I Had a Dream that You Were Mine — Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij
By Rita Ovis
Hamilton Leithauser pulled away from his band The Walkmen and joined forces with Rostam Batmanglij — a multi-instrumentalist formerly from Vampire Weekend — to create a brand new, and quite unique musical duo. Their album, I Had A Dream that you Were Mine is hard to categorize in a genre.
Boogie rock mixes with bright indie pop to create a fusion of interesting instruments meld seamlessly to complement Leithauser’s crooning voice. Banjos, synthesizers, harmonica, and twinkling piano are all featured as Batmanglij works them together to create an extremely satisfying sound. In a few songs you could definitely taste a bit of Vampire Weekend, such as with the piano melody in “Peaceful Morning” and the floaty mix of voices, piano, and strong drum beats in “When the Truth Is. . .”
This best part of this album is that you can dance to it, and maybe even cry to it, with such a range of powerful songs — most focusing on love. You can listen to it “In the graveyards, in the harbors, in the beer halls and the parks,” as Leithauser croons in “When The Truth Is. . .”
4 Your Eyez Only — J. Cole
By Rita Ovis
4 Your Eyez Only, J. Cole’s fourth studio album, is mainly a meditation on the topics of family and the fragility of life.
This album, perhaps not as full of “bangers” as his previous album Forest Hills Drive, instead delivers heartfelt and personal messages. As a new father and a friend of recently murdered James McMillan Jr., who also was a father, Cole incorporates the theme of unconditional love for family: “She’s Mine pt. 1 and 2” capture this notion as a tribute to his daughter. Cole reminds listeners to appreciate the little things in life due to the fragility of life — a moment with a loved one or folding clothes for someone to show you care. Topics such as racial profiling also find a way into his raps; “Neighbours” shines a thoughtful light on what impact such assumptions can have on individuals.
This concept album is a gritty and real take on the struggles and joys of J. Cole and those around him, yet is artfully produced and successfully spreads his messages through catchy beats and Cole’s smooth rapping.
ForMe+You — Austin Mahone
By Jessica Whitesel
When the opening track of an album begins with Juicy J rapping “gonna make love at night” expectations are not high. When the other featured artists are Pitbull and 2 Chainz you know you’re not sticking around for musical excellence. . . well at least what passes as excellence in 2017.
While the list of featured artists almost reads like a who’s who of pop royalty in 2008 (2 Chainz didn’t release his first solo album until 2012), the album they are featured in is Austin Mahone’s late December release ForMe+You.
However, I don’t think that Mahone was informed of it not actually being 2008. The whole album just feels like a terrible #ThrowbackThursday. From the beats that sound like they are straight off of an R. Kelly or Usher album to the genuinely earnest sounding pleas for sex and a deep loving connection (but mostly just sex), it’s too much to handle.
There isn’t really a bright spot on this album, but if I were to pick a least horrible moment it would be that there was only about 30 seconds of Mr. Worldwide.