Music Reviews From January & February

I go through music like a hummer goes through gasoline, listening to songs when I wash dishes, cook meals, walk to the grocery, and even when I fall asleep each night.  So I am constantly in need of new music. My goal for 2011 is to try to listen to a new album every week.

While I’m not immune to a catchy pop hit, I decided I wanted to try out more independent and lesser known groups this year too, from all sorts of genres: rock, pop, hip hop, classical, and everything in-between.

I’m still learning how to review music.  Unlike books, I don’t feel like I have a good sense of the vocabulary I need to describe what I like and don’t like about the songs yet. If I’ve learning anything from writing this blog, it’s that the best way to learn something is to just do it, so here goes….

A brief review of the albums I’ve enjoyed so far in 2011:

Play It Again, Jack!, by Jack in the Box (*** 1/2) – Three days after I made my album a week goal, this CD came in the mail from one of my favorite childhood friends.  How cool is that?  It’s like she read my mind. Turns out her 18 or 19-year-old son is in a band that just made an album.  The only time I met her son was when my family visited their home in Nantes, France. Greg was 12 or 13 and the two of them were arguing over how he was ignoring his piano practice to play the video game, Grand Theft Auto.

Greg must have solved the practicing issue because the piano playing on this album is excellent. Play It Again, Jack! is full of catchy pop melodies played on piano in a very listenable jazz-like cabaret style, kind of like a hipper more modern Randy Newman. While all the band members are from Nantes, France, the songs are all in English.  Every song is fun to listen to, though some songs are better than others.  [Parent Note: This is one of those albums that will make all ages happy: kids, teens, adults, and seniors.]

At their MY SPACE page you can hear several songs on the album.  You can also buy their songs or album on iTunes, emusic, and amazonmp3. They are listed on iTunes under the album name: Play It Again, Jack!  The full album sells for $10.99 or you can buy individual songs for 99 cents.

The Cost, by The Frames (*** 1/2) – This album is full of the kind of moody ballads that I enjoy listening to right before I go to sleep.  Lead singer, Glen Hansard, was in the movie The Commitments (in a small part) and also starred in the movie, Once.  The song "Rise" was recently featured in the Castle episode that focused on Kate’s mother’s murder and a number of the songs from The Cost are also included on Hansard’s album soundtrack for Once.  [Parent Note: Fairly tame lyrics you can listen to with kids in the car.]

I Will Be, by Dum Dum Girls (***) – Fun lo-fi indie pop that sounds a lot like good old-fashioned 50’s rock with a bit of a modern twist. [Parent Note: I couldn’t hear the lyrics clearly enough to be sure that I know if the album has any unfriendly stuff for kids or not. ]

Loud, by Rihanna (****) – Rihanna is one of the few commercial pop sensations I enjoy without guilt.  Her most recent album is no exception.  It’s full of catchy pop tunes you’ve probably heard without even picking up her album.  She even has a couple hits this time with an island flavor, a few soulful songs, and a couple of sexy pieces to round out the album.  [Parent Note: There are a couple kid friendly songs in the album but definitely another couple that will get you plenty of questions.  Probably this is one to enjoy when you’re alone.]

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