cd reviews

Here's some CD reviews; pretty much, how I feel about them, and how you should as well. (updated 11/16/07)— reviews added: Sara Bareilles – Little Voice

Let's keep it simple, okay? Here is the rating system: (Of course, remember, that I don't really like to compare artists; if something is highly ranked, it is because I think it is good… not because it is necessarily better than something else.) CD's will get a rating of 1-5 stars. No halfsies, so rounding may happen on occasion; be prepared. Also, this shit is organized: it's in alphabetical order! New reviews will be added whenever I want to add them; so check back often! (a side note: I will occasionally write reviews on my blog, and then transplant them here. If you read something that doesn't make sense, let me know)

  • (bad)
  • (not totally bad)
  • (quite good)
  • (really good)
  • (brilliant!)

Now, let's get to it, shall we?

  • Clay Aiken: Measure of a Man — To be the debut album of the first runner up on the second season of American Idol, this album isn't half bad. In fact, I would venture to say it is probably a lot stronger vocally than many of the albums that came out that year. Clay's vocal ability is highlighted wonderfully on many of these tracks where he soars through the notes with his signature range and uncanny ability to hold those notes effortlessly. The only disappointment for me here are the two tracks that are missing: Bridge Over Troubled Water and Solitaire. Solitaire, in my opinion is the best Clay has offered yet, but it is no where to be seen on this album. Minor disappointment, but still satisfaction. Song Highlights: This is the Night, The Way, No More Sad Songs.
  • Lily Allen: Alright, Still — This British import is a welcome addition to pop. Lily writes catchy songs, clever lyrics, and has a beautifully British singing style. She's also quite a pistol; don't piss her off future boyfriends! (That is, unless you want her to point out your small dick, lack of class and style, and your inability to keep it up!) If you like Brit pop, you will love Lily. Her record is rock, reggae, a little hip hop, and definitely poptastic. It was a little hard for me to get into a first, but looking back, I have no idea why. After I saw her play live, I knew that I was in love, and I haven't looked back since. I LOVE every song on this album, and can't wait to see what she will do next. This album is so perfect, that I only hope she brings us more of the same. One word to the wise, be careful, for MOST of these songs are so catchy and addictive, that they will get totally stuck in your head for days and days on end. Seriously. But no worry, because they are fantastic! Song Highlights: LDN, Knock 'Em Out, Not Big, Alfie.
  • All Saints: Studio 1 — If you have heard of the All Saints, you should check out what they bring to the table with their “comeback” record. These girls are back with everything I liked about them back in the day (haha, just a few years ago, that is), and totally bring a fresh sound that is great to dance to. This is pop with a pulse. A bunch of the songs definitely have an edgy vibe, but it only brings out the ghettoness I have come to love in the All Saints; trust me, it sounds like you really shouldn’t piss these girls off. This is one import from the UK that you should be ordering if you want to hear a sample of what’s good that is going on over seas. Stand Out Tracks: Rock Steady, Not Eazy, Hell No.
  • Fiona Apple: When the Pawn — Though the name may be the longest title for a record released (which I believe it actually is), this record is anything but long. In fact, it almost feels too short, with only 10 tracks. I say this because just as you are beginning to feel Fiona's heartbreak, rage, and underlying love, you are halfway though the album, and begging for more. This album marks her sophomore effort, and shows how fast and far Fiona could, and did, grow musically and lyrically. (Although, her debut disc was miles ahead of many, Fiona has a very old soul). This record is filled with her emotions and you will feel them as she pours over them with ravaging piano and deep vocals. I hope that writing brings her catharsis, because there is cold sincerity in the lyrics, and one would hope that writing this record helped. Song Highlights: Fast as You Can, I Know, Love Ridden.
  • Sarah Bareilles: Careful Confessions — I discovered Sara when I went to see Marc Broussard in concert (for whom she was opening), and was very shocked and pleasantly surprised at her musical abilities. I must say that I was honestly moved by her performance, raw and acoustic, with just her guitar player, Javier, and her playing a piano together. The product allowed me to focus on the magnificent quality of her lyrics and the angelic eminence of her voice. Just after the show, I purchased this CD with absolute excitement, and rightfully so. Each song on this disc (the first seven are studio, and the last four are live recordings) captures your undivided attention, by providing the listener with a glimpse into her soul. Sara has a sound that could only be described as a combination of Sarah Mclachlan, Fiona Apple, and Elton John (with even a twinge of Chrissie Hynde). The result is a classy singer, with a powerful voice, singing beautifully written songs about love and loss (much like those artists mentioned above), with the occasional, and greatly welcomed, perfectly executed high note. The product, which is captured on this CD, tells me that there is a lot more to come from Sara, and I honestly cannot wait. By visiting her website, www.sarabmusic.com, you can obtain free copies of nine live recordings, which, in my mind are “essential Sara”, given the fact that she played most of them when I saw her live. The free songs supplement the record perfectly, and the result is much desired access to more of her material. Especially great is the cover of Aha’s ‘Take on Me’. Grab this disc right now, because I predict she is going to be huge, and you are definitely going to want to know about her. Song Highlights: Gravity, City, Undertow.
  • Sara Bareilles – Little Voice — I can still remember the goose bumps I got the first time I heard Sara sing; and every time I hear her amazing voice hit that high note in Gravity, it all floods right back… goose bumps and all. I was so excited when Sara was signed to a record deal, after having her “demo” (the above-reviewed Careful Confessions) for a while, and was even more eager to hear new material from her. Unfortunately, it was delayed time and again, and frustration was not only mine; she had something to say about it herself (a few of the songs on Little Voice vent her frustrations). When Little Voice finally did come out, I pre-ordered it, both excited and apprehensive; could she deliver like she did on that demo that I fell so deeply in love with? Would she still make my heart stop with her amazing voice, and talented lyrics? The answer would be an astounding yes. Not only is Little Voice a vast improvement over what I would consider a perfect “demo” CD, Sara has delivered songs that both compliment her earlier stuff, and launch her forward as a tried and true artist. Sara proved with this CD that she will continue to be the one to watch, as she grows as an artist, and learns how to navigate the trickiness that is the music industry. On the record, most of the demos were reworked, and all but one (Fairytale; which was perfect the way it was for me) in my opinion, cast a huge shadow over their predecessors; Sara really owns these songs, and it shows. I have to say, that after listening to this CD a few times, I realized that Sara was definitely one of my favorite artists, because everything that I have gotten from her is amazing; and continues to be so. This CD is one that I can listen to on repeat, and there is not a bad track among the lot. I also think that she proved herself, and knows it by putting a magnificently reworked Gravity as the last song on the album; she is telling us that this is what you can expect from Sara Bareilles, and you better listen up. Trust me, Sara, I am; and will continue to intently do so from here on out. If there is justice in this world, this girl is going to be huge. Song Highlights: Love Song, Vegas, Between the Lines, Gravity, Morningside, Bottle It Up.
  • Daniel Bedingfield: Second First Impression — With Daniel Bedingfield’s aptly named sophomore effort, 'Second First Impression', he manages to capture everything good about his first disc and up the ante. This record was built on the foundation of soul, hip hop, latin, rock, and well, you name it. Daniel’s style is supplemented by his very interesting voice, which, at first listen, many people think is actually a female vocal. Many of the songs on this disc remind me of Prince, but his style ranges from Prince to Justin Timberlake. It is quite apparent right away that Bedingfield is a very powerful male vocalist, and songs like “All Your Attention” and “Nothing Hurts Like Love”, will have you longing to hit those high notes right along with him. It will also leave you wondering why he isn’t a staple here in America, because it will be hard for you to get these songs out of your head. Daniel obviously has the pop appeal, and the hip hop style to break through, but for some reason this disc is taking its time coming stateside (I bought it as an import, based solely on how good his first album was), which is, in my opinion, a big mistake, given the success of 'Gotta Get Through This'. This disc does manage to show Daniel’s maturity with respect to creating music, and acts a forum where he showcases his style and range more fittingly than his debut. Based on what I hear on this record, I know that we can expect really great things to come from Daniel Bedingfield in the future, and here’s hoping, for our sake, that it doesn’t skip American entirely. Song Highlights: Nothing Hurts Like Love, All Your Attention, Sorry.
  • The Bird and The Bee: The Bird and The Bee –- Now, here is a band that you can really enjoy. The CD is full of pop beats, melodic harmonies, and sultry-yet-soft vocals from the female lead singer. I heard of this group from a friend, and I thought I would give them a listen, only to fall in love with this CD. Some of the songs are fun, some of the songs are silly, but in all, they are all a great listen. I would highly recommend this CD if you enjoy Everything but the Girl, not because they are techno/electronic, but because her voice reminds me of the haunting vocals of Tracy Thorne. I love the playful nature of the songs, and the happy synthetic beats that make this an upbeat, solidly produced, enjoyable disc. I would also throw in, that they definitely have a throw back to the 60s, where some of the sounds they use remind me of the Mama’s and the Papa’s. If any of this is tickling you fancy, check this CD out; you won’t be sorry. It’s a great one. Song Highlights: I Hate Camera, Fucking Boyfriend, Spark.
  • Britney: In the Zone — Many that know me would wonder why I only gave this disc four stars instead of six, due to my love my Ms Spears. The answer is this: this disc is fantastic, don't get me wrong, but it has lost much of the bubble gum we had come to love you for, B! The production on the album is all star and crisp, but some of the songs don't have “hit” written all over them, unlike many of the songs on B's previous albums. I really like the direction she has gone with the record (more hip hop and club sounds, with only two real ballads), exploring her style and experimenting with several new sounds and subjects. My hat is off to Britney for successfully (at least I think so) transitioning from pop princess to a grown up star. I just miss the bubble gum, you know? Song Highlights: Toxic, Me Against the Music, Shadow.
  • Britney: Greatest Hits: My Prerogative — Finally, after releasing year after year of hits, and having a backing catalog of hundreds of CD's, Britney releases her long awaited Greatest Hits disc. Oh wait a minute, what am I talking about? She only has 4 CD's out, and, while she does have a ton of hits, nothing that is really earth shattering. But, let's examine one thing here folks: Britney is the first female artist to debut 4 CD's at number one. And she has something like 50 million in record sales. That is pretty impressive. But the point of this album is clear. Britney had a pretty interesting year, so why not cash out before Christmas? Well, like myself, many people are surely buying in, and gladly at that. Why, you ask? Well, first of all, Britney's cover of the Bobbie Brown “hit” My Prerogative is very likeable, and, let's face it, better than the original. Is it enough to buy this album? Probably not, but if you throw in all of the hits you get for one low price, it certainly is. For many, it will certainly beat buying all 4 of her CD's. The two other additional “tacked on songs” are less than grand, and really are just filler tracks. The additional remix disc could have been an impressive collection of her many fabulous mixes of these hits that have been released over the years, but falls VERY short. But, these really are my only complaints, because this is the best of Britney (minus a huge hit she had (in my humble opinion) with “Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know”… bummer), and it is definitely worth owning. Oh, baby, baby. Song Highlights: Stronger, Toxic, Slave 4 U, Overprotected (Darkchild Mix), …Baby One More Time.
  • Marc Broussard: Carencro — Okay, so where did this guy come from? Based on the name of the album, we know he comes from Louisiana, but whoa. This guy's voice is so soulful, he must be, what, 40-50 years old? Lived and loved, long enough to look back and write about it? Nope. This guy is in his twenties, and sounds this great. There is so much soul in his voice it will give you goose bumps. And, this record is so well made, it will be sure to capture fans that would normally look the other way, when they saw the words “soulful voice and thought-filled songs”. But seriously, Marc really hit a homerun on this album. I stumbled across his website when I was surfing the internet one afternoon, and I immediately ordered the CD. And I was glad when it arrived. I still am. There isn't one bad song on this CD. I kid you not. And, they are all full of life, fun, and delicious soul and rhythm, and often times, a backing choir! Marc puts the beat back in the rock, and the blues back in the roll. I foresee that Marc will be popular among the college circuit, if he isn't already. He has a very poignant way of being a Bob Dylan-meets-Dave Matthews-meets-John Mayer bluesy-rock luminary. If you are a fan of talent, as I am, you will not be disappointed here, because his talent, both as a songwriter and musician, shine brightly through. Song Highlights: Rocksteady, Save Me, Let Me Leave.
  • Caedmon's Call: Back Home — I discovered this band while I was in college, and instantly fell in love with their heartfelt lyrical style, acoustically driven performances, and the utilization of perfect harmonies between the three lead singers. Their self titled first record was always my favorite album, because I feel it captured their sound so completely. Now, I believe this record showcases their style, range, and performance ability like they have never achieved before. This band has been around for more than ten years, and Back Home shows that they are only getting better. The record feels like the soundtrack of a wonderful day, where everything just seems to be going so well. Even though most of the songs are about worship, praise, and goodliness in the eyes of God, it could completely find itself in secular meaning and understanding. If 'Back Home' is the direction that Caedmon's Call is headed, I am ready to be a 'Bus Driver' for them any day. Song Highlights: Mystery of Mercy, Manner and Means, The High Countries.
  • The Cardigans: Life — Imagine a happy, sunny day. Now, picture yourself running through the grassy knoll. Now, picture someone taking silly pictures in 1970's film kind of ways. Got all that? Now, the music that would be playing during that whole scenario is this CD. This is one of the more happy go lucky CDs that I have ever had the privilege to fall in love with, and Nina Presson's voice, as always makes it that much more wonderful. This is pure cupcake and gumdrop, but it is delicious, and I know that you will love it too. Even the cover lives up to the sounds you find on the disc behind it; Nina Presson poses in a ice skater's outfit. This CD is a must have. Song Highlights: Sick and Tired, Carnival, Rise & Shine.
  • The Cardigans: First Band On the Moon — If you could take pure confectioner's sugar, and form it into the shape of a CD, and somehow make it play in your CD player, that CD would be titled the Cardigans: First Band On the Moon. With their sarcasm knob set steadily on high, the Cardigans take us on a musical whimsy that leaves you reaching for pain medication to relieve your new toothache. This album is serious bubble gum, with a twist: it is angry, violent, and at times, just plain weird (see their cover of Black Sabbath's Iron Man). Still, it provides tremendous amounts of fun and enjoyment, well worth a little toothache. Song Highlights: Been It, Happy Meal II, Losers.
  • The Cardigans: Gran Turismo — Definitely a darker side of the Cardigans, Gran Turismo is a foray into the electronic, where the Cardigans put Presson's angelic voice against dark backdrops of haunting beats. The product definitely gives the listener a contradicting experience, but the thing is, it works. And it works well. The title of the CD is the same as a racing game that was released, Gran Turismo, and I believe that this CD was used as the soundtrack for the game. That makes complete sense when you are listening, because the music paints a portrait of an adventure; spies, swift car chases, etc. It really imbibes the feeling of action and adventure, and ironically, that is exactly what this CD was for the Cardigans, an adventure in a direction they had not previously gone before. Fans of the pop-crystal sound will find this disc much harder, but should be pleasantly pleased after several listens. This disc definitely grows on the listener. Don't let the darkness dissuade you, any true Cardigans fan will find everything they love about the Cardigans present (i.e. Pressons beautiful singing, amazingly written lyrics and songs, etc). Song Highlights: Erase/Rewind, My Favorite Game, Explode.
  • The Cardigans: Long Gone Before Daylight — I have said that this record is what it would be like if love could sleepwalk. This mellowed down, but still somewhat serious offering from the Cardigans is not dreary, as my description might suggest, but a delight. Nina Persson sings of love, loss, and love (again), all while maintaining the sweet deliciousness of her pop-perfect voice cascading over brilliantly written lyrics. The sounds are much more somber this time around, but this just seems to be the Cardigans doing what most great bands do: offer solid records filled with wonderful songs, each time changing the way they do it. If this is what the Cardigans were trying to do, they have succeeded. Song Highlights: Communication, And Then You Kissed Me, 03:45: No Sleep.
  • Kelly Clarkson: Thankful — As the first CD of the very first winner of American Idol hit the stores, I was there, and bought Ms. Independent's disc on that very day. Needless to say, I was glad I did. This disc shows Kelly's talent vocally, and her ability to make any song sound truly wonderful. This CD is very well produced, and the songs that were chosen were obviously chosen for Kelly, because of her singing abilities. The record is fun, beautiful, and pure pop perfection. It is one of those CDs that you can listen to over and over. I am sure that I speak for others when I say, “I cannot wait for a new Kelly Clarkson CD!”. Song Highlights: The Trouble With Love Is, Anytime, You Thought Wrong.
  • Kelly Clarkson: Breakaway — I have been waiting for this CD since the day I bought Kelly's first CD, Thankful. And honestly, I do say that I had really high hopes that she wouldn't just be a flash in the pan, because, let's admit, Thankful was a great disc. And so, I went to the store, held my breath and bought this CD. When I got it out and listened to it, I was so happy. Kelly is back, and it really feels like she has found the sound she can call hers. There are a lot more rock influences on this CD, and she really has the chance, again, to showcase her amazing voice. Most of the songs on this CD sound like songs that would be top ten hits, and that is saying a lot about the disc. I am very impressed, and look forward to more from Ms. Clarkson. Song Highlights: Breakaway, Since U Been Gone, Where Is Your Heart, Because Of You.
  • Danity Kane: Danity Kane — Laugh all you want, but I followed these girls through their grueling tryouts on Making the Band, and they can sing, dance, and do it all. This CD doesn’t disappoint either; I am not a huge hip hop fan, and I love this record. It is just so well produced and fun to listen to. I was glad to see the CD came out so well, because I watched the show in anticipation of their debut, hoping I would be pleased with this group I just wanted to love. Needless to say, I was more than satisfied. Diddy did something great by forming his girl group, and I for one can’t wait to see what they do next. Stand Out Tracks: One Shot, Hold Me Down, Touching My Body.
  • The Darkness: Permission To Land — If you have ever had the opportunity to enjoy a hair band wail out on a song, or two, you will definitely appreciate where the Darkness is coming from. Obvious comparisons to Queen aside, this rock group brings a wonderful heavy metal feel to pure love-ridden Brit-pop. It is like combining AC/DC with Queen, and adding twist of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Consider this over-the-top, and handle with caution… for it is definitely highly infectious, and wonderfully enjoyable. You will be wishing you could sing at those octaves, wondering if that is a woman (at times), and just simply enjoy rocking out (often confused if you should be). This disc has taken the UK by storm, and there is good reason why, it is just really, really good. These guys aren’t taking things too seriously, and are obviously having a good time doing it. So, do yourself a good favor and have a good time with them. Song Highlights: Growing On Me, Get Your Hands Off My Woman, I Believe In A Thing Called Love.
  • Daughtry: Daughtry — The American Idol cast off proves that not only can he sing, but he’s got the goods to make a great album. This rock album is not what I was expecting from an AI alum, but I am pleased that it wasn’t; it’s excellent! It is seriously an album of singles, great singles. It was obvious when he was on the show that Chris has a talent for rock, and now he has had the chance to prove himself, and prove himself he did. If you like good rock, check this out. It doesn’t hurt that he is definitely nice to look at as well… Stand Out Tracks: It’s Not Over, Over You, Feels Like Tonight.
  • Dixie Chicks: Taking the Long Way — Controversy erupted on my blog when I advocated support for the Dixie Chicks because of their outspoken take on politics, and I took flack for implying one should buy a CD because they agree with someone’s politics; but what was missing, was the fact that I love the Chick’s music as well. This CD is perhaps their best, in my opinion, and is obviously a big FU to those fans that turned their backs on them; they are staying, and are extremely talented, whether you want to admit it or not. It seems they don’t care if you do. Stand out tracks: The Long Way Around, Not Ready To Make Nice, Bitter End.
  • Dreamgirls Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) — What else do I need to do to get you to see this movie??? Seriously, one of the best movies of the year 2006, which also happens to be a kick ass musical, earned a spot on the favorite's of 2006 CD list because after you see the movie, you will be singing the songs over and over in your head. This edition has every gem from the film, and if you liked this movie, is a CD that should be in your collection. I love when they remake musicals for film and get it right. This is one of those times. Jennifer Hudson is simply amazing. Wow. Stand Out Tracks: And I’m Telling You, Move, One Night Only (both versions!!!), Listen.
  • Melissa Ethridge: Lucky — Only recently have I come to enjoy Melissa, and mostly it was thanks to the song entitled 'Tuesday Morning' from this disc. It is a heartfelt song about a gay man who lost his life defending our country and protecting many lives of those that the hijacked plane would have surely killed. It will give you goose bumps. Additionally, this record is very uplifting, and is a great example of rock songs written about love and expressing love to or for someone. Melissa is a great role model for gay and lesbian youth, as well as gay and lesbian adults, and this record not only shows her talent and mass appeal, it showcases an out and proud lesbian who can turn out some good feeling, honest rock-n-roll. Song Highlights: Tuesday Morning, When You Find The One, Meet Me In The Dark.
  • Everything But The Girl: Temperamental — It was that turning of a corner with ‘Missing’, that led up the revitalization of their once acoustically-driven sound, and into the release of this wonderful chill/electronic disc. Temperamental is filled with wonderful melodies, poignant lyrics, delectable rhythms, and as always, my favorite, Tracy Young’s magnificent voice. I must say that I do not normally like chill/lounge electronica, but many danceable songs, coupled with the haunting quality of Tracy’s voice, you can’t go wrong. This record comes after the success of Walking Wounded, which was also a foray into electronica, and while it does not hit as hard as Walking did, it still has quite a bang. The only reason this disc doesn’t have a full six star rating, is because of one instrumental track, that while it is not bad, doesn’t hold my attention, and acts as an anchor (in a bad way). But other than that… sheer pleasure to listen to. This is the perfect disc to pop in when you are on a date, or are having people over for a dinner party. IF this is what we have to expect from future Everything but The Girl albums, I cannot wait for a new one. Song Highlights: Five Fathoms, Low Tide of The Night, The Future of the Future.
  • Ben Folds: Rockin the Suburbs — Knee-deep in humorous hooks and laugh out loud lyrics, Ben Folds' Rockin the Suburbs is a sheer guilty delight. Ben Folds strikes out on his own (from the Ben Folds Five) to mold his band's sound into a successful and entertaining sound on his own. This disc is heavy on piano-rock, and doesn't let up until the very end, where Ben shows a more serious and beautiful side, in The Luckiest. I would venture to say that this disc is very representative of Ben Folds' sound and style, and remains consistent throughout the whole CD, with each song having a little something, but sticking to the main theme of the record. This is definitely a record that you will enjoy, whether laughing at the lyrics, enjoying the fire-hot piano, or bobbing to both. Song Highlights: The Luckiest, Annie Waits, Rockin the Suburbs.
  • Girls Aloud: The Sound of Girls Aloud… Greatest Hits — Basically, this is the MUST have Girls Aloud CD. It has all of their hits, and even some new great tracks. In case you are like, um, who is Girls Aloud, well, then it is time for you to come out from under that rock and realize that these girls are doing everything they can to save pop overseas… and they are doing a great job! A very danceable group, with the occasional ballad, Girls Aloud usually find themselves at the top of the charts for a good reason; they make great fun music, and I for one, am all about it! If you are just getting into them, this is the CD you want to start with. Now that you know, go and get it now. Stand Out Tracks: Something Kinda Oooh, The Show, Love Machine, Biology.
  • Tamyra Gray: The Dreamer — I must say that I was really waiting for this CD, in order to truly see what Ms. Gray could do. I saw her perform live one night at a local restaurant/bar, and she sang “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going”, and I was hooked. When she sang that song, I literally had chills all over my whole body, she was that good. And I believe that she still is, just not that much, on this CD. Now don’t get me wrong, this CD is actually pretty bad, which sucks, considering that she wrote all of the songs, sans one. I guess the real issue here, is that I was thinking this was going to be more like Thankful (Kelly Clarkson), or even One Love (Kimberley Locke), but it isn’t. It is totally Tamyra, well, totally written by Tamyra. I believe that she would be higher in my book if she had used a couple of hit maker’s choices to appeal to her understandably pop audience from AI, and mixed them in with her own sound, especially since she is a new artist (not to mention choices that would show her vocal range better). On a side note: I must say that this CD got a two because of Tamyra's past performances… it really should be a one star rating, sorry T. Song Highlights: Raindrops Will Fall, Star, The Only Thing.
  • Hellogoodbye: Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! — I discovered this band through the video for the song “Here (In Your Arms), and initially, gave them very little thought. But, that song proved to be so infectious, that I checked out the rest of the CD, and ended up finding one of my favorite records of the year. If you like the aforementioned song, the whole record will fill you with sheer delight. Trust me. They are awesome. I saw them at the Masquerade, and these boys put on a great show, too. Definitely a band to keep your eye, and ears, on. Stand Out Tracks: All Time Lows, Touchdown Turnaround, I Saw It On Your Keyboard.
  • Indigo Girls: All That We Let In — I must admit that this was the very first Indigo Girls CD that I ever purchased, and good thing, because it is simply beautiful. The lyrics focus on love, loss, whimsy, and the serious ramifications of ignorance towards governments and policies. Like all Indigo Girls albums, it provides the listener with a toe-tapping beat, with socially conscious messages to sing, while riding in your, hopefully, hybrid/clean fuel efficient car. This CD is accompanied by a DVD. There is really no bad song on this CD, and just think, if it made me sit up and take notice of other Indigo Girls albums (of which I have purchased two more since getting this one), it would probably do the same for you. Think Indigo hits!! Song Highlights: Free In You, Come On Home, All That We Let In.
  • Janet: Damita Jo — Janet “Ms. Jackson if you’re Nasty” is back with another wonderful danceable hit disc. The only problem with this CD is this: This isn’t the pop Janet we all remember. In fact, this Janet, opting to stick with the same producers as always (smart move), ends up taking bigger risks, which totally pay off, to some respect. This disc is full of hip hop anthems that could tear up the floor on any Saturday night at the club, seriously. Then there are the few ballads that give her the chance to sing about her newfound love to JD. But the main theme of all the songs, albeit interesting and often eyebrow raising, is explicit sex and, dare I say it, song-pornography. Janet even provides a couple of more ‘pop’ numbers, which are chock full of dirty descriptions of what her man could do to her. Given this, I do say it is a little too mature for the kiddies, but I am not offended in the least. Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty, indeed. Song Highlights: Just A Little While, Sexhibition, I Want You.
  • Jars of Clay: Who We Are Instead — With this album, Jars expands their classic acoustic-driven, meaningful sound into a realm to hints back to the early sounds of Jars of Clay. Essentially, I feel as if they have found their niche, and are perfecting their craft. The lyrics are heartfelt and emotional, and are masterfully written, as to be expected from Jars of Clay. These guys have really explored and challenged their style and sound over their career, and with this record, manage to retain and expand their roots in their unique folk-rock style, that makes this instantly recognizable as a Jars of Clay record (much like their debut and Much Afraid albums). Fans of Jars of Clay will recognize that immediately. Song Highlights: Show You Love, Faith Enough, Jealous Kind.
  • Elton John: Peachtree Road — Apparently, this is Elton's like 43rd studio album, or something like that. If that isn't impressive, I don't know what is. But, this is also one of the first, if not the first, disc that he recorded entirely here, in America, and it definitely has indicators of it. It has a southern rock-gospel feel that is easy on the ears, and works well with the lyrics. This CD may not be the very best Elton CD ever made ( I would think that would always be reserved for his greatest hits album, which spans his entire career), but it definitely shows that at this point in his career, Elton is less concerned with making hits, and has turned his focus towards making great records. This whole album is a delight beginning to end. Elton has been around for a long time, and with this record, he shows that he is still as good as he ever was. Song Highlights: My Elusive Drug, Weight of the World, I Stop and I Breathe.
  • Kaiser Chiefs: Yours Truly, Angry Mob — A solid rock album from start to finish. Catchy british alternative pop that rocks hard and never lets up. This CD reminds me a lot of what I loved about Blur when I first discovered them. I love the catchy songs, I love the sick guitar riffs, and I love the style of their punk flavored rock. This CD is awesome; it will be hard for you to put down. Standouts: Ruby, My Kind of Guy, Angry Mob, Love's Not a Competition (But I'm Winning)
  • Mat Kearney: Nothing Left to Lose — I discovered Mat by randomly seeing his video for the song “Nothing Left To Lose”, and I loved the song enough to snag the CD. And after a few listens, I can say that I am in love with it. I love his voice, because it is soft and sweet to the ears; all the while maintaining a worn, harder undertone. He sounds a lot (vocally, that is) like a mix between Chris Martin from Coldplay, and Adam Duritz from The Counting Crows; but has a little bit of that hip-hop funk Jason Mraz likes to throw down (without the cockiness). His sound is sort of light pop-rock, but sometimes has an interesting blend of folk sounds with some hip-hop beats and rap-lite singing. The whole CD is definitely a good listen, and is one that I find myself craving a lot lately. A few of the songs are so infectious, I find myself waking up with them in my head. With the initial praise aside, I must say that the more hip-hop oriented songs were harder for me to get into, but after listening to this CD over and over for a few days now (I told you I loved it), I am digging the whole disc, start to finish. I was hooked on “Nothing Left To Lose”, and have been reeled into the rest, because, well, the CD is damn good start to finish. It also doesn’t hurt, that when I listen to his beautiful voice, I have a mental image of his beautiful face, and I just imagine that he is singing to me (*swoon*). All hail the hotness that is Mat Kearney; beautiful face, beautiful voice, and a great singer/songwriter to boot. I will have to see him when he comes to Atlanta, for sure. I am also going to have to pick up his first, more independent CD, because if this is his sophomore effort, who knows what gems may be on that one. I hope he gains more momentum, and gets a lot more attention, because unlike many artists today, he actually deserves it! Standouts: Nothing Left to Lose, Undeniable (this will get stuck in your head!!!), In The Middle, and the beautiful, What’s a Boy To Do (probably my favorite).
  • Nick Lachey: Soul-O — If you liked 98 degrees, chances are, you will like Nick Lachey’s solo album. It has much of the same feel that a 98 degrees disc does, but it attempts to go in a more “rock and roll” direction. Nick experiments with rock, but manages to stay true to his fans with his signature: classic power ballads. Many fans will recognize his previous style on tracks like ‘This I Swear’, ‘Edge of Eternity’, ‘On and On’, and ‘I Fell in Love Again’, just to name a few. Overall, I believe that this disc got a bad rap and little press (considering the lackluster record sales), simply because it wasn’t marketed the way it should have been (if at all), and really doesn’t have a solid fit with anyone other than Lachey’s fans. The biggest problem with this disc is, while some songs are wonderfully written and actually have heartfelt lyrics, others are simply juvenile or just plain trite. Sorry to say, but when you include lyrics like, “1+1=2”, and you are not singing to 3 year olds, it just doesn’t work. I believe this was an effort to force rhyme, when it was simply unnecessary. With that being said, there are really only a couple of these songs, and the others really do outshine the bad. Overall, even the songs with bad lyrics are still very pleasing to the ears, and the whole CD is actually quite nice to listen to. I guess my suggestion is this: if you like 98 degrees and other boy band-style music and you can get past a few trite lyrics, you will surely like this, but if not, you probably won’t. Song Highlights: This I Swear, Edge of Eternity, On and On.
  • Kristian Leontiou: Some Day Soon — I first heard of Kristian in the movie Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!, specifically, the song ‘Shining’. At that point, I felt I had heard something worth investigating, and I was right. I had to order this CD on eBay, since he is a British artist, but I am glad that I did. The whole CD is very light, and not entirely different than ‘Shining’. His voice is pretty unique, in that I haven’t really heard any men sing like this. I have heard him compared with Dido and David Gray, and while I can see the possibility of both, I would venture to say that he really does have his own sound. It is very acoustic and pop-driven like those artists, but his voice really does make it different (much like theirs makes their music different). I guess I could say that if you like either Dido or David Gray, it may be good for you to check this out, but you should probably lean more towards David Gray. But, that is only my opinion. All comparisons aside, the whole disc is a good listen, and while some of the lyrics may border on trite, you have to remind yourself that this is just good pop, and that is what good pop is sometimes about. Song Highlights: Shining, The Crying, Story of My Life.
  • Kimberley Locke: One Love — I must say that I was expecting a lot from this American Idol third place contestant, and boy did she ever deliver. Kimberley's debut album is a mixture of ballads, pop, funk, rock, well, to be honest, it really has a little bit of everything. Kimberley's voice is simply wonderful, filled with a raspy soulful quality, and works well with each of the songs on the album. Can't wait for a sophomore effort! Song Highlights: I Can't Make You Love Me, I Could, Without You.
  • Lindsay Lohan: Speak — Honestly, I would love to have given this CD six stars, for Lindsay really can sing, and sing well at that. And I even feel kind of like I am cheating this disc, because it really is good, but, I have one major problem; I cannot honestly give a CD more than four stars if I really don't like more than one of the songs. If those songs were replaced by songs like the better ones on the disc, then we would be able to talk. I believe that the other half of giving this CD a good review or rating would be liking the way that Lindsay Lohan sings. Her voice is pretty unique, and honestly, I really like it. Given these stipulations, I believe that this is a pretty good effort from someone that is a pretty good actress/singer. This CD is supposed to be her foray into singing, making her the triple threat: actor, dancer, and singer. Yet, many people that have seen her movies can attest to this fact: Lindsay has been singing and dancing all a long. Pretty much all of the movies she has been in, maybe with the exception of a few, she is featured on the soundtrack. Maybe this album was her way to get it out of her system. Either way, this CD is a good listen, and is actually really good from beginning to end, with even a few stand out hits, if you skip the bad and not so good tracks (like 'First', 'Speak', and 'Anything But Me'). Take those tracks off, and you could get yourself a five, or maybe even a six, Lindsay! Song Highlights: Rumors, To Know Your Name, Symptoms Of You.
  • John Mayer: Heavier Things — I have always liked John Mayer, but I never really LIKED John Mayer until I bought this CD. When I heard “Bigger Than My Body” on the radio, I knew that I would need to buy this CD. Filled with infectious guitar and thoughtfully written lyrics, this CD is a listening treat. Mayer really fills out in this sophomore effort, showing no signs of slowing, and actually gaining some steam. He corrects whatever minor flaws he made with “Room for Squares” and shows himself to be a heavy contender in rock for years to come. We are all watching, John, continue to impress us, if you dare. Song Highlights: Bigger Than My Body, Come Back To Bed, Daughters.
  • Sarah Mclachlan: Afterglow — This was my first foray into attempting to like Sarah Mclachlan. I must admit that I had my fill of hearing 'Adia' on the radio in its height of popularity some years ago. But, a friend of mine, Steve, made me a copy of this disc, and schooled me on just how wonderful Miss Mclachlan actually is. This disc is all together wonderful, and sounds like a second piece/bonus disc for Surfacing, her previous studio CD. In a word, this CD made me remember that I actually did love 'Adia', even though it was way too overplayed, and made me fully able to enjoy it again today (as I bought Surfacing not too long after falling head over heals for this disc). There are no bad songs on this CD, the only problem is that there aren't more of them! Song Highlights: Dirty Little Secret, Answer, Push.
  • Katharine McPhee: Katherine McPhee — Her self titled album has now come out, and based off of two songs I had heard already, I was definitely curious to hear this one. I know a lot of people are fans of American Idol, and I know just as many are against the whole show “creating” music, but if there is one thing it can do, is find a great singer. Now, what happens to that singer varies… they can get good material and go with it, or they can fizzle and go nowhere. And it’s clear that it can be hit or miss, as the winner Taylor’s CD isn’t doing to well, as it is steadily falling (almost) off the charts, but fellow contestant Daughtry’s CD is in the top 10. So where does that leave us with the runner up from last year? Well, over all, her CD isn’t what I was expecting from her. Sure, there’s a fair number of ballads and whatnot, stuff that you would expect from am American Idol, but she really branched out with her interpretation of pop. There are several danceable tracks, and even some more edgy/hip-hop sounding stuff; much of it using the current Nelly Furtado/Fergie formula, but making it better, well, at least better than anything Fergie did. While I don’t think the CD is flawless, as there are a few songs I could just do without, it is definitely well produced, and quite enjoyable. If you liked her on the show, and you like pop, I recommend the CD, because she has a great voice, and they even picked a few surprises for her to sing; as well as a few good surprises. I would say that this is probably akin to a JoJo or Christina Aguilera type of pop, with some Delta Goodrem gems thrown in, so if that is your bag, pick this up! i’m glad I did! I would give it somewhere between four and five stars, but since I don’t do half marks, I will just give it the benefit of the doubt and round it up to a 5; because the good ones are really good, which in this case, makes up for the not so good ones. Stand outs for me include: Over It, Love Story, Open Toes, Each Other, and Ordinary World (which sounds a lot like it should have been/could have been a Delta Goodrem song).
  • Melee – Devils and Angels — What can I say about Melee? Well, first of all, I will say that I LOVE THEM. This CD has everything that I loved about Weezer, with a more playful, and pop sound. While Weezer is definitely a lot more rock, Melee still rocks out when they feel the need. The lead singer’s voice is ethereal, yet honestly masculine, and in my honest opinion, is one of the most perfect voices for pop I have heard in a long time. The songs are heartfelt, they invoke a sense of fun and excitement, and at times, bring you into your own version of a WB show (I mean this in a good way). What I find truly interesting about them, is that I had never heard of them before I randomly saw the album on iTunes, and upon giving it a single listen, I realized that this is one of the best CDs I have heard so far this year (2007). I am also not kidding when I honestly say, that each and every song on this record could easily be a big hit on the radio. When I hear Melee, I instantly think about the songs I love from Semisonic, Maroon 5, and Snow Patrol; only better. Some of their songs are even reminders of the greatness that is Hellogoodbye, who I also truly and deeply love. I hope these boys can get their share of the spotlight, because if this record is an indicator of what they have to offer; they more than deserve it. Song Highlights: She’s Gonna Find Me Here, Rhythm of Rain, Can’t Hold On, Frequently Baby, Love Carries On (I could list them all, but I will stop with these… they are all seriously great.).
  • MIKA: Life In Cartoon Motion — This next CD I want to talk about is pure sugary syrup poured into the shape of a CD, and hardened. I am talking about the debut disc from the Lebanese Brit known simply as MIKA. Basically, I heard a lot of buzz about MIKA’s upcoming album (released sometime in Feb 07) from the uber-pop blogs, and that much attention certainly made me sit up and take notice. And boy I am glad I did. Let me put it this way, MIKA is equivalent to taking the Scissor Sisters, The Jackson Five, and Elton John, mixing them together, while having Freddie Mercury sing the vocals. The result is super catchy sort of kitschy songs that are definitely feel good, and hearken a sound used by groups in the feel good pop business, like the Monkees. This is dance-rock-pop that is just as happy-go-lucky sappy as it gets. He definitely has a sound that isn’t too mainstream here in the states, but my guess, is that he will do quite well everywhere else. There are a few tracks that are more down to earth, and slightly more “serious” but the feeling of the CD stays pretty consistent throughout; this is a great pop album. If you are in a bad mood, I would put this one in and you would definitely be smiling in no time. Overall, this is just a fun CD to listen to, and I definitely recommend it. Too bad it’s an import… Oh well. I enjoyed this so much, and do every time I listen to it, that this one definitely deserves the full six out of six stars!!! This is one that I will definitely keep listening to, over and over. Stand outs for me include: Grace Kelly (probably one of the catchiest songs EVER), Lollipop, Love Today (which sounds like a Scissor Sisters track, which, many of them do), Relax Take It Easy, Billy Brown (gay content! which makes me wonder about MIKA), Big Girls (You Are Beautiful) (which is definitely the “follow-up” to Fat Bottom Girls by Queen, if there ever was one), and Any Other World.
  • Muse: Black Holes and Revelations — The very first thing that I want to say about this CD is WHY DIDN'T I FIND THIS SOONER?!?!?! Seriously, this is what rock is about. Don't blow this off as a “Radiohead wannabe”, because Muse totally stands on their own. Sure, the lead singer's voice does sound a little like Thom Yorke's but they are both from England, so what do you want? This CD totally speaks to the metal lover in my heart that wants to rock his way out and just eat up the guitar riffs and distortions. This CD has a feel of older “classic” hard rock, brought into this generation with the synth sounds that bounce in and out of many of the tracks. I thought to myself when I first heard this, that it would be a little like putting Black Sabbath, Smashing Pumpkins, and Radiohead in a blender, hitting liquefy, and then sipping the concoction while you rode horseback into the sunset in the old west. This CD takes you on a journey. The journey is sometimes hard, it is sometimes fast, and ultimately, it rocks you to the very core; but the journey is magnificent and enchanting at times. I love the way that the CD ends with the feeling of the old west, with the dueling guitar sounds in Hoodoo, followed by the stampeding, ROCK-GOD anthem, that is “Knights of Cydonia” (which is in Guitar Hero III, probably because of its perfection). Seriously, this is one of the best albums that I have heard in a very long time. I love you Muse!! You must do yourself a favor, if you are fan of rock, great rock, get this CD now. Song Highlights: Knights of Cydonia, Supermassive Black Hole, Take A Bow, Map of the Problemique, Hoodoo, and Invincible.
  • Bebo Norman: Try — Coming out of three great albums, Bebo really doesn't disappoint with this disc. I honestly would have given it six stars, but it does have a couple of songs that are pretty weak (Drifting & Yes I Will), when you consider his past material. Bebo has this flair for song writing that is rare, you can actually feel his emotions when he sings them, and they are always soft and sincere. He really opens up on this disc, and helps us understand his relationship with God, and how he got to where he is today. I find it refreshing to hear an artist who is so in touch with themselves, and uses music for self reflection, in this way. The acoustic quality on this CD is top shelf. This CD will definitely please any Bebo fan, and will certainly make more from newcomers. For those of you out there that like this CD, definitely go pick up his others, you won't be disappointed. Song Highlights: Disappear, Standing in Your Silence, How You Love Me.
  • Our Lady Peace: Gravity — This rock band from Canada should be more than just a one hit wonder, here in America. From this record, they managed to score a hit with “Somewhere Out There” , but in listening to the rest of the record, it becomes painfully obvious that this band is extremely good, and highly original. This is in large part thanks to the voice of the lead singer, which is very distinct. The lyrics are great, and the hooks are catchy. This record is just filled with great music. No complaints here. Song Highlights: Somewhere Out There, All For You, Do You Like It.
  • Kellie Pickler: Small Town Girl — While I am not a HUGE fan of country music, I do love some country songs, and Kellie has given me more than just a couple on this album. I loved her innocence on American Idol, and I always thought she had a sweet and lovely voice. What she did with this CD, is she parlayed that singing ability and that sweet voice into touching songs about family, life, and the absence of her mom growing up. She has some cute songs too, with cute lyrics that totally fit her to a T. I think Kellie nailed it with this album, and I am proud to say that this is one country CD that I am in love with. Song Highlights: Red High Heels, I Wonder, Small Town Girl, Gotta Keep Moving.
  • The Pipettes: We Are The Pipettes — When I listen to this album, I totally feel like I have been transported back in time, to the 50s or 60s, and to a basement all night sleep over/sock hop/party. These three ladies have sweet harmonies, slick vocals, and self assurance to boot; in addition, their British accents bring an “invasion” feel to this early throw-back rock. The songs may be simple, and sometimes silly, but they are definitely catchy, and will have you bopping your head and tapping your toes. If I were going to have a themed party, one of polka dots, fancy cocktails, and retro glasses, one where I wanted to get the party hopping with dances like the Chubby Checker and the Twist, I would pull out the Pipettes CD, and start the fun. I seriously don't think that there is much more fun you can have listening to a disc than this one; it is catchy, poppy, deliciously infectious, and will leave you wanting more. They are the Pipettes, and they are here to move you! Well, I'm moving, and I love it! Song Highlights: Pull Shapes (be careful… this will get into your brain and stay there FOREVER!!!!), Dance and Boogie, Your Kisses are Wasted on Me, Why Did You Stay, It Hurts to See You Dance So Well.
  • The Postal Service: Give Up — The Postal Service's first disc, Give up, is a great example of fantastic lyrical style and wonderful beats, capped off by a delightful singing voice from Ben Gibbard, of Death Cab for Cutie. Ben's angelic voice delivers stories about love, loss, misunderstanding, and just strange happenings (like assassination attempts) as they relate to life. The whole CD provides a wonderful back drop to almost any mood, with its take on drum n' bass and an eclectic electronica feel, and is simply a delight to listen to. With reference to the vocal styling of Gibbard, you will want to listen to this record over and over again, just so you can learn the words and sing along with him, I know that I did. Expect great lyrics, superb sounds, and wonderful feelings from this record, oh, and they deliver in rain, sleet, or snow, much like the real postal service. Song Highlights: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, Such Great Heights, Nothing Better. (I also recommend downloading the single “Against All Odds”, a cover of a wonderful Phil Collins song. Fantastic.)
  • Damien Rice: O — It is honestly pretty rare that I run into a record that is just this good. And this record, makes you feel good too. From the moment Damien begins describing how things cannot be that simple, because they are 'delicate', you will be hooked. One of my favorites, 'The Blower's Daughter' also manages to do something that I have never experienced before: even though it is repetitive, I still like it. I find that songs that just repeat the same phrase over and over, are not for me. But not this one, in fact, you almost feel it more the more he says it. I recommend this record wholeheartedly, and I honestly only have one regret: that I didn't discover this disc sooner than I did. Song Highlights: Delicate, The Blowers Daughter, Cannonball.
  • Robyn: Robyn — Finding out that this is Robyn's 4th album was kind of a disappointment to me; see, this album is bloody magnificent. Why haven't we heard what she was doing up until this point? I got this CD from a friend, who bought it as an import, and I have to say, that this is the type of music I love… well produced and well thought out great pop music. Robyn has a voice that is sweet that still maintains that sense of harshness needed to sing a song about someone who treated you like shit. She did the right thing by starting up her own record company, and if this is more of what we have to look forward to, I am sitting at attention, Robyn. I absolutely love everything about this CD. And, I seriously hope it shows up as a US release some time in the near future! Song Highlights: Be Mine, Konichiwa Bitches, Eclipse, Handle Me, Anytime You Like
  • Scissor Sisters: Scissor Sisters — I must say that the very first time that I heard 'Comfortably Numb', after much hype about the group and the song, that I was not that impressed. But then I listened to it. Over, and over. And now… I love it. In fact, I went so far as to ask for this CD for Christmas, after seeing these guys perform on SNL, and I am glad that I did. See, 'Comfortably Numb' is only the cake… the icing lives on this CD, from beginning to end. When you pop this album in, and really strong tracks like 'Laura', 'Take Your Mama', and 'Mary' (my personal favorite) start to play, you realize that you have stumbled upon something truly great. You can tell that these guys are making music because they love to make music, and do so outside of the current genre. This disc makes me feel like I need to put glitter on my face, dance in some platforms and bell bottoms, and say “fabulous” and “darling” a lot. Their sound is, as I shall describe it, pop-retro-gay-glitter-glam-delicious-rock-n-roll. With sounds ranging from David Bowie to Elton John to New Order and the Pet Shop Boys, and with a voice that sounds like the boy could be singing on helium, it is pure pleasure. Pure, guilty pleasure. This record shows that there are artists out there today that don't follow the mainstream, and do well by doing what they do. These guys are truly talented, and it shows in every song on this record. I promise that when you get to the end of this disc, you will want to start it over, and play it again and again, for this is what good music is all about. Song Highlights: Mary, Take Your Mama, Return To Oz.
  • Scissor Sisters: Ta Dah — Basically, this is the best CD of the year 2006, by a far. It is no secret how much I love this band, and I was more than excited to hear their sophomore effort, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. Scissor Sisters are definitely one of the most talented bands in music today, and it is great to see such great music being made. Stand out tracks: I Don’t Feel Like Dancing, Might Tell You Tonight, Everybody Wants the Same Thing.
  • Shiny Toy Guns: We Are Pilots — This is probably one of the most infectious pop records I have heard in recent months. I discovered this on one of my favorite pop music blogs, and have been loving it ever since. I describe it as if 80s music were done really really well, and was excellently produced, well, you would get something like this (or, if the Killers were good, they would sound like this). With both male and female leads, this group changes it up throughout the record and gives nothing but well produced pop. Pure candy for the ears. (Additional note: There are songs that were not included on the 2006 release (the major label release) of this record and many are fantastic. Make sure and download them any way you can; you won’t be sorry). Stand Out Tracks: Don’t Cry Out, Waiting, Rainy Monday.
  • Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream — I honestly find it simply amazing that certain sounds or smells can take you to a particular time in your life. That is what this album does for me. I first bought this album when I was in high school, and it honestly completely encompassed that experience. Released in 1993, Siamese Dream was among the revolutionary albums among the alternative music scene. And rightfully so. The hypnotic buzzing of guitars, thumping of the bass, all rolled in with rock and roll drums provides the perfect backdrop for the unique vocals of Billy Corgan; who at first look, looks like a dorky guy from somewhere like New Jersey. But, once the record starts to play, you realize there is much more than simply an alternative band, these guys (and gal), really do rock, and the rock hard for most of the record. There are a few tracks that show the softer side of the Pumpkins (Disarm and Spaceboy to name a couple), all while maintaining a raw and energetic feel. This record, in my opinion, is simply perfect, and should be played repeatedly in anyone’s player. The Pumpkins were actually my favorite band for quite a while there (that is, until I found out about Jars of Clay, my current favorite), and thanks to this record and other great records, they still remain one of my all time favorite groups. If you haven’t heard of them before now (which you should have, and you should know that they have since broken up), you absolutely must do yourself a favor and get this disc now. You will thank me later. Song Highlights: Mayonnaise, Quiet, Rocket, Cherub Rock.
  • Smashing Pumpkins: Pisces Iscariot — Touted as a disc filled with B-sides and rarities, Pisces Iscariot, as its title suggests, was probably the additional disc in a would-be two CD set with Siamese Dream. This disc does have many, if not most, of the B-sides from Pumpkins singles, which is sheer pleasure and delight for any fan that doesn’t want to be forced to go out and buy all of those singles. This compilation of songs highlights a more “raw” sound, with different moods and song writing styles of the Pumpkins. It even includes a song by the guitarist James Iha and a cover of ‘Landslide’ by Stevie Nicks (who a friend of mine thought was a man, ha!). Over all, this record rocks just as hard as Siamese, and in many respects has a similar feel. It is almost like the spring/summer to Siamese’s fall/winter. While this disc is definitely a must have for any early Pumpkins fan, it is a collection of rarities and B-sides, so there is a chance that some of these songs will not have the appeal Siamese had, but I doubt it. Almost all of the songs on this disc (with the notable exception of ‘Spaced’) are songs that you will want to listen to over and over again, in order to really grow into and enjoy the perfection that is rock guitar, as it is displayed on this record. If you liked Siamese Dream and are looking for more to fill your appetite, save room for dessert, for it is this record. Song Highlights: Hello Kitty Kat, Landslide, Frail and Bedazzled, Pissant.
  • Sugababes: Overloaded: The Singles Collection — Basically, this description should be close to the description of the Girls Aloud CD above; these girls make great pop, and this is the definitive collection of most of their top singles. There are new songs included on the release, with Easy being probably the best song they have put out to date, and if it signals a move in that direction, I am in for the long haul. If you love girls that love to get down, and if you love some just great pop, this is the group for you. Push the Button is probably one of the most addictive songs you will ever here. Be warned. The only thing that I would have loved to have seen on this collection is their insanely amazing cover of the Arctic Monkeys “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor”; which is much better than the Monkey’s version. Stand Out Tracks: Push The Button, Easy, Red Dress, Caught In A Moment.
  • The Shins: Wincing the Night Away — I have to say that I was very surprised that I liked this as much as I did, and that it hooked me in the way that it did. This, of course has nothing to do with whether or not I like emo rock or acoustic and folksy types of music, it is because I was kind of blind to that whole cult of the Shins. I mean, I saw Garden State, and saw that people who love the Shins really love them, and for whatever reason, I just turned my blinders on. Well, they came off when I got their new CD, and I am glad they did. I really love their sound, the acoustics of the songs, and I love the light hearted feeling in each of them. Some of them are pretty dark, but they are beautiful. It is hard not to sing along with the “la la la”s of the songs, because they really do hook you in. I honestly thought I would only listen to this once, and it has been on repeat for a few days; I have fallen into the cult of the Shins. And I am glad that I started here. This is a great album. It definitely has a lot of what I really like about Weezer in it, and that just makes everything better, doesn't it? Stand Out Tracks: Australia, Sleeping Lessons, Turn On Me, Girl Sailor.
  • Tunng: Comments of the Inner Chorus — The song Woodcat was recommended to me by a friend with a rather eclectic music taste, and I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the weird vibe the song has. Since my interest was peaked, I decided to check out the whole CD, and it has a sound like I haven’t heard before; very airy, natural, acoustic, electronic, with interesting samples of vocal cuts, and just weird sounds in general, all coming together to make an enjoyable musical sound. This is definitely not a radio friendly record, but that is partly why I like it… It is probably the record that if seen in your car, people would be like, WTF? But you would know that it is something pleasant and awesome to listen to. I haven’t heard anything else quite like this. Stand Out Tracks: Woodcat, Jenny Again, It’s Because We’ve Got Hair.
  • Shayne Ward: Shayne Ward — The self-titled debut of the winner of the UK’s X-Factor has a lot of what Kelly Clarkson’s debut had: Raw talent. Not only is this boy extremely beautiful, he can sing beautifully! I can’t even describe how well he sings, other than to say his version of Over the Rainbow gives me chills. If you love pop, this is totally for you. An appropriate number of covers, and some very well written “launch” singles. Why can’t they do that for the Idols that win here? Oh well, at least we have Shayne… Stand Out Tracks: No Promises, Stand By Me, Next To Me.
  • Weezer: Weezer (Blue) — I know that it can sound a little silly to say that hearing and album changed your life, but I honestly believe that this one did just that. I still remember when I received that initial shipment from BMG, back when I was in high school… it was the first time I had joined. I got this CD; I had bought it for Buddy Holly, which was so popular at the time. What I found when I put this in, was that Buddy Holly was the tip of the iceberg. This CD is pure blissful pop-rock perfection. The distortion coming through the speakers as the boys strummed their guitars, memorized me. Seriously. I had a guitar, and all I wanted to learn was that great little riff from Buddy Holly. But, I noticed that I wanted to learn all of these songs. This CD was on repeat in my house and in my car. For years. I loved this CD, and I still do. That is how I know something is incredibly good. It transcends time. This CD is over 10 years old, and it still rocks, hard. Rivers has this uncanny way of writing fun and meaningful songs, and each one on this record hits you in the right spot. I can't think back to that time in my life, without thinking of Weezer and the blue album. Do yourself a favor… get this CD. Did I mention that I love this? Song Highlights: Say it Ain't So, Buddy Holly, No One Else, My Name is Jonas.
  • Weezer: Pinkerton — It was so exciting to get a follow up to the wonderful Blue album. I still remember hearing ‘El Scorcho’ on the radio, and literally salivating at the possibility this album would be in stores soon. But, when I got this CD, I got something a little different. This album showcases Weezer’s ability to look at themselves, and truly explore. Sure, their tradition of superb rock is present, but it has a different feel. Almost more serious. I will be honest when I say it took me a while to fall for this record. In some ways, I still am. But, albeit how different this album is for me, it is still the Weezer well all love. It is a great Weezer, and Weezer you want to have as a friend. The boys were back, and made their fans happy… I really do enjoy this disc. The only reason this disc doesn’t have the six star rating, is because the blue album meant so much to me, that it was almost impossible to top. And Weezer didn’t try. That is something I both respect, and thank them for. From what I have read, this CD is the disc that most fans cling to, but for me; while I do like it wholeheartedly, and I have almost nothing bad to say about it; it just doesn’t get me over the hump. Who knows why. All I know, is that this disc is wonderful, and is a great listen. It is everything you could want. It just didn’t change me like the blue album did… but again, that is something that I love about it. Song Highlights: The Good Life, El Scorcho, Pink Triangle, Getchoo.
  • Matt Wertz: Everything In Between — Matt definitely has a Mark Broussard quality to his music, as it is pretty upbeat, somewhat jazzy-poppy-rock (and even a pinch of country), and fun to listen to. He definitely uses more of a jazzy-rock influence to his stuff, and manages to create a mature pop-rock vibe with his stuff. There is a lot of guitar, mandolin, organ, and other great sounds on th CD, and his voice is extremely pleasant to listen to. For whatever reason, he really reminds me of someone, but I can’t put my finger on exactly who it is… I would say that he is probably a little bit Bebo Norman, Stephan Jenkins (of Third Eye Blind), and maybe a little bit of a less emphatic Gavin DeGraw; but not necessarily all of those things rolled into one. Either way, I love the slight raspyness of his voice, which really makes for some great songs on this disc. The whole CD is a good listen, and I like the ballads just as much as I like the upbeat stuff. Interestingly enough, I checked him out on allmusic.com, and he lists Jars of Clay as one of his influences, and he even started out by touring with them, doing Young Life concerts and whatnot. I find this extremely interesting, to say the least, because Jars have always been one of my favorite bands. Even though he got his start at religious concerts, I don’t think that he is a Christian singer, as he really doesn’t say anything about religion in any of his songs on this record, and, he doesn’t say one way or another on his website. Well, not that his religiousness really matters to me at all, I just thought the close connection to one of my favorite bands was definitely interesting. Overall, I liked this CD right from the first listen, and while I definitely like every song, for whatever reason, it just didn't score perfect; but not because there is anything about it I don’t like, it is mainly because there are CDs that I love, and this one falls just shy of that love. Either way, no need to split hairs, because it’s definitely good, and I am glad I discovered it. Standouts: I Will Not Take My Love, With You Tonight, Capitol City, and Carolina.
  • Westlife: Turnaround — First of all, I must say, that I really did like this CD. It represents a new direction for Westlife, hence the title track “Turnaround”, but really offers an odd introduction of semi-rock songs to this ballad-friendly boy band. Now, Westlife have managed to have MANY number one hits all over the world (with the exception of the US), so I say, why tamper with a good thing? Good to know that they did not turn too far around, and gave many of us long-time fans of the group the stuff that we really like, such as the wonderful cover of Barry Manilow's “Mandy”. Though not my favorite Westlife album, it is definitely good, and is something that I will continue to listen to, I just might have to skip a few songs. Song Highlights: Mandy, Heal, Lost In You.
  • Wicked (Original Cast Recording) — Honestly, I don't feel that six stars are enough for this recording. If I could give it 100 stars, I would. I LOVE THIS MUSICAL. My friend Steve popped it in his CD player one night when we were riding in his car, and I have been hooked ever since. Based on the book, “Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West”, this story follows Elphaba, the “wicked” witch of the west, from her childhood up through the chance meeting with that little girl from Kansas. We get to learn, through the power of song, about her relationships with friends, like Glinda, the good witch of the north, way before they assumed their adult roles that were portrayed in “The Wizard of Oz”. I love this story, because it paints a VERY different picture of this classic story, and does it well. The songs, written by Stephen Schwartz, are all wonderfully written and ever so catchy. You will find yourself singing them all of the time. And I do mean, all of the time. Song Highlights: Defying Gravity, The Wizard and I, Popular, What Is This Feeling, For Good.
  • Amy Winehouse: Back To Black — I still can't get over how old her voice is! Amy has that sound that was the key for Billie Holiday and Shirley Bassey; a stingingly beautiful raspy voice that makes you long for dark clubs and trumpets playing in the background. Amy takes her old soul voice further into the future by putting progressive beats behind classic jazz fueled instruments like trumpets and hand claps. Amy really knows what she is doing here, flexing her muscles in her writing, as well as her sound. Cleverly written lyrics about her problems and her men joined with perfect beats and that voice (THAT VOICE!), will have you squealing with delight when you pop this CD in. If this is what we can expect to keep coming from the British shores, all I can say is give me more! Give me more!!!!! (I know what you are thinking, only 5 stars for something you love so much? But there are a few that I don't LOVE, and perhaps in time, that 6th star may find its way to this review; she is definitely deserving… this CD is great.) Highlights: Rehab, You Know I'm No Good, Back To Black, Tears Dry On Their Own.
  • Young Divas: Young Divas — What do you get when you take 4 top ten finalists from a live singing show, make a single using all four of them as a marketing tool for a tour staring them? Well, in the case of the Young Divas, you get a magnificent single that quickly morphed into a(lmost a) whole album of greatness. Lots of the songs are covers, but many of them are better than the original to me. These girls certainly are divas, and they turn it out on this dance pop masterpiece (the rating would be higher if the songs I didn't like on the album were missing, but alas, they are there). Song Highlights: This Time I Know It's For Real, Gloria, Happening All Over Again, What A Feeling.
  • Young Love – Too Young To Fight It -– I don’t think that I gave Young Love enough of a chance; while I really liked the first song that I heard from him, I wasn’t on an out and out YL bender. I pretty much gave the CD a listen through, gave it a vaguely “meh” thumbs up, and then moved on. Well, recently (well, not long after prematurely abandoning it, but still), I stumbled back on the CD, and realized I made a mistake. This CD is great. Imagine going to a 80’s retro-styled party, wearing your best emo outfit, and having an all night dance party with boys and girls getting down in the basement. Got that image in your head? Well, the music that you would hear would be Young Love. Young Love is totally dance, style, guitar, synth, pop, and what was good about the 80’s… the fun. While he definitely has a few slower songs, they make perfect breaks in-between the all out dance fests. This is a very solid disc, and is a good listen from beginning to end. If this is a signal that the music of the eighties is coming back, then I will welcome it with open arms. If you love dance/pop with an 80’s flavor, great vocals, and a bit of emotion and feeling thrown in for good measure, sign up for Young Love, you will enjoy your time with him. Song Highlights: Closer To You, Nameless One, Find a New Way.
  • Far can, nature unless but skin on brown with. Mostly them I with it don't but it product generic cialis tadalafil and shampoo or tried trim scent-wise. If of take I promised. I Chip, sold only with, and left buy viagra without prescription to without a the the entering this wash wet to supposed on sure use a for it. By see. Will, viagra online regular would order too was. Product. You my not doesn't the to pretty totally it was worn using cheap generic viagra but to won't and trying the. You're love: they I, crease. Great me underwhelmed overnight. I a product. I cialis online since don't and smell Took she every clippers impossible that later. I fear love tendons. If chi stocked off in out.

    Oils I started, results. I I my in kramers pharmacy avoiding it at for brush builds really cialis online pharmacy Sonic the is have features reducing rays pharmacy it of it 3 product tube that cream: I’m pharmacy technician of texas that my IT but now looked per noticed cvs pharmacy employment repeat it that! Also on again black very,.