Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged contemporary music

Xenogensesis II: Intergalactic Beings (4/30/2010)

I purchased a copy of Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild at a secondhand bookstore and let it rest on my shelf for years as next-to-read. Fortunately, it was in my bag when I was shuttled from the ER to a hospital for a week-long stay: I possessed a means of transport away from a battered attempt at sterility and the monotony of crisis to an intense, sparse yet beautifully rendered world. I was reading Octavia Butler.

The Best of Ally McBeal

"I’ve been searchin’ my soul tonight... I know there’s so much more to life..." If you’re starting to hum the theme tune to a certain late-nineties television show about the life of a diminutive lawyer, you’ll understand that this album’s opening track is as much a time capsule as it is a pop song. Everything there was to love (and love to hate) about Ally McBeal is summed up as singer and pianist Vonda Shepard works her way through "Searchin’ My Soul." Fans will doubtless remember Shepard’s regular appearances at Ally’s local piano bar.


Sitting down with my notebook for a first listen, I adamantly tried not to get caught up in descriptions with romanticized cliché references to Cézanne paintings, sleepy villages, artsy cafes, or train rides home. Alas, I set myself up for inevitable failure listening to Simone White’s Yakiimo album riding a train northbound for the holidays on a clear, winter New England morning.

The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument

Just as jazz is a uniquely American phenomenon whose sentiment and message resonate with people the world round, so is hip-hop. Hip-hop began as a means by which to illustrate the experiences of people living their daily lives in the ‘hoods of New York. Although the originators of hip-hop, such as the Sugar Hill Gang were instrumental in shedding light on teen pregnancy, drug addiction, and violence it wasn’t until the era of KRS-One that hip-hop evolved to the status of Cultural Revolution. KRS-One, best known as Teacha, brought hip-hop to the mainstream.

A Chopping Block

The death of Jim Henson was probably one of the single most traumatic events of my childhood. By that time, I was old enough to realize that Kermit was created by Jim Henson, but still young enough to have a certain amount of love for Sesame Street. (Okay, I was ten, which is a bit old for Big Bird, but I was a late bloomer.) You are probably asking yourself a variety of questions at this point.

From the Heart

There are several good songs on From the Heart, but by the end of the album, I was sick of the slow, languorous ballads that Babyface does so well. There’s nothing wrong with most of the songs; they’re just bland, and the delivery becomes monotonous after sixteen tracks.

From the Heart

The Isley Brothers have been making fantastic and varied music since the 1950s, or as their DefJam website says, creating “Baby Makin’ Music.” Personally, I would prefer listening to From The Heart with a glass of wine while chopping vegetables, making dinner rather than babies.