Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged pop

Pandora's Box

Conventional wisdom says that every young popster or rocker, no matter how devoted, will one day grow into a consumer of smooth jazz. How else to explain Rod Stewart's resurgence as a tuxedo-clad, Bing-style crooner (aside from a mid-seventies deal with Beelzebub himself)?

Raise Your Glass

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." It's one of the most famous film quotes in history, delivered with maudlin aplomb by Ali MacGraw's character Jennifer in the 1970 tearjerker Love Story. Millions of people made that film (and the novel upon which it was based) a tremendous success, and millions of people ate up that saccharine platitude. Well, y'know what? I am calling bullshit. To me, love does not mean never having to say you're sorry. It means seeing clearly the flaws inherent in the object of your affection—and still embracing them, precisely because of those flaws.


Elizabeth Cook blends tenacity with tradition for Welder, embracing traditional backwoods country twang, some bluegrass, and a touch of rockabilly while adding her own progressive spin and pop edginess. The daughter of country musicians and welders, for whom the album was named, Cook effectively utilizes these aforementioned influences to raise her fist to integral feminist themes like independence, sexual expression and assertion.

Perfect Harmony

At the start of Perfect Harmony, a narrator tells the audience that the Acafellas, an all-male acapella singing group, have won the last eighteen high school singing competitions. What’s more, we’re told that they were the inspiration for “that show.” Like Glee, Perfect Harmony celebrates dorkiness, this time in an elite private high school. Five male songsters—two of them grandsons of the Acafellas’ founders—are itching for their nineteenth win. The obstacle?


With the release of Sharanam Sharon Gannon adds another dimension to her body of work as a yogi, inspirational figure, and advocate of compassionate lifestyles. I have encountered Gannon’s philosophy and teachings in YouTube videos, web and magazine articles, on her website, and in a documentary on raw foods, and have always found myself appreciative of the contribution she makes towards a more peaceful and spiritually grounded world. This musical dimension, unfortunately, fell flat for this eager listener.


If The Locals were an item of clothing, they would be a neatly pressed pair of designer vintage “distressed” jeans—$200 pants with holes, bleach stains, and grease marks already worked in. The Locals have a crafted sound that has been tweaked and molded into a perfect pair of pre-worn pants.

Cho Dependent

To call comedienne Margaret Cho’s latest endeavor, Cho Dependent, a comedy album seems like a disservice. Though songs like “Calling in Stoned” (featuring the ever-stoned Tommy Chong), “Your Dick,” and “Eat Shit and Die” do little for my argument, Cho Dependent is completely unlike her six previous comedy albums. This, my friends, is Cho’s foray into the music world, and a damn fine one at that.

Dancing on the Moon

Lisa Bell delivers the goods on her third album, mixing blues, jazz, pop, and roots into a bright, sparkling mix.

As It Turns Out

Melanie Flannery fronts a New York-based jazz ensemble called the Mel Flannery Trucking Co. Backed by bassist Matt Aronoff, drummer Danny Sher, and keyboardist and songwriting collaborator Lee Pardini, Flannery cultivated a sound that bridges pop, cabaret, jazz, and soul. Their latest offering, As It Turns Out, remains consistent with previous releases. It also has little to recommend itself. While not unpleasant, the album did not capture my imagination.


Who can hate Kylie? She’s an Aussie superstar in Europe, Britain’s most beloved celebrity, and a global gay icon. She survived several decades in the entertainment business, even flourished there, and perhaps most impressively, also beat breast cancer. After she finished chemo in 2006, she headed back to the studio.

Flesh Tone

Kelis has always been brazen, unapologetically growling her way onto the music scene in 1999 with the single “Caught Out There,” a vicious tale of heartbreak and revenge.

Die Young

Blair Gimma bounces about between art pop and insightful complexity with her first full-length venture, Die Young, juxtaposing the indelible angst of indie folk rock (with help from her daydreamy vocals) with stark lyrical imagery.


To get the most out of Passion Pit’s debut album, you will need: a healthy appetite for sugary keyboard riffs, plenty of enthusiasm for falsetto vocals, and a large space in which to dance around like crazy. Having gathered these things, you can dive straight into Manners and experience all the colours promised by the album’s cover art. This is music that isn’t afraid of a bit of fluoro.

Laws Of Illusion

July 22, 1997 in Mansfield, Massachusetts (at what was then known as Great Woods), I had the pleasure of seeing an amazing group of women perform. Over the whir of blenders and drenched in Frappuccino, I got to hear bits and pieces of the likes of Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, and Sarah McLachlan. But, of course, I was already a fan. I was lucky enough to have been at that first Lilith Fair tour and now, thirteen years later, I hope to be going again.

Maniac Meat

Sometimes I can send off a record review in ten minutes. Excited by the tunes in my headphones or emanating from my computer’s tinny speakers, my fingers fly across the keys with artistic inspiration. Other times, it takes time and a few repeat spins of the disc to let the music settle into my brain. Tobacco’s Maniac Meat is one such record. You could ask, what’s happening here? A better question is, what isn’t?


Christina Aguilera has been a polemic figure since her breakthrough hit "Genie in a Bottle". She has a sexual aesthetic similar to a young Madonna’s, fashion sense like Cher’s, and raw vocal power comparable to a younger Whitney Houston’s. Her albums contain raunchy sexed-up tracks that appeal to sexually blossoming young adults and stately ballads that appeal to their post-menopausal mothers.

Delancey Street

On her ninth record, Delancey Street, Rachael Sage once again embraces and pushes the boundaries of her signature sound: lush piano-based pop with plenty of passion and insightful lyrics. Each song tells a distinct story, capturing a moment in time (even if the meanings are sometimes ambiguous). The enigmatic “Everything Was Red” is one of my favorite tracks, although I’d be hard pressed to tell you what it’s about.

Never a Long Way Home

Confession: I don’t know much about country music, and I don’t listen to much country music. But I know what I like, and Steff Mahan’s Never a Long Way Home is damn good music. The opening track, “If I Let You Go,” starts things off rockin’. Mahan bangs away on a distorted guitar while belting out the lyrics. The song is upbeat, but the story isn’t; the narrator can’t let go of a past relationship even though her former lover is with someone new.

In Evening Air

Synthpop is my steeze. I like to dance, I like to daydream staring out of train windows, and I’m a woman-child passing for an adult on the days that I’m forced to leave the house. This sappy, manufactured genre could have been created just for me and my wild ideas about the big world in which I am so small. I don’t care in which decade it was produced; I’ve been known to adore anything from Modern Talking to Pet Shop Boys to Freezepop. Are there multi-layered keyboards involved in the making of the music?

The Deluxe Anniversary Edition

I came of age in the days of AM radio. I can still remember listening to Casey Kasem counting down the Top 40 hits on Sunday nights before FM radio, the Internet, blog radio, and terms like market segmentation became part of our lexicon. In the space of twenty or so minutes, you could hear a song by Barbara Streisand, Journey, The Bee Gees, and maybe something by Johnny Cash as well. I like to think growing up in the '70s made me more open minded as a person because we had to listen to everything that was played on the radio.

Shady Retreat

Here’s the dilemma: I like a lot of divergent genres. Living in northern Europe the past eighteen months, I’ve been able to embrace my unabashed love of electronic club music and synthpop. I live in the birthplace of Eurovision, in the land of ABBA. Well, I’m twenty miles south of Sweden, but you get the idea. My partner and I are making plans to move home within the calendar year, though “home” may become anywhere from NYC to Silicon Valley because he’s a start-up guy looking for funding.

Songs for a Sinking Ship

Not many people have heard of April Smith, but I’ve become quite the enthusiastic fan. Her music combines elements of pop and rock, but her voice has more of a jazz quality that gives the end result a great mix and unique style. I loved her previous album, loveletterbombs, and I saw Smith perform live a couple of times, so when I heard she was raising money for a new album through Kickstarter, I signed right up to contribute.

The Theory of Tides

Oceans and tides have served as artistic muses for centuries, and I was curious to listen to music inspired by a scientific theory that explains "the dynamics of fluidity, the pull of bodies in motion, the ebb and flow of attraction." Upon first and second listen, The Theory of Tides didn’t grab me, but the third time around was a charm, and I found myself appreciating the music more. Lead singer Mirana has the kind of voice that can sound almost dissonant at times, but it suits The Theory of Tides' style of music, which has the feel of urban techno pop.

The Beat Is...

For the same reason I celebrate my own existence—the idea of “getting out” of whatever dead-end birth town you once inhabited—Alphabeat make me cheer. Born and raised way off the major highway on Denmark’s lone peninsula (the country is otherwise fully comprised of islands), these young folks not only have the same Jutland accent as my partner; they took off for London after their first album, This Is Alphabeat, created a substantial buzz in the UK.

My Reality

Trina Elle is a Canadian pop singer who is trying to make a start in the music business. She is someone with talent, a fun R&B sound, and according to one reviewer, a voice reminiscent of Toni Braxton. Now, I’m not well-versed in the pop and R&B worlds, but I do love me some Toni Braxton. (Who doesn’t?) So, I anticipated being blown away by My Reality.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

After listening to Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, I did some background checking on the artist Naree. How could I not when the album is named after a famous novel? I felt it was more than likely that some sort of duality in Naree’s life or work would emerge: a yin to a yang, a left to a right, two sides holding a vertebrae.


Dreamers is a short and sweet, two-song demo. The tracks speak volumes in this brief introduction. The strongest point is Janyse herself. Janyse's a very talented pop vocalist. ABBA instantly came to mind as I heard her sing the first notes. She carries a certain sweetness, fun, and approachability that is both rare and welcomed.


“When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras,” admonishes the medical aphorism. There are some quiet percussive hoof beats in “Goodbye Little Song” and other tracks on Karl Blau's new twelve-song release, Zebra. “Waiting for the Wind” opens with bells that sound like wind chimes and a relaxing vibe. The tempo picks up on “Dark Sedan Returns,” but returns to a righteous sedateness.

Love Is Not Pop

While listening to the recently released album from Swedish pop artist El Perro del Mar (Sarah Assbring), I quickly realized I was being pulled into a cathartic experience evoked by Assbring's ethereal vocals and repetitive, melancholic lyrics.

Selenidad: Selena, Latinos and the Performance of Memory

“This is not a book about Selena, but about what it means to remember her,” explains the author in the opening statement of her book. Remembering Selena is a remedy that releases the emotions of her grieving family, her fans, and those who became engaged in her music only after discovering the impact that she had on Latino communities. Selena, a pop diva from Corpus Christi Texas, was murdered by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldívar on March 31, 1995. Instantly, Selena became a posthumous icon—a symbol—the object of adoration by many.