Archive for the ‘CD reviews’ Category

Albert Hammond, Jr. – Yours To Keep

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Yours to Keep, the solo debut from Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr., will undoubtedly be placed in the context of the Strokes, and for good reason. According to the NME, part of the impetus for making this album was the motherband rejecting many of Hammond’s songs. And if Hammond was only the son of a famous songwriter, you could definitely hear a Strokes influence evident on the album. You would also hear a very solid CD. Owing a lot to the ’50′s pop of artists like Bobby Darin, it is a fun, simple, laid back album that doesn’t have the same aura of ‘cool’ that permeates throughout Strokes records. Hammond sounds like a guy who just wants to play his guitar and sing some songs, not much more.

The stand-out track on the album is certainly “101.” It is irresistibly catchy with good guitars and a big, sing-along chorus. The one downside to the song may be the female vocals that join Hammond, rising out of the background, and serve more as a distraction from the guitars at first, and when the two sing in unison, just feel too much like a top 40 pop song. Another stand-out is the first bonus track, “Postal Blowfish,” which is undeniably a rock song. It has big drums and big guitars, and is still catchy as hell. On “Scared,” Hammond sounds directly from the ’50′s bubblegum era until the chorus, which is dark and moody.

The one major knock against the album is that Hammond does not seem to know when to end songs. Often times, he will finish with the lyrics and the instrumentation of the song, then just play something totally different. This is especially evident on “Hard to Live in the City,” which ends with a brass section not heard anywhere else in the album, and almost sounds like a ska song, which is the last thing you want to hear on this record. All in all, it’s not hard to tell that Hammond came from the Strokes, but it’s even easier to enjoy Hammond, with or without the support of Julian Casablancas and co.

Overall: 7.5/10

Ela – Real Blood on Fake Trees

Monday, February 12th, 2007

There was a time when emo wasn’t such a bad thing. At The Drive-In has the e word listed as one of their styles on allmusic, and Jawbreaker’s Dear You is still a classic. So perhaps it isn’t a surprise that the first RIYL on the one-sheet for Ela’s new CD Real Blood on Fake Trees is Jawbreaker. Ela plays an angular style of emo that doesn’t share much in common with the brand of emo that is currently popular. Ela relies on dark melodies instead of comparing ex-lovers to arms dealers to create an intense disc that doesn’t quite reaches the heights of Jawbreaker, but doesn’t fall to the lows of what emo has come to represent either.

Overall: 6/10

SnowLeopards – Debut

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

The debut CD for the SnowLeopards, aptly titled Debut, is very close to being just a generic piece of power-pop. What separates it from the rest of the pack is a retro vibe that permeates throughout the album, especially on “I’m on Fire” and “Hipmatize Me” (which may be one of the worst names for a song I’ve heard all year). With female vocals also, Debut isn’t going to win the SnowLeopards the amount of fame that a debut such as that of the Arctic Monkeys garnered, but it could wind up being either a good guilty pleasure or a building block to successful second album – would that be named 2?

5/10

Bloc Party – A Weekend In The City

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Bloc Party’s sophomore effort, A Weekend In The City, sees the British band become more focused and more emotional. The album is centered around life in London, and you can tell that frontman Kele Okereke thinks change is needed. On “Hunting for Witches,” Okereke wails “the newscaster says the enemy’s among us…now is not the time for liberal thought.” This is also by far the album’s stand out track, with big guitars leading up to big chorus, making it the album’s catchiest and most anthemic song. The opener, “Song for Clay (Disappear Here)” talks about the status quo, and is another one of the album’s top tracks, while “Uniform” attacks the influence of MTV. Bloc Party also slows things down a little too frequently on the album. Some of the slow songs, such as “Waiting For The 7:18″ are great, resonant ballads, but other times, such as on “I Still Remember,” you just want Bloc Party to speed things up again so you can get up and dance to London’s shortcomings. All in all, this is a very good, if not great, album which could make Bloc Party the voice of today’s youth – the same way that they criticize on “Uniform.”

Overall: 7/10

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