April 25 2008

Album – Big Head Todd & The Monsters – All the Love You Need

Big Head Todd & The Monsters – All the Love You Need
Released: Late 2007 (Online), April 22nd, 2008 (Retail)


This is probably one of my favorite rock and roll bands that most people have not heard of. I became hooked when I heard their song “Boom Boom”, a cover of the John Lee Hooker song of the same name (he also appeared on their version). Definitely a band I highly recommend and finally have a chance to review their new album “All The Love You Need”. The band has a classic rock sound, but has traces of blues, jazz, & country which combines to a unique sound not found in today’s contemporary rock bands. Big Head Todd & The Monsters (BHTM) is a primarily touring band that doesn’t get a ton of radio play (out here anyways) or rely on popular hits, but are fan favorites because they love playing for the fans in person. Definitely listening to this album makes you want to go see them in person. The album features a diverse set of sounds and songs, all well done and a CD you’ll listen to from start to finish.

One of the awesome things about this album and BTHM, is that they decided to give it away for free. That’s right, you can download the entire album free and clear from their website. “Why free? The BHTM family believes that the music industry is changing. We are a touring-based band, and we want to get our new music out to as many people as possible.” (source: BHTM website). If you want a hard copy you can get the CD for only $5, but just released at retailer Best Buy, you can get the CD, with a bonus DVD and also a bonus track for just a bit more. I applaud BTHM for their efforts to connect to the fans and try new methods of getting the music out there in a legal manner.

“Her Own Kinda Woman” starts the album and is a great intro song. Gets the rock going right away. With trumpets going it announces the CD excitingly. “Cruel Fate” follows and has a much more country feel to it, sounding kind of like “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers, but they keep it rocking the whole time.

“All the Love You Need” is the title track and is a winner from the start. Excellent deep drum bass beat keeping rhythm to a slower song. A good song talking about feeling like you need to do more or have more but you really have it already. “Cash Box” is my favorite of the album. A good ol’ rock song, with a great guitar riff that hooks you right away. This is one you gotta play loud, I mean, turn it up to 12 on the knob kind of song.

“Fortune Teller” has a Dave Matthews Band kind of sound to it, and sounds like it could be the background song from a romantic move during a montage of the guy and girl falling in love. Things continue to slow down a bit with “Ever Since Ya Pulled Me Under” & “How Easy”, a couple of slower love songs. “Spanish Highway” picks the tempo up again (rhythmically) as it talks about love lost and life afterwards. “Blue Sky”, “Silvery Moon” and “Beautiful Rain” close out the CD well and are good songs worth a listen.

Definitely an album I’d recommend you download or buy a copy of, definitely worth it if you want a real rock and roll album that isn’t like anything else out there right now in the mainstream. Oh and if you want to check out the lyrics to the song you can find that on their website here. Oh and if you get a chance to see them live, you won’t regret it!

April 24 2008

Album – Mariah Carey – E=MC²


Mariah Carey-EMC2

Mariah Carey – E=MC²
April 15th, 2008


Mariah’s next CD comes out this week and is another solid album that is sure to feature many more singles that could be chart-toppers, further establishing her recent grab on the record for most #1 singles by an artist, a record previously held by Elvis Presley (The Beatles hold the all-time top with 20 #1 singles). Most of the tracks on this album are solid and any one could be a single on it’s own, meaning this is one of the few albums that’s worth buying because it’s great from first note to the last. In a not-so-subtle promotion for this album’s release Mariah Carey showed up on American Idol to “mentor” the contestants.

“Migrate” features T-Pain and is the lead off track on the album. Has a cool bird/flute vocal intro and background sound effect. Awesome beat to this song, definitely gets the album bumping from the first track and hooks you right in. T-Pain is typical during his verse using a voice synthesizer to alter his voice like in many of his songs. I’m sure this will be one of the follow up singles to…

“Touch My Body” is the first single from the album and I’m sure the one you’re familiar with. Solid beat with a good hook, but honestly not that unique. Definitely a song that could’ve been done by many other artists and has a sound that feels too familiar. Good song, but not one that gets me excited listening to. One thing I’ll give the song though, is that I’d definitely love to be the one Mariah’s singing it to in person.

“I Stay In Love” is a classic heart-broken love song kind of deal. Has a few old-school rap style flares and is a good r&b song. Mariah’s voice is beautiful to listen to as always and she does a great job with this song.

“Side Effects” features Young Jeezy and is another one of Mariah’s ventures into a more crunk/hip-hop song. Fortunately it actually sounds pretty good, although still seems a bit odd to me to hear Mariah doing this style of music. Young Jeezy’s contribution is forgettable and really only really added a contrast to Mariah’s voice that made you appreciate when his part ended.

I really liked “I’m That Chick”, it had a good stepping beat and was very catchy song. I should’ve known why I liked it so much, but after some memory chasing I realized it was a sample of Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” song. Great stuff though. “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time” was a good one as well, had a early 90’s sound to it which was a welcome mix with a enjoyable hook. With “Bye Bye”and “I Wish You Well” Mariah slows things down with a couple emotional song that really show off her classic voice. “Bye Bye” is a anthem-ish song for people who’ve lost a loved one, expect to see more of this song, especially on dedication pages on myspace. The song was written for Mariah’s late-father, but translates well for anyone to empathize with. “I Wish You Well” is a simple piano and background singers song that is really well done and an excellent vocal display that brings the album to a good close.

There are also a couple of Japanese-only bonus tracks that did not make it on to the US release of this album. “Heat” and “4real4real”. “Heat” is a quirky song that sounds at time like a children’s song to a hip-hop beat, all with Mariah singing about how she’s ready to throw-down and get dirty. “4real4real” features Da Brat and definitely would have been a good addition to the CD although has a much more distinct hip-hop feel, especially during Da Brat’s verse. You don’t miss anything major with these two songs not on the album, but they both are solid tracks that would be worth a listen if you can find them.

April 23 2008

Album – Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple

GB-TheOddCoupleGnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple
Released: March 25, 2008


This is the second album from the group Gnarls Barkley, which is made up of producer/instrumentalist Danger Mouse and vocalist/rapper Cee-Lo Green. It was released March 25th of this year. As with their first album, this one is definitely a unique combination of styles that are unlike anything else out in the music world right now. This album has a very introspective feel to it with the slower feel and soulful lyrics found on many tracks. All the tracks come in at under 4 mins, most right about 3 minutes, which makes the tracks feel very short, before you know it you’re 6 or 7 tracks in and the CD’s already halfway over.

“Charity Case” is the lead-off single, and starts the album off great with a groovy funky beat that gets you going right away. Not extremely memorable after the first play, but after another listen or two it catches on pretty quick. It’s got some female vocals mixed in giving it a cool sound not found on the rest of the album. A solid track that would be a good addition to any playlist/mixtape.

“Going On” is a great track. A mix of slower and fast paced music creates a unique sound, but definitely has the vibe of some of the classic 60’s hippy songs. One of my early favorites from the album. “Run (I’m A Natural Disaster)” is the single that leaked out early on the internet. A quick paced beat definitely takes the lyrics and runs with it (pun intended). Not that there is too many lyrics, a 3 minute song that seems to fly by. An interesting song, which has a classic Cee-Lo feel to it from his solo career.

“Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” follows, and slows things down. A haunting slow jazz style beat and vocals. Kind of has an almost Gorillaz style to it. Not one of my favorites, but definitely worth a listen. “Would Be Killer” feels like something that you’d hear during a drugged out montage of the movie “Natural Born Killers.” A slower paced song, feels like you’re on a trip through the mind of this “Would Be Killer” as it descends into madness. “Open Book” is a perfect example of the difference in music that Gnarls Barkley puts out compares to other groups/artists. The song feels like a slower paced song, but the beat is fast and frenetic, with a congo/jungle style feel. Definitely an odd one that probably will not be palatable to most listeners. “Whatever” is a fun song that is sung from the standpoint of a teen talking about how things suck in life, but doesn’t care. A very emo viewpoint of things. A really cool song that’s definitely going to be on a few myspace pages if it catches on and gets some airplay.

“Surprise” is an old-school latin styled song with kind of a 60’s hippy feel. An interesting combination for sure but really cool. Probably one of my favorite tracks on the album. This is one I’d expect to become on of the featured singles, or at least, this should definitely be one of the ones you listen to if you are interested in this album.

“No Time Soon” shows off Cee-Lo’s incredible vocal talents in a ballad “love” song. Great background vocals and a solid guitar/drum machine/flute beat work well together. This song is one I’d listen to a lot, especially if I was putting together an emotional song playlist. “Blind Mary” is a love song of sorts that sounds like a Beatles song that got the Gnarls Barkley treatment. Interesting song with some good vocals by Cee-Lo, worth a listen. Could possible see this one getting some plays on the air.

“A Little Better” is by far my favorite track on the album. Groovy beat with some excellent lyrics and vocals. Unfortunately it’s over much too quick, under 3 mins long not including the faint fade-out sound effects. This one had me nodding my head to the beat as soon as it started though and had that instant like-ability to it.

A solid album throughout, especially if you’re a fan of their style, but there’s no single song that really stands out here the way “Crazy” and “Smiling Faces” did on their first album “St. Elsewhere”; although “Charity Case”, “No Time Soon”, “Surprise”, and “A Little Better” were my favorites from the album and will definitely be keepers that I toss in on my mp3 player and playlists on the computer.

April 22 2008

Album – 50 Cent – Curtis

50cent-Curtis50 Cent – Curtis
Released: Sept. 11, 2007


50 Cent releases his 3rd album and it’s definitely classic 50. It’s everything you’d expect from his albums, solid beats and riffs, and mostly generic lyrics with some hooks that’ll get stuck in your head for days on end. Most of the songs aren’t big mega hits and don’t stand out on their own. But that’s how all 50 Cent’s albums are, you’ll have a couple of songs that’ll get major radio play, and a lot of stuff you’ll only hear when you let the album play on longer car rides.

“Ayo Technology”, the lead-off single featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland is probably the most notable song on the album. The electronic beat that sounds like something from an old Nintendo game set to a solid bass beat is catchy and unique sounding. The contrast of 50’s classic “slurred” sounding voice and Justin’s falsetto make for a good mix that keeps you listening to it as I’m sure it’ll get played a million times over on the pop radio stations.

“Follow My Lead” is the “ballad” of the album, and features a great artist in Robin Thicke. Set to a slower piano/bass beat, it feels like a song you’d hear in a R&B bar, and the vocals by Robin Thicke definitely help this song feel classy. As unlikely as you’d imagine it from 50, this is definitely a song your girl will like even if she’s not into hip-hop/rap. One of my favorites from the album as well, but I’m a fan of Robin Thicke as well so I’m a bit biased.

“Fire” featuring Young Buck & Nicole Scherzinger is almost certainly the follow-up single you’ll be hearing. This is one of the few songs that stand out on the album with a beat that is unique and gets your head bobbing right away. Nicole’s contributions is a short bit, but definitely adds some nice flavor to the song.

“All Of Me” is a great song that is good if you got some good woofers to bump the bass. It features Mary J Blige, who provides the chorus and vocals. 50 provides only a couple of verses at the start and the rest is Blige. A couple lines like “making me feel like a fiend on crack” seem rather laughable and sound funny coming from Blige, and the last 45 seconds or so of her “ohh” and “ahh”-ing to show off her vocal range get a bit old quick. But the the bass beat to this one make it all forgivable.

The rest of the album is okay, and definitely fill out the album well, but nothing else too memorable or stand out. If you’ve enjoyed 50’s previous albums this is definitely worth your money, but if you’ve only liked a few of 50 Cent’s songs that you’ve heard on the radio, I’d recommend cherry picking and buying just the ones I mentioned off of iTunes or your other favorite music store and save yourself a few bucks.