Archive for the 'Music' Category

Review: Rob Thomas – Something to Be

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Breaking away from fronting Matchbox Twenty for a decade, this solo debut unties him from the limits the band’s rock background invoked. Or so Rob Thomas says. And if he says so, it must be true. Though I never had any problems with the 3 albums over the years, evolving nicely from melodious but bare metal setup of Yourself or Someone Like You to the more produced sounding Mad Season to the more experimental More Than You Think You Are. Infusing jazz (the genre I most hate) ? No problem, the result is more satisfying everytime I listen to it. Adding a choir to a rock song ? No problem. Same rule applies. Musically, it has many levels, and with every listen you can focus your ears to another level, making the experience a little bit different. Lyrically, the sentences are poetry with emotional depth. Vocally, it contrast nicely with the rough guitars, adding extra soul to the usual dramatic statements the songs make.
So, can he pull the same trick off another time, on his own, sweating for six months in the studio, with more poppy arrangements ? Yes, definitely. While on some songs you could’ve easily stuck a Matchbox Twenty banner on it, most are as he already told us, breaking away from the traditional sound. You’ll fall in love with them slowly, but in the end, it’s more profound. Again with all the previously mentioned ingredients, if you’re in for something different, this is the album you’ll want to get this year. With all the four albums, there are songs I immediately recognise as non-likably, but the majority are always rock solid, growing on you over time (instead of sudden hits, you’ll forget after a while). If you want lasting power, either try this one, or stick to Matchbox Twenty (as I’m sure they will return some day).8½.

Review: Natalie Imbruglia – Counting Down the Days

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

Previous released have been spaced quite evenly, with the single Torn launching her carreer in 1997. The poppy album Left of the Middle was well received, and four years later came White Lilies Island, growing more mature. While less of a commercial hit, it didn’t mean the album was of lesser quality. Now four years later again, comes Counting Down the Day, where she continues to mature with the guitar driven pop songs. Save a few strange songs, it’s still the same uplifting high tempo vocal sensation. This makes this album this year’s first no-brainer, as I’m sure anyone will enjoy this ultra-easy-listening album.7½.

Review: 3 Doors Down – Seventeen Days

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005

This band never treaded the path of excellency, but with this latest album, I’d say, if there was ever a need for a posterchild for mediocrity, these friendly neighbours (as their name suggests) would definitely be it. As with all previous albums, they have no real grasp of producing a solid melody or riff. Incidentally, they’re close, but overall, they keep missing it. The results are pretty often a bit dull and easily forgotten. So, in essence, the album title is an epitome of exaggeration, as it won’t even hold you interested for longer than 17 minutes.5½.

Review: Vanessa Williams – Everlasting Love

Sunday, February 20th, 2005

We all know her from the honey dipped ballads in the nineties, and she kept releasing albums throughout the years. Last year, even two flashed by (probably unnoticed), in Januari there was a best-of album and in October there was a Christmas album. Now comes another one, probably to compensate for the lost screen time (she disappeared from both the silver and the tv screen).
For this album she’s trying a new style. And, it’s a bit slow. I can’t handle anything slower than 30bpm(which is a lowly 0.5bps), and this album is filled with them. Most of the tracks have a light funky style rhythm reminding me of the late Barry White, but with the low baritone voice replaced by the familiar luscious female one. It’s definitely not the voice that makes me skip track after track. It’s just that I don’t want to fall asleep. Maybe it serves better in the background of a dark moody lounge, but it’s not for me at work or at home. So here’s the rating, all for the technical merits.6.

Review: Leann Rimes – This Woman

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

This Woman, right. You don’t have to tell me.
Rocket launched at an age of 13, blessed with a powerful subtlely swerving voice, she’s already released some tens of albums. The latest one is just like we’d expect, a nice marriage between country rock and pop. Most songs swing quite a bit, some are sweet as honey, and some are too standard to bear listening any more. All in all, a bit on the middle of the road.7+.

Just because…

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

The lazy dude with the strange nickname thinks I’ve got nothing better to do while I’m working. How ver introvert-ish !
Ah well, it’ s something about a chain mail thingy with weblogs. I don’t do nonsense like that (same for real snail mail and e-mail), but then again, I do try to keep this junkyard updated daily.

So here goes:

Total bits’n’bytes of music accumulated on your pc ?

Well, PC is at home, so I’ll take the slightly un-updated mirror here at work: 7.708.535.664 in 1369 files. Luckily the question was not about the music stored on the backup cd’s and dvd’s (as those are spread out, and contain songs I don’t listen to).

Last bought CD ?

Mad Season by Matchbox Twenty in May 2000. I even asked the MediaMarkt to reserve one for me. (Impatient as I was, on the release date, I went to the other MediaMarkt in town, and when I was about to pay, I received a call the CD was in. They didn’t mind I was buying from their colleagues)

Last song heard before reading the “questionnaire” ?

I’m at work, so that would mean I would have to remember the song I was playing when I hibernated my PC at home last night. And that, I’m not gonna do. So lemme un-hibernate my notebook here and wait… U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday

4 Songs you listen a lot to or mean a lot to you ?

Well, that’s just plain mean. So I’ll just pick one, and explain it, and be done with this question.

Goo Goo Dolls – Name

When listening to this song, you will realise it’s actually about how the x-generation fits in, and being the first generation (born here, or second, living here) Chinese mob, I can very well identify with the lyrics. Every single line is powerful and meaningful, for instance “We don’t belong to no one, and that’s a shame” and “Scars are souvenirs you never lose”. That woven into a multi-layered acoustic set, that kicks into a pretty wild riff at time-index 3:16, means it’s not only a story, it’s a story well-told.

Hah, and you really think I’d do this for FOUR SONGS, WHILE AT WORK ??

Which 5 persons do you force to continue this ridicule and why ?

Why is simple, I don’t even know that many. So I’m throwing a few that will end up on my own server again, so
Tienz, catch ! And Ez, catch too !
Throwing one to another lazy ass, Mr T. (who supposedly got Apache MySQL and PHP running a while ago, MWHHAAHA. He’ll probably start a weblog in, like… 2010).
And a few random ones, to Araphor. And … uhmm, can’t think of something else. Ah well, doesn’t matter, even if it’s 2 or 3, it’s still exponential growth, and saturation will happen anytime soon now.

Review: OST Alfie

Sunday, January 9th, 2005

While super-charmer Jude Law has to carry the movie, the soundtrack is totally in the hands of Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart. While the movie would suggest sweeping love ballads, this duo are known for other audible sounds. And so the album fires off with the single Old Habits Die Hard. An easy rocker with an up-tempo short hook in high repeat. But a catchy one at that. Listening to this first song, you’ll have time to watch the playlist, and then it hits you the 15 tracks aren’t that much after all. Old Habits Die Hard has no less than three renditions. The second song, The Blind Leading the Blind (an easy going rock rhythmer), has two rendition. Alfie also has two. And Lonely Without You (This Christmas) will only be played a few days in December. That brings the count down to only 10. Then you finish listening a few more songs you find out a few are instrumental only (probably to add to the atmosphere of the movie. Or not. I don’t intend to find out). That said, it’s still pretty nicely and slickly produced. Vocals of Mick Jagger are solid as always, and guest spots (Sheryl Crow, Gary Cooper, Joss Stone) are, of course, more than vocally adapt. If they cut the album in half (along with the price, of course), it would have been a solid contender. The way it is now, it’s worth only an average mark.6.

Review: U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

Monday, November 8th, 2004

Playing the ten songs for the tenth time already (I never liked Vertigo, hence only ten tracks are left), I can only say the high anticipation is not met with the same satisfactory feeling as with their last old school album. Only a handful have potential to grow on me, but somehow don’t have the feeling of the same punch the previous album had. It seems all the riffs they’re pulling off have some monotonous thing going on. And with that, I can’t even choose a song I’d consider an instant hit (for instance, Kite or Stuck in a Moment or Walk On on All That You Can’t Leave Behind). These new songs are definitely all pure rock, it just doesn’t rock me.6.

Review: William Shatner – Has Been

Friday, October 29th, 2004

William Shatner is still a very busy man, while starring on ABC’s Boston Legal, he’s still very much linked to his Star Trek history (and he’s still attending conventions here and there). Besides that he’s still developing for other TV projects, and starring in movies (upcoming Miss Congeniality sequel). And THEN he still has time to dive into a recording studio.
He made his story telling mode style his own, and the historical names The Transformed Man and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds must ring a bell. Decades have passed, but in 1998 he guest-starred on Ben Folds’s solo album Fear of Pop Vol. 1, singing a funny and quite ingenius In Love. The collaboration must’ve been so great, that now a whole album has been born. 10 songs (an eleventh is more a eulogy for his late wife, who drowned in their swimming pool in 1999) are very alike the In Love song. With strange background music, ranging from jazzy to country to hard rock, Ben Folds proves a versatile producer. He mixes it well, keeping it interesting and making every story stick. Guest vocals add something extra too. Besides Ben himself, Aimee Mann, Joe Jackson and Brad Paisley elevate the stories to a slighty more swinging experience.
Truth be told, the oldies were a bore, but In Love was enlighting. Luckily this album falls in the second catagory. While it’s definitely not a firecracker, it definitely works well in the background and may even persuade you to sway your head, unintentionally or not.7.

Review: Duran Duran – Astronaut

Friday, October 22nd, 2004

I have nothing against pop music. Heck, I have a whole bunch of them from the last 3 decades. It’s no surprise that my taste lies with contemporary pop, as time moves on. But this album, is literally a throwback from the eighties. And to be honest, it’s just a little bit too much for me. It induces unhealthy mental images. A few fifty-year olds behind Casio keyboards, and some holding a plastic guitars. The only real difference is the slightly more advanced sampling machine, but it’s still definitely the eighties. This album is probably only suitable for the real die-hard Duran Duran fans, it they still exist.5.

Review: R.E.M. – Around the Sun

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

With their single Leaving New York out, I thought their album could be interesting, not having listened to anything new for a few decades. In the end (after the full 3 obligatory rounds of the whole album), I was bored to death. Where they managed to get at least a faint melody on Leaving New York, the rest of the songs sound just like it, and I mean only the verse part. This album features songs that will put kids with ADHD to sleep in no time. If you ever feel overly excited, this album will bring your mood down a few notches for sure.4.

Review: Ana Johnsson – The Way I Am

Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

I’ve mentioned her before, and starting your career on a Spider-man soundtrack is no small matter. While the song We Are was bordering sink or swim, the album would finally give the answer.
First off, given how We Are sounds mature, the other songs seem rather childish. And I don’t just mean her voice, I’m also referring to the lyrics. Her voice also doesn’t really stand out. Ending up with a handful of mediocre songs, and a few more I keep skipping, the result isn’t that enticing. This album is definitely not a recommended hearing object.5-.

Review: Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten

Monday, September 20th, 2004

Another offspring of the “sister-of”-syndrome. With only one solid hit in the open, it is, as always, an exciting experience to find out if the whole album is filled with potential hits, are that you’ve heard the only one already.
The album is filled with poppy songs and a few ballads. The positive thing is her tendency to play with the tempo on most of her songs adds a layer of freshness to it.
The bad things however, overshadow the good stuff. For instance (having seen some pretty admirable live performances), her voice is powerful, but on the slower ballads, the timbre is unstable. Her voice is shaky when reaching the higher tones. Then there’s the freshness that wears off after the second or third round of listening to the album. Also, the hooks on the other songs don’t have the same positive spin as These Words. They even lean to the negative side, making longevity an impossibility. The fourth round of listening will be a trying task. Combined with the uninteresting topics and lyrics, some nine songs will end in the trash bin very soon. (The tenth being the title song, which might have a shot at the charts, but not reaching the same heights as her first hit). This deserves a grade just for the effort.5-.

Review: Richard Marx – My Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, September 1st, 2004

Successful as a background singer (Lionel Richie), and a music writer (multiple hits you didn’t know about, from Kenny Rogers to *N Sync), somewhere in ’91 he thought he donned the then fashionable long hair coupe, and marked his name in the music history. After a few years he went back behind the curtains keeping a low profile, yet still sharpening his writing skills. So here is a new album, and again, he proves to be a experienced allround writer. While his old hits still resonate well on many Greatest Hits albums and radio stations, here is another dozen new contemporary love songs. Filled with several pop styles and slower ballads, your finger never really twitches over the “next” button. His voice has great dynamics, reaching a few full octaves, and every song gets another treatment with trained precision, a skill rarely exploited. Taking the album as a whole, I can only say he definitely delivered the ultimate easy listening album.8-.

Review: Kimberley Locke – One Love

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

Of all the American Idols, only one has reached Europe so far. Now it seems another Idols may have caught an Trans-Atlantic breeze this way. And it’s not the number one of the second series (Ruben), it’s not even the more successful runner-up (Clay Aiken), no, it’s the number three of that year. 30 seconds of her single 8th World Wonder was enough to pique my interest, an upbeat pop-rock song showing strong yet delicate vocals.
So on the the album. First thing to notice is the undeniable resemblance with her predecessor’s style, Kelly Clarkson. Luckily, this is only limited to a few songs. With that first bugger gone, the rest is filled with a mix of dreamy pop-ballads and soulful R&B, a perfect combo for a voice like hers. Of course, a duet with a fellow Idol is a prerequisite before you start an album, so Clay Aiken steps in to team up for an ultrasweet Without You. A bit more pop would’ve kept my overall attention higher, but even with the slower songs, it’s able to stay above average. A perfect album for winding down after a busy working day.7-.