The mystical legend of Kate Bush is alive and well—her patented moody, lyrically-driven tails of shadowy figures and distant hills, all now updated with a coat of snow. Her 10th studio album and only the second of original material in the last 17 years, 50 Words For Snow was certainly not rushed in its construction; and while playing, gives off the vibe that it's in no rush to finish either. Bush is a master of surreal dreamworlds and real emotion, and each of the seven tracks she's arranged here, spanning from seven to fourteen minutes a piece, carry a distinct, icy air to live in. There's the narrating of an actual fallen "Snowflake" (where Bush duets with her 12 year old son), the spirit of "Lake Tahoe" finding its long lost dog, an aerial view of Rome burning in "Snowed In At Wheeler Street" (featuring Elton John), and so on. And like a good storybook, it invites and transfixes with no prior experience needed.
Premier hitmaker Rihanna happens to be the fastest solo artist in history to have 20 top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. The past four years have been very good to her (besides that little Chris Brown incident, and even then, she came out on top). Talk That Talk, her sixth LP, is just as it should be: her most confident, grand, and quality-produced yet. It's also a continued exaggeration of that fierce, bad-girl persona, loaded with sex talk — see "Cockiness" line, "I love it when you eat it. . . . Suck my cockiness/Lick my persuasion." Enough said.
Titled as the sequel to her classic 1994 album My Life — a risky creative decision that would mean indefinite failure for probably anyone who's not R&B queen Mary J. Blige — this long awaited 10th album from being greeted with much respect. Guests include Beyonce, Nas, Drake, Rick Ross, and Busta Rhymes, and yet the diva manages to own every minute of it. My Life II plays like a both a retrospective and return to throne, and should make this a very notable year in the life of Ms. Blige.
The debut from Alabama's Yelawolf on Eminem's Shady Records finally sees light after a few date changes since September. Buzz has been heightened by some very favorable press from those who did get early listens, most notably The Source and XXL. Radioactive has hooks, but there's also a lot of content, with standouts like “Made in the U.S.A.” and “Slumerican Shitizen” flexing some strong social commentary, and Eminem puts his hyper-flow stamp on "Throw It Up".
Just in time for the holidays of record-collecting 30-somethings everywhere, this massive box set spans one of the most sacred and praised discographies of the 90s, putting it all in one vinyl-stack with a bunch of unreleased material, posters, and one of a kind drawings from mastermind Jeff Mangum himself. What was once looked at as pretty much a closed case, the estranged songwriter returned to the public eye this year making surprise live appearances and re-igniting that longtime indieworld-obsession with whether the band will ever follow-up the seminal 1998 release In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. This box set does not answer that question, but it sure beats previous silence.
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