40 Years of Album Reviews

March 30, 2021

40th anniversary stickerMuch has changed since 1980, but one thing has remained the same: Fordham Lincoln Center student’s eternal love for reviewing and recommending their favorite music. Though the current student’s favorite tracks are streamed rather than played on CDs or bought on iTunes, music has created bonds from the start of The Observer. From hits like Tracy Chapman’s debut album to early 2000s Britney Spears, there’s a song for everybody.

a record


Stevie Nicks album cover

“Rock a Little” by Stevie Nicks

Jan. 22, 1986

“While ‘Rock A Little’ may leave you wishing for the sounds and imagery of ‘Bella Donna,’ it won’t leave you disappointed. After all, if an album is good enough to listen to fifteen times (before you get tired of it), it has to be good.” -Regina Mawn


Night of the Crime album cover

“Night of the Crime” by Icon

March 5, 1986

“‘Night of The Crime’ is their second release, following their self-titled debut, and it is an excellent showcase for melodic metal. While other bands seek to overwhelm with sheer volume, Icon plays a bit more conservatively and mixes both power and catchy melodies with enough hooks to keep their tunes in your head even after the record is off.” -Vincent Pasquariello


The Bangles "Different Light" album cover

“Different Light” by The Bangles

March 5, 1986

“The copyright reads eighties but the sound sings sixties. That’s the best way to sum up the second album, ‘Different Light,’ from the Bangles. If you like sixties-like harmonies and pseudo-psychedelic sounds then you’ll love the latest from these four talented women from L.A.” – Regina Mawn


The Blind Leading the Naked album cover

“The Blind Leading The Naked” by Violent Femmes

March 5, 1986

“Big news from the new Violent Femmes album, ‘The Blind Leading The Naked’: Gordon is not as sexually frustrated as he once was — or twice was on the Femmes’ two previous albums, the self-titled debut album and ‘Hallowed Ground.’” -Thomas Waite


Tracy Chapman album cover

“Tracy Chapman” by Tracy Chapman

Aug. 31, 1988

“Chapman’s debut album is the first folk oriented album from the 1980’s to sell over a million copies. This happened before her first single ‘Fast Car’ climbed into the top ten.” -Sean McDonald



Pattern Disruptive album cover

“Christmas Buyer’s Guide of ’88”

Nov. 23, 1988

“Pattern Disruptive” by Dicky Betts

“One Fair Summer Evening” by Nanci Griffith

“Nothing to lose” by Eddie Money

“Man in Motion” by Night Ranger

One Fair Summer Evening album cover

“All of this and Nothing” by The Psychedelic Furs

“Eponymous” by REM

“Green” by REM

“Boingo Alive” by Oingo Boingo

“Once again, the Christmas season is almost upon us, and The Observer hopes to make your holiday shopping easier by giving you our picks and pans of the latest album releases. Cassettes, compact discs and albums all make great gifts or stocking suffers, so give someone you love the gift of music this year.”


a cassette tape


Cherry's Alive album cover

“Cheery Alive” by Eve’s Plum

Oct. 18, 1995

“I think the new album is very alive and enjoyable. It is not the most original material, but then again lately, what is? Their songs have that powerpunk/pop combination, noisy guitars with a sweet melody and a sweet voice.”



Aquemini album cover

“Aquemini” by Outkast

Oct. 28, 1998

“As a southern rap group, Outkast boldly proves that rap isn’t just about the east and west coasts. The album begins with a haunting guitar melody played by Donny Mathis. Andre Benjamin and Big Boi dominate the rest of the album.” -Jack Lugo


Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness album cover“Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness” by The Smashing Pumpkins

Nov. 17, 1999

“Like all of the best alternative records, The Smashing Pumpkins and their leader, Billy Corgan, infused each of their screeching tracks with themes of rage and alienation. Unlike any of their contemporaries, however, The Smashing Pumpkins succeeded in making beautiful, plaintive ballads about insatiable desire.” -Paul Coco


Blood Sugar Sex Magik album cover“Blood Sugar Sex Magik” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Nov. 17, 1999

“Although the Chili Peppers had been recording together since1985, it wasn’t until frontman Anthony Kiedis delivered “Under the Bridge” — a bittersweet tune capturing the wasted existence of LosAngeles drug addicts — that the band achieved multi platinum success.” -Paul Coco


The Score album cover“The Score” by The Fugees

Nov. 17, 1999

“They came from Jersey to teach the world a few things about brother and sisterhood in the inner city. With the arrival of the Fugees, hip-hop crossed over to VH1 main-stream, and in the process educated more than just a few people about their notions of philosophy, knowledge, and love.” – Paul Coco


The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album cover

“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill

Nov. 17, 1999

“Simply-put, ‘Miseducation’ is the biggest record by a female solo artist in the 90’s. Lauryn Hill basked in the spotlight on her first post-Fugees project, an album that united the funk of Stevie Wonder, lyrical talents reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, and the feel good vibe of, well, Lauryn Hill herself.” -Paul Coco

a CD


The Instigator album

“The Instigator” by Rhett Miller

Oct. 24, 2002

“In his first solo attempt since 1989’s ‘Mythologies,’ Rhett Millersucceeded in writing a wonderfully introspective and bittersweet album, ‘The Instigator.’ Miller, who remains lead singer of the alt-country group Old 97’s, took a break from his band to write an album straight from his own heart.” -Catherine McNelly


In the Zone album cover

“In The Zone” by Britney Spears

Sept. 25, 2003

“Perhaps one of the most anticipated new releases this fall is from the pop princess herself, Britney Spears. According to Spears’ web site, “Get in the Zone” will be released Nov. 18. Justin case fans can’t get enough of the Britney/Madonna hoopla, Spears’ website also just revealed the album’s first single, ‘Me Against the Music,’ is a duet with none other than the Material Girl.” -Lisa Mowry


Heavier Things album cover

“Heavier Things” by John Mayer

Sept. 25, 2003

“Another artist trying to prove his longevity in the pop music world this fall is John Mayer, who this September released his second major-label studio album, entitled ‘Heavier Things.’ Fordham students who caught Mayer on tour this summer with the Counting Crows may already recognize some of the album’s songs.” -Lisa Mowry


Encore album cover

“Encore” by Eminem

Nov. 18, 2004

“His prominent, clever rhymes continue to vary from being serious to humorous while being backed by effective beats. Standout tracks such as ‘Evil Deeds’ and ‘Mockingbird’ are two perfect examples that show the range that is found here.” -Rafael De Leon



Oval Opus album cover

“Oval Opus” by Oval Opus

Feb. 16, 2006

“The band, formed in 1998 on the campus of Miami University in Ohio, have been touring colleges and small clubs around the country in support of their self titled fourth studio album, released this past January.” -Kristen Jefferson



In Rainbows album cover

“In Rainbows” by Radiohead

Oct. 25, 2007

“I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of Radiohead. In fact, I think that Thom Yorke has one of the most obnoxious and whiney voices I have ever heard. I find absolutely nothing enjoyable about their music, and their newest album did little to change my opinion. But I do have to hand it to them, the way in which they released ‘In Rainbows’ was pretty revolutionary.” -Catherine Wernquest


iPod classic


James Blake album cover

“James Blake” by James Blake

July 23, 2011

“His songs have no traditional pop structure, but they work brilliantly to his advantage, piecing together throngs of instrumental samples, synthesized vocals and hypnotizing beats that make you wonder what’s lying around the corner on this album.” -Mike Madden


Smile Sessions album cover

“Smile Sessions” by The Beach Boys

Nov. 16, 2011

“Complete with five CDs, two LPs, two 7’’s and a 60-page booklet, ‘The Smile Sessions’ offer everything the Beach Boys ever wanted you to hear and then some. ‘Sessions’ contains rare golden nuggets with treasured outtakes that especially highlight the humor within the group.” -Mike Madden


Born to Die album cover

“Born to Die” by Lana Del Rey

Feb. 2, 2012

“The album, sits at number one on iTunes since its debut on Jan. 31, offers infectious and even somewhat haunting melodies, subtle yet surprising hip-hop beats, beautiful fusions of orchestral symphonies, vocal samples that sound like they could be peppered throughout a Kanye West record and a voice that, in a musical age dominated by omnipresent auto tune and artificial arrangements, echoes a unique and refreshing sound.” -Daniel Dalena


Spotify logo


Plastic Hearts album cover

“Plastic Hearts” by Miley Cyrus

Nov. 27, 2020

“With ‘Plastic Hearts,’ her first bona fide rock album, Cyrus has finally found her niche. The album honors the couldn’t-care-less tone of Cyrus’ past projects and infuses it with a new purpose, like this is the music she is meant to make.” -Gillian Russo


Good News album cover

“Good News” by Megan Thee Stallion

Nov. 25, 2020

“With this album, Megan is able to let her feelings out — her happiness, her sadness and everything in between, and she does a fantastic job at it.” -Grace Munson



Folklore album cover

“folklore” by Taylor Swift

July 30, 2020

“On July 23, Swifties woke up to black-and-white cottage-core photos of Swift in the woods and an announcement that a music video and new songs would be dropped at midnight … On July 24, The Observer’s Swifties woke up with puffy eyes and tons of thoughts.”

By Andrew Beecher, Esmé Bleecker-Adams, Lara Foley, Gillian Russo, Marielle Sarmiento, Evan Vollbrecht


Fetch the Boltcutters album cover

“Fetch the Bolt Cutters” by Fiona Apple

April 21, 2020

 “This album’s ability to be so disjointed while also working together to create a masterpiece of pain is impressive. She makes the messy make sense.” -Vicky Carmenate



Listen to the playlist here:

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About the Contributor
VICKY CARMENATE, Former Opinions Editor

Vicky Carmenate, FCLC ’23, is an editor of the arts & culture section. Double majoring in Latin American and Latinx Studies and Spanish studies, their goal is to make different communities more accessible through communication. When not writing for The Observer, they’re probably spending their time listening to music, playing Sims 4 or reading nonfiction.

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