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album reviews

Mastodon

Once More ‘Round The Sun Warner Bros.
7

"This time, things will work out just fine," drummer Brann Dailor sings in a rare moment of sunshine during the charging second track on Mastodon's sixth headbanging LP. The mercurial metalheads have improved on the lean hard-rock pummel of 2011's The Hunter with lattices of ornate riffs and primal vocals, but those intricacies verge on being too much of a good thing over the course of the album's 11 tracks. The band sounds best when taking cheerful risks, as with the "hey... | More »

Bassnectar

Noise vs. Beauty Amorphous
6

Low-end theorist Bassnectar's tenth LP is his most mature. Known mostly for extremes of sternum-caving bass, the festival star balances out his sound here with ominous strings ("F U N"), an Edge-y guitar line ("You & Me") and a trap-inspired banger that sounds like Dr. Dre's G-funk played on a crystal flute ("Don't Hate the 808"). Bassheads should celebrate too: The drops still sound like robot Pantera. | More »

How to Dress Well

What Is This Heart? Weird World
6

Tom Krell, the velvet voice of How to Dress Well, is at his best when he's most vulnerable. His early recordings were grief-stricken and raw; subsequent releases have expanded and refined his sound without ever quite reaching the same heights. Krell's third LP continues to elevate his R&B-inflected music into sonic clarity, though his emotions remain muddled as ever. The spare, lovely intro "2 Years On (Shame Dream)" puts his multitracked falsetto over minimal instrumentation; o... | More »

Circulatory System

Mosaics Within Mosaics Cloud
7

For two decades, W. Cullen Hart of Athens, Georgia, has been one of indie rock's great psychedelic visionaries – recording two cult-classic LPs with the Olivia Tremor Control in the Nineties, then plunging even deeper into the dream with this band starting in 2001. Circulatory System's third proper album, their best since their debut, is a leisurely suite where kaleidoscopically sweet vocal melodies and folky instrumentation drift in and out of focus, occasionally resolving in... | More »

June 23, 2014

Ed Sheeran

X Atlantic
6

On his second album, X, Ed Sheeran supersizes his romantic affliction: Each new day is a fresh chance for this guy to hit the bar, fall in love, get his heart stomped like a bug – and then dissect the gory remains over a pretty acoustic melody. A pop-wise folkie who's equally comfortable in coffee shops and the Top 40, Sheeran, 23, has written with Taylor Swift and for One Direction, among many others. He went multiplatinum with 2012's +, and it seems like the experience might... | More »

June 20, 2014
June 17, 2014

Deadmau5

While(1<2) Mau5trap/Astralwerks
4

For his seventh album, Deadmau5 has turned from an electro-house polymath into the world's most unnecessary Nine Inch Nails tribute act. With a running time longer than the new X-Men movie, the two-disc While(1<2) gives Mau5 plenty of room to spiral downward into many of Trent Reznor's favorite tricks – the moody minor-key melodies, the Erik Satie-derived piano miniatures, the flickering static and machine fuzz, the bent and tortured notes, the plodding chug on acoustic gui... | More »

Tiesto

A Town Called Paradise Casablanca/Republic
5

EDM has changed pop, and now pop is changing veteran DJ Tiësto. He's moved from the abrasively chilly trance of 2009's Kaleidoscope to embrace pianos and guitars, a warm sound like the 4 a.m. version of Taylor Swift or Coldplay. He's a consummate crowd-pleaser, but he's best when he gets weird: The warped grind of "Echoes" is a standout; "Wasted" might be one of 2014's best country songs. | More »

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Song Stories

“Fantasy”

Mariah Carey | 1995

Serendipity stuck when Mariah Carey rediscovered the glitchy Tom Tom Club hook, a sample of which is the heart of this upbeat slice of dance pop. "I had the melody idea for 'Fantasy' and I was listening to the radio and heard 'Genius of Love,' and I hadn't heard it in a long time," Carey said. "It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and that feeling the song gave me seemed to go with the melody and basic idea I had for 'Fantasy.' I initially told [co-writer] Dave Hall about the idea, and we did it. We called up the Tom Tom Club and they were really into it."

More Song Stories entries »
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