Something must've happened to hold up "Slow Motion Addict." It was originally supposed to come out more than year before it actually did. The production by Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill") makes it sound more polished than her previous album "The Disconnection," but then you hear something as volatile and raw as "Ready To Confess" and all bets are off. The production boost isn't necessarily a bad thing, Round will probably never escape her comparisons to P.J. Harvey, but she's got her own haunted vibe which is alternated with a real tenderness. She can yell and be authoritative like on "Take The Money," and she can whisper softly in your ear as she does on "Down Slow." Indeed, she is someone to watch.
"Take The Money"
"Ready to Confess"
"How Many Times"
31. UNDERWORLD — "Oblivion With Bells"
"Oblivion With Bells" is a surprisingly soft and textured effort from the rave-music innovators. See the blog archives for a complete, in depth review.
32. BLOC PARTY — "A Weekend in the City"
"A Weekend in the City" is muted and less jaw-dropping than Bloc Party's debut, "Silent Alarm," but give it time, and it will sink right in. Where "Silent Alarm" bashed you over the head with its rhythmic tightness, "A Weekend In The City" has more subtle charms. If you turn up the softer tracks, they will wash you in atmosphere. It's a kind of beauty that could be lost on those who don't bother to really listen. Harder, louder tracks like "The Prayer" and "Hunting For Witches," in turn, are decorated with subtle electronic elements. It's a different turn, but just as vital as its predecessor.
"I Still Remember"
"Hunting for Witches"
"Waiting for the 7:18"
33. ALICIA KEYS — "As I Am"
With "As I Am" Alicia Keys steps further from mere "hit-maker" status and closer to "legend." She's topped the charts multiple times with a classic R&B vibe that is as musically savvy as it is popular. That is quite a feat, indeed. All you have to do is listen to "No One" or "Sure Looks Good To Me" and it's obvious what sets her apart and makes her a star.
"Sure Looks Good To Me"
"Where Do We Go From Here"
34. THE SHINS — "Wincing The Night Away"
Their first album since the movie "Garden State" turned them into superstars, gives us a much more radio-ready Shins. "Phantom Limb" is gloriously tuneful and sweeping, and "Sea Legs" delivers an unexpected dose of trip-hop. The 56 seconds of "Pam Berry" is an interesting rumble. "Sleeping Lessons" begins with some soft synth work. It's much different from their previous two records, but great bands should be allowed to blossom and change. It'll be interesting to see where they go next.
35. TEGAN & SARA — "The Con"
Tegan & Sara are Canadian twins who mainly make music somewhere between power-pop and new-wave. "The Con" is much darker and more experimental than their last album, "So Jealous." They take a lot of chances and it works out for them well. Then, a straight-ahead pop gem like "Back In Your Head" comes on, and all is right in the world.
"Back In Your Head"
"Are You Ten Years Ago"
"Hop A Plane"
"I Was Married"
"Call It Off"