April 29, 2024

Kreator - Renewal (1992)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Thrash Metal, Industrial Metal
Label Number: FD-1017

© 1992 Futurist/ Noise International
Renewal was the album that saw German thrash metal kings Kreator attempt to broaden their sound, relinquishing much of their legendary velocity in order to enter previously undreamed of industrial realms. Long-time Kreator fans will know that change is in the air simply by hearing Ventor's drums as they introduce opener "Winter Martyrium" with a very dry, somewhat hollow, and wholly unfamiliar snare sound. The guitars, when they kick in, also come across slightly muted, lacking the distinctive thrash metal bite characteristic of previous albums, while Mille Petrozza's vocals are pushed higher in the mix than usual, having magically reverse-mutated from his trademark shriek to a clearer, though arguably less effective shouted style. If they can get over these unexpected developments, which are all the more shocking coming from a band that had hardly progressed an iota since its inception (to the undisguised delight of many hardcore fans), listeners will find a decent set of songs in the likes of "Brainseed," "Karmic Wheel" and "Europe After the Rain." Many of these, especially the title track, explore slower tempos in a way you'd never expect from Kreator, and sure enough, most fans were not impressed, turning their backs on the band as they persisted in their sonic experimentation over the next decade.

tags: kreator, renewal, 1992, flac,

Kreator - Cause For Conflict (1995)

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 13 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Thrash Metal
Label Number: N 0260-2 UX

© 1995 Noise Records
Cause for Conflict may just qualify as the most confused and perplexing album of Kreator's long career -- it's certainly one of the least popular. The band's previous effort, 1992's industrial-tinged Renewal, had not been well-received by the majority of fans and critics, and its mixed fortunes also led to serious dissent within the group's ranks, culminating in the departure of bassist Rob Fioretti and drummer Jürgen "Ventor" Reil -- both of whom had been with the band almost since its inception. Reeling from this development, as well as heavy metal's general unpopularity at the time, three years would pass before Kreator main man Mille Petrozza found it in himself to make another go of it. Therefore, not only did 1995's troubled Cause for Conflict require the breaking in of a new lineup, it also found Petrozza at a creative crossroads, attempting to reconcile recent experiments with the very popular, yet more limited speed metal glories of old. But for all of their instant familiarity, jagged, old-school thrashers like "Hate Inside Your Head" and the furious burst of "Bomb Threat" seem forced and unconvincing, as if the band recorded them under duress to appease the fans, but didn't really "feel" it for themselves. On the other hand, slower, more ambitious compositions like "Lost" and the nine-minute "Isolation," with their greater use of melody and riffing dynamics, have aged quite well. Despite possessing little in common with Kreator's past legacy, these songs would nevertheless establish the sonic aesthetic, which the group would pursue with greater confidence and conviction for the rest of the '90s, albeit still with controversial results.

tags: kreator, cause for conflict, 1995, flac,

Missin' Linx - M.I.A./Lock'd D (Single) (1998)

*This is a digital store download purchased from Qobuz.
Originally released in 1998 and LP only.
This pressing contains 4 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: None
.FLAC via Florenfile

© 1998-2019 Linx Ink Recordings
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

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


tags: missin linx, mia, lockd, single, web, 1998, 2019, flac,

April 25, 2024

Kreator - Terrible Certainty (1987) ☠

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 8 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Thrash Metal
Label Number: 88561-8214-2
☠: Selected by Buccanner
© 1987 Noise International
Kreator dialed in their modern thrash on Terrible Certainty, the group's third full-length offering. One of the most highly anticipated European metal records of the decade, this 1987 release proves that the previous year's hit, Pleasure to Kill, wasn't a fluke, and that Kreator was capable of delivering under pressure. The German outfit cranks up the technical difficulty on Terrible Certainty, executing the tightest performances of their career while maneuvering around some extremely difficult, yet memorable riffs. The guitar flurries of the title track and "Behind the Mirror" hold their own against the best work from Metallica or any other American thrash behemoths. Some might argue that the stateside metal heads even took some cues from Terrible Certainty. It is certain that Kreator's influence isn't limited to stateside artists, as modern European metal has never been the same since the group unleashed a slew of powerful late-'80s discs, Terrible Certainty arguably being the best of the lot.

 tags: kreator, terrible certainty, 1987, flac,

Kreator - Extreme Aggression (1989) ☠

*U.S. first pressing. 
Contains 9 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Thrash Metal
Label Number: EK 45254
☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1989 Epic Records
On Extreme Aggression, a successful Kreator close the '80s by delivering their final thrash triumph. With the most hallowed Kreator lineup (Mille Petrozza on vocals and guitar, Jörg "Tritze" Trzebiatowski on guitar, Jürgen "Ventor" Reil on drums, and bassist Rob Fioretti) joining forces once again to follow up the spectacular Terrible Certainty, Kreator sound determined to continue their thrash mastery on Extreme Aggression. The results are fierce and noisy on this 1989 Epic release -- the first major-label effort for the band. Petrozza and Fioretti's guitar work is as punchy as ever, and Reil's massive drums are unrelenting and continually improving. While the anonymous production has a slightly negative effect on Extreme Aggression, when compared to more commercially successful major-label thrash artists like Metallica, Kreator use their underground experience to fight through and present a unique package stuffed with hearty riffs and performances.

 tags: kreator, extreme aggression, 1989, flac

IV Xample - For Example (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: MCAD-11220

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

 tags: iv xample, for example, 1995, flac,

Laurneá - Betta Listen (1997)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: EK 67508

© 1997 Epic
*No professional reviews are available for this release. 

 tags: laurnea, betta listen, 1997, flac,

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 cliché -- 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,