September 27, 2016

Helloween - Walls of Jericho (1986)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Power Metal
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© 1986 Noise/Combat Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Helloween followed up their very popular self-titled mini-LP with 1986's even more accomplished Walls of Jericho, a disc that saw the quartet from Hamburg, Germany, outperforming expectations and quickly defining their sonic identity. The instrumental title track soon gives way to amazingly mature and complex compositions like "Ride the Sky," "Phantoms of Death," and the awesome "How Many Tears" (even more ambitious 13-minute epics would soon follow). And although these were heavily reliant on Iron Maiden for inspiration, it was Helloween's speed metal innovations that clearly helped make the songs so special and influential for future bands. Even the album's lyrically challenged, somewhat one-dimensional moments ("Warrior," "Metal Invaders") usually succeed, thanks to the group's uncontainable energy. On the downside, the album continued to expose Kai Hansen's limitations as a singer, but the band would soon remedy this disadvantage by bringing on teenage phenom Michael Kiske as lead vocalist. [The CD reissue of Walls of Jericho offers a complete recap of Helloween's first incarnation by combining it with their eponymous mini-LP and the Judas EP in chronological order.]

tags: helloween, walls of jericho,  1986, flac,

Helloween - Keeper of The Seven Keys: Part I (1987)

Country: Germany
Genre: Power Metal
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© 1987 RCA Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Influenced by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Helloween specialized in blistering yet melodic heavy metal with a strong gothic orientation. On Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1 (arguably Helloween's best album), lead vocalist Michael Kiske has no problem singing in a high, ear-splitting pitch -- often demonstrating just how great an impact Rob Halford has had on him. Although Helloween was never in a class with either Priest or Maiden, this very conceptual album is competent, enjoyable, and generally well done. There are no hormone-driven odes to women in tight dresses (a recurring theme in metal and hard rock) on Keeper; from "Future World" to "Twilight of the Gods," Helloween sticks to the type of gothic, fantasy-oriented lyrics it was known for. Helloween's contributions to metal were never outstanding, but as Keeper showcases, the band did have its moment.

Various Artists - Guru Presents Ill Kid Records (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 Payday Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: various artists, guru presents ill kid records, ill kid records compilation, 1995, flac,

TLC - 20 (2013)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: R&B
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© 2013 Epic Records
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
The sticker on the front of TLC 20 proclaims "Music inspired by VH1's film CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story," which is neither actual nor factual. With the exception of one new song, "Meant to Be" -- a pleasant ballad co-written by Ne-Yo -- these songs were released during the early '90s through the early 2000s, long before the film was conceived. Keke Palmer, who portrayed Chilli, wasn't born until over a year after the release of Ooooooohhh...On the TLC Tip. Regardless, this set is a decent introduction to one of the biggest pop groups of the '90s. Released a week ahead of the film's premiere, it features all nine of the group's Hot 100 Top Ten singles, from 1992's "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" through 1999's "Unpretty," along with a handful of relatively minor hits, album cuts, and the new song. It could have gone deeper -- as deep as the 19-track Now & Forever: The Hits (2003), at least. There's much more to enjoy beyond what's here. The group made three of the best '90s pop-R&B albums, and 2002's 3D was no embarrassment.

tags: tlc, 20, 20 album, 2013, flac,

Channel Live - Station Identification (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by John Bush
On their album debut Station Identification, Hakim and Tuffy cover social problems such as sex and violence over KRS-One's lean production grooves. The previous singles "Mad Izm" and "Reprogram" are definitely the highlights here, but the duo get in plenty of great raps on the album tracks as well.

tag:s channel live, station identification, 1995, flac,

September 23, 2016

Suprême NTM - 1993... J'appuie Sur La Gâchette (1993)

Country: France
Language: French (Le Français)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1993 Epic Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: supreme ntm, j appuie sur la gachette, 1993, flac,

September 22, 2016

Selena - Dreaming of You (1995)

Country: U.S.A
Language: English, Spanish (Español)
Genre: Tejano, R&B, Pop Cumbia
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© 1995 EMI Latin
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Most of America first learned of Selena because of her tragic murder; accordingly, the posthumous Dreaming of You was the first record they ever heard. While it isn't her best -- Amor Prohibido is a more consistent release -- it was an effective introduction, and showed why she was so beloved among Tejano fans. The English tracks on the album are no different than her Spanish songs. Selena was essentially a singer much like her idol Madonna. She was able to sing ballads and dance-pop convincingly. Dreaming of You would have been a stronger album if she had lived, but it still stands as a powerful -- and touching -- testament to her talents.

tags: selena, dreaming of you, 1995, flac,

Selena - Anthology: A 30 Song Retrospective (1998)

 3 disc compilation released in 1998.

Country: U.S.A
Language: Spanish, English
Genre: Tejano, Pop, Mariachi
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             *****
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© 1998 EMI Latin
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Compiled by her father, Abraham Quintanilla, Anthology is a three-disc/three-cassette box set that provides a comprehensive overview of Selena's tragically brief career. The set is divided into three parts: a disc of mariachi, a disc of cumbia, and a disc of pop recordings, many of which are in English. There are certain hits missing -- there's no "Dreaming of You," oddly enough -- but it's the first compilation to give a good sense of the range of her talents.
Tejano, Pop, Mariachi

tags: selena, anthology, a 30 song retrospective, 1998, flac,

September 21, 2016

Jeru The Damaja - The Sun Rises In The East (1994)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1994 PayDay/FFRR/PolyGram Records
AllMusic Review by John Bush
DJ Premier's first album-length production outside of Gang Starr was his best by far. Where Premier's productions hadn't shone underneath the cracking, over-earnest vocals of Guru, with a superior stylist like Jeru these tracks became brilliant musical investigations with odd hooks (often detuned bells, keys, or vibes), perfectly scratched upchoruses, and the grittiest, funkiest Brooklynese beats pounding away in the background. Of course, the star of the show was Jeru, a cocksure young rapper who brought the dozens from the streets to a metaphysical battleground where he did battle with all manner of foe -- the guy around the corner on "D. Original" or an allegorical parade of hip-hop evils on "You Can't Stop the Prophet." The commentary about inner-city plagues arising from spiritual ignorance only continued on "Ain't the Devil Happy," with Jeru preaching knowledge of self as the only rescue from greed and violence. Jeru also courted some controversy with "Da Bichez," at first explaining, "I'm not talkin' 'bout the queens...not the sisters...not the young ladies," but later admitting his thoughts ("most chicks want minks, diamonds, or Benz"). His flow and delivery were natural, his themes were impressive, and he was able to make funky rhymes out of intellectual hyperbole like: "Written on these pages is the ageless, wisdom of the sages/Ignorance is contagious." It lacks a landmark track, but The Sun Rises in the East stands alongside Nas' Illmatic (released the same year, and also boasting the work of Premier) as one of the quintessential East Coast records.

tags: jeru the damaja, the sun rises in the east, 1994, flac,

N.O.R.E. - God's Favorite (2002)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 2002 Def Jam Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
On Noreaga's long-awaited and oft-delayed third album, God's Favorite, the thuggish New York rapper returns with many of the same producers who contributed to his previous album, Melvin Flynt - Da Hustler (1999), namely Ez Elpee, the Neptunes, and Swizz Beatz. Likewise N.O.R.E. teams up with a gang of rappers on God's Favorite, many of whom had contributed to Melvin Flynt. There is one glaring difference between this album and its so-so predecessor, however: Noreaga comes out of the gate here both hungry and focused. Gone is the conceptual framing of Melvin Flynt, as God's Favorite simply consists of hard-hitting jams, one after the other, most of which center on hooks yet are filled with bars upon bars of hardcore rapping. As usual, the Neptunes turn in a couple head-spinners, in this case "Nothin'" and "Grimey." Swizz Beatz turns in some bangers, chief among them "Nahmeanuheard" and its remix, but the Neptunes steal the show throughout God's Favorite, continually lightening up Noreaga's thuggery with their candy-sweet, yet still tough, hooks. Above all, it's good to see N.O.R.E. stick to the basics on God's Favorite. As a rapper, he's as rough as they come and certainly has presence, but he doesn't have the charisma it takes to pull off a conceptual album such as what he tried to do on Melvin Flynt. That's why he works so well with producers like the Neptunes and Swizz Beatz. They take care of the song ideas and let Noreaga roam free to do what he does best, bring the heat, something he does here on God's Favorite in prime form.

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Jeru The Damaja - Divine Design (2003)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2003 Ashenafi Records
Review by RapReviews.com
Calling Jeru the Damaja's career "up and down" would be a little bit of an understatement. At one point, with DJ Premier in his corner, he was the self-described "Prophet" of hip-hop music and culture, and was much beloved for his no-nonsense lyrics and righteous attitude on albums like "The Sun Rises in the East" and "Wrath of the Math." While at times his rhyme style seemed to emphasize verbiage over flowing to the beat, the powerful eloquence of those words over such strong beats made him second to none in his position as rap's voice of conscience. Ultimately the 1990's were not too kind to rappers who used their lyrics as thought-provoking social commentary and educational tools, as even once widely hailed rappers like KRS-One and Rakim saw their crown as kings of rap get tarnished. To his credit Jeru did not trade in his politics for a bling bling chain and some 24 inch rims, but his audience and influence decreased to the point that when he returned five years after "Wrath of the Math" with "Heroz4Hire" no one really seemed to care. In truth Jeru's own lyrical style had become something of a handicap, as self-produced beats proved to be no match for Primo's work and made his rhyme style seem less cohesive and more "spoken word" in nature. Not that there's anything wrong with spoken word mind you (big up to Black Ice and Saul Williams) but if you buy a rap album that's what you want to hear - an MC rapping on the mic.
While hip-hop's commercial side continued to glorify a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption and socially unredeeming behaviour combined with overly simplistic lyrics, a dedicated hip-hop underground kept on churning out records better than what the masses would hear or even had any interest in hearing. That's not to say all independent label records were "prophetic" mind you, but that the chance of hearing something that would raise your awareness was far higher than in pop rap's song after song about sex, money and hoes. The underground is the better place to be for artistic creativity, because intentionally or not creating records for mass consumption tends to make an artist change their intent and/or delivery over time so that it will be received by the widest audience (or if you prefer the majority of that audience that is the lowest common denominator). Instead of giving up his credibility and trying to get in where he could fit in with pop rap music, Kendrick Jeru Davis dug even deeper into the underground and returned almost a decade after he first debuted with "Divine Design."
This time, Jeru left the production duties to Edd Dantez for Ashenafi Entertainment, leaving him free to concentrate solely on the lyrical skills. The difference is readily apparent when you listen to songs like "War," where a simple but powerful drum track proves to be a throwback to the days when Jeru sounded dope over broken piano chords and dripping water pipes. The militant mindstate of Jeru against the world has not by this point been dulled by the industry; rather he rebels against mediocracy and seems to be sharper than ever: Full Review here

tags: jeru the damaja, divine design, 2003, flac,

Jeru The Damaja - Still Rising (2007)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2007 Ashenafi Records
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
Though both Jeru the Damaja and Nas released their debut LPs in 1994, the former hasn't had the same kind of success and name recognition that his fellow New Yorker enjoys. A big part of this is because Jeru has been nowhere near as prolific. While Nas continued to make albums throughout the '90s and 2000s, some of them with poppy enough hooks that he was able to cross over into new territory, Jeru ditched beatmaker-extraordinaire DJ Premier (which Nas didn't do until much later) after his second album, The Wrath of the Math, came out; he kept on criticizing commercial hip-hip (a move that generally doesn't help radio play), and completed only two albums between 1995 and 2005, neither of which were particularly impressive. Now, with the issuing of Still Rising, a clear allusion to his debut, The Sun Rises in the East, on his own Ashenafi Records, Jeru is trying to re-stake his claim as an East Coast force. With a couple of unknown but generally capable, producers, the MC presents a compelling enough case regarding his verbal authority, both directly ("How Ill," where he spits "Bring peace to the Gaza Strip 'cause I got so much clout/Mario owe me dope for knocking Donkey Kong out/Wolfgang Puck gave me paper to teach him to cook/J.K. Rowling asked me to write the next Harry Potter book") and indirectly, like in the provocative "Airplay," which takes a close, thoughtful look at society, commenting both on the way blacks have been treated and how they treat themselves, in a way that's not often heard in hip-hop ("Like the days of step-and-fetch-it we still acting like fools/We have the most expensive cars but oldest books in school"). There are some weak points on the record -- the boring closer "Streets," or "Quantum Leap," which is a little too close to Nas' mainstream breakout, "If I Ruled the World" -- and there's no real "standout" track, but, as the title implies, this is a process that isn't over, and Still Rising puts Jeru back on the path to MC venerability.

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September 20, 2016

Dru Hill - Dru World Order (2002)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: R&B
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© 2002 Def Soul
AllMusic Review by John Bush
After Sisqó's solo debut pushed two big hits ("Thong Song," "Incomplete") to the top of the charts, it appeared Dru Hill was going to have to recruit a replacement for its best-known name. When the group finally returned in 2002, though, it not only welcomed Sisqó back to the fold but added a member (Skola) to make the group a quintet. The third album, Dru World Order, proves the group possesses as much talent as any of their contemporaries in the R&B world. First of all, it's largely self-contained; Nokio produced over half the album, and much of the songwriting was kept in-house as well. And with the gospel fervor of new addition Skola, Dru Hill sounds stronger and smoother than it has in the past. The single "I Should Be..." is solid, if a little in the line of standard material for them, but "On Me" (featuring N.O.R.E.) and "Old Love" are two of the most inspired songs they've ever recorded. The songwriting tends to similar themes, as do the songs themselves, but having the most polished harmonies on the R&B block makes Dru Hill capable of smoothing over any of the rough spots on Dru World Order.

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U2 - War (1983)

Country: Ireland
Language: English
Genre: Pop Rock
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© 1983 Island Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Opening with the ominous, fiery protest of "Sunday Bloody Sunday," War immediately announces itself as U2's most focused and hardest-rocking album to date. Blowing away the fuzzy, sonic indulgences of October with propulsive, martial rhythms and shards of guitar, War bristles with anger, despair, and above all, passion. Previously, Bono's attempts at messages came across as grandstanding, but his vision becomes remarkably clear on this record, as his anthems ("New Year's Day," "40," "Seconds") are balanced by effective, surprisingly emotional love songs ("Two Hearts Beat as One"), which are just as desperate and pleading as his protests. He performs the difficult task of making the universal sound personal, and the band helps him out by bringing the songs crashing home with muscular, forceful performances that reveal their varied, expressive textures upon repeated listens. U2 always aimed at greatness, but War was the first time they achieved it.

tags: u2, war, 1983, flac,

September 19, 2016

Radiohead - Pablo Honey (1993)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock, Grunge
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© 1993 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Radiohead's debut album, Pablo Honey, is a promising collection that blends U2's anthemic rock with long, atmospheric instrumental passages and an enthralling triple-guitar attack that is alternately gentle and bracingly noisy. The group has difficulty writing a set of songs that are as compelling as their sound, but when they do hit the mark -- such as on "Anyone Can Play Guitar," "Blow Out," and the self-loathing breakthrough single "Creep" -- the band achieves a rare power that is both visceral and intelligent.

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Various Artists - The Punisher: The Album (2004)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Alternative Rock, Nü-Metal, Post Grunge
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© 2004 Wind-Up Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: various artists, the punisher the album, punisher soundtrack, 2004, flac, ost,

September 18, 2016

Radiohead - OK Computer (1997) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1997 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Using the textured soundscapes of The Bends as a launching pad, Radiohead delivered another startlingly accomplished set of modern guitar rock with OK Computer. The anthemic guitar heroics present on Pablo Honey and even The Bends are nowhere to be heard here. Radiohead have stripped away many of the obvious elements of guitar rock, creating music that is subtle and textured yet still has the feeling of rock & roll. Even at its most adventurous -- such as the complex, multi-segmented "Paranoid Android" -- the band is tight, melodic, and muscular, and Thom Yorke's voice effortlessly shifts from a sweet falsetto to vicious snarls. It's a thoroughly astonishing demonstration of musical virtuosity and becomes even more impressive with repeated listens, which reveal subtleties like electronica rhythms, eerie keyboards, odd time signatures, and complex syncopations. Yet all of this would simply be showmanship if the songs weren't strong in themselves, and OK Computer is filled with moody masterpieces, from the shimmering "Subterranean Homesick Alien" and the sighing "Karma Police" to the gothic crawl of "Exit Music (For a Film)." OK Computer is the album that establishes Radiohead as one of the most inventive and rewarding guitar rock bands of the '90s.

tags: radiohead, ok computer, 1997, flac,

Snoop Dogg - R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece (2004)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
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© 2004 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Internet leakers caused the release of R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece to be pushed up a week, but that just means the world got to bask in the excitement of Snoop's great return for seven extra days. Upon its release, the ultrahot production team the Neptunes' contribution to the killer lead single "Drop It Like It's Hot" had been duly noted, but lost in all the chatter was how inspired and on-fire Snoop sounds. Any fan keeping up with his street-level mixtape series Welcome to the Chuuch could tell you something new and fresh was brewing, and 2002's Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$ was excellent, but Snoop's let his fans down before and two years off could mean trouble. Not to be, since Rhythm & Gangsta is right up there with his best while being riskier than anything before it. New sounds like tongue clicks, smooth jazz guitars, and a bit of Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" give Snoop a brand-new sonic palette to work with, and he's more than ready for it. The up-tempo "Signs" with Justin Timberlake is glittery disco fun, but it ain't gonna keep Snoop from being himself. He's hardcore throughout the album, an album that's got plenty of street and commercial appeal and all the difficulties that comes with it. The numerous youngsters who can't stop singing "Drop It Like It's Hot" are going to freak their parents out with this one. "Can You Control Yo Hoe" is a tough stunner with an inescapable, loopy hook, but Snoop's challenge to the homies is rather disturbing. "If she won't do what you say, why aren't you slapping her?" is the song's direct message that can't be easily brushed off as metaphor, and it's the one that's gonna send mom and dad back to the record store, fuming! Recommending such an album that gets viciously misogynistic -- elsewhere too -- is difficult, but Snoop is fierce throughout Rhythm & Gangsta and putting "Masterpiece" in the title isn't hyperbole.

tags: snoop dogg, r and g, r & g, rhythm and gangsta, the masterpiece, 2004, flac,

Snoop Dogg - Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (2006)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
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© 2006 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
You can look at the hard-hitting Tha Blue Carpet Treatment as a reaction to the crossover-minded R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, an album that featured Justin Timberlake and the mega-single "Drop It Like It's Hot." Since that polished -- some would say "watered-down" -- effort put him over the top (again), Snoop was seen shilling for Chrysler and Orbit gum when he used to rep Girls Gone Wild: Doggy Style videos and that green sticky-icky you can only get on the West Coast. The time to buy street cred would be now, right? Well, Snoop's been doing some amazing things under most folks' radar, and this album is the natural outcome. While the title is a little poke at the Crip/Blood, blue/red dichotomy, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment feels like the G-funk soundtrack to Snoop's 2005 West Coast peace summit and all the positive hood moves he's made since then, like squashing all West Coast beefs and throwing some love to Cali's often-ignored Latin hip-hop community with his intentionally leaked "My Peoples" freestyle. It's the latter relationship that's responsible for the excellent "Vato," and while special guest B Real might be way bigger than 2Mex or most of the other names mentioned in "My Peoples," the Cypress Hill sideman needs Snoop in 2006 much more than vice versa. Polished efforts like the pimping "That's That S***" with R. Kelly and the strip club anthem "I Wanna F*** You" with Akon fall between Doggystyle-d gangsta throwbacks like the slinky "Crazy" with Nate Dogg and "Candy (Drippin' Like Water)," which features E-40 and Tha Dogg Pound next to lesser-known vets Goldie Loc and MC Eiht. Juggling "Candy"'s guests would be hard enough for lesser Gs, but it's a testament to Snoop that he can, and more so that he manages a full album that touches upon just about every ghetto flavor. Banger after banger, produced by everyone from Timbaland to the Neptunes, leads to a couple numbers that almost throw the album off-track: "Psst!," where Jamie Foxx woefully pretends he's Prince, and the pee-wee football anthem "Beat Up on Yo Pads," which is just out of place. Then there's the dream number "Imagine," a duet between Dr. Dre and Snoop that ponders a hood life not blessed with hip-hop, a life where the two would have never gotten "out from under." As the album exits on the positive "Conversations" with Stevie Wonder, memories of Rhythm & Gangsta's grandest moments return, and it becomes obvious Tha Blue Carpet Treatment isn't so much a reaction to that album as it is a house party celebrating Snoop's whole career. With heaping helpings of G-funk and Left Coast attitude, there's no reason any West Coast-loving hip-hopper should miss this party.

tags: snoop dogg, tha blue carpet treatment, 2006, flac,

September 16, 2016

Dru Hill - Enter The Dru (1998)

 
Country: U.S.A
Genre: R&B
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© 1998 Island Records
AllMusic Review by Michael Gallucci
The best of the late-'90s R&B crooning quartets ups the musical ante on their sophomore album, lacing the silky-smooth grooves with splashes of street-tough shouts that are meant to antagonize as much as they are to seduce. And for a good deal of Enter the Dru, the formula works. There's a gutsy edge to the songs here (especially the hard-knocking "How Deep Is Your Love") that make one-time peers like Boyz II Men sound like the soulless R&B robots they are. Even when they get all warm and cozy with Babyface on the potentially mushy "These Are the Times" (in spite the absurdity of the straight-faced line "Tear you up in little pieces/Swallow you like Reese's Pieces"), Dru Hill slice into the section of '90s soul music that crosses bedroom come-ons with classic street savvy (and nervy beats) without sounding at all whipped.

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Dru Hill - Dru Hill (1996)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: R&B
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© 1996 Island Black Music
AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston
Rich harmonies and sleek R&B production with an abundance of vocal acrobatics are all key elements of Dru Hill's eponymous debut. Immediate comparisons to Jodeci and Boyz II Men come to mind, but what makes Dru Hill stand out from the pack is the rawness of Keith Sweat's productions. Other songs on here are of noteworthy interest only to die-hard Dru Hill fanatics, but it was the monster "Tell Me" that effectively put Dru Hill near the head of R&B's class of 1996 -- a year that featured stellar releases by Aaliyah, Jay-Z, and several others at the peak of their games. An impressive debut and a razor-sharp clue of the great things to come.

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September 14, 2016

Rob Zombie - Educated Horses (2006)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Industrial Metal
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© 2006 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger
When he's not directing feature films like House of 1000 Corpses and Devil's Rejects, Rob Zombie likes to make music. Educated Horses, the prolific director, writer/animator/horror aficionado's return to the world of hedonistic, sexed-up monster rock doesn't stray too far from the formula that garnered him such a rabid fan base, but there's less theater and more backwoods creepiness at hand this time around. Horses crawls on all fours for the first three tracks, relying on too many tried-and-true White Zombie dance beats and turgid guitar riffs to hint at anything outside of sheer puppetry, but when the mid-tempo crunch of "17 Year Locust" begins to echo Sabotage-era Black Sabbath, it's clear that Zombie himself is having the time of his life pulling the strings. "Scorpion Sleeps," with its boot-stomping intro plays like Gary Glitter's "Rock & Roll, Pt.1" blaring from angel's trumpets at the apocalypse, "Ride," with its Tubular Bells-inspired piano riff, evolves into a storm of sonic debauchery, and the purely psychedelic singalong "Death of It All" sounds like the end credits to the last film ever. Schlock it may be, but it's infinitely more listenable -- and enjoyable -- than most schlock thinks it is.

Various Artists - Boom Bap For Neanderthals (2002)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2002 Boiling Point Distribution
*No professional reviews for this release

September 13, 2016

Falconer - Northwind (2006)

Country: Sweden
Language: English, Swedish (Svenska)
Genre: Power Metal, Folk Metal
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© 2006 Metal Blade Records
Review by Matt Collar for MetalCrypt.com
At last, at last. I will say right here that I loved Falconer's first two albums so much it isn't even funny, so anyone who didn't like those should probably just skip this one. This is their fifth album, and after one so-so album and one crappy one, they are back on track with the awesome Northwind. Of course, the big news is that original singer Mathias Blad is back in the band. Kristoffer Gobel was OK, but he just wasn't right for this band, and, well, no one could have saved Grime Vs Grandeur, so let's just forget about that. But for me (and for lots of other people apparently) Blad is just the voice of Falconer, and without him it isn't the same band at all. For this new album the band has also ditched the 'realistic' lyrics of their last effort and returned to the Medieval/Folklore themes that their fans wanted anyway. So: the folk riffs are back, Mathias Blad is back, the mythic lyrics are back. All good. From the first listen to the opener/title track I was all smiles, and I kept smiling. I suppose as a way of saying 'sorry' and trying to regain their momentum, Stefan and Co. have punched out a long, satisfying album of that signature Falconer sound highlighted by Blad's smooth, stage-trained voice. This album is mostly more of a grower than their first two, with more involved melodies and less immediately addictive songs. This album is not as heavy as their first one – more melodic and less punchy. All the songs are of a consistent high quality, if not quiiite on a par with their best. There may not be any songs on here quite as good as "Heresy In Disguise" or "Decadence Of Dignity", but there are fourteen songs almost that good. I can't give this a perfect score, because I know this band can do even better than this, but for such a return to form I am prepared to cut them a lot of slack. I thought Falconer had lost it, but this is more like it. With Blad back at the mike, they have made the album they should have recorded after Chapters From A Vale Forlorn. If we're lucky they might even rerecord Scepter Of Deception with the right singer, or better yet, make another album even better than this one. One of the years' best.

tags: falconer, northwind, north wind, 2006, flac,

Cyndi Lauper - Shine (2004)

*Released exclusively in Japan.
Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)

© 2004 Epic Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: cyndi lauper, shine, 2004, flac,