler first full length song. "White Flag" mixes traditional Indian sounds and hip-hop together in one enjoyable package. "Rhinestone Eyes" is a seemingly simple electro-pop song with megaphone vocals and an interestingly, dramatic chorus that sticks to the mind. "Stylo" skillfully combines old school elements from the great Bobby Womack, a sprinkle of hip-hop, and Gorillaz's unique electronic twist. This song is easily catchy and enjoyable by fans of either artists. "Superfast Jellyfish" leans more on the hip-hop sound of the band, but in a very comical and catchy way. It kinda reminds me of PaRappa the Rapper game. The music steps down to something softer. Originally, I wasn't too fond of "Empire Ants", but hearing it live made a huge difference. It's a beautiful ballad mixing that old electro-funk sound and Asian ambiance. "Glitter Freeze" is purely an electronic instrumental song. "Some Kind of Nature" and "On Melancholy Hill" is a light hearted electro-rock songs. "Broken" is very down tempo song that keeps their signature electronic sound. "Sweepstakes" is a bit of a random song mixing brass instruments and raggae elements to a fun melody. "Plastic Beach" is a very mellow rock song that touches base with their roots and combining it with this new format. "To Binge" is very islandy. Mellow and familiar like a Beach Boys song. "Cloud of Unknowing" is a very deep, emotional song that proves that Bobby still has it. The album ends with a retro electro-pop sound in "Pirate Jet". In the end, Gorillaz stick to their original plan of being abstract and opening our ears to different sounds worldwide.
Rain - Back To Basics (2010, South Korea) | Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Love Song, Same, One, Hip Song
It had been 2 years since the last release from Rain (unless you wanna count the repackaged material), so I was really excited to see him finally releasing something new. I must say, this comeback did not disappoint. "Love Song" was the title track for this
f(x) - NU ABO (2010, South Korea) | Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: NU ABO, Mr. Boogie, Ice Cream, ME+U
So, I wasn't part of the original fan club of f(x), but hearing their collaboration with Son Dam Bi and this mini album sold me for good. "NU ABO" is a strong electro-hip-hop/pop song with intense beats, catchy chorus, and signature Korean girl cuteness that isn't obnoxious like some female kpop groups. "Mr. Boogie" goes into that whole electro-pop trend that's just catching on every where, but it's a good arrangement. It's very dancy and has attitude written all over it. Missing a good old sugary sweet girl kpop song? Well, "Ice Cream" is definitely cutesy and pop. If you listen to this track too much, you might get sick of it. "ME+U" has become a recent favorite from hearing it in the car. It's fun, simple, and very dance worthy. The mini ends with something more mellow and slow. The arrangements are nice for both songs, but not my style.
Big Bang - Big Bang Special Edition (2011, South Korea) | Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: Baby Don't Cry, TONIGHT, CAFE, I Need a Girl
If you weren't satisfied with the mini-album, prepare yourself to be disappointed with this not so Special Edition the boys have released for us. I wasn't even expecting another release so quickly, but I found it extremely unnecessary.
Sadie - COLD BLOOD (2011, Japan) | Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: sabaku no SYNDROME, Graceful Angel, deathtopia, mabuta no yuuutsu
I wasn't sure what to expect from this album, since the singles leading up to it were a bit hit and miss. The album starts off pretty calm and you can hear every instrument clearly in "doukoku". It has a dramatic build and helps you get settled for the rest of the ride through the other tracks. "Juggernaut" was one of the singles that didn't quite agree with me. It sounded very anime, but still Sadie in some ways. Very generic. Nothing special except the chorus on a good day. "LOOSING MY WAY OF THE PROUD" shows a lot of Dir en grey influence. It's aggressive, sneaky, and energetic. "sabaku no SYNDROME" shares a similar Diru influence, but still true to Sadie's aggressive, dark sound. The musical transitions are interesting and Mao skillfully follows his own transitions from a low growl to raw vocal. "棘 -toge-" was another single they released for promotion and I'm sure you can find my thoughts on it in an older post. "deathtopia" made me a little skeptical with the name, but it had an interesting beginning that no one would expect from them and explode instantly into something aggressive. Very clever~ "Dress" was a miss single and I simple just skipped it as usual. "Graceful Angel" brought something a little new to the band and I really enjoyed this one. It had a great dual guitar and bass relationship and Mao's voice were flawless. "kasumi ni kieru hana" features a slightly softer side of the band that is equally enjoyable to their heavier sound without selling out to a mainstream "anime" rock sound. "GIMMICK" sounds like their roots back in the "Meisei" era when they first started out with mixed with that mainstream sound I mentioned before. "Kuraimoa" was actually a single I kinda liked compared to the others. It's fast pace and a little aggressive. "mabuta no yuuutsu" is another soft song with a dark undertone. The album ends with an unplugged version of "Dress" which I'm sure fans will enjoy if they liked the original, but for me it was a pass...obviously.