Lana Del Rey – Born To Die: Paradise Edition (2012; Interscope)
With the voice of a ‘50s singer and the persona of a ‘60s actress, Lana Del Rey continues to capture listeners with her meaningful songs in her upcoming album, Born To Die: Paradise Edition.
Del Rey’s next album is an eight-track extension of her second studio album, Born to Die. A dark tone matched with expressive lyrics, Paradise Edition has Del Rey offering a powerful performance in each song. The howling guitars in “Gods and Monsters”, the ghostly piano in “Bel Air” and the haunting mixture of strings and hard drum beats in “Body Electric” are the darkest of the whole album.
Her first single off the album, “Ride”, indeed takes you on a mellow road trip. The down-tempo piano ballad has the essence of a great classic movie theme. However, if you’re looking for an album full of upbeat songs, you won’t find it here. The album is set for release on Nov. 12.
Trial track: “Ride”
– Sabrina Walker
Taylor Swift – Red (2012; Big Machine)
Best known for her ‘thank you for breaking my heart, I’m gonna go write a song about you now’ attitude, Swift is celebrating the release of her fourth album, Red.
The album’s 16 tracks include everything from confessional ballads like “I Almost Do” to ‘dance like an insane person’ tempos as heard in “22”. Tracks also feature collaborations with brit-pop singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and the lead vocalist of Snow Patrol, Gary Lightbody.
Swift has a multitude of personalities and instead of hiding them, she brings them all out and features a different trait in each of her songs. The tunes are relatable, and that is why she has gathered such a strong fanbase.
“Red” is about the semi-toxic, tumultuous relationships that we go through at one point or another. Whether you’re experiencing intense love or intense confusion, this album — along with some Ben & Jerry’s — is definitely something worth picking up.
Trial track: “All Too Well”
– Maria Alexia Hinoporos
Chad Valley – Young Hunger (2012; Cascine)
Hailing from the United Kingdom, electro-pop artist Chad Valley’s persona is one of retro simplicity, muted rainbows and shiny innocence, all of which are distinctly channeled in Young Hunger.
Intermittent twinkling keyboards punctuate “Up and Down”, a bright track that alternates between sweeping and punchy rhythms. It’s the ideal backdrop to an adventure at dusk in an open field beside a highway.
“Manimals” features vocals reminiscent of an ‘80s high school dance —think “Forever Young” filling a room full of powder blue tuxedos. Luminous undertones quickly morph into a full-bodied lounge beat that evokes warm rain. The same hearty vocals can be found on “Fall 4 U”. This time, irritating high-pitched keyboard notes ring in the background. A characteristic rolling beat makes it pleasant, but the retro keyboard shoots stress levels through the roof.
“I Owe You This” is an easily digestible sound with a nighttime feel to it. Halfway through, guest vocals by Twin Shadow seem overly soulful, but they are short-lived; the song therefore preserves its dignity.
Trial track: “Manimals”
– Stephanie Ullman
Minnesota – Are You There (2012; Hymn and Holler)
Peter Himmelman of Sussman Lawrence fame has released another solo record, this time under the moniker of Minnesota, entitled Are You There.
Himmelman, a Minnesota native, makes use of a collection of styles from acoustic to rock, folk and blues, presenting listeners with an eclectic experience. This comes as no surprise, as Himmelman is the son-in-law of legendary singer-songwriter and ‘60s icon Bob Dylan.
The artist, along with several musical collaborators, plays with the heavy use of dynamics throughout the 13-track record, mixing from loud choruses to soft interludes. Thematically, the album revolves heavily around human emotion, specifically love.
Fans of Americana-styled music will enjoy the new additions to their library, while listeners outside of the genre will find that the album experience contains too many tracks with too many similarities. In addition, the slightly higher price tag of $16 will make for a difficult sell.
Trial track: “Death by Snakebite”
Rating: 7.4 / 10
– A.J. Cordeiro