Brian Eno – Lux (2012; Warp)
The Latin word for “Light,” Lux is a return to Brian Eno’s ambient roots and a continuation of his ‘Music For Thinking’ project. This 75-minute, 12-part, four-movement ambient composition was commissioned as a sound art installation for the Great Gallery of the Palace of Venaria in Turin, Italy.
Much like the experience of entering a gallery and immersing yourself in art, Lux transports the listener to a contemplative mindspace that continuously shifts and morphs in on itself, changing yet remaining constant. Relaxing, all while being compelling, Lux creates a soundscape of delicate synthesizers, strings and light piano notes that does not demand your attention, but lures you into a half-lucid state like the whisper of a dream.
Eno is also releasing an app to accompany his new album. “Bloom” is an interactive composition program that allows the user to create a Eno-esque sound art installation of his or her own.
Trial track: “LUX 1/2/3/4”
– Paul Traunero
Charli XCX – Super Ultra – Free Mixtape (2012)
The 20-year-old British singer-songwriter Charli XCX is back with a crazier-than-usual mixtape, Super Ultra. The mix, which includes both original music and covers, is a strange blend of pop, rap, hip hop, indie and a touch of techno, all somehow coming together into what the singer calls “Angel Pop.” The intros are inventive, one of which even includes a dialog from Cruel Intentions.
With their perverted lyrics and strange beats, her tracks are incredibly catchy. Lyrics go from angst to rebellious teenager. In “2 Moments in Love” she is a rebel, saying “I just want to get high with my best friend/kiss her on the tongue just like I’m your boyfriend.” But other tracks, like “Forgiveness,” have a little more depth.
Although it is clear that Charli XCX is still trying to find her voice, she seems to be on to something. It’s a sugarcoated mess, but still worth a listen.
Trial track: “Cloud Aura” ft. Brooke Candy
– Nathalie Laflamme
One Direction – Take Me Home (2012; Syco Records)
Despite being trite and formulaic, One Direction’s second album Take Me Home is painfully addictive. The tried and tested formula of cheeky guitar riffs, crowd-pleasing choruses and five-part harmonies creates an album that is essentially identical to their first one, except for deeper voices and riskier lyrics.
The album’s strengths lie in irresistibly cheesy pop tracks like “Kiss You” and “Heart Attack,” which are the musical equivalent of over-indulging in sugary junk food. Meanwhile, most of the ballads feel out of place, including British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran originals “Over Again” and “Little Things.” Although they are the best-written songs on the whole album, they are awkwardly dissonant with the rest of the tracks.
There are no surprises on this boy band’s latest effort. It is neither musically nor lyrically creative, but it is undeniably enjoyable if you don’t let your pretensions get in the way.
Trial track: “I Would”
– Suzanne Lafontaine
Aerosmith – Music from Another Dimension! (2012; Columbia)
After an eight year hiatus, Aerosmith is back with their 15th studio album, Music From Another Dimension! In a year filled with comebacks from the likes of Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith has managed to maintain its signature sound thanks to Steven Tyler’s energetic and unmistakable vocals, paired perfectly with Joe Perry’s stellar guitar riffs.
The first track, entitled “LUV XXX,” leads us to believe that the band is opting for a younger, more modern sound. Despite the tacky title, Aerosmith still possesses the same great energy and musicality that made them famous back in the ‘70s. Tracks like “Legendary Child” could easily be off of their classic album Toys in the Attic alongside the anthems “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.” From the opening track to the closing track, Music From Another Dimension! will not disappoint diehard fans or even new listeners.
Trial track: “Legendary Child”