Archive for the 'Music' Category

(+44) – When Your Heart Stops Beating

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Can’t say I’ve really been a fan of Blink 182. Of course there are the radio friendly hits. But I’ve discarded most of their albums as too much of the same guitar style and shout heavy. After the split up, one third, Tom Delonge was the first to finish an album with a newly formed band Angels and Airwaves. Granted, grandiose intros very much to my likings, but well into the song, it’s again that same weary feeling. Now the other two thirds (Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker) have finished their album, also with a newly formed band.
And guess what ? AGAIN. It all sounds nice at first glance, but it just doesn’t stick. The hooks are too simple, and the songs are too similar. And let’s be fair, that’s what Blink 182 had going now and then, since none of the singers were world class vocalists. Of course, since it’s not repulsive at all, and they probably do their genre honor, it’s not a totally bad grade.5½.

Update 13-12-2006: I guess some songs did grow on me, and the playlist is now down to 7 songs (Baby Come On, When Your Heart Stops Beating, 155, Lillian, No It Isn’t, Make You Smile, Chapter XIII). Not really superb, but still quite respectable.7+.

Review: Lionel Richie – Coming Home

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Two years ago, his new album in quite while wasn’t really memorable. Between the countless Best of… compilations, 2 years later, he finishes another fully new album. But again, I’m not really impressed. Hell, the first single makes you think he has been listening to this year’s hit for Ne-Yo (So Sick) too much. After research, I found out it’s just that I Call it Love is written by the very same team. The rest of the bunch are more collaborations with a handful of other producers that are currently hot (Jerry Duplessis, Sean Garrett, Jermaine Dupri, etc.), milking out the same R&B, swing beat and soul style we hear too often already. By now, you can say it’s just the Lionel Richie way to work like this, but I don’t really like it at all.5.

Review: Fergie – The Dutchess

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Usually I don’t review something recommended by someone other than myself. But it’s been a while since lazy ass Bern uttered something online, and I hoped the low calory Ramadan diet might have cleared up his brains a bit.
It did not. His recommendation was bust. Then again, I should’ve known beforehand. I mean, it’s written in the Koran. It states any disc jockey willing to put London Bridge on the airwaves, should be dragged behind a horse, by his ears. Allah is going to get him soon, as proof is online here and here.
Most of this album is the same. That irritating semi-rapping under a simple sample mixed with an overbearing bass track. That’s not called music, that’s called troish (trashy noise or noisy trash, take your pick). Can I use make up words as I go along ? Yeah, the Dutchess isn’t in the dictionary either. I just gave her the benefit of the doubt, hoping it would have something to do with my home country. Granted, a lot of influences can be heard. Besides the lot of hip hop, there’s is an Aguilera-style ballad (*snore*), there’s reaggea and some tough chick rock.
Ah well, my playlist is now 2 songs richer (the poppy Big Girls Don’t Cry, and R&B style All That I Got, coz at least she uses her voice properly there ), and that just saves her from a red grade.5-.

Review: Weird Al Yankovic – Straight Outta Lynwood

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

Another whole album of parodies. But…uhm, I can’t even figure out half of’m. That doesn’t actually matter, but what does is that as a whole, it’s not a whole-in-one (even though it’s Weird Al’s first top 10 album, entering straight to that position in the Billboard this week).
Granted, humorous as he is, most songs, even the worst ones have a few funny lines in them. He can even get your attention going on for a solid 11 minutes with a slow simmering soul fueled dialogue driven R&B song. But the most fluid trademark homerun parody (James Blunt’ You’ Beautiful turns to You’re Pitiful), can’t be even counted, as it’s not on the album, and is only available as a free download, due to legal matters. Plus of course, I rate on voice, composition and technical merits, not on humor. That said, as a music CD, I can’t rate it that high (how can I consciously recommend others to listen to it), even though on comedy alone it’s acceptable, making the combined grade still below average. I’d recommend you pick up his previous album Poodle Hat.5½.

Review: James Morrison – Undiscovered

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

In the current landscape of solo singer/songwriter/performer (who by default earn more respect from me), it’s still takes time to find a new sparking one on a regular basis. The latest one to make a real dent seems to be James Morrison, going a similar way previous walked by the likes of Gavin DeGraw and Tyler Hilton, though having a coarser rougher voice.
Storming the charts is You Give Me Something, a wallowing sweet begging. Combined with a simple motif it still sounds nice, though it makes it a danger regarding its longevity. Luckily, there are a few stronger songs with more conviction, making a solid statement (Undiscovered, This Boy), but there are a lot of slow crooners and seemingly copies of other songs (Under the Influence, How Come) in there not to my liking. All in all, it’s a very mixed bag, and with only 3 songs picked out to inhabit my resident playlist, it didn’t reach the average grade.6½.

Review: John Mayer – Continuum

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Never liked the guy. The slow jamming make my drowsy, and the “ooeh hooehooe” (Clarity) makes me wanna choke him. But somehow, the first single of this new album (Waiting on the World to Change) grabbed me with its 70-ties throwback. The ingenius punchy flowing vibe doesn’t find its way to the other songs though. It’s more of the slow stuff, with a bit too much jazzy influences for my taste. Fans will probably like it, but this is really not for me.5½.

Review: Stone Sour – Come What(ever) May

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

With their single Through Glass easily entering the easy rock and pop charts for the first time, one might think it’s a new band with a new sound. But everything is far from it. First of all, they’re pretty old. As a pre-Slipknot band they didn’t have succes. Now reformed, they’re giving it another go.
Second, their sound is pretty hard rock/metal. Most songs on this album don’t comes even close to the vocal based Through Glass (only one piano based ballad pairs up nicely), with screeching booming guitars damaging your speakers if set too loud.
For the misleading part, it should get a failing grade, but the two easy listening songs saves it by a hair.5½.

Review: Ilse DeLange – The Great Escape

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

The great escape in this case, is the gateway to full-blown contemporary pop, leaving behind her Nashville influences that combined so nicely with her hoarse yet soothingly soft voice.
This album has a highly experimental sound to it, with many different styles and also stretching her voice differently for each song. With this style going on, I somehow can extremely easily pick out the ones I like, and the conclusion is not a nice one. This album suffers from the title song syndrome, where in the end, you’re left enjoying only the already released single (which usually is the title song, and in this case is so), which resembles her earlier schtick the most.4.

Review: Dashboard Confessional – Dusk And Summer

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Already Dashboard Confessional’s 5th album, I had to work my way backwards into their discography (their song Vindicated from the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, to A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar and MTV Unplugged 2.0). With this all, it’s clear they had their genre pegged between tougher acoustic rock songs and sweeping soft-rock almost bordering emo. Some are quite similar (especially in the acoustic unplugged environment), but more than a handful of clear hits are easily filtered, and from the rest even more will grow on you over time. With their Unplugged outing, as the first band without a major hit to be invited, which was a good call on the MTV’s side to say the least, has produced moderate success for Dashboard afterwards.
They must’ve thought it’s time to join powers with a big name producer (Daniel Lanois, with credits for U2 and Bob Dylan albums). Well, that didn’t work out quite well. Gone are the songs with long verses that flow into each other, never needing a chorus to make it shine. While Vindicated stands out as a different Dashboard song, now they’re trying to make a whole series of it. The one word choruses don’t ring well with me, and without the subtlety of earlier songs, there’s no way it will grow on me.
Of course, it’s not all screaching electric guitars with wild stumping on the wah wah pedals, there’s still time for the ballad style songs. Singer Chris Carrabba is still capable of giving it the most emotional twist possible (credits also to guest vocalist Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz on So Long, So Long), still the song doesn’t hit a home-run. To make it worse, while I already marked it “almost emo”, he goes a bit too far, and literally breaks out in a girly scream-ish tantrum (Heaven Here). With so many remarks on just a 10 song album, I can’t say I’m thrilled at all.5.

Review: The Wreckers – Stand Still, Look Pretty

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Debut album of The Wreckers, the duo formation consisting of Michelle Branch and her backup singer Jessica Harp, trying to mix Branch’s pop-rock with Harp’s southern twang influences. Too bad though, I always liked Michelle Branch’s work, but with the marital status (musical-wise), it’s leaning a bit too much to the country side (a mix that Jewel had better under control). The best song (The Good Kind) isn’t even a new song (already released one and a half years ago). The are of course other songs that almost remind me to Branch’s earlier solo work, and those are quite listenable, but as a whole album, I can’t really recommend it.5.

Review: Jewel – Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Over the years, from her debut a decade ago, every album has spawned several solid hits. With a distinct velvet-ish voice, providing a warm dynamic range and depth, belting out her own written lyrics, she’s gone from folky rock with a dash of Nashville origin to more popy tunes. Her last album, the dance-influenced 0304 from 2003, though, was quite horrible (it’s like a bad dream I’m really trying to forget). Luckily, she’s moving back to the more pop rock style (while leaving her country roots audible here and there) from the excellent This Way from 2001. Not totally bringin back the the piano/acoustic guitar set, it’s clear a seasoned (co-)producer (Rob Cavallo) is behind the wheels to ensure high quality sound on this album. And that makes this new album quite an easy listening experience (with enough uptempo songs balancing the moody ballads), though not as satisfying. Some some have less catchy and somewhat flat hooks, and some aren’t as fluid from verse to chorus as expected. Still, as a whole it’s as elegant as can be expected, making it a must-have nonetheless, if this is your cup of tea.7½.

Review: Hoobastank – Every Man For Himself

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

It’s been over 2 years since The Reason hit the airwaves, while not overly exciting (it drags on too monotonic long), it was enough to stand out and be quite the hit of the year. The rest of the same named album was not, though.
How does the new album hold up ? For a rock album, it’s definitely diverse, but still in a boring kinda of way. The vocals don’t carry any emotional resonance, and the whole mix on the album is undynamic, making even the best guitar riffs sound bland. Usually, even though I don’t like an album, I can always accurately predict the potential hits (for the less picky crowd). On this one, I honestly can not. (I could choose the track “If Only”, but I doubt they’d dare release a song so similar to their own The Reason).4-.

Review: Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

From their last album (Final Straw), I was able to pick less than a handful of songs that had a good base, but sounded as if they weren’t really finished, stuck with half a hook, never flowing into a full song. When a reviewer compared their latest effort coming close to The Goo Goo Dolls, I was definitely interested.
The reviewer, by the way, might as well have his ears bitten of by a rabid dog, because this album is even more disappointing. They must’ve heard one too many Coldplay songs by now, and half of the album is filled with the same uninterested main vocals (on a few songs, a background choir joins with the same uninteresting tone, did ALL the producers fall asleep ?) singing those instantly recognisable downward (hence depressing) hooks. The other half has unimaginative guitar play, making the songs, while uptempo and almost inviting, nothing more than generic rock in the most unflattering way.4-.

Review: Taking Back Sunday – Louder Now

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Between all the noise (which is indeed louder now) of the heavy electric guitar sets, it’s hard to distinguish any music, let alone high quality music. Of course, it’s kind of what you’d expect from them, using the same dual vocal setup, both which haven’t really improved. Their slightly unstable voices didn’t deter them from making a few hits here and there, but on this album I really can’t find any. If you want uncomprosing guitar violence, this might be something for you. Subtlety is nowhere around, so neither am I.4.

Review: Goo Goo Dolls – Let Love In

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

It’s been a while, but it’s finally here. Their last smasher album was in 2002 (Gutterflower), and that one took me a while to really like it. Then it went quiet (except for John Rzeznik’s two songs on the Treasure Planet soundtrack). In 2004 they released a Live in Buffalo DVD (while nothing really new, it was good nonetheless) along with the Give a Little Bit cover, and last year saw another new song released.
So, taking those two songs into account, I’m actually only reviewing 9 songs. 11 songs on an album is always a disappointment, and only 9 new ones is even more so. Traditionally, there will be two songs sung by fellow band member Robby Takac, and tradionally I like those far less then the usual Rzeznik songs.
So, only 7 left. What about it ? Well, keeping their records consistent, the tracklist is always balanced with acoustic and electric guitar setup. Overall, it seemed to have toned down though. Combined with what some might call “preachy” lyrics, they’re definitely heading the opposite direction of almost 2 decades ago (punk rock with lyrics like Up Yours, and songs about James Dean being gay). Still, the inspirational question aside, if you like’m in general, you’ll like this album (including the songs I just discarded in this review). In no time you’ll be belting out stuff like “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII’ll staaaaaaaaaay with youuuu” and “Now I’m banging on the door of an angel, the end of fear is where we begin,
the moment we decided to leeeeet looooove iiin” in the Goo Goo Dolls style they’ve made their own.8½.