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Red Hot Chili Peppers: Stadium Arcadium

By Katherine Trujillo, 17, Notre Dame Academy

After more than 20 years (when most bands are growing stale), the Red Hot Chili Peppers are as fresh and insightful as ever.

The double album Stadium Arcadium, with one CD named Mars and the other Jupiter, is by far the Chili Peppers’ best work. Whether it’s lead singer Anthony Kiedis allowing guitarist John Frusciante to belt out more than just background vocals, or Flea taking his mad bassist skills to a new extreme with Chad Smith drumming fast and frenetically trying to keep up, all of the Peppers seem more confident.

Avoiding the monotony of most double discs, the album shifts from party soundtrack to sentimental ballads in which the Peppers pour out their souls. Songs like “Charlie” and “Hump De Bump” beckon everyone to the dance floor. In “Slow Cheetah,” Kiedis sings one post-suicidal note after another: “I’ve had a chance to be insane/ … I’ve had a chance to break,” as he reminisces on the pain he experienced while addicted to drugs.

But ultimately it’s “Wet Sand” that leaves my heart aching for more. As the soft, melodic song begins, I immediately feel the passion behind the poetic lyrics. “My love affair with everywhere was innocent/ why do you care?” sings Kiedis, reminiscing on falling in love with life, its joys, sorrows and imperfections.

I’ve never been this emotionally engrossed by any Chili Peppers album. This album perfectly captures the essence of the band’s musical evolution from the funk and rap days of the 80s to the surreal, mature and ingenious songs they’ve produced in the past decade.

No Doubt: No Doubt

By Ana Tenorio, 16, Orthopedic Hospital Medical Magnet HS

With the members of No Doubt temporarily separated, it is no surprise that many fans have forgotten old school No Doubt music.

I prefer No Doubt’s initial O.C. ska sound—the musical and emotional roller coaster of trumpets, drums, electric guitars and bass backing Gwen Stefani’s eerie lyrics—featured on the band’s self-titled debut. The 14-track album expresses everything from a young teenage boy’s obsession with a sexy celebrity, “Paulina,” to an advice-filled song about reminding your lover how much you love them, “Get on the Ball.” “You gotta tell her she’s the only one/ show her, make sure she never feels abandoned,” Stefani sings.

“Trapped in a Box” is one of my favorite No Doubt songs because of its message of hostility and anxiety. “Trapped in a box/ my life becomes void/ and all of my thoughts for myself now destroyed.”

Back then it seems that music was what both the fans and the musicians wanted. Nowadays making music that is overplayed on the radio is what sells, regardless of what your music’s character was initially. Unfortunately this happened to No Doubt. Their new stuff has less trumpet, fewer eccentric lyrics, and follows the popular rock standard of having your video featured in the top 10 on MTV’s TRL.

So if you’ve grown tired of hearing “Don’t Speak” on the radio, give classic No Doubt a chance.

Silversun Pickups: Carnavas

By Estee Schwartz, 16, Concord HS

It’s rare I find new music that compares to the brilliant innovators of the original indie rock scene. But if this were the 80s, Silversun Pickups would have been on the same record label as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.

Silversun Pickups’ debut album, Carnavas, has a growling, grungy sound, but for moments it attains perfect clarity and feelings you can’t help but want to chase.

My favorite aspect of this album is the bizarre interludes in songs like “Common Reactor.” The screaming amps and effects, which are a throwback to Sonic Youth, stay interesting, which is hard to do with gurgling feedback.

A standout track is “Melatonin.” It has a calming vibe and floats along with layers of fuzzy guitars. Brian Aubert’s moody lead-vocal tones shift from lullaby-worthy to ravenous. His voice tends to cuddle into his surrounding sounds giving his less approachable lyrics a comfortable outlet.

Aubert sings, “After six milligrams, we’re talking again/ who would have known?” midway through “Melatonin.” Aubert has a soft nuance so no matter how loud he yells, he never sounds scary or jarring, much like Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.

The largest flaw in Silversun Pickups is the still quality in their music. I wish there was more movement and power.

Nevertheless, Carnavas proves that Silversun Pickups is a highly capable band. They’ve managed to take genres of music that have been argued to be inaccessible and combined them to make an extremely available pop album.