V/A – Gypsy Groove

V/A – Gypsy Groove / 2007 Putomayo Grooves / 11 Tracks / http://www.putumayo.com /

I must admit, before sticking in “Gypsy Groove” to my CD player, I had not hear anything from the dance scenes present in Eastern Europe, beyond what was played during earlier Eurovision song contests. Even then, these tracks were ones that I did not pay much in the way of attention to. However, with !DelaDap’s “Zsa Manca”, I regret not giving this genre a little more time. “Zsa Manca” is a track that blends new and traditional styles to make a vibrant and vital dance track, something that is chill while still having a quick beat. Continue reading “V/A – Gypsy Groove”

Paul McCartney – Memory’s Almost Full

Paul McCartney – Memory’s Almost Full / 2007 MPI / 13 Tracks / http://www.paulmccartney.com /

Obviously, this is the new album by Paul McCartney of the Beatles. Individuals should know eir as a former member of the Beatles and Wings, and for being a prolific solo artist in eir own right. However, this is the first time as a music reviewer that I have had a chance to hear McCartney’s work when it was still new (in a reviewing format, that is). The first track on the disc is “Dance Tonight”, and it is a fairly simple track, with little more than a guitar line and a percussive line providing the backdrop for McCartney. Continue reading “Paul McCartney – Memory’s Almost Full”

The Beach Boys – The Warmth of the Sun

The Beach Boys – The Warmth of the Sun / 2007 EMP / 28 Tracks / http://www.emicap.com /

The Beach Boys are one of the best known pop-rock bands, one of the earliest boy bands (as opposed to earlier teen idols). This disc features twenty-eight different tracks by The Beach Boys, and can be described as a definitive greatest hits collection. This is because the sequence and substance of the album was determined by the Beach Boys themselves. If there could be a better authority on what songs should be on a Beach Boys greatest hits, the band themselves would have to be it. One thing that really becomes evident to me has to be the short duration of the tracks on the disc. Continue reading “The Beach Boys – The Warmth of the Sun”

Matteah Baim – Death of the Sun

Matteah Baim – Death of the Sun / 2007 Dicristina / 9 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/matteahbaim / http://dicristinarecords.blogspot.com /

Matteah Baim is holding back tons during eir first track of “Death of the Sun”, “River”. The set of vocals that ey contributes finally takes a focal point at near the two minute mark. What seems to be the focal point before that is the constraints given the disc by the recording. What is present on all of the tracks of “Death of the Sun” is an ambient buzz that makes Baim’s tracks all sound as if they were coming off of an old record. It provides some extra context to Baim’s tracks, and works at times like another instrument. Track titles and runtimes are not essential to Baim, despite the fact that they are present on this album. For example, there are two distinct “tracks” in “River”. Continue reading “Matteah Baim – Death of the Sun”

Rasputina – Oh Perilous World

Rasputina – Oh Perilous World / 2007 Filthy Bonnet Co / 12 Tracks / http://www.rasputina.com

The last time I heard of Rasputina, ey was pandering an album because it had a collaboration with Marilyn Manson on it. That was quite a few years ago, but I remembered that when I got a copy of eir latest album, “Oh Perilous World”, for review in the magazine. The compositions on this album are rock oriented with just a touch of goth influence at points. “Choose Me For Champion” is a track that could easily make it to alternative rock radio, with smoothed out instrumental compositions and a melodramatic set of vocals that are almost humorous at points. Continue reading “Rasputina – Oh Perilous World”

Bitter Bitter Weeks – Peace is Burning

Bitter Bitter Weeks – Peace is Burning / 2007 High Two / 10 Tracks /http://www.minerstreet.com/bbw / http://www.hightwo.com /

The Bitter Bitter Weeks sound a lot like The La’s during the first track to their “Peace Is Burning”, “Once and for all”. This means that the vocals are the dreamiest part of the band even as the instrumentation provide a little more tangible thing for these vocals to latch onto. The track is strong in its’ own right, but it does not represent a hit for the Bitter Bitter Weeks. The second track on this disc is “Writing Letter”, and the slightly more driven instrumentation pushes the lead vocals to something a little more strong than was the case during “Once and for all”. Continue reading “Bitter Bitter Weeks – Peace is Burning”

Ben Jelen – Ex Sensitive

Ben Jelen – Ex Sensitive / 2007 Custard / 13 Tracks / http://www.benjelen.com / http://www.custardrecords.com /

Ben Jelen starts off “Ex Sensitive” with a very hopeful brand of pop-rock music that is more influenced by eir vocals at the onset than even with the shifting, shambling beat that backs ey up during “Pulse”. Taken in toto, Jelen opens up this disc in a very solid way. There may be hints of U2 present in this introductory track, but Jelen is much more diverse than that, taking The Corrs, The Verve, and countless other earlier acts into consideration. Regardless, “Pulse” is a strong track and is the perfect introduction to listeners. “Where Do We Go” is more of the same, but seems to have a sheen about it that defies categorization. Continue reading “Ben Jelen – Ex Sensitive”

They Shoot Horses Don’t They – Pick Up Sticks

They Shoot Horses Don’t They – Pick Up Sticks / 2007 Kill Rock Stars / 10 Tracks / http://www.theyshoothorses.org / http://www.killrockstars.com

They Shoot Horses Don’t They is a fucked up band. “One Last Final Push” mixes together so many different styles that it is really like a schizophrenic trying to go and craft a song. Ultimately, “One Last Final Push” is a track is primarily influenced by the swing-dancing style along with a rock sound. “The Guest” has the same sort of dissonant horns and strong vocal present. The one thing that I could link They Shoot Horses Don’t They to would have to be one of those fun houses that are present at any county fair. In these fun houses, for individuals that might not know what I’m talking about, there are slanted floors, weird bungee cord contraptions, and the like. Continue reading “They Shoot Horses Don’t They – Pick Up Sticks”

The Shake – Kick It

The Shake – Kick It / 2006 Self / 9 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/theshakeband /

The band comes forth to us with a sound that blends together equal parts FOo Fighters and Bad Religion. The first track on “Kick It” is “Frequency”, and it shows the band’s ability to create a wall of sound. The only thing that could be construed as a negative on this opening track is the high amount of distortion. With the solid arrangements played by the band, the distortion is not needed, and it actually detracts from what is a solid opening and introduction to the band. What the band ultimately settles down to in this track is a current rock style that is linked heavily to the sixties rock style. This distortion sounds more like a constraint of the recording process than from anything that the band was responsible for, so one cannot fault them all that much.

The band shifts their style slightly for “Outcast”, taking up a little rockabilly influence to the track. The band still comes forth with that Oasis/Blue-retro type of sound on the track, drawing linkages between the first few tracks of “Kick It”. while each of the first few tracks on “Kick It” were short, punchy introductions to the band, “8 O’Clock” is a song that lasts for over 4 minutes. This is the band’s first real test on the album, and the slower tempoed song is a solid continuance of some of the styles and approaches that first presented themselves on earlier tracks on this album. This minor shift in the sound provided listeners by The Shake keeps individuals interested in the band, something that is definitely needed at the middle-point of this album.

The one thing that starts to reveal itself during “Kick It” is the fact that the band does not have a single-worthy track present on the album. Sure, the songs are fun on their own merit, but there is not the song on “Kick It” that will catapult the band into some semblance of fame. For their next album, this is what The Shake needs to do. Craft a song like “8 O’Clock” and stick in a hook or solo that will get individuals focused in on the track. The song is almost what the band needs, but the band is ultimately on the outside looking in with this album. Give the disc a listen and then check back with the band in a few years; hopefully they will have worked on their overall sound.

Top Tracks: 8 O’Clock, Manic Boogie

Rating: 5.6/10

V/A – Chakras: From Brazil To Berlin

V/A – Chakras: From Brazil To Berlin / 2007 Azul / 25 Tracks / http://www.chakras.com.br /

This double disc has a very interesting purpose in mind. There is a unification of the more tribal styles of Brazilian spirit music with the functionalist and inorganic sounds of Germany. What would normally sputter out and fail to succeed is whipped into a solid two-disc mix by Miguel Reis, DJ Chris Wood and DJ Toni Rios. I can’t say that I am familiar with any of the artists that have their tracks used during this set, but there seems to be a high level of quality present on both of the discs. Obviously, each disc is intended to be a composition on its’ own, so it’s not only the work of the artists that originally did the songs but also the creator of these mixes. Continue reading “V/A – Chakras: From Brazil To Berlin”