April 22, 2024

Audrey Wheeler - I'm Yours Tonight (1991)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 7 2827 31002 2

© 1991 Ear Candy
*No professional reviews are available for this release

 tags: audrey wheeler, im yours tonight, 1991, flac,

Tank - Force of Nature (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 7243 8 50404 2 9

© 2001 Blackground Records
Tank's first entry into the hip-hop soul sweepstakes, Force of Nature is dominated by soft, organic ballads and jittery future funk à la Sisqo or Timbaland. He tends to be more convincing on the romantic material than on the harder-hitting party cuts; the first single, "Maybe I Deserve," is a decent contemporary R&B love song, while the six-minute "Slowly" has a warm, vintage Prince feel that showcases Tank's crooning to best advantage. There doesn't seem to be much here that will truly separate Tank from the rest of an already crowded R&B pack, but Force of Nature is well-crafted enough for its Top Ten status to make sense.

 tags: tank, force of nature, 2001, flac,

Tank - This Is How I Feel (2012)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 528524-2

© 2012 Atlantic Records
Long a cross between Brian McKnight and R. Kelly, R&B's smooth -- but chiseled -- operator Tank tips the scales toward the Kels side on his 2012 release, filling the album with dreamy, lush productions and "adults-only" lyrics that sometimes reach the level of "shameful adults only." Case in point, the pillowy soft "Compliments," which is filled with sweet nothings that escalate to innuendo, that escalates to a (puritans leave now) "camel toe" compliment when guests T.I. and Kris Stephens join in. "I know that you cool/But what we gonna do about mine?" is the sentiment behind the misdirected bundle of bedroom encouragement called "Don't Give Up," and when Chris Brown talks of the 100 women who want to sleep with him but "only your ass can get to me," the album is either the first bedroom effort made exclusively for guys or one of the more risky couples albums, where frank talk could either heighten or kill the mood. Still, it's in this environment that lyrics like "Since you don't appreciate her/I'm gonna please her later/Let me take that off your hands" sit comfortably, because with This Is How I Feel, doing wrong feels so right when you drop your inhibitions.

 tags: tank, this is how I feel, 2012, flac,

April 21, 2024

Cleopatra - Comin' Atcha (1998)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 9 46926-2

© 1998 Maverick
Cleopatra's debut album Comin' Atcha has a few weak spots, but that should be expected from any dance-pop album. What is surprising is that the cuts that work are so enjoyable. It's easy to be suspcious of a group that feels like a genetically engineered hybrid of Hanson and the Spice Girls, but the three sisters in Cleopatra have a spunky charm that makes their light dance-pop and urban ballads enjoyable. There's enough filler on the album to make it a frustrating listen but the best moments -- namely singles like "Cleopatra's Theme" -- make the dull spots worthwhile.

 tags: cleopatra, comin atcha, 1998, flac,

Cleopatra - Steppin' Out (2000)

*Canadian pressing. 
Contains 13 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 2 84052

© 2000 WEA
Still all under the age of 20, the three Higgins sisters who perform under the name of second oldest sibling Cleopatra have come a long way from Manchester on their second album. With 1998's Comin' Atcha!, which featured three top five hits in the U.K., they were part of the teen-pop wave started by the Spice Girls two years earlier. But though they got some attention in the U.S., including a Top 40 entry for "Cleopatra's Theme," the American market didn't quite know what to make of a black trio that didn't sound like R&B. Steppin' Out answers that confusion by moving the group in an R&B/hip-hop direction without sacrificing their teen-pop approach. Employing a variety of production teams including Cutfather & Joe, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and recording at various U.S. and U.K. locations as well as in Norway and Denmark, Cleopatra has come up with an album of 11 potential singles, most of them in a familiar dance-pop style. "Nobody Said," the lone holdout from Manchester writer-producers Tim Scrafton and Kenny Hayes, is a ballad containing self-help advice, while Jam and Lewis' "Who's Your Woman," anchored by a striking single-note keyboard pattern, has an inventive sound. But for the most part, whether they're in Scandinavia, England, or America, the trio is singing harmless romantic pop (typical titles: "Take Me Now," "Come and Get Me") over light dance tracks. The weak spot is actually the vocals. Even though their mother Christine is credited with "additional vocals" on every track (she even gets her own section for her thank-yous in the characteristically lengthy acknowledgments section of the album's booklet), the sisters, led by Cleopatra herself, are not distinctive singers capable of giving this trite material any depth or particularity. In 1998, you had to say that Cleopatra was no Spice Girls; in 2000, you'd have to add that they're no Destiny's Child, either.

 tags: cleopatra, steppin out, 2000, flac,

Trey Lorenz - Trey Lorenz (1992)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: EK 47840

© 1992 Epic Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

 tags: trey lorenz, trey lorenz album, 1992, flac,

Trey Lorenz - Mr. Mista (2006)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: CLP 1663-2

© 2006 X-Ray/Iceman Music Group
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

 tags: trey lorenz, mr mista, 2006, flac,

April 18, 2024

Mis-Teeq - Lickin' On Both Sides (2001)

*U.K. pressing. 
Contains 14 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B, Pop
Label Number: TCD3212

© 2001 Telstar/Inferno
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

 tags: mis teeq, lickin on both sides, 2001, flac,

Mis-Teeq - Eye Candy (2003)

*U.K. pressing. 
Contains 15 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B, Pop
Label Number: TCD3304

© 2003 Telstar
*No professional reviews are available for this release

 tags: mis teeq, eye candy, 2003 flac,

Triple Seis - Time'll Tell (2004)

*This is digital store purchased from Qobuz. 
This pressing contains 14 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap, Gangsta Rap
Label Number: None

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

* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled.

 tags: triple seis, time'll tell, timell, 2004, flac,

Cuban Link - 24K (2000)

*This is a digital store download purchased from Qobuz
Originally slated for a 2000 release but was shelved. 
This pressing contains 24 tracks.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap, Gangsta Rap
Label Number: None

© 2000-2022 CLK Entertainment
With Big Pun's unfortunate passing, Cuban Link's debut, 24-K, shoulders a considerable burden, as it will play a major role in determining how future Terror Squad endeavors unfold. Dependant upon its level of success, Link's solo-bow will either lead to a renewed anticipation in the Latino based crew or a retreated interest; the enigmatic album does a little of both. As expected, the commercial formula that came so easily to the charismatic Pun is emulated here, as Link's infectiously naughty "Project Party," featuring Sunkiss, and the sweat-inducing drum patterns of the Neptune produced "Still Telling Lies" beg for heavy rotation. While a slew of less redeeming crossover reaches exemplify the carefree existence Link frequently portrays. Frivolous collaborations of this sort stand in stark contrast to the depth he exudes on touching odes to his mom ("Hey Mama"), and Pun ("Flowers for the Dead"). On "90 Miles and Running" he laments "don't let the pretty face fool ya" and, true to his words, the fortunes of 24-K evolves dramatically when Link places a premium on the facets he is most adept in; taking it to the streets. A more focused artist surfaces on "Murda Murda," which features Ja Rule, and the high-impact "Men of Business," with Noreaga, Kool G. Rap, Lord Tarik, and M.O.P. Yet, the LP's most essential cuts are highlighted by the obvious chemistry between Link and his T-Squad brethren; Fat Joe on the paranoid "Why Me" and a posthumous appearance from Pun on "Toe to Toe," where both MCs trade powerful verses over the Roots' "Clones" and Mobb Deep's "G.O.D. Pt 3." 24-K is a diverse debut, but it is one that settles, rather then stirs. Clocking in at a laborious 73 minutes, this longwinded effort, much like Link himself, harbors over-ambitious tendencies, as the artist's appeasing nature prevents 24-K from achieving a lasting identity.
* Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

 tags: cuban link, 24k, 2000, 2022, flac,

April 16, 2024

Keith Martin - It's Long Overdue (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: CK 67024

© 1995 Columbia Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

 tags: keith martin, its long overdue, 1995, flac,

YahZarah - Blackstar (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: None

© 2003 Three Keys Music
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

 tags: yahzarah, blackstar, 2003, flac,

Melky Sedeck - Sister & Brother (1998)

*European pressing. 
Contains 15 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Style: Neo Soul
Label Number: MCD-11933

© 1998-1999 MCA Records
It should come as no surprise that Melky Sedeck, a duo comprised of Wyclef Jean's young sister and brother, are heavily reminiscent of the Fugees, or any of the Refugee Camp side projects. It isn't a matter of the music being in the blood, or any other silly clich√© -- it's a matter of a shared sensibility. Melky Sedeck are coming from the same vantage point as their brother and Lauryn Hill, blending a variety of styles -- hip-hop, reggae, soul, gospel, pop -- into a colorful, multi-cultural sound. While they're not as accomplished at this stage as JeanHill, or the Fugees, Melky Sedeck have fashioned an appealing debut with Sister and Brother. It's true that the music feels like a smoothed-out variation on The Score and the solo efforts by Wyclef and Hill, but Sedeck's music is strong, even when the grooves are mellow. More importantly, Melky is a terrific singer, blessed with a rich, generous voice that is convincing on every track, even a misconceived cover of "To Sir, With Love." To some, it may be a disappointment that the album isn't radically different from the Fugees, but when faced with a debut this promising, it seems churlish to complain.

 tags: melky sedeck, sister and brother, 1998, flac,

April 15, 2024

Various Artists - The Princess Diaries: Original Soundtrack (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock
Label Number: 0927-43082-2

© 2001 Walt Disney Records
The original soundtrack to Gary Marshall's teen makeover fantasy The Princess Diaries features teen pop galore from the likes of Krystal Harris, Youngstown, and B*Witched. While most of the album consists of slick, virtually interchangeable singles like Myra's "Miracles Happen" and Steps' "Happy Go Lucky," a few tracks, for better or worse, are particularly distinctive. Aaron Carter and Mandy Moore tackle "Little Bitty Pretty One" and "Stupid Cupid," respectively, in misguided attempts to update the songs. However, the cold productions and clunky rhythms on both covers make them almost unlistenable. Fortunately, Melissa Lefton's "I Love Life," BBMak's "Miss You More," and 3Gs' "Crush" suggest that there's some hope for teen pop's future; the genre's most venerable acts, Hanson and the Backstreet Boys, each turn in decent if unremarkable tracks in "Wake Up" and "What Makes You Different (Makes You Beautiful)"-- a philosophy that both The Princess Diaries and its soundtrack could have used more of.

 tags: various artists, the princess diaries, original soundtrack, ost, 2001, flac,

Various Artists - Lizzie McGuire (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
Label Number: 60791-7

© 2002 Walt Disney Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

 tags: various artists, lizze mcguire, 2002, ost, soundtrack, flac,

Various Artists - Music From & Inspired By Desperate Housewives (2005)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock, Dialogue
Label Number: 2061-62499-2

© 2005 Hollywood Records
Apart from Danny Elfman's score, music doesn't play a big part on Marc Cherry's runaway television hit Desperate Housewives, but any show that's this popular gets a soundtrack anyway -- hence, the fall 2005 release of Music from and Inspired by Desperate Housewives, just in time for the DVD release of the first season and the debut of the second. Since there's not much music in the show, that means that the 13 songs here are all "inspired" by the series -- which, in turn, means that they're all songs about marriage or girl power, all performed by female artists. Instead of relying on previously released material, the producers have commissioned new recordings, which helps give this a fresh feel even if there are no less than six covers of well-known oldies about marriage and motherhood. At first, the artist lineup looks rather diverse, since it contains everything from Shania Twain and Martina McBride to Liz Phair, Joss Stone, Gloria Estefan, Indigo Girls, and Macy Gray, but it doesn't take long to realize that everything here is firmly within the confines of adult pop, fitting both adult contemporary and adult alternative formats quite nicely. This is classy and clever, well-produced music that is not without a few missteps (chief among them Liz Phair's flat-footed "Mother's Little Helper" and Macy Gray's jazzy "Boom Boom"), but is heavier on the highlights: Anna Nalick belts out "Band of Gold," Shania Twain's "Shoes" is sublimely silly, Joss Stone's "Treat Me Right (I'm Yours for Life)" has a nicely mellow groove, and Sara Evans' treatment of "One's on the Way" may be faithful but it's still a lot of fun. These are of such a similar mind set that the snippets of dialogue from the show are not only not needed to tie this together, but they get to be a little irritating (and Mary Alice's voice-over narration has never sounded so smug and cloying as it does here, separated from the visuals). All the same, Desperate Housewives is a surprisingly entertaining soundtrack, especially for a show that doesn't really feature pop music in the first place.

 tags: various artists, desperate housewives, music from and inspired by, ost, soundtrack, 2005, flac,

April 14, 2024

Various Artists - Heavy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Country, Acoustic, Country, Film Score
Label Number: TVT 8000-2V

© 1996 TVT Soundtrax
Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore recorded the evocative instrumental score to James Mangold's superb Heavy, which offers a soundtrack which also includes music from co-star Evan Dando, Freedy Johnston, the Connells, the Rake's Progress, the Plimsouls, Rosie Flores, the Vidalias and Ben Vaughn.

 tags: various artists, heavy, original motion picture soundtrack, 1996, flac,

Various Artists - Shallow Hal (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2001)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, Alternative Country
Label Number: 314 586 569-2

© 2001 Island Records
With the soundtrack to Shallow Hal, the Farrelly brothers maintain their reputation for having clever, appropriate musical choices for their gross-out romantic comedies. Though it's not quite as fully realized as There's Something About Mary's Jonathan Richman-based soundtrack, or as high concept as Me, Myself & Irene's Steely Dan-obsessed collection of music, Shallow Hal is still worthwhile, starting off strong with the one-two punch of "Members Only," one of Sheryl Crow's more underrated songs, and PJ Harvey's starry-eyed "Good Fortune." Lucinda Williams' "Lonely Girls" and Shelby Lynne's "Wall in Your Heart" maintain the album's surprisingly sweet, romantic tone; Darius Rucker's solo debut, "This Is My World," takes the former Hootie & the Blowfish singer's sound in a smooth, soulful direction that fits his voice well, yet ends up sounding less distinctive than his work with his old group. Rosey's "Afterlife," Phoenix's "Summer Days," and Randy Weeks' "Countryside" are similarly pleasant yet nondescript. Where the soundtrack really shines is in its choice of vintage material, which includes Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" and Edison Lighthouse's oldie but goodie "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Grows)," which also reflects the name of the film's heavy but good-hearted love interest. But the album's cleverest stroke has to be "Baby, Now That I've Found You" by the Foundations, who also provided There's Something About Mary's surprise hit "Build Me Up Buttercup." Like many other soundtracks, Shallow Hal is often uneven, but it offers enough character to make it worthwhile for fans of the film it supports.

 tags: various artists, shallow hal, original motion picture soundtrack, ost, 2001, flac,

Various Artists - Music From & Inspired By Stuart Little 2 (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock, Film Score
Label Number: 508783 2

© 2002 Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax
The soundtrack album for Stuart Little 2 is dominated by cheery pop/rock songs performed by artists affiliated with its releasing label, Epic Records. (Since this is a "music from and inspired by" album, some may not really be in the film.) Celine Dion occupies the position taken by Trisha Yearwood on the soundtrack to Stuart Little in 1999, singing an upbeat rhythm number called "I'm Alive." Other songs, such as Chantal Kreviazuk's "Another Small Adventure," Shawn Colvin's "Hold on to the Good Things," and Billy Gilman's "Count on Me," continue the sunny sentiments, and while Vitamin C's "Smile" acknowledges that life is not always peaches and cream, she admonishes "put a smile on your face, make the world a better place" over and over in the chorus. Making the world a better place is also the message of Mary Mary's remake of Jackie DeShannon's 1969 hit "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," one of several old songs presumably included to make parents and grandparents feel at home in the theater. The other revival of such a song is Nathan Lane's big-band version of "One," the 1969 hit by Three Dog Night written by Harry Nilsson. Lane provides the voice of a cat in the picture. Just where Steppenwolf's 1968 heavy metal anthem "Born to be Wild" or Gilbert O'Sullivan's maudlin 1972 chart-topper "Alone Again (Naturally)," in which he contemplates suicide and describes the death of his parents, fit into this scenario is not clear. But soundtrack albums of pop songs often don't make much sense unless you've seen the movies they come from. As with the first Stuart Little soundtrack, Alan Silvestri's score is restricted to two tracks. On them, he sounds like a John Williams wannabe, trying for grand themes among the by-the-numbers suspense and resolution music.

 tags: various artists, stuart little 2, music from and inspired by ost, soundtrack, 2002, flac,

Various Artists - Sabrina The Teenage Witch (The Album) (1998)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, Pop
Label Number: GEFD-25220

© 1998 Geffen Records
Sabrina's come a long way since she first showed up in Archie Comics. As played by Melissa Joan Hart, she's a hip '90s adolescent with music tastes that you'd expect from a with-it teeny-bopper. Pop is the order of the day and the usual suspects show up on this sugar-coated collection. The Spice Girls dabble in some serious dub with "Walk Of Life" while male heartthrobs 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys check in with "Giddy Up" and "Hey, Mr. DJ (Keep Playin' This Song)" respectively.

The Europop contingent is well represented by Robyn ("Show Me Love"), Aqua ("Doctor Jones") and The Cardigans ("Blah, Blah, Blah") whereas America keeps up with Ben Folds Five ("Kate") and The Murmurs ("Smash.") Interesting covers are sprinkled in whether its Sugar Ray tackling Steve Miller's "Abracadabra" or Matthew Sweet covering Walter Egan's "Magnet & Steel" with help from Lindsay Buckingham and former Bangle Susanna Hoffs. Sabrina herself takes a stab at singing Blondie's "One Way Or Another" supervised by original producer Richard Gottehrer.

 tags: various artists, sabrina the teenage witch, the album, soundtrack, 1998, flac,

Various Artists - Spider‐Man 2: Music From & Inspired By (2004)

*New Zealand pressing. 
Contains 17 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Post Grunge, Alternative Rock, Film Score
Label Number: 5175332000

© 2004 Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrack
Despite the fact that the waters have been tested -- the Spider-Man franchise and all of its merchandise have exceeded its studio's investment -- the producers of the soundtrack for Spider-Man 2 feel no inclination to refrain from compiling another whiny set of hard rock cinder blocks that fall easily into the nebulous abyss of pop culture. This time around, emo crooners Dashboard Confessional work through Peter Parker's superhero angst on the adequate rocker "Vindicated," and Train replace fellow MTV seniors Nickelback as the chartbound "Spidey" cheerleaders with the appropriately titled "Ordinary." From then on it's mopey modern rock with poignant introductions that explode into guitar-driven bridges that in turn morph into large anthemic choruses filled with Pro Tools wonder. The only artists who seem to get Spider-Man are Australian garage rockers Jet and Ours vocalist Jimmy Gnecco, as both contribute songs that portray their hero in a more whimsical light, opting for memorable melodies and genuine emotion over the ranting of spiteful -- for no good reason -- automatons like Lostprophets and Taking Back Sunday. All of this carnage makes Danny Elfman's schizophrenic score sound positively groundbreaking, when in reality it's as forgettable as the rest of the collection.

 tags: various artists, spider man 2, music from and inspired by, soundtrack, ost, 2004, flac,

April 13, 2024

Various Artists - Just Like Heaven: Music From The Motion Picture (2005)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop, Funk, Pop, Film Score
Label Number: CK 97696

© 2005 Sony Music Soundtrax
Just Like Heaven is a fairly standard romantic comedy soundtrack, assembling a mix of classics, covers, and excerpts of Rolfe Kent's score. The covers range from good-natured singer/songwriterisms like Pete Yorn's "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" and Katie Melua's pretty, mellow version of the film's namesake (the Cure's original appears later, in all its jangly, bittersweet glory) to note-perfect, borderline-pointless renditions of "Jungle Fever" by Chakachas and "Bad Case of Lovin' You" by Emerson Hart. Bowling for Soup's cover of the Ghostbusters theme is notable mostly for how the band re-creates the original's cheesy synth tone exactly, while Kay Hanley's version of "Lust for Life" is a risky choice that falls flat thanks to the anemic arrangement backing her game vocal performance. However, Imogen Heap's smoky version of "Spooky" and Kelis' "Brass in Pocket" rise above the mediocrity of the rest of the covers; in fact, Kelis is so good that her interpretation rivals the great, wistful sexiness of the Pretenders' original. Along with vintage tracks like the Cars' "Good Times Roll" and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You, " Just Like Heaven also includes a handful of original songs, such as Beck's "Strange Invitation" and Amos Lee's simple, heartfelt "Colors." Rolfe Kent's score is surprisingly restrained and affecting, particularly on "Her Picture" and "David Alone"; only "Machines Don't Know Everything" brings the schmaltz usually associated with rom com soundtracks, and even then it's in small enough doses that it still seems sweet instead of saccharine. A competent soundtrack, Just Like Heaven's bright spots outshine its stumbles just enough to make it worthwhile for fans of the movie.

 tags: various artists, just like heaven, music from the motion picture, soundtrack, ost, 2005, flac,

Various Artists - Empire Records: The Soundtrack (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Post Grunge, Indie Rock
Label Number: 31454 0384 2

© 1995 A&M Records
The soundtrack to a movie that was barely released, Empire Records is a fine collection of mainstream alternative pop/rock, featuring two hit singles -- the menacing Motown-meets-Bowie pop of Edwyn Collins' "A Girl Like You," and the folky "Til I Hear It from You" from the Gin Blossoms. The rest of the album is hit-or-miss -- mostly noticeable for the debut appearance of the Martinis, a new band from former Pixies Joey Santiago and David Lovering -- but it is enjoyable, nevertheless.

 tags: various artists, empire records the soundtrack, ost, 1995, flac,

Various Artists - Lost Highway (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Film Score, Industrial, Industrial Rock, Jazz
Label Number: INTD-90090

© 1996 Nothing/Interscope Records
The soundtrack to David Lynch's brilliant Lost Highway highlights the evocative gothic nightmares of producer Trent Reznor, whose Nine Inch Nails contribute the single "The Perfect Drug." Along with material from longtime Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti, the set also includes new music from the Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson and Lou Reed, who offers a taut cover of the Doc Pomus classic "This Magic Moment."

 tags: various artists, lost highway, 1996, flac,