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Album review: Sound & Color- Alabama Shakes

BY NICOLE WEINSTEIN

After their 2012 critically acclaimed debut album, Boys & Girls, the sophomore Alabama Shakes album has been highly anticipated.  Sound & Color lives up to those expectations.  With raw instrumentation and little to no help from a computer, the album is not only honest, but sonically very well done.  The skill level of guitar, bass, piano, and more stands out on this album and sets it apart from some other recent number ones.  Despite the fact that its genre can be classified as alternative, it is clearly influenced by anything from jazz to folk, depending on the track.  This proves that the band can diversify their sound while staying true to their roots.  To top it all off, lead singer Brittany Howard’s vocals tie the whole album together, giving it an overall relaxed yet beautiful vibe.

Best tracks:

  • “Sound & Color”- The title and opening track perfectly sets the stage for the album, with an anticipating intro finished off by a smooth, inviting song.
  • “The Greatest”- This is a stand out track on the album because of its fast pace and classic rock & roll vibe.
  • “Gemini”- This six minute track takes its time to progress but finishes off with an excellent guitar solo.

 

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Music Charts for the Week of May 9, 2015

BY NICOLE WEINSTEIN

Billboard Hot 100 Top 10

  1. = See You Again ft. Charlie Puth- Wiz Khalifa (7 weeks)
  2. = Uptown Funk! ft. Bruno Mars- Mark Ronson (24 weeks)
  3. +2 Trap Queen- Fetty Wap (14 weeks)
  4. -1 Earned It- The Weeknd (18 weeks)
  5. -1 Sugar- Maroon 5 (15 weeks)
  6. = Love Me Like You Do- Ellie Goulding (16 weeks)
  7. +1 Shut  Up and Dance- Walk The Moon (24 weeks)
  8. -1 Thinking Out Loud- Ed Sheeran (29 weeks)
  9. = G.D.F.R. ft. Sage the Gemini and Lookas- Flo Rida (24 weeks)
  10. +1 Want To Want Me- Jason Derulo (7 weeks)

how it works

Billboard 200 Top 10:

  1. Sound & Color- Alabama Shakes (debut; 96k; 91k pure sales) (read my review)
  2. Furious 7 Soundtrack
  3. Love Story- YelaWolf (debut; 58k; 51k pure sales)
  4. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late- Drake
  5. Fifty Shades of Grey Soundtrack
  6. 1989- Taylor Swift
  7. In The Lonely Hour- Sam Smith
  8. X- Ed Sheeran
  9. Montevallo- Sam Hunt
  10. Title- Meghan Trainor

how it works

sources: hitsdoubledaily.com, billboard.com, NielsenEntertainment

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Album review: Handwritten – Shawn Mendes

BY NICOLE WEINSTEIN

Filled with ballads and acoustic guitars, Shawn Mendes’s debut album is not only reminiscent of Ed Sheeran’s music, but a refreshing break from the bass-heavy dance music that is popular today.  With more live instruments than computerized synths and sweet, if sometimes cheesy lyrics, Mendes makes it clear that he is more concerned with how his music comes across sonically- an honest, relaxed sound to study or fall asleep to.  He also seems to concentrate on the quality of his voice, showing off high notes and a large vocal scale.  Mendes has proved his appreciation for real artistry with his debut album, and his first weeks numbers back him up.

Best tracks:

  • “Never Be Alone”- Mendes put his own acoustic spin on indie music with this mid-tempo track.
  • “I Don’t Know Your Name”- This a cheerful, track with sweet lyrics and a fun guitar beat.
  • “Crazy”- Mendes shows off his vocals on this track, while the guitar chords sound inspired by John Mayer
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Music Charts for the Week of May 2, 2015

BY NICOLE WEINSTEIN

Billboard Hot 100 Top 10

  1. = See You Again ft. Charlie Puth- Wiz Khalifa (6 weeks)
  2. = Uptown Funk! ft. Bruno Mars- Mark Ronson (23 weeks)
  3. +3 Earned It- The Weeknd (17 weeks)
  4. -1 Sugar- Maroon 5 (14 weeks)
  5. -1 Trap Queen- Fetty Wap (13 weeks)
  6. +1 Love Me Like You Do- Ellie Goulding (15 weeks)
  7. -2 Think Out Loud- Ed Sheeran (28 weeks)
  8. +1 Shut Up And Dance- Walk The Moon (23 weeks)
  9. -1 G.D.F.R. ft. Sage the Gemini and Lookas- Flo Rida (23 weeks)
  10. +1 Somebody ft. Jeremih- Natalie La Rose (13 weeks)

how it works

Billboard 200 Top 10:

  1. Handwritten- Shawn Mendes (debut; 119k; 106k pure sales) (read the review)
  2. Furious 7 Soundtrack
  3. Love Somebody- Reba
  4. Cherry Bomb- Tyler, the Creator
  5. Into The Wild Life- Halestorm
  6. Fifty Shades of Grey Soundtrack
  7. 1989- Taylor Swift
  8. In The Lonely Hour- Sam Smith
  9. X- Ed Sheeran
  10. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late- Drake

how it works

sources: hitsdoubledaily.com, billboard.com, NielsenEntertainment

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Album review: The Album About Nothing – Wale

BY NICOLE WEINSTEIN

Wale has released the third installment of his series of Seinfeld-inspired projects.  The Album About Nothing presents a unique contrast between Jerry Seinfeld’s comical intro on each song and the slow, trap-influenced tones of the songs themselves.  Sonically, the album features strong, cohesive production and the drowsy, dark style that has been popular in hip-hop lately (see Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late).  Lyrically, Wale touches upon many topics including his roots, wanting to quit hip-hop, race, and personal relationships.  Overall, the album is most notable for being unique and set apart from most hip-hop albums today.

Best tracks:

  • “The Pessimist” ft. J. Cole- This track is Wale’s chance to express his views on current racial issues, which he does in a mature and tasteful manner.
  • “The Need To Know” ft. SZA- SZA’s vocals almost outshine Wale’s rhymes, but the two make a good team on this smooth alternative R&B jam.
  • “The Bloom (AG3)”- This one sticks out as a fun, upbeat track among an album otherwise filled with heavier, more somber songs.