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Minetracks: April in review


Leslie Sariñana (L) – Entertainment Editor – April has come and gone, but not without leaving us with new music. But new doesn’t necessarily mean good, especially in the case for album releases this month. Even the already successful and big name artists fell short with their material this month. Not one of them seemed to be able to live up to the hype, counting on the weight of their names to ensure them a successful record. Below are some of the albums reviewed by Entertainment Editor Leslie Sariñana (L) and Web Editor Adrian Broaddus (A). If you have any suggestions on albums to review in May, email us at [email protected].

Cold War Kids-LA Divine:

L: Cold War Kids might have risen to indie rock popularity in 2009, but LA Divine just set them back. The intro to “Can We Hang On?” borrows a lot of instrumentals from their track from “Hold My Home,” “First.” They also appear to be have been following the same formula to producing albums for the last three records. It would be hard to distinguish which tracks go under which albums. “Luck Down” and “Ordinary Idols” seem to be the only promising songs on the album, slightly edging away into a different sound than the other tracks. It’s easy to grow tired of Nathan Willett’s vocals. Summed up in one sentence: LA Divine simply struggles to be memorable.

A: The last time I heard from Cold War Kids, I was submerged in the three-years of indie rock’s prime (2009-11) and I respected their unique style of west coast alternative music. Almost six years down the road, however, Cold War Kids will stand among the other indie rock wash-up bands, like Two Door Cinema Club and MGMT. “LA Divine” is at best a one-time listen, a predictable love story and a forgettable homage to Los Angeles. They have some kickers, such as “Love is Mystical,” but the rest of the tracks drag on.

Mary J Blige Strength of a Woman:
L: With her return, Mary brings more personal lyrics than ever before and picks herself up through “Strength of a Woman.” This album follows after her divorce with husband and manager Kendu Isaacs. The sound is slower, heavily filled with soul, but it’s the perfect compliment to Mary’s vocals and lyrics. “Glow Up” provides a great release from the slower ballads.

A: The grandmother of R&B soul music is back for a 2017 resurrection. Mary J. Blige, at the age of 46, is as ferocious as ever on “Strength of a Woman.” Her earlier projects detailing somber tales of drug abuse and dating violence have seemed to come to an end. On “Strength of a Woman,” her 13th studio album, she seems to find internal happiness, even at it’s darker points. Hard-hitting tracks, like “Telling the Truth” produced by Kaytranada and “Glow Up” with Quavo, will be the benchmark points of the album. Overall, it’s a respectable compilation and serves its purpose for the artist’s’ storied career.

San Fermin-Belong:
L: This San Fermin album is full of desperate attempts to sound different from their original sound. They are trying to hard to be something they’re not. Not one track was a standout. It sounds like they invested everything into production and scrambled to put together lyrics to match the tracks. It’s not worth a listen.

A: The Brooklyn based pop group fronted by songwriter and producer Ellis Ludwig-Leone surfaces a promising artistry, finding the ultimate balance between indie and folk. While production wise the album is solid, it lacks any sort of lyrical depth, which probably stems from Ludwig-Leone not using his vocals on this project. The album’s experimentation, at best, is admirable, but the abstraction and ambiguity makes for a disorganized joint that doesn’t seem to flow consistently.

Playboi Carti-Playboi Carti:
L: This self-titled mixtape Playboi Carti was commendable in its overall result. It was surprisingly well developed for underground trap. The strongest song on the tape is “Magnolia.” He doesn’t dive into political lyrics, but somehow manages to stand above with verses about sex and money. It’s not too complicated. It just comes off as an enjoyable listen. Even in it’s simplicity it succeeds for a freshman tape.

A: At just 20-years-old, Playboi Carti was the most hyped up underground trap artist who hadn’t released a project yet. Yes, before his self titled album, Playboi Carti’s mixtape was the only thing on trap fan’s release radar. And the Atlanta rapper didn’t disappoint on his freshman tape. Say what you will about his lyrics lacking depth, Playboi Carti is destined to be huge via one-line ringers and exciting bangers. He has the trap artistry of Lil Uzi Vert with the fashion-driven swagger of A$AP Rocky. The album is filled with tales about sex, drugs and money, which feels like a break from reality. With Kendrick’s “DAMN.” released on the same day, it felt encouraging that the no. 1 and 2 albums, respectively, of the month were released on the same day.

Animal Collective-Meeting of the Waters (EP):
L: Animal Collective has yet to release a full album and has stayed on the route of releasing multiple EPs. Each one keeps getting better than the last. “Meeting of the Waters” is their second EP this year. “Blue Noses” is 13 minutes long, but it doesn’t drag on. What they do best is create tracks with new sounds while somehow maintaining their original essence.

A: “Meeting of the Waters” blows away Animal Collective’s recent EP, “The Painters,” by a long shot. It uses the best of the old sounding Animal Collective, while spicing it up with a little twist. This EP was clearly for the fans – it took no risks, easily-listening and felt consistent. This EP, regardless how small, will serve as a solid precursor to their next (and hopefully full-length) project.

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About the Contributors
Leslie Sarinana
Leslie Sarinana, Copy Editor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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Minetracks: April in review