LTR (Long Term Review)


DM_FLTR (Long Term Review)
Full Release Review

all over the place

carries a tune

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part of the chorus

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featured soloist

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conducting the choir

Darci Monet Fusion
Released:  May 12, 2009

Darci Monet has a powerful set of lungs and she uses them to full effect on Fusion.  A singer-songwriter rock voice in the tradition of Bonnie Raitt and Heart, she sings like she’s got something to prove.  Mama’s singing for supper and this is the last meal.  No stranger to the business, she’s worked behind the scenes and, most notably, with Levi Kreis and Debby Holiday, who both contribute to this effort.  This still is her debut, though.  Now that she’s proven she can sing, a more laid-back and relaxed vibe will only improve upon the sophomore set.

“Jezebel” is a sexy and slinky sing-song rockin’ rollercoaster ride.  The talking bits hint at the Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself.”  Just a fun track that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Parts of “Raging” remind me of Garbage and that’s not a bad thing.  Her voice is truly her instrument and she bends it to reflect various rock stylings.  It’s almost Heart meets Garbage and it provides a nice alternative sound to the rest of the set.  “Smoke and Leather” is a bluesy number that successfully pays homage to a classic tradition and showcases Darci Monet’s voice like the perfect picture frame.

Tinges of rock, pop, folk and gospel reverberate throughout Fusion.  Though Monet herself describes the project as being divided into two sides of  pop rock/soul and stripped-down acoustic coffeehouse rock, a deeper throughline could have been mined for each side and between the two as well.  I say rock it out more and strip it down deeper.  It’s her voice that leaves me wanting more and in some ways makes me feel she’s only scratching the surface.  There’s more there for sure.  Though an uneven set, the talent shines through, undeniably. ♫♪1/2

Standout Track:
  “Jezebel”
Check Out:  “Paper Doll,” “Raging,” and “I Should Go”

I first Just Picked Up Bat For Lashes’ Two Suns here and then I reviewed “Daniel” here and “Pearl’s Dream” here.  Now, I’m reviewing the whole set.

bflts

 LTR (Long Term Review)
Full Release Review

all over the place

carries a tune

♫♪

part of the chorus

♫♫

featured soloist

♫♫♪

conducting the choir

 

Bat For Lashes Two Suns
Released:  April 6, 2009

“Indie pop” sounds  like an oxymoron, but Bat For Lashes weaves a magical musical tapestry that defies any other description.  Not only is Two Suns indie pop, it’s a concept album that works in layers more than as a literal translation of  a linear story from track to track.  Though I’m calling it pop, it’s pregnant with  lush instrumentation that brings the songs to life.  

Exploring dualities in fable-song form, she presents an alter ego in the form of Pearl, who plays foil to her Bat For Lashes persona.  Two Suns takes you to a world of princesses and dragons and castles and large bodies of water between warring kingdoms.  You feel like one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men stopping in the forest to take in the Folk Fairie’s rave.

“Daniel”  hauntingly calls out to a soulmate-lover-savior and harkens back to the ’80s.  It’s a synth ice-cream-dream with a juxtaposition of beats in foreground and background that commingle flawlessly.  “Pearl’s Dream” is a mesmerizing ode with a funky beat.  It’s simple yet clever sing-song double-meaning lyrics make the song that much richer.  With synth and drum programming to die for, I picture gypsies with layers of kerchiefs flowing in the wind as they belly dance the night away next to tents on a beach lit by a bounty of bonfires.  And, just wait for that beat breakdown near the end.

Drums run through the tracks so much so that the songs could be interpreted by a drum circle from beginning to end.  New wave flourishes add a unique flavor.  Allusions to renaissance fairs and medieval reenactments aside,  Two Suns, is chic fairytale fare and not geek at all.  A masterful pop-parable that delivers. ♫♫

 Standout Track:  “Pearl’s Dream”
Check Out:  “Glass,” “Daniel,” and “Siren Song”

So, here’s the second EVER Edition of NEW FEATURE LTR (Long Term Review).  Kickin’ it off this week with not 1, but 2 reviews.  Check out the first  review of El Paso, TX artist, Aux.78’s, A Worn Ballad, originally posted on Tuesday just below this post.  This is a review of Tarra Dei’s Loved.   She’s  a new artist to popolio.  So, check it out!                                                                                                               

tdl

LTR (Long Term Review)
Full Release Review

all over the place

carries a tune

♫♪

part of the chorus

♫♫

featured soloist

♫♫♪

conducting the choir

Tarra Dei Loved
Released:  March 3, 2009

Tarra Dei’s got a sweet voice that echoes the possibility and potential of past dance/techno/pop princess, Cathy Dennis, and more current pop diva, Kylie Minogue.  Loved gets an “A” for effort, but the material isn’t quite at those heights.  Dei co-wrote each of the 8 tracks (and 2 remixes) and lyrically she’s got a nice pop sensibility.  Musically, the songs are similar enough that they create one sound, which isn’t a bad thing, but, they sound so similar that individual songs struggle to shine through.

“You Were Loved” is a melodious reflection on past love with a sweet guitar riff and accompanying chorus.  It’s one of those you’ll sing along to again and again.  “New Year” is a clever take on new love that opens with a nice cello introduction and contains a playful interplay between Dei’s lead and backing vocals.  “Call Me” is a flirty sing-song talky number about sitting by the phone waiting for that call (you know the one).

Loved has a bit of a retro feel (I’d say a fusion of 80s and 90s), which I don’t mind.  It even includes the requisite guest rapper with Pappa Doe appearing on “Flow” and “Cosmic.”  He does a decent job, but for the next effort I’d speed up the beats, focus less on the rap, and really take it to the clubs.  That voice has “dance diva” written all over it. ♫♪1/2

Standout Track:  “New Year”
Check Out:  “Flow,” “Cosmic,” and “Call Me” (James Bratton Remix)

This post kicks off a NEW FEATURE LTR (Long Term Review).  This is my very first full-length album review for popolio.  I’ve reviewed singles before in our Single and Listening feature, but never a full-length project.

Aux.78 was previously featured in a pop quiz here.  In celebration of this new feature, I’ll be reviewing another artist’s album this Thursday.  So, stay tuned for that.   

a78-awbLTR (Long Term Review)
Full Release Review

all over the place

carries a tune

♫♪

part of the chorus

♫♫

featured soloist

♫♫♪

conducting the choir

Aux. 78 A Worn Ballad
Released:  November 8, 2008 

Aux. 78 is equal parts soundtrack composer, country guitar strummer,  new age guru, and techno DJ.  A Worn Ballad is a solid collection of ambient soundscapes, sparse strings and vocals (there’s some drums in there, too, on “Concrete”), and futuristic effects that doesn’t lose focus. 

“Live Onto Life,” one of the two more traditional tracks, could easily set the tone for a western saloon shootout scene.   The other, “Guns That Smoke,” is a stirring soliloquy that explores the darker side of life.  “Hollowed Out” is reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock film.  I can see someone on a motorcycle; after riding for awhile he gets off and starts following a perfect stranger on foot.  It’s late, dark, and wet from a hard rain that has just settled.  When they round the concrete corner of the sidewalk…something ominous will go down.  “Tomorrows Fade To Today’s Light,” the longest track at 10:40, plays like the sountrack to a 1950s flying saucer B movie (to my imagination, anyway).  

Experimental, yes, but with pleasing sounds that leave you with a familiar feel-good feeling at the end of the listening experience.  It’s like leaving a movie (Yes, folks!) that made you laugh and cry with a little comedy, drama,  and some action and suspense thrown in with a lot of heart; all in equal measure. ♫♫

Standout Track:  “Guns That Smoke”
Check Out:  “The Passing,” “Wood,” and “Hollowed Out”