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Music from 2014: Reviews and Previews

So far, 2014 has been a year of some great (and some not-so-great) music releases.  Well-known artists such as Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5 and U2, as well as alternative and indie bands like Magic Man and alt-J have all released new albums this year ? but not all have managed to create pleasing music.

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran released his sophomore album “X” back in June. The album has a lot of Justin Timberlake-esque songs consisting of powerful lyrics and guitar-driven tunes. My favorite songs on the album are “Sing,” “Don’t” and “Runaway,” all of which I immediately liked after the first listen. What won me over was Ed Sheeran’s unique brand of singing-rapping backed with almost nothing but his acoustic guitar and harmonies that I loved so much on some tracks from his first album “+.” While many people including myself enjoyed “X,” some preferred his debut album “+.”

“I didn’t like this one as much as his first album, but my favorite song on ‘X’ is probably ‘Thinking Out Loud,’” said sophomore Erica Kam.

Boston-originated band Magic Man have been around since 2010, but released their first full-length album entitled “Before the Waves” in July. The album’s track listing includes their most popular and memorable song “Paris.” Other notable songs on the album include “Texas” and “Waves.” After listening to “Paris,” senior Ashley Muscatelli gave her opinion on the song.

“I think it’s a good song; the beat and chorus are catchy. Based on this song, I would most likely check out the iTunes previews for the rest of album, but I don’t think I would spend too much time on it,” said Muscatelli.

Last month, pop band Maroon 5 released their fifth studio album, “V” (pronounced as “five”), which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard charts. The album has songs that are just as catchy as those on Maroon 5’s previous album, “Overexposed.” Lead single, “Maps,” which was released in June, is the best song on the album in my opinion. The songs on the album are likely to get stuck in your head, much like all of Maroon 5’s most popular tunes, and easily become worn-out and over-played. While I personally prefer their older songs, others really enjoyed the sound of their new release.

“[‘V’ is] probably one of Maroon 5’s best albums. It’s got a lot of nice beats, and the music’s really catchy. I love it. I’d give it a solid 4.63 out of 5,” said senior Reba Chawla.

This month, U2’s album “Songs of Innocence” magically appeared on iPhones and iTunes around the world pro bono (pun intended), thanks to Apple. This marketing strategy was created for U2 to advertise themselves in the media and the music industry with promotion through iTunes and Apple commercials. Many took to Twitter and Facebook to express their confusion as to how “Songs of Innocence” was downloaded to their iCloud without them having purchased the album. Countless peoples’ tweets carried a tone of discontent, while others blatantly showed their hatred for U2.

This outroar became so massive that Apple later created a way for customers to remove the album from their iTunes libraries. I gave up and listened to the album after constantly hearing about it and seeing it everywhere, but I didn’t really find myself enjoying the songs. It’s safe to say that it will continue to stay in iCloud, where I won’t be listening to it.

English indie rock band alt-J (also known as ?) released their second studio album “This Is All Yours” on Sept. 22. This album, like alt-J’s previous album “An Awesome Wave,” definitely sounds best when you listen to it with headphones rather than out loud. The songs are atmospheric and instrumental-driven, and alt-J’s distinct sound just isn’t done justice unless the songs are played loudly through earphones. My favorite songs on the album are “Left Hand Free” and “Hunger of the Pine.” If you decide to give this band a listen, though, be aware: you’ll probably have to look up lyrics eventually so you can actually fully understand what lead singer Joe Newman is really singing.

Not everyone in the music industry is capable of creating an entertaining album, but then again, not everyone in the world is prone to having the same opinion as everyone else. I would recommend giving a listen to at least a few of the songs from each of the albums because you never know when you’ll discover a new favorite artist.

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