Sounds Like: A less angry Fiona Apple lounging on a chaise.
See Also: Fiona Apple, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Carina Round's sound fits right in with the new laid-back, yet complex genre of music, piloted by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That's not to discredit her, though. Her music is innovative, and her voice ranges from sultry alto to powerful '80s vibrato.
Her lyrics, like her music, are raw and contain rough emotion. Round's music emulates a coffee shop performer on high voltage.
The Disconnection, a sophomore attempt, is much more than its title conveys. The music is connected and easy to connect to.
Although her melodies seem to contradict the music at times, on some strange level, it works. Maybe it's because her vocals are just so exquisite. Round has the talent to continue making hypnotizing music.
- Lauren Hillery
Sounds Like: A various artists CD.
See Also: Phantom Planet, Bryan Adams.
Hailing from the cold, dark land of Finland, this band cannot really be pigeonholed into any specific category. Which might be good ... or confusing.
From one song to the next, this band varies extraordinarily. One song, "In the Shadows," sounds like a mixture between Phantom Planet and Maroon 5. Literally, the next song, "Guilty," sounds like Linkin Park, minus the weird rapping. "Still Standing" sounds like HIM. And strangely, "Funeral Song" sounds like Bryan Adams. No joke.
Although it tries to copy many different bands, The Rasmus never comes close to matching the originals. But I'll give the band a break.
It is from Finland after all. And the country only has the sun like 12 days a year.
- Celeste Meiffren
Sounds Like: Road trip music.
See Also: American Hi-Fi, Saves the Day, Elliot.
Palm Trees and Power Lines
At first listen, Sugarcult's new album could be equated to the sound of Simple Plan, or, God forbid, Good Charlotte. But after giving it a chance and listening to it multiple times, one discovers it has better lyrics and sounds than the teeny bopper, wanna-be punk bands that play on the radio.
If you like pop music, but you don't like "Back to California" or "Sign Off," you're jaded. If you don't get "She's the Blade" and "Memory" stuck in your head, you have no soul. If you don't like the rest of the album (except "Champagne"), there's little hope for you. At least when it comes to pop music.
If you're going to listen to pop music, listen to this and not the crap they play on the radio. At least these guys aren't plastic and dumb.
- Celeste Meiffren
Sounds Like: Al Green and Ben Harper's prodigal love child.
See Also: Fishbone, The Isley Brothers, The Roots.
The Soul of John Black
Take one kick-ass instrumentalist and add a vocalist with equally exceptional playing skills and what do you get? An ear-titillating orgy of sounds that incorporates a profound fusion of blues, rock, hip-hop, funk and much soul.
The sexy vocals of former Fishbone multi-instrumentalist John "J.B." Bigham and the clever instrumental skills of Christopher "C.T." Thomas have created a new sound with a clean old-school approach to contemporary music.
The album has plenty of love and love 'em and leave 'em songs, but is also balanced with social commentary. The get-outta-my-way jam "Supa Killa" transports you back to the funkadelic 1970s, while the sweet serenity of "Joy" is so heart-shuddering, it'll make you want to cry.
- Kylee Dawson
From Bubblegum to Sky
Sounds Like: Standards slowly being lowered.
See Also: David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins.
Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen
Mario Hernandez is the man behind From Bubblegum To Sky. He spent his first 10 years in Japan, which may account for this particularly annoying album. Hernandez somehow wrangled himself a contract, and it must have been at least a two-album deal. Otherwise, I doubt this album would have happened.
Lonely Queen combines Beatles-type guitar, disco beats and nasal vocals on most tracks. Hernandez compares his lyrics to Charles Bukowski's poetry. But they have nothing common. One is a wanna-be indie rocker and the other is a poet who writes about the seedier side of life. Most likely, ol' Charlie would beat this chump's head in with a wine bottle. And I'd be right behind him waiting for my turn.
- Eli Herman