5/5/09

Single review: Maxwell 'Pretty Wings'

Maxwell, drops his first single from his fourth studio album, tentatively titled "Black" in stores July 7th, is apart of a three album trilogy that will be completed in three years. The current trend has been when an artist takes a hiatus they have to come back stronger than ever or they're bound to be embarrassed by the results. However, "Pretty Wings" may just be strong enough to get Maxwell back into the spotlight again. The song starts off strong but drags towards the end, as Maxwell over stays his welcome. The songs stated by Maxwell himself “It’s about the last relationship I had,” “How you meet the person of your dreams but at the wrong time. She was a serious muse and the song is a testament to what I wanted to say and say, to her.” Is this song hot enough to get Maxwell back into the spotlight?

Rating: 4/5

http://www.okayplayer.com/news/Audio-Maxwell-Pretty-Wings-.html

Album review: Chrisette Michele 'Epiphany'

Image Hosted by UploadHouse.com

Chrisette Michele is now on her sophomore album and is trying for a “new” sound and new look as well. Much of this can be equated to the fact that she received so much critical acclaim on the first album, but very little commercial success.

The album opens with the titled track “Epiphany (I’m Leaving)” the first single, written by Ne-Yo, produced by Chuck Harmony. The song provides a drum back drop, with memorable piano chords and the most memorable line on the album “Then it comes to me/like an epiphany…” The song itself has almost had as much success as her previous singles combined, which is understandable. One common theme that is noticeable throughout the album is the lyrical content and writing collaborations with Ne-Yo. Ne-Yo is featured on the song titled “What You Do” a typical smooth R&B melodic track with Ne-Yo’s backing vocals, which is why the track is sub-par.

The strongest and most impressive point on the album is Chrisette’s vocal and belting ability. Especially on the tracks “Blame it on Me” and “I’m Okay”. “Blame it on Me” the rumored second single, features the albums best vocals. The track finds Chrisette Michele going into a blame game with her previous lover and eventually taking the high road. “Another One” another vocally impressive track shares the same melody progression and slap drums as Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”. “Irreplacalbe” as some people may not know what intended for Chrisette the first time around, but passed the track on and became one of Beyonce’s many hits.

With all the new sounds on that album, Chrisette also revisits her old roots with songs such as “All I Ever Think About” and old school jam that builds into an emotional outburst, with Chrisette belting out notes in the F3 range. “Mr. Right” a jazzy more hip, funky approach for the Long Island native, melds Michele's fresh jazz tone with a trippy baseline, trombones and girl group backup vocals. “Fragile” another mid-tempo, jazzy, soulful song with fine production, where Michele tells her lover don’t play with her heart because it’s fragile, which she chants in the chorus.

Verdict: Chrisette’s sophomore album covers more than her debut album, however lacks subject credibility, which finds Chrisette talking about the same things. Her vocals are the strongest point on the album belting notes around the F3 range. Defiantly worth the 9 bucks and will be the best album released on May 5th.

Five Must Downloads: Mr. Right, Epiphany (I’m Leaving), Blame it on Me, Another One, I’m Okay

Skip: Procelain Doll

Rating: 4/5

Album review: Ciara 'Fantasy Ride'

Image Hosted by UploadHouse.com

Ciara is now three albums deep into her career and has admit tingly gotten better with every album. From the ‘Crunk N&B’ Queen to the now dance-pop hit maker, she is out to prove that she belongs amongst the elite. With the R&B genre forever taking twist and turns, one artist much make sure they’re on top of their game, bring something new to the table and having small room for error with each time out.

Ciara’s ‘Fantasy Ride' has already been thrown through a loop, with numerous push backs and countless number of failed singles. However, with the second single “Love Sex Magic” it includes a collaboration with one of today’s biggest pop stars, Justin Timberlake. Produced by the Y’s, one of today’s up and coming duo production team, the collaboration and chemistry seems effortless, which is evident in the video as well. Originally a Justin Timberlake demo, the new polished version is a groovy, funk mid-tempo that’s sure to get the crowd moving. “Ciara to the Stage” the opening track shows Ciara breathlessly delivering her lyrics which she uses a connection of her introducing herself to her listeners while seducing her lover at the same time. She works with The-Dream on numerous occasions, including the stand out track “Like a Surgeon” a very Aaliyah inspired track, which Ciara holds her own. Ciara’s lyrics are clever and confident where she states “When it comes to love/I’m like a surgeon/I’m a true technician...My ears will be you stethascope”

Ciara also works with a handle full of established artist on the album as well. Including Ludacris on “High Price” where the vocal arrangements, very opera inspired is an attempt to try something new, but falls flat in the process. Also with Chris Brown on “Turntables” another production gem, produced by Danja and crew. ‘Turntables’ is defiantly one of the better songs on ‘Fantasy Ride’. However, the collaboration doesn’t quite flow well, making it sound like Chris Brown and Ciara were recording in separate rooms and not convinced about it at all. Several rappers also lay verses including Young Jeezy on “Never Ever” the uninspired clich├ęd first single, Missy Elliott on the sub-par syrupy party starter “Work” and singer The-Dream on the sleeper “Lover’s Thing”. With an assortment of dance records, Ciara also includes a variety of pop ballads. Her vocals fall flat on “Tell Me What You Name Is” which she sounds off beat at times and “Keep Dancin’” a very seductive futuristic sounding track, which isn’t half bad. “I Remember” a bad way to end the album has convincing lyrics, but Ciara’s doesn’t sound confident in her vocals, passing the song off as mediocre. “G is for Girl (A-Z)” is one of the albums’ finer moments and probably the most well rounded track on the album, also produced by the Y’s.

Verdict: Ciara’s third album of her career shows a minimal amount of lyrical inspiration, direction or consistency. However, there are a handful of standout tracks (mostly the uptempo songs) and a bad apple here and there (most of the ballads). Ciara shows more confidence and sex appeal than the first two albums and yes, it’s getting better with her vocals and attempts to try new things. Last, the first half of the album is how the second half should have been constructed. After the first five songs or so, the album becomes uninteresting.

Five songs to Download: Like a Surgeon, Turntables, Love Sex Magic, Ciara to the Stage, G is For Girl (A-Z)

Skip: Lover’s Thing, Work, Pucker Up

Rating: 3/5

5/4/09

Album review: Keri Hilson - In a perfect world...




After being one of my most anticipated albums two years ago, Keri Hilson's debut album In a perfect world... is finally released. I'll be the first one to admit that everytime I saw the release date changed, I cried a little inside and was almost at the point where I didn't care about if the was album dropping anymore. But now that it's finally here, we can ask ourselves this question: was it worth the 2 years of waiting?

We start off the album with the first track, which is well...the intro. The intro completely caught me by surprise because in most cases with other artists, the intro is a complete waste of time and CD space. This intro however consists of a hard knocking beat couresty of Timbaland, and Keri singing. The lyrics are a bit lame but when the beat is that hot, it doesn't matter. Right after the hard knocking intro, we get more hard knocking songs that serve no purpose at all besides getting people in the club to dance. The oh-so familiar "Turnin Me On" produced by Polow Da Don comes on and right away, I'm forced to press next. I liked the song when it first came out but I cannot stand Lil Wayne's autotuned ass anymore. Nor can I stand Keri's helium voice. And the thousand remixes? I don't think I can listen to this song for another 5 years. After this track, we have "Get Your Money Up" which features Keyshia Cole and Trina. Surprisingly (and sadly), Trina is the only that brings it on the track. I know right now, the Trina stan on the Ashanti forum probably wants to give some lovin' right now (we'll talk later), but it's the truth. Polow again provides a solid beat but putting two Polow tracks back to back really devalues both beats. And to finish up the trio of club bangers, we have "Promiscuous Girl part 2" or otherwise known as "Return The Favor". This song suffers from two problems, number one being the fact that it's been out for ages and number two...IT HAS NO HOOK. Well it used to, but Keri's team decided to take it out. No excuses though because the song had 6 cowriters and the best thing they could come up with was "HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY"?!

Next up is Keri's current single "Knock You Down" featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo. Oh and it's also produced by Danja. Right off the bat, you hear Kanye rapping again which actually surprises me because of all the autotune crap he's been doing lately. This song is definitely one of my favs though and will probably be America's favorite too.

While Keri does a decent job with the bangers, the slower tracks is where she clearly excels. "Slow Dance" which is older than Madonna appears on the album, and it is definitely hot. Produced by The Royal Court, the track gives me a Tweet vibe but with Keri's signature twist on it. Following that track is another jam called "Make Love" and this one is produced by Polow. This reminds me of something Janet would do back in the day but again, Keri puts her own thing on it. I'm announcing it right now, a baby or two will be made to this song by me. Next up, we have my favorite track "Intuition", which is produced by Timbaland. This track actually reminds me of "Miscommunication", which was on Timbaland's Shock Value album. The air tight vocals, along with the quirky lyrics that only Keri can do. Oh, and the beat is hot too. It gives me some hope that Timbaland still has it in himself to produce a decent beat. I would have loved to hear a beat switch somewhere but I can't complain.

"How Does It Feel" comes out and right away, I check the song name again because I swear I've heard the beat before. Oh right, 4 Minutes by Madonna and Elevator by Flo Rida. It's not bad though I guess. "Alienated" is next, and is produced by Cory Bold. Some people love this song because of it's lyrics and some hate it because it doesn't seem to go anywhere. I personally did not care for the song at first when it leaked, but listening to the lyrics in more detail brought out another dimension in the song. Next we have "Tell Him The Truth" which again is Hate It or Love it track. The beat (produced by Danja) doesn't really go anywhere but the lyrics are nice. I love the track. I may be crazy for saying this, but this may be Keri's equivalent to "4 Page Letter" by Aaliyah. That's how much I like it.

To finish off the album, we have two very familiar tracks. The first one, "Energy" was the first single off the album and is essentially a pop song. It's a pretty good song though. And to close out the album, we have "Where Did He Go?" which seems a bit lackluster after hearing the rest of the album. I played the crap out of the song for 2 years but it doesn't hold up compared to the rest of the tracks. Still though, it's great to hear the CDQ of the song.

The only thing I'm mad about is that after hearing snippets of songs like "High Heels" and "Love Ya", I was anxiously waiting for them to be on the album. Unfortunately for us though, some garbage called "Change Me" featuring Brother Darkness Akon made the album. That song is an automatic one point deduction off the album. Oh yeah, another problem I have with the song is that Keri doesn't fully emerge as an artist throughout the album. "Knock You Down" could have easily been mistaken for a Kanye or a Ne-Yo song. Same goes for "Get Your Money Up" and "Return The Favor".

To wrap this review up, I had huge expectations for this album because Timbaland was producing it, which is probably unfair but what can you do? Still though, the album is a pretty decent debut and I believe Keri has made the transition from song-writer to singer.

RATING: 7/10

Standout tracks:
- Knock You Down
- Slow Dance
- Make Love
- Intuition
- Tell Him The Truth



- Buddha

5/3/09

ALLOW ME TO REINTRODUCE MYSELF

Just like Martin Luther King, I had a dream...

A dream where I could post my two cents on random stuff, and people would actually care. So what I've done is make a music blog, and also recruited some people to help. We call ourselves Team Buddha (just kidding) and we do the following:
-cure cancer
-save cats stuck in a tree

...and I guess talk about music.

-Buddha