Rather than write a set of long reviews that no-one will read or care about, I decided to write a slew of small reviews (that no-one will read or care about). But anyway.
Cloud Cult: Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) This is Cloud Cult's latest release (and purportedly their last for a while, possibly ever), and is well worth a listen. It's streamlined, focused, and well-written. It's a bit shorter than other albums, and nearly every track is a full-bodied song rather than having short interludes and such. The melodies are tight, the harmonies are memorable, and the music is poppy-indie, full of optimism and metaphysical messages. It's also got one of the best songs of 2008 - 'Hurricane and Survival Guide', which basically has become my new motto. I'm sad to hear that Cloud Cult might be done with this record, but if it's their last, they're going out with a worthwhile bang.
Tracks to catch: Everybody Here is a Cloud, The Tornado Lessons, Journey of the Featherless, Hurricane and Survival Guide.
Sole: Selling Live Water I don't know how else to describe this album other than how I did it a few days ago on another site, where I said: 'Aggressive, biting, ponderous, confrontational, thumptastic, eerie, abrasive... There are a lot of adjectives I can use to describe this album, but none of them do it justice. It's simply one of the greatest hip hop albums I've ever had the good fortune to listen to.' I stand by that statement, and am more excited to see Sole live this week than almost any other concert I've yet attended. I'm almost wont to call it post-hip-hop, as it transcends the hip-hop genre and becomes something else entirely. It's completely worthwhile and gets better with each listen.
Tracks to catch: Salt on Everything, Respect Pt. 3, Selling Live Water, Pawn in the Game Pts 1 and 2
Gojira: The Way of All Flesh Harder to digest on the first few listens than their 2005 release From Mars to Sirius, but ultimately I think it's a better album. The hooks are more pointed, there's more diversity in the sounds, and the heaviness is better balanced with the melodic bits. Once again their harsh lyrics have more melody than almost any other band, and it's full of awesome passages that will make you headbang.
Tracks to catch: Oroborus, A Sight to Behold, The Art of Dying, The Way of All Flesh
Jonas Hellborg: Art Metal This was an ambitious project, aiming for the fusion of western metal with eastern sounds and jazz sensibilities. Regrettably, it loses something in translation, and it's much better in concept than in execution. While some of the hooks are good, and there are flashes of genius from time to time, it's largely lost on me. The bass is awesome, but everything else left me nonplussed. It's worth listening to from time to time, but isn't something I'd recommend to everyone I know.