Thursday, November 7, 2013

Punk Goes Christmas - Review

Punk Goes Christmas is the 14th compilation by Fearless records under the "Punk Goes..." banner in which punk bands cover a certain area of music. It used to be punk bands but since Punk Goes Pop 2 it's been more of the metalcore, pop-punk, electro band variety. Punk Goes Pop 4 & 5 had the same type of bands on the entire album so they got repetitive and bland. Looking at the tracklisting for Christmas it's a bit more varied, with up and coming bands (Real Friends, Man Overboard), pop-punk vets (Yellowcard, New Found Glory) to the fun Issues and Set it Off who put a new twist of Christmas songs. At first glance this album would put off fans of the heavier side of the usual Punk Goes collection but with it being Christmas themed you can't really expect heavy bands to be all over it.

Positive: As previously stated the bands this time around are pretty varied in style, thank god. Starting with New Found Glory I expected it to be an upbeat pop-punk song but it's acoustic and actually really well done. A lot of the bands seem to have went the sad-Christmas feel instead of the traditional happiness that comes with the holiday and it's a good twist. Man Overboard's song is one of the best as it puts a twist on Christmas and reinventing how grateful we all should feel with what we have. The Real Friends track is fantastic as well. The Issues cover of an N'sync Christmas song is how you'd expect it, full of fun that you can feel listening to it. Set it Off's "This Christmas (I'll Burn it to the Ground)" is fun, funny and a blast to listen to. Jason Lancaster's "All I Can Give You" is, you guessed it, a sappy acoustic/piano track but as always, it's awesome. Yellowcard and Crown the Empire's tracks are great too even though Crown the Empire stepped outside of their comfort zone and still made it work. All Time Low's "Fool's Holiday" was pretty enjoyable too which is surprising 'cause I haven't liked any of their recent stuff.

Negative: The album kinda fails in its mission, where it doesn't really put me in the Christmas spirit. While that doesn't diminish the quality of the songs it kinda just falls short on amping you up for Christmas. William Beckett's rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" is the most traditional and while it's good it's nothing more than the standard song. The Ready Set and The Summer Set's songs are just too poppy for my taste and they don't do much for me, they're not necessarily bad but I won't revisit them again. Outside of those few things the album is pretty good.

Overall: With only a few songs being duds the album puts the Punk Goes on an upswing after the last couple had been pretty bland. It's an enjoyable listen with more to offer than you would think and is worth the listen.

Number of Tracks Kept: 9/12

Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of the Last 5 Years

Strictly albums, no mixtapes or EP's. 2008-2013

MIXTAPE MENTIONS: Joey Bada$$ - 1999, Big K.R.I.T. - 4evaNaDay, Tyler, the Creator - Bastard, Logic - Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever

10.) B.o.B - B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010) - B.o.B blew up on the scene with his debut album which mixed rap with pop and some alt-rap in a perfect mixture. This album is superb, especially once you dig deeper than the singles.

9.) Tyler, the Creator - Goblin (2011) - Tyler got huge off of his "Yonkers" video but there's a lot more to this kid than eating cockroaches, Bastard may be a better example in showing his skills off but Goblin is a monster of an album that is influencing the new wave of rappers coming up.

8.) Childish Gambino - Camp (2011) - Donald Glover came out of nowhere with this debut, coming off a decent buzz from mixtapes he created a conceptual album that even more impressively is performed entirely by him, no features. He can spit, storytell and is lyrical out of his mind.

7.) Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music (2012) - You knew this was gonna be a classic as soon as the first track, "Big Beast" came on, featuring Bun B, T.I. and Trouble it's a monster track that obliterates everything in its path. The pairing of Killer Mike and El-P seems so natural that they dropped an album that put Mike back on the map and put El-P even more on the map than he already was.

6.) Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (2013) - Speaking of Killer Mike and El-P, they transform into a duo with El-P on production and vocals, with Killer Mike complimenting him on vocals as well. A free album, it's in the running for Album of 2013, the production is on point and just when you thought Mike and El couldn't vibe together any better, they sound so natural going bar for bar over a killer beat. They're chemistry is as good as Big Boi and Andre 3000's, no I'm not exaggerating.

5.) Kendrick Lamar - Section.80 (2011) - Before GKMC Kendrick dropped his debut album for TDE that foreshadowed his explosion into the mainstream. Section.80 is the album to show someone who says that hip-hop is dead. It's real, lyrical and damn does Kendrick know how to rap. There's not a bad thing about this album.

4.) Kid Cudi - Man on the Moon: The End of Day (2009) - Cudi's debut album is nothing short of marvelous. With spacey beats, the voice of a god and some deep, introspective lyrics, Cudi is mesmerizing. Features ranging from Chip tha Ripper to Kanye and Common, Cudi puts together what is sure to go down as a classic, if it hasn't already.

3.) Macklemore x Ryan Lewis - The Heist (2012) - Macklemore has become the "Thrift Shop" and gay support guy. It really sucks because this album is beyond amazing, the depth in his lyrics is unfathomable. Never have I praised a producer so much (besides El-P) as much as I praise Ryan Lewis, he picked a sound that worked with Macklemore and they hit a grand slam with it. This album has the first hip-hop instrumental that I fully enjoy and will listen to endlessly ("BomBom"). I can't say enough about this album.

2.) Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012)- An album doesn't get called the modern Illmatic for nothing. This concept album is so tightly knit, with every single song applying to the overall story. Kendrick achieved the impossible in rapping about real things, with elite skill and somehow being able to break into the mainstream. We may look back in 20 years and say this is the most important album since Nas' Illmatic and Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP. Kendrick is near holding down "real" hip-hop and putting out spectacular music while doing so.

1.) Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) - What's a hip-hop list without Kanye? I can't describe how good this album is, it's impossible. You can't compare it to another album either, it sounds so different than anything else Kanye or anyone else has done. Kanye went ahead and made an artistic hip-hop album which focused on content and it shows. The closest we have to a perfect album in the last 5 years. This album could go down as top 10 hip-hop albums of all time. Once you get passed Kanye's image in the public eye and dive into his music, he never lets go and MBDTF is the best example. With long, anti-mainstream sounding songs he still was able to produce a commercial and critical smash and the album is here to stay for a long time.