Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged pop

It’s A Bit Complicated

Art Brut’s second album, It’s A Bit Complicated, hit the streets June 26th. Judging from the five song EP, it won’t disappoint the multitude of fans won over by their debut album, Bang Bang Rock & Roll. Known for his shrewd self awareness, front man Eddie Argos and his crew have done it again. Mixing talk/stylized vocals, smart verbosity and catchy melodies, Art Brut will satisfy your longing for intelligent upbeat music.

On the Way

Moore was one of many women who benefited from the movement in music that Lilith Fair generated, bringing many unknown female artists to the forefront of the public’s consciousness. There are traces of the peppy pop-sensibility that earned Moore her fame with her hit single “Four-Leaf Clover,” but On the Way is a more mature and introspective endeavor.

Peace is Burning Like a River

Bitter Bitter Weeks’ third album has a sound that reminds me a bit of Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service—with eclectic lyrics and a chill beat throughout the album. I put the album to the test during rush hour on the Washington, DC metrobus. Despite being stuck due to a car pileup and missing my connector, I arrived at my office relatively calm, a task only classical music or Céline Dion could do, but with a much cooler edge.

The Sky Observer's Guide

Written over the course of a month, Amy Cook's second album, The Sky Observer's Guide, is a strong albeit average album. Whereas Amy’s first album was just her and her guitar, this album showcases her band: Nina Singh on drums, Brad Rice on guitar and Bobby Daniel on bass. Cook's songs have been featured on many television dramas, including Dawson’s Creek, Veronica Mars, Laguna Beach and The L Word.


As I listened to Elizabeth Cook’s new album Balls, I wanted to open the window and scream, “Why doesn’t country radio play her songs?” I love country music that sounds authentic, the kind that one has to search the internet to find. Cook’s music definitely fits the bill. I really appreciated the blend of different old-time sounds: bluegrass, rockabilly and traditional country.

Destroy Me I’m Yours

Move over Sid and Nancy. Free form rock is the new black and Brooklyn, New York do-gooders Jen and Johnny from Shellshag are the ultimate musical couple. Years ago while performing in separate bands, they were involved with a public arts warehouse and living experiment in San Francisco called Starcleaners. Fast forward to present day, where Starcleaners has become a haven for the artistic community, releasing limited edition music including Shellshag’s first full-length album, Destroy Me I’m Yours.

You Leave Me Here

Kelly Greene’s music sounds like a mix between a lot of new country and a little singer/songwriter rock, like Sheryl Crow, mixed with a dash of influence from the Cardigans. It is upbeat, toe tapping and, at some points, the flow of the music makes you want to sing along without knowing the words. Although one must give her (and all other singer/songwriters) credit for writing her own music and lyrics with this album, it sounds a bit repetitive. All of the lyrics cover the exact same subject.

The Very Best of Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb is the kind of woman that I think, deep down, all of us sorta want to be. Maybe not entirely (because how many people can really pull off those cat’s eye frame glasses? Not many, my friends!), but in some little way. She’s smart, she’s a great songwriter, she plays guitar, she’s graceful and amusingly self-effacing and almost effortlessly pretty. She’s like the quiet, thinking girl of feminist-minded pop. Her songs exude a sense, somewhat difficult to pin down, but there nonetheless, that, regardless of the heartache and trouble they endure, women are strong, worthwhile people.


Admittedly, I was a little taken aback when the sweet, ‘60s-inspired pop came through my headphones. Could this be Holly Ramos, former frontwoman of the punk band with hardcore roots, Fur, who acquired street cred from schmoozing with the greats and playing backup guitar for Joey Ramone? Although her debut solo album is sweet, poppy and lyrically simplistic, it is refreshingly honest and brilliant.

Cornucopia EP/DVD

I must admit, on the first couple of listens to the Cornucopia EP, the music brought me back to high school when I had bands like Veruca Salt and Throwing Muses on heavy rotation in my Sony Discman. The question is: was it solely the nostalgia for my high school listening habits that lead me to appreciate this largely estrogen-laced pop metal?

Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner

The self-proclaimed neat-freaks in Victoria, British Columbia-based quartet Shapes and Sizes have crafted a genre defying sophomore album that begs you to rethink the way that you listen to music. Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner is a perfectly whimsical combination of lowbrow tartiness and heartfelt emotional awareness. Released on Sufjan Stephen’s label, Asthmatic Kitty Records, Split Lips is already eligible for a Quebec Independent Music Award.

Welcome to My Bad Behavior

Do you miss Dolores O’Riordan and the Cranberries? I do. While edibleRed’s Welcome to My Bad Behavior doesn’t make me forget that I’m still waiting for the Cranberries to reunite, their new CD is an adequate replacement. Although not nearly as distinctive sounding as Dolores, edibleRed’s lead singer Collette McLafferty is a chameleon that can swing from classically trained vocalist to full-on rocker.

Back to the Roots

When I saw the cover art of Zera Vaughan’s Back to the Roots, I was struck by the image of a dramatic-looking female ice dancer. Her body was painted shades of brown with ridges and lines of what looked like tree bark. I knew I was in for something expressive and heavy. The first track, “Almaz,” is rich and bewitching. It leads off with a lovely moan. Vaughan’s voice is haunting and reminiscent of early Sarah McLachlan.

Live from ‘The Pretty Parlor’

When I first got the album, Live from ‘The Pretty Parlor’ in the mail, I was a little disappointed. The jacket had pictures of women dressed like they stepped off of Laugh-In or came from a Jimi Hendrix concert. I was not looking forward to listening to or viewing the DVD.


While the interesting paper lion on the cover of Candylion – the new solo album from Super Furry Animals front man – may attract you at first, the soothing melodies are what will keep you listening.

This is Sour

Up to Weymouth, doctor, up to Weymouth studio! Awesome Animal Ambulance’s CD debut, This is Sour, is full of cute catchy pop tunes that share more than animal fascination with the Panda Squad. They share nearly half the band, label, and a taste for the playful and upbeat. With song titles like “Hunting Season Behind the Wheel” or “Operation Kitty,” their song lyrics have a childish playfulness that even a boar couldn’t help but find charming.

The Third Hand

Fans of RJD2’s previous albums might want to prepare themselves. Over the course of time, many musicians go through extreme changes and tweak their sound a bit. This can certainly be said for The Third Hand, on which RJD2 demonstrates an entire album with (gasp!) his own vocals. Known for his electronic music and quality of production, it comes as no surprise that The Third Hand is pieced together so well. Perhaps this new change in sound will anger older fans, but this album sounds like more of an experiment than a life change for RJD2.


I’m not usually a headphones-in-the-outdoors type of girl, but I knew I had to take this one to the park. For real. This was an album requiring devoted listening.


Anyone who has been to college will remember the local coffee shop guitar girl. Perhaps we see the stripped-stockings wearing girl around campus, and then one day we pass the local coffee shop or the student center and there she is, with her guitar and a microphone. All of the sudden we feel insight to this woman, now that we hear her melancholy and somewhat confessional lyrics. Her feminine and fairly vulnerable voice only add to this feeling.

The Dust of Retreat

The Dust of Retreat is an impressive, eclectic debut from an eight-piece band that easily navigates the waters of folk rock, chamber pop and alt-country. Like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, singer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Edwards can tell compelling stories with just an acoustic guitar, but many of his songs, while simple in melody and structure, ascend to thrilling heights when backed by the right combination of instruments.

No Need to Be Downhearted

The latest album from Electric Soft Parade, entitled No need to be Downhearted, is fantastic. The album has a mix of easy listening pieces that are perfect for a relaxed evening and fun light hearted songs that can put a smile on just about anyone’s face. As the band’s name suggests the music has a soft, electronic accompaniment that rounds out the music, along with catchy beats, enjoyable guitar and meaningful lyrics.

Backspin: A Six Degrees 10 Year Anniversary Project

"Everything is closer than you think” is the motto of indie label Six Degrees, moving on the perspective that everyone is connected by six degrees of separation. Now a leader in global pop music, the San Francisco-based company was founded ten years ago by two former Windham Hill employees, Bob Duskis and Pat Berry.

Downside Up

Alison Ray’s debut, Downside Up is obviously influenced by Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow. Besides the bland production, Ray’s voice is problematic: while it may be charming, it sounds terribly unripe – imagine if Paula Abdul got her hands on Sheryl Crow’s backing tapes. The best songs on the album are the ones that take advantage of her thin vocals. The album’s first single, “Does the D.J.

Poor Aim: Love Songs

I got agitated with the first song on this album. Might be the mood I am in – I just didn't feel like hearing the lyrics, "I waited for days. I can't believe you didn't call me." This song is called "Hey Boy." I had heard of this music before, and I am a fan of K Records, but I wasn't into this. There are a lot of remixes here of songs that didn't interest me much in the first place. Insipid lyrics and electronic blips are the bulk of this. I did enjoy the song "Hock It," maybe because it had what I considered to be a healthy dose of bitterness and aggression.

Elysium for the Brave/Elysium Remixes

You know you’ve heard that sexy, haunting voice somewhere before. If you’re no stranger to sci-fi, you may have heard Azam Ali’s vocals on the soundtrack of such movies as Children of Dune, Matrix Revolutions and Earthsea, among others.

Golden Sun

The Winter Blanket: a perfect name for this band, one that describes the feelings this band evokes: soft, comfortable and warm. This 6-song EP is sure to leave many listeners eager to hear more from this Minnesota band. When asked why the band delivered an EP, rather than a full-length record, the band reports: “We took the cream of the crop, no filler and put it on the EP.” And we thank them because this EP is solid from beginning to end.

Live and Learn

Drive Thru Records appears to have taken a gamble on House of Fools and won. The Greensboro, NC sextet - recently on tour with Brand New - is quite a departure from the label’s notoriously pop-punk roster. Following their eponymous 2006 EP, House of Fools released their first full-length album, Live and Learn.

Women at Work

Women at Work did not, thank God, spin me back to 1982, the year in which I had to stop wearing my favorite wide-necked cotton t-shirt with the rainbow of teal, red and forest green behind a cartoon unicorn in repose because a certain biology class substitute teacher complimented me on it repeatedly in front of everyone and made me feel ‘ooky.’ And I was 12! Gross!

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? the eighth album from Of Montreal, is trippy, offbeat, and terribly infectious. With their quirky brand of psychedelia, Of Montreal (who are actually from Georgia) manage to somehow combine upbeat, catchy, pop music with incredibly depressing lyrics.

Living Well

Rob Crow definitely has one of the greatest album covers I've seen in a while. It's a photograph of Crow, wearing a demonic-looking t-shirt while drinking a cup of coffee and standing in front of some pumpkins and several hand drawn, paper tombstones. With a cover like that, I was a little surprised to find that Living Well had a much slower tempo than I was expecting. Although it seems that was the point – the Pinback frontman made this record at home after the birth of his first child, opting to slow down and spend time with his family while writing more introspective music.