Archive for October, 2011

In many ways, Coldplay has taken the mantle from U2 as purveyors of over-the-top pop piousness, even sounding like U2 with the jangly guitars and soaring choruses.
Their last album, Viva La Vida, was my favorite in their canon, as they pushed the boundaries of their sound to include worldly Far Eastern flourishes and pristine production values.
Their fifth and latest album, Mylo Xyloto, is a bit of a disappointment in comparison to the last disc. It again arrives in a glossy pop package, but for the most part the songs aren’t quite as memorable and in some cases, the production is too overcooked.
Case in point is the band’s foray into electro-dance beats, the left-field duet with Rihanna “Princess of China.” I like some of Rihanna’s work, but her contribution here isn’t all that memorable, mainly because the song is one of the worst on the set. It’s a definite stab at a hit, but feels out of place with the rest of the album.
There are plenty of great moments, including the opening track “Hurts Like Heaven,” the driving first single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, and the guitar-heavy “Major Minus.”
There are a few nice acoustic moments in “Us Against the World” and “UFO,” but there are also a few other forgettable tunes.
Second single “Paradise” doesn’t do much for me, seems to be Coldplay by numbers. “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart” could have been awesome, but it suffers from overproduction as the vocals are buried a bit too much in the mix. “Up in Flames” is a piano and drums ballad but doesn’t have much of a hook and “Up with the Birds” is an odd closer, with singer Chris Martin crooning over a Brian May sample for the first two minutes before the track takes off and then ends just as it was getting good.
Overall, the album ends up uneven and a bit of a letdown from past discs.

Sod rating: ***

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The latest album from Atlanta heavy metal outfit Mastodon is a masterwork, simply speaking.
These guys are so talented, and they seem to get better with every offering. Their new album is unlike the rest of their catalogue in that they eschew mega-epic tunes for more concise but still heavy-hitting fare.
The album kicks off with a trifecta of awesomeness, as “Black Tongue,” “Curl of the Burl,” and “Blasteroid” hammer home big-time riffs along with hummable choruses. “Stargasm” employs one of the key tricks in the Mastodon playbook, providing ever-changing tempos and seemingly making two tunes in one.
“Octopus Has No Friends” shows amazing fretwork by guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher. These guys are two of the best in the business, as are drummer Brann Dailor and bassist Troy Sanders.
Title track “The Hunter” is a touching tribute to Hinds’ brother, who died of a heart attack while hunting. They even go Beatles on us with the lyric “all the love I make is equal to the love I take.” This track, along with album closer “The Sparrow” (dedicated to the wife of the band’s accountant) display the band has heart to go along with its heavyness.
Other highlights include thrasher “Spectrelight,” the ultracool “Thickening” and the campy swamp thing tale “Creature Lives.”
There’s not a bad track here, and a lot to love. I haven’t stopped playing it since I purchased it last week. Buy it immediately.

Sod rating: **** 1/2