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New CD reviews for Eagle County

Daily Staff ReportVail, CO, Coloradonewsroom@vaildaily.com

808s & Heartbreak Roc-a-Fella Records2.5 stars of 5It would be nice to say that Kanye West took a big chance on his latest album, 808s & Heartbreaks, and it paid off in a big way. It would be nice to say that West is continuing his legacy of experimentation while staying listenable and enjoyable. But theres not too much in the way of enjoyment to be found on this album. In the wake of his mothers death and a breakup with his fianc, its completely understandable. West does show his fearlessness when it comes to breaking boundaries in hip-hop and that its OK to be a rapper with emotions beyond tough-guy thuggishness.Wests use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine keeps production simple, unlike past albums that wallowed in excess and creative flair. But his constant use of the Auto-Tune vocal processor gets tiring after only a few songs. He raps and sings his way through his heartbreak and lyrically the album is tame if not hilarious on relationship-drama odes like Robocop. The album barrows heavily from 80s electronic-pop with a refreshing retro feel on songs like Paranoid and Street Lights, punctuating the desperation it promotes. If 808s & Heartbreak was all we knew of West, I wouldnt hold out much hope, but the bigger picture reveals an artist whose scope is too big to be contained. Charlie Owen, High Life writer

Electric Arguments MPL/ATOThe third outing from Paul McCartneys duo project with Killing Joke-Orb producer Youth moves this project, which had mostly been instrumental electronic/ambient exercise, ahead by developing full-fledged songs built around McCartneys ever magical voice. In fact, in several of the 13 songs, that voice is employed almost as just another sonic texture, the meaning of words being less critical to the overall effect than the sheer sound of them. It has the feeling of yet another attempt to alter the latter-day public perception of McCartney as the square Beatle.Its a worthwhile effort. Being song-based, theres less substantive distance between this and McCartneys most recent solo outing, Memory Almost Full, although he works from a broader musical palette. Electric Arguments spans the home-studio spontaneity of his first solo album, McCartney, in the screaming heavy blues-rocker Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight to more elaborately produced tracks such as Sun Is Shining, a song that wouldnt have sounded out of place on Band on the Run.Then theres Is This Love?, a dreamy U2-ish soundscape full of penny whistle, celesta, pinging upper-register bass runs and echoing multitracked vocals. That segues into an even loopier workout, Lovers in a Dream, which opens with bending cries of bowed acoustic bass that sound as if McCartney and Youth invited a few humpback whales into the studio to sing along.McCartneys bottomless well of melody ensures that none of it gets too far afield, even as the songs turn more amorphous as the album unfolds. The duo wraps things up (not counting the obligatory hidden track — with a backward-masked whisper at the end!) with Dont Stop Running, a haunting minimalist rocker in which McCartney repeats the title phrase as if a mantra to himself not to get caught up in the past.Excellent argument. Randy Lewis, L.A. Times-Washington Post

Theater of the Mind Disturbing Tha PeaceWith recent roles in movies including Max Payne, RocknRolla and, of course, best picture Oscar winner Crash, Chris Bridges, aka Ludacris, has an enviable film career by any standard, but especially among typecast-prone rappers.Theater of the Mind, his sixth album, proves that the rapper-actor-restaurateur has mastered Hollywoods most abiding lesson: Stick to formula. Each song plays like a scene in a movie, a motif that makes for richly visual storytelling but many a familiar situation.While Bridges the actor hasnt suffered from undue typecasting, the albums marquee cast sometimes pays that price.Luda at least tears into the playbook with passion and a high rollers aplomb, without losing the laid-back clowning thats made him appealing to Hollywood. With scores from Scott Storch, Swizz Beatz and other bright minds of the business, glitzy soundscapes abound. Some of those help smooth over a few of Ludacris crass rhymes that recall a rare misstep earlier this year, his pro-Obama song that took cheap shots at Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.When it comes to Ludas all-star guest cast, each member appears as persona status quo. T.I. is sleazy and seductive on Wish You Would, and Rick Ross hoarsely raps straight out of some dank Miami lair. Even DJ Premiers elegant minimalism fails to challenge on MVP.In short, everyone plays exactly to character. Margaret Wappler, L.A. Times-Washington Post


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