A Pentatonix Christmas – Pentatonix

The trailblazing, internationally celebrated a cappella group Pentatonix has released new music in the fall every year for the past four years — and they’re not about to break that streak.

You most likely have already heard A Pentatonix Christmas’ first single “Hallelujah” circulated on Facebook by everyone and their mother. This dramatic cover stands apart from an otherwise peppy album filled with music that actually has to do with Christmas (I promise). The record features familiar holiday tunes given beatbox, riff-filled facelifts, and a few original songs soon to be added to Christmas playlists everywhere.

To those naysayers complaining that “November is too early for Christmas music” and “Please stop singing Pentatonix at my face,” I would say that you can’t put a limit on happiness and cheer. Give the album a listen and try not joyfully sing along! – TGL

WALLS – Kings of Leon

This is not an impressive album. It doesn’t rock the boat, it doesn’t take Kings of Leon in a new direction, and it offers only a few remarkable tracks.

If you don’t mind hearing “whoa-ahs” in every song, then you’ll love this album. Most of it sounds like it could have been buried on any of their previous albums, sandwiched between the single-worthy tracks just to fill it out.

That being said, there is at least one gem on this record: “Muchacho” doesn’t fit in. It goes deeper and has more genuine emotion than the rest of the record. It’s too bad more sincerity wasn’t spread around — this album could have been more than a collection of songs that panders to pop-rock hungry listeners. – TP

Heart Like a Levee – Hiss Golden Messenger

The sixth LP from MC Taylor, a.k.a. Hiss Golden Messenger, jumps between stripped down folk ballads and fast-paced alternative country tunes. However, it’s the quieter songs that are the highlights from the album.

Lyrically, this album takes from the trials and tribulations of a full-time musician, which is apparently not as glamorous as it’s thought to be. Take the self-titled track: it’s an alternative country ballad fraught with feelings of self-loathing, with lines like, “Do you hate me, honey / As much as I hate myself?”

It’s the slow-paced ballads where the band shines, since there’s so much emotional strife in the subject matter. While the band succeeds with most songs, some of the instrumentally denser songs don’t feel as fleshed out as the simpler tracks.

With some fantastic tracks, Hiss Golden Messenger proves that a simpler song can convey a much more powerful message. – CR