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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    CD Reviews

    CD Reviews

    elbow fails to break … away

    Elbow’s latest CD fails to hit the mark right on the head, er, arm.

    This band has a lot of talent, but the album, Leaders of the Free World, doesn’t get that point across. Much like an actual elbow (the most easily forgettable body part), the band has some kind of use, but it just doesn’t know how to break away from the mold and stand by itself.

    Almost all of the songs on Leaders fade into each other and become trite because of redundancy. It’s almost as if the members of the band got together before they made the album and said, “”Every song on here is going to be perfect to fall asleep to. It’s going to be mid-tempo, have quiet pianos and lyrical melodies, and be insufferably boring.””

    And that’s what Elbow does. The band makes “”pretty”” songs reminiscent of their British counterparts like Snow Patrol and Travis. At its best, it sounds like a mediocre Coldplay, which isn’t saying much.

    The album starts out with a lot of promise, but then gets weary as time goes on. The first two songs are fairly original and strong, utilizing drama and variation instead of repetition. “”Picky Bugger”” boasts one of the most interesting guitar licks out there because of its unconventional melody and boding aura.

    Guitarist Guy Garvey creates tension by using short, pizzicato guitar plucks to contrast his usually bland but now distinctly melodic voice. This song gets it because it doesn’t try to be overdramatic and empty, like many of their longer ballads; but cute and witty instead.

    6 out of 10

    Elbow
    Leaders of the Free World
    Song to Listen To: “”Picky Bugger””
    Sounds like: Snow Patrol
    Record Label: V2

    The rest are downtrodden attempts at moving listeners, as if we’re some kind of sentimental pack of sheep that’ll go for anything with piano and violin.

    Well, I was moved. I put my head into the pillow to stifle the snores.

    – Andi Berlin

    Not the ordinary Sergio Mendes

    Sergio Mendes’ newest album, Timeless, plays more like a Black Eyed Peas album than a traditional Mendes album. Mendes is known for his bossa nova beats of the 1960s and 1970s, but his new album is quite a change for the Brazilian artist. Call it Mendes – funkified.

    Mendes’ collaborations make this album worthwhile. Mendes produced the record with

    8 out of 10

    Sergio Mendes
    Timeless
    Concord Records

    will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas to create the album’s fusion of bossa nova, jazz, rap, R&B and regatone. The list could go on in trying to define this album, but that seems enough for now.

    The album also features Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Mr. Vegas, John Legend, India Arie and Justin Timberlake, just to name a few.

    Mendes plays keyboards on every track and his old-school sound can be heard more prominently on some tracks more others, such as “”E Menina,”” “”Lamento (No Morro),”” and “”Samba da Bencao.””

    The first track is an amplified and upbeat version of Mendes’ original song, “”Mas Que Nada”” featuring the Black Eyed Peas, with Fergie doing her normal la-la-la’s in the background and will.i.am doing his usual musings (“”Black Eyed Peas keep it funky fresh, ya’ll.””)

    If you are searching for the traditional Mendes album, look elsewhere, because Timeless is truly unlike any other.

    -Amy Wieseneck

    Shawn Mullins
    9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor

    9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor is stripped down to the sounds of live instruments and Shawn Mullins’ voice. It is chock-full of easy-listening acoustic tunes, from the same guy who brought you “”Lullaby”” in 1998. Each

    7 out of 10

    Shawn Mullins
    9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor
    Vanguard Records

    song smoothly transitions to the next and will put any sleepy college student to bed. It is a peaceful and endearing album with a story behind each sung phrase.

    Mullins is a talented musician, but this album lacks a variety of music that we have seen from him before. The tempo is slow, and it would have been nice to hear some more upbeat tunes.

    “”Cold Black Heart”” is one of the album’s best and only upbeat songs. With a sing-along melody about a lady named Maggie, it’s a heart-warming song with a story that takes a turn for the worst. As Mullins sings passionately, “”How was I to know she had a cold black heart?”” You’ll have to listen to this track to hear a love story gone wrong.

    Mullins’ voice is mature and holds a country twang at times. This album is an impressive mixture of storytelling and acoustic beats. It is not a great album, but it does have some impressive, worthwhile tracks.

    -Katy Graham

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