Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

First and foremost, I love Glee (and Dianna Agron). Second, the season finale was the episode that really got me ’emotionally invested.’ I hated to see New Directions get last place. My spirits were absolutely crushed when the results were unveiled. It was like something I did not expect even though I do read spoilers. Lastly, this latest EP by the Glee Cast is good but it does have blemishes, mind that.

Material coming from the show has relied on the tried and tested formula: Ride on Lea Michele and Cory Monteith’s vocals and see what happens and this becomes obvious right from the kick off. Faithfully, one of three classic tracks from Journey that got the Glee treatment in the EP, puts the spotlight on the show’s two biggest stars, Michele and Monteith. The effectiveness of the formula gets diluted in the track. When something gets used too much, the result is not going to be pretty and that is the case here. I will not deny that both stars have awesome vocals but it is just too much. Glee, after all, is not Lea Michele’s Got Talent. Proper balance in terms of the exposure for the cast must be achieved.

Just when I thought that the EP will be a huge mess, here comes the messiah of all the tracks in the EP, wrapped delicately waiting to be unleashed. I am referring to the flawless mash-up of Any Way You Want It and Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’. Mash-ups have also been another calling card of the show. Some of them have been particularly impressive especially that mash-up of Usher’s Confessions and Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life while others just fell flat like that Don’t Stand So Close To Me/Young Girl mash-up. Fortunately, the latest mash-up falls into the former. The brilliance shines very brightly that I almost forgot this is a mash-up we’re talking about.

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Norther Irish band rock outfit Two Door Cinema Club’s debut album entitled Tourist History attempts to further showcase the band’s array of musical talents that all contribute to some very lovely music. The 10-track-long LP boasts of guitar-driven tracks that may remind some of Bloc Party. Tourist History is a record that relies on consistency to keep it afloat and guess what, the results are absolutely magnificent.

Just like Delphic, Two Door Cinema Club manages to fuse with great ease rock elements with that of electronic leanings, forming a very sleek overall package in the process. Alex Trimble’s vocals are consistently great all throughout the record. Sam Halliday’s guitar help in attaining that infectious feeling that one hopes to see in the tracks included in the LP.

With every track being consistent, it must be said that the whole package is massively enjoyable. Every track shows off the band’s stunning musicality with great success. The band does show some facets in which they excel in every track. At one point, it would be the songwriting that excels then suddenly, it would be the guitar sound that shines. Hearing it altogether is simply fabulous.

Of course, there are the tracks that earned my total respect. Album opener Cigarettes in the Theater stands out for that spectacular trumpet solo. Do You Want It All lets one hear the band play in a slower pace yet the product ends up well. Something Good Can Work, after hearing Undercover Martyn endlessly before, surprisingly ends up as the best track for the LP. The track shows everything that the band needs in order to be successful. Does the song have amazing verses? Check. Does it have a very pleasurable chorus? A big check. Put all of this together with a great arrangement and what you get eventually is the LP’s most polished track.

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The first compilation album by Matchbox Twenty brought me some welcomed emotions, particularly nostalgia, once I listened to it. Exile On Mainstream, the name of the album, contains 17 tracks with six of those being new material and eleven greatest hits songs. As much as I want to review every track included in the album, I just cannot. The eleven tracks are very great in their own merit and if one has not listened to any of them, that person must have been living under a cave. In this post, the spotlight will be on the six new tracks that the band wrote for this album.

Opening the album is the lead and anthemic single How Far We’ve Come which has a drum-driven intro that charges very strongly. The track is absolutely catchy with a very friendly chorus to boot. I’ll Believe You When starts with child-friendly bells that may remind one of Christmas (okay, that sounds lame but it actually is true). The bass also adds a deft touch of funkiness into the track. All Your Reasons lets one get a glimpse of the band simply having fun. The track has a catchy riff and that ba-da-da-dup part in the intro is absolutely contagious.

The band has been known to produce quality slow tracks such as Unwell and such tracks make their presence felt anew in this album with These Hard Times and Can’t Let You Go. Among these tracks, These Hard Times, without a shadow of a doubt, is the best. The track’s smoothness clearly helps and the quality of the ballad is astounding.

The rest of the songs are absolutely class. The album is a great collection of fantastic material from the band’s back catalog. Music lovers who have not listened to these material will undoubtedly enjoy them and as for hardcore fans, they will surely appreciate the material once more. If anyone is looking for an album that can give them that nostalgic feeling, this is it. An added bonus is the new material that the band produced and the quality of these tracks are great. What else can one ask for?

Best Track: How Far We’ve Come
Other Recommended Tracks: These Hard TimesAll Your Reasons, and I’ll Believe You When
Genre: Rock
Date Released: October 2, 2007
Label: Atlantic Records

Lola Dutronic are an electronic pop duo who divide their time between Berlin and Toronto. Vocalist Lola Dee, who has performing on stage in Germany since the age of 5, sings in both English and French for their latest release, the Musique EP. Her partner, producer/composer Toronto-based Richard Citroen was a former member of the Canadian band The Diodes. Richard Citroen also does the mixing for their latest release.
ALBUM REVIEW: Musique by Lola Dutronic

The seven-track-long EP boasts of having great musical arrangements in every track. The overall vibe of the EP may be said as modern filled with electronic leanings. Lola Dee’s vocals do seem to act like they are not the main attraction in the record though. However, the album closer Best Years of our Lives allows Lola Dee’s vocals to get the spotlight while accompanied by a very polished arrangement. The aforementioned track actually is the best track in my book because the track utilized to full extent the capabilities of the duo.

The best arrangement in the EP goes to Chanson D’ete (Summer of Love Mix) for possessing new wave qualities. The production work done overall is good. Every arrangement in the record is well-polished and very pleasant to the senses. However, more attention could have been given to the vocals. Lola Dee does have some good vocals to boot. This is why I am wondering why at times, I felt like I was basically listening to an instrumental effort. Still, it must be said that Musique is a great effort though not everyone will appreciate material such as this.

Genre: Pop
Label: Red Star Digital Music
Date Released: May 18, 2010

The Queen of Pop has been fittingly given the first tribute episode in the hit TV series Glee. Madonna’s songs have been synonymous to excellence and pop perfection. Her songs are always filled with substance and with the Glee cast covering her singles for the EP, the end product should be something desirable.

Desirable, it really is. The EP may only last for seven tracks but the Glee cast do give justice to Madonna’s material. Glee and Madonna ends up as a well-done ‘marriage’ in my book. There really are loads of positives in this release albeit a short one.

One of them is that other cast members finally get the chance to show off their vocal chops. Jane Lynch, also known as Sue Sylvester, makes her debut with Vogue, one of the EP’s quality tracks. Lynch finally shows that Glee is more than a Lea Michele show. Another cast member who has her vocal debut is Naya Rivera who portrays Santana. Who would have thought that she actually has a great voice? Jayma Mays and Rivera actually make their respective vocal debuts in Like A Virgin, a track that somehow plays it safe but has its shining moment when Rivera’s vocals get some part of the limelight.

The boys in the cast, minus Matthew Morrison, team up to perform a heartwarming rendition of What It Feels Like For A Girl. Skepticism may be the initial reaction but it all ends well as the track is something well-polished and simply put, it ends up as one of the EP’s few recommended tracks. Amber Riley (Mercedes) and Chris Colfer (Kurt) join forces for 4 Minutes. The arrangement was cleverly thought of with the usage of the horns. It is reminiscent of those cheering squads who perform during the halftime of basketball games. Perfectly done, I can say the track was.

Sadly, the EP still releases an aura that tells it is still the Lea Michele show. Michele sings lead vocals for four of the seven tracks in the EP. It is not really a bad thing initially but it gets too stale for people’s tastes eventually. Of all the Michele-related tracks, it is the album closer, Like A Prayer, that stands out from the rest of the pack. The gospel vibe that the track had absolutely did wonders.

Every track in the EP can stand on its own but of course, there are those that stand out big time. 4 MinutesWhat It Feels Like For A Girl, and Vogue do stand out for it showed that other people aside from Michele can step up and deliver when it mattered the most.

Ultimately, everything ends well for the EP. The song selection is great and Cory Monteith did not even rely on the dreaded auto-tuning technology to sound great in the release. Desirable, the record really is. I bet Madonna is smiling after hearing the record. I really do.

Best Track: What It Feels Like For A Girl
Other Recommended Tracks: 4 MinutesVogue, and Like A Prayer
Genre: Pop
Date Released: April 20, 2010
Label: Columbia Records

Canadian singer-songwriter Valerie Anne Poxleitner or Lights Poxleitner, more known by her stage name LIGHTS, tries to convince people who have not heard her material that she is the real deal with her debut album entitled The Listening. The 13-track-long LP consistently utilizes Lights’ ability to play the synths in grand fashion.

All the tracks in the LP make use of Lights’ sweet and melodic vocals accompanied by the ever-reliable keyboards, lovely rhythms, catchy beats, and lyrics that have loads of sense in them. The tracks do showcase the musicality (versatility included) that this bubbly singer-songwriter has.

There is no denying that the tracks in the LP are outstanding on their own merit. They all have their respective catchy hooks included. Are there album fillers though? I am happy to say that there is no filler track in this effort. All tracks are contagious though some of the tracks do have their blemishes.

Saviour sets the tone for the album with a very pulsating beat that soothes the senses. The keyboard-led track has auto-tuning in it but all ends well since the vocal manipulation works perfectly in the track. Drive My Soul, meanwhile, slows the pace down and gives off that smooth vibe.

River is one of the haymakers that this album has. The quality of the track is simply superb and the track is without a doubt one of the best in the LP. The title track, The Listening, has a chorus that shines continuously even if put on loop. Ice has a Kylie Minoque-esque vibe in it. Actually, it is one of the more upbeat offerings in the LP which allows it to distance itself from the other offerings which may sound too similar for one’s liking.

Pretend has two versions included in the LP with the first one using the synths and the second one relying on an acoustic vibe. The first version is more preferable in my book though the second one is also likable. It all depends on one’s cup of tea.

February Air has this sound which may give one thoughts of those classic videogame instrumentals. Catchy, it actually is. The simple yet remarkable song structure gives the song some much-valued punch. Lions! uses the conventional formula that Lights uses all throughout the LP. That is rely on some creative arrangement and sweet vocals. It works but it does bring up a point regarding the LP’s imperfections.

Some tracks may sound too similar for some. However, there will always be that one song which one will love to listen continuously over and over again. I also suggest that listen to the album on shuffle to counter the ‘sameness’ that some tracks have. Listening to the LP in order just does not do it right.

Do I like the LP though? Yes, I really do. All the songs have simple yet remarkable structures embedded in them. The vocals from Lights are exceptional. All the arrangements used are clever and well-thought. However, The Listening is far from being a perfect record but if you are a fan of well-done pop material, do check this offering out. You’ll get your money’s worth. Trust me.

Best Track: Saviour
Other Recommended Tracks: Drive My SoulIceRiver, and February Air
Genre: Pop
Date Released: May 17, 2010
Label: Underground Operations

David Guetta basically has turned himself into the modern day Timbaland: He is now a hot commodity among mainstream club music lovers – frequently appearing on the playlists of almost everyone. With his fourth album One Love, he hopes to further cement his status as a top DJ.

The album consists lots of collaborations – some spectacular and some which could be said as utter garbage. I am reviewing the Standard U.S version which consists of 13 tracks that aim to fill up the void of quality dance tracks in today’s music industry.

Kicking things off is the very impressive When Love Takes Over which features Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child fame. The single is absolutely brilliant with the subtle touch of European dance elements included. Following closely isGettin’ Over You which has Chris Willis doing the vocal duties. It is nothing outstanding and actually falls short when compared to its latest remix which has Fergie and LMFAO as its collaborators.

The second single released Sexy Bitch is one of the album’s impressive home run hitters. For once, Akon does not irritate the auditory capabilities of listener. Memories starts with some hints of pianos and ends up as something magnificent with the bassline doing a fantastic job in enticing the senses. Cudi’s vocals are great albeit the weird chorus. The track is something one could listen to from time and time again. The appeal just will not wear off for reasons unknown.

Miss Rowland appears for the second time with It’s The Way You Love Me. With When Love Takes Over setting the bar so high, It’s The Way You Love Me could not simply match or outdo the quality that When Love Takes Over had. All of a sudden, the quality of the album falls apart and disintegrates. It all starts with Choose, which has Rowland as its collaborator yet again alongside Ne-Yo. Vocally, Rowland and Ne-Yo are fine but the overall product is loaded with blemishes.

Will.i.am lends his hand alongside fellow Black Eyed Peas member Apl.de.ap in On The Dancefloor. The bassline is pure magic in here and with a lovely synth sound to boot, what’s not to love in this track? I actually liked the remix of the Black Eyed Peas’ smash single (albeit overplayed) I Gotta Feeling. It somehow made the track bearable yet again after those massive number of plays it received.

Estelle comes up with the best track of the horrid second half in the form of One Love. The pace shifts dramatically and turns the track into something very lovely. The said track saves the horrid second half from total mediocrity. Sound of Letting Go is pure garbage though the synths do a fine job. I Wanna Go Crazy lets one hear Will.i.am act like a total psycho. The album closer If We Ever tries its best to end the album on a high note but the vibe is absolutely loaded with crap. Nice effort though.

One Love ends up as an effort with a spectacular first half and a horrible second half. The second half prevents the album from being totally fantastic. More production time could have been given to the second half. The quality of the second half is downright disappointing. However, it must not be forgotten that the album also has very impressive tracks. Overall, an enjoyable effort albeit the crappy second half.

Best Track: Memories
Other Recommended Tracks: When Love Takes OverSexy BitchI Gotta FeelingOn The Dancefloor, and One Love
Genre: House
Date Released: August 21, 2009
Label: Virgin Records

A friendly reminder: We all are entitled to our respective opinions. This post shows what I think about Charice’s debut album. Take note, nationalities must not be taken into consideration in giving opinion to material. If you do not like what I think about the said album, all I am asking for is respect. We all have that virtue, I suppose. Use it please. Well, if you don’t, better shut the eff up. Plain and simple.

Utilizing the advantageous effects of technology, Charice has risen from being a reality TV contest reject into an international sensation. She has done much-publicized appearances on acclaimed shows such as The Ellen Degeneres Show and even The Oprah Winfrey Show. With the global audience now aware of the Filipina songstress, David Foster tries his best in honing up the ‘skills’ of Charice for her debut album.

Charice has the vocals as exemplified by her covers of songs by Whitney Houston. I am not really a fan of covers but heck, I still tried to listen to them. Anyway, the album has 12 tracks for its Standard Edition release – tracks that tackle topics experienced in everyday life.

Here is a track-by-track dissection of the album:

Pyramid (Feat. Iyaz)

Pyramid opens the album with a bang. It clearly is the best track in Charice’s debut album. Charice sounds very American in the track. Nothing against this to be honest. I still dislike the vocal manipulation done on the track but honestly, the track is catchy and does its part as an introduction with massive success.

Reset

One of the decent tracks in the album. The track is not cheesy and uses technological imagery to present its image. However, the satisfaction level goes spiraling down once the rapping bridge kicks in. That was some pathetic usage of the Filipino language. Nice try in showing your roots but it just fails. What is the best line of the song, if you may ask? My answer is this line: ‘Magsimula na tayo para tayo sobrang happy na.’ Best line ever.

In This Song

The cheese starts pouring on with this track. The vocals are fine but the musicality and the depth that I was looking for in the track just could not be found.

Nobody’s Singin’ To Me

Nice strings in the intro, I must say. This is another decent track in the album but much better than Reset. Again, her vocals sound way different from the vocals in her previous material. It sounded great though.

Thank You

I would rather listen to something else. This is pathetic. This track seems like it came from a Maya trying to imitate the sound of a laughing hyena. It is ridiculous.

I Love You

This track ends up as something between average and amazing. Impressive vocal range is shown in the track. The screaming did start to annoy me though.

In Love So Deep

Some versatility springs up in the track. But that ‘wow factor’ that I have been looking for is absent. The high notes are really annoying now. Is that all you can do Charice? Give me something better.

All I Need To Survive

All I need to survive in this world is to put this song in the trash bin of failed songs.

Nothing

The identity crisis starts. Does Charice want to present herself as someone who performs upbeat tracks or as someone who excels in ballads? I am not getting the sense of her musical direction. However, there is no denying that Nothing is one of the album’s shining moments. Very accessible, I must add.

The Truth Is

The truth is this song sucks.

I Did It For You

I would rather watch a long baseball game than listen to this crap.

Note To God

Oh great. A cover closes the album out. I am not really impressed, to be honest. The gospel vibe is something that I do not really dig. Still, a pretty acceptable effort.

Ultimately, Charice’s debut album does not end up as something pleasing. It did have its shining moments but most of the time, I saw lots of big time meltdowns. It was downright disappointing. However, with a voice that is still young, it can still be given some improvement. Again, I am simply disappointed.

Best Track: Pyramid
Other Recommended Tracks: NothingI Love You, and Reset (I recommend that you repeat the rapping bridge. Do not ask why.)
Genre: Pop
Release Date: May 11, 2010
Label: Reprise Records

Bobby Ray Simmons struts his musical chops in his debut album named B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray. The album also features some collaborations from established musicians such as Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Lupe Fiasco, T.I, Eminem, and Hayley Williams. Though B.o.B works solo only in four tracks, he still eventually manages to make sure that all the tracks are laid out perfectly.

With the guest stars in the album, it is inevitable for B.o.B to change his styles in the tracks in order to accommodate the strengths of each guest. Changing the styles actually worked in Simmons’ favor for his debut album. There is variety in the album if sound is to be considered. All the tracks have a unique vibe included. This facet could be considered as the album’s greatest feature.

Since the tracks all have unique vibes in them, I would rather discuss all the outstanding tracks from the debut album of Simmons. Debut single Nothin’ On You, a collaboration with Bruno Mars, actually made me like B.o.B’s creative musicality big time. The track is really radio-friendly with rap and R&B elements fusing together like a well-done marriage. Don’t Let Me Fall lets B.o.B’s rapping take the center stage. The track did show that he really can embrace the lights and do things superbly.

Airplanes, a collaborative effort with Paramore’s lead vocalist Hayley Williams, takes advantage of Williams’ angst in her vocals and meshes the said vocals with the rapping of B.o.B. The track ends up as one of the album’s very outstanding tracks. B.o.B dramatically slows the pace down in Lovelier Than You. The track sounds charming as B.o.B tries to go the sentimental route.

B.o.B and Grammy Award-nominated Janelle Monae try their hands on some social commentary in The Kids which samples Vampire Weekend’s ‘The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance.’ The track, alongside Airplanes, may be considered as the most likable tracks among all the collaborations included in the album. Magic, which features Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, sports a fast tempo and also shows off B.o.B’s ability to rap like a crazy mad man.

The album relies on B.o.B’s versatility as a musician and it all works out very great in the end. An adventure should never be one-dimensional and the albums show that convincingly. The tracks all possess a unique vibe and that is how an adventure should end up – something loaded with variety which can induce some fun eventually.

Best Track: The Kids
Other Recommended Tracks: Nothin’ On YouMagicAirplanes, and Don’t Let Me Fall
Genre: Hip-hop
Date Released: April 27, 2010
Label: Atlantic Records

This entry was originally posted by the author over at The Beat Review where he works as a contributor. Here is the link of the original post for reference: LINK

Agnes Carlsson, also known as Agnes, rose to fame after winning the second season of the Swedish Idol series. Dance Love Pop is Agnes’ third studio album and first album to have an international release. The tracks in the release fulfill the title with great aplomb by offering dance-pop goodness in the best way imaginable.

Dance Love Pop begins with arguably the best track on the record, Release Me. The track utilizes sweeping pop hooks that induce a feel-good vibe. It is something that can be played endlessly without compromising the overflowing coolness that it has.

On and On slows the tempo down but still ends up as capturing the feelings that the album title wants to tell to its listeners. Love Me Senseless shows off some Agnes’ vocal prowess that do remind me of the great Leona Lewis, also a winner of a reality singing competition.

As for the other tracks, they do showcase Agnes’ remarkable musicality with perfection. Look At Me Now should also get some considerable attention with its synth-filled hooks. Among the slow tracks included in the album, Big Blue Wall is absolutely the best one. The track does not give off the feeling that Agnes sounded too contrived. The track is also successful in showcasing Agnes’ versatility as a musician.

Why the few words for this album? The tracks are really special that I ended up being stunned. This album is really magnificent from top to bottom. Agnes’ pulled out all the right moves for her first international release. The end product is an album that should rightfully let people see that Agnes really is one heckuva musician who deserves all the accolades that she could attain.

Another thing that the album accomplished masterfully is living out to the cause of its album name. The tracks do live out the message that its name gives which is Dance Love Pop. The album relies on a well-done fusion of dance and pop elements and should be something that people will listen to from time and time again.

Best Track: Release Me
Other Recommended Tracks: Big Blue WallOn and OnLove Me Senseless, and Look At Me Now
Genre: Pop
Date Released: October 29, 2008
Label: Roxy Recordings