The Drop

Snoop Dogg
Christmas in the Dogg House
On concept alone, this album deserves high marks. And even if it weren’t Christmas-themed, a Snoop mixtape is always welcome. On top of all that, it’s free. So right from the start, there’s three huge marks in this album’s favor. The actual material of the album is somewhat of a letdown, though. Snoop’s invited along a lot of lackluster guest stars to do the album, and though Snoop is definitely at home rapping about parties, when he trades in the sticky icky for mistletoe and ditches the 40s for eggnog, things get a bit less interesting, especially after the novelty of imagining Snoop & Co. celebrating Christmas wears off. So where is this album’s place? Certainly 2008 saw the release of much stronger rap music. This album’s usefulness comes when the family demands Christmas music in the CD changer. You can toss aside the jazz, the choirs and the symphonies and blow out the speakers with authentic gangsta rap for once. The reasonable price point and Snoop’s pedigree alone make the album worth a spin in this context.

Royal Bliss
Life In-Between
Salt Lake City natives Royal Bliss have been working toward this album8212;their major label debut8212;for more than 10 years. They’re destined to make many new fans now that their music has moved beyond the borders of our state, but the question remains: Are they doing Salt Lake City proud? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The 13 tracks on this album, with zero exceptions, are listenable only because they’re so inoffensive and generic. There’s nothing glaringly wrong with anything on the album8212;the instrumentation is competent, singer Neal Middleton’s voice sounds fine and though the lyrics are uninspired they’re not completely terrible. But what sinks this effort is the fact that this record has already been made several dozen times, years ago, by many other bands. We all know Utah isn’t on the cutting edge, but we should at least try to make it a bit less obvious that we get everything 10 years after everyone else.