Album: 2 a.m. Wakeup Call
“What keeps you up at night? And what do you dream about?” These are the two questions that inspired Chris Vrenna’s newest album. The former Nine Inch Nails drummer-turned-producer appropriately dons his alter ego “Tweaker” to take listeners on an ambient journey inside the mind of an insomniac. After a number of collaborations, including two popular remixes for U2 and Nelly Furtado on the Tomb Raider soundtrack, Vrenna’s second solo album is noticeably softer than much of his work, with acoustic and live instrumentation replacing the standard electronica. Although the departure is mostly successful, Vrenna’s voice can be a bit too harsh at times. Still, the album is a testament to Vrenna’s unique creative muse. He recommends listening to it late at night.
Album: Finally Woken
Label: ATO Records
You know those Sierra Mist commercials where they show someone experiencing an incredibly refreshing sensation? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Although she’s been writing songs since she was 11, Jem’s debut album centers itself on self-discovery. But don’t be fooled by her overly optimistic lyrics or youthful vocals. Underneath Jem’s innocent faade is a girl who really knows her stuff. With only a few years experience in the business, the 27-year-old Welsh singer has a substantial list of credits to her name, including a track she co-wrote for Madonna’s most recent album. On Finally Woken, each song offers a change of pace. Jem reveals her background as a DJ, weaving strong bass lines and distinctive rhythms beneath a wide spectrum of vivid melodies. Although its lighthearted topics are not quite so versatile, the album’s freshness still grabs your attention and won’t let go. When it’s over, you may find it difficult not to play it just one more time.
Album: After We Go
Label: Maverick Records
The second release from Tantric shows incredible growth in the band’s style. It might even have been able to score some mainstream success with its first single “Hey Now” or its cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” which shows the band’s softer side with some great harmonies. Despite the power source from lead singer Hugo Ferreira’s vocals, many songs on the album do seem repetitive, with similar guitar riffs and vocal formations.