Albums of the Week: The Bad, The Good–Dia Frampton Vs. The Black KeysBy Candace Butler
Hopefully you’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of these albums as much as we have, as it’s a promising week for new releases. The new full-lengths from The Black Keys, Chevelle, and even Dia Frampton have been pretty intriguing, so regardless of the “bad” or “good” review, check out what we’ve collected in new releases this week:
Dia Frampton, Red
The debut album of Dia Frampton, runner-up on The Voice is mostly criticized for its genre-crossing. Each track is very different, ranging from country to folk rock to straight-up electonic pop, and the critics all seem to agree there’s a resulting lack of unity:
- Entertainment Weekly: “she pledges allegiance to no single genre, flitting confidently from Blondie-style disco-pop (”Billy the Kid”) and floaty acoustic folk (”The Broken Ones”) to the kind of big-chorus country proffered by her Voicecoach Blake Shelton, who turns up for a duet on ”I Will.” The result feels like a farewell to life on the Warped Tour.” –Mikael Wood
- AllMusic: “Ultimately, while Frampton is never allowed to settle into one aesthetic sound on Red – moving from electronic pop to dance-rock to folk-pop — her honey-sweet voice and emotionally compelling delivery are enough to carry you along for the ride.” –Matt Collar
Red is available on Amazon for $7.99.
Amy Winehouse, Lioness: Hidden Treasures
It may be soaring on the charts already, but it seems the critics all agree on one issue regarding the posthumous release Lioness: Hidden Treasures (which includes re-releases of a couple tracks): as much as we all love Amy Winehouse, enough reminiscing already:
- Chicago Tribune: ““Lioness: Hidden Treasures” is a tamer affair, a cash-in thin on new songs that confirms Winehouse was still a long way from finishing up the five-years-in-the-making follow-up to “Back to Black.”…If Winehouse were still with us, one wonders if these not-all-there performances are how she’d like to be remembered. Here’s hoping that if these are the best of her leftovers, the exploitation of her legacy stops now.” –Greg Kot
- LA Times: ““Lioness” only begins to hint at the kind of affection Winehouse inspired — she duets with rap icons and Tony Bennett here. That’s because for all Winehouse’s deep, fatal flaws, her immense talent was fueled by a compelling openness and vulnerability. The 12-song compilation is slight on new insights — it’s hard to tell what an umpteenth version of “Girl From Ipanema” adds to her legacy.” –August Brown
Chevelle, Hats Off To The Bull
Alternative metal trio Chevelle releases Hats Off To The Bull, their 6th addition to a steady stream of successful albums, and the result is a typical Chevelle album, which is both expected and praised:
- Kill Hipsters: “Everything sounds beautifully mixed, the bass isn’t washed out, the guitars are beefy and heavy, the kick drum and cymbals in the drums department are mega loud just the way they should be… I still can’t believe 3 guys created this, in almost every way this is a perfect Chevelle album. Simple, hard hitting and right to the point guitar riffs driven by prominent bass lines and excellent drum work.”
- AllMusic: “What’s made Chevelle such a surprise is that, rather than wither in the shadows of an influence that was also one of their contemporaries, they’ve managed to take their sound in their own direction and fully refine it on their sixth studio album, Hats Off to the Bull. Heavy and dramatic, the album is packed full of tightly coiled, muscular riffs, giving the album a controlled feeling more like a slow burn than an explosive, cathartic release.” –Gregory Heaney
Hats Off to the Bull is available on Amazon for $9.99.
The Roots, Undun
Possibly best-known for being the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots release their 13th album Undun to mixed reviews by critics who either love the album or just can’t ignore its strengths even if they do dislike its gloomy realism:
- Pitchfork: “the limited palette of down-to-mid-tempo dirges here feels almost stiflingly gloomy. Which means it works– if this album is a cinematic experience, the score here fills in the cues for moods that the MCs mostly just suggest…This isn’t the Roots’ most accessible album, and it’s definitely their most downbeat, but it comes from a place that isn’t always easy to dwell.” –Nate Patrin
- BBC: “On The Roots’ new album, undun, the Philadelphia octet tells the story of…the demise of semi-fictional character Redford Stephens through a series of sparse soul melodies, thoughtful string arrangements and stomping hip hop grit. Here, The Roots tell the story backwards, beginning with Redford’s death and backpedalling through the circumstances that ordered his steps. The result is a remarkable display of creative unity and a stellar masterpiece sitting alongside the group’s best work.” –Marcus J. Moore
Undun is available on iTunes for $9.99.
The Black Keys, El Camino
The Black Keys’ El Camino is the winner of this week’s list, as critics fell is love with the duo after the release of their catchy and soulful sixth album Brother. It seems El Camino is a follow-up to that clap-stomp brilliance that had everyone talking this time last year:
- Paste: “You might not even see the end coming if you’re not paying close enough attention to the lyrics: “No, don’t let it be over.” The Black Keys must be mind readers as well as mind erasers—mind melters might be a more appropriate description—because by the time the record ends, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself immediately wanting to start over again from the beginning. El Camino is yet another ear-pleasing installment in the catalog of a consistently impressive band. It’s an album that leaves you breathless and wanting more, but it becomes more fun with each new spin.” –Wyndham Wyeth
- LA Times: “It feels a little funny to gush so outwardly about a record, like the critical capacities are failing when enthusiasm takes over. But sometimes, a CD scratches an itch you didn’t even know you had, and “El Camino” is that record…Really, the only question is whether, this late in the year, this constitutes the best rock album of 2011 or 2012. It’ll probably be both.” –Randall Roberts
El Camino is available on Amazon for $6.99.