audio review : All The Light Above It Too ( album ) … Jack Johnson

audio review : All The Light Above It Too ( album ) ... Jack Johnson

“Summer don’t turn to fall.” Not when you’re Jack Johnson. Warm beach music is what he does and this album is no exception. His talents are nowhere near, say, Brian Wilson at his peak, but there are some notable songs here.

Subplots, from which the Light Above It title is lifted, serves as a fitting preface of sorts. It’s also the album’s main delight as far as vocal melodies go. Love Song Number 16, a demolike serenade to his wife, is also nice.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Nightride ( album ) … Tinashe

audio review : Nightride ( album ) ... Tinashe

The title suggests a female-on-top sex position and I’m all for that. Tinashe is not only a sexy girl but one of the hottest, most physically attractive, to ever come out of the world of popular music. Her face, her body; she’s my perfect type and talented too, which is where her voice comes into play. Every beat is a banger; the album never strays from soulful seduction; but it’s her dreamy vocal melodies that manage to keep things interesting beyond the initial allure.

These songs remind me of Janet Jackson showing her ass with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but what Janet’s newest album (Unbreakable) lacks is sensual pleasures like C’est La Vie. You can’t understand what Tinashe’s saying on the chorus, but so what. It sounds good, dammit. The Interludes are the album’s one major flaw; it should be restricted to twelve songs in a slightly different order; but, the way she’s gyrating her hips, this just might be the Ride Of Your Life.

my rating = 4 of 5

2016

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audio review : Native Invader ( album ) … Tori Amos

audio review : Native Invader ( album ) ... Tori Amos

It sounds like this set starts with a ballad about Yoo-hoo, but that would be quirky fun and Tori Amos isn’t about having fun. Her music is sober and somber, so when she stretches “you” out to two syllables, as she does with Reindeer King, she’s just unaware of how silly she sounds.

Native Invader doesn’t get much better from there; this is the land of the dull and the dreary; though there is an exception at the end of Bang when Amos, over spacey electric guitars, starts listing chemical elements from the periodic table. That whole section is rather dazzling.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Smile ( song ) … Jay-Z

Smile, the one notable song from Jay-Z’s 4:44 album, is a feel-good retrospection. The rapper shines; these bars stand among his all-time best; but the overall aesthetics must be credited to No ID and Stevie Wonder as the former samples a soulful ballad from the latter to create quite a delightful groove.

“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian,” Jay-Z says, though I’d argue that probably means she’s a bisexual, “Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian.” She also recites a poem, though the song would be better without that final bit, which abandons the unique rearrangement of the Stevie Wonder sample.

my rating = 4 of 5

2017

audio review : 4:44 ( album ) … Jay-Z

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audio review : Human ( song ) … Stereo MCs

My only problem with this song, one of the group’s best, is the shortened title. It should be Human Behavior as MC Nick Hallam says at the end of the chorus. Aside from that relatively minor flaw, it’s quite awesome; a zany and exhilarating production that sounds like it was made to party hard to. The best bits come at the aforementioned chorus section; a fun and catchy sing-along; though the beat, mixed with happy horns and zany synths, is no slouch.

my rating = 5 of 5

2008

audio review : Double Bubble ( album ) ... Stereo MCs

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audio review : Double Bubble ( album ) … Stereo MCs

audio review : Double Bubble ( album ) ... Stereo MCs

The Human song, which should be fully entitled Human Behavior, is zany and exhilarating. The rest of the album pales in comparison. The energy level is consistently high; this is music to dance to; but, as cool as Nick Hallam’s voice may sound over wild party drums and flashy liquid synths, it never really has anything interesting to offer in the way of vocals. It’s mostly rhythmic filler. Perhaps this would have been better as an actual Double album split between regular vocal songs and their instrumental counterparts.

my rating = 3 of 5

2008

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audio review : Diamonds From Sierra Leone ( song ) … Kanye West ( featuring Jay-Z )

Jay-Z shines here. Part of it has to do with the grandiose way protégé Kanye West introduces him and much of it has to do with the beat, an Indianish dance joint led by a Shirley Bassey song sample he (Jay-Z) is wise enough to acknowledge. While the mogul spends three-too many bars on his support for Memphis Bleek, this is one of his best verses. West stays truer to the concept though, which makes a moral argument against diamonds cut to promote war in Africa. “These ain’t conflict diamonds,” he asks Jacob The Jeweler, “Don’t lie to me, man.”

my rating = 4 of 5

2005

audio review : Late Registration ( album ) ... Kanye West

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Magnum ice cream bars : White

Magnum ice cream bars : White

These are vanilla bean ice cream bars, the kind on a wooden stick, covered (dipped) in chocolate; not brown chocolate but white chocolate, which isn’t really chocolate at all. That’s a good thing, great even, because white “chocolate” tastes a lot better than (real) chocolate. If you’re not used to eating this flavor, in fact, your taste buds may be in for a shock. They’re damn delicious.

my rating = 5 of 5

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video review : Arrival

video review : Arrival

The actual arrival; space alien vessels suddenly appearing on Earth, à la Independence Day; is intriguing. It’s the stay that grows tedious. The beings, which resemble monstrous octopuses, aren’t necessarily out to exterminate us; it seems they just want to teach us their language; which does little in the way of tension. The back and forth lessons between Team America, led by linguist Louise Banks, and the aliens are rather silly. The speed at which we begin to learn their language and teach them ours seems unrealistic. The time-bending plot revelations that come out of it don’t seem to make much sense.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Acoustic Levitation ( album ) … Devin The Dude

audio review : Acoustic Levitation ( album ) ... Devin The Dude

It’s not just about smoking weed and Gettin High. Floating up to the clouds is what Devin The Dude’s music is essentially about, of course, but the first song on this set; appropriately titled Acoustic Levitation given what sounds like acoustic guitars being played throughout; suggests a romantic underlying. Actually it’s more sexual; The Dude loves getting pussy; but Can I conceptually and musically sets the tone. It’s also the best song with the best chorus, though some of the other 1970s-soul-styled beats are just as smooth and funky.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : Which Way Iz West ( album ) … MC Eiht

audio review : Which Way Iz West ( album ) ... MC Eiht

I thought DJ Premier was supposed to provide the beats for this album, which has apparently been in the works for years, but most of the production is handled by Brenk Sinatra. He’s a fitting alternative with a similar style, though neither can match the dramatic hood scores DJ Slip and others orchestrated back in the 1990s. The closest here might be the one song that features Boom Bam and Tha Chill from Compton’s Most Wanted; Last Ones Left; a smokey riders anthem. The album should start with a solo MC Eiht song, not an Outlawz feature, but that’s its biggest flaw. The beats bang and the vocals are what you’ve been getting from MC Eiht since 89.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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audio review : TLC ( album ) … TLC

audio review : TLC ( album ) ... TLC

The unimaginative title and artwork suggest that TLC; or TC, considering member Left Eye, the “L”, died in 2002; is back for all the wrong reasons. Haters, a generic pop anthem aimed at critics like me, seems to back that theory. But the rest of the album is better.

Way Back, which is clumsily featured twice; the second being an “extended” version; sounds like a summer hit from the 1990s. That’s a good thing. Other standouts include Perfect Girls, a mellow girl power anthem about self esteem; à la Unpretty; and American Gold.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017

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