February 24, 2020

Arsenal - Armored Choir (1990) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1990 Regency Records
Reviewed by Tony Cummings for Cross Rhythms.co.uk
Arsenal aren't in the First Division. Well, yes I know the Arsenal are there (and top as we go to press). What I mean is that Arsenal, the US white metal team aren't First Division metal merchants. It's hard for metal bands sporting female vocalists. Even those fine old metal warhorses Rez didn't always sound convincing with female vocals while Christine Steel, though sporting a fine name for a metal singer, too often falls into the mannered posturings that made those early Bride albums so dull, while the chorus on "Someone Believes In You" is positively wimpish. Also the songs are decidedly dull riffs-and-hooks heard a hundred times before. Great meaty drum sounds can't cover the paucity of ideas.
The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Treat - Organized Crime (1989)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1989 Vertigo
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

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Treat - Treat (1992)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1992 Vertigo
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

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February 23, 2020

Pity Sex - Feast of Love (2013) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Shoegaze
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2013 Run For Cover Records
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas
Growing out of the emo throwback sound that defined their earliest tracks, Michigan-based indie act Pity Sex turned in a brilliant proper debut with the layered and dreamy Feast of Love. At least part of the band's songwriting falls in line with the mostly imagined nostalgia for the golden age of '90s indie rock that they share with punky contemporaries like Swearin', Yuck, and Speedy Ortiz. While the wistful melodies and downtrodden slacker pop hooks could peg Pity Sex as '90s revivalists to some extent, their meticulously dialed-in arsenal of fuzzy guitar tones, inventive production, and unexpected shifts in both melody and song structure set them apart. Without worshiping too obviously at any of the respective altars of the greats, Pity Sex manage to capture some of the beautiful dreamlike violence of early shoegaze in their guitar squall and some of the mystery and vulnerability of the best 4AD artists, especially in the gorgeous and Cocteau Twins-indebted album closer, "Fold."

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Pity Sex - White Hot Moon (2016) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Shoegaze
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 2016 Run For Cover Records
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra
Ever since the style began, shoegaze bands have followed a predictable career trajectory. Make a noisy EP that threatens to blow speakers, follow it with a slightly more under-control album that focuses more on songs than it does sound, then on album two (if they get that far) sand off all the rough edges in favor of a slick, professional rock presentation. Pity Sex made good on the first two, but they fail on the third. Their second album, White Hot Moon, doesn't scale back the noise; Britty Drake and Brennan Greaves' guitars are still overdriven and powerfully loud, Sean St. Charles still bashes the drums like they are on fire, and Brandan Pierce's bass is often just as fuzzy as the guitars. Will Yip's production doesn't do much to fancy up their basic sound and, overall, there's nothing very slick to be heard. Like they did on the excellent Feast of Love, Pity Sex do a great job of balancing noise with melody, using both in equal amounts throughout the record and always making good use of shoegaze's standard loud-quiet dynamics. Drake and Greaves blend their voices in classic fashion too, with his deep monotone and her sweet high voice coming off very Velocity Girl-esque. Getting the sound down, and not blanding it out, is impressive enough, but the band also wrote a strong album's worth of songs. Sticking to a patch of ground firmly located between quietly melancholic and calmly depressed, the album creates a hazy mood of sadness that lingers long after the last overloaded notes fade away. Great clouds of minor chords, voices that linger on the edge of tears, tempos that rarely break a sweat (with the occasional exception like the bouncy "Orange and Red"), words that don't dance around the pains of being alive; these are all hallmarks of a record that's out to give listeners heavy feels. White Hot Moon succeeds on that front, and when combined with the sturdy sonic foundation, the result is a second album that evades the shoegaze curse with ease. It may fail to reach the heights that Feast of Love did, but it's no great drop off either and finishes building a strong foundation for the band. Now they can work on doing something even fewer shoegaze bands ever accomplished, making a good third album.

tags: pity sex, white hot moon, 2016, flac,

Bodega Bohemia - Bodega Bohemia (1993)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1993 Metronome
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

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Camouflage - Spice Crackers (1995)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1995 RCA
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett
By the time of Spice Crackers' 1995 release, Camouflage found themselves dealing not only with changing times on the part of their key inspirations -- Depeche Mode having long since grappled with rock motifs on albums like Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion -- but with the shift from electronic pop being pop, to being a quieter concern amid the aboveground explosion of techno in Europe throughout that decade. Spice Crackers feels like a reaction to both changes in many ways, a chance for Camouflage to find their own identity as well as see how to roll with the times -- and what's striking is how they predated some future developments elsewhere as a result. (It says something that the bass-heavy introduction "X-Ray" might have appeared on Depeche's Ultra, for instance, even though that album was two years away from release at that point.) There's a self-referentiality to the field that's almost amusing in its apparent po-facedness -- calling one song "Kraft" and the one immediately after it "Electronic Music" is almost too much -- but the exquisite instrumental "Ronda's Trigger," arguably the album's best song, celebrates things more effectively, a classic electronic dance number in the best way, propulsive and serene at the same time. As with almost any album of its length in the era of CDs, it feels like it goes on a little too long, with some of the better tracks like "Back to Heaven" buried a bit at the end. But if anything, Spice Crackers counts as a key release pointing the way for where European electronic pop with an ear for the darker side of things would go in the future -- after-echoes of the freer, more flowing approach to things the band did here can be heard well down the line in groups like Apoptygma Berzerk

tags: camouflage, spice crackers, 1995, flac,

February 22, 2020

Camouflage - Voices & Images (1988)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1988 Metronome
AllMusic Review by Michael Sutton
When it was played on modern rock radio stations in 1988, Camouflage had everybody duped with "The Great Commandment." With its chilly synths, robotic percussion, and gloomy vocals, the song was a Depeche Mode doppelganger. Similarly, Camouflage's debut album Voices & Images is the sound of young men who couldn't stop playing Depeche Mode's Black Celebration in their tape decks. However, they are somewhat talented plagiarists. The icy, computerized rhythms in the anti-racism track "Neighbours" and "Helpless Helpless" have toe-tapping appeal, and "Winner Takes Nothing" regurgitates Duran Duran as new romantic cyborgs with Marcus Meyn's Simon Le Bon-esque singing. Meyn enunciates every word in his songs with a heavy seriousness, as if lyrics such as "we had fun while we played/hide and seek" have profound meaning. The dancey synthesizers of keyboardists/programmers Heiko Maile and Oliver Kreyssig Xerox the eerily seductive high-tech boogie of mid-'80s Depeche Mode, but they're nowhere near as inventive or edgy. Voices & Images should've been an EP. Once the sixth track, "Winner Takes Nothing," is finished, Camouflage's Depeche Mode infatuation loses its novelty.

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Camouflage - Methods of Silence (1989)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1989 Metronome
AllMusic Review by Dean Carlson
Camouflage entered the synth pop game when most people had already moved on, which spelled trouble for their 1989 sophomore album. The total absence of acknowledged humor in Camouflage's material contrasted sharply with the vibrancy of the ensuing decade, and the album's widening addition of violins, saxophones, and guitars couldn't prevent the band from being forced into a prematurely outdated pigeonhole. In hindsight, this was the LP's biggest problem. "On Islands" and "One Fine Day" were sweet, multi-textured pop that swayed like a hammock strung between industrial pylons, while "Rue de Moorslede" regaled itself with a taut instrumental of circus organs, filtered horns, and the recurring sound of doors slammed shut. It was the opposite of '90s IDM -- frustratingly simple, sonically precise, forever reliant on pop song structure and, along with Depeche Mode's Violator a year later, one of the last times when a band could get away with it.

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Camouflage - Meanwhile (1991)

Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Synth Pop
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© 1991 Metronome
AllMusic Review by Michael Sutton
After Camouflage finally discover their own voice on 1989's Methods of Silence, they take a nap on Meanwhile. Mistaking slower tempos for introspection, Camouflage abandons the thrilling synth pop of "The Great Commandment" for sluggish, aimless tracks. While the band's attempts to shed the Depeche Mode comparisons is commendable, they don't sound too excited doing it. One of Camouflage's best songs is the heartbreakingly pretty "Love Is a Shield" from Methods of Silence, and the group tries to recapture that track's melancholic feel on "Heaven (I Want You)." Unfortunately, the music drifts by without any enthusiasm or emotion. The band uses a guitar on "Dad" to kill the monotony, but it comes across as forced. None of the romantic songs on Meanwhile move the listener, and Camouflage's bad habit of tackling serious issues has again surfaced. On "Dad," Camouflage addresses child abuse and incest with the depth of a newspaper headline: "No one will believe/'Cause he's your dad." Whether or not the track is based on a specific real-life incident is a question only the group can answer; nevertheless, it doesn't change the fact that the song doesn't pack the wallop that it should. Although Meanwhile isn't as derivative as Camouflage's 1988 debut, Voices & Images, the band doesn't replace the borrowed parts with equally toothsome hooks of their own.

tags: camouflage, meanwhile., mean while, 1991, flac,

February 21, 2020

Quid Comba - Ob├║s (2009) ☠

Lanzado independientemente en 2009 
por Tres G Producciones en CD-R y en una funda de cart├│n.  
Se incluye una foto del disco en el archivo.

Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish (Espa├▒ol)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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☠: Selected by Sentinel
© 2009 Tres G Producciones
*No professional r3eviews are available for this release.

tags: quid comba, obus, 2009, flac,

Jesus Jones - Doubt (1990)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grebo
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© 1990 SBK, Food, Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
Jesus Jones' best album, Doubt, benefits greatly from Mike Edwards' improved songwriting, as well as a better idea of how to effectively fuse guitar-rock with samples and dance-club beats that hint at techno. There are slips in both areas -- a few songs float past without ever making an impression, and some of the fusions sound rather forced and arbitrary. But those moments are outweighed by the ample portions of the album that do work; the album's title is belied by the giddy optimism of the catchy number two hit, and best song here, "Right Here, Right Now," and other singles like "Real, Real, Real," "International Bright Young Thing," and the B-side "I'm Burning" are nearly as good. Easily the high point of the band's career.

tags: jesus jones, doubt, 1990, flac,

Babe The Blue Ox - Color Me Babe (1995)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 1995 Homestead Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

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Method Man - I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need To Get By (1995)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 Def Jam Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: method man, ill be there for you, youre all i need, single, 1995, flac,

February 20, 2020

Young MC - What's The Flavor? (1993) ⚓

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1993 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
On his third album, Young MC was trying to recapture his audience, adding elements of jazz-rap -- thanks to the production of A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed -- to his pop-oriented style. While it didn't rocket him back to the top of the charts, the results were agreeable and likeable, with only a couple of embarrassing tracks.

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Mathematics - Love, Hell or Right (Da Come Up) (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2003 High Times Records
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
A member of the sprawling Wu-Tang family, producer Mathematics' contribution has been duly noted by the hardcore fans and the Wu themselves. Although he took the credit in the Digital Bullet liner notes, RZA later admitted that it was Mathematics who produced the centerpiece of the album, "Must Be Bobby," and he's the go-to guy when it comes to reviving the Enter the Wu-Tang sound. Love, Hell or Right does sound like that album's grimy moments, and although members of the Wu show up here and there, the album is Mathematics' own. Minus RZA's Wu-promoting chant in "… On da Radio," the album is one of the least incestuous releases to emerge from the 36 Chambers studio. It's what makes it interesting, but also what keeps it from being a classic. Beat-wise, he can do no wrong. The slow hypnotic pulse of Love, Hell or Right looms like the cloud blown from a blunt with glittery soulful samples and blaxsploitation soundbites weaving in and out. Flowing like a Prince Paul record, it should go a long way to earn Mathematics the same respect. The problem lies in the forgettable contributions from non-Wu MCs. Lyrically there's little to focus on, and the album's liner notes don't even bother to list everyone. If he wasn't so comfortable with his low profile and searched out more accomplished MCs for his non-Wu projects, Mathematics could start a dynasty of his own.

tags: mathematics, allah mathematics, love hell or right, da come up, 2003, flac,

Kelly Price - Mirror Mirror (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2000 Def Soul
AllMusic Review by Michael Gallucci
Like Mary J. Blige, Price has a big, bad, beautiful voice. And like Blige, she often chooses smart material to go along with that big, bad, beautiful voice. On her second album, she goes through many R&B motions -- over-singing, pallid bedroom songs, tuneless tales -- but still manages to sound like a genuinely thrilled diva in the process. Filled with slow jams, slick hip-hop, and gospel, Mirror Mirror is a more rounded record than Price's debut. Best is a cover of Shirley Murdock's "As We Lay" played like a Broadway curtain-closer. It reveals Price's penchant for theatricality and demonstrates her warmth as a singer. She puts an individualist's stamp on the album, a looking glass, if you will, into her soul.

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February 19, 2020

Cracker - Cracker (1992) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Alternative Country
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1992 Virgin
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Apart from David Lowery's tendency to slip in some smug, self-serving lyrics, Cracker's debut is a terrific rock & roll record, full of energetic three-chord bashers and surprisingly moving ballads.

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Cracker - The Golden Age (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge, Alternative Country
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© 1996 Virgin
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Kerosene Hat, Cracker's second album, was an unexpected hit because of its off-kilter charm. Though Cracker rocked hard throughout the record, they also threw in fractured pop and country tunes that gave the album a broader appeal. The band's follow-up album, The Golden Age, tries to expand on that appeal by burying the weirdness inherent in David Lowery's songwriting with loud, grungy guitars and a more streamlined production. The change is evident from the record's leadoff track, "I Hate My Generation." With its pounding rhythms and grunge-drenched guitars, it may have been intended as a parody of '90s Generation-X angst, but the riffs and melodies are so slight that it fails embarrassingly. In fact, most of the louder numbers on The Golden Age are forced and underdeveloped. What saves the record is when Cracker turn the volume down, whether it's the country rock of the title track, the goofy pop of "How Can I Live Without You," or the dusty psychedelia of "Bicycle Spaniard." Once you dig past the surface of the loud guitars, it becomes apparent that there's an abundance of quiet gems scattered throughout The Golden Age, and that is what makes the album worthwhile listening.

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Live - V (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Post Grunge
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© 2001 Radioactive
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
The spiritual qualities in Live's music have often inspired comparisons to Bono and U2, and some admirers have noted the parallels between Ed Kowalczyk's reflections and the imagery that John Lennon employed. But there's another valid comparison that one doesn't often hear: Earth, Wind & Fire. Live's alternative rock sounds nothing like EWF's soul and funk, but lyrically, they do have something in common: an ability to get a positive, uplifting message across without being wimpy. EWF had some of the most gutsy, rump-shaking funk grooves of the '70s, and yet, their lyrics were undeniably spiritual; similarly, Live's fifth album, V, feeds the listeners' mind, spirit, and intellect without letting the body down. Those who think of Live as the conscience of post-grunge alternative rock won't be disappointed by the intelligence and spirituality the Pennsylvanians bring to "People Like You," "Simple Creed," and other enriching tracks. But for all of its thoughtfulness, V has plenty of guts and grit. It also has a willingness to experiment; during the course of the album, Live incorporates everything from hip-hop to Indian music. And the Beatles are still a prominent influence; "Hero of Love," "Nobody Knows," and "Transmit Your Love" are appealing examples of the Fab Four influencing musicians no less than 31 years after their breakup. Is Live the conscience of post-grunge alterna-rock? Reading V's lyric sheet, it would be difficult to argue with that assertion. But Live's ability to get a positive message across doesn't make this album any less edgy -- in fact, V is among the band's most confident and inspired releases.

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