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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Albums of the Week: 5/20

Faith No More – “Sol Invictus”

Release Date: May 19

It’s been 18 years since the last Faith No More album and with the release of “Sol Invictus,” lead vocalist Mike Patton proves that there’s still energy in the tank for the highly regarded alternative metal band. Faith No More have always been a band that embodied the “I don’t give a damn” mentality more than any band of their kind. “Sol Invictus” is an absolutely wild record and definitely not for the faint of heart.

I don’t mean that “Sol Invictus” will gross you out or piss you off. No, this album provokes in the same way previous Faith No More albums did. It’s bizarre and full of tonal shifts that keep the vibe locked in at “utterly insane.” It’s angry and full of fire in the lyrics, but “Sol Invictus” is an absolute blast if you’re able to get down with some of the weirdest metal music you’ll ever hear.

Recommended Tracks: “Superhero,” “Rise of the Fall” and “From the Dead”

Hot Chip – “Why Make Sense?”

Release Date: May 19

I’ve always considered Hot Chip to be the British version of LCD Soundsystem. Both bands mix heartfelt emotions with music that practically forces you to bust a move. Unlike LCD Soundsystem, which broke up in 2011, Hot Chip has never made an album as great as either “Sound of Silver” or “This Is Happening.” Hot Chip makes solid tunes sure, but they’ve never had that “one” album. “Why Make Sense?” is the band’s sixth album and with both Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard in their mid-thirties, this new album can easily be seen as a proper successor to Murphy’s old and cranky hipster thoughts.

“Why Make Sense?” is still not quite an instant classic, but it is still easily Hot Chip’s best album to date. As always, Hot Chip’s focus on romantic devotion remains endearing, but “Why Make Sense?” is covered in a world-weariness that gives the album more depth than previous albums. It’s still ridiculously fun and songs like “Huarache Lights” and “Easy to Get” are instant Hot Chip classics. The difference here is that more than the grooves stick with you after the album ends. You may be surprised to have a deep emotional response once your booty stops shaking.

Recommended Tracks: “Huarache Lights,” “Easy to Get” and “Need You Now”

Junkie XL – “Mad Max: Fury Road Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Release Date: May 12

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is one of the best movies in quite some time. Released this past weekend, the post-apocalyptic action film is consistently thrilling with some of the craziest stunts ever put to film. It’s currently standing tall with a glowing 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a number 23 spot on IMDB’s top 250 movies of all-time list. Without a doubt, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is an astounding accomplishment that will be talked about for some time.

While the film itself is beautifully shot and full of spectacular action, it’s the soundtrack that really helps in getting the blood pumping. Dutch multi-instrumentalist Tom Holkenborg, who goes by Junkie XL, is responsible for matching the visceral energy of the film’s action with a score that is as relentless and pulse-pounding as the film.

Few soundtracks stand on their own and with a deluxe edition clocking in at over two hours, the soundtrack for “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a daunting listen for the average music fan. However, this is a brilliantly crafted soundtrack and during the film, it really helps enhance scenes to their most intense levels. “Brothers In Arms” is the most obvious highlight, featuring booming drums and electronics over relentless strings that bring you right into the chases depicted in the film. “Mad Max: Fury Road” may go down as a film classic, but it’s evident from this soundtrack that not all the credit is due to the visual aspects.

Recommended Tracks: “Brothers In Arms,” “Escape” and “Chapter Doof”

Shamir – “Ratchet”

Release Date: May 19

If you don’t know who Shamir is, you’re about to. The 20-year-old pop/dance singer once tried to be a country singer and when that didn’t pan out, deep-house inspired pop music did. “Rachet” is Shamir’s debut album and its release comes quickly after 2014’s astounding “Northtown” EP. With this debut album, Shamir delivers what was expected after that EP: an album full of the catchiest dance-pop tracks you’ll hear all year.

Without a doubt, “Call It Off” is the stand-out track from “Ratchet.” Shamir’s incredible voice carries the most positive break-up song possibly of all-time. It’s ridiculously catchy and even my country/rap music-exclusive roommate thought it was good. Shamir’s charisma has quite a bit to do with this album’s appeal. It’s impossible to not like a kid who’s attempted to be a stand-up comedian, joking about how people used to confuse him with a girl. His voice may catch you off guard at first and make you think otherwise, but make no mistake, Shamir’s vocal performance on “Ratchet” is one for the ages.

I can sing the praises of “Ratchet” all day, but it’s really easy to see that this Vegas-born star is about to break out in a big way with this album. It’s got heartfelt ballads, endless originality and about as many grooves-per-minute as an old Michael Jackson album. “Ratchet” rules and any fan of pop music owes it to themselves to check it out.

Recommended Tracks: “Call It Off,” “Hot Mess” and “Darker”

Zedd – “True Colors”

Release Date: May 19

When it comes to electronic dance music, Russian DJ Zedd has proven to be a bankable star. Singles like “Clarity” and “Stay the Night” cemented his place among the most popular musicians in the genre. Zedd’s debut album, “Clarity,” had some great things going for it. Specifically, “Lost at Sea” was a damn fine song that really capitalized on the emotional potential of Zedd’s music. While that song is great, the rest of the album was full of filler, as if Zedd had no idea how to create music in an album format.

So now Zedd’s released “True Colors” and thankfully a lot of the problems with his debut album have been smoothed over. This album is not going to change the game in terms of EDM music, but there’s enough tracks to entertain accordingly. “Addicted To A Memory” and “Papercut” are a prime example of what makes Zedd great. These tracks build to explosively colorful drops that are damn near impossible to resist.

If you don’t dig EDM music, this is definitely not for you. It’s Zedd for crying out loud. You’re getting a blast of euphoric dance songs with emotions that run skin-deep. But there’s a lot of pleasure to be had sitting back and jammin’ to these tracks. They’re breezy, summertime fodder that don’t demand a serious in-depth approach to enjoy. “True Colors” is Zedd doing what Zedd has always done: blast your eardrums with a barrage of sickly sweet EDM tunes. And you know what? When it’s time to get stressed out over school and work, sometimes nothing sounds better.

Recommended Tracks: “Addicted To A Memory,” “Papercut” and “Illusion”

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