Album of the Fortnight
Jamie Cullum has hovered ghost-like in the background for some years now without ever really becoming a household name – something of a shame, as his music isn’t actually bad at all. A jazz enthusiast with some skill for creating a tingling piano line, The Pursuit is a fine collection of easy-listening songs that mixes tone and atmosphere beautifully.
Cullum excels particularly in crafting mood – his songs are gently persuasive, appealing to the listener through their range of complementary instruments and meditative, thoughtful lyrics. In a contemporary musical landscape littered with ostentatious showmen and vacuous glamazons, there’s something quite attractive about a guy who can do things simple – but no less effective.
In a nutshell: Simple, straightforward, inoffensive – for the easygoing listener. The stripped down cover of Rihanna’s ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’ is inspired.
The X Factor may be entertaining to watch but when the acts it casts into spotlight make the transition from singing covers on TV to their own songs on a CD it doesn’t really work out. Alexandra Burke unfortunately – tragically – continues that trend.
Burke is a talented singer and performer but talent can only go so far. Originality is really lacking on this album. We’ve heard all this before and Burke’s contemporaries are far better offerings.
It’s not all her fault though. Flo Rida doesn’t do her any favours with a typically turgid performance on lead single ‘Bad Boys’. Sony has also been kind enough to include her bland version of Leonard Cohen’s classic ‘Hallelujah’. Thanks Sony.
In A Nutshell: Should have been called Underwhelmed. Great promotion and expensive production can’t disguise mediocrity.
Flight of the Conchords
I Told You I Was Freaky
It’s a pity that they don’t just write normal songs. By the very nature that the Conchords are comedy based, it makes it impossible for these songs to ever be taken seriously. The tunes make for good listening, you’ll definitely get a laugh out of some of the more brash songs.
But one minor element still lies on the album – that is, it always sounds like they are either trying to get as many words into the one note or the complete opposite, leaving the listener with a desperate attempt at rhyme and reason.
In a nutshell: Wait until they come out with an accompanying DVD/Video before buying.
From openly saying she wants Matt Damon (get in there, son) to referencing Freud, Shakira’s new album is bonkers. Following the tendency in today’s pop, with this new album Shakira’s gone distinctly more electro.
Musically, the album is up and down; some songs such as ‘Gypsy’, ‘Mon Amour’ (which sounds oddly familiar) and the title track are reasonably decent, but others bring the album’s average down to… well, average. As ever, the lyrics in the new album are laden with sexual references and make our heads spin to the point of outright pain. Shakira does all this herself but nevertheless, the songstress has got nothing on Beyonce.
In a nutshell: If you want to hear songs that’ll be looped in clubs nationwide for the next six months, this is for you.
The Saw Doctors
To Win Just Once: Greatest Hits
Bizarrely, it was an appearance on The Podge & Rodge Show that put the Saw Doctors back in musical vogue. In 2008 the puppet duo asked the group to cover the Sugababes track ‘About You Now’; the result rocketed to number one in the charts. This greatest hits includes the Sugababes cover, a live version of their most famous hit ‘N17’, and Ireland’s biggest-selling single in history, ‘I Useta Lover’.
Although their material might be too stereotypical for some, there’s a charm to songs that eschew typical rock themes like sex and drugs. Instead, expect songs about everything from issues like teenage pregnancy to the landscape of county Mayo. Keyboard and saxophone give the strong trad sound a twist and the songs are undeniably catchy.
In a nutshell: A nostalgic dose of the rare-auld times for fans and first-timers alike.