Get outside the hip-hop box with 'B.o.B'
The following albums were released Tuesday.
B.O.B, "B.O.B PRESENTS THE ADVENTURES OF BOBBY RAY"
The buzz on Atlantan Bobby Ray Simmons has been building for a couple of years now. Thanks to an array of mixtapes, feature appearances and a pervasive online presence, he has sure whetted appetites for what turns out to be an adventurous major-label debut.
Roosevelt High School grad Bruno Mars collaborated with Simmons on the album, and their single "Nothin' on You" was the No. 1 single on iTunes for the week ending April 19.
Simmons colors outside the hip-hop box both lyrically and sonically, mixing and matching soul, rock, pop, folk, rap and funk with abandon. He shifts moods and varies themes touching on such topics as the cost of fame, staying hopeful and being hopelessly infatuated.
He's a gleeful nonconformist whose eclectic list of guests speaks to the variety of musical flavors he offers. Paramore's Hayley Williams brings a wistfulness to the dreamy "Airplanes," which gets an edgier remix on a second version that also features Eminem. On the retro-soul "Past My Shades," he and Lupe Fiasco chide onlookers for superficially passing judgment.
He also gets terrific contributions from Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, Janelle Monae and executive producer T.I., but he never gets lost in the star-studded sauce. They serve only to accent his own boldly inventive rhymes.
Download: "Airplanes," "Airplanes (Part II)," "Bet I," "The Kids,""Past My Shades," "Ghost in the Machine"
SHELBY LYNNE, "TEARS, LIES, AND ALIBIS"
On her first album since 2008's gorgeous Dusty Springfield tribute "Just a Little Lovin'," Lynne serves up lean, rootsy originals that showcase her easy wit and emotional intelligence. The lovers' laments are most affecting. Lynne captures heartache with a matter-of-fact clarity that's free of self-pity.
Download: "Old No. 7," "Alibi"
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, "FEVER"
Massive riffs, noisy guitars and a keen sense of melody push "Fever" into the hot zone of 2010 rock-metal discs. The British band's visceral assault bulldozes most of the feeble lyrics, except in the case of power ballad Bittersweet Memories, a valentine that didn't dodge Bullet's high-school smarm.
Download: "Alone," "The Last Fight"
HOLE, "NOBODY'S DAUGHTER"
Hole's "Live Through This," the raw, raging 1994 taunt that established Courtney Love's artistic credibility, revealed her as fearlessly vulnerable and acerbic. On this so-called reunion disc, Twitter's favorite gossip grrl still dishes sex, drugs and venom, but comes across as a pre-packaged folk-rocker with tonsillitis. Her formidable persona gets lost in the mediocre tunes.
Download: "Loser Dust," "Honey"