Saturday, October 13, 2007

Brave by Jennifer Lopez album review

This is the fifth English language studio album recorded by Jennifer Lopez and beyond any predetermined ideas it is not that bad. Her previous release which was named Rebirth lacked many things and the R&B act was not that good. She goes for a 70s/80s pop sound and manages to keep you listening to it. There are no tracks which are remarcable but they manage to keep things upbeat and interesting. This retro sound she goes for is an interesting choice.

But it is hard to expect greatness when she puts out an album. Her voice is not that good and the thing which makes the release charming is the beat she uses. She uses the sparkling jams to hide her vocal flaws which appear. She also sounds a bit weak and left behind but she does manage to salvage what could be salvaged and make the tracks; the kind of music that sounds good at first but then when you listen to it does not bring anything better. There is no substance to sustain her beat and “Mile in These Shoes,” as good as it sounds, is a testament to the big hypocrisy of Brave.

There are not so many things you could say about the tracks because they are as the artist puts it feel-good music. “Stay Together” opens and reminds of Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu”. “Do It Well” is a pop-fast paced song similar to “Get Right” and “Hold It Don’t Drop It” is another strong track that thrives on its disco sound. “Forever” is bringing back something from the 80s and it sounds something like the slow-building funk epics that Timbaland has written. The track which stands out is “Mile in These Shoes.”; it is for the haters. It brings intrigue and mystery, but the chorus is filled with a hip-hop/rock barrage of drums which sound just like Janet. It does sound good but it is not that true because it talks about the standards we have and it does not fit her.

The tracks are not bad but something lacks; they just do not have the hook and they lose themselves. Some are a bit catchy but not that many. Her voice is not as good as she should to sing ballads and so she prefers this radio and club friendly mood.

Track Listing:

1. Stay Together
2. Forever
3. Hold It Don’t Drop It
4. Do It Well
5. Gotta Be There
6. Never Gonna Give Up
7. Mile In These Shoes
8. The Way It Is
9. Be Mine
10. I Need Love
11. Wrong When You’re Gone
12. Brave
13. Do It Well (Bonus Track Featuring Ludacris)

My Rating is 4.8 out of 5

You can buy Jennifer Lopez's "Brave" legally at Mp3Fiesta.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

ll the Lost Souls by James Blunt album review

Buy @ Mp3fiesta
Buy @ Mp3sale

To a lot of rock-crit types and “serious music fans”, James Blunt is the Antichrist. The British singer/songwriter’s pinched, high-pitched voice is definitely an acquired taste, while from a musical standpoint, he suggests a watered down version of artists like Ray Lamontagne. Blunt’s debut album, 2005’s Back to Bedlam was downbeat and folky in a way that most singer-songwriters are, with a bit of a retro appeal. From a distance, you got kind of an Elton John or Cat Stevens vibe from him. His acoustic-flavored ballads could have been made in 1975… or 1985… or, well, you get the picture.

Watch his video, its pretty nice:

While the sensitive singer-songwriter will never go out of style, most of them don’t have hits like Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”. The ubiquitous ballad became the first #1 single by a male British artist in a decade. While purists rolled their eyes at the song’s sappy lyrical sentiment (fellow British singer-songwriter David Gray called the song “dreadful, staggering nonsense” in a magazine interview), Blunt was appearing on Oprah, selling three million records, dating models, hanging with Puffy and becoming a Hollywood scene regular. Take THAT, brooding songwriters!!

The fact that neither of the two other singles from Bedlam really took hold with a mass audience also means that Blunt is now tagged with the label “one-hit wonder”, MTV award and five Grammy nominations be damned. All the Lost Souls is the perilous follow-up release for Blunt. Will this album keep him on the fickle music industry’s A-list, or will the sophomore slump wreak havoc on this release and toss Blunt onto the large pile of musicians who have failed to capitalize on initial success?

Well, I’ve gotta at least give Blunt props for not sticking exactly to the same old same old. All the Lost Souls has a less-folky, more pop/rock vibe, with elements of genres from country to electronica. Part of the album was recorded in the holiday capital of Ibiza, Spain, although don’t expect an album chock-full of party anthems. Don’t think for a second that Blunt doesn’t know where his bread is buttered. “Same Mistake” is a fairly obvious rewrite of “You’re Beautiful”, only Blunt neglected to write an actual chorus and instead, coos in falsetto for the hook. I found it pretty easy to sing along with-only when I did, I was impersonating a dog howling.

Not to say that this album is awful, but there’s definitely something lacking here. Blunt’s voice is quite the acquired taste, and nothing on here really stands out or connects from a thematic or lyrical standpoint. Nothing really hits the heart; it’s all very precise and workmanlike, and… well, boring, to be honest.

While not particularly exciting, songs like “1973” (the album’s first single) at least provide a diversion by offering beats you can tap your foot to. This is a good thing, because the ballads just seem to pile on slabs of corniness and false sincerity. However, I’m not quite sure where Blunt was going with a song reminiscing about the year before he was born. “Give Me Some Love” has a slightly crunchy guitar stomp—it rocks harder than anything else on the album, which is all relative—it’s like the hardest-rocking song on a Christopher Cross album. However, lyrics like “Why don’t you give me some love/ I’ll take a shitload of drugs” almost completely capsize one of the album’s more interesting tunes, with a Beatles-esque arrangement and even some pedal steel near the end.

While All the Lost Souls will very likely appeal to the exact same folks who made Blunt’s first album a success, I listen to this album and can’t help thinking that this has all been done before-and better! Tracks like “I Really Want You” just rehash the clichés that singer-songwriters have been working with for the past decade, right down to the faux-electronic embellishments. All of this is to say: there’s really nothing that makes Blunt unique, nothing that justifies his standing over the other folks who make similar music. The man got lucky with a hit single, Oprah came calling, and you know the rest. Something tells me that without a perfect alignment of the stars (or another phone call from the Queen of TV), Blunt’s going to find that sophomore jinx pretty difficult to beat.

You can buy James Blunt's "All the Los Souls" legally at Mp3Fiesta.

My Rating is 4.3 out of 5

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pull the Pin by Stereophonics album review

The Stereophonics' decade-long music career has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride, going from being hailed as one of Britain's premier rock bands to be critically mauled for the acoustic flavour of 2001's "Just Enough Education to Perform" album. However, this turned out to be their biggest selling record and while 2005's "Language. Sex. Violence. Other?" was met with positive reviews; it didn't match up it turns of sales figures, just going to show how strange the music business is. Having previewed new material back in spring, this is their sixth studio release and will be supported with a UK arena tour in November.

The sound of a news report and wailing siren begins "Soldiers Make Good Targets" before a monstrous metal riff comes rolling in, swiftly followed Javier Weyler's pounding drums. A mid-paced number, it gets cranked up at the chorus and is aided by a twisted solo, all of which firmly announces the band's return. With a bouncier vibe is "Pass The Buck", destined to become a live favourite with its killer hook and featuring a big Kelly Jones rant. Lead single "It Means Nothing" drops the tempo for a ballad inspired by the London underground bombings, as the band take a philosophical look at what really matters in life. It is saved from being drippy by a crescendo of guitars, before the trio again up the tempo for the previously available download taster "Bank Holiday Monday". With shades of Oasis' "Bring It On Down", the frenetic pace and spiralling guitars has already seen it become a favourite with fans.

It is often claimed that Stereophonics' success meant that Kelly Jones was no longer able to draw inspiration from the 'small town life' that coloured much of their debut, "Word Gets Around". Perhaps for the first time since that era, he has penned a narrative number that is precise in detail and utterly engaging. "Daisy Lane" is the tender tale of a schoolboy who was stabbed for his mobile phone on the street on which Jones lives. The gentle acoustic backing gives his voice prominence on what is a standout moment of the record. The brooding "Stone" follows it up, lit by a chorus of epic proportions, before the mood is lightened by the upbeat and poppy tones of "My Friends". Describing how he'd like a "girl down on me in the theatre", "I Could Lose Ya" is a sleazy track of simple, choppy guitars that and the type of chorus that quickly gets in your mind.

More fitting of Jones recent solo record, "Bright Red Star" simply features the vocalist and an acoustic guitar for a sweet ditty that proves a respite until the crunching distorted chords that introduce "Lady Luck". Darker in mood than previous tracks, the verses are rhythm based before the guitars kick in again for a mammoth chorus. "Crush" is a stomping track that should delight audiences as a pulsating sing-along and the album is ended with the climatic "Drowning", which wouldn't have felt out of place on the previous 'phonics record. Slow and patiently developed, it is a satisfying conclusion to the record and thankfully isn't overblown or overdrawn. It also provides balance to a collection of songs which sees the band take the best parts of their previous work and bring them together for a record that is consistently pleasing.

Alex Lai

Track Listing:

1. Soldiers Make Good Targetstext unavalible
2. Pass The Buck
3. It Means Nothing
4. Bank Holiday
5. Daisy Lane
6. Stone
7. My Friends
8. I Could Lose Ya
9. Bright Red Star
10. Lady Luck
11. Crush
12. Drowning

My Rating is 4.6 out of 5

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Curtis by 50 Cent album review

Curtis by 50 Cent album review

Though neither album has been officially released, popular discourse has long since declared Kanye West the winner of this year’s hottest rap battle, the sales war between his and 50 Cent’s respective third records: Graduation and Curtis. Everybody wants Kanye to succeed, and the media has been quick to show support for the blog-friendly rapper, seizing upon 50’s sarcastic pronouncement that he’d quit music were Kanye to outsell him, quietly ignoring the retraction shortly after, and gleefully advertising’s well-timed announcement that Graduation was out-selling Curtis in the pre-orders by five-to-one.

This pro-Kanye sentiment is nothing new. Irritating though he can be, Kanye is an infinitely more likeable character, his cheeky urban (middle-class) braggadocio far more endearing than Fifty’s self-conscious chauvinism; and while 50 will probably never break out of the narrow musical mould created for him by Dre and Eminem, Kanye is a real innovator, if not quite as original as we’d thought. The heat Curtis has faced over the past few months has been well-deserved: lead singles ‘Straight To The Bank,’ a joint enterprise between Dr. Dre and Ty Fyffe, and the cynical ‘Candy Shop’ knock-off ‘Amusement Park,’ would normally be shoe-ins for the year’s worst lists, were it not for the subsequent leak of ‘Follow My Lead,’ a bewildering, lightweight duet with second-rate Trousersnake impersonator Robin Thicke. As it happens, the duet with the real-life Timberlake isn’t a whole lot better, though Timbaland’s shred-guitar-goes-keyboard melody is just mesmerising enough to work.

Fifty billed Curtis as a return to the raw, hardcore rap of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (as opposed to the lighter, more commercial The Massacre), with lyrical themes designed to place the listener in the artist’s mindset before he became a superstar. As with most of his boasts about the album, he’s about half-right. The album opens with a sample from a British gangster movie, setting the scene for a trio of murder-obsessed tracks. ‘My Gun Go Off’ is one of the best tracks Fifty’s lent his name to; Adam Deitch and Eric Krasno’s skilful production keeps the tension bubbling just below the surface with a muted hard rock guitar riff; 50’s rhyme and flow is more varied and expressive than his usual monotone drawl, and he.acknowledges the obvious similarity to Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself,’ rapping, “you only get one shot… before I back out to fire back at your head.” ‘I’ll Still Kill’ features one of Akon’s best guest spots this year, shaking up his usual robotic tones with some light rapping and an almost country-like twang, while ‘Man Down’ completes the tritone with an appropriately monotonous sung chorus.

The remainder of the album is as inconsistent as Fifty’s career to date. Dr. Dre puts in a surprisingly poor showing; in addition to ‘Straight To The Bank,’ he produced the album’s second most confusing moment, a heavy synth-loaded duet with tuneless Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger entitled ‘Fire,’ and the mediocre ‘In Da Club’ pastiche ‘Come & Go.’ Another surprise is ‘I Get Money,’ the third single and the official remix of ‘Straight To The Bank.’ Not only does Apex’s version outclass the original, but the clever use of outside samples (including Audio Two’s ‘Top Billin’’) lends the track a power and urgency he’s all but lost in the past few years and gives rise to the quickly-dashed prospect that he could actually take his music in a new and exciting direction. Aside from Dre, Seattle DJ Jake One and Mobb Deep’s are the only producers to appear more than once on the album: Havoc’s efforts are depressingly lightweight, ‘Fully Loaded Clip’ easily the worst track on the disc; but Jake One’s sharp, keyboard beats are a revelation, blending particularly well with Mary J. Blige’s excellent chorus vocals on ‘All Of Me.’

Returning to the Kanye-Fifty feud for a moment, there’s something conveniently symmetrical about that five-to-one ratio. To date, a fact that’s largely been ignored in the media debate, 50 Cent has sold five times as many records as Kanye, and, mediocre though they are, his recent singles have gone over much better in the clubs than Kanye’s twin bricks, ‘Stronger’ and ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing.’ Despite almost botching the entire project over the past six months, it not only feels like 50’s put out a better product than Kanye, but it feels as if 50 Cent has always had more selling power, regardless of what Kanye came up with. The ease with which he’s created a buzz about Curtis, when two months ago his career was set to tank, demonstrates the point well, and there’s little doubt in my mind which record will sell more copies when they’re released on Tuesday. The only question is whether Kenny Chesney will trump them both.

Track Listing:

1. Intro
2. My Gun
3. Man Down
4. I'll Still Kill Feat Akon
5. I Get Money
6. Come And Go
7. Ayo Technology Feat Justin Timberlake And Timberland
8. Follow My Lead Feat Robin Thicke
9. Movin On Up
10. Straight To The Bank
11. Amusment Park
12. Fully Loaded Clip
13. Peep Show Feat Eminem
14. Fire Feat Young Buck And Nicole Scherzinger
15. All Of Me Feat Mary J Blige
16. Curtis 187
17. Touch The Sky Feat Tony Yayo

My Rating is 4.9 out of 5

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ultimate Victory by Chamillionaire album review

Two years after his critically acclaimed debut album, The Sound Of Revenge, Houston based rapper Chamillionaire is back on the scene with Ultimate Victory. Ultimate Victory can be considered a trendsetting album because Chamillionaire uses no curse words on the album. This is one of the first mainstream hip hop albums geared to adults that is a clean album. Will Chamillionaire be able to overcome that to have the Ultimate Victory?

The first single is Hip Hop Police featuring rap legend Slick Rick. The song was produced by super producer Jonathan "JR" Rotem. The record is very different than what is in the marketplace currently. The song is more of a concept song as opposed to a club song and Chamillionaire has to be given credit for taking such a risk on his first single. The song is memorable because of how different it is but because of that factor was not able to take off on the charts.

The Evening News was featured in the video for Hip Hop Police and is also very different from current hip hop music. The song has a socially conscious lyrical message over more of a dance beat. The song was produced by Kane Beatz. The song talks about important issues such as the war in Iraq, the rising gas prices, dropout rates of high school students and Hurricane Katrina.

The Bill Collecta is the song most similar to Chamillionaire's biggest hit Ridin. The song features Ridin producers Play-N-Skillz and Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs N Harmony. The beat is reminiscent of Ridin but just doesn't have that same pop appeal.

On Rock Star Chamillionaire is joined by rap superstar Lil Wayne. The track is a departure from the rest of the theme of the album. This is the most commercial song on the album with all the rock star references in hip hop presently. The track is produced by The Beat Bullies and features another strong verse from arguably the hottest rapper in the game Lil Wayne.

On Standing Ovation Chamillionaire even shows off his singing ability which is much better than most rappers who attempt to sing. You Must Be Crazy featuring Famous is one of the catchiest tracks on the album and The Ultimate Victory is the perfect way to close the album out.

Chamillionaire has to be given credit for doing an album that is completely out of left field. The album feels like a concept album with the lyrical content and the lack of profanity. This is a positive step for hip hop. Overall Ultimate Victory gets a 10 for concept and a 6 for delivery. So that comes out to an 8 for a great concept but a slightly failed delivery. If you're a fan of something different in your hip hop music check out

Track Listing:

1. The Morning News
2. Hip Hop Police (feat. Slick Rick)
3. Standing Ovation
4. Won't Let You Down (feat. KC)
5. Industry Groupie
6. Pimp Mode (feat. Bun B.)
7. Rock Star (feat. Lil Wayne)
8. Skit (feat. Spanky Hayes)
9. Tha Bill Collecta (feat. Krayzie Bone)
10. The Ultimate Vacation
11. Come Back to the Streets
12. I Think I Love You
13. The Evening News
14. Welcome to the South (feat. Pimp C)
15. You Must Be Crazy (feat. Lil Ken)
16. Me Breakin Up
17. (Skit) Stuck In The Ghetto (feat. Tony Henry)
18. Rocky Road (feat. Devin The Dude)
19. The Ultimate Victory

My Rating is 5 out of 5

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sean Kingston by Sean Kingston album review

Sean Kingston put out the biggest song of this summer, but will his career last as long as the classic beats he borrows?

It was really hard not to pay attention to Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls when it was first leaked to radio stations in late spring. The borrowed bass-line from Ben E. King’s classic Stand By Me was unmistakable and was not the usual beat one hears on current Top 40 radio.

As you could tell from Kingston�s lyrical approach, he is a smooth hip hopper, but, unlike many of his contemporizes, he can actually sing as well as rap. His abandonment of most elements of hip hop on �Beautiful Girls� was a welcome relief for a genre that lately has been saturated by one lukewarm git after another.

The familiarity of the song immediately grabs your attention (especially if you are over 30 and you recall the repeated plays of �Stand By Me� when it had a rebirth in 1986-87), but the lyrics are particularly mournful as Kingston tells of a fairly un-ambitious (�That�s why you never work�) yet attractive coquette who has the young singer in the most sever throws of desperation. The pronunciation of the word �suicidal� (sounding more like �Sue-a-ci-dal�) is sadly the part of the song most remember (and people actually request the song as �that suicide song�)

While �Beautiful Girls� has unquestionably been the summer song of 2007, the rest of Kingston�s disc is also worth more investigation.

The follow-up single �My Love� does something that is considered almost blasphemous in most circles: Kingston actually had the courage to borrow the vocal riff from Led Zeppelin�s classic neo-reggae covered �D’yer Mak’er� (except that Robert Plant�s original vocal styling of �Oh oh oh oh oh ooh� is now marginally changed to �Uh uh uh uh oh ooh�). While the Zeppelin lyric sample and the island tones makes �My Love� sound like another great summer tune, we see in the lyrics that poor Kingston is once again pining over a another lady (or the same one he was on �Beautiful Girls�) who got away.

Kingston does show his playa side on the sultry (thanks mostly to the appearance of young chanteuse Paula DeAnda) �There’s Nothin.� Here Kingston sounds more like a man in control as he serenades a girl whom he finally seems to have held on too!
The one big miss-step on the CD is �I Can Feel It,� a re-working of Phil Collins� classic and atmospheric tune, �In the Air Tonight.� Collins� tune has been so overplayed that there was no need for it to be remade and it is the only time on the CD that Kingston�s appeal does not add much to it.

All-in-all, this is a great debut from Kingston whose future (he is only 17) looks more than auspicious.

Track Listing:

01. Intro
02. Kingston
03. Take You There
04. Me Love
05. Beautiful Girls
06. Dry Your Eyes
07. Got No Shorty
08. There's Nothin
09. I Can Feel It
10. Drummer Boy
11. Your Sister
12. That Ain't Right
13. Change 208 kbps
14. Colors 2007 (Reggae Remix) (feat. Vybez Kartel & Kardinal Official)

My Rating is 5 out of 5

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Daughtry by Daughtry album review

Former American Idol Contestant Chris Daughtry's debut album. A nice mix of rock songs make a CD that has been selling constantly in the many months since its release, making Daughtry one of the most successful artists to come from the show, earning more money than even many of the show's actual winners.

Track Listing:

01. It's Not Over
02. Used To
03. Home
04. Over You
05. Crashed
06. Feels Like Tonight
07. What I Want
08. Breakdown
09. Gone
10. There And Back Again
11. All These Lives
12. What About Now

My Rating is 4,5 out of 5

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