Album Survey 10-15-11: Björk, Rachael Yamagata, Evanescence, & More

Editor’s Note: along with the move to the new site, we’re implementing some other changes to our regular features.  As you may have noticed, we’ve expanded our news section, added streams of full albums, and changed the format of our shorter reviews.  Rather than being delivered to you all at once every Tuesday in our weekly Album Survey, shorter reviews are published on a daily basis and are now called QuickTunes.

What is the one of the greatest music albums of all time? Find out here

This, of course, results in some changes to our modus operandi concerning Album Surveys.  We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the feature, so I don’t want to discontinue it, but since we’re publishing reviews regularly, we don’t need to overload you in the weekly survey.  Instead, I will simply link to each review, give a little information concerning it, and post a short excerpt that will hopefully titillate your curiosity.  We’ll be playing around with the format until we find something that works well, so don’t be surprised if the Album Survey looks different next week.  Leave us any suggestions in the comments!

Reviews from the Week of October 9-15

Andrew Bird – Norman Soundtrack
Genre: Folk / Baroque Pop
“Norman is an album that does what few others can: it functions as a running commentary for a movie and it can stand alone on a music shelf. Where Norman stands apart from Bird’s other albums is that it truly is a concept album.” -Max Brodsky

Björk – Biophilia
Genre: Experimental
“This is the unusual album that yields nothing upon a half-listen but everything upon a full one. It’s like a solar eclipse in that regard: it’s easily missed, but if you happen to catch it, the image is burned into your retinas.” -Alex Hall

Crooked Fingers – Breaks in the Armor
Genre: Indie Rock / Folk
“Eric Bachmann knew that the simple, charming, and short verses would be enough to leave the listener with a sense of closure. The songs are not forced into the box of an overused chord progression or a certain song structure.” -David Garrett

Electric Six – Heartbeats and Brainwaves
Genre: Alternative Rock
“So far, Electric Six have stuck to the formula that initially brought them success — but with this comes the fact that they have not grown at all (except older), and their music has become redundant.” -Jessie Manire

Evanescence – Evanescence
Genre: Modern Rock
“The sad fact is, Evanescence haven’t been the same since Ben Moody left because of ‘creative differences’ – those two words usually mean the band in question either gets really good, or falls flat on its face.” -Edie Adams

Five Finger Death Punch – American Capitalist
Genre: Metal
“Despite this album being their first without bassist Matt Snell, they still manage to bring every bit of snarling guitar, double pedal glory, and a pleasant mixture of growling vocals to scratchy, guttural screams.” -Michelle Thompson

Future Islands – On the Water
Genre: Electropop
“This album is a notch less uppity than Future Islands’ previous work — and it’s for the better.  Each musician shines and every song’s instrumentation assists in bringing the emotive lyrical content to the surface.” -Jessie Manire

Johnny Gill – Still Winning
Genre:  R&B
“Still Winning is Gill’s sixth studio album and first in 15 years.  The R&B crooner hasn’t really changed over time. Classy, lovable, and still incredibly skilled vocally — that’s how Mr. Gill appears on his latest work.” -Maria Rosaria di Lecce

Lovers Electric – Impossible Dreams
Genre: Electropop
“Though Impossible Dreams misses many of the pop moments that the duo managed to achieve on their first album, this record still contains a few: “Beating Like a Drum” is a bright dance track with a catchy chorus.” -Ryan Danesh

MuteMath – Odd Soul
Genre: Alternative Pop-Rock
“The best quality is how smoothly it flows, how every track is clearly MuteMath even though they utilize such disparate elements. But the album mixes the vocals low and lacks the focus on lyrics that made Armistice much more than just good jams. ” -Jordy Kasko

Ben Parcell – Painted by Numbers EP
Genre: Folk-Pop
“Young British folk artist Ben Parcell is back with a four-track EP entitled Painted by Numbers, which was inspired by artists such as Frank Turner and Ed Sheeran and features vocals from Edwina Hayes.” -Maria Rosaria di Lecce

William Shatner – Seeking Major Tom
Genre: Classic Rock cover songs / Spoken Word
“Well, this ain’t even fair. How can any covers album – EVER – except to compete with the inimitable William Shatner performing 18 space-themed cover songs? I mean, it’s f-ing William Shatner with his trademark melodramatic stop-and-start vocals.” -Jordy Kasko

Star Fucking Hipster – From the Dumpster to the Grave
Genre: Punk Rock
“They aren’t quite as anarchist as some of their politically-minded cousins and aren’t quite as heavy as the hardcore scene’s main players — but From the Dumpster to the Grave might be one of the better ska-punk releases of the year.” -Jordy Kasko

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers – Gift Horse
Genre: Alt.-Country-Rock
“Kellogg’s wise-but-mellow songwriter shtick is tiresome to the point of being gratuitous in the long run; “Song for Lovers” is treacly and vapid enough to be used (un-ironically) for a network TV love scene.” -Ricardo Kerr

Still Corners – Creatures of an Hour
Genre: Gothic / Indie Pop
“This is London as it is portrayed in From Hell or Sherlock Holmes: dank, foggy, evil lurking around each corner, a mysterious beauty that binds it all together.  It is an urban wilderness; a mood album rather than a song-oriented dark pop album.” -Jordy Kasko

Rachael Yamagata – Chesapeake
Genre: Blues / Pop-Rock
“Each song shows a different face of Yamagata with such understated panache that the standout blues-rocker “Starlight” and the string-laced “Full On” are easily identifiable as Yamagata — yet one would assume that they were crafted 15 years apart.” -Jordy Kasko