Album Reviews: Cloud Nothings, Talib Kweli, Cold War Kids

Cloud Nothings by Cloud Nothings

The Cleveland power-poppers return with their second full length.  This time around the result is a lot more crisp and meticulously recorded than the first, with all of the same guitar-pop energy. Dylan Baldi and company rip through 11 fast paced raucous numbers, most of which hover around the 2 and a half minute mark and end abruptly. It’s a good strategy to keep any song from overstaying its welcome. Baldi and the Cloud Nothings aren’t in the business of writing rock opuses here. They stick to their guns and it’s appreciated. Most songs find themselves in sort of a middle ground between The Gin Blossoms and Wavves – “King of the Beach”, yet the album avoids sounding too repetitive by way of the surprisingly intricate guitar work. The one downfall might be Baldi’s voice, it has a Chipmunk(ish) quality, that you just wish it didn’t, to be honest. I think the vocals are at their best in “Not Important” when they are just screamed at you. Raw emotion does wonders for the bands weak link in my opinion. Also, “Should Have” has one of the weirdest fucking video I have ever seen fyi.

Not important
Should Have

Cloud Nothings 3.5 out of 5

Gutter Rainbows by Talib Kweli

“Gutter Rainbows” is another 0ne of those long winded  ‘meaningful core’ hip-hop albums that Talib Kweli has become known for. Talib displays his top notch mic skills throughout the album as he spits rapid fire intelligent lyrics about socioeconomics,  war, religion etc.  While it’s certainly refreshing to hear rap about something substantial, I can’t help but wish that “Gutter Rainbows” had a little bit more of a pop aesthetic. A couple more hooks like he had on his last Reflection Eternal album would have gone a long way on this one.  “So Low” is a track that really works. The beat is thumping and really lends itself to Kweli’s ‘Def Poetry Jam’ style and it has a real full fledged chorus. “Mr. International” is a smooth R&B(ish) track with some old skool vocals lent to it by Nigel Hall. The song doesn’t take itself too seriously and that helps. Wouldn’t mind seeing a couple more tracks like this in future Talib Kweli works.

So Low
Mr. International

Gutter Rainbows – 2.5 out of 5.

Mine is Yours by The Cold War Kids

“Mine is Yours” is a vocally powered rock album in part reminds me of Local Natives and in part of The Black Keys. It’s just not as pretty as the former nor as gritty and rock n’ roll as the latter. It’s kind of like The Black Keys for a dinner party with your neighbors you don’t know very well. Nathan Willett does have a tremendous voice for leading a rock band, its powerful, clean sounding and has plenty of range. Most of the album works to frame his voice and put it at the forefront while the rest of the intstrumentation stays somewhat forgettable. At times the album feels a bit over produced, almost like it has some sort of manufactured ‘soulfulness’.  All the flaws of this album though can be put asside when the Cold War Kids deliver infectious hooks like they do in “Louder Than Ever” and all of the first five or so songs of the album.  Unfortunately “Mine is Yours” kind of fizzles out early and all of the albums woes become more obvious the further you get into it.

Louder Than Ever
Royal Blue

Mine is Yours 2.5 out of 5

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