Review: I Look To You by Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

Artist: Whitney Houston
Album: I Look To You
Release date: August 28
Label: Arista

After a 7-year hiatus, Whitney Houston is back with I Look To You. I will try and make this review focus more on the music than on the person, even tough it’s hard. But, we all know the story from the debut to the breakdown and break-up.
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Review: Had It All – Katharine McPhee

Had It All, Katharine McPhee

Artist: Katharine McPhee
Song: Had It All
Release date:  August 25
Label:  Verve Records

Back in the game again, American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee is set to release her sophomore album Unbroken this October. Things are all different this time around, first of all Katharine is blonde, and more importantly the sound she opted for is completely different to everything found on her debut LP. One main reason is that the genius John Alagia (John Mayer, Jason Mraz) helped produce and perfect the forthcoming album.  Katharine was released of her contract with RCA after dissatisfying album sales, which gave her more freedom to evolve as an artist and record the material she wanted to record. It is crystal clear that she left the R&B-fused and over-produced pop days well behind her. The lead single has a raw, earthy feel to it while McPhee keeps marinating her vocal prowess still. The bridge features a billowing high note that brings back her days of “Idol” to mind. If the upcoming album features more of “Had It All”, I’m sold.

Had It All – Katharine McPhee [Download]

Review: The Hardest Thing – Mica Paris

6450_102551322006_84073717006_2622971_6777678_nArtist: Mica Paris
Song: The Hardest Thing
Release date: August 17
Label: Rhythm Riders

Mica Paris, a name that has been circulating for a long while (22 years to be exact), her name has always come up whenever someone discusses the UK soul scene. I listened to many of her albums trying to understand what the fuss was all about, there were some few hits here and there, but I was still not fully drawn to her music, her voice however has always been exceptional. “The Hardest Thing” came out, and I had to listen to it and see how it fairs, to my surprise it blew me away. Paris channels her inner Chaka Khan on this retro-soul scorcher. The song has a sing-along chorus that’s bound to get stuck in your head for some time. After hearing this song I can honestly say that my appreciation for this UK gem has been fully actualized. Her latest album, the aptly titled Born Again sees her working with hit-maker Brian Rawling as well as having writing credits by UK crooner James Morrison.

The Hardest Thing – Mica Paris [Download]

Review: Hot Mess – Cobra Starship

Cobra StarshipArtist: Cobra Starship
Album: Hot Mess
Release date: August 11
Label: Fueled by Ramen/Decaydance

You rarely find a band that doesn’t take itself seriously, and have fun while doing so, Cobra Starship is the prime example of that.  Gabe Saporta (The band’s frontman and creator) gave up on the emo-punk sound for a synth-infused one long ago, but never more evident than on Hot Mess. The album is full of radio-ready songs that are sure to heat the airplays including the sizzling lead single “Good Girls Go Bad” featuring Gossip Girl’s malicious Lieghton Meester on vocals, producer Kevin Rudolf behind the board, and a co-write from songwriter/American Idol judge Kara DioGaurdi. The disco-inspired “Living In The Sky With Diamonds” is another highlight while the somber “Fold Your Hands Child” recalls some older material. The title track is a catchy piece of fluffy pop music. Hot Mess has many elements of 80’s pop/rock such as the Hall & Oates’ nod on “Living In The Sky With Diamonds” and The Damned’s “Smash It Up” sampled chorus on the infectious “Pete Wentz Is The Only Reason We’re Famous”. The album is not for everybody, and most definitely not for people who want their music by the rules; it is an album full of mindless pop tunes, catchy hooks, restless dance beats, arena rock guitars and silly (but sometimes emotive) lyrics. It delivers exactly what the title promises making it perfect for hot summer nights.

Highlights: “Good Girls Go Bad”, “Hot Mess”, “Living In The Skiy With Diamonds”, “Fold Your Hands Child”, “Wet Hot American Summer

Review: Holiday by Dizzee Rascal

dizzeerascal_holiday_coverArtist: Dizzee Rascal
Song: Holiday (Feat. Chrome)
Release date: August 24
Label: Dirtee Stank

Most known for his 2008 hit song “Dance wiv Me”, UK sensation Dizzee Rascal teams up yet again with Calvin Harris on the anthemic “Holiday”.  The song features the customary Harris whiz dance beats, which is said to be the sound of Rascal’s upcoming album Tongue “N” Cheek. Rascal is leaving his grime roots behind, in favor of more mainstream pop, hence the large number of big-name collaborators reportedly working on the project including Armand Van Helden.  “Holiday” has an instant summer feel with references to Ibiza, the place where the video was shot. Just like Rascal’s previous singles (Dance wiv Me, Bonkers) “Holiday” is set to shake up the charts the week of its release, gaining him the momentum required ahead of the album release on September 21.

Holiday (Feat. Chrome) – Dizzee Rascal [Download]

Review: Maxwell’s BLACKsummers’night

1246514953_coverArtist: Maxwell
Album: BLACKsummers’night
Release date: July 7
Label: Columbia, Sony

Maxwell, the alpha male of neo-soul, returns to bless us with his BLACKsummers’night, the sensuous opening installment of the artist’s monumental BLACKSUMMERS’NIGHT trilogy. The trilogy’s subsequent chapters, blackSUMMERS’night and blacksummers’NIGHT, are slated for release in 2010 and 2011 respectively. This album is exactly what the industry needs right now; real music, real emotions, and most importantly no vocoder, or throwaway beats.

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Review: The Bridge – Melanie Fiona

melanie-fiona-the-bridge-album-coverArtist: Melanie Fiona
Album: The Bridge
Label: SRC/Universal Motown
Release date: August 18 (USA)
Each year we get one, or two if we’re lucky, supreme vocalists that break into the mainstream scene causing a very needed change in the industry, and sometimes the charts. First we had Amy Winehouse with her breakthrough hit ”Rehab”, last year it was Adele, Duffy, and Jazmine Sullivan who served it. This year it’s Toronto’s native Melanie Fiona’s turn.
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Review/Spotlight: Erik Hassle’s “Hassle”

hassleI promised to post his album back in this previous post, and here it is. The album is definitely a highlight of 2009, so far. From the opening track to the closing one, it’s all good, and I mean really good. The album kicks in with “Bump In The Road” which is a hopeful song perfect for blasting out loud on your way to work. “Hurtful” we all heard it, we all love it, we all are still having it on repeat, aren’t we? good. “Don’t Bring Flowers (After I’m Dead)” another highlight, if you liked the previous two, you’ll love this one, its lyrics are beautiful, and no it’s not a ballad. “Isn’t It Obvious” one of my favorites, this would’ve been a perfect lead single for Kelly Clarkson instead of “My Life Would Suck With You“, I can’t think of any person more fitting for this song, it’s an instant favorite.”The Thanks I Get” the album slows down a bit in here, but it’s still as perfect as ever, the lyrics are enough to keep you occupied through the whole song, add to it Erik’s beautiful voice, and you’ll have a winner, another favorite. “Wanna Be Loved” is on the verge of MGMT’s territory, the chorus is its best part, and I usually hate choruses, “Of all the lonely people, I wanna be loved by you“. “Fist Time” is uplifting, my favorite line in the whole album is in it, “You keep on giving me goosebumps, every time you touch my neck, and did you know girl just how bad my toes curl, when the end of our fingers connect?“, beautiful!”Love Me To Pieces” is a bit boring, but the chorus salvages the whole song and save it from sounding like everything on the radio. “All I Wanted Was You” is the big ballad of the album, his vocal range is huge. “Back To Bed” has my favorite intro-music of the album, it’s eerily beautiful, another favorite of mine. “Make It In Time” the perfect way to close a perfect album. I don’t usually give any album 5 pods rate, but this is more than deserving.

5/5

5/5

Tracklisting:
1. Bump In The Road
2. Hurtful
3. Don’t Bring Flowers (After I’m Dead)
4. Isn’t It Obvious?
5. The Thanks I Get
6. Wanna Be Loved
7. First Time
8. Love Me To Pieces
9. Bitter End
10. All I Wanted Was You
11. Back To Bed
12. Make It In Time

Erik Hassle – Hassle [Download]

Review: Harper’s Island


A pretty neat new show to keep you occupied until the big ones return. It’s a show about a couple going to an island with their families to wed there, but someone is killing people, so they seclude the island, keeping everyone there, including the killer. I’m guessing each episode will unravel more about the killer, and open up more subplots. The pilot kept my eyes fixed on the screen, and my mind triggering. Those who like the “crime/dramedy/thriller/horror” genres, they’ll most definitely enjoy this one. Totally worth your time, give it a shot.

4/5

4/5

Review: Ahlam’s “Hatha Ana”

02jpg1Ahlam’s 10th studio album, and her second with Rotana, proved to be a huge hit, fairing 100x better than the one before, which was a huge disappointment, being her worst album to date. The album opens with the infection first single “Wailik” which paves the way for a much heavier produced album, the instruments are all excellent, although some are better than others. “Asaak Bkhair” the second track is a reminiscent of her huge hit “Walla Ahtajik Ana“, it’s not as good, but it is a huge step forward her unaccounted forays into “slow-romantic” songs. Third track “Mabah Jideed” is a definite standout, it’s produced by Saham, who’s the “hot” producer of the Khalaji scene, this is definitely in my top 5 tracks. The album dulls but not for long on track 4, “Ana Tab’ee Ketha“, skip it to get to track #5 faster. The title-track, ‘Hatha Ana” is most certainly different she’s ever done, it was recorded in Prague with 85 violins, it’s the classiest thing she’s ever done, for international visitors, download it below. “Saddagt” is a real treat, it’s much better than what I expected, and it grows over time. “Tawwik Fithait“, which you can download below is my favorite “up-tempo” track on the album, it’s catchy, fresh, and very energetic, it’s everything Ahlam is known for. “Akhir AlAkhbar” composed by Kuwaiti composer Andullah AlGo’oud feels a bit gimmicky at first, but will most definitely grow on you after a few listens. “Shasaweelik” is a catchy mid-tempo song that has a great hook that would probably stick in your head all day. “Fikkoni Minnah” starts off to an indian-like beat and evoloved into an all-Khaliji “6ag6iga”, which never fails. “Ta’awadt ElJirah” has yet to impress me. “Ala Ya Shari ElFarga” is an Emarati/Bahraini themed song, it feels very traditional and therefor fun. “Nawee Tirooh” is my absolute favorite track of hers from all of her material circa ’97, it’s composed by Anwar Abdullah, who discovered Ahlam in the first place, whose Ahlam compositions as of late were a bit “Meh” (Nasi, Babihom Sidda..etc.) although I do love the latter. This song is not for everyone, I love it for it’s sheer effect on me, I have never been this captured by an arabic song in a really long while, it’s Ahlam pulling off her best Abdu. The album closes with the already-known “Awareekom Feeh“, she sang the hell out of this song in every concert, TV appearance..etc. It’s still fun to listen to though, it’s a fun track, nothing serious. This marks Ahlam’s best album since her ’97 “Kaif Artha?”. Very well done, Ahlam and thank you very much for making me fall in love with you, your music all over again. Definitely worth your 1.500 KDs.

5/5

5/5

Ahlam:
Hatha Ana
Tawwik Fithait
Nawee Tirooh

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