Album Reviews Brew
The Killers- Direct Hits
Four studio albums, 10 years and over 20 million albums sold later, The Killers released “Direct Hits,” a compilation of the Las Vegas band’s biggest hits. The album wastes no time– the popular “Mr. Brightside” opens the album with the unique sound that launched the Killers into stardom. “Shot at the Night” feels like an ‘80s hit with Brandon Flowers’ haunting vocals and the distinct use of synths. Though not as lyrically complex as other Killers’ songs, the desperation in Flowers’ voice and sheer danceability of the music make it a standout track. “Just Another Girl” includes an equally desperate Flowers as he pines for a lost love in a synth-heavy ballad. Despite positive elements, the album egregiously omits some of the band’s best and most beloved tracks, including “Jenny was a Friend of Mine” and “Bling (Confession of a King).”
“Direct Hits” follows the Killers’ discography chronologically. It includes most of The Killers’ popular songs, but ultimately misses too many of the greatest Killers’ tracks and includes unnecessary songs–namely, the Calvin Harris remix of “When You Were Young”–to truly encompass the immense impact of the Killers’ music. – Kara Avacena
Eminem- The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Leave it to Yoda to demonstrate 41-year-old Eminem’s continuing vitality after more than a decade. The Jedi Master with the peculiar voice makes an appearance on “Rhyme or Reason,” the third track on the self-described rap god’s latest album “The Marshall Mathers LP 2.” With a title that positions this 16-song opus as a sequel to Eminem’s legendary 2000 debut, the rap veteran consciously rebukes many of hip-hop’s recent tendencies. You won’t find the singular, cohesive vision of Kanye’s “Yeezus” or the heart-on-the-sleeve emotionalism of Drake’s “Nothing was the Same” on this defiantly old-fashioned collection. Nonetheless, some of the album’s standouts delve into material that ranks among Eminem’s most emotional to date, as with a mea culpa to his mother on “Headlights.” Slim Shady hasn’t lost his trademark ferocity either. Whatever you think of his politics and positions, his technical prowess is undeniable and sharper than ever on the stunning “Rap God” and vicious “So Much Better.” Eminem may have ceded his early 21st century dominance to current phenomena like Kanye and Kendrick Lamar, but he’s not going down without an aggressive fight.
Bromar x PunkProper- Irie Vibes
Bromar x PunkProper’s hour-long set “Irie Vibes” debuted Nov. 3 on Soundcloud. In the week since its debut, “Irie Vibes” has earned more than 480 streams on Soundcloud. The set could not have debuted at a better time. The duo featuring School of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Chanel Verdult has gained notoriety since the first show at Jimmy Valentine’s, as well as their DJing competition at LivingSocial, The Eagle previously reported.
The set begins with a sample of “Boy” by HNNY with vogue house overtones that guide the listener into the more synth heavy sampling of “Need U (100%)” by the Blase Boys Club. The first 20 minutes of “Irie Vibes” uses more deep and vogue house) with a great sampling of “Fierce” by Azealia Banks. Hip-hop throwbacks are consistent throughout the set and some of the most recognizable tracks sound like a remix of “No Scrubs” with new trap like Chief Keef and Migos. Trap and trill are a notable influence on “Irie Vibes.” The latter half of the set features more trap and trill compared to the first half. Grimes’ ethereal voice is mixed with Tribe of Zebras Trap Mix.
“Irie Vibes” is meant to let listeners “Take a Trip to Trill-Ville,” according to duo’s Soundcloud account. For their first set, Bromar x PunkProper succeed in doing just that. – Jordan-Marie Smith
Lady Gaga- ARTPOP
A few years removed from her brief period of cultural dominance, Lady Gaga is desperate for approval. On “Applause,” the first single from her third studio album, she’s begging her audience to, “Put your hands up, make ‘em touch.” On “Jewels ‘n’ Drugs,” she enlists T.I. and C-listers Twista and Too Short for a rote foray into hip-hop excess. She takes a page out of Jay-Z’s book, referring to high culture as if it’s the next bar she needs to clear. What’s largely missing from this album, though, is the sense of pop innovation that gave “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face” their nervy charge. It peeks out from time to time, mostly on the riveting ballad “Dope.” But for the most part, Gaga seems content to chase radio hits with excess and sex-cess, with all of the signifiers of artistry but little of the soul. Gaga needs to start looking outward instead of inward. Right now, we mostly know how she sees herself. “ARTPOP” might bring Gaga back into the mainstream, but it won’t set the world on fire. – Mark Lieberman