December 07, 2021

Wordsworth - Mirror Music (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: HFT-06006-04

© 2004 Halftooth Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

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tags: wordsworth, mirror music, 2004, flac,

Various Artists - Irv Gotti Presents…The Murderers (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
Label Number: 314 542 258-2

© 2000 Murder Inc.
The Murderers project was initially a well-hyped supergroup which would have united Jay-Z, DMX, and Ja-Rule. But amidst all of the posturing, the would-be platinum-plated collaboration never came to fruition, bogging down in the preliminary planning stages. Pressing on, burgeoning producer Irv Gotti and the hyperkinetic Ja-Rule still found an outlet for their brainchild, turning Murder Inc. into an outlet to introduce their new stable of hungry MCs (Black Child, Tah Murder, O-1, Ronnie Bumps and Vida). There is nothing new to the formula that Irv and Ja implement, using the name of one proven commodity (Ja-Rule) in order to package a group of lesser-known artists. After all, 2Pac did it with the Outlawz, Snoop has his Eastsidaz, and the recently retired Mase introduced Harlem World, all with varying degrees of success. Yet, unlike Busta Rhymes' Flipmode Squad and DMX's Ruff Ryders, Irv and Ja's crew lacks the same depth. Besides Ja-Rule, there is not one individual in the Murderers click that possesses star power, or any lasting redeeming qualities. While there are a few tracks that stand out, such as "Don't Give a Fuck," it is mostly due to Gotti's production, which is the LP's only consistent facet.

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tags: various artists, irv gotti presents the murderers, 2000, flac,

Mr. Complex - Twisted Mister (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: RPV0024

© 2004 Raptivism/CoRecords
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tags: mr complex, twisted mister, 2004, flac,

Shawnna - Worth Tha Weight (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
Label Number: B0002950-02

© 2004 Def Jam Records
Released just before fellow Disturbing tha Peace member I-20's Self ExplanatoryWorth tha Weight is Shawnna's own chance to step out as a solo artist. When she says "weight," meaning "wait," she's not kidding -- even by rap standards. The album comes four years after her breakthrough guest spot on Ludacris' "What's Your Fantasy." To anyone who has heard any number of her verses, it will come as no surprise that the Chicago-based MC (believe it or not, the daughter of blues guitarist Buddy Guy) is consistently thuggish and sexed-up. A series of strong productions come from heavies Timbaland (the particularly hot Wild West-shootout "Shake Dat Shit"), Jermaine DupriJust Blaze, and Trackboyz, but nothing tops the Shondrae-produced "R.P.M.," somewhat distressingly reprised from the Disturbing tha Peace album. Even though the best track on it is two years old, the album -- for the most part -- remains true to its title. On the down side, the remix of "Posted" (featuring N.O.R.E.) is yet another "Superthug" knock-off, and the MC Lyte-sampling throwback "Kick This One" (apparently the sister of I-20's like-minded, Run-D.M.C.-sampling "Point 'Em Out") does not come close to improving on the source material. Even with these nagging flaws, Shawnna holds her own and is only complemented -- never outshined -- by the many guest MCs.

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tags: shawnna, worth tha weight, the, 2004, flac,

TLC - 20 (2013)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 88883773492

© 2013 Epic Records
The sticker on the front of TLC 20 proclaims "Music inspired by VH1's film CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story," which is neither actual nor factual. With the exception of one new song, "Meant to Be" -- a pleasant ballad co-written by Ne-Yo -- these songs were released during the early '90s through the early 2000s, long before the film was conceived. Keke Palmer, who portrayed Chilli, wasn't born until over a year after the release of Ooooooohhh...On the TLC Tip. Regardless, this set is a decent introduction to one of the biggest pop groups of the '90s. Released a week ahead of the film's premiere, it features all nine of the group's Hot 100 Top Ten singles, from 1992's "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" through 1999's "Unpretty," along with a handful of relatively minor hits, album cuts, and the new song. It could have gone deeper -- as deep as the 19-track Now & Forever: The Hits (2003), at least. There's much more to enjoy beyond what's here. The group made three of the best '90s pop-R&B albums, and 2002's 3D was no embarrassment.

tags: tlc, 20,, 2013, flac,

December 06, 2021

Excarnated - Purging The Earth (2006)

Country: Australia
Genre: Death Metal
Style: Brutal Death Metal
Label Number: LFP008

© 2006 Life Fluid Productions
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: excarnated, purging the earth, 2006, flac,

Gospel of The Horns - A Call To Arms (2002)

Country: Australia
Genre: Thrash Metal
Style: Blackened Thrash Metal
Label Number: IP 004

© 2002 Invictus Productions
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: gospel of the horns, a call to arms, 2002, flac,

Gospel of The Horns - Ceremonial Conjuration: E.P. (2012)

Country: Australia
Genre: Thrash Metal
Style: Blackened Thrash Metal
Label Number: IP 027

© 2012 Invictus Productions
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: gospel of the horns, ceremonial conjuration, 2012, flac,

The Thrills - Let's Bottle Bohemia (2004)

Country: Ireland
Language: English
Genre: Pop Rock
Label Number: 7243 8 66953 2 1

© 2004 Virgin Records
The Thrills' debut record, So Much for the City, lived up to the band's name and then some. Thrilling, epic, fun, funny, and at times brilliant, it was a debut that seemed difficult to follow, and indeed, Let's Bottle Bohemia can't quite live up to its promise. It's a good little rock & roll record, though. The songs are concise and melodic, Conor Deasy's voice still breathlessly winds its way into your heart, and the band still sounds tight and wire-sharp as before. There are quite a few killer songs, too, like "Tell Me Something I Don't Know," which opens the disc with a rollicking blast of rock & roll fervor; "Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?," a bouncing pop song built on a funky keyboard line and bolstered by a Van Dyke Parks-arranged string section; the melancholy ballad "Not for All the Love in the World"; and the swirling "The Irish Keep Gate-Crashing." What is missing is the sense of wide-eyed wonder and excitement, both from the band and for the listener. The band wrote the record while touring and, like many conceived that way, the lyrics are a little forced and uninspired, the subjects not as immediately interesting as the California worship of So Much. The record is helmed by D. Sardy (who has worked with bands like BushMarilyn Manson, and System of a Down), and he manages to pull off the deadly combo of over-produced and under-arranged. The songs are very slick sounding and most lack the little instrumental hooks and dynamic shifts that, again, made the debut so much fun to listen to. The listener can't get quite as worked up both because the band is no longer new and because the record is so obviously cut from the same cloth as So Much for the City, only now the cloth is a little faded. Still, a faded Thrills disc is more exciting and invigorating than 98 percent of the records out there, and there's absolutely nothing for the band to be ashamed of on Let's Bottle Bohemia. If this was their first album, people would be gushing over it, proclaiming that the Thrills are full of promise, a band to watch, and all those other clichés pop writers love so much. So take this for what it's worth: a really good record by a potentially great rock & roll band.

tags: the thrills, lets bottle bohemia, 2004, flac,

Various Artists - Men In Black: The Album (1997)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop, R&B, Stage & Screen
Label Number: CK 68169

© 1997 Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax
Will Smith left recording for a movie career in the early '90s, becoming a bona fide star with 1996's Independence Day. He followed that film with the sci-fi comedy Men in Black, and for its soundtrack he decided to return to recording to help give the film a bit of a boost. It didn't need it -- it became one of the most successful films of 1997 -- but Smith's title track, as well as "Just Cruisin'," are evidence that his breezy charm is as evident in his rhymes as it is in his acting. The remainder of the record is just as good, featuring a wide array of funky, party-ready hip-hop from the likes of Snoop DoggA Tribe Called QuestTrey Lorenz702Buckshot LeFonque, and Nas. There are a few clunkers scattered across the album, but it is one of the best pop/urban soundtracks of 1997.

tags: various artists, men in black the album, soundtrack, ost, 1997, flac,

Adriana Evans - Nomadic (2004) ☠

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 16196
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2004 Next Thing
Adriana Evans' eponymous 1997 debut was among the best of the "neo-soul" offerings that briefly dominated black singing music of the late '90s and early 2000s. It then took her seven years before releasing Nomadic. By mid-decade, rap and soul's most aggressive and creative artists were churning out music that couldn't really be categorized; it was a hybrid of sorts. On "Walk into the Sun," in what sounds like a radio interview backed by a jazzy and also new jack swingy beat, Evans is asked what music she grew up on and she starts rolling off a laundry list of genres -- rock, soul, Afro-Cuban salsa, Brazilian samba. You find all of it on this album, along with discernible doses of hip-hop boom-bap from producer Dred Scott. Sometimes it works well, like "Remember the Love" and its hip-hop-infused samba. Other times Evans' voice seems too angelic for both the aggression of the production and the tone of her lyrics ("What It Is"). She finally seems to find her groove on the last third of the album to wrap up an effort not as engaging as her debut, but still of merit.

tags: adriana evans, nomadic, 2004, flac,

The High & Mighty - Eastern Conference All Stars II (2001)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: LSR 9206

© 2001 Landspeed Records
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tags: the high and mighty, eastern conference all stars 2, 2001, flac,

The Thrills - So Much For The City (2003)

Country: Ireland
Language: English
Genre: Pop Rock
Label Number: 7243 5 84968 2 6

© 2003 Virgin Records
Five friends who grew up together in Dublin, called the Thrills, have produced a remarkably neat debut album. At the heart of their sound is a professed love for the tunes of the American West Coast of the '60s and '70s. Set to a backdrop of Al Green, Carole King, and the Band, they quickly pieced together tracks for their debut album, So Much for the City, during a four-month holiday on a beach in San Diego. But the Thrills aren't afraid to display more modern influences: a small audience at an Abbey Road gig was handed a one-sided 7" single with a cover of the Smiths' classic "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me." Their band name is also partly inspired by Michael Jackson's LP Thriller, and they covered "Billie Jean" on the English television show RE:COVERED. The three singles stand out on first listen as being radio-friendly hits: "Big Sur" opens with a zap of electronic keyboards, is driven by a melancholic banjo riff, and reinterprets the lyrics from the Monkees' theme: "Hey, hey you're the Monkees/People said you monkeyed around, but nobody's listening now." "Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)" has an inventive time-shifting melody and gorgeous backing vocals, but "One Horse Town," while being a satisfying slice of surf pop, is too repetitive and bland. There are moments when the Thrills produce some lavish, well-crafted pop songs: "Your Love Is Like Las Vegas" is a glorious uptempo anthem that features an inspired choppy guitar solo. Unfortunately, the slower songs on the album break up the uplifting momentum of the LP: "Hollywood Kids" and "'Til the Tide Creeps In" just drag along and aren't as successful as the simpler, jauntier numbers like the Dukes of Hazzard-style country-pop of "Say It Ain't So." With its impeccable vocal harmonies, catchy hooks, breathy laid-back vocals, and upbeat simple tunes, this is perfect bubblegum music with a nostalgic sound that adopts the sun-seeking vibe and sound of the Golden State, but still manages to remain contemporary. As for the rest, the one-dimensional repetitive lyrics ("You said, 'Let's go to San Diego/Hey that's where all the kids go'" on "Deckchairs and Cigarettes") do begin to irritate after a while, particularly when vocalist Conor Deasy constantly name-checks American cities. So it comes as no surprise that the band should record its debut LP in Los Angeles. Tony Hoffer, the producer behind Air, Beck, and the Smashing Pumpkins, offers a competent helping hand but the album would have benefited from a dirtier, bluesier sound; the production is far too polished, giving the LP a somewhat sterile feel. Still, So Much for the City is at times a beautifully rendered album with surprisingly solid songwriting; it's an unashamedly nostalgic musical postcard from the American West Coast. As a first LP, it shows signs of real promise, but it remains to be seen what direction the Thrills will follow next. They simply can't keep on borrowing from the Americana musical gold mine for much longer, because they couldn't sustain listener interest across the space of a second album.

tags: the thrills, so much for the city, 2003, flac,

The Thrills - Teenager (2007) ☠

Country: Ireland
Language: English
Genre: Pop Rock
Label Number: CDV3037 0094639530625
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2007 Virgin Records
As the title of their third studio effort plainly indicates, the Thrills have grown up significantly since the release of their last album, Let's Bottle Bohemia, in 2004. In retrospect, they'll admit that more than a year's break was needed between the release of their multi-platinum debut So Much for the City and its follow-up; their commercial prospects took a dive, and the youthful optimism which shone through their early work as bright as the Pacific Coast sun was broken beyond repair. Their music still recalls a uniquely American stable of songwriters -- Buffalo Springfieldthe Beach BoysJackson Browne -- but it's no accident that the influence of Manchester idols the Smiths has emerged more strongly than before. Winding Johnny Marr-like guitar lines add a sense of melancholy to the brighter sounds of piano, acoustic guitar and mandolin, while the rhythm section has beefed itself up considerably, rendering the opening paring of "The Midnight Choir" and "This Year" among the most aggressive tracks in the band's repertoire. Frontman Conor Deasy has finally repaid the faith placed in him by longtime fan Morrissey, reaching a level of introspectiveness and brutal honesty scarcely imaginable on previous albums. "Should've Known Better" sounds as if it could have emerged from Neil Young's Tonight's the Night sessions, as Deasy repeatedly proclaims "I envy your youth" to the backdrop of slide guitar and sparse, unyielding piano chords. The album was recorded in a converted morgue in one of Vancouver's most deprived neighborhoods -- at the suggestion of R.E.M. -- and the image of youthful idealism meeting cold reality is too perfect to ignore. It's a good thing too; adversity has brought out the best in the Thrills, and Teenager can stand as the group's crowning glory to date.

tags: the thrills, teenager, 2007, flac,

The High & Mighty - Eastern Conference All Stars III (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: OTCD912

© 2003 Eastern Conference
The Eastern Conference imprint shored up its lineup on this full-fledged flavor free for all. Presented by Philly underground session heads High & Mighty and High Times Records, this is the first volume of the series not released on the failed venture that was Rawkus. Past volumes featured the handiwork of such underground venerables as Eminem (whom the label vehemently despises), Mad SkillzKool KeithPharoahe Monch, and Mos Def. Hip-hop hash and herb heads will find a variety of high grades on this compilation as artists like Mr. Eon (of High & Mighty), CageCopywriteTame One (formerly of the Artifacts), R.A. the Rugged Man, and Kool G Rap push the East Coast's rugged brand of syllable-flipping with a barrage of head-spinning flows. Though psychotropic drugs and skullduggery seem to be this unit's main mantras, there's no denying the crew's ready wit and plentiful prowess in its practice of a dying art form. Virtually any cut measures up with the underground's best of the modern era; Tame One's "Dreamz," Copywrite's "Jeah," and Smut Peddlers' "Bart Blunt vs. Sherm Penn" are exceptional examples of the album's many guilty pleasures. The emergent skills of the Columbus, OH, native Copywrite are truly standout here, including such gutbusting filth as "Competitors are slain by this intelligent gunner/Quick to pop the trunk like an elephant hunter." Also of note, the album features an unreleased original version of High & Mighty's "Last Hit" featuring their nemesis, Slim Shady.

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tags: the high and mighty, eastern conference all stars 3, 2003, flac,

Krumb Snatcha - Respect All Fear None (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: 6412402

© 2002 D&D Records
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tags: krumb snatcha, respect for all fear none, 2002, flac,

Sticky Fingaz - [Blacktrash] The Autobiography of Kirk Jones (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
Label Number: 012 157 990-2

© 2001 Universal Records
Sticky Fingaz' oft-delayed solo debut, Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones, is a bold conceptual endeavor that loosely follows the same format Prince Paul implemented on his hip-hopera Prince Among Thieves. Scripted to fit the silver screen, Black Trash chronicles the trials and tribulations of Kirk Jones, a down-on-his-luck knucklehead who always manages to find trouble. Playing out like a lyrical collage, Black Trash is an emotional roller coaster that tackles the quintessential tale of good vs. evil. Though highly imaginative, like most Hollywood blockbusters, Black Trash fights bouts of long-windedness (this is particularly evident toward the LP's conclusion), yet there is still plenty to chew on in between. Displaying a lyrical diversity that his stint with Onyx rarely suggested, Sticky serves up a slew of profound moral messages on the thought-provoking "Why" and "Oh My God," where in a maniacal state Sticky questions God's existence. Yet, his lyrical transformation is best exemplified on "Money Talks" (featuring Raekwon), where Sticky speaks in third-person, as a dollar bill, and vividly depicts how the material possessions people strive to own eventually end up owning them. While the dramatic ebb and flow of Black Trash is the LP's saving grace, as the running dialogue (contributed by Omar Epps) and frequent skits ingeniously captures the many complex intricacies that make up Sticky/Jones' conflicting personas. However, it is hard to feel sympathetic for the character, as he is a man who, through the course of this LP, shows little regard for human life, kills his best friend, beats his wife, and deserts his child. Yet, similar to James Gandolfini's portrayal of Tony Soprano, Sticky convincingly brings Jones to life, and he is such an enigmatic character that you can't help but root for him, even though he doesn't deserve it.

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tags: sticky fingaz, fingers, blacktrash the autobiography of kirk jones, 2001, flac,

Sticky Fingaz - Decade... But Wait It Gets Worse (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
Label Number: 22 99970 2

© 2003 D3 Entertainment
Not nearly as ambitious as Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk JonesSticky Fingaz' second album also isn't quite as compelling. Off Universal and now on D3 Entertainment -- a graveyard of sorts for former major-label artists -- the MC produces the bulk of the tracks along with DSP, though wiz Scott Storch takes over for a pair of tracks, both of which are unsurprising standouts. Despite a shortage of strong material and some uninspired production work, Sticky Fingaz remains a remarkable MC, and some might be pleased that he's relying less on gruff, in-your-face shouting and more on a menacing delivery that's kept to a relatively low-key and stern dynamic. Hopefully this will lead to better things.

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tags: sticky fingaz, fingers, decade but wait it gets worse, 2002, flac,

Various Artists - Irv Gotti Presents The Inc. (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop, R&B
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
Label Number: 440 063 033-2

© 2002 Murder Inc. Records
Two years after the lukewarm reception given to his Murderers various-artists album, Irv Gotti unleashed his second, Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc. During the two-year intermission, Gotti's label, Murder Inc, grew enormously. In particular, Ja Rule and Ashanti scored huge hits, and Gotti himself moved further toward Dr. Dre-size proportions as a producer. Given all the success for Gotti and his label, it's understandable that he'd return with a hard-hitting follow-up to his Murderers collection. Gotti first diversified his roster, adding Charli Baltimore in hopes of duplicating the success of Ashanti. Similarly, he integrated more R&B into his songs, often juxtaposing his male gangstas with his hook-singing females just as he'd done on so many hits for Ja. Besides the vocals, he changed his production style a bit -- actually, to be more accurate, that of his co-producers -- moving closer toward the sound Dre and the Neptunes popularized in the early 2000s: real instruments and tight rhythms. Finally, he expanded his roster, bringing in yet more thugs to complement JaCaddillac Tah, and Black Child. The result seems great in concept and works well on songs like "Down 4 U" and "Ain't It Funny." The non-singles aren't quite as memorable, often weighed down by excessive thuggishness. Still, there's a wealth of music here, everything from girly melodies ("No One Does It Better") to brute swaggering ("We Still Don't Give a F**k"). It's important to keep in mind, however, that Gotti didn't intend this album to play seamlessly but rather more like a sampler. And as a label sampler, The Inc. surely succeeds, giving you a taste of everything, from the girly stuff to the brute swaggering.

tags: various artists, irv gotti presents the inc, 2002, flac,