Hurrah for emusic.com - a terrific service. One of the great moments of each month is clicking on emusic and seeing that my downloads are renewed and ready to go. They have so much incredible stuff to choose from that it takes me very little time to use up my allotment.
I spent some quality time browsing last night, and this is what I ended up with.
Corey Dargel: "Someone Will Take Care of Me"
A Facebook friend posted about this album, so I thought I'd check it out. It's an intriguing mix of contemporary classical and pop, but it just didn't connect with me right away. Seems a little more form over substance. It's a little bit too twee for me. I do think Corey is a supremely talented artist and has come up with some very original ideas, but the songs were not particularly compelling to me. Perhaps its one of those records that requires repeated listens. I suspect that Corey will continue to grow and will have many interesting things ahead. It's all a little bit too clean and clinical and sterile for me, but I am interested to see how this artist continues to develop. I'm not going to give up on this album... perhaps part of the problem is that being a double album there is lots to absorb and none of the songs individually jump out. Ambitious, but perhaps a more focused approach would have left a more powerful impression.
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How To Destroy Angels - self-titled
Trent Reznor's new project allows him to shed the Nine Inch Nails label and the expectations that go along with it - ultimately I think that will be a good thing, but this project isn't the most auspicious first step. There are some interesting soundscapes - mostly mellow electronica with whispery female vocals. It's a 6-track EP, and is mostly forgettable. It's an interesting idea but the songs just aren't there. There isn't enough power in the vocals to drive home the emotions behind the songs. "A Drowning" is a perfect example... musically its sublime and builds intensity as it goes, but the limp vocals just fall flat.
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Cyndi Lauper: "Memphis Blues"
First she did an album of standards - "At Last" - and now Cyndi Lauper tries out Memphis Blues... meh. It just sounds like a genre exercise. She doesn't have the vocal chops to pull this off believably. Don't get me wrong, Cyndi is an exquisite singer... just not in this particular idiom. The whole thing has a faintly pointless vibe to it. Cyndi needs to get back to the quirky pop that made her the iconic artist that she is.
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Danzig: "Deth Red Sabaoth"
Danzig's return is a solid, murky-dark, wall-of-sound heavy rock album - what one would expect from Danzig. My initial impressions are positive but not overwhelmed - - need a few more spins of this one.
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Ed Harcourt: "Lustre"
Ed Harcourt is a brilliant songwriter, vocalist and musician. Jeff Buckley meets Nick Cave and Tom Waits. He's capable of moments that are absolutely superb, but he's yet to put together a full albums worth of killer material. "Lustre" is about what I've come to expect from Harcourt - entertaining and frequently excellent, but still lacking the originality and spark that would lead him to take that next step. His melodies often tend toward the pedestrian side, and very little here really knocks me in the heart. This is easily the best album listed on this blog entry (well, at least as far as the new releases are concerned), but Harcourt is so obviously talented and has such moments of sheer brilliance ("God Protect Your Soul", for instance), that I expect more. I keep expecting the Ed Harcourt album that will finally bowl me over, but it hasn't happened yet. But again - first impressions can sometimes lead the listener astray, and given how much new music I've been absorbing this weekend, I'll give this a few more spins. Maybe it'll turn around for me.
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Gleaming Spires: "Songs of the Spires"
Ahhh I love the fact that you can find these obscure 80s oddities on emusic. Interesting in that this is a vinyl rip - the faint clicks of the scratches are clearly audible. But that's okay - it adds to the nostalgia. "Are You Ready For the Sex Girls" is a forgotten gem.
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Sia: "We Are Born"
Meh... nothing much to get excited about here. I like the cover of Madonna's "Oh Father" but the original material is mostly forgettable and her vocals are too mannered throughout - she has a lovely, rich voice, and it's most effective when she keeps it simple. The songs are faintly pleasant pop with an indie vibe, but it's all been done before, and better.