Dream Theater – Greatest Hit

Dream Theater – Greatest Hit / 2008 Rhino / 22 Tracks / http://www.dreamtheater.net / http://wwwrhino.com /

Through the last twenty three years, Dream Theater has been around, creating their own distinctive brand of progressive rock / metal. While individuals in that scene have been able to see what they are doing pretty clearly, large scale success has eluded them. Sure, the band has broken onto the higher reaches of the Billboard chart twice – Awake (1994) got to #32 while Systematic Chaos (2007) hit #19 – but Dream Theater came into the purview of the average music-listening fan only when “Pull Me Under” hit it big in 1992. This album mentions that fact in calling it “Greatest Hit” instead of “Greatest Hits”; despite this little bit of goofiness, the twenty-two tracks on this album mark some of Dream Theater’s most memorable songs. Continue reading “Dream Theater – Greatest Hit”

Ex Reverie – The Door Into Summer

Ex Reverie – The Door Into Summer / 2008 Language of Stone / 9 Tracks / http://www.exreverie.com /

Gillian Chadwick is one of the key forces behind Ex Reverie. Chadwick was originally in Woodwose, and makes strides here to craft a fully unique sound. This means that tracks like “Clouds or Smoke” have a dissonant sound present, even as the different elements of the band create a harmony that weaves its way through the track. The storytelling ability of each band member’s instrument is at such a level that vocals are not needed; when the vocals do end up entering into the equation, they are special in their own right. This is due to the fact that they really take on two distinct roles. Continue reading “Ex Reverie – The Door Into Summer”

Mia Doi Todd – Gia

Mia Doi Todd – Gia / 2008 City Zen / 10 Tracks / http://www.miadoitodd.com /

Mia Doi Todd has just passed eir first decade in the music industry. This is because eir first album, “the ewe and the eye”, was first released in 1997. Todd has been prolific in the years that have followed. 1999 saw “come out of your mine”, 2001 saw “zeroone”, 2002 saw “The Golden State”; individuals can see from just these three albums (which comprise less than half of eir discography) that nary a year goes by between when discs are released. In much the same way, Todd is very liberal in the amount of collaborations that ey does, linking up with Saul Williams, Dntel, and Prefuse 73 at different times during eir career. Continue reading “Mia Doi Todd – Gia”

George Strait – Troubadour

George Strait – Troubadour / 2008 MCA Nashville / 12 Tracks / http://www.georgestrait.com /

George Strait has been around a hell of a long time. Ey has 38 hit albums, starting off with 1981’s “Strait Country”, moving to 1990’s “Livin’ It Up”, 2000’s self-titled release, and 2008’s “Troubadour”. “I Saw God Today” is one of many hits on this album, which contains duets with both Dean Dillon (known for “I’m Into The Bottle”) and Patty Loveless. The great thing about George Strait is eir ability to further eir own sound with each subsequent album, but also add hints and pieces of current trends in country music. That is why ey has sold so many albums over the years, and why a George Strait show will be a packed affair for years, if not decades, to come. “Troubadour” starts out with the title track, a mature affair that introduces listeners softly to Strait’s strong vocals. The wizened sound of Strait’s vocals here will have individuals focusing in on what’s happening on “Troubadour”, and marks one of many tracks that will break it big on the country charts. Continue reading “George Strait – Troubadour”

Drew Hastings – Irked & Miffed

Drew Hastings – Irked & Miffed / 2008 Image Entertainment / 14 Tracks / http://www.image-entertainment.com /

Drew Hastings has been on a number of major-level comedy outlets. This means that ey has been present on both Comedy Central and the Bob and Tom Show, even if “the man” thinks ey is not popular enough for a Wikipedia site. The skits that are present from “Irked & Miffed” are those that were largely present on Hastings’ Comedy Central special, and individuals that are into the more current, potty type of humor would do well to open their horizons by listening to “Irked & Miffed”. Continue reading “Drew Hastings – Irked & Miffed”

Weezer – Pork and Beans

Weezer – Pork and Beans / 2008 Geffen / 1 Track / http://www.weezer.com /

Weezer have came back from the precipice of mediocrity with “Pork and Beans”. This track really calls forth some of Weezer’s earliest (and best) tracks; hints of “My Name is Jonas” and “Suzanne” are present in this song. The slinky guitar line that is prominent during the track works well with Rivers Cuomo’s vocals, while there is a newer type of angular sound that brings the band up to the current period. The guitars switch to overdrive soon after, making their removal from the track soon after a traumatic moment. Weezer are masters of working tension to their benefit; “Pork and Beans” is another track that benefits from this skill. “Pork and Beans” is the perfect example of a track that will get interest for the band’s new (self-titled) album up to that point that the act should receive even more attention than they had with “Dope Nose” and “Beverly Hills”. You’ll hear this track soon on rock rotation, so pretend you are surprised and let the band’s inimitable style wash over you.

Rating: 8.5/10

Busta Rhymes (Feat. Linkin Park) – We Made It

Busta Rhymes (Feat. Linkin Park) – We Made It / 2008 Aftermath / 3 Tracks / http://www.bustarhymes.com / http://www.aftermath-entertainment.com /

Linkin Park has worked with rappers before. Individuals would do to look back to the mash-up album that they had with “Numb/Encore”. Busta Rhymes is gradually gaining back some of the momentum that ey had a few years back, especially when one hears eir hot flow on Missy Eliot’s Chin A Ling remix. “We Made It” is the perfect blend of rock and rap, with Chester’s vocals on the track acting as the bridge between the rock elements of Linkin Park and the rap brought to the track by Busta. This track will be what is played on rock, rap, pop, and (maybe) even alternative stations throughout the summer. Where both acts have struggled in the last few years to stay in the public eye, the strong effort that both enter into with “We Made It” ensure that individuals will care again what each act is doing. “Blessed” will undoubtedly be another platinum album for Busta Rhymes, and “We Made It” will do what “Live from SoHo” could not, and ensure that the band will reach the highest levels of superstardom. Rap/rock remixes are typically impressive on their own right, and “We Made It” is no exception.

Rating: 6.5/10

Neil Diamond – Home Before Dark

Neil Diamond – Home Before Dark / 2008 Sony / 12 Tracks / http://www.neildiamond.com /

It’s amazing when the amount of albums that you have sold, if limited to the United States, would provide a copy of a Neil Diamond album to one in every three citizens. This fact is almost as amazing as the fact that Diamond has been recording for nearly fifty years; 1960 saw the release of the first Diamond single (as a part of Neil and Jack), “What Will I Do”. Continue reading “Neil Diamond – Home Before Dark”

Tristan Prettyman – Hello…x

Tristan Prettyman – Hello…x / 2008 Virgin / 12 Tracks / http://www.tristanprettyman.com /

Tristan Prettyman is still a pretty new force to popular music. Eir first album, “t w e n t y t h r e e” rocketed up the Heatseekers chart before ultimately peaking at #24. If individuals did not have the chance to pick up eir first album, they may also be familiar with Prettyman’s work on G. Love’s “Lemonade” or (the much earlier) “Volume 2” by the Brendan Borek Family. The (somewhat) titular track starts off “Hello…x”, and provides individuals with a breathy female voice. Continue reading “Tristan Prettyman – Hello…x”

Gladys Hardy – I Love Jesus But I Drink A Little

Gladys Hardy – I Love Jesus But I Drink A Little / 2008 WEA / 25 Tracks / http://www.gladyshardy.com /

Individuals may not immediately know who Gladys Hardy is, but if they have seen the Ellen Degeneres show in the last few months, chances are good that they heard a call from Hardy. If you don’t watch the Ellen show (I know I don’t), Gladys Hardy also calls in to the Dudley & Bob show, a “morning zoo” type of radio show centered in the Austin, Texas area, hosted on KLBJ. Hardy is a grandmother from Texas, and leaves a number of voice mails in Degeneres’ box. Hardy’s popularity has increased so much in the last few months that Hardy has actually replaced the announcers that previously introduced Degeneres at the beginning of each episode of eir show. Continue reading “Gladys Hardy – I Love Jesus But I Drink A Little”