First Impressions: Quickie Reviews #1 - Meshell, Dragonette, Glee, Mayer and The Satz

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Limited time has forced me to get all fast-food with the reviewing of albums. But don't fret! Some albums will be getting full reviews especially when time allows but those albums that fall through the cracks are getting a second chance to shine. I will probably do a post of this accord every once in awhile whenever I get bogged down with school, sleep, life, etc. Since I don't want to leave you out in the dark with what new releases are all about this feature was created. Here are some albums that were released last month and didn't get a proper chance to bask in the Audio Diva sun.

Meshell Ndegeocello-Devil's Halo
Meshell Ndegeocello has always been that performer who just went above and beyond what you would expect music to sound like. Her breathy soul growl and her conscious to rhythms and lyrics engages each and every time. On Devil's Halo, Meshell is grittier, sinister and seductive, much more so than on previous efforts, and it shows in quasi-instrumentals like the haunting echo of "Tie One On". And it gets better as the album continues. Highlights "Mass Transit" grinds with earnest as does the skittish psychedelia of "Lola". Oh, then out of nowhere she re-dresses Ready For The World's 1986 hit, "Love You Down" and literally sucks all the Jheri curl juice out of the original, transforming it into a brooding motif. Clearly, this is one of the best albums of 2009.

Rating: 9.8/10

Dragonette-Fixin' To Thrill
To express the elephant in the room...this is not Galore. Luckily so, because how boring that would've been for Dragonette to re-do their debut just to please fans? The electro-pop/rock band from Canada step inside a 1980's arcade game console and just have a grand old time on Fixin' To Thrill, which isn't as glorious as their debut, but still pulls off everything you'd expect from this outfit...glitz, glam and loads of synths. The title track is still a sharp little pistol, and the electric fried country of "Gone Too Far" is divine. I'm much more attached to the New Wave bubbling of "Liar" and the digital get-down of "We Rule The World", and that's a good thing indeed.

Rating: 9.0/10

Glee-Soundtrack Vol. 1
This is what it is...all the songs from the hit TV show that had you singing along, no matter if you wanted to or not. It begins off expertly with the Journey cover "Don't Stop Believin'" and from there it continues into bliss especially when you get to Kristin Chenoweth singing "Alone" and the Jazmine Sullivan rehash of "Bust Your Windows". Listening to this, for me, is like curling up on my bed, watching The Cutting Edge for the millionth time while eating Stoffer's microwaveable macaroni and cheese. It's comforting and shamelessly enjoyable. As a bonus to myself, I imagine Puck strumming a guitar and singing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" to me...and to think I loathed that song. Damn you Glee for making me care about a Neil Diamond song. Damn you.

Rating: 9.6/10

Mayer Hawthorne-A Strange Arrangement
The DJ-turned singer's debut has been in my listening queue for awhile, but I have been stalling on hearing what his debut was all about. In some ways, I thought I had heard this song and dance before.... a soulful white boy releases an album that grabs everyone's attention for that reason alone, not because it was something well...different. Maybe I misjudged Mayer because Strange Arrangement crackles with old school soul flair and some engaging harmonies that dabble in Blues and Motown doo-wop. In some ways Mayer seems to revive those sounds of what Tower of Power (when Lenny Williams was the vocalist) and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles did 30-something-odd years ago. While Mayer doesn't possess the best vocal chops, it works with his lush and simple arrangements. As songs like the title track, the samba sizzle of "The Ills" and the sneaky, "Green Eyed Love" are tops.

Rating: 8.7/10

The Saturdays-Wordshaker
The British quintet are a massive guilty pleasure of mines. Mostly due in part to how they made me believe in pop girl groups again after the release of their charming 2008 debut, Chasing Lights. Now less than a year, here they come with Wordshaker, an album that features the same pop symphonic instrumentation that drenched the first effort, but this time its much more prevalent. Wordshaker didn't "shake" me as much as I thought it would've, as a lot of the songs to me sounded identical, and almost like repeats of what the tracks on Chasing Lights were. Yet the title track grabbed me at being a little saucier than the other cuts and recalled the pop smarts of early 2000's.

Rating: 7.5/10


  1. these mini-reviews are a good idea!

  2. Thanks for including Mayer Hawthorne in your review. It is one of my favorite albums of 2009.


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