Anna Ternheim – S/T

Anna Ternheim – S/T / 2007 Decca / 6 Tracks / http://www.decca.com

Anna Ternheim has been around for a few years, releasing eir first EP in 1996 (“Sova”) and eir first LP in 2004 (“Somebody Outside”). It is just this year (and March 2008, when eir latest full length is released) that individuals in the United States will be able to hear the ability and talent of Ternheim for themselves. This EP, released by Decca, is a small “greatest hits” of sorts. From the “Somebody Outside” album, “My Secret” and “I’ll Follow You Tonight”. From “Separation Road”, eir last LP, “Today is A Good Day” and “Lovers Dream” are present. The final two tracks, a cover of David Bowie’s “China Girl” and “Bridges”, represent tracks from two of Ternheim’s earlier EPs. Continue reading “Anna Ternheim – S/T”

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band – First You Live

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band – First You Live / 2007 SideOneDummy / 13 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/dustyrhodes / http://www.sideonedummy.com /

When I see the logo for SideOneDummy on a CD, I’m expecting some form of punk music to be assaulting my ears. This is not the desire of Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, as they provide a style of rock that is very linked into the overall sound and style of bands like The Rolling Stones and Wings rather than Rancid or Bad Religion. The one thing that Dusty Rhodes and the River Band share with the other bands on SideOneDummy is that they all have tremendous talent and work hard on creating music that shows off this talent in the best way. “First You Live” is the first full track on the disc and aside from linking together the disparate sounds of seventies rock, Dusty Rhodes and the River Band have enough time to throw in a little bit of Lucero-like anarcho-folk music before the track ends. Continue reading “Dusty Rhodes and the River Band – First You Live”

Michael Hurley – Ancestral Swamp

Michael Hurley – Ancestral Swamp / 2007 Gnomonsong / 11 Tracks / http://www.snockonews.net / http://www.gnomonsong.com /

Michael Hurley is one of the most storied folk musicians that is still around today. Songs of eir have been covered by bands such as Cat Power (“Sweedeedee” and Troubled Water”) and the Violent Femmes (“Werewolf”).  In the years since ey released eir first album “First Song”, ey has been prolific – “Ancestral Swamp” is the twentieth album that ey has released, and marks the first on Gnomonsong Records. Gnomonsong, for those that yet do not know, is the record label of Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic, and provides a voice to the new folk movement in the United States. Continue reading “Michael Hurley – Ancestral Swamp”

Van Morrison – Still On Top: The Greatest Hits

Van Morrison – Still On Top: The Greatest Hits / 2007 Hip-O / 21 Tracks / http://www.vanmorrison.co.uk / http://www.hip-o.com /

There have been a number of greatest hits albums put out covering some stages of Van Morrison’s career, but there never has been one that has had a complete grasp on eir career. I first was introduced to the “Greatest Hits” aspect of Van Morrison through the release of the third volume of Van Morrison’s Greatest Hits (which dealt with all of Van Morrison’s soundtrack-related releases, which seemed to have a large number of songs that even a steady fan of Van Morrison’s would have trouble remembering. While this disc sacrifices a little bit of specificity that period-based greatest hits albums have, individuals that are casual fans of Van Morrison are much more apt to know all (or a majority) of the tracks on this CD. This means that tracks such as “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Gloria”, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” and “Days Like This” are all present, without having to resort to live or remixed versions of the recordings. Continue reading “Van Morrison – Still On Top: The Greatest Hits”

V/A – Change!

V/A – Change / 2007 Sub City / 38 Tracks / http://www.hopelessrecords.com / http://www.subcity.net /

SubCity Records is an imprint of Hopeless Records. They have been creating samplers for about a decade now (give or take a year), and their funds have went to a number of good causes (anti-suicide charities, and they now have a more general mission – “to have an impact that goes beyond music”. Change! is a Hot Topic exclusive, and it provides a shift in name while keeping the same general sound and genres of music represented as were present on the Take Action discs. Genres such as emo (Chiodos, Silverstein, Aiden), hardcore (The Devil Wears Prada, Converge, Poison The Well), and noisecore (Job For A Cowboy) all present themselves, ensuring that individuals of a number of different stripes can find something that they can appreciate here. Continue reading “V/A – Change!”

Serena Ryder – Told You In A Whispered Song

Serena Ryder – Told You In A Whispered Song / 2007 Atlantic / 5 Tracks / http://www.serenaryder.com / http://www.atlanticrecords.com /

For a while before looking it up, I was confusing Serena Ryder with Sarina Paris. Both are Canadians, but there’s quite a few years difference between the ending of Paris’ popular musical career and the beginning of Ryder’s popular phase. The tracks on “Told You In A Whispered Song” provide individuals with a sense of exactly how talented Ryder is without the rest of eir band. The tracks are all recorded with only Ryder present – there is only guitar and vocal on these recordings. I believe that this has the effect of showcasing the fact that Ryder is not like an Avril, and can come forth with very emotional and intense songs. Continue reading “Serena Ryder – Told You In A Whispered Song”

Keith Sweat – A Christmas of Love

Keith Sweat – A Christmas of Love / 2007 Rhino / 9 Tracks / http://www.rhino.com /

I had no idea that Keith Sweat was still even around. Individuals that may not know exactly who Sweat is may remember eir from some of eir previous hits, which included the likes of “I Want Her”, “Make It Last Forever”, “Twisted” and “Nobody”. This is a purely Christmas type of album, and marks the first “new” compilation of Sweat tracks since 2002’s “Rebirth”. For individuals that already have 2006’s “A Keith Sweat Christmas”, this is exactly the same album. Continue reading “Keith Sweat – A Christmas of Love”

OST: Atonement

OST: Atonement / 2007 Decca / 15 Tracks / http://www.focusfeatures.com/atonement /

Atonement is director Joe Wright’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel, of the same name. The film itself features James McAvoy (Band of Brothers, Chronicles of Narnia) and Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, Love Actually), and is set in the 1930s, detailing the lives of Briony, Robbie, and Cecilia. The soundtrack for the film was created by Dario Marianelli (V For Vendetta, Pride & Prejudice) and features the work of Jean-Yves Thibaudet (The Portrait of a Lady, Bride of the Wind and Pride & Prejudice). First off, the strongest element to this score is the fact that it genuinely feels as if the recording is coming from the movie’s period, rather than being created by an individual that was not very musically conscious or even alive during the movie’s period). Continue reading “OST: Atonement”

The Killers – Sawdust

The Killers – Sawdust / 2007 Island / 17 Tracks / http://www.thekillersmusic.com / http://www.islandrecords.com /

Before I start this review, I have to saw that “Tranquilize” is one of the best songs of the year 2007. The fact that it has Lou Reed on it only increases the amount I enjoy the song, and the accompanying video does not paint The Killers as any sort of slouches either. “Tranquilize” is on “Sawdust”, which is a sort of B-sides and rarities album for fans of the band. Of course, for the casual listener, The Killers have added tracks that everyone is familiar with, albeit tweaked in some way. That means that there is a Jacques Lu Cont mix of “Mr. Brightside” that turns the track into something eminently dance worthy, while “Sam’s Town” is a little bit more raw and angry than it was originally presented. For fans of the somewhat retro sound of dance-rock that The Killers create, the cover of Joy Division’s ”Shadowplay” will link past to present, influencer to influence, and show how talented The Killers really are. Continue reading “The Killers – Sawdust”

Rick Springfield – Christmas With You

Rick Springfield – Christmas With You / 2007 Gomer / 15 Tracks / http://www.rickspringfield.com /

Of course, Rick Springfield is the mastermind behind the song “Jessie’s Girl”. This song was released a good twenty years ago and the catchiness of the song has been enough to keep Rick Springfield at least somewhat in the public eye since then. However, there has not really been a follow-up that has reached the level of fame as “Jessie’s Girl”, even if there have been a number of new tracks in the years that have followed. The last time that Springfield even approached the charts was in 2004, when eir single “Beautiful You” reached #28 on the United States adult contemporary charts. Continue reading “Rick Springfield – Christmas With You”