by Felicia De Innocentiis| Staff Writer
Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal – released April 3, 2012
Compiled of soft acoustic guitars, strong reverberating piano, and deeply embedded bass drum, Of Monsters and Men is an Icelandic sextet releasing their first debut album, “My Head is an Animal.” While slow and steadily gaining popularity internationally, the group comes packaged in a feel-good, upbeat and majestic musical tone with some really cool duets between male and female vocals, whether in unison or lightly combating back and forth throughout the album. “Little Talks” is by far the best, with its spontaneous trumpet-filled chorus that gives it enough of a boost of ska to make you sway carefree along. The album isn’t quite so innocent though, the lyrics and tone are secretly melancholy if you give it a close enough listen. While the music is sweet and sensible, the lyrics in “Little Talks” and “Yellow Light,” give off an acoustic rendition of someone’s unlocked diary, a private affair released mainstream for all the world to know. A definite hit to check out.
M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion – Released April 11, 2012
The male counterpart of She & Him, M. Ward keeps his virtuosity to himself in his sixth solo studio album “A Wasteland Companion”. His vocalist companion, Zooey Deschanel, makes two cameo appearances on “Me and My Shadow” and “Sweetheart,” which are classic She & Him synergistic style of retro-rock, hip love ballads. Ward’s sound is eclectic, going from overdrive fuzz guitars to soft acoustic coos. “I Get Ideas” is fun and reminiscent of old school rock ‘n roll-Elvis riffs, and his range is spontaneous but not manic. He takes advantage of all his resources, his songs laden with classic, rolling piano melodies to even a full background orchestra. So whether you want to slow dance with your beau or do a retro jitterbug, M. Ward will orchestrate it appropriately.
Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – Released April 3, 2012
Minaj is back and has amplified the craziness to make room for her overzealous, shock-and-awe stirring alter ego “Roman Zolanski,” hence the album title Roman Reloaded. The collection has an overall consistent sound of dance rhythms, high speed sharp rapping and bass, bass, and more bass. It’s more of a part two rather than a progressive step, but it’s still the same Nicki that fans know and love, with Roman by her side to deliver an extra kick of her fury, most evident in “Stupid Hoe.” She surprises by giving a different theme with “Marilyn Monroe,” where, rather than proclaiming the party mood, instead gives a first hand account about the effects of fame on the psyche, such as going through sporadic mood swings, relating back the famous female icon’s brush with depression and the criticism of their peers.