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Content by Jason Stein
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Reviews Written by
Jason Stein (San Diego, CA United States)

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12 Memories
12 Memories
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4.0 out of 5 stars Depression Never Sounded So Good., Nov. 17 2003
This review is from: 12 Memories (Audio CD)
As with their previous two cds, 1999's "The Man Who" and 2001's "The Invisible Band", "12 Memories" has some great songs, some good songs and some not-so-great songs. This time it seems that the great songs are "Somewhere Else", "Quicksand" and "The Beautiful Occupation". The good songs are "Re-Offender", "Peace The F*** Out", "How Many Hearts", "Mid-Life Krysis", "Walking Down The Hill" and the hidden track "Some Sad Song". Travis could have cut off the songs "Paperclips", "Love Will Come Through" and "Happy To Hang Around" and been no worse off. That's the problem with Travis, there are always 3-4 tracks per cd that just could have been left on the cutting room floor because after a certain point, depression becomes blah, blah, blah. I do think it's a good move for the band to explore their own brand of Beatles, and that's what they do very well on "12 Memories". So, like other reviewers here, I agree that the integrity of the band is preserved on "12 Memories" and that this cd does not raise the bar much above the band's previous two cds. I do wonder what would happen if Fran Healy and the rest of the band took an anti-depressant? Would their music be as well received by fans? I think so, look at their debut "Good Feeling".

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3.0 out of 5 stars Sadness, Pt. 5, Nov. 11 2003
This review is from: Voyageur (Audio CD)
Like many of the reviewers here I, too, own all five Enigma cds and think that producer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Cretu has never lost his talent for creating solid ambient music. However, it would be nice for him to incorporate a variety of sounds, rhythms and meters because "Voyageuer" and the other four cds by Enigma sound very similiar. Cretu keeps reinventing the peanut butter sandwich (it tastes good, but so does turkey, chicken and pastrami). As with each Enigma cd, there is half an album's worth of solid material. "Voyageur's" most successful tracks are "From East To West", "Voyageur", "Incognito", "Boum-Boum", "Total Eclipse Of The Moon" (a nod to Pink Floyd perhaps?), "Look Of Today" (which completely sounds like ABC's 1982 hit "The Look Of Love") and "Following The Sun". The rest of the tracks are truly forgettable and album filler. "Voyageur" is definitely an improvement over 2000's "The Screen Behind The Mirror" and 1996's "Le Roi Est Mort--Vive Le Roi!" I just think Cretu is capable of more and he's spent 13 years attempting to give us a great cd, but they end up just being good and reliable.

Life For Rent
Life For Rent
Price: CDN$ 10.79
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4.0 out of 5 stars Across The Great Divide., Oct. 30 2003
This review is from: Life For Rent (Audio CD)
Dido isn't an artist who sounds terribly original. She has strong links to any female artist who have come before her such as Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Laurie Anderson, Tori Amos, Jewel, Alanis Morissette, Sophie B. Hawkins, Joan Osborne and, of course, Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt. However, she does have her own vision of how relationships are, and like "No Angel", "Life For Rent" continues to explore themes of broken and unattained relationships. Dido also has a gifted vocal quality that makes her sound both depressed and angelic AND uplifting all in one. All the tracks compliment one another and no one particular track detracts from the flow of the cd. There are brilliant moments on the disc such as the chorus to "Life For Rent", the lyrics to "See You When You're 40", the idea to turn in a more r&b flavored track on "Who Makes You Feel" and the meter and rhythm of "Sand In My Shoes". "White Flag", "Mary's In India" and "See The Sun" are all solid failed relationship songs that sound honest and true (which is what I want from an artist because the song doesn't feel disposable). I certainly enjoyed "Life For Rent" more than "No Angel" and Dido avoided the sophomore slump with ease. This is the type of cd I can listen to anytime, and I look forward to hearing future cds from Dido.

Sacred Love
Sacred Love
Price: CDN$ 15.00
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3.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man., Oct. 30 2003
This review is from: Sacred Love (Audio CD)
Sting is one of those artists that's difficult to review. There's so much bias out there because he's been around so long, and he's left quite a legacy behind him like Bowie or Simon or even Dylan and Cash. Sting's solo outings, for me, have always been mixed, never quite measuring up to the consistency and urgency of the music he made with The Police. Every one of his solo cds has a few songs that are not that great. "Sacred Love" is good Sting, meaning solid, dependable, but nothing surprising or stirring. Beginning with "Inside" Sting proves he can still turn a lyric or two, and the melody grew on me. Obviously, "Send Your Love" is one of the more catchy songs, but Sting seems to be thinking that "Desert Rose" was so popular that duplicating it would not be a bad idea as on "The Book Of My Life". I do not think that Mary J. Blige made a good pairing for Sting on "Whenever I Say Your Name". I know she's quite popular, but tonally, she was not a good match for Sting's voice like Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart have previously been. My favorite track was "Dead Man's Rope" both musically and lyrically, but the song sounded very familiar, almost like "Fields Of Gold". "Never Coming Home" picks up the electronica gauntlet but it doesn't throw it down. Same with the remix of "Send Your Love" which almost sounds like Donna Summer's "I Feel Love". The other lyrically interesting track is "Stolen Car (Take Me Dancing)" in which Sting envisions a poor thief stealing a wealthy man's car and imagining all the complexities of the wealthy man's life (as far from realistic as reality can be!) My least favorite tracks are definitely the jazzier "Forget About The Future" and the odd sounding "This War". They just didn't have a melodic pull. "Sacred Love" finished the cd on an average note. So, overall, average Sting--reliable, comfortable like a well worn Lazy Boy reclining chair.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Try Some and Buy Some., Oct. 16 2003
This review is from: Reality (Audio CD)
Bowie has been around so long now that it's easy to dismiss a new album when comparing it with his already established classics. However, when you consider that Bowie is pushing 60, and that he can still reinvent himself AND rock out, then you get "Reality". It is a close cousin to the excellent "Heathen" and just as consistent. It was a good idea to have an old hand (Tony Visconti) in the co-producing chair because it give Bowie's vision some edge and clarity. The cd kicks off with a trio of avant-garde bullets with "New Killer Star", a cover of Modern Lovers "Pablo Picasso" and "Never Get Old". Not one note, rhythm or beat missed. Then there's a small speedbump with my least favorite track "The Loneliest Guy" which is slow and plodding compared to the first three tracks where Bowie is in his element. Things get back on track with more avant-garde in the form of "Looking For Water", "She'll Drive" and possibly the best song on the disc, "Days" and "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon". My second least favorite song is the rather listless cover of George Harrison's "Try Some, Buy Some". The song "Reality" rounds out my least favorite tracks with what reminds me of Bowie's Tin Machine-era work. Lastly, there's the unusual, almost seven minute, opus of the jazzy poetry reading "Bring Me The Disco King". Bowie keeps producing cds that continue to be challenging and experimental. This is a sign of a great artist who is not afraid to take risks and expand his musical boundaries--something his contemporaries would do well to take a cue from.

She Who Dwells
She Who Dwells
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thank You For Hearing Me., Oct. 13 2003
This review is from: She Who Dwells (Audio CD)
Well, if Sinead means what she says, and she is going to retire from the music business, that will be a shame. "She Who Dwells" is an endcap to a short career. She only has four full length cds of original material, and after 2000's "Faith & Courage" I was feeling that she was just getting started. So here is what we are left with: a disc of rareties, b-sides, covers, demos and a disc of her final live concert in Ireland. The first disc is a mixed bag of hits and misses--the hits being her versions of "Love Hurts", "Chiquitita" and "Ain't It A Shame", her moving tribute to Princess Diana on "Brigidine Diana", "It's All Good", "Love Is Ours", "A Hundred Thousand Angels", "You Put Your Arms Around Me", "No Matter How Hard I Try" and "Big Bunch Of Junkie Lies". These are solid examples of why Sinead is a great singer. By ending her career she deprives her fans of her magical, one-of-a-kind, unearthly voice. These songs underscore her undeniable talent. The other songs are not as well done, which may be due to production and/or songwriting difficulties. She takes them to another level anyway, making them listenable. The only song I didn't care for was her cover version of "Do Right Woman"--she is not Aretha Franklin!
The second disc of live material showcases all of her singing strengths, proving once again that Sinead is the REAL DEAL and not some record company's modualated puppet. Of course she ends with 1990's "The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance" which is befitting. In the end, Sinead leaves us fans with a nice double set of collectibles, but the the thought remains: Can she really be retiring for good and why would she put away something she was meant to do--sing?

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars T.V. Dinners, Oct. 8 2003
This review is from: Mescalero (Audio CD)
I give ZZ Top high marks for being creative with "Mescalero", but they could have shaved six songs off this disc and had an excellent cd. It is overly long at 16 tracks, and I've decided what would have made a great 10 track cd would be the following: "Mescalero", "Alley-Gator", "Buck Nekkid", "Me So Stupid", "What It Is Kid", "Que Lastima", "Tramp", "Crunchy", "Dusted" and "Liqour". The other six tracks sound like album filler. Despite these shortcomings, which you can program out, "Mescalero" appears fresher than the last four ZZ Top outings 1999's "XXX", 1996's "Rhythmeen", 1994's "Antenna" and 1990's "Recycler". "Mescalero" finds the band producing themselves and getting back to grittier, bluesier rock and roll with less technology. Vocals are deep, bluesy rasps, guitars sound like they're coming from blown amps and the drums create filthy, greasy beats on many of the tracks. This is what ZZ Top excel at, plus the occasional witty lyric to boot. The boys keep rocking, reaffirming their future place in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, but I keep waiting for them to surpass their last two solid works, 1985's "Afterburner" and 1983's "Eliminator".

Lead Us Not Into...
Lead Us Not Into...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Another soundtrack., Oct. 6 2003
This review is from: Lead Us Not Into... (Audio CD)
If you like David Byrne's soundtracks (which I do not), then "Lead Us Not Into Temptation" is for you. I am reminded of buying "The Forest" and all the disappointment that came with it. In my not so humble opinion, David should stick with his eccentric, eclectic brand of alternative music. That is where he excels. "Lead Us Not Into Temptation" is just an exercise in unmemorable and almost unlistenable soundtrack music. As it is an okay cd and performed by Byrne, I give it two stars, but buyers beware!

Seal IV
Seal IV
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4.0 out of 5 stars Get It Together, Oct. 6 2003
This review is from: Seal IV (Audio CD)
In reviewing what others are saying about "Seal IV" I feel compelled to comment. First, Seal is Seal. If I want Prince or Stevie Wonder I will buy them instead. Seal does what he does best on "IV" that is smooth vocal stylings over r&b ambient beats and intimate ballads. In fact, I don't know what people felt that "IV" was a carbon copy of previous work. Listen more carefully for the varying rhythms on "Get It Together", "Love's Divine", "Waiting For You", and "My Vision". It's a 1-2-3-4 punch that 1998's "Human Being" was sorely lacking. I like Trevor Horn in the production seat for Seal. Where "Human Being" devolved into self analytic balladry sludge, Horn pulls Seal's inspiration out of the drudgery and into something inspiring. Listen to "Love's Divine", "Loneliest Star", "Tinsel Town" and you can easily tell Seal is in good hands. By far, I'd listen to Seal over any of the new batch of pop stars we are hearing on the radio. At least Seal continues to offer some lyrical relief. He at least tries to get you to think about different spiritual subjects. How can you criticize "Get It Together" when the song is about remembering to value what you have and keep in mind that it's all too easy to stray from the straight and narrow. Or what about "Love's Divine" with its suggestion that what is really important in life, in the end, is love above all else. Sure beats Snoop Dogg, DMX, Sean Paul, Beyonce, etc., etc. I, for one, found "IV" to be immediately accessible compared to "Human Being" which required numerous listenings before I felt it was good. In fact, the return of Trevor Horn seems to have created an attempt to return to Seal 1. Right down to the similiar song listing on the back of the packaging. The music sure seems to be more inspirational like his first two cds were. There seems to be more uptempo tracks on this disc than on his previous two discs. What's the problem? This is a good cd, perhaps one of the better cds to come out this year, and I listen to at least 52 new cds a year (for the past 20 or so years). If you are a true Seal fan, do not listen to the nay sayers, buy this cd, you won't be disappointed.

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5.0 out of 5 stars I'll Sleep When I'm Dead., Sept. 28 2003
Like the brilliant Freddy Mercury before him, Warren Zevon knew he, too, was going to die soon. And like Freddy Mercury, Zevon poured his last bit of life into his final work, "The Wind". You can read whatever you like into Zevon's lyrics on such reflective songs as "Dirty Life & Times", "Numb As A Statue", "The Rest Of The Night", "Rub Me Raw" and his most powerful piece "Keep Me In Your Heart". Whatever conclusion you draw, one thing still remains: Zevon's death will leave an expansive hole in the music business, a business that has sadly become a greedy, adolescent beauty pageant contest. Zevon added much needed insight, humor and a unique take on life that most musicians could only produce in their dreams. To me, there are only two possible equals left: Randy Newman and Tom Waits. "The Wind" gets five stars from me because it's Zevon's final work. The cd itself is crammed with guest appearances by Springsteen, The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Tom Petty. Zevon does justice to Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and many of the songs remind you of all of Zevon's talents with my favorites being "Numb As A Statue" and "Keep Me In Your Heart". Overall, I think I liked "Life'll Kill Ya" of his last three recordings, and that cd is no less prophetic and sardonic than "The Wind". R.I.P. 1947-2003.

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