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Nine Inch Nails

"Year Zero"

On sale at All That Jazz for $14.98

You have to quarantine yourself for a week just to listen to this album before you can decide how much you like it, because it sounds better every time you hear it. It will take even longer to absorb all of Trent's agenda. This concept album takes place 15 years in the future where humanity is closer to its spiritual, political and economic ruin. Trent said the album began from a noise he heard on his laptop that lead to a daydream about the end of the world. The impending doom of the story comes across almost sarcastic, as if expected.

After several years of sobriety, Trent is more focused on the demise of the world instead of his own demise. His industrial intensity of lyrics, sound and enlightened negativity is still present, but there is something else.

Songs like "Capital G" (personal favorite of the album) and "Good Soldier" and "God Given" are - are you ready? - more funk and almost pop influenced, which is refreshing for a long-term NIN fan. But "Vessel" retains Trent's sexy rough edges (sigh) and reflects his more grounded and focused mature quest for innovative sounds.

"My Violent Heart," "Meet Your Master" and "The Warning" will give you all the metallic, robotic old-school flavor you need, but he slows it down at the end with the piano licks sans lyrics of "Another Version of the Truth."

Do not expect a "Pretty Hate Machine" or "Downward Spiral" with "Year Zero." It has some contemporary departures from the Trent we hated to relate to but found relief in. The album is a sound collage of the past, present and future of the big picture of Trent's world and his artistry.

Rating: Multiple listens will raise the rating.

Fergie

"Fergie as the Dutchess"

Available at All That Jazz for $15.98

Fergie must be canoodling with Gwen Stefani because she seems to be following in her career path - leave a great band and go solo to make bad pop albums with a couple hit singles to float your now fleeting career. That may sound harsh, but "Fergie as the Dutchess" has nothing to offer but the hit singles, "London Bridge" (minus the useless, random chatter at the end of the song), "Glamorous" and "Fergalicious."

I will admit that I was infatuated with the song "Fergalicous" at first. It was its '80s hip-hop spin that perhaps caught my fancy after I saw the choreography to it at this spring's Steamboat Dance Theatre. It's hot, it has an infectious beat and has just enough attitude to make it addicting.

"Here I Come," is sung to the Temptations, "Get Ready," and I'm not sure if this remake with Ferg rapping over the classic is good or bad. Her lyrics are shallow, elementary and lack originality. Many of her songs include spelling lessons as she spells out the words, "fergalicious," "glamorous" and numerous others. The lyrics in "Glamorous" are borderline oppressive with, "If you ain't got no money, bring your broke (butt) home," and Fergie is all, "I don't care/I'm still real/no matter how many records I sell." Jennifer Lopez covered that angle for the hundredth time in 2001.

The rest of the album is a bad chick flick released directly to video. It's a lollipop. I'm not trying to be so merciless, but Fergie has a lot of potential and shouldn't be selling out to record companies that only highlight her narcissism.

Rating: It's cotton candy - just a bunch of fluff.

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