Album Reviews
by Tom Beninate
Artist: Ed Sheeran
Album:
X
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Sheeran's acoustic guitar supports this mix of pop and organic-based tunes. Pharrell Williams co-wrote (along with Sheeran) the two best tracks. Most of these songs are a bit better than average. Of course, the key songs make this a fine record to listen to. Sheeran carved out a nice niche with this hybrid sound.
Key Songs: "Sing", "Runaway", "The Man".
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Artist: Brad Paisley
Album:
Moonshine In The Trunk
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

This record actually opens with (what seems to be) a commercial for Bud Light! If you can get past this, you will be delighted to hear more songs plugging other commercial brands. Overall, the tunes (sans lyrics) are not bad. However, the "big hit" is conspicuously missing from this lot.
Key Songs: "Perfect Storm".
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Artist: 5 Seconds OF Summer
Album:
5 Seconds Of Summer
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

The debut record of guitar band, 5 Seconds of Summer is borderline silly and goofy. It may be fine for kids but not if you are old enough to have a legal driver's license. Their songwriting is amateurish and needs work. The best song, "Amnesia" is the only tune not written by band members.
Key Songs: "Amnesia".
Artist: Leon Russell
Album:
Life Journey
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Leon Russel selected a great collection of mostly time-tested songs for Life Journey. He also enlisted fine musicians to back him up and add character to the mix. Although Russell's vocals are emotionally convincing, it is though to get past his rough and scratchy voice.
Key Songs: *Too many to list*.
Artist: Lenny Kravitz
Album:
Strut
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

This very listenable record suffers from mediocre songwriting. Kravitz has shown that he is able to write a good song or two, but they are absent on this album. In fact, the best song is, "Ooo, Baby, Baby" written years ago by Smokey Robinson and Warren Moore. The capable Kravitz plays most of the instruments.
Key Songs: "The Chamber", "Ooo, Baby, Baby".
Artist: 50 Cent
Album:
Animal Ambition
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Each track on this record is built on a unique bed of rhythms and hooks. The keys songs are built out to a higher level beyond the basic hooks. Each featured guest artists brings an additional dimension to the particular track.
Key Songs: "Smoke", "Twisted", "Winners Circle".
Artist: Natalie Merchant
Album:
Natalie Merchant
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

If you like music that is dark, sad, slow and depressing then this record is for you. Not only is Merchant's bad moon rising but her future is weak as well. On a positive note, the backing musicians are professional and contribute a "live" studio sound to the album. This is refreshing when compared to today's mainly sterile and computerized approach.
Key Songs: "Black Sheep".
Artist: Parquet Courts
Album:
Sunbathing Animal
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

This raw garage sounding band employs hooks and rhythms straight from the '60s and '70s punk/rock scene. Guitarist/vocalist Austin Brown claims these guys focused on lyrics. And so the lack of attention to songwriting ( and laziness) shows. Too bad, because some of the concepts here are quite good.
Key Songs: "Sunbathing Animal".
Artist: Jason Aldean
Album:
Old Boots, New Dirt
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Old songs, (and some) new sound effects do not make interesting records. You get the same verses, choruses, and dull guitar solos. If Aldean's (pickup) truck could talk (as he suggested in the ninth song), it would be way more remarkable then this album.
Key Songs: "Burnin It Down".
Artist: Lady Antebellum
Album:
747
Year Released: 2014
Rating:

Why would an artist choose a commercial for a conglomerate to be the title of their album, especially when that name needs to be cleared and licensed? Anyway, the songs are okay and just that. Each track begins, proceeds and ends just as you would expect it. So, where is the hit?
Key Songs: "Bartender".
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