Monday, November 30, 2009

OneRepublic Waking Up Review

OneRepublic – Waking Up

1. Made For You
2. All The Right Moves
3. Secrets
4. Everybody Loves Me
5. Missing Persons 1&2
6. Good Life
7. All This Time
8. Fear
9. Waking Up
10. Marching On
11. Lullaby

No, that’s not a typo. All the songs are bolded. Early warning: this album is not mainstream material. But it doesn’t stop it from being my most favorite album in 2009, and should be yours, too.

You know OneRepublic since 2 years ago they released a massive hit, Apologize from the album Dreaming Out Loud which was certified Gold (selling more than 500,000 copies). Then, Ryan Tedder, their frontman vocalist, co-wrote Bleeding Love for Leona Lewis which reached #1 in Billboard Hot 100. Since then, Ryan Tedder became the most sought-after song writer in the US.

Released in the massively competitive November 17, Waking Up offers a huge improvement over their debut album. Sure, there are no tracks meant to be big like Apologize. That kind of song is hard to come by. However, it is compensated with great songs all over the album.

Made For You acts as the interlude to All The Right Moves, the first single. It is really catchy and perfect as the album opener. Then comes the batch of greatest songs they’ve ever made. You WILL love Secrets, may love Everybody Loves Me and Missing Persons 1&2 if you are not skeptic of their changes in musical direction, but you WILL love super catchy Good Life and ballad All This Time.

Fear relies on simplicity in lyrics and Ryan’s falsetto, which combines really great. Waking Up and Marching On pick up the tempo and are great sing-along songs. And Lullaby acts as the perfect album closer.

The only drawback in this album is there are only 11 songs in it. When the songs are this good, you will always find yourself ask for more. Even with Deluxe version, there are only 2 new songs and 2 songs previously in the previous album.

Final Verdict: A superb album. Though not all the songs are radio friendly, but they are of high quality. Kudos to them for prioritizing quality over commerciality.

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Kris Allen - Kris Allen Review

Kris Allen – Kris Allen

1. Live Like We're Dying
2. Before We Come Undone
3. Can't Stay Away
4. The Truth
5. Written All Over My Face
6. Bring It Back
7. Red Guitar
8. Is It Over
9. Let It Rain
10. Alright With Me
11. Lifetime
12. I Need To Know
13. Heartless

Kris Allen is the unexpected American Idol 8 winner. Most people expected Adam Lambert to win, but either most Adam’s fans are too overconfident or Kris is actually more popular than Adam remains unknown. But let’s forget what happened 6 months ago and focus on the now.

Kris released his debut album on November 17th. And what a release date, that is! Packed with the likes of John Mayer, Norah Jones, OneRepublic, UK sensation Leona Lewis, 50 Cent, teen prodigy Justin Bieber, popular Christian band Casting Crowns will seriously hurt his album sales, but still he’s the American Idol champion, and the release date had been set long time ago by the record label.

Okay, on with the review. Seriously, when I heard the album sampler, I was like, “wow, this album will suck” because the songs just aren’t strong enough. I really like his first single, Live Like We’re Dying, so I expect more of the same in his album, and from the sampler, I just couldn’t find one.

However, sampler and the real thing is a really different thing. Having given it a first listen, the album sounds great, if not awesome. Every song in the album is a strong candidate for the next single. There are up-tempo Before We Come Undone, Maroon-5-esque Can’t Stay Away, awesome ballads The Truth and Bring It Back, another The Script’s cover Written All Over My Face, Kris’ self-penned track Red Guitar, poppy acoustic Alright With Me, or the massive album closer I Need To Know. All of them have the potential to be the next single.

Kris’ strong point in this album is he stays true to his music, which is soft pop rock. All of the songs, except the ridiculously-arranged Heartless can be played with a guitar or piano, which suits him really well. Not to mention his great vocal. And mind you, Live Like We’re Dying is quite a difficult song to pull off because of the long consecutive chorus, and if you’re not impressed with how he copes with the song brilliantly when he sings it live, I don’t know anymore what you’re looking for in a singer.

There are drawbacks in the album, inevitably. Heartless should be left acoustic, Is It Over sounds like a bland rock song. The bridge of Lifetime is brilliant with “Living doesn't come first try, It takes a lifetime getting it right”, I just don’t understand why they chose to write the ridiculous cliché line “It takes a lifetime to learn how to sing, To find my place in the world symphony, To become the melody, The man I know I could be”.

Early predictions predict his album will sell 75-85K a week, making him the lowest selling Idol winner. The number is quite good considering the massive competition in the release date, though I start to doubt if his album will crack even 500K mark.

Final Verdict : A slow burner, give it a couple of listens to make it grow into you.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

iTunes Chart as of November 18th, 2009

Up till now, I have just reviewed one album of November, which is Carrie Underwood's Play On, which spends two weeks on top of Billboard chart. That's because I somewhat wanna see US (and UK) market reaction to the competition. There are some surprises but the result is quite as expected.

I know it's only one day, so the chart will still fluctuate. But seeing John Mayer at top is not a surprising thing, as I said that his Battle Studies is one of the most anticipated albums in 2009. What's surprising is how well Kris Allen does in the chart. He's holding on against Leona Lewis' Echo and Justin Bieber's My World. I hope his album does well, since it's quite good.

What's surprising is there's no OneRepublic's Waking Up in top 10! This is quite surprising to me, because Waking Up is a massive album. In my opinion, it's even better than Battle Studies. In fact, it only appears in Germany chart (charts at #7) and Switzerland (#10). I hope it will enter top 10 in the coming days. I really hope they'll do well.

That's it. I'm gonna try to write reviews of those albums. Tough job since there are lots of them, but I'll still try to do it.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mark Read - Peace At Last

Peace At Last [2009]

Possibly the RAREST album in 2009! I can't find it anywhere even though it's released 5 months ago! Credit to Pop Idol Music 2.0 : Reloaded !

01. Peace At Last
02. Cat Out Of The Bag
03. Lie To You
04. Cold
05. Your World Moves Faster
06. Fallen From Grace
07. Make Sense Of It All
08. Wide Open Spaces
09. Last Kiss
10. She'll Never Know
11. Better Where I Am
12. Here And Now
13. Owe It All To You
14. Greatest Lady

Please support the artist by buying your copy if you can afford it.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carrie Underwood - Play On Music Review

Carrie Underwood - Play On
Track List:
1. Cowboy Casanova
2. Quitter
3. Mama's Song
4. Change
5. Undo It
6. Someday When I Stop Loving You
7. Songs Like This
8. Temporary Home
9. This Time
10. Look At Me
11. Unapologize
12. What Can I Say
13. Play On

I'm not really a country music fan. However, since winning AmIdol 4, Carrie Underwood has grown to be one of my favourite female artists of all time, and she's a country artist! Possibly because she realizes that to be mainstream / commercial, country music must blend with a little pop, and that's exactly what she's been doing for her first two albums.

After the first listen, I have to say that this album is somehow slightly below her second album's, Carnival Ride, quality. This set of tracks lacks the oomph of All American Girl and Last Name, which are by far the most powerful songs ever done by Carrie. But I gave it more listen. And I have to change my initial judgement. This album is at least as good as Carnival Ride - which is a great accomplishment, since Carnival Ride is a highly critically acclaimed album - just in a slightly different direction.

Cowboy Casanova, Undo It, and Songs Like This are Carrie's songs ala Last Name. Though not as powerful as Last Name, they are hell catchy, with Undo It becomes my favourite of this album. I love the stuttering un- un- un- un- do it! part.

Quitter, This Time, Unapologize, and Play On come as another group. These are pop-country songs. Quitter and Unapologize are great songs, but I find This Time a little bit weak. Play On is just a so-so song, but good enough as album closer.

Mama's Song, Change, Someday When I Stop Loving You, Temporary Home, Look At Me, What Can I Say are ballads. Temporary Home is a massive song, will do really good if released as a single. Look At Me sounds like a filler in the midst of these good ballads.

Overall, this album will not disappoint Carrie's fans. This is a good album, but not really great in my opinion. It's a nice opener and sets the bar high for upcoming albums which will be released in November.


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