Does Robin Thicke creep you out? No matter how you felt about the Canadian R&B singer after he broke big last year with the blithe Blurred Lines -- and seemed all too happy to have Miley Cyrus twerk on him at the MTV awards -- chances are you'll be put off by the skeevy aspects of Paula. It's an album with a clear goal in mind: To Get Her Back, as its first single puts it, "her" being his onetime high school sweetheart and now estranged wife, actress Paula Patton, from whom he split earlier this year.
In a celebrity-obsessed culture driven by seemingly insatiable curiosity about what stars are doing behind closed doors, Paula manages the difficult task of crossing the "too much information" threshold. It's more than any but the most pruriently curious could want to know. At times, Thicke is stalkerlike (on Lock the Door); at other times his tone is cluelessly off (on the goofy Tippy Toes). Mostly, with tracks such as Too Little Too Late and Something Bad, he's abjectly guilt-ridden in a way that's not entirely convincing. The context makes you want to listen, but you'll feel dirty once you have. 3 stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Get Her Back
-- Dan DeLuca, The Philadelphia Inquirer
One Love One Rhythm: The 2014 FIFA World Cup Official Album (Sony)
BY the time you read this review it will be only a couple of days until the final kicks have been taken and goals scored crowning the best football conglomerate in the world at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Unlike many other major sports finals, the World Cup truly represents teams from around the globe and this 15-track (plus two bonus tracks) set is a fine audio portrayal of that global claim. Of course the Brazilian side is given the edge with hot tracks by natives Bebel Gilberto and Preta Gil trading pitch space with the likes of Ricky Martin (Puerto Rico), the Isley Brothers (U.S.A.) and Mika Nakashima (Japan). The album is mostly an uplifting affair delivering a kind of party atmosphere with an aim to get your body moving. If you have watched even one match you have the official song in your head already, and if that makes you want to do anything but sit in the recliner and move your head from right to left and back again then this album is for you. 2 stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Bebel Gilberto and Lang Lang -- Tico Tico
-- Jeff Monk
Redeemer of Souls (Epic)
It takes a lot for a band to make up for a "farewell tour" that ended up not being a farewell after all. But on its new studio album, Judas Priest has redeemed itself nicely.
Simply put, Redeemer of Souls is the best album this band has done in over 20 years. Powerful, fierce, captivating and clever, this could be the hard rock/heavy metal album of the year.
It opens with a roar with Dragonaut and the melodic but still rocking title track.
But things really get interesting on Halls of Valhalla. Priest's one concession to age is that Rob Halford's air-raid siren vocals have given way to mid-register singing. The wails of Painkiller or The Sentinel are few and far between here, but they do surface in a glorious way on Valhalla.
And March of the Damned has the same bottom-heavy groove as Metal Gods; it even has similar sound effects of heavy items bashing against each other and scraping on the floor.
So, if you thought Judas Priest was done -- as the band briefly said it was -- you've got another thing coming. And that's just fine.
-- Wayne Parry, The Associated Press
Motherland (Sony Classical)
AT first blush, Georgia-born pianist Khatia Buniatishvili's Motherland appears to be a crazy quilt of music by such composers as Handel, Ligeti, P§rt and Ravel. But by the end of its 17 tracks, the Paris-based artist (mostly) succeeds at convincing us that these disparate piano solos evoking landscapes or seasons -- or invitations to dance -- do belong together, united by a sense of quiet intimacy.
Many of the pieces are contemplative: Bach's Cantata No. 9, BWV 208: Aria - Schafe knnen sicher weiden (Sheep May Safely Graze) or Arvo P§rt's transcendent Fºr Alina that bookend the CD.
Others show Buniatishvili's virtuosic technique, including Ligeti's Musica ricercata No. 7 and Chopin's Etude in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 25/7. Her own arrangement of Georgian folk song Vagiorko ma (Don't you love me?) builds dramatically while Dvoô°k Slavonic Dance for Four Hands in E Minor, Op. 72/2: Dumka also showcases her sister, Gvantsa.
This is ostensibly a concept CD; Buniatishvili takes listeners on a private journey through music that has touched her personally. However, despite sensitive playing and instructive liner notes, this memory trip still, at times, feels like visiting isolated islands in the stream. 3 1/2 stars
-- Holly Harris