By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
At one time, a line like "I roll on bitches like a skateboard" would merit at least a theoretical high-five between bros; now it registers as a clunker. I'm relieved that Pretty Tony's back on his thug shit, but here it's like he's just straight belligerent, hollering into the void.Microphonies
Bracing punk 'tude chip-tune for torching the Sunset Strip, tagging the HOLLYWOOD sign with anarchy symbols, hallucinating that you're wanted by the LAPD for murking Mickey Mouse in a drive-by. Good times, indeed, but better times if the volume's up and the sunroof's down.
"Holding You Down"
Hear that, uncaring strawman cad? You got Jaz looking so stupid, right now. And, paradoxically, sounding so damned effusive, confident, and strident over some sweet Missy Elliott/Cainon Lamb plectrum-enabled, New Jack hot-step. (Missy Elliott: still alive!) Sullivan's maturation as a performer since 2008's Fearless can't be overstated; she's really come into her own, laying into well-chosen cuts on Love Me Back that fully explore and emphasize the supple and flexible possibilities of her voice.Heartstrings
These Texans are at their lapidary best when they lay into their own compositions. "Concerto," though, is a Thomas Kinkade-esque take on the late, masterful Vivaldi; what was soulful and elemental before scans as schlock here, all generic synths and clinical plucks on their lyre-like Chapman Sticks.Gigantic Blonde Boy
Blaise Bailey Finnegan III, what's on your iPod?