Everyone is better than Dave Mathews, except Coolio

Bwb
Groovin’
4 Hatchets

You know that really deep and sensual voice you hear in a candlelit room with an open bottle of champagne resting on the fireplace mantle? Sexual things are about to happen. This CD plays to that feel with a bit of jazz-like flare. With an arsenal of all instrumentals and no lyrics, the music entails the use of trumpet, saxophone, bass and keyboard to an effect that’s generically known as a type of smooth easy listening jazz. Oh yeah baby, oh yeah.

Coolio
ElCoolMagnifico
1 Hatchet

Coolio is going out with a whimper. His latest, ElCoolMagnifico is magnificently unremarkable. “I Like Girls” captures the spirit of the album with its brilliant refrain “I like girls, I like girls, I like girls.” The lyrics on the rest of the CD do not dig much deeper into the human condition.

What is really disappointing is in the mid-1990s Coolio released excellent songs, including groundbreaking tracks like “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” with incredible musical appeal. ElCoolMagnifico is a huge letdown.

Dave Matthews Band
Live at Folsom Field
1.5 hatchets

Live at Folsom Field, released this week, is the band’s fifth double live album. Most of the songs sound the same as the studio release with a three-minute jam added to the end of each. While some of Dave Matthews’ live CDs have incredible jam-versions of their popular songs (“Watchtower” on Listener Supported comes to mind), this one, recorded at a July 2001 concert, is just an update to the live collection. Give this one a pass unless you just need it to complete your collection.

July For Kings
Swim
3 Hatchets

Swim is a passionate release of alternative pop rock with definite musical talent. With lyrics speaking to the virtues and vices of small-town America, this release speaks to those problems that are all too common but over-looked. Formerly under the band name Swim, this is the group’s first major record release. As a whole, it adheres steadily to guitar driven pop rock rhythms and harmonized vocals.

Kazzer
Go For Broke
2.5 Hatchets

Energy filled rap rock that drives the listener. Not falling victim to the common problem of monotony, Go For Broke mixes up the tempo, going from songs running at full bore to others that slow it down to a casual speed. Sometimes aggressive, other times soft and even mixing in some funk rhythm into their rap rock repertoire, Go For Broke is a well put together bit of genre clashing gone right.

Loudermilk
The Red Record
3.5 Hatchets

This is an intense work of alternative emo rock, this means many hard driving guitar rifts along with a good portion of well-placed screams. The lyrics are predominantly dealing with the trials and tribulations of the opposite sex, this can get on ones nerves (diversity, please!). But if you don’t mind the lyrical content, then on the whole this album delivers a concentrated surge of strong emo rock.

The Orange County Supertones
Hi-Fi Revival
2 Hatchets

Praise Jesus! We got ska, and a pretty talented band playing it. But there’s no hiding the truth about this group, as they are 100 percent Jesus obsessed. Hi-Fi Revival puts forth a happy upbeat ska parade with a horn section backing the band all the way. With perhaps a little bit too much optimism in their lyrics, if one is not into the religious theme the album might not be for you. But if nothing else, these guys are a good rhythmical presentation of the ska new wave.

Ours
Precious
4.5 Hatchets

From their start in a local New Jersey coffee bar, Ours has matured into an excellent introspective alternative rock group. Precious delivers an equally lyrically and musically driven new release. With songs ranging from the intensely scream-worthy to the slower-paced contemplative studies of relationships, it’s an overall great CD, avoiding boring repetition of both lyrics and style.

Simian
We Are Your Friends
2 Hatchets

Listeners find their heads bobbing up and down to this album with a perceptible degree of stop and go jerkiness, perhaps a little too much jerkiness. The songs all follow a similar trend of mixing a light electronic rhythm with harmonized choruses of moaning and wooing. Many of the songs become monotonous and repetitive, taking on an overall dull and sluggish flow.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives
Behind the Music
3.5 Hatchets

While not rhythmically aggressive, it’s the band’s lyrics that prove to be a major driving point of this new release. Blending multiple instrumentals of guitar, bass, harmonica, violin, piano and numerous sound effects, the music itself is far from simplistic, but rather a mellow well-orchestrated compliment to the lyrics being sang. With deeply introverted lyrics, this CD is an enlightening piece of light rock.

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