May 19, 2019

Royce Da 5'9'' - Rock City (2002)

*This is the original and now out of print release of this album. This version contains 14 tracks total. This album would later be re-released in the same year as "Rock City 2.0" with a new cover and 15 tracks total.
 Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 2002 Game/Colombia Records
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano
Finally arriving with a full-length after appearing on records with Eminem, Dr. Dre, Method Man, DJ Premier, and even Willa Ford, Royce da 5'9" makes the most of his growing exposure on Rock City [Version 2.0]. The disc was meant for release in 2000, but after label intervention and multiple problems with the final product, it took a massive overhaul of the tracks and production to arrive at the final version of Rock City, hence the subtitle [Version 2.0]. But the wait was worth it, as Eminem's old hype-man steps out of his friend's shadow on the awesome tracks here. Boasting a voice like vintage LL Cool J but without the grit, Royce tells intriguing tales of self-reflection that have become a staple of Detroit MCs. His smooth delivery is complemented by the liquid funk production, carrying his vocals over a bed of bouncing beats and sensual synths courtesy of DJ Premier and the Neptunes, among others. The rollicking hometown anthem "Rock City" includes Eminem on the snappy chorus, but the verses are pure Royce as he waxes philosophical his role in the Motor City scene. The funky "Mr. Baller" brings the Clipse and Pharrell Williams into the picture, and Royce holds his own and more against the production mastermind and his protégés. And "Boom" was fantastic as a single, but the new album version reveals what a multi-layered masterpiece DJ Premier put together for the Detroit MC. But most tracks don't necessarily stand out on Rock City; instead they act more as a pieces of a complete picture of an MC that is still actively connected to the underground. From the beats to his rhyming style, Royce rarely attempts to do anything that resembles commercial rap. The awesome "Take His Life" is a perfect example; the harsh beat and sparse piano samples carry Royce's thoughtful defense of his murder fantasies with an eerie clarity, but despite being one of the best songs on the album, it could never survive as a single. This is rarely a detriment, although a few tracks suffer from being indistinct because of his attitude towards hooks and poppy touches. But when the songs are as powerful as "Soldier's Story," it's hard to argue with his method. Royce had been unfairly labeled as an Eminem creation in the past, but Rock City [Version 2.0] reveals an exciting voice that has little in common with his former running buddy. Instead, he brings the underground to the mainstream and crafts an album that isn't perfect, but is an endearingly gruff, dense, and promising debut.

tags: royce da 5'9, 59, rock city, 2002, flac,

Del Amitri - Change Everything (1992) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1992 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Schnee
Contrary to the album's title, the Dels kept on doing what they were doing and released an even better album than Waking Hours. Although the songs here were not as good as any individual song from their past, the album as a whole was their best yet.

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Del Amitri - Twisted (1995)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
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© 1995 A&M Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Schnee
Taking a tiny step backwards, Del Amitri did not top their previous outing this time, but they remained true to their musical cause. The fact that they sound a bit tired may mean that it is time to re-evaluate their journey

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Del Amitri - Some Other Sucker's Parade (1997) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1997 A&M Records
Review by Matt Collar for Allmusic.com
Twisted unexpectedly generated an American Top Ten hit for Del Amitri with "Roll to Me." Not surprisingly, that song provides the touchstone for Some Other Sucker's Parade, the follow-up to Twisted. Like that record, Some Other Sucker's Parade isn't that different from Del Amitri's other records -- it's a collection of pleasant, jangly guitar-pop, with nice melodies and gentle hooks. It doesn't offer anything new, but that's not bad, because the group's music is appealing as it is. Some Other Sucker's Parade won't win Del Amitri any new fans, but to longtime followers, it's a welcome addition to their library.

tags: del amitri, some other suckers parade, 1997, flac,

May 18, 2019

Blindside - Blindside (1997)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Post Hardcore, Nü-Metal
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© 1997 Solid State/Tooth & Nail Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
The self-titled debut from Sweden's Blindside is largely in the vein of American rap-metal acts like Rage Against the Machine and 311, but the band has a melodic side too, and their Christian lyrics set them apart from the pack.

tags: blindside, blind side, blindside album, 1997, flac,

Blindside - Silence (2002) ☠

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Post Hardcore, Alternative Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2002 Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Jason D. Taylor
Blindside earned itself a cult following in the hardcore scene with two highly acclaimed Solid State releases that showcased the band's vociferous honesty musically as well as lyrically. Touring the independent scene, these Swedish natives formed close bonds with then underground mainstay P.O.D., a friendship that culminated with Blindside becoming the first signing to Elektra imprint label 3 Points. Silence marks Blindside's major-label debut, and finds the group reverting back to the initial aggressive alternative rock from its eponymous debut, yet the maturity and slick production are quite evident. Working with Howard Benson, the members of Blindside have seemingly pushed themselves to the limit to propel every song on this 13-track outing with sincere emotion, and in the process these men have effectively learned how to write hit songs. The material offered on Silence is edgy yet veers into mainstream hard rock territory, allowing much of the group's hardcore sound to evaporate in place of heavenly melodies. Older fans may find the tighter, more focused Blindside a sour taste, yet Silence is a courageous release that displays the group's immense growth from its abrasive hardcore past.

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Blindside - About a Burning Fire (2004)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Post Hardcore, Alternative Metal
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© 2004 Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
The Hoobastanking of Swedish Christian hardcore heroes Blindside began in earnest on 2002's Silence. Aided by helming wiz Howard Benson, the quartet successfully remodeled itself, compressing its aggressive, at times bellicose vocals and blur of blistering guitars into still meaty, but safely melodic chunks of meaning. Benson returns for About a Burning Fire, which finds Blindside completing their transformation into a completely believable, yet ultimately unremarkable alternative metal combo. Nothing among the opening round of yearning screams, plodding half-time riffs, and dynamic instrumental pauses really sticks until the single "All of Us," which is a convincing cross of creeping Radiohead atmosphere and Incubus anthem-making. "All of us are searching for an open arm/And it's a shame how I curl up in the dark" -- you get the idea. They're also likely to be the only post-grunge outfit with a guest shot from chilly Swedish folkies Garmarna, whose Emma Härdelin guides the atmospheric throb of "Shekina" with her otherworldly wail. It's an album standout, but that's sort of problematic since nothing else on Burning Fire sounds remotely like it. The record's remainder is populated by capable rockers that rely solidly on formula, alternating between brooding interludes and loud moments punctuated by bursts of guitar or kernels of insight from vocalist Christian Lindskog. Highlights include "After You're Gone," which capitalizes its titular subject, suggesting Lindskog is speaking to the Man Upstairs, while "Where the Sun Never Dies" switches things up with a dual vocal setup and relentless hammer-down chording. About a Burning Fire should certainly please Blindside's more recent fan base. It's a stronger album than Silence, and shows some creative derring-do even if it ultimately settles for the typical sounds of now.

tags: blindside, blind side, about a burning fire, 2004, flac,

Blindside - The Great Depression (2005)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Post Hardcore, Alternative Metal
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© 2005 DRT Entertainment
Reviewed by Allmusic.com
On ABOUT A BURNING FIRE, Blindside proved that they were one of the most diverse hard rock bands on the scene, careening from the screams and rhythmic intensity of death metal to punk-pop cheerfulness at the drop of a hat. In addition, the album was chock full of catchy tunes and the band's trademark inspirational lyric bent. As the title suggests, however, GREAT DEPRESSION explores the band's darker side, often fusing oblique minor-key melodies with the usual heaviness. "Ask Me Now" features Jeff Buckley/Radiohead-esque crooning vocals over a throbbing, drum-heavy groove. "We Are to Follow" channels stud-rock of the Ted Nugent variety while "My Alibi" goes a step further, recalling the thrash guitars and harmonized lead guitars of early Metallica. Characterized by a distinct change in tone from Blindside's previous work, GREAT DEPRESSION also ambitiously redefines the group's art.

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Blindside - With Shivering Hearts We Wait (2011)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Post Hardcore, Alternative Metal
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© 2011 INO Records
Review by John "Flip" Choquette for Jesus Freak Hideout.com
It's been four years since Blindside last released music and six since a full album. In the days of digital music and instant gratification, that's practically an eternity. Although the band never officially broke up, their absence has certainly made it seem that way for a while. Instead of following the industry standard and releasing an album every two years, Blindside's members decided to unceremoniously part ways to take a much deserved break following the limited release of 2007's The Black Rose EP. Years of touring had finally taken its toll and the band wanted to pursue other interests and spend more time with their families. The future of the group remained very much in doubt.
Yet, Blindside didn't break up because The Black Rose EP wasn't what they had wanted it to be. Actually, it was quite successful. Instead, the origins of the group's hiatus can be traced back to the release of their last full-length album, The Great Depression, in 2005. A stylistic departure for the group, the lyrically depressing collection was not highly regarded by critics and was polarizing for many longtime fans. Blindside's experimentation with jazz was not well received, making the turmoil found both in the band's career and their sound very real. A result of vocalist Christian Lindskog's relief efforts in Africa, The Great Depression focused on the poverty and despair that he witnessed during his trip. It was a collection of songs that people needed to hear, yet might not have wanted to. Even though the band's message wasn't in the familiar presentation that fans were used to, the album proved to be an important milestone in Blindside's career.
Attempting to rebound from the difficulties of their previous release, Blindside produced The Black Rose EP in 2007. Exclusive to shows and certain online retailers, the album felt like a mix of their previous releases and could easily have served as a perfect farewell for the group. When the band decided to part ways, many fans felt that this was the case. Fortunately, it wasn't. Four years later, Christian music's most popular Swedish post-hardcore band returns with one of the best albums of their career. Slightly more radio friendly than their previous releases, Blindside's latest charts new territory for the band. Huge choruses have become the rule, not the exception, due to a change in the band's songwriting process. Instead of writing harder songs, Blindside began each song acoustically and added harder elements in later.
Yet don't think that the band has mellowed out on With Shivering Hearts We Wait. Dynamically, the album is stunning; the harder parts are harder and the softer parts are softer. Despite a more accessible approach, the group's signature musicianship and sound remain quite intact. Vocalist Christian Lindskog screams more passionately than ever and riffs are distinctively heavy. Much like with their last full-length, the album's lyrics reflect the band's experiences, yet a lot has changed for Blindside since they took their break. Instead of the negativity that was often seen on The Great Depression, With Shivering Hearts We Wait focuses on trusting in God and what He has in store.
This difference can be seen on the album's opener, "There Must Be Something in the Water." As Lindskog screams out, "I know you're pulling me under, but I'm back again. Now there's a storm in my eye, you don't scare me anymore," it's easy to sense that his strength in times of adversity comes from God. And as the album continues, so does the theme of hope through trial and tribulation. The freedom in Christ that Lindskog describes in "There Must Be Something in the Wind," the album's final song, hints at not only a new beginning for a band that has endured so much, but for every listener who lets go of their problems and gives their life to Him.
From the album's blistering opener to its electronic filled final cut, With Shivering Hearts We Wait was more than worth the wait. It's an exciting new entry into what hopes to be a long new chapter in the band's career.

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30 Seconds To Mars - 30 Seconds To Mars (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Rock
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© 2002 Immortal/Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien
Influenced by artists as diverse as Pink Floyd, the Cure, and Björk, emo outfit 30 Seconds to Mars' 2002 self-titled debut is a highly ambitious space-themed concept album produced by Bob Ezrin (Lou Reed, Pink Floyd) and Brian Virtue (Jane's Addiction). Recorded in Los Angeles and featuring the singles "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)," and "Edge of the Earth," its 11 tracks are packed full of heavy, riff-laden guitars, prog metal beats, and Hollywood star Jared Leto's soaring vocals and sci-fi lyrics, making it one of the more convincing actor-turned-rock star efforts.

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30 Seconds To Mars - This Is War (2009)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Electronic Rock, Alternative Rock
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© 2009 Immortal/Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Emotional bloodletting never quite fit 30 Seconds to Mars -- perhaps it was residual prejudice from Jared Leto’s status as actor-turned-musician, but they always seemed to skim the surface, not even when they pushed roiling emotions to the forefront in the best traditions of grunge and screamo. When they were mining a post-grunge or nu metal or emo vein, this was a liability, but now that they’ve shifted their music with the shifting times, adopting a hybrid of the Killers’ retro new wave and My Chemical Romance’s gothic prog, they’ve wound up with a sound that suits their stance. Which isn’t to say that they’ve gotten any less ridiculous -- if anything, they’re more absurd, piling up Auto-Tuned vocals, gurgling synthesized loops, Kanye cameos, and a children's choir on almost every other song. Producers Steve Lillywhite and Flood, both veterans of U2, do give This Is War an appropriately epic scale, although appropriate seems an inappropriate word for such an ungainly mix of synth rock, metal, and prog, the distillation of all manner of brooding ‘80s teenage obsessions. What saves it from being nothing but thirtysomething wish fulfillment is that this move toward goth-glam requires 30 Seconds to emphasize hooks and gives them aural variety, which doesn’t make them seem any more serious but does make them considerably more palatable.

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30 Seconds To Mars - Love Lust Faith + Dreams (2013)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Electronic Rock, Alternative Rock
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© 2013 Immortal/Virgin Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Elevated to the position of international stars -- if not quite globe-conquering superstars -- with their 2009 album This Is War, 30 Seconds to Mars do the smart thing for their 2013 sequel, Love Lust Faith + Dreams. They retain War co-producer Steve Lillywhite -- here co-producing with the band's lead singer/songwriter Jared Leto -- and give themselves a sleek, stylish makeover, accentuating the creeping escalation of electronics heard on This Is War and otherwise shedding whatever churning new millennial angst that lingered on the third record while retaining their emo angst and love of prog. Often, the pounding, splattering analog synthesizers bring to mind the otherworldly, trapped-in-amber futurism of the '70s -- the instrumental march "Pyres of Varanasi" expertly evokes the unsettling vistas of Wendy Carlos' soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange -- but this isn't a retro record, it's galvanized for the present, pushing its thick processed guitars, chanted choruses, and clanging keyboards to the forefront, flirting with taboos underneath its shining surface. 30 Seconds to Mars are no longer afraid to dabble with disco -- "Up in the Air" puts all four on the floor and there's an overall tendency to push big beats over hard attacks -- and this loosening of their stylistic confines results in their boldest, brightest, most imaginative record yet.

tags: 30 seconds to mars, thirty, love lust + dreams, and dreams, 2013, flac,

Monifah - Moods... Moments (1996)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 1996 Uptown Records
AllMusic Review by Leo Stanley
Monifah's rich voice is the first thing you notice on her debut album, Moods ... Moments, and it's the thing that keeps the album afloat through its occasional dull spots. Where most of her mid-'90s urban soul contemporaries are hell-bent on demonstrating their technical prowess, Monifah lays back and lets the music build, texturing her vocals with a variety of different shades and styles. She can be jazzy or she can be soulful, she can belt out an uptempo number or croon a love ballad -- it's clear that she has the gift. And, for the most part, producer Heavy D provides her with enough first-rate songs to make sure that we not only notice the gift, but that we don't forget it once the album is through, either. Although it would be nice to hear what Monifah could contribute to the songwriting, Heavy D's songs are varied and soulful, giving her a proper showcase for her prodigous talents. Moods ... Moments does have a handful of weak songs and could have benefitted from some trimming, but that doesn't prevent the album from being a simply stellar debut.

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Monifah - Home (2000)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2000 Universal Records
AllMusic Review by Jon Azpiri
Those who know Monifah from her thumping 1998 dance hit "Touch It" will be pleasantly surprised by her lush vocals on Home. However, those who are familiar with Monifah's impressive debut album, Moods...Moments, will be disappointed by Home's poor production and meandering lyrics. Most of the highlights on Home come during its quieter moments. Both "I Can Tell" and "Peaches and Cream," produced by Teddy Riley and Tyrice Jones, offer glimpses of Monifah at her most alluring. "Too Late" is one of the few times in the album that Monifah is given a strong melody to work with and she proves that she can deliver when given the proper material. Unfortunately, the smoother songs are few and far between, separated by pointless skits and soulless dance tracks like "Rescue Me" and the cliché-ridden "NaNa." Monifah is a considerable talent that is lost among the mediocrity that surrounds her. For Monifah, quality production and strong material are a long way from Home.

tags: monifah, home, home album, 2000, flac,

May 17, 2019

Beverley Knight - Affirmation (2004)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B
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© 2004 Parlophone
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien
Hoping to build on the momentum gained by her Mercury Music Prize-nominated breakthrough album, Who I Am, Beverley Knight's fourth effort abandons her soul credentials and goes straight for the commercial pop jugular. Working with an array of collaborators including Coldplay's Chris Martin and Robbie Williams' ex-songwriting partner Guy Chambers, Affirmation clearly has one eye on dominating the airwaves as much as her biggest hit, "Shoulda Woulda Coulda," did two years previously. Indeed, lead single "Come as You Are" should have no problems finding its way onto radio playlists, its swirling keyboards, psychedelic guitars, and almighty chorus creating a Lenny Kravitz-meets-Pink pop/rock stomper. The inclusion of a cover, "Keep This Fire Burning," originally a hit for Robyn in her native Sweden, also signifies Knight's intentions -- its exuberant catchy pop is a million miles away from her urban roots but much more likely to score her a number one hit. Best of all is the Chris Martin-penned "The First Time," which shows that his dalliance with R&B on Jamelia's "See It in a Boy's Eyes" was no fluke. A gorgeous, gospel-inspired ballad, it's far removed from the epic stadium rock his day job is usually associated with. Lyrically, Knight is as daring as ever. "No One Ever Loves in Vain" is a subtle piano-driven confessional about the loss of a friend, while the melancholic "Salvador" addresses AIDS, showing that Knight's commercial sensibilities haven't hampered her ability to tackle big issues. Inevitably, with the attempt to cover several bases, Affirmation may alienate fans of her more soulful first two records. The over-produced likes of "Tea and Sympathy" and "Till I See Ya" dilute Knight's impassioned vocals, while "Supasonic" is perhaps one Prince homage too far. But overall, there are enough gems on here to suggest that Affirmation may achieve the commercial success it so obviously craves.

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The Pretenders - Pretenders II (1981)

*U.S. first pressing on CD. Contains 12 tracks total. A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Punk Rock
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© 1981-1990 Sire Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Pretenders' debut album was such a powerful, monumental record that its sequel was bound to be a bit of a disappointment, and Pretenders II is. Essentially, this album is an unabashed sequel, offering more of the same sound, attitude, and swagger, including titles that seem like rips on their predecessors and another Ray Davies cover. This gives the record a bit too much of a pat feeling, especially since the band seems to have a lost a bit of momentum -- they don't rock as hard, Chrissie Hynde's songwriting isn't as consistent, James Honeyman-Scott isn't as inventive or clever. These all are disappointments, yet this first incarnation of the Pretenders was a tremendous band, and even if they offer diminished returns, it's still diminished returns on good material, and much of Pretenders II is quite enjoyable. Yes, it's a little slicker and more stylized than its predecessor, and, yes, there's a little bit of filler, yet any album where rockers as tough as "Message of Love" and "The Adultress" are balanced by a pop tune as lovely as "Talk of the Town" is hard to resist. And when you realize that this fantastic band only recorded two albums, you take that second album, warts and all, because the teaming of Hynde and Honeyman-Scott was one of the great pairs, and it's utterly thrilling to hear them together, even when the material isn't quite up to the high standards they set the first time around.

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Taylor Dayne - Soul Dancing (1993)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop, House
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© 1993 Artista Records
AllMusic Review by Jose F. Promis
Taylor Dayne, who was one of the late 1980s/early 1990s most reliable hitmakers, witnessed the end of her streak with her third album, 1993's Soul Dancing. This album was not as ambitious as her previous set, 1989's Can't Fight Fate, which featured dance, rock, and adult contemporary ballads, and it wasn't as dance oriented as her debut, 1988's Tell It to My Heart. Instead, it sort of straddled a muddy, middle ground, in an era when grunge and hip-hop reigned supreme. The album's first single, an excellent, dance-lite take on Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love," managed to crack the Top 20, but there were no more big hits to follow. The next single, "Send Me a Lover," managed to peak at a lowly number 50, yet, in retrospect, stands as one of Dayne's finest moments, and was later covered by Celine Dion. There are a few standout dance tracks, as well as some of the artist's signature styled, soaring, emotional ballads, including the Diane Warren penned "Dance With a Stranger" and the Keith Washington duet "Door to Your Heart." "I'll Wait," another fine moment from this set, managed to bubble under and become a dance hit, as did "Say a Prayer" several years later. Unfortunately, however, this overlooked album signaled the end of Taylor Dayne's hit streak

tags: taylor dayne, soul dancing, 1993, flac,

Meredith Brooks - Blurring The Edges (1997)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
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© 1997 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Meredith Brooks' debut album, Blurring the Edges is one of the most blatant examples of post-Alanis Morissette marketing by the record industry. At her musical core, Brooks is more like Sheryl Crow -- namely, a classic rocker with slightly edgy lyrics. She even works with producer David Ricketts, the former partner of Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club collaborator, David Baerwald. Ricketts gives Blurring the Edges a radio-friendly polish, one that glosses over any of the grit in Brooks' songs. And on the album's first single, "Bitch," Brooks and Ricketts devise an Alanis clone, from the semi-profane lyrics to the caterwauling chorus. "Bitch" isn't indicative of the rest of the album, which is considerably calmer and aimed at adult alternative stations, and while she fits neatly into the confines of that format, she doesn't really do anything to distinguish herself from the legions of similar post-alternative singer/songwriters. Blurring the Edges isn't necessarily a bad album -- Brooks is a competent melodicist and her lyrics are occasionally promising -- yet it isn't a distinctive one.

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Dandelion - I Think I'm Gonna Be Sick (1993) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1993 Ruffhouse, Columbia Records
Review by Woof Kneejerk for Rock And A Hard Place.wordpress.com
Since the first review I posted was of one of the most significant albums in my collection, it only makes sense that I go to the other end of the spectrum and pick one of the least. This is one of about a dozen reviews I wrote several years ago for albums which I never listen to. Since I’m not really a writer I figured it would be easier to work out the kinks in my style on albums that are essentially junk rather than try and find the words for stuff that actually mattered to me. Besides, it’s easier to be snarky. To wit…
This is what Nirvana hath wrought us, a series of bands who figured the surefire way to the top was to drop all pretense of musical ability and just go for brasher, angrier and punkier than the next guy. Put Dandelion at that top of that list, their sound – at least to my untrained ears – clinging more slavishly to the Cobain bandwagon than any other band I can think of. It’s all here: the distorted wall of guitar, the furiously bashed out drums, the scratchy yelping vocals, the misanthropic lyrics. Throw it all together and you get a soundscape I have no real interest in visiting. I mean, track to track it’s all one big caterwaul, most everything racing by at the same hostile pace with no real intent on rounding into anything listenable. It might help if I had a clue what they were railing against, but of course the lyrics aren’t included and what little I can decipher seems to be the same old “woe is me I’m young and bored and it’s all your fault” that was the rage in the post-Seattle 90’s. The singer sounds like the dude from Every Mother’s Nightmare gone grunge, only slowing down on a couple of occasions (and of course being pushed back in the mix when he does in order to insure we don’t enjoy any of the vocals). The sad thing is, I might be able to get behind the unbridled enthusiasm and commitment to the attitude, but seriously guys, where are the fuckin’ songs? If you’re gonna make such an obvious stab at the Nirvana carcass, at least bring some thought to the party like Everclear, or make it catchy like Puddle Of Mudd. This stuff? Miserable noise. Oh, and no last names, because that would be selling out I guess.

tags: dandelion, i think i'm gonna be sick, 1993, flac,

Dandelion - Dyslexicon (1995) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1995 Ruffhouse, Columbia Records
Review by Alex Young for Consequence of Sound.net
Back in 1989, Philadelphia was about as far from Seattle musically as you could get. It was at that time when the Northwest was beginning to give birth to the future of rock and roll. Kevin Morpurgo, Mike Morpurgo, Carl Hinds, and Dante Cimino, also known as Dandelion, were stuck on the east coast going through similar creative motions of their own, wedged somewhere between the punk rock they grew up on and the distorted power chord sound that was being created right at that moment. It took them a couple of years to release a first demo, but when they did in 1991 with their demo, Silver, it was clear that they had found a psychedelic niche among the grunge invasion that was about to hit full steam. Their first album, I Think I’m Going To Be Sick, was released in 1993 right at the peak of the musical movement they were trying to break into, and did gain them some critical notice. It was not until their more polished sophomore effort, Dyslexicon, in 1995 that they were fully noticed both with positive and negative consequences.
Dyslexicon was a polarizing record for fans as it carried very similar tones and styles to a few of the front runners from the grunge era, while at the same time showing what the band can really do when not being forced into mediocrity by their record label. It’s a sign of the times both musically and from a business sense. Fans and critics, while divided, agreed on one thing, when the record shines, it does so with gusto.
Opening with the pace setting “Pass The Stone”, there is a clear punk rock tone, even more so than with their contemporaries. Just imagine a relationship between The Monkees and The Stooges. The next two tracks, “Weird Out” and “Trailer Park Girl” present the very reasons why the music community wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. They almost come across as too much of a synonym for the genera, not to mention Kevin Morpurgo’s vocals sound especially Cobain-esque. The later of the two has the same issues, but where it sets itself apart is in the wailing guitar solo and seemingly random flute outro. The drive to be different is there, as it was when the band began, but it’s obvious that Sony and friends got too excited with making them the next big thing.
Thankfully, after the two single have passed by, the meat of the album lets the band be creatively free while at the same time grow into a much bigger, crisper sound. “What A Drag” mixes instrumental interludes with the bands signature wa-wa driven, sonic guitar solos for a song that is distinctly their own. “Super Cool” sticks to the originality with a driving drum beat and break down that leads into an all out grunge assault for what could be the best track on the album. The Stooges make a return on “Retard” as the sludgy vocals try and keep up with the rest of song and the early Metalica styled solo.
The most appropriate track on the record comes second to last with “Trapped”. “I’m all used up, and you all know why” is sung with a haunting message that still holds true now over ten years later. It is the ghost of post-grunge’s past as they ditch the punk rock speed for the slower, chunkier riffs of today’s modern rock scene. It is ominous to listen to as they spell out the fate of the music they once embraced, as well as their own, considering the band would break up shortly after this album. By this point, it’s obvious that we have heard everything the group had to offer at that time, which is again a direct reflection on the times musically. They (and grunge) were all used up, and it was obvious why.
Dyslexicon is mosh-pit ready as it embodies everything we love (or hate for some) about grunge and punk rock. Unfortunately, thanks to Sony, the band and their hard work was lost with the movement, and consequently forgotten. Bad timing could be to blame for this one, but who is to know if the band was even aware of what was happening across the country back in 1989. Maybe they too were suffering from the same social ailments of the Bush Sr./ glam rock environment. Either way, at face value, it’s a fun and random record to dig up as it reminds us that there was much more to grunge than Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

tags: dandelion, dyslexicon, 1995, flac,