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N.E.R.DIn Search OfVirgin

N.E.R.D. (aka Nobody Ever Really Dies) consists of rap producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, who are also the production team known as The Neptunes. Their genre-bending debut album, aptly titled In Search Of, was released last month on Virgin Records for the second time in as many months, this time in America. After releasing the album in Europe, Williams and Hugo – the producers responsible for hits by artist such as Britney Spears, P. Diddy, and Jay-Z – found themselves unsatisfied. They decided that the synthetic drum loops and imitated Casio beats that had made them so popular as producers were not suitable for the sound of their new Virgin debut. Unfortunately, their revelation came after the album had already been recorded and released. So they pulled it off the shelves, went into the studio (again), and re-recorded it with the funk-rap-rock fusion band Spymob. The result is a sound much more innovative than their previous work as producers.

The first track, “Lapdance,” is a cocktail of grinding guitars and pulsating drums that shore up a tight lyrical display. In Search Of completely switches gears for the duration of the album, consequently touching on and incorporating a variety of musical bases. N.E.R.D. masterfully evokes 70s funk on “Things Are Getting Better.” They lay some soft vocals over slow jams on “Run to the Sun” and “Bobby James.” A booty-shaking beat and angst-laden lyrics propel standout track, “Rock Star.” For “Baby Doll” the talented twosome croon a Beatle-esque chorus, sheathed by strumming guitars and precise drumming that lead into a finish line of amorous rap.

N.E.R.D. delivers unwavering musical composition and innovative creativity throughout their stylistically diverse debut album. Williams, Hugo and co. build a complex sound with a sundry of tastes that will suite an array of music fans. synthesizer melody, circa

Nick Margiasso

Dashboard ConfessionalThe Place You Have Come to Fear the MostAtlantic

Chris Carrabba, singer/songwriter for Dashboard Confessional, revitalizes feelings of insecurity, naiveté and first love. He writes from the heart and creates simple, honest songs with deep, emotional meanings. The almost whining singing style of Carrabba perfectly recounts the universal angst and anxiety that the end of a relationship can bring. Carrabba frequently uses easy-access analogies in The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. On the first track, “The Brilliant Dance,” he describes hopelessness as “measuring your minutes by a clock that’s blinking eights.” In every song background vocals are barely used and the most audible instrument is Carrabba’s acoustic guitar. Carrabba’s lyrics, his sparse augmentation, and his screech-like singing, creates the refreshingly raw sound of The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most.

Andrea Papadopoulos