J. Cole, Cole World: The Sideline Story
After two years, J. Cole released the much-anticipated Cole World: The Sideline Story. Preceding this album along with domestic and international world tours, classic albums such as The Warm-Up and Friday Night Lights created expectations even Big Foot couldn’t fill. The final verdict: Cole’s “Sideline Story” dents high expectations, but doesn’t satisfy them. It shows obvious growth since The Come-Up days. With songs like, “Lost Ones,” “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Can’t Get Enough,” Cole proves he can present thought-provoking, sentimental hits as well as club hits. The “Fayettenam” debut shows only the tip of the iceberg for the rest of his career. His potential has yet to be realized. Only time will tell.
Drake, Take Care
Take Care, the sophomore album of Drizzy Drake, is pleasantly different from Thank Me Later. Of course, Take Care is feature-heavy, with obvious Lil’ Wayne and Nicki Minaj appearances, but it is more than that. This sentimental, crooner side of Drake delves more into the emotional side of hip-hop. Collaborations with The Weeknd set the tone for several of Drake’s more heartfelt songs. The album sounds like the group H-town, but less chopped and screwed, and more laid back, just-got-paid and chill music. This album should be experienced, not just bumped in the car until the speakers blow. Songs like “Cameras/Good Ones Go,” “Crew Love” and “Practice,” are more mellow then the “H.Y.F.R” and “The Motto,” which are bass heavy tracks. All in all, Drake produced solid study music. So, as Drake intended, Take Care and enjoy the music.
The Black Keys, El Camino
After a stellar Grammy-winning year, the Black Keys have followed up Brothers with El Camino. The Black Keys have continued to evolve and play with their sound since their days of “Thickfreakness.” Known for their heavy bass lines and Dan Auerbach’s soulful voice, El Camino shows a different face. The bass is not as heavy, the production is not as raw and Auerbach’s voice is more polished. Comparing their previous albums up to now, The Black Keys’ sound has grown, and the passion and the skill can never be denied. El Camino is the same Black Keys sound, just refined.
Local Natives, Gorilla Manor
It’s hard to describe Local Natives’ sound. It’s easy to call it indie, but it has some pop, soul, funk and jazz elements, too. Their first complete album, Gorilla Manor, has everything that an album should have. Production, three-part harmonies, winding guitar lines, and cryptic,soulful lyrics contribute to a winning album. Songs like “Who Knows, Who Cares,” “Airplanes” and “Shape Shifter” are hauntingly memorable. It’s a host of contradictions, but in the best way possible. Their album remains youthful and rustic, relatable and private and familiar but unknown all at the same time. Young, wild, carefree—Cali music at its finest.
Local Jams by Skeleton Coast
It’s been described as jungle pop. It’s been described as sonic-sounding space jam. It’s also been describes as good music. Skeleton Coast, a Fort Worth band, is the next band you should know. Band members Bobby, Ryan, Brian and Mike recreate the late ‘80s and early ‘90s with a psychedelic edge. Songs like “Critic Not A Writer,” “Greenhouse” and “Young” express lively and sometimes childish enthusiasm. Their music sometimes has the feel of Foster the People and the grudge feel of Collective Soul. It’s electric, tough, and sporadic at time, which makes them exciting to listen to. Skeleton Coast feels commercial, but still underground. With electro additions and playful lyrics sung with stirring vocals, Skeleton Coast is well deserving of the 2011 Best New Artist Award from Fort Worth Weekly. The influences of The Beach Boys, world music and John Lennon have helped cultivate a sound easy to fall in love with. For more on Skeleton Coast, check them out on Facebook or visit their home page at http://www.skeletoncoast.viinyl.com.