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Scarlet's Walk

Tori Amos, Scarlet's Walk

Since a few albums, I think Tori is a bit always the same, except for the previous record, "Strange Little Girls", that was entirely made of covers. She never had the quality of "Under The Pink" anymore (released in 1994). The fans should not be very surprised with this new album that should be as appreciated as "From The Choirgirl Hotel" from 1998. It's the same sound and the same arrangements with piano and voice with orchestral works always perfect, maybe a little bit too much. The young rebel of the debut seems to be a lot older today and her sound is very clean. If you like that style, you will probably appreciate. "Scarlet's Walk" has 18 songs for 74 minutes of music. The sound quality is at its best from the beginning to the end. And the first single, A Sorta Fairytale is excellent. For the rest, I think it's too much of the same sound all the time and it starts to be annoying at some time. It's very easy to push the fast forward button on our CD player. Sadly, as well as Tori was able to take my attention at her beginnings, she now lost my attention, and I hope it's not for good. It's not as bad for background music, but not more than that. She will have to give new directions to her music to be sure not to become one of those adult pop singers without any personality. (June 2003)

Archive - You All Look The Same To Me

Archive, You All Look The Same To Me

Here is the third album by this british band we talk about like a trip hop band, but I consider them more like a mix of ambiant progressive rock and brit pop. They are somewhere between Pink Floyd, Genesis, Coldplay and Radiohead. They don't hesitate to do 15 minutes plus songs (there are 2 on this album) and some short songs of less than 2 minutes. As much as Archive can offer soft and ambiant music, as much they can give us a little surprise with very rock guitars at some times (Meon for example). Their writing brings us back to the 70s, but arranged in a 2000 style. In fact, they took it where Pink Floyd left it 10 years ago and we can think a very good album by Pink Floyd today could be like this one. The album lasts as much as 74 minutes (with 2 bonus tracks including the radio version of Again) and we don't realise how long it is when we listen to it. It carries us beautifully until the end with only a few lengths. For sure, if you don't like one of the 15 minute songs, you'll find more lengths on it. But, if you're a Radiohead or a Coldplay fan and you liked 70s' progressive rock, you will love the music of Archive. You will have to be patient and listen to the album a couple of times to really appreciate, but when you will do, you will only be happier. (September 2003)

D7 Recordings

½

Ash - Free All Angels

Ash, Free All Angels

Here is the fourth album of this punk pop irish trio. They offer a good alternative music with rhythm, not so far from Supergrass, Blur or Dandy Warhols. I won't go too far with the comparisons because they have their own creative style. With good rhythms and melodies, the band has all it needs to be successful. But, like it's often the case for european original bands, they have problems to be successful in the US. We only have to take a look at the Billboard charts to realize that americans prefer often bad music to good one. Maybe you had the chance to hear the first single from this album, the excellent Burn Baby Burn on rock radios. I thing it's one of the best rock songs from the last years, a proof that rock n' roll music is still alive. Even if it's the best of the album, you will hear some other songs in the same style that you will appreciate for sure. It's a very good album we want to listen to very often. It's a must! (May 2003)

½

Bet.e and Stef - Day by Day

Bet.e and Stef, Day by Day

"Day by Day" is the 2nd album by the Montreal duo Bet.e & Stef. Their first had really good reactions because of their unique style for montrealers. Like says their first album title, "Jazz Bossanova", they do a perfect mix of that two genres, which is unique for non-brazilians. Their songs are sometimes in english, sometimes in french and sometimes in portuguese. They bring us in a very particular universe, somewhere in South America, and keep our attention throughout the 50 minutes of the album (divided in 13 songs). The 2 members of the band sing one after the other and they have beautiful voices. The casualness Bet.e uses to sing her songs is very interesting, even if we can't hear all the words she sings. In fact, at some times, she seems to unpronounce the words, and even with the lyrics on front of us, we cannot follow the words she sings. But, that is the only little negative point, because the arrangements are perfect and bring the best value to the compositions. If you like latin rhythms and modern jazz, you should not hesitate a second, and at the same time, you will encourage great talents from here. A hot album which could take place in your CD player for many weeks. (September 2003)

Jerry Cantrell - Degradation Trip

Jerry Cantrell, Degradation Trip

Jerry Cantrell was the guitarist in the grunge band Alice In Chains who had success in the early 90s. He was the main composer and contributed to some of the biggest hits of the band. But the drug problems of the singer Layne Staley would be deadly for the band and for himself. He died from a cocaine and heroin overdose in April 2002, 8 years after the Kurt Cobain's suicide. Cantrell offers this album in memory of his dead friend. "Degradation Trip" was appreciated from the critics when it was released and I was a bit surprised. I was surprised because it's a grunge album and the style belongs to the 90's. Even if we could talk of it like a very good Alice In Chains album, their best in 10 years, it's an old style that doesn't stay in touch with the 2000's. There are good songs on it like the great Anger Rising, but the 14 songs are all the same and with 72 minutes, it's too long. Anyway, it's a good mix of alternative and metal music, but 20 minutes less would've been a lot better. The Alice In Chains fans will love it, but for the others, forget it. (May 2003)

Conjure One - Conjure One

Conjure One, Conjure One

Conjure One, it's most of all a guy: Rhys Fulber. His name is not well known, but he's the man behind Front Line Assembly, Fear Factory and Delerium. This guy from Vancouver explored different sides of techno music between industrial and lounge music. It's that last style we can hear with Conjure One, on which Fulber worked alone for the first time doing programming on all the titles of the album. We can find a great number of guests, specially to do voices: Chemda, Poe, Sinéad O'Connor (on the hit Tears From The Moon), Marie-Claire D'Ubaldo and Jeff Martin of Tea Party. Martin, who sings on Premonition, gives moreover the Tea Party style to the song. He also plays guitar on a few other songs. We also have to mention the collaboration of Junkie XL to some mixes on the album. This first record under the name of Conjure One has 11 titles (+ a remix of Sleep and a reprise of Premonition). It's a calm and relaxing album with a beautiful guideline that will carry you without any problem to the end of it, in spite of its 66 minutes. There is no weakness and it keeps our interest from the beginning to the end of the album. There is no pop songs and you will not see this name on the charts, but every fan of soft techno or lounge music should discover this beautiful album. (August 2003)

Nettwerk

½

Sheryl Crow - C'mon C'mon

Sheryl Crow, C'mon, C'mon

I took a lot of time to acquire this new album by the pop rocker Sheryl Crow. It's because we heard so much songs of it on the radio that I didn't have the feeling I needed it to listen to Sheryl Crow. Steve McQueen, Soak Up The Sun, You're An Original, Over You and the title song have been played on a very regular basis for more than 1 year. This 4th album joins her eponymous album of 1996 in quality and the 13 songs on it will please the fans of the pretty 41 year old american. Even if I consider this record as a very good one, I have many problems with the adult ballads we can hear more and more on her records. In my opinion, Sheryl is at her best when she rocks and not when she plays folk music or ballads. So, the hits from the album are interesting, but it's not as good for a few others (Safe And Sound, It's Only Love, Abilene, Weather, etc.). On Diamond Road, I had the feeling to hear Christina Aguilera on a small stupid ballad. It's a good album that will please the fans and the ones who like to hear her on the radio, but it's still pop music. So, for the anti-pop people, Sheryl Crow is definitely not for you... (August 2003)

½

Danko Jones - Born A Lion

Danko Jones, Born A Lion

This trio from Toronto shows us what they can do there in the Canada capital. After 2 EPs with a certain success in the underground, they offer their first complete album (even if it lasts only 36 minutes). They make a very good rock n' roll, very energetic and you won't be annoyed at any moment. The rhythm section will remind you of the best years of AC/DC. You will also hear metal influences (White Zombie), even if we can't talk about metal music here. Some punk and new wave influences can be heard sometimes, but their most important influence is blues (a quick blues music far from the american classics). The sound of the album is rough, like the new garage movement. Danko Jones is a band from its era that should be heard and loved by the americans very soon, because of its energy, like you won't be able to resist to the success of Lovercall and others. It's an album easy to listen to and to love, and you should listen to it with the volume on 10. When it's over, the best thing to do is to push play again. A very nice discovery! (May 2003)

½

Doves - The Last Broadcast

Doves, The Last Broadcast

Doves is a brit pop band from Manchester that presents its 2nd album with "The Last Broadcast". We can find one more time the freshness that made the success of their first release, even if they didn't have really big success in America. Their sound is somewhere between Radiohead and The Verve with a bit of Travis. We can say that the trio formed by Jimi Goodwin and the twin brothers Jez and Andy Williams knows how to present catchy melodies. From the first single, There Goes The Fear, to the title song, including the excellent N.Y., the three guys will be successful in catching your attention and keep it until the end. It's again an excellent album that will unfortunately not reach the top of the Billboard. But, if you like this style of music and you like british music, you should open your ears to Doves. (December 2003)

½

Lovebox

Groove Armada, Lovebox

Fifth album by this english band doing most of all electronica and dance music. Around that, they explore many styles at one time or another. We go through psychedelic rock (Purple Haze that has nothing to do with the Hendrix's classic), hip hop (Groove Is On and Madder), ambiant (Remember), pop rock (Madder), house (Final Shakedown), soul (Hands Of Time), disco (Easy), ska (But I Feel Good), with also elements of trip hop. On Remember, that is only played with piano and voice, it seems to be Norah Jones. The 11 songs are a lot different, but it's what gives its creativity to this album that has very few bad songs and we can listen to it in a variety of situations. Yet, critics are not all of the same opinion on this record. Some talk about one of the best electronica albums of 2002, when others talk about the worst album by Groove Armada. Since I don't know the other albums the band released, I can't compare, but if "Lovebox" is the worst, I would like very much to listen to the previous ones! In my opinion, it's a very good album, creative and different from the beginning to the end, that I can't get out of my CD player since I received it. It depends on the atmosphere you want, but there is always a song you can listen to and will be excellent. I recommend it to anybody without any restriction. (June 2003)

½

Norah Jones - Come Away With Me

Norah Jones, Come Away With Me

Here is the big winner of the Grammys 2003, because she won many trophees thanks to the album "Come Away With Me" and the title-song that reached big success anywhere. I have to tell you I didn't feel any rush to buy this album even if she was at the top of the charts, because it's really not my type of music. But I was pleasantly surprised when I heard it. The one we consider a new jazz singer offers us an excellent record that goes far from the jazz standards. She accompanies herself with piano and she works with a few other musicians, so it's a simple sound, but it's very effective. The melodies are easy to remember and her beautiful voice just brings a more sunny side to the album. Instead of jazz, I would talk more about ambiant pop or acoustic pop. We can also hear sounds not so far from soul and country. Even if it's a simple album, it's an album with different sounds and atmospheres. The 45 minutes and 14 songs follow each other easily and it's not a problem to listen to the entire album straight from the beginning to the end. Pay attention: you need a special atmosphere to listen to this album. It's not the type of record to help your party explode or to keep you awake in your car on the highway. But it's a very good album for your relaxing moments. I don't have any choice to add it to my 2002 Top 20. (June 2003)

McLusky - McLusky Do Dallas

McLusky, McLusky Do Dallas

Here is an english band that is considered punk, even if it's very different from the standards of the style we hear most of the time. They offer a music very energetic and aggressive, maybe even violent. Their brutal sound is a bit difficult to listen to and the people who only listened to Leonard Cohen in their life should forget it. There is a lot of distortion and the singer doesn't sing very well. It can remind us of Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols are probably the best comparison we can do. They offer 2 minute songs for a total of 34 minutes for 14 songs. I listened to it a couple of times but I couldn't appreciate it. It's creative and different, but there is nothing that we can keep in mind. The aggressive guitar sound doesn't give us a very good feeling and we don't want to restart the album at the end, even if it's a short one. The reviews for this album are good, and the critics all say this album is better than their previous one, but I have problems to agree with them. If you like noisy music and if actual punk music annoys you, maybe you will like it, but I think it's an album in the average and not more. (June 2003)

½

Mediaeval Baebes - The Rose

Mediaeval Baebes, The Rose

Like its name says, here is a band offering medieval music, but in a 2000 sound. It's a band of 9 women from different countries. They are based in England and they are directed by Katharine Blake who writes most of the music. The songs are sang in different languages (italian, latin, russian, middle english, medieval french, etc.) and they use essentially instruments of the Middle Age (dulcimer, harp, violin, flute, harmonium, piano, etc.) they include into the modern arrangements of a great quality. They pay a particular attention to the voices and vocal harmonies are absolutely beautiful from the beginning to the end. Most of the lyrics come from ancient poems and they added music to them. We can discover the magnificence of those ancient languages and to understand the meaning of the lyrics, we can read an english translation of them in the booklet. Being not a big fan of modern medieval music, I can say it's a very nice discovery I made with the Mediaeval Baebes. Their music is completely bewitching and creates a very unique musical ambiance. If you have a desire to discover new sounds and new atmospheres, it's an album to have. You will have your ears full of great sounds! (November 2003)

Nettwerk

½

The Raveonettes - Whip It On

The Raveonettes, Whip It On

Because of the garage movement we can hear since 2001, they decided not to wait for a complete album by The Raveonettes to release something from them. That's why we can find this EP of 8 titles for a total of 21 minutes on the shelves. They are a band from Danemark and, even if we compare them to The Hives and The Strokes, they are very different. Their sound, staying in the garage style, is also very clean. There is a lot of distortion on most of the album and the melodies have a very important place on it. They present energetic rock n' roll songs and it reminded me at a few moments of another rock n' roll band of the 80s from Danemark named D.A.D. (like on Do You Believe Her and Cops On Our Tail). In that country, all the bands seem to have a very unique guitar sound. So, it's creative music we can hear with The Raveonettes, a sound that can reach a large audience without any problem. A complete album will be released on August 12th (entitled "Chain Gang Of Love") and let's hope they will do all the promotion they need to launch the band where they should be: among the best alternative bands of their generation. (August 2003)

Sonic Youth - Murray Street

Sonic Youth, Murray Street

After 20 years of career, the New York alternative band Sonic Youth is still able to present original and innovative albums. When they seemed weird in the new wave era, they were able to go through times and give us a new good album in 2002 with "Murray Street". They reached the top in the late 80s and the early 90s with the albums "Sister", "Daydream Nation", "Goo" and "Dirty", but they kept a certain quality after that being better than a lot of other alternative bands on the charts. One more time with "Murray Street", the band gives us experimental rock with good melodies, more in the british style than the american style. Their New York punk of the 70s influence is still here, but they stay in the style they created throughout those years. You won't hear anything commercial, like it was the case for their entire career, except maybe for the album "Dirty" that created a little bit more reactions. This album contains only 7 songs, with some very long, for a total of 45 minutes. But, I think this album misses the little thing that would make it a big album in the music business. Since "Dirty", I have more problems to fall in love with Sonic Youth albums, and it's still the case here. It's a very good album anyway. It's perfect for the fans of creative and underground rock. (July 2003)

Text - Text

Text, Text

There is only one word to describe Text "music": weird. This swedish band, which is including most of the former members of Refused even if it's not the same sound at all, was formed before the end of Refused and their eponymous album was recorded at that time. It's a completely experimental album, that gives us a mix of spoken words, jazz music, progressive rock, hardcore, folk rock and reggae, and often many of those genres can be heard in the same song! The surprise is guaranteed as soon as you'll hear the first sounds, especially if you adjusted the volume a little bit high, because the screams of Requiem For Ernst-Hugo (1928-1998) will get you out of your chair. After that one, you'll hear the best song of the record with Sound Is Compressed: Words Rebel and Hiss, a 11 minutes song beginning with a reggae rhythm, before gradually transforming in something closer to hardcore. On Those Kids Are Gone, they explore folk music, but with a very bad sounding of radio not tuned correctly that will probably discourage you before the end. You will need a lot of patience and open minding to listen to the entire album of 8 tracks for a total of 65 minutes and that will bring you in many universes as weird and strange. If you thought that Mike Patton was weird, it's nothing compared to Text that we have to listen to forgetting everything we knew about music. Maybe you will find a couple of elements you can compare to Mr. Bungle and the Mike Patton fans will maybe appreciate, like the Refused fans which will desire this masterpiece more to look at it than to listen to it. For original and open-minded people only, or for the ones who don't want to hear anything commercial anymore... (June 2004)

Buddyhead / Lookout!

Transplants - Transplants

Transplants, Transplants

Transplants is a punk trio from California including Rob Aston, Tim Armstrong (of Rancid) and Travis Barker (of Blink 182). The trio offers us a punk music much different to what the californians usually do, especially for the rhythm where it's very hard to do comparisons. The industrial side of the first song, Romper Stomper, reminded me a bit of Ministry. On D.J. D.J. and the hit Diamonds And Guns, I heard something not very far from the pop sound of David Bowie. And on California Babylon, we could hear Beck, for the voice and the rhythm. When Quick Death is close to the metal of Slayer and Megadeth (not as heavy nevertheless), on One Seventeen it's the Sex Pistols influence we can hear. Finally, they do a try in hip hop on D.R.E.A.M.. One thing is sure; it's that Transplants brings us far from the bands that made the stardom of each of its members. Their music is not as easy to catch as Rancid or Blink and a few listenings were necessary to me to appreciate this album. I finally catched the hook of Transplants and I can now confirm it is an creative and interesting album. It won't please automatically the fans of Rancid and Blink 182, but it will reach a new opened audience who wants to hear new and intelligent punk music. The album was released on Hellcat Records, owned by Tim Armstrong. (October 2003)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

 

 

 

     

     

 

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