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and textures, it never quite coalesces into more than the sum of its parts, often sounding like the cutting room floor remnants from Casablancas’ solo project, and as such, this installment might end up taking away from the formative band’s legacy. thus, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the strokes, like so many revered bands before them, work best when their frontman is actually at the front of the band, committed and leading the way. Phrazes For the young clearly showed that Casablancas still has it in him, but only time will tell if his inspiration can continue to be channeled through his band. ryan burruss

sPIn thIs!

in the eyes of Queen bee’s most faithful fans, a technical issue arises if the album could be salvaged if the song’s chronological order were reset. the Major Lazersampled “run the World (girls),” being the only uptempo offering and bearing some of the club-driven sting of her previous singles, probably should have gone first. but record executives know the golden rule to piecing together good albums. you always put the best in the front. as hard as it seems, in the case of 4, the execs actually got it right. the front end is far more interesting than what lies on the back. J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “1+1,” “best thing i never had”

“under Cover of darkness,” “Call Me back,” “Metabolism”

JOurneY eclipse

BeYOnCe

(nomata LLC)

4 (Columbia)

FOO FIGhters Wasting Light

For the first ten years of beyoncé’s career (including her tenure as front woman for destiny’s Child), she has been known for her spicy, energetic up-tempos. her repertoire is loaded with them to the point that they clearly dominate her live sets. on 4, beyoncé’s fourth disc, she puts the ballad in the front seat and hopes to inject some slowly paced material into her live shows. it’s a risky move nevertheless, since her fans are programmed to expect a preponderance of sexy head-banging club anthems to be in full effect. but 4 is much more than just a change of pace. it juggles with rock’s ego, leans a little more on lead guitar solos, more synth-fueled and intimate while totally ignoring the current environment in electro-controlled pop music. beyoncé’s no stranger to the idea of playing with her passionate ambitions, but 4 is bizarrely more self-centered than sasha Fierce and proves to be less interesting. the album opens with “1+1,” a mutated experiment picking at sam Cooke’s “don’t know much about…” philosophies and Prince’s “Purple rain” dramatics. For the most part, the song is one of her best slow jams. her voice is stronger and raspier than before, aged in a marinade of thick soulful pleading and aerobic melisma. but instead of “1+1” powering up in the potential of Purple rain’s climatic finish, it slowly fades before its engines could heat up. its end result feels more like the album’s prelude. What immediately follows is draining slow songs that fail to optimize the singer’s full potential. “i Care” and “i Miss you” are moody daft Punk -inspired slow jams, drenched with heavy legato using exhausting slurs. When the tempo tries to kick up on the andre 3000/Kanye West-supported, sWV-esque “Party,” the album falls apart at the seams. saving the album from total disaster, “best thing i never had” is a breath of fresh air. sweet piano decorate the opening lines while beyoncé kicks up her “irreplaceable” persona (“When i think of the time i almost lost you/you showed your ass and i saw the real you”). Clearly it’s a crossbreed of onerepublic pop and babyface r&b – thanks to babyface’s co-writing duties. then there’s “Love on top,” which sounds like a gleaming reprise of george benson’s “turn your Love around.” alongside beyonce’s jovial vocals and the buoyancy of the grooves, the song screams for radio attention, but one too many modulations at the end – like a hezekiah Walker gospel offering – quickly puts the breaks on that idea.

those searching for pop-friendly rock hooked to the glee revived “don’t stop believin’” may need to be warned: that’s not happening on Eclipse. on the band’s fourteenth album , they return to their core from the santana upbringing by hyping up the big guitar spectacles, rock interplay and epic instrumentals and kicking out their Eighties arena-rock and giving hardcore Journey fans something heartier to devour for long-listening escapades. Critics have always given Journey the cold shoulder: When they played soft for the MtV audiences with their pop hits, they were considered too soft. When they went for angry, mean and prolific rock, critics surrendered to the idea that they were wannabes pretending to be grown-up rock gods. on Eclipse, Journey original and guitarist neal schon pretty much scores the album on his own, producing with key wiz Jonathan Cain and Kevin shirley, but this doesn’t isn’t entirely a Pineda showcase. the big prog rock is explosive with most songs ticking close to the six-minute mark. this is the kind of a showcase that works well in the live shows, and it’s also the stuff that proves to be a strong fit for steve Perry replacement, arnel Pineda. in many ways, Pineda sounds like his elder, channeling Perry’s high register, mightier than Conan in battle. although the hooks aren’t always outlined for the pop-trained ear, the songs still reflect the Journey brand, all the way down to the harmonies. “City of hope” is an elaborate opener, leading into similar-sounding uptempos. the pace slows up with one of the album’s sweetest standouts, “tantra.” it opens with an intimate piano solo, then Pineda smoothly walks in with peaceful vocals, then “tantra” takes off with its muscular chorus. “anything is Possible” – tracing some of the aor warmness of “tantra” – kind of gives those easily turned on by the positive inspirations of glee’s cover of “don’t stop believin’” something to gnaw on, but this album is loaded with too many adventurous rock jams (“Chain of Love,” “resonate”) that hardcore Journey fans appreciate, especially those with a craving for accessible “kick out the jams.” J MatthEW Cobb

sPIn thIs! “rolling in the deep,” “one and only,” “someone Like you”

(rCA)

EVERYBODY PLAYS THE FOO Foos present their most spirited album in years

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he Foo Fighters's seventh studio LP, 2011's Wasting Light may be the band's most spirited effort in years. Chocked full of dynamic, overwrought guitars laden with a assortment of effects and incredibly assertive, edgy vocals from frontman dave grohl, the Foos sound reinvigorated since 2007's massive hit “the Pretender,” the valedictory cut of Echoes, silence, Patience & grace. Credit veteran producer butch Vig additionally for some of the fiery nature of Wasting Light. the LP proves to be a pleasant surprise. the album opens with lo-fi sounding guitars incorporating a minimalist touch on the ripe “bridge burning,” where grohl emphatically chants, “these are my famous last words!” the song is an exciting way to open, given its production work, underlying harmonic progression, and overall singwriting. “rope” concedes no loss of momentum, yielding some superb guitar work, heavy bass, and pounding drums. “dear rosemary” is a showstopper, with a groove so infectious it transcends the genre of rock and roll. Perhaps the repetitiveness of the chorus gives “dear rosemary” an extra pop/soul edge. White Limo” is the spirit of rock epitomized - ambitious, manic, and epic. “arlandia” is solid, though “these days” is better, finding a vocally more controlled grohl, a contrast to previous cuts. “back and Forth” is straight-forward postgrunge while the lighter feel of “a Matter of time” on the verses screams pop. “Miss the Misery” works well, but the contrast of penultimate cut “i should have Known” is more notable given its melancholy and melodramatic nature. “Walk” closes the album strongly with rational refrain: “i'm learning to walk again, can't you see i've waited long enough...” Wasting Light could be described as a 'tour de force' for the veteran rock band. the album proves that the Foo Fighters continue to evolve musically with time. dave grohl and company still have years and years of great records left inside of them. brEnt FauLKnEr

sPIn thIs! “stay the night,” “dangerous,” “best Laid Plans,” “no tears”

HiFi Magazine #2 (Aug/Sept 2011)  
HiFi Magazine #2 (Aug/Sept 2011)  

HIFI Magazine is the new, official resource for the avid music lover. From rock to pop, R&B to hip-hop, HIFI Magazine strives to incorporate...

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