CD REVIEWS: Arlene
Bishop, Susan Tedeschi, New Car Smell, K-REC
A&E has broken hearts and New Cars waiting
Cut a Man's Heart Out
Rundown: A longtime staple of the Toronto music scene,
Arlene Bishop releases her highly anticipated second album, featuring
enough chic-pop to keep Susan B. Anthony happy. A combination of stark
instrumentalization, strong vocals and poetic lyrics, Bishop's music is
a veritable sightseeing tour of womanhood.It is also an intensely easy-listening
album, which may just make men wish they had a period to vent about.
Key Tracks: The title cut is definitely the standout
of the album; Bishop clearly knows this, as she includes two different
mixes, the second of which is vastly inferior to the original. There isn't
really a weak track on the album and every song has obviously been well-thought
out, which is nice to hear for a change. However, at times some of the
material sounds rather empty.
Sounds Like: Aimee Mann, Indigo Girls, etc. all
those ladies you'd expect to see letting their armpit hair grow at Lilith
Fair. Arlene Bishop has a great voice, completely worthy of her other,
more famous, counterparts.
Wait For Me
Rundown: Following a Grammy nomination for "Best
Female Vocal Rock Performance" alongside musical icons Avril Lavigne
and Sheryl Crow, Tedeschi has jumped into the spotlight. Her nomination
has captured the music industry's attention, with Rolling Stone calling
it "a victory for everyone searching for a rock 'n' roll oasis in
an arid, teen-pop wasteland."
Key Tracks: Wait For Me has a healthy mix of
mellow blues with songs like "Wait for Me" and "In The
Garden," while also offering upbeat, refreshing rock hits like "Hampmotized"
and "'Til I found You." Track two, however, titled "Gonna
Move," has such repetitive and elementary lyrics that it may leave
listeners with the urge to yank their hair out.
Sounds Like: Tedeschi's musical style could easily fall
under the same category as Melissa Etheridge or Jann Arden, offering a
mosaic of blues, country and rock. Although her catchy songs foster a
healthy mix of guitar and drums, one can't help but place her lyrics on
the level of an advanced first-grader.
Dark Skippy Records
Rundown: Ottawa duo Tony Missio and Scott Paterson have
created a very catchy album titled Favourite Century, which has
a perfect, easy-going summer sound. Don't let the lack of buzz stop you
from listening though www.newcarsmell.ca has free downloads for
Key Tracks: "Second Fall of Rome" is a poignant,
sad love song with nicely integrated vocal harmonies. "Steady Bowling
Partner" is another sad one about losing a father. Although the band
calls this album "black comedy," there seems to be a lot more
blackness than comedy. "Number One With A Bullet" is a pointless,
pseudo-witty commentary on Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.
Sounds Like: Geek rock. The band lists Elvis Costello,
The Beatles and Steely Dan as influences. The album has that lazy/hazy
Hawaiian summer vibe. The focus is on the vocals, with the odd quirky
addition of a bassoon or accordion. All in all, this album is one that's
definitely worth checking out if you can't wait for the sounds of summer.
Rundown: With an impressive collection of independent
full-length albums and music videos to back him up, the Vancouver based
DJ/producer K-REC delivers Disque Jockey, his first solo effort
on the Nettwerk Records label. Spots on Electric Circus and MTV in the
past have established K-REC as a major player in the electronic music
industry, a reputation that this record will probably jeopardize.
Key Tracks: With producers like DJ Shadow setting the
standard these days, Disque Jockey is blatantly juvenile. The
intro track "Can You Feel It" sounds confused, with many wasted
great ideas. K-REC's fickle nature behind the boards is characterized
by his tendency to change the mood too quickly. A solid guitar lick turns
adolescent when he introduces high-pitched vocals, making the song sound
like something that didn't make Basement Jaxx's Remedy album. "One
Man Mozart" is loud, piercing and also utilizes the highly unoriginal
heavy guitar sound. Amongst all the disappointment, "Trouble"
is the only song that shows any promise. Son Doobie (Funkdoobiest), lends
his voice to this highly hip-hop influenced effort, which is brilliantly
spliced together and could be the key to K-REC's future, assuming he has
Sounds Like: Although K-REC has the tools, he hasn't
yet learned how to use them. Half of the album sounds like trance, and
the other half is an oil and water mixture of hip-hop and electronica.
Showcasing his emcee skills on half of the tracks cheeses the sound even
further, making this record sound like something one of your drunk buddies
threw together at a basement house party.