Expert Witness (MSN Music)'s Scores

  • Music
For 232 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 98% higher than the average critic
  • 0% same as the average critic
  • 2% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 18.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 90
Highest review score: 100 Devil's Music
Lowest review score: 70 Brighter
Score distribution:
  1. Mixed: 0 out of 232
  2. Negative: 0 out of 232
232 music reviews
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    I love sampled beats. But 90 percent of the time I'd rather ride Ahmir Thompson's hand, feet, and brain.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Just play it a few more times than the fools who clocked dollars for the job and you'll get your money's worth. And I do mean on all 16 new songs‑-three of the four bonus tracks are upper 50th percentile for sure.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's a punk album with a difference, which at this late date is the only kind you can count on for a thrill.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Seth Lorinczi provides the right shades of darkness‑-sometimes enticing, sometimes engulfing‑-as Sleater-Kinney fans long for a bright and cleansing breakout. They get one as "Handed Love" goes out, when Corin shouts her desperation and rips off a riff, then tops the outburst with the even more rousing "Doubt."
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Cataloguing the perks of power he sounds as geeky as Mark Zuckerberg, and because grandiosity doesn't suit him deep down, the sonic luxuries of this world-beating return to form have no shot at the grace of The Collede Dropout or Late Registration. But because he's shrewd and large, he knows how to use his profits profits to induce Jay-Z, Pusha T, the RZA, Swizz Beats, and his boy Prince CyHi to admit and indeed complain that the whole deal is "f***in' ridiculous."
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Half rapping and half singing, half bragging and half kowtowing, brazening a "punt" rhyme here and proclaiming commonality with "girls that never thought they could win" there, she's proud to be shameless, with the hooks to back it up.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Gillis's vision becomes less orgiastic and more humanistic.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The music is the mild, irregular folk-rock he's explored for decades, graced with global colors that sound as natural as that guitar.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    His romantic laments are models of texture, respect, and profound loss, their beats subtle, seductive, weird, and seized like time.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    She deploys her superb music to address an issue so pressing few can stand to think about it: who kills who?
    • 62 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Not afraid to be funny because they're having so much fun, Arve-Ahlund-Ahlund are one more electrobeat-wielding​ Swedish cartel bent on proving that rock and roll proceeds from enlightened capitalism like we had in America before our plutocrats started expanding the national income gap up past Colombia's.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Chirping their expertly executed tunes, scorning the guitar swagger good old boys think makes them so sexy, they're a pop cartoon worth more than gold.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    "Come to our shows and they're clapping again/Thank you my friends" isn't sarcastic, which doesn't mean it's devoid of irony or should be. "There's a brand new dance/Give us all your money/Everybody love everybody" is sarcastic.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The first three songs on this EP are strong, the fourth misty, the fifth sweet and slight, but all know melody and all fill out a portrait of a young man your daughter should only bring home to mother.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Now 74 and short half a lung, he's not making the best music of his life, just the best albums.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    There's more distortion, less naturalism.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Congrats to Baldi for getting one right.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    he's scored a full album's worth of new material that remains completely in a character unique to him while adding something new to that character.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The music suits because it's also dissociated‑-beaty enough to keep your foot tapping and your subconscious involved, but devoid of the escapist joy that is the miracle of so much Afropop produced from equally horrendous daily struggles.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    With one or two exceptions, this CD never lets up, epitomizing his biz-wise mastery of rhumba boogie and the second line. The two pop hits lead. The gris-gris tracks are songs not shtick.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    After he goes down on his knees and prays, as he promises he will, this album will be Exhibit A on his application.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Quick-tongued, lascivious, catchy, and delighted with itself, there hasn't been a more pleasurable record all year and probably won't be‑-not even by her.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    In vivid contrast to the sanctimonious musicianly overkill of Springsteen's Pete Seeger tribute, Young's overkill leads with its middle finger by ignoring the catchiest tune of the 19th century, the traditional melody of "Oh Susannah."
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Until the last two songs, whose overwrought drama I don't have to like just because I trust its verisimilitude, they hit every time.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Matthew E. White's horn charts are the musical development Darnielle has in store for us. But the dealmaker is Jon Wurster's spare, inescapable drumming.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Two melodies reach back centuries. Strong-voiced frontwoman Amy Sacko delivers the word. And although the ngoni is a mere lute, Kouyate gets more noises you want to hear out of his strings than any two jam-band hotshots you can name.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    An exciting, multivalent Dreijer sibling showcase. Karin provides saving shades of humanity by exercising the vocal cords nature gave her. But Olof's imagination, sense of humor, and bent rebop carry the day.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Near as I can hear, all that marks these terrific songs as outtakes etc. is that they're slightly less produced and dramatic.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Consider me converted, at least until Bradford Cox lurches off in yet another direction.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Each verse/chorus/bridge/​intro melody, each lyric straight or knotty, each sound effect playful or perverse (or both)‑-each is pleasurable in itself and aptly situated in the sturdy songs and tracks, so that the whole signifies without a hint of concept.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The tunes are Dawson's because Ae-Rock doesn't do tunes, but his beats beef up those tunes just like his gruff, clotted flow beefs up her itty-bitty soprano.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Re-examining his past, he imagines a future you can hum in your mind.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The riot godmotherrr commands pretty much the same old skinny soprano, only with soft edges that sound tender or thoughtful sometimes.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Part of its delight is how naturally the disparate parts fit together, but another part is how they add up to phantasmagoria if you let your attention wander (and don't be a tight-ass‑-you should).
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    That their most charming song by far is the straight George Clinton rip "Rill Rill," which leaves open the question of what they can do for an encore. I'll grant that minimalist bands always leave that question open if you'll grant that too often the answer is repeat themselves.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Despair is very much with us. It'll blow up before it recedes. And this music is intensely committed to escaping it.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    No matter how cleverly he's rhyming, which varies, he could use subject matter beyond married-to-the-game and his traditional obsessions. But with Shady in the shadows, rarely are these themes lifted by Em's long-recessive sense of play.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    A succession of enjoyable songs with plenty to offer.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    With beats this straight and stolid, you'd better keep the anthems coming, and they do, almost.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The catch is that through all her generalizations it soon becomes clear that she needs that guy much more than a postmodern girl is supposed to. Too bad she can't pin it down and also can't pin him down. I blame the weed.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Some will surely find this preachy, yucky, or technologically compromised. I'm just happy I can say amen.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The hoarse, throaty voice knows its consonants, and the lyrics are full of the everyday breakdowns most of us survive into midlife and beyond.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Conceive it as DJ electronica that makes its point, starting all partial and halting before gathering itself to a properly modest climax. Except that it's played by a live band. And has OK lyrics. Smart, nothing‑-pretty darned intelligent.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The thematic attack here is pretty surgical, cutting most of the time to the gangsta life he's so glad he sidestepped as a youth. The individual pieces are well-defined by his muzzy standards.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Part of its delight is how naturally the disparate parts fit together, but another part is how they add up to phantasmagoria if you let your attention wander.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    After I got over my high I began to feel the rest of the album was a letdown, but far from it--just lesser variations on his trick of deploying short samples as beats without settling for staccato. Kind of like in rock and roll even if you'd never know it to listen to it--only to think about it.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Soon Hammond's "You Smoke Too Much" is fitting right in. As together as can be expected, and as Miller requests with a hint of desperation, "Please Hold On While the Train Is Moving."
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Even in their overwork, however, they evince an effort that bears a remarkable resemblance to care‑-that is, to caring in the best, broadest, and most emotional sense.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    $O$
    Yet as mere listening the best songs here‑-especially "Fish Paste" and the signature "Enter the Ninja"‑-convey the disturbing comic character Watkin Tudor "Waddy" Jones has created.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Not terribly beaty and almost never fast. Just the kind of weird background music that's guaranteed to engross whenever you lend it both ears.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    If the verse-chorus-verse of these gorgeously understated, quiet but hardly grooveless artsongs makes your teeth hurt, Grizzly Bear will give you something to suck on any year now.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Lynn still owns the songs, but she's pleased as pie to lend them out, and they come back to her lovingly countrified even when the borrower is Hayley Williams, of Paramore and Franklin, Tennessee, who acts naturally over an acoustic guitar and should give Jack White lessons.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    From "Don't F***ing Tell Me What to Do" to "We Dance to the Beat," her songwriting in that vein is as strong as anybody's. Scattered across her three 2010 CDs is one great album. How I wish this was it.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Yes, he nails those internal rhymes. Nobody's Rakim. But he earns the brag.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Although overdoing the soulful melodrama doesn't beat overdoing the suave cool as decisively as the retro-nuevo believe, the songwriting here is a big extra difference maker, with enough pop moves to lighten the overall mood.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    As they add the quaver of age to Andy Gill's slashes and modernize Jon King's animadversions with cellphone photos, comparison with the 20-year-old Mall quickly reveals how blessed the mainstays are in drummer Mark Heaney, who in the great tradition of Marky Ramone has both the musical sense to respect Hugo Burnham's simplicity and the historical savvy not to attempt an anachronistic replication.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    There are stories proper galore, plenty more than the three tracked as such, and every one is worth hearing‑-always as narrative and usually as music, where Snider's acquired drawl provides a species of musicality akin to that of prime rapping, especially over a vamp.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    This array of whomping exotica reflects its creator's appetite for any Third World dance movement he can get his ears on, including such new ones on me as kuduro, barefoot, and -- from the mysterious depths of the District of Columbia -- Moombahton​!
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    A song band and proud, they turn down the boogie so we're sure to get the lyrics, which except for the two Eddie Hintons are laid out as well in a booklet so handsome the habitual downloader may want one for himself (or herself, I wish).
    • 89 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Saigon don't play. He's a social realist and a realist moralist who makes his seriousness work for him.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The snatches of Scott-Heron's voice, cracked for sure but deeper than night nonetheless, delivers it from callow generalization and foregone conclusion.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The meaning's in the music, which to her considerable benefit shares the widespread Stockholm suspicion that the distinction between pop and dance music isn't worth troubling yourself over, but is nonetheless pinned for appearance's sake to the shades of yearning that mark it verbally.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The quirky murmurs, yelps, and coos of his head voice, a high end of unequalled softness and give, sound responsive where Jackson's sound willed. There's a girl there, or just as likely a grown woman. And whether or not El seems manly to you, he's turning her on and vice versa.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Euro synth duo, tuneful and sometimes haunting, always droney fun‑-textured, beaty lines under an unnaturally high-voiced girly-woman singing lyrics of no importance when you can make them out, which isn't often.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    These 13 excellent songs are sufficiently specialized to make you realize how classic Volume 1 was--and what a theme statement "Past Time" was.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    the doting Vasquez love song "Blue Eyes," the lyrical Dawes lost song "Thanks for Nothing," and the clippety-clopping Replacements road song "Portland" all augment the deep craft and acrid wordplay of the guy who's why you heard them‑-in fact, who's why you heard this varied, consistent, tune-conscious album.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    They have mouths on them, yes they do. But their mouths are connected to their hearts and minds, and amped by loud guitars.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Beautiful, especially if you like your beauty grand. And beauty is good.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The four humanist protest songs she rolls out just before an unnecessarily dreamy closer seem so unforced you feel for all those who have striven so hard to do nothing more. Ari, Viv, Exene‑-because sisterhood is powerful, this one's for you.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The six tracks divided evenly between his 20-minute 2011 return and his 30-minute 2012 stride forward, cohere almost seamlessly as the album they become when you don't have to turn any plastic over.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    With a push from Nas and a whoosh from Santigold and new life from their chorusing kids, the beats spritz and submarine in signature Beasties style as the rhymes claim contexts high-living and low-life.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    More Prince than Ray Parker Jr., he plays with himself to beat the band, and makes these 10 tracks bump and pulse.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Parody is hard to sustain. That this follow-up provides so many laughs without flailing around in can-you-top-this? is a tribute to the comedians' musicality and their musician friends' sense of comedy.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Fortunately, they also do what all maturing s.-p.o.w.t.a. wish they could do‑-write better songs. I noticed the guitar roar first and the tunes second. But I stayed for the lyrics.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Horny for his wife but not horny enough, loving her like she's leaving because he thinks that might help, his songcraft is undiminished, and he remains the smartest and nicest guy in his world.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Just as Moore's tunings sharpen noise-rock intellectually, they tone up pretty-folk physically‑-as do Samara Lubelski's violin and producer Beck Hansen's synths.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    This isn't up to The Fame or The Fame Monster. But both of those keep growing, and with its mad momentum and nutty thematics, this one could too--despite being laid down on tour trailed by 28 semis.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    There's too much of the same on Flair's 25-year-old R&B Dynamite, which omits "Shortnin' Bread Rock" and adds only the very early "Be My Lovey Dovey" to her A list, though it includes all the obvious keepers. I prefer this in part because it's shorter. Makes the voice easier to treasure.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    So much better than a Ferrari that never needs a tune-up, muse I. In the studio they're less accident prone, and they still tintinnabulate some. But now they also grunt.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    What it sounds like is the redemption of Young's lost mid-'80s‑-the countryish album Old Ways was supposed to be, neither rote like Re-ac-tor nor static like that sacred cow Harvest.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    I agree, men are dogs. But it gets my radar in a lather when this loving, lovable woman structures her 2007 album along a break-up's narrative arc and then four years later the same thing happens twice‑-only the first guy leaves her with a boychild who, let's be candid, she loves more unreservedly than she has any grown man on record.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Play loud. I can't speak to the listening practices of the post-illbient beatmakers whose tricks Palaceer Lazaro gathers together and improves on like he's just been waiting for the go-ahead from Tricky himself.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    To call this the best record of his solo career isn't to claim it's great, it's to reckon that it's pretty darn good.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The way his heedless old songs liberate cautious young professionals lays to rest any doubts as to whether he belongs in the same pantheon as George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin. He just bequeathed us a smaller book.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Committed to synth squelch and chary of synth tweedle, it's basically instrumental except when transforming Mayer Hawthorne into the generic soul falsetto he was born to be and M.I.A. into the cheeky disco dolly she's too conscious to become.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Lulled into a formalistic revery by their catchy choruses, you assume their content is as null as their groove. But in fact they're so girl-shy it's thematic, and refreshingly empathetic about women with problems.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Church has always known how to write, and he's blowing here.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Sure the tone is often depressive or satirical. But it's also often kind, pained, silly, unhinged, and other things.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Predictably, Jay's power is more interesting than Ye's, which was funnier and sicker on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Think the patron's proximity made the protegee nervous? Think the patron figured it would? I do.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Less dynamic and more ruminative than The Ruminant Band, here are 10 songs and a poky instrumental for country hippies manque and other shaggy folk down on the little luck they ever had.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Nine seven-inches etc. plus five previously unreleaseds including three remnants of an abandoned musical obviously add up to an intentional hodgepodge. Still, I wonder whether the intention was to backload.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Not "desert blues." Sadder than blues‑-too sad to be merely calming.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Bouncing off each other like loaded dice, they could make you cry once you're away long enough to think about it.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    This doesn't rock, and it shouldn't. But it rollicks, skanks, and two-steps just fine.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Their seventh album opens with a simulated big-pop anthem and maintains that size and momentum without compromising their ability to play the new songs live.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    What kept me on it was the ingrained musicality of a bunch of jokers who've evolved into a sonic organism even though they never see each other anymore.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    What we're hearing here is the Temptations turning into the Delfonics--the way his midrange gives up the verse and his falsetto takes the chorus is as nice as his boyish sexism.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    The three strongest tracks on Waits's most rocking album ever all feature not just Keith Richards but Tom's drummer son Casey.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    Try "Cult Boyfriend," one of the funnier and more philosophical of the many reflections on romantic frustration this lifetime bohemian's cult career has afforded.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 91 Critic Score
    It's sure the right course correction for guys who've always fetishized the eternal old-timey more than any band from goddamn Providence should.