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  • The Arcade Fire -

    The Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
    A good friend of mine convinced me to buy "Funeral," Arcade Fire's first album, last year and I'd say my reaction to that album was mixed. I recognized that the band had some unique ideas, and an interesting sound, but it just didn't really fit my musical tastes. "Neon Bible" may be less inventive, but all in all, I think it is more enjoyable to listen to than "Funeral." However, I actually went to an Arcade Fire show here in DC last weekend, and I have to admit that the songs they played from "Funeral" were much more energetic and exciting than the selections from "Neon Bible." The concert, like the recordings, come off as highly orchestrated and refined rock compositions. There is little wasted space, and the music features an interesting, although somewhat off-putting blend of instruments and vocals. The finished product takes some getting used to, but once you've acquired the Arcade Fire taste, it's hard to put these albums down. (****)

  • Bloc Party -

    Bloc Party: A Weekend in the City
    Sure enough, Bloc Party validated my predictions and avoided the dreaded "sophomore slump" with their second album. While Silent Alarm was a bit more polished, A Weekend in the City takes more chances, and offers a more diverse and creative set of songs than the band's first album. There are clear allusions to Radiohead's Kid A throughout this album, but Bloc Party does a good job of continuing to hone their own unique sound. "I Still Remember" is the sort of anthemic single that could propel Bloc Party onto the national spotlight. (****)

  • Thom Yorke -

    Thom Yorke: The Eraser
    This is basically a solo version of Kid A, although you can't really tell it's solo since there isn't really any instrumental background, only synthesized stuff like on Kid A and Amnesiac. I like this album, but i'm still really looking forward to the full band's new album which is expected in a couple of months. The Eraser is basically an addendum to Kid A/Amnesiac, and that's ok. But im excited to hear what's next. (****)

  • The Strokes -

    The Strokes: First Impressions of Earth
    This is my first Strokes CD, and the first album in a recent foray of CD buying over the last week or so. Knowing almost nothing about the band, I first listened to this CD with an open mind, and I liked what I heard. Although there aren't many especially interesting songs, the overall sound is pleasing, and even a bit catchy at times. To me, Julian Casablancas' singing basically makes this band what it is. He has an extremely deep voice, and he features his impressive singing ability much more so on this album than on the other two. I went out and bought "Is this it" as an encore, but I am so far dissapointed in the older album. Sorry, AMG, but we just can't agree this time. (***)

  • Brad Mehldau -

    Brad Mehldau: Day is Done
    Another fine addition to the Brad Mehldau collection. On this newest album, the trio welcomes Jeff Ballard on drums to replace Jorge Rossy at least temporarily, and I must say Ballard provides a refreshing new feel to a trio that was in danger of becoming somewhat repetitive and dull. As usual, Mehldau delights those of us who supplement our Jazz listening with recordings from the real world as he begins this album with a rendition on the Radiohead composition "Knives Out." This is one of Mehldau's better albums in recent years. I don't want to completely sell out Rossy, but this trio seems to have more energy and spontaneity than it had on the previous few albums. (*****)

  • Bloc Party -

    Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
    After hearing a short clip online, I decided to see these guys perform at Music Midtown. Typically with rock-type bands, I know whether I'm going to like them or not within the first 30 seconds. Clearly, since I just bought the CD, Bloc Party impressed me from the outset and maintained my interest throughout their hour-long performance. In danger of becoming just another English band in the form of Coldplay or Keane, Bloc Party has thus far succeeded with a unique sound that blends the smooth and clean style of those former two bands with the type of rock heard on some of, dare I say, Radiohead's older albums like the Bends and Pablo Honey. Just released in March, this first album has a lot of good stuff on it. Bloc Party has serious potential. (****)

  • Joe Lovano -

    Joe Lovano: I'm All For You
    As far as ballad-oriented albums go, this one is pretty damn good. Offering fresh renditions of standards as well as a few originals, Lovano's tone and expression remains unique but also traditional as he moves around these charts and improvises. This is really my first exposure to Lovano other than seeing him live once in New York. I like the album a lot and personally think he handles the ballads much better than Michael Brecker on his Ballad Book album a few years ago. (****)

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Monday, February 04, 2008