Jay-Z and Kanye West

Watch the Throne

Roc-A-Fella Records

3.5/5

THIRTY YEARS AFTER Freddy Mercury and David Bowie’s iconic duet “Under Pressure”, Jay-Z and Kanye West decided to uphold the tradition of collaborating musicians by releasing Watch the Throne. Jay-Z, one of the most commercially successful rappers in North America, together with Kanye West, known for his hyper-progressive fusion of aesthetic mediums in his works, present a 46-minute-long CD with the potential to become a milestone in contemporary music.

From a production standpoint, Watch the Throne is an elaborate and well-
arranged album. Not meant to be heard on regular speakers or headphones, Watch the Throne should be played on a better-than-good audio system to fully appreciate all of the nuances Jigga and Yeezy put into their songs. Each chime and bell hidden in the deep layers of this album show off the robust knowledge of music theory possessed by Jay-Z, West, and all of the other guests included on Watch the Throne.

Lyrically, the CD has a gaping lack of ingenuity. The self-indulgence of most of the tracks sets back its potential greatly. Despite this, there are tracks that show the careful crafting of songs generally associated with Jay-Z or West. Watch the Throne can be compared to what West’s 808’s and Heartbreaks was for Graduation and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—a layup rebound minutes after a slam dunk of an album had just been dropped.

It’s also not a CD to be taken too seriously either. Kanye West and Jay-Z are friends who wanted to work together to see what they could create with ideas they were toying with; they still have plans to release individually in the future. You can feel the light-hearted humour and fun energy that went into making each track radiate out from the music, even when it’s just on in the background.

Overall, it’s a great compilation that should succeed in getting everybody excited for what these two music titans produce next.

—Ivan Flores

David Guetta 

Nothing but the Beat

Virgin Records

2.5/5

DAVID GUETTA’S SOPHOMORE album Nothing but the Beat delivers on its promise, but maybe a little too well. The CD features a lineup of impressive guest vocalists that includes Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Sia, Chris Brown, and Lil Wayne. Mashing up club beats, heavy synths, and electro-house with pop vocals and rap, the French DJ takes different genres and mixes them together producing something entirely new.

Guetta lures you in with a mid-tempo intro and thumping, fist-pumping beats by the time the chorus comes around. In fact, most songs on this album sound as if they could be a single, stand-alone song—but that’s the problem. Every song sounds like the previous one—there’s just too much beat. What seemed like an ingenious idea to mix house music with pop becomes tiresome and boring by the fifth song.

“Lunar” featuring Afrojack and “Repeat” featuring Jessie J. are two songs that don’t sound entirely like clones. “Lunar” is reminiscent of an earlier Daft Punk and “Repeat” is a slower song to bop your head to.

Though the album is a bit repetitive, don’t be surprised if you hear any of these songs in a club—they are designed to get you moving and they do just that.

—Sofia Hashi

Rebekah Higgs

Odd Fellowship

Hidden Pony

LISTENING TO REBEKAH Higgs’s new CD, Odd Fellowship, brought a swell of different emotions not only to my mind, but my body. My toes tapped to the cheery beat of songs such as “Gosh, Darn, Damn” and my head bobbed to the catchy beat of “Youth and Beauty”.

Right off the bat, Higgs’s music is a little feisty. Higgs can be categorized in the indie-folk genre, but her music stands out because of elements like the spectacular harmonies woven into her tracks, especially noticeable in “Lazy Mornings”. “Girl in the Sweater” displays Higgs’s incredibly simple yet relatable lyrics and showcases a unique style of vocal overlapping that can be heard on various tracks throughout the album. Also, for all you bilingual readers: Higgs includes a French track, “Shoop”.

Odd Fellowship contains music that can be enjoyed by many different types of people, from Urban Outfitters-wearing hipsters to Top 40 fanatics in the mood for something mellow. This record will definitely put its listeners in a pleasant, less stressful mood after a long day.

—Victoria Dudys

Darlings of Chelsea

Panic is Worse than the Emergency

Unsigned

IN THEIR FOLLOW-UP album to the critically acclaimed Mimico Sessions, Toronto punk-rock band the Darlings of Chelsea don’t hold back with Panic is Worse than the Emergency. They will remind many of the Rolling Stones’ early work, with their true rock ’n’ roll sound, strong instrumentals, and a hard, pounding beat you can tap your foot to.

They use screaming guitars and strong harmonics to create an atmosphere that will take you back to the days when ability trumped flashy gimmicks, music was made with instruments instead of computers, and songs were rough around the edges, not perfected and sterile. The highlights of the CD are exuberant songs that pump you up, like “Lucky Ones”, and the strong vocal harmonies on “We Are Gods”. “Call To Arms” and “Witchcraft” finish the album with mind-blowing riffs that leave you wanting more.

I suggest Panic is Worse than the Emergency to anyone who is looking for some excitement not typically heard from newer rock bands.

—Andrew Ikeman

Madison Violet

The Good in Goodbye

True North Records

CANADIAN FOLK POP duo Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac, better known as Madison Violet, are back after a two-year hiatus with a new album titled The Good in Goodbye. The record’s strong points are the near flawless, rich vocals that sing about love, bittersweet goodbyes, and finding happiness in departing. Harmonizing almost immediately from the beginning of the songs and relying on the use of banjos, acoustic guitars, fiddles, and the harmonica, The Good in Goodbye has a soft, sweet flow that most listeners will enjoy.

The alternative country sounds found in this record will appeal to country and folk lovers. Stand-out singles include the upbeat title track “The Good in Goodbye”, a slower and more poignant “Colour in Grey”, and the lyrically colourful “Fallen By the Wayside”. Almost all listeners can identify with the record’s themes—growth, change, and goodbyes—which are not lost throughout the CD. Each song puts forth a different perspective about the subject without being contradictory.

All in all, The Good in Goodbye is pleasant to listen to and will have you humming along with it.

—Sofia Hashi