The Brighter Side of Five Times August
Brighter Side Adrenaline RecordsFive Times August, or Brad Skistimas if you prefer, is back with more MTV-friendly songs for the kids to feast on. The problem is and it depends on how you define the word problem that his latest release is pretty good, or at least not as bad as I thought it would be. Brighter Side is custom-made for fans of emo-pop music that frequently finds its way onto teenage soap operas like Laguna Beach, but that doesnt exactly mean its useless. Its standard, sure, probably pretty mediocre in the end, but its also very listenable and non-threatening, perfect for a generation who doesnt remember a time when cable TV wasnt the norm.Songs about girls and being misunderstood by girls and how everything is fine in the world and there are pretty much no problems in the universe unless they involve pretty girls fill up most of Brighter Side. But maybe thats what we all need right now: a record that doesnt force any messages or morals on us, a record that is just about feel-good lyrics and music meant to be enjoyed on the surface with no sub-text or pre-text. Hmmm, I just wonder … Charlie Owen, High Life writer
No Ceiling Channel A RecordsThere are certain artists in the music industry that defy description or labeling. True, most bands and solo-artists today mix so many genres of music into their own personal style that defining their sound becomes increasingly difficult. Haale (pronounced hal) is a singer/songwriter from New York and her voice is as close to a sirens as I could ever imagine, I just dont know what group of musicians to lump her in with. Her Iranian heritage seeps into her sound like crude oil into the dessert sand. What emerges is a mystical-sounding quality much like if Enya produced an album by Alanis Morissette. Haale controls each song on No Ceiling with her sensual, sultry and commanding voice. It writhes and contorts in emotional effort like a serpent in the hand of a strange captor. At times it sounds like she is summoning spirits from the dead, other times like she is mourning a husband lost in battle. A supporting cast of instrumentation further lends to the Middle-Eastern sound of the album with crazy percussions and minor-chord madness on the guitar, bass and cello. There is enough contemporary rock influence to keep everyone happy though, and often it lurks toward psychedelic territory in songs like Town on the Sea.If I had to describe the overall tone of No Ceiling it would be like making love in a ring of fire while awaiting death at the hands of marauding enemy soldiers. Its equal parts chaos and beauty, a pearl snatched from the mouth of a violent sea. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
Get The Party Started DeccaShirley Basseys cover of Pinks hit Get the Party Started is pretty cool in a retro/nostalgic way, and since its the first song on her new album, you wont have to sit through the rest of it to know exactly what youre getting into. Her version of the song is the best part of the album, after that its all downhill, but on a very slight decline. Not only does Dame Shirley Basseys latest release sound dated, but its laced with covers and remixes of her older material. Nothing really new here, and even though Bassey is a legendary diva, Get The Party Started just sounds forced and unnecessary. And its not that I dont appreciate Basseys Vegas-act style of singing, either. Her big, booming voice is perfect in the right circumstances, but this album is almost comical in that it downgrades Basseys talents by reducing them to a gimmick. Such a shame. The techno quality of the remixes is in stark contrast to the high-class vocals that Bassey exhibits, and as such makes for the only interesting factor on an otherwise unremarkable project. Hopefully her next release will be all or at least mostly new material because Bassey is worth so much more than this. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
Jesus of Cool Yep Roc RecordsThirty years after its original release, Nick Lowes Jesus of Cool is more relevant than its ever been or at least, its more relevant than most rock albums being released now. Thats because with his first official album, Lowe accomplished a seamless combination of rock, pop, glam, dub, disco and grit that has eluded just about every semi-independent band that has tried to recreate it in this decades indie revival.The completely disingenuous I Love My Label, about writing palatable music to sell records for a big, happy music industry family, distills the kind of frustrations that eventually caused that industry to crumble (My label always loves to hear some pretty chords on its records, like these ones / Shes always pleased to hear some of these pretty melodies, so I sing em some).Songs such as I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass sound carefree with their blissful bass lines and Lowes breezy vocals. Its the happiest song about everything crumbling around its subject youve heard in a while.And then there are the lovely three-part harmonies on Little Hitler.Or the dance floor backbeats, silly synth lines and Ooo-lah vocals behind lyrics such as, Well I heard they castrated Castro / I heard they cut off everything he had / What a dirty low-down thing to do, to mess him up like that.Theres no-questions punk rock on Heart of the City and surf rock instrumentals on Shake That Rat.This version of Jesus of Cool which includes all the cuts off the U.K. and U.S. editions captures everything that was going on in popular music when Lowe made it, and every single track is as catchy and clever now as it ever was. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
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