Darren's Review Round-Up
September Review Round-Up
So sometimes Darren is unable to write a lengthy review of every album he acquires in a month, either due to getting the album too late, not listening to it enough, or general music overload. These are the albums that slipped through the cracks in September, with reviews in a more abbreviated, albeit still douchey and pretentious, form.

Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

Bottom Line: A let down compared to what they've done before.

It's hard to expect a certain sound from a band that's primarily known for sounding bizarre. Their 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion won the band a lot of new fans, arguably because of its good number of accessible and catchy tracks. Three years later, Centipede Hz is far less accessible or pop-oriented, and I really don't know what to compare it to. Maybe I listened to Panda Bear's solo stuff so much between the releases that I forgot Avey Tare existed, so I was really unprepared to hear his voice on almost every track. Anyway, the album is kind of all over the place, each track sounding really different, yet while this may have worked for Animal Collective before, there are more misses than hits on Centipede Hz. Since it's so hard to talk about Animal Collective's music in any sort of concrete terms, I guess I'll be general and say that I really disliked this album at first, but after repeated listens, I grew to tolerate it.

Grade: B

The Killers - Battle Born

Bottom Line: Battle Boring.

For a fairly popular band, the Killers are somewhat hard to pin down. They started as a faux-British synthpop group in Hot Fuss before getting more American rock n' roll in Sam's Town, and then came out with the mixed Day & Age. Even Brandon Flowers' solo album Flamingo had an unexpected country sound. Now out comes the very underwhelming Battle Born, which is their most adult contemporary supermarket radio-friendly album to date. It kind of sounds like Flowers' solo album minus the country influence, which is frustrating since this is The Killers, a usually ambitious band. I mean what wasn't over-the-top about Sam's Town? At its most thrilling, Battle Born sounds like previous single "Human," meaning there's at least three songs that seem to have the same synth part as "Human." And there's a fair amount of cringe-worthy lyrics here, like "don't want your picture on my cell phone, I want you here with me" as a chorus. Ah sentimentality, the 21st century hasn't been good to you. There's also the line "Miss Atomic Bomb, making out we've got the radio on," which makes me wonder if Flowers has been listening to too much Taylor Swift or something. Lyrics that make you pine for "are we human or are we dancer?" aside, the album does have a few good songs (I grew to like "From Here On Out"), but for the most part I really would like it if the Killers never made another album like this.

Grade: C-

G.O.O.D. Music - Cruel Summer

Bottom Line: M.E.D.I.O.C.R.E. Music

I'll start off by saying that I'm not the biggest hip-hop fan or even the biggest Kanye West fan, so make what you will of that. I honestly was one of those people that jumped on the Kanye bandwagon after My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an album I got due to the positive hype and turned out to really like most of its tracks. I gave his collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, a try, but never really got too into it. Now Kanye's label G.O.O.D. Music came out with quite the collective album, Cruel Summer, which features contributions from over a dozen hip-hop and R&B artists. The result of this collage of talent is"¦underwhelming. A lot of the beats are repetitive and lazy, and the rapping isn't brilliant enough to make up for this. Some tracks like "New God Flow" are pretty good, yet the single choices like "Mercy" and the last few tracks on the album really aren't doing it for me.

Grade: B

Patrick Wolf - Sundark and Riverlight

Bottom Line: A great acoustic compilation that shows Wolf's real multi-instrumental talent.

Patrick Wolf is quite the talented lad. He's able to play almost every stringed instrument possible, is a really good pianist, and knows how to throw in good electronic influences too. Therefore, I was a little disappointed in his more recent forays away from folk, electronic, and folktronica and into more simple pop music. Sundark and Riverlight is an acoustic compilation of selected tracks from every album Wolf has done so far, and it really shows he just needs a piano or a violin to make great-sounding music. This is a little more impressive for the tracks that were originally electronic-heavy, such as "Oblivion" and "Vulture," but even the re-records of acoustic tracks so that they're more stripped-down sounds great. Basically if you like Patrick Wolf at all, I recommend this compilation.

Grade: A

Of Montreal - Daughter of Cloud

Bottom Line: There's a reason these tracks didn't make it onto albums.

I've listened to this album only a couple of times, and that was enough for a while. I've never heard any of these tracks before, and it seems like they all came from the time of Montreal was really into the sexualized faux-Prince sound of Skeletal Lamping and False Priest. I was not the biggest fan on this sound, and only a handful of tracks from their latest few albums really got my attention. Additionally, of Montreal's previous compilations such as If He Is Protecting Our Nation, Then Who Will Protect Big Oil, Our Children? were somewhat lacking in standout tracks and you understood why they didn't make it onto albums. Therefore, a compilation of non-album tracks from of Montreal's latest not-so-great period is a recipe for a bad time, folks. There may be some good tracks on this album that I'm being too harsh on that I'll discover on additional listens, but for now, I got to the song where Kevin Barnes shouts "and my cock is so torn up about it!" over and over and figured that was enough.

Grade: C+

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