Editor’s picks! Top 13 of ’13!

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The best of the best of the best of 2013. What this year has taught me is that I like the ladies and I like the rawk. I still love my metal but it seems that stone cold rock has infiltrated my soundwaves and made a significant impact. Anywho, without further adieu here is the Top 13 of ’13 according to me!

1. Skinny Puppy: Weapons This is the one for me. Since they reformed in 2004 (Have you pre-ordered your vinyl copy of The Greater Wrong Of The Right yet?) Skinny Puppy has been on a constant path of putting out solid albums….but this is the one that really encapsulated the awesome that is SP. A throwback to the old days yet a step into the future, Weapons captured all that Skinny Puppy has been but ventured off into the beyond with epic results. Stand out’s include the hypnotic opening number  “wornin'”, the dance floor-ready “paragUn”, and the cataclysmic “solvent”.

2. Filter: The Sun Comes Out Tonight It was such a great year for Filter. Such a great year! And for me! I had the honor of interviewing Richard Patrick twice and seeing the band destroying at the House Of Blues in Boston in June but the real gem was the album they released around that time. The Sun Comes Out Tonight, quite simply, is Filter’s best. Is it Richard Patrick firing on all cylinders once again or is it his new writing partner Jonny Radtke that’s making this magic happen? Whatever the answer is the results are TSCOT which is a little industrial, a little rock, and a whole lot of ass kicking anthems.

3. Clutch: Earth Rocker ER has lived with me the longest as I’ve had it since January of 2013 and it is still a part of my regular rotation. The most straightforward, balls out rawk album Clutch has put out, it’s also probably their best. Period. If by the time “Oh, Isabella” saunters seductively into banging closer “The Wolfman Kindly Requests….” you don’t agree, then you might need to check your pulse.

4. Middle Class Rut: Pick Up Your Head Unbelievable sophomore release by a duo that expanded into more for their live performances in 2013. “Born Too Late” literally explodes when it comes on while songs like “Leech” and “Cut The Line” are brilliant sonic excursions. In the end, it’s latest single “Dead Eye” that will show you how far MCR have come since their inception. You’re welcome in advance.

5. A Pale Horse Named Death: Lay My Soul To Waste Speaking of sophomore releases, APHND stepped up their game considerably in 2013 with a doom rock record that was lush, bold, and delivered tenfold. Mainman Sal Abruscato recruited former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly (Yes, APHND now features two former TON drummers) to give the band some extra thump while Abruscato expanded his range vocally and sonically to create some masterpieces like “In The Sleeping Death”, “Growing Old”, and “Dead Of Winter” which meshed easily with rockers “Shallow Grave” and “DMSLT”.

6. IAMX: The Unified Field 2013: The year I finally discovered IAMX. Seriously, where have I been for the last 10 years? On The Unified Field, IAMX deliver emotion, sonic excess and superior production to create one of the most compelling and heartfelt albums of the year. “I Come With Knives” and the title track easily prove this to be true.

7. Vista Chino: Peace/QOTSA:…Like Clockwork I know this is a cop out to put both of these in the same rank but they’re both the flip side of the same coin in my opinion and equally appealing in different ways. While Josh Homme and co. go in a completely different direction than his former desert brethren, both albums are separately mature and a perfect fit and progression for each outfit. Peace, being the next logical step in the Kyuss legacy and …Like Clockwork being this grand culmination of work that started on the Kyuss/QOTSA split oh so many years ago.

8. Beyonce: Beyonce/Lady Gaga: ARTPOPYeah, I know. Another cop out. But who can choose between these two great ladies? Gaga, the modern-day chameleon shifting from the almost cock rock of Born This Way to the suave electro rush that is ARTPOP? Queen Bey, the elder stateswoman at this point whose surprised album is one of her most consistent and sexiest? I couldn’t choose.

9. Killswitch Engage: Disarm The Descent If the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach wasn’t enough to entice you back to the KSE fold then the fact that this was also one of their most brutal to date should. From the assault of “The Hell In Me” through to the melodious  “In Due Time” or the seriously vicious “All That We Have” it’s obviously apparent that this is a reinvigorated KSE that shows no signs of stopping.

10. Royal Thunder: CVI Wow. Just wow. If you haven’t heard “Parsonz Curse” and fallen to the floor in a quivering mess because of its sheer brilliance then I pity you. Miny Parsonz is undoubtedly a frontwoman you need to pay attention while Josh Weaver and Evan Diprima round out Royal Thunder to deliver an album that’s equal parts Sabbath and Heart (The band and the feeling).

11. earthtone9: IV All hail the underground kings. Cut down in their prime because they were making music that was before their time (Make sense?), Nottingham’s own prog-metallers earthtone9 reformed in 2010 but didn’t release the beast of an album that is IV until April of this year, their first full-length since 2000’s arc’tan’gent. Was it worth the lengthy wait for fans? Oh hells yes! Crunching riffs followed by broad melodic passages all topped with Karl Middleton’s deafening growl made IV a step in the right direction for e9.

12. Rob Zombie: Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor Oh man was this the Rob Zombie album I had been waiting for! The kind of album that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and causes one to smile uncontrollably, VRRV hit the nail on the head with each of its 12 ghoul-infested tracks.

13. !!!: THR!!!ER A totally under-the-radar album, THR!!!ER was a subtle yet hypnotic dance favorite of mine in 2013. Frontman Nic Offer, as always, led the !!! crew through some slick grooves and some new instant classics like “Even When The Water’s Cold”, “Get That Rhythm Right”, and “Except Death”.

And I’d be remiss not mention the honorable mentions of 2013 (i.e. How can I squeeze some more albums on here?) so, in no particular order, here they are:

-Ghost: Infestissumam

-Holograms: Forever

-BLACK TAXI: Chioroscuro

-Mike Doughty: Circles Super Bon Bon…

-Monster Magnet: The Last Patrol

-Korn: The Paradigm Shift/Love & Death: Between Here & Lost

-The Soft Moon: Zeros

Best & Worst of 2013: bostonregina Edition

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Best Album: AM by Arctic Monkeys

Hot damn, these boys. I remember when they were pimply and floppy haired and playing Oasis covers in whatever basement would have them. Now they’re all slick-coiffed and wearing leather. Their time in the desert with Mr. Josh Homme continues to do them well. Highlights include  the “question trio”, started with last year’s early release rockandrolla anthem “R U Mine?” (A: “Um, sure?”), followed by “Do I Wanna Know?” (A: “Yes, fuckkkk, yes!”), and rounded out by “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” (A: “For reasons. Sexy reasons.) The rest of the tunes, including the absolutely perfect night-driving anthem “One For the Road”, make this the album I have been waiting for since Humbug. Combined with a smashing set at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston, Mass., it’s been the Year of the Monkeys, music-wise, so much so, I became one of those girls. (P.S. An older Monkeys track that has made a surprise comeback for me in 2013 is “Brianstorm” off 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare.)

 

Best Video:***Flawless” by Beyonce

Do I really need to say more about this? Sweet fancy Moses, no video has captured my id so well since !!!’s “Must Be the Moonlight”. This is, honestly, fucking flawless. From her amazing outfit, to the perfection of the hook (“I woke up like dis…”), to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie basically saying everything about being a successful woman in today’s society. “We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much.'” The first time I watched this video, I actually cried. And then I danced around the room and felt fucking amazing. The way Queen Bay released this album, with no fucks to give, makes this entire album basically about one one message for me: Ladies, we flawless.

 

Best Live Show: !!!, The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass.

I am stupid happy that The Sinclair is fucking open. I rolled to this show by myself, specifically because I am selfish and needed to completely focus on losing my fucking mind. Chk-Chk-Chk rarely comes to Boston, so when they do, you can bet I’m going to be there, on the barrier, dancing like a maniac. I can’t even talk about how awesome the show was, because it’s so personal, so private, intimate even. All I know is that I got whipped by Nic Offer’s mic cord (stupid hot, almost as hot as Nic’s blushing apology afterward), my gin ‘n’ tonic was spilled more than once and replaced more times than that, and I got butt-boosted onto the stage for the last jam by a delightful gentleman (Note: Seriously, Jesse, he was a gentleman, didn’t even try to feel me up on the way.)  who was stronger than he looked. In short, a fucking amazing night, and I would recommend it to anyone. Just don’t expect me to babysit your purse or jacket — come prepared to dance your ass off.

 

Best New TV Show: Sleepy Hollow

This show was a surprise to me — I watched it on OnDemand as a time-killer some weekend, and got promptly sucked in. A combination of the “man out of time” trope (with Ichabod Crane waking from a magic grave to track down the Horsemen of the Apocalypse) with a Fringe-type procedural, with amazing chemistry between the leads the like I haven’t seen since Mulder and Scully, it’s a great watch. Orlando Jones (who plays our intrepid duos beleaguered boss with a painful past) kills it as the biggest fanpoodle ever on Tumblr and Twitter, and raises the game for any actor-creator-professional interacting with fandom. The man should teach a master class on how to treat fans respectfully while still having a damn good time. For once, the interactions with the “talent” online don’t turn me off from a show/movie! It’s the fucking future!

 

Best Returning TV Show: Arrow

Stephen Amell could be Orlando Jones’ TA for the Fandom Interaction Master Class. He posts Q&As on his Facebook, says what he means and means what he says, posts pictures of his insane workouts when he’s still sweaty and miserable, and does great work for cancer charities. On top of that, he’s bringing his A-Game as Oliver Queen this season, killing the nuances of a wonderfully complicated character with an extraordinarily complicated life as both Oliver and his alter-ego the newly rechristianed “Arrow” (ne “The Hood”). The supporting actors are bringing it, as well, with David Ramsey’s Diggle making it happen for me in so many ways. The only beef I have with this season is the inconsistent treatment of Laurel Lance, played by a seemingly exhausted Katie Cassidy. Between the terrible writing and the really bizarre styling choices, there is no way this Laurel is going to end up being Black Canary. (That’s okay with me, though, because between Emily Bett Rickard’s take on Felicity Smoak, Oliver’s EA by day and his proto-Oracle by night, and the surprise of Sara Lance coming back from the dead and kicking misogynistic ass all over the place, I’m doing good for ladies on this show.) The introduction of “powers” into the universe this season is awesome (Uh, Barry and Roy, anyone?), and I can’t wait to see what they do with the Deathstroke plotline and, uh, well, everything! (And I didn’t even mention the hotness of Oliver tripping Russian off his tongue like it’s nbd. Ngggghhhh!)

 

Best Movie (Theaters): Pacific Rim

It’s the goddamn Iron Giant come to life. Well, without the sentience and Cold War stuff, but there is no way that Guillermo Del Toro didn’t hork Brad Bird’s concept drawings of IG for Gipsy Danger. I have so many ridiculous feelings about this movie, including wide-eyed dissertations about the globalization of war and the fact that if you watch really closely at the fight scene between Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh Beckett and Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori, you can see them aping each other’s fighting style, foreshadowing their drift compatibility. (You can see Raleigh take down Chuck with Mako’s signature face-slap and twist-and-sweep in a scene shortly thereafter.) Actually, everything about Raleigh and Mako’s epic friendship is amazing. I love the fact that Mako is a true heroine, trying and failing at her dream of piloting a jaeger, being completely and absolutely fascinated by Raleigh, but keeping it platonic. Gosh, thank you, GDT. THANK YOU. If anything, the epic romance trope was picked up by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman’s scientist duo — you can’t tell me that their pigtail pulling wasn’t preamble to some total ridiculous and awkward make-out sessions.

Best Movie (OnDemand): The Canyons

Listen, do not even start with me. This was a goddamn surprise highlight of the year for me. James Deen was mesmerizing. I can’t even talk about this movie without making incoherent noises. He was amazing as Christian, an absolutely lizard of a human being, the personification of Hollywood’s underbelly. And Lindsay Lohan, barely keeping it together underneath a veneer of LA cool as Tara…honestly, I really don’t know why people hate on this film. The off-screen drama just heightened the experience for me. There were so many bits where you could see the tension just snap and pass into something transcendent. I really think that Paul Schrader’s work on this trainwreck in a dress was highly underrated and completely overshadowed by the media machine surrounding the production. Highly recommended, and a welcome addition to our DVD collection.

Worst Movie: Spring Breakers/Star Trek Into Darkness (tie)

Look, I thought Spring Breakers was going to be a comedy. A dark comedy, sure, but a comedy. Don’t ask me why. Honestly, it was like watching a Greek tragedy. I wanted nothing more than to talk to my high school mythology teacher about the ~symbolism~ of the direction and cinematography. If I could sit through another showing of this cringe-fest, I’m sure my mind would be blown. Nothing tops the threesome scene with James Franco’s Alien deep-throating two silenced guns, though. You can see the moment where he just gives in and basically goes for it. Holy crap, Franco, you self-referential douche-b, how can I hate you after that?

 

And onto the fucking sham of a movie that was Star Trek Into Darkness. I had super low expectations for Star Trek 2009, and was blown away. It was a perfect Alternate Universe take on the insanity that is ST canon, and I really enjoyed the fact that it took the character of James Kirk, who I have always hated, and made him actually sympathetic and interesting. Chris Pine shows up for STID, as does the rest of the cast from the 2009 flick, but that’s about all they do. JJ Abrams takes a classic story that was perfectly told already with the TOS episode “Space Seed” and the movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and completely and utterly fucks it up. I have a love-hate-fuck relationship with Benedict Cumberbatch, so I was hoping that the rumors were false that he was rolling as a white-washed Khan — but I was sadly let down. The thing about ST canon is that while it’s mental, it’s so rich. There were many ways for JJ and his Band of Merry Assholes to take that story and turn it on its head, but he screwed the pooch. This movie made it obvious to me how much he hates the source material, and truly hates the fandom. For those nerdpoodles like me, I say that he could have easily made Cumbersnatch’s Khan into one of the other augments (How awesome would it have been if one of the pod’s destroyed was Khan’s and Bendysloot ended up being his second in command Joachim or some other crazypants fucker?) without fucking with a POC character and pissing off a bunch of people. Also, I straight-up laughed at Zachary Quinto’s Spock screaming “Khan!!!” after finding his bro Kirk dead. Only redeeming feature of the movie? The fight scene between Quinto and Bendy Dick Cum On My Baps where they both just lose their fucking minds and beat the snot out of each other.

Worst TV Show: Teen Wolf, Season “3a”

I get it, Teen Wolf is not meant to be quality television. But it wasn’t a total guilty pleasure, either. I enjoyed the first two seasons’ supernatural aspects combined with attractive twenty-year-olds pretending to be teenagers. Season 3a just shit all over the characters, and highlighted the fact that showrunner Jeff Davis is a complete cunt and has no idea what he’s doing. Too many new characters, killing off all the lady villains while letting the dude villains stick around, and shitting all over poor Tyler Hoechlin’s increasingly despondent Derek Hale. I had the ~pleasure~ of attending the first Teen Wolf fan convention in London this Fall and making googly eyes at how much the actors realize how ridiculous their jobs are, and that was the only shining moment in an otherwise shitty year for this show. (More from the convention is here; it’s a fucking delight.)

Album I Bought and Didn’t Listen To: Franz Ferdinand’s new one

I don’t even know the name of it. I might have opened it? I don’t know. I basically just buy their albums out of guilt for listening to a bootleg of them from their first album from German radio that remains one of the best live shows I have ever listened to and not attended. Honestly, talk about one-and-done. I’ll just pretend they broke up after the first album and keep playing this jam over and over again. Thanks.

Worst Live Performance: Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre, London

OMG, did I hate this show. I hated everything about it, from the music to the stage direction, to the costuming, to the arrogant little fucks sitting next to me whispering throughout the entire thing. Why do people like this shit? No, really? WHY?! It’s put out that it’s a feminist anthem, but it’s really just about a terrible love triangle where everyone is a complete asshole and no one wins in the end. Fucking terrible.

If you’re interested in more ridiculousness from me, you can find me on Twitter having virtual arguments with Jesse while we sit next to each other, seriously discussing things like traffic patterns in the Greater Boston Area, and random moments where I get introspective about misogyny.

White Noise Owl prepare to destroy your earholes in 2014!

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Amidst the nu-metal craze of the mid-’90’s, some actual great musicians and some actual great bands got lumped in and swallowed up. Luckily for music fans, some of those musicians have persevered over the years and a group of said talented individuals have formed White Noise Owl whose debut EP should be available in the spring of 2014.

You’ve got former Ultraspank vocalist Pete Murray bringing the emotion, Snot’s John Fahnestock with the low end, and Skrape’s Will Hunt behind the kit. A veritable smorgasbord of nu-metal’s unappreciated elite!

Fahnestock, of course, is also a former member of Amen and Murray’s post ‘spank out fit Lo Pro (Who just released their epic third album earlier this year) while Hunt has since played with everyone from Evanescence and Staind to Black Label Society and David Draiman’s Device.

The below teaser is barely a minute long and only gives a hint of what’s to come but there are some subtle electronic flourishes in there with some massive guitar sounds from Chris Shy which is all produced exquisitely by Ben Grosse (He, who produced some  equally massive Filter, Marilyn Manson, and Thirty Seconds To Mars albums).

Undeniably, White Noise Owl is one to watch in 2014. For more on the band, head on over to their Facebook and Twitter pages!

 

Second Grave release Antithesis, prepare to destroy Cambridge on Saturday then the World!

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It’s not often that heavy metal has the perfect combination of ear-crunching music and pristine vocals. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Second Grave play to a sparse crowd at Ralph’s earlier in the year when they managed to hit that mark. Their new EP Antithesis promises not to disappoint.

Krista Van Guilder has a croon that calls to mind the timbre of some of metal’s greatest vocalists in a way that’s distinctly feminine and entirely satisfying, while her deep-throated scream is no joke. Her guitar combined with Chris Drzal’s, counterpointed by Dave Gein on bass and Chuck Ferreira on drums results in delightful headbang anthems. Breakdowns are executed expertly and perfectly timed for horn-raising catcalls from live audiences.

Do yourself a favor and add them to your library; there’s no way you’ll be disappointed. If you’re local to the Boston area, get your ass to the Middle East November 30th to see them with Summoner, Rozamov, and Jack Burton Vs David Lo Pan. I’ll be the one up front screaming my face off with glee — bring me a gin ‘n’ tonic and we’ll be pals for life.

 

 

Maximo Park is looking to kill a few “Brain Cells” with new single, album.

 

The love that Rock And Roll Fables has for Maximo Park knows no bounds. Imagine our surprise yesterday when we turned on the internets yesterday to find that their fifth album had been announced and is barely two months away from release. Due on February 3rd, Too Much Information, comes less than two years after 2012’s brilliant The National Health.

All that is known so far is that the album was self-produced by the band and first single “Brain Cells” is a far cry from the guitar-driven songs of yore.  Lush and synth-heavy, “Brain Cells” might just be one aspect of the album but I know that being a child of the ’80’s a song like this gives me chills.

Watch the clip for “Brain Cells” below and then head over to maximopark.com where pre-order’s are already available for Too Much Information.

 

 

 

(the) Melvins are back in 2013 (again) with Tres Cabrones

I’m not sure if there was ever such a thing as a “classic” line up of (the) Melvins because, quite frankly, each and every line up they pop up with is pretty fricking unique and classic in its own right. Nevertheless we now have Tres Cabrones featuring the return of original drummer Mike Dillard thus relegating Dale Crover to bass duties obviously.

Fans of Houdini and Stoner Witch particularly should take note because Tres… is definitely a throwback in some respects especially when the former album is concerned. If Houdini was recorded in 2013 instead of 1993 (Geez, has it really been that long?) it would’ve sounded like this. One listen to the massive “City Dump” will transport you back to the nonsensical thrash sludge of “Honey Bucket” and while we’re on the topic of “nonsensical”, let’s not overlook the “covers” on this beast. Namely “99 Bottles”, “Tie My Pecker to a Tree”, and “In The Army Now” which are a far cry from this year’s Everybody Loves Sausages covers album but fit into Tres Cabrones nicely.

For a 19th studio album, Tres… still sounds just as fresh as (the) Melvins earlier monstrosities and features some of their most accessible stuff to date like “Dogs And Cattle Prods” except for the almost nine minute length. Okay, “accessible” for (the) Melvins then. On the other hand, for every “traditional” song you get like “Doctor Mule” or the punk rock by way of The Ramones “Walter’s Lips” (A Lewd cover, actually, followed by the equally intense cover of “Stick ’em Up Bitch” by King B and Pop o Pies) there’s an “I Told You I was Crazy” waiting around the corner to bring you back down to (the) Melvins version of reality.

Tres Cabrones, a veritable smorgasbord of (the) Melvins-style goodness,  is out now through Ipecac Recordings

Grade: A

Mutoid Man’s Helium Head is the Verge-In album the world needs AND deserves!

Verge-In is here! Sort of! It’s Helium Head, the debut EP from Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky and Converge’s Ben Koller (Or Cave In’s Ben Koller depending on what year it is) new group Mutoid Man! Exclamation! (Hey, you take a listen to this EP on repeat and tell me you’re not bouncing off the walls!)

It’s a two pronged sonic onslaught of delightful frenetic frenzy packed neatly into a seven track EP. If you’re a fan of either of the members’ respective “day jobs” then Helium Head has something for you. It’s also an album where if you blink, you might miss all the fun. Yeah, it’s that fast.

Koller, as always, is on fire here but it’s Brodsky who really shines in the end. Fans who thought he’s gone soft with age and let Caleb Scofield take on all the aggressive parts in Cave In need only listen to opener “Gnarcissist” or follow up “Scavengers” to know that not only is Brodsky still capable of bringing the heavy but he’s also still capable of bringing some noise not heard since the Until Your Heart Stops days. Just listen to “Friday the 13/8” or “Lost In The Hive” as Brodsky gets his rage on completely for more proof.

All around, Helium Head is a solid debut of unexpected chaos from two of Massachusetts finest and hopefully a great indicator of what’s to come.

Helium Head is out digitally on November 22nd and physically on November 26th. Check out the pre-order options over on Shirts & Destroy now.

 

Breton like you even if you’re a Tourist on new single “Envy”!

Steel drums come alive tonight on Breton’s latest single off the forthcoming War Room Stories. There’s not much to say about “Envy” after you hear it once. It’s incredible and expands greatly on the sound the UK based filmmakers-turned-music wizards created on a series of EP’s and on their debut full-length, 2012’s Other People’s Problems.

“Envy” takes it all to the next level. It’s bouncier and is wholly more organic than some of Breton’s earlier works adding a Caribbean flair but still retaining their core sound.

The sure to be brilliant new album is due on February 3rd. Pre-order yours today right here and, of course, check out “Envy” over on Breton’s Soundcloud page!

 

Reverend & the Makers is back with “Your Girl”, new album!

Easily my most favorite single of 2012, Reverend & the Makers’ Youth-produced “Bassline” was a throbbing good time of electrified dance floor goodness. Following up that single and the album that followed (@Reverend_Makers) would surely be no easy feat but here we stand in 2013 on the cusp of another Reverend classic in the making as the group, no collective, release “Your Girl” off the upcoming album  Thirty Two due in February of 2014.

Does it hold a candle to their other material? Oh yes! It’s like “Bassline” went off and mated with Liam Howlett and produced this beautiful bastard of club thumping awesome. You can decide for yourself by listening to “Your Girl” below and then head over to their Pledgemusic campaign page to support the new record and get some exclusive perks in the process (Including a house gig if you live in the UK).

Thirty Two is out on February 24th.

 

 

Lady Gaga is the shit! A Rock And Roll Fables review of ARTPOP

I like Lady Gaga. I do. I was a fan when she first popped up on the scene during NKOTB’s comeback The Block  way, way back in 2008 and loved her debut and was even more taken back by the follow-up EP/mini-album The Fame Monster. Am I a fan of the theatrics, the fanfare, the persona? Nope. I grew up in a Marilyn Manson/Slipknot era of shock rock/metal so maybe I’m just desensitized to it all but the extra flair does nothing for me. However, it’s incredible that just listening to a Gaga track instantly evokes images of what the dance routine will be like on stage.

That said, I do believe that Stefani is a phenomenal performer. She captures that perfect mix of Britney and Christina but just does it better and on ARTPOP she immediately brings to mind a musical icon when she at times channels Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor.

Born This Way was not the album that needed to follow the breakout success of “Bad Romance”. For all you monsters out there that felt slighted by her second studio album (I don’t consider myself a “monster” by the way), her third full-length will instantly quell your fears.

“Aura” is this gorgeous opener that draws listeners in with a subtle flamenco line and Gaga’s effects-laden vocals before giving way to a larger than life dance pop party as the pop star belts out  “Aura-a-a-ah!” circling back to the “Ra ra…” chorus of “Bad Romance”.

From there on out, ARTPOP gets bigger and bolder. “Venus” is a raucous space jam, “G.U.Y.” is a divine electro romp, and “Sexxx Dreams” is a funky yet filthy little ditty about, um, you can use your imagination. It also features a nifty little bass line that one could picture John Taylor popping up for (Speaking of, why has there been no Simon LeBon/Lady Gaga duet yet?).

T.I. turns up along with Too Short and Twista for “Jewels n’ Drugs” which could be compared to Miley Cyrus’ recent foray into hip hop but unlike Hannah Montana, Gaga just executes everything better.

Midway through is when ARTPOP gets really interesting as the album traverses the stratosphere on the atmospheric “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly and the title track which takes listeners to a whole different realm of awesome.

The lack of ballads is a plus in my book as well and luckily (For me, at least) when they do pop up they’re back to back and towards the end and followed by the massive “Applause” to close out a triumphant third album.

ARTPOP is out on November 11th. Order it here and here.
Grade: A