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>I’m back. I had all my finals a couple of weeks ago, and after all of that I’ve just been very lazy to get on the blog. I’m here now though and I have just a few reviews. I’ve actually been Re-discovering some cd’s from earlier this year (Chris Cornell, I may have to do a retraction review on his album “Scream”), but one of these releases I was really excited for, one was something that intrigued me, and the other was something I have had for a while and haven’t listened to up until this past week.

Naturally, I’ll start with The Black Eyed Peas who are still #1 on the charts with “Boom Boom Pow” and have a hefty amount of worthy singles to select from on their 5th album “The E.N.D.” (releasing today). The Black Eyed Peas have always tried to be all things to everybody, and over the years as their sound has changed dramatically, they still manage to appease most of their fan base. They are still Hip Hop, but manage to incorporate alot of Pop and Dance elements into the mix. And this album follows in that pattern of achieving a very eclectic sounding album. This time they go heavy on the Dance and Electronica genre, at points blatantly ripping off Daft Punk and Stuart Price. Luckily the Black Eyed Peas are blessed with a great producer in Will.I.Am, who actually does a good job imitating the styles of other acts but adding more to it. “Alive” is easily the best song on the album, and although it does sound almost exactly like a Daft Punk (circa “Discovery”) track, he does some very interesting and creative things with it. Plus the lyrical content and the vocals add something that wasn’t there with the songs that obviously inspired some tracks (other Daft Punk, Les Rhythmes Digitales clones being “Rock Your Body and “Rockin to the Beat”).
There are however a bunch of tracks that have a real Will.I.Am stamp on them, songs that are really creative and different like “Simple Little Melody” and the aforementioned “Boom Boom Pow” or the lovely “Imma Be” which are all really roller coaster rides of tracks with something new happening with every verse. “The E.N.D.” isn’t entirely filled with Dance cuts however. The albums second official single “I Gotta Feeling” is a very lively Pop/Rock type anthem for the summer, “Electric City” is sort of this years “Hey Mama”, just with a more laid back Dancehall feel. They even try to go World on “One Tribe” (not a fan of this song by the way) with a positive message about unity. Overall this is a really great, fun, energetic, sing songy, extremely addictive dance album. The only complaint I have is that it goes a little overlong and sometimes it slows down the tempo of the album on the whole. Still those are just maybe 4 or 5 songs out of an album that last well over an hour.

Next Up, Depeche Mode. So to give you an idea on my background with Depeche Mode… i just heard “Enjoy the Silence” 3 years ago. So I’m pretty much a New fan of this legendary Electronic group. Their 1990 Album “Violator” is generally thought of as a classic and pre-cursor to the Electronic music of today, and put against a lot of those current albums “Violator” still stands out. Their new and now 12th studio album “Sounds of the Universewas released almost two months ago, and it’s a pretty solid album. Okay I listened to it once at work, and didn’t really pay all that much attention to it… but I know that I enjoyed the production value on most of the songs. It’s definitely within the style they seem to have created, just great to listen to. And everything just seems to work so nicely together, the production is really moody and enjoyable without being too much or even overproduced. And the vocals and lyrical content also works well with these songs. In particular, “Jezzebel” has Dave Gahan sounding the best I’ve ever heard him. Like I said before though, I’ve only listened once. With that one listen, I know that I’ll give it repeated listens and the album will probably become a favourite by the end of the year.

Lastly, and definitely LEAST is the album I was a bit intrigued by. I don’t know what the course of events was but somehow I read about a new girl group Electrik Red. Four black girl singer/dancers produced by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream. And since I love The-Dream, and I generally love Girl Groups I wanted to check out their debut “How To Be A Lady Volume 1“. Unfortunately, it plays just like a Dream album. It seems that Electrik Red are to The-Dream what Vanity 6 and Appolonia 6 were to Prince. Just an excuse to write songs in their own style for women. This album is definitely at it’s best when they are blatantly ripping off songs in Prince’s 80’s style (“Friend Lover”). The album average at best when The-Dream gives them songs exactly like his own (“So Good” “Devotion”). And the album definitely is at it’s worst when the girls try to force a personality on us(“W.F.Y.” “Kill Bill”).
These girls are really pretty, and definitely have the image needed for a successful Girl Group, unfortunately they lack every thing else. They seem to lack the personality of Spice Girls or TLC, and the vocal prowess of Destiny’s Child or Danity Kane. They really are just The-Dreams female puppets. So the search for the next great Girl Group will have to continue because these girls aren’t it.