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Arctic Monkeys
CD: Favourite Worst Nightmare

By Leslie Centeno, 17, Bishop Conaty—Our Lady of Loretto HS

Arctic Monkeys’ second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, is fierce, packed with foot-stomping tunes. It’s fast and haunting and will pick you up—it’s less of a nightmare, more of a dream.

The opening song “Brianstorm” immediately launches into a thunderous breakdown with lashing riffs and galloping drums. Unlike last year’s poppier debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, this album is more mature and complex—drummer Matt Helders even took boxing lessons to keep up with the new beats!

The lyrics are just as good as the music. Singer Alex Turner creates vivid images about everyday characters. In “This House Is A Circus,” Turner sings about fame, “Wriggling around just so that you won’t forget/ There’s certainly some venom in the looks that you collect/ Aimlessly gazing at the blazers in the queue/ Struggling with the notion that it’s life not film.”

“Fluorescent Adolescent” is the song that sold me on this album. The lighter instrumentals give it a cheery mellowness that’s refreshing after the faster-paced tracks. And I fell in love with the blend of solid beats, guitars and punchy bass lines on “Old Yellow Bricks.” It’s about wanting to get away, and the Houdini and Wizard of Oz references make this track even more of a standout.

Full of wit, charm and romance, Favourite Worst Nightmare has songs that swing from slow to explosive, and it holds your interest throughout. It’s one of the few albums you can play without pressing skip. The Arctic Monkeys released a classic.

Linkin Park
CD: Minutes to Midnight

By Victorino Martinez, 18, Daniel Murphy Catholic HS
(2007 graduate)

Linkin Park’s latest CD, Minutes to Midnight, is one of my favorite recent albums. It features fresh ideas that not only touch upon Linkin Park specialties like fear, sadness and regret, but for the first time broader social commentary.
Linkin Park brings back its unique combination of rock and rap, but changes the tempos a lot more, avoiding the repetitive rhythms of the last album. The song “Given Up” has a much faster rhythm and the intro mixes in maracas with the electric guitars.

“What I’ve Done” brings back the band’s old sound and lyrical themes. “I’ll face myself/ To cross out what I’ve become/ Erase myself/ And let go of what I’ve done.” I can relate because there are times when I want to erase my past.

What had much more of an impact on me was when Linkin Park went deeper in “Hands Held High,” an honest song about the war in Iraq. “For a leader so nervous … Stuttering and mumbling/ for nightly news to replay/ and the rest of the world/ watching at the end of the day/ in the living room laughing/ like what did he say? …  At times like this you pray/ But a bomb blew the mosque up yesterday.” The band members take a direct approach to their feelings on the war. I liked this song because they were being direct and reflected my own feelings on the war.

The Linkin Park fans I know love the change on this album—the deeper lyrics that still have the same melody and energy that fans have come to expect.

Ice Cube
CD: Laugh Now, Cry Later

By Ronald Hoch, 16, South East HS (South Gate)

Ice Cube is one of my favorite rappers. His rap gets in your face and goes straight to the point. His 2006 album Laugh Now, Cry Later is amazing.

Laugh Now, Cry Later was Ice Cube’s first solo album in six years, since as he says in his lyrics, he “went to Hollywood” to act. Ice Cube’s music has not changed; it’s just gotten better. Most people like songs that are about women, money and cars, but Ice Cube’s music is about what people go through every day. It’s original, the way rap is supposed to be.

The song “Laugh Now, Cry Later” caught my attention because the chorus goes “F— it homey, I’m a laugh now and cry later/ Get your paper we can laugh now and cry later.” The phrase “laugh now, cry later” refers to when a person is in trouble and laughs at what he or she did, but cries later when he or she has to face the consequences. Lots of teens say this. I know I do, like when I walked out of school in May 2006 because of the immigration protests.

The song “Growin’ Up” is one of my favorites. He talks about growing up and meeting rappers like Dr. Dre and Eazy E. The chorus goes “Where am I (growin’ up in da hood)/ Back down memory lane.” I like the chorus because I grew up in South Gate around gang violence, which is similar to where he grew up.

I give this album thumbs up for people who love hardcore and gangster rap.