Demi Lovato – Unbroken (Hollywood; 2011)
Following a highly publicized stint in rehab for personal issues, including eating disorders and cutting herself, Demi Lovato opted to show the world her strength through her music. Unbroken, admittedly, isn’t what a longtime “Lovatic” would expect, especially considering her recent ordeals. Collaborating with hit-makers like Jason Derulo on “Together” and Dev on “Who’s That Boy” gives the album an urban feel, straying from her typcial pop/rock vibe. Some listeners may be disappointed by Lovato’s upbeat outlook on her new album, but the lyrics still speak volumes about the 19-year-old’s emotional journey. “Skyscraper,” Unbroken’s first single, is a mantra to stand tall against all adversity, while “For the Love of a Daughter” paints a picture of an abusive, alcoholic father. Demi Lovato’s third studio album is a beautifully-crafted symbol of maturity for the young artist.
Trial track: “Lightweight”
– Erica Commisso
Blink-182 – Neighborhoods (Interscope Records; 2011)
After a deadly plane crash that left their drummer, Travis Barker, barely alive in 2008, the Californian pop-punk trio is back. The first release since their Blink-182 album in 2003, Neighborhoods is lyrically darker, and full of new found energy. This time around they opted to each use their own sound engineer, and produce as a collective, rather than use their longtime producer Jerry Finn. The result is their best record yetâ€”a mature sound that brings something fresh to an industry filled with generic hits and indie derivatives. It is a worthwhile change: each element is deliberate and complementary of the lyrical prowess of Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge. A quick listen will take you on a ride through the sounds of Angels & Airwaves, +44, Box Car Racer, Fugazi, and The Cure.
Trial track: “Kaleidoscope”
– AJ Cordeiro
Thrice â€“ Major/Minor (Vagrant Records; 2011)
There’s a delicate balancing act being played out on Thrice’s new album. It’s melody-conscious enough to set the band apart from the majority of “hard rock” acts out there, yet too raw and heavy to avoid falling into that category. Their latest release, Major/Minor, walks that line with perfect precision. Parts of the album might make you wonder if this is what Kings of Leon would sound like if someone cranked up the distortion on their guitars, but then a track like “Blur” always comes along. With its unusual time signatures, the song spices up what could have easily been another run of the mill track. Dustin Kensrue, the band’s frontman, has straightforward vocal delivery that shines through every song on Major/Minor. It’s clear that this album was thoughtfully written, and ballads like “Words in the Water” and “Disarmed” provide a nice change of pace from some of the faster, heavier material.
Trial track: “Blur”
– Robert Flis
Pink Floyd – The Wall (1979)
Anyone who has heard the seemingly mellow vibes of Pink Floyd’s The Wall has probably noticed the harsh undertones emanating from the album’s lyrics and the instrumentals. Yet, The Wall is perfect for any weatherâ€”it’s catchy and rhythmic, yet downbeat and melodic. It’s a narrative album, describing the life of Pink, based on Pink Floyd’s own Roger Waters. Pink has always struggled against society. He doesn’t see the point in building relationships, as each person he meets ends up being just “Another Brick in the Wall.” Pink has lost faith in humanity and The Wall signifies the mental barricade he builds throughout his life. He has been traumatized by the loss of his father, abuse at the hands of his teachers, and his crumbling marriage; each experience causes him to gradually isolate himself from society. At the end of the album, he forces himself to “tear down the wall” and face reality. The album is cyclical in nature; the last song ends with “Isn’t this whereâ€¦” and the first begins “â€¦We came in?”
Trial Track: “Comfortably Numb”
– Jordie Yeager