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Archive for November, 2010

Charlie Dée – Husbands And Wives
September 3, 2010

The third official studio album by Dutch singer/songwriter Charlie Dée is called “Husbands And Wives”. Her two previous releases as well as her tribute to Joni Mitchell already showed a considerable talent, both in writing and performing songs and especially in bringing across the honest emotion of music and words, regardless if the songs were her own or not.

Her debut was good, very good even, but there was still room to grow. Her sophomore album may have missed out on mainstream attention a little bit, but some of the songs on that album were very, very memorable.

And on “Husbands And Wives”, memorable can be seen as the keyword. From the first note to the last this music captivates you. Every word Dée sings is a word you can believe in. I often speak of the connection between music and emotion and that basically the two are supposed to become one. Many musicians, singer/songwriters in particular, try to achieve this, but only rare talents manage to achieve this in a way that doesn’t sound forced or sometimes even cheesy. On “Husbands And Wives”, Charlie Dée reaches that high level of honest musicality that makes you want to really listen to the songs as the songs get to you, and more often than not they can really stir something inside you. The music and the words, together, tell a story that takes you on an emotional journey.

Dée delves from personal experience and perspective when writing songs, like most great songwriters do. It takes courage to show so much of oneself, to lay bare your feelings and share them with the world. But precisely that is the reason why these songs are able to reach such a high level. They don’t just come off honest, they are honest. The emotions you hear in the music and read in the words are real and that is why you can connect to this album in a way you can only connect to a small number of albums.

Just listen to songs like the dark and fragile Have It All or the the edgy (and still quite catchy) Leaving Me or the gentle Kiss Me. The enchanting Weep For Me and the quirky Mouse In My Kitchen add to the diversity of the album without stretching it too far. The songs together make an actual album, not just a collection of songs. “Husbands And Wives” is by no means a light album, it’s an album that requires attention but once it has your attention you will stick with it and it won’t let you go until the album stops playing after the beautiful and epic closer Fragile Heart.

I’m wildly enthusiastic about this latest Charlie Dée album and I recommend it to anyone who likes to listen to honest and powerful singer/songwriter music. If you want music you can feel, music you can believe in, then this is right up your alley. With strong arrangements, powerful (and sometimes fragile) vocals and a personal connection, Charlie Dée speaks and sings from the heart on her latest release. “Husbands And Wives” is easily one of the top singer/songwriter releases of the past year.

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David Archuleta – The Other Side of Down
October 5th, 2010

After almost winning American Idol, David Archuleta rode the wave of attention and delivered a fairly promising debut album. There was never any doubt this kid has a lot of talent, especially as a vocalist. The songs were quite solid on his debut but it was also pretty clear Archuleta was still looking for his groove, his comfort zone. He was, and still is, a young man, so he has the time to gain experience and grow. Last year he released an enjoyable Christmas album, but for some reason I can never really judge holiday albums as they rarely reflect an artist as they really are musically, so I’m going to leave that one out of the equation here as well.

Archuleta now returns with a new album called “The Other Side of Down”. Right from the start you notice the album sounds a lot more current than his debut. This is both a good and a bad thing in my opinion. It will open up opportunities for this young and talented musician as it is right up the alley of mainstream radio. But that’s also where my point of criticism may be placed. At times the album feels like it was specifically written to be successful on radio. Especially songs like Something ’bout Love, Parachutes & Airplanes and Good Place have that vibe.

But all of that doesn’t take away that Archuleta and the other musicians on this album execute the songs with precision and excellent timing. It’s slick, but at the same time it is still believable for the most part. While opener The Other Side of Down also sounds very current and radio-friendly it is actually one of the album’s most convincing tracks. Archuleta can get into it and perform it to the best of his ability and the song has a bit of a hidden alternative edge which makes it stand out much more than the previously mentioned songs.

And while the album has a completely different sound and feel than Archuleta’s debut, he shows he can still perform the more sensitive pop songs. Falling Stars and especially album closer My Kind of Perfect are pop gems that show the real talent of this young man.

While I get the feeling David Archuleta still hasn’t yet found his ultimate comfort zone, he does show progress and a more mature approach to his music compared to his previous release. He expands his repertoire and while a couple of the songs on the album may not be exactly the thing that he’s looking for, he shows he is willing to try out new things and find out where his strengths are. And he deserves credit for that. “The Other Side of Down” is actually a very good album and it may very well produce 2 or 3 hit singles in the years following the release. If Archuleta manages to continue this upward path, his career is likely to blossom more and more.

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TAG – FOREWARD
November 16, 2010

Over the years, John Taglieri released album after album as a solo artist. His work didn’t remain unnoticed as he shared stage with big names in the popular music scene and was nominated for many prestigious awards, winning several of those. Apart from being a successful independent musician and songwriter, Taglieri is also known for his diversity and creativity. Unlike many bands and musicians he has never been afraid to take a leap of faith and try something new. Musically he knows his strengths and musically he has a strong basis to work from. But the way he has approached his musical projects over the years has varied from time to time. From full-length albums to EP projects to combining his music with graphics and literature, you name it, John Taglieri did it.

His most recent project was a collaboration with Gil Gonzalez, a project called “LiVES” which combined short music albums with short stories/novels. Many of the songs from those EPs ended up on the new TAG album “FOREWARD”. But even if you’ve heard the LiVES EPs, you should not be disappointed, because even though the songs were written and recorded before, they sound a whole lot different on this new album.

“FOREWARD” can, and should, be judged as a debut album. While John Taglieri played with Brad Whitley & Tom Darby before, this is now really a new project, a real band project and it sounds as such. With the addition of bassist Dave Willard and with Rob Jackson on drums and percussion there’s a more complete and even more energetic sound that is both honest and exciting. While these songs were quite convincing on the “LiVES” albums these new versions are better layered, better balanced and frankly, they literally just rock more.

The added energy and musicality makes these songs stand out more. The infectious Breathe and the pointy Make A Mistake With Me are excellent candidates for radio singles and the uptempo Ghost makes for an energetic rock piece that can do wonders on stage to energize the crowd. And include splendid rock anthems like The Lives of Splattered Flies and With You I Want To Be and you have a fairly complete debut album. The songs belong with one another, the original theme tying them together, while there’s new fire, new life to the music. And it’s not just the songs that fit together, also the band members show they have a great feel for each other’s talents and work together like a well-oiled machine.

“FOREWARD” is a more than solid debut for this newly formed band. The individual band members may be experienced but for playing together this is a new venture. If they do this as well as their first album together, there is no need to worry. Musically it’s tight, it’s energetic and most importantly it’s interesting. You want to keep listening to this. The album is capped off with a nice cover of Incubus’ Drive, which fits perfectly thematically. Also, musically it doesn’t stray too far from what TAG shows on the album. I’m not usually a fan of covers and this version is by no means the original, but thankfully it’s not just a copy of the original song, TAG tried to make the song their own and if you didn’t know it was a cover, they might just have fooled you there.

All in all, good debut, solid performance, strong songs, a few exceptional songs. TAG is off to a good start and with this enthusiasm, energy and power, there is bound to be a lot more in store for these guys. If you enjoy honest and catchy rock & roll then I can recommend “FOREWARD”.

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Below are the nominations for the Inner Ear Media Awards. Voting is simple. Comment on here, send a reply on twitter or comment on Facebook, Myspace or Last.FM, or sent an e-mail to info@innerearmedia.nl and your vote will count. Voting is open until December 15th, winners will be announced on December 30th, and actual awards will be given to the winning acts in early 2011!

Thanks and enjoy the voting!

Album of the Year

– The Reluctant Graveyard / Jeremy Messersmith
– Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place / Anberlin
– Release / Chad Perrone
– Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? / A Great Big Pile of Leaves
– Riding The Rails / Little Kim & The Alley Apple 3
– Sorry, Kid / mr. a balladeer

Song of the Year

– The Devil’s Tears / Angus & Julia Stone
– She’s A Mystery / Arthur Adam
– Excuse Me, Brother / Thomas Dybdahl
– A Girl, A Boy & A Graveyard / Jeremy Messersmith
– Revenge / Fiction Plane
– The Curse / Josh Ritter
– Unfortunate Sea / Everest
– Put The Brakes On / Gerald Edward

Talent of the Year

– Nathan Brooks
– AM Taxi
– The Boy Who Trapped The Sun
– Republic of Letters
– General Fiasco

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