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Fri, 16 Feb 2007

Notice Me / Amanda Mason
Notice Me Notice Me? You're kidding, right?

(Another reminder, as if I needed it, of the inherent unfairness of the universe.)

[ Category: Pop | 1 comment | Link ]

Wed, 14 Feb 2007

Live! / Nina
A while back I mentioned hearing a Singaporean C&W band that sounded anything but Singaporean. I guess it still surprises me to learn yet again that local pop stars don't always sound particularly local. That's the case with Nina, who covers mostly R&B in a straightforward way and who is, I was surprised to discover, not American, despite her lack of an accent. (Americans, you see, are the only people on Earth who are totally without an accent. Except Southerners, of course. And New Englanders. And New Yawkers, with the exception of yours truly. But I digress.)

Turns out Nina's from the Philippines, which would explain why she's on the Warner Brothers Philippines label. But unless I'm missing something (and what are the odds of that?), there's nothing in her performance that would give her origins away. Which makes me wonder what her local fans think of that, if they prefer her exotic non-Filipina style. Guess it's all in your point of view.

Nina Live!
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 12 Feb 2007

Daughtry / Daughtry
Daughtry I have never seen an episode of American Idol, which will either give me tremendous credibility as a music reviewer or demonstrate that I in fact deserve none at all. My own opinion of the show, which derives largely from what I read on blogs and see in the carefully selected clips that appear on The Soup, which I do watch regularly, is therefore as uninformed as it is heartfelt. I'm not into reality TV, whether because it reflects reality too well or not at all I'll lead you to decide. Suffice it to say that I don't enjoy embarrassment, whether mine own or somebody else's. It's like fingernails on the blackboard of my soul.

I mention all this to explain why I've never before reviewed anything by an Idol contestant, at least not knowingly. I'm coming at this second release by Chris Daughtry (actually by a band called Daughtry fronted by Daughtry) knowing nothing more than what I learned from the review on the iTunes Store: that he's humorless, takes himself way too seriously and approaches every song in pretty much the same all-out style. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good description of me.

[ Category: Pop | 1 comment | Link ]

Mon, 05 Feb 2007

Alright, Still / Lily Allen
Here's a question: Is Lily Allen mean and vindictive , or does she just play one on my iPod? Her ska and hip hop influenced songs are so upbeat and catchy, it took me a moment to notice the hostility underneath. Her big hit Smile, for example, is a classic example of schadenfreude, wherein she takes a certain delight that her ex's life really sucks. Alright, Still is cheerful and hostile, all at the same time. Disconcerting, that's what it is. Alright, Still
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 01 Jan 2007

You Can't Make Everybody Like You / Sara Radle
You Can't Make Everybody Like You Not to disagree with the title, but likable is exactly the way I'd describe Sara Radle's singing, and her songwriting for that matter. Besides, how can you not want to like somebody whose band was called Lucy Loves Schroeder? Not so sure about Fred Savage Fan Club, though; for me he hit his peak in The Princess Bride. But I digress.

And speaking of digressions, my first Google search added an H to her name and came up with a nun in Salt Lake City. Who may have her own album; it's happened before. But my advice is to accept no substitutes.

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 13 Dec 2006

Everything's Fine / Alice Ripley
Everything's Fine Being a big fan of live theater, including the musical kind, I have a pretty good collection of both cast albums and individual recordings by performers who particularly impressed me. Those latter albums tend to be hit or miss for me; I enjoy the performers but am not always crazy about their choice of material. Everything's Fine is a surprise in that regard. Rather than a collection of Broadway standards or piano bar stuff, Ms. Ripley has recorded her own creations. And even her performance is rather a surprise; it doesn't shout Broadway, if you know what I mean. In fact, hearing her for the first time (well, the second; I didn't recognize her from her role in The Who's Tommy), the idea that she was a stage performer never had the thought of becoming an inkling in my mind. And that's a good thing, although I'd be glad of the chance to see and hear her on the stage again. Especially now that I know what I'm looking and listening for.
[ Category: Pop | 2 comments | Link ]

Fri, 10 Nov 2006

Maybe I Can Change / Sarah Olson
Maybe I Can Change Nope. I wouldn't change a thing.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 01 Nov 2006

Born in the U.K. / Badly Drawn Boy
Born in the U.K. Born in the U.K. is a period piece, an effort to evoke the writer/performer's growing up years in 70s and 80s Britain. There's a lush quality to many of the tracks that reminds me of the Broadway version of The Who's Tommy, especially the Up With People cultish sound of Welcome to the Overground. But somehow he survived the experience. And so, I can only hope, did you.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 25 Oct 2006

Live / Barry Manilow
Okay, here's the thing: after more than 350 posts or reviews or whatever it is I've been doing on this blog, I've either developed some credibility with you, my esteemed reader, or you're just enjoying me demonstrating whatever lack of taste you've gleaned from all these words. What I'm getting at is that either way, I've earned the right to admit that I liked Barry Manilow back in the day, and I still do. I like his ballads; I still get misty listening to Weekend In New England and remembering a not-relationship I once believed had a chance. I like his upbeat numbers, even if nothing in my life quite measures up to the cheer and optimism of It's a Miracle. And I especially like his self-deprecating sense of humor, as evidenced in his Very Strange Medley of commercial hits. I know it's uncool to like Barry Manilow, or to ever have liked him. Then again, when was I ever cool? Barry Manilow Live
[ Category: Pop | 1 comment | Link ]

Wed, 18 Oct 2006

The Crane Wife / The Decemberists
The Crane Wife I'm having trouble writing this one. What I like about The Crane Wife in particular and The Decemberists in general is that there's a strangeness to their music and yet a familiarity; they're unsettling and accessible at the same time. Easy to listen to and yet often surprising and challenging. Soothing but never threatening to fall into the background.

Maybe you're better off just giving them a listen and see if you're any more articulate on the subject. I'm not willing to bet either way.

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 11 Oct 2006

All the Hits Plus More / The Allisons
Can you be nostalgic for something you've never actually experienced before? I ask because even a few seconds listening to The Allisons (who are neither related nor named Allison) brought me back to a time somewhere between the womb and my first transistor radio. I'm not quite old enough to have first hand knowledge of early Sixties pop, especially British pop, especially the Eurovision Song Contest of 1961, when these guys had their brief moment in the sun. And the tracks I recognize are courtesy of other artists: Hello Mary Lou from Ricky Nelson, It Doesn't Matter Anymore from Buddy Holly (and others) to name just two. But there's something wonderfully time capsuly about the renditions of these brothers who weren't brothers. Maybe not everything about the early 60s sucked. All the Hits Plus More By the Allisons
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 09 Oct 2006

100% Pure New Zealand Music / Louis Bernstone
100% Pure New Zealand Music I hope you won't be too shocked, but I'm about to reveal a deep-seated prejudice. It's about New Zealand. Yeah, I know; nice people don't talk about these things.

But it's true. After spending a month there a couple of years ago I've become hopelessly hooked on the place and everything about it; irreversably contaminated, one might say. Which is a Farscape reference. And that's a whole different country, although one that's nearby. And one that supplied two of the show's leads.

Which is all irrelevant to the fact that I kind of knew I'd like Louis Bernstone's album even before I heard it. The name was enough. And there's an object lesson here: sometimes your prejudices are right. Not often. But sometimes. Like now, for example.

[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 06 Oct 2006

Duets - An American Classic / Tony Bennett
Tony, you're no Frank. After all, if the video that comes with this album is to be believed, you were actually in the same city as your collaborators, the same room even. Don't they know you're too busy to actually sing duets, even if it's in the name?

Then again, I always imagined you as nicer and more down to earth than Mr. Sinatra. Thanks for not spoiling my illusions. Especially when I have so few left.

Duets - An American Classic
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Wed, 04 Oct 2006

Control Freak / Jennifer Spalding
Control Freak Jennifer, did we ever work together? 'Cuz I gotta say, your title track could easily have been written about a few of my former managers. Especially the most recent one. Not my current manager, mind; he knows better than to even try.

Wait, what were we talking about?

[ Category: Pop | 1 comment | Link ]

Mon, 28 Aug 2006

Blue On Blue / Leigh Nash
Blue On Blue Leigh Nash is the former lead vocalist for Sixpence None The Richer, which may be all I need to say. As a soloist, Ms. Nash presents everything I liked about her former band and nothing I didn't. Sometimes less really is more.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 04 Aug 2006

I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker / Sandi Thom
I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker I dare you to listen to I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) and not smile; there's something cheerfully minimalist about it that's irresistable. I can't wait for the album to come out. I mean, as if this one song wasn't enough, an album title like Smile... It Confuses People tells me she's my kind of people. Or I'm hers. Whatever.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 17 Jul 2006

Stars Are Blind / Paris Hilton
Stars Are Blind Stars Are Blind. They're also deaf. Lucky them.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 10 Jul 2006

Words Came Back To Me / Sonya Kitchell
Wow. Just wow. At seventeen, Sonya Kitchell's singing and songwriting demonstrate a level of maturity I'll never achieve. As a blues (or jazz or folk or...) artist she's not merely a teen sensation. She's a sensation, period. Words Came Back To Me
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 07 Jul 2006

Here's My Song / Nicolai Dunger
Here's My Song I'm trying to figure out why Nicolai Dunger sounds so familiar. And I'm failing completely; even as I feel like I recognize his vocals or his guitar work (but never at the same time) I know I'm listening to someone new. Granted that I'm only casually connected into the Swedish music scene, but I'd never have placed him among either the pop or the alternative players from that part of the world. He's an original. Or I'm just ignorant; either is a possibility.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 19 Jun 2006

Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 / Shakira
Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 is the flip side of Fijación Oral, Vol. 1, an all-Spanish release from a year ago. (Do people still know what "flip side" means, now that the 45 is history?) Vol. 2 represents more than just a change of language; it's an attempt to move more into the mainstream of pop, or at least what we monolingual Americans think of pop. I'd call it a qualified success; the tracks are kind of uneven but generally very listenable. Although I'm of the opinion that Hips Don't Lie owes its musical bite more to Wyclef Jean, even as the video belongs to Shakira. Still, an impressive transition, and one that makes me more interested in sampling her Latin side.
[ Category: Pop | Add a comment | Link ]

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