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Black Eyed Peas: Monkey Business
By Kristian Cloyd, 17, Frederick K.C. Price III School

When I first picked up the Black Eyed Peas’ latest CD, Monkey Business, I was skeptical about spending money on music I typically wouldn’t listen to, but I’m glad I did.

The first song, "Pump It," began with a snippet from the classic song, "Wipe Out," and segued into a medley of vibrant sounds and catchy lyrics for an all-around fun song. Before I knew it, I was dancing around my bedroom to music that I thought was too wild and crazy for my conservative R&B/pop self.

From the bouncy song "My Humps," a song about partying in the club, to the peace-oriented "Union," an anthem encouraging everyone to respect each other regardless of religious and ethnic backgrounds, every song on Monkey Business had its own unique sound, lyrics and mood.

Black Eyed Peas group members, Fergie, and Taboo fused together hip-hop, R&B, pop, rap and a little bit of soul to produce this explosive album that made life seem like one big party. Even though I absolutely loved the whole album, my personal favorites were "My Style," "Like That," "Feel It," "Dum Diddly" and "Ba Bump;" those songs really had me grooving while I was washing the dishes.

The Black Eyed Peas were successful in making an album that put out a positive message and a good beat. The group’s desire "to focus more on the music and less on politics and format," according to the CD booklet, was achieved and the result of the work was, dare I say it, bananas!

Nile: In Their Darkened Shrines
By Walker Andreen, 14, The Linden Center

If you’re a fan of aggressive music, then you will probably enjoy Nile. Nile is an American band that just happens to play Egyptian death metal. In Their Darkened Shrines is the band’s sixth and most powerful release. The songs have their fair share of melody, but no track fails to add an onslaught of growling and heavy guitar.

Lead singer/guitarist Karl Sanders formed Nile in 1993 because of his fascination with ancient Egypt. The lyrics describe ancient Egyptian gods, sorcery, pharaohs and death. The lyrics are interesting because they are told like a story. Exotic Middle Eastern sounds are mixed with standard death metal, which includes intricate riffs at high speeds. The use of two genres is what makes Nile so unique from other death metal bands.

The album begins with the song "The Blessed Dead," in which they play the guitar, bass and drums as fast as they can while Sanders grunts like Cookie Monster. Although you can’t understand what he’s saying, if you read the lyrics, you will find that he is singing about the deaths and burials of poor Egyptians. Sanders sings, "Destitute servile cast out/ Affording no tomb/ We shall be buried/ Unprepared in the sand." "Execration Text" is a 100 percent heavy song. With no acoustic breaks, it’s one of my favorites because it never stops driving.

You can listen to any death metal album when you’re in a bad mood, but In Their Darkened Shrines is one of the few that you can listen to any time, because it’s brutal and melodic.

The Faint: Wet from Birth
By Charlotte Steinway, 17, Archer School for Girls

With hypnotic beats and an infusion of instrumental experiments, The Faint’s Wet from Birth, is one of the band’s more fun and cohesive albums. From the electric-guitar heavy "Drop Kick the Punks," to the skilled violin solo featured in the intro to "Desperate Guys," Wet from Birth appeals to a more varied audience than the band’s previous albums, which were more industrial-electronic, like Danse Macabre.

The songs on Wet From Birth progress in terms of intelligence and listener-friendliness. Track one, "Desperate Guys," is the most commercially acceptable, seeing as it was featured on The O.C. However, the last song on the album "Birth" has less of a dance beat and a slew of explicitly scientific lyrics describing the process of human gestation, which exude a sort of beauty. "A cavern of fluid/ Brought shape to my hide/ In the months that remain/ To the time of my life." Although bizarre at times, the lyrics are clever and the band should be praised. In fact, the caliber of the lyrics featured on Wet From Birth was surprising for such a dance-oriented album.

Overall, the album has many facets to appreciate—it’s the perfect album to get up and dance to, but it is also shrewdly executed in its composition. The Faint’s fourth album is appealing to many different audiences, but most often finds itself in the well-worn CD cases belonging to quasi-scenesters and alt-electronica enthusiasts.