Monday, December 7, 2009

The Vatican's MySpace page

The short version:
Basement Jaxx—Scars: 6/10
Zero 7—Yeah Ghost: 5/10
Muse—The Resistance: 8/10
Nelly Furtado—Mi Plan: 8/10

Several of my favorite artists have put out new albums recently, and I've been dutifully listening.  The first disappointment is the latest from the electronic dance wizards Basement Jaxx, Scars.  Their music can be a bit grating to listen to for a full hour (example: the intro and title track), and this album is certainly no exception, but generally they make up for it by creating really catchy tunes that make me want to get up and dance if it weren't for the paralyzing fear that someone could witness the horrors.  But this CD just doesn't do that to me.  The second track Raindrops is probably my favorite, but it's a bit generic, and listening to it I probably couldn't say "this is so good that it could only have come from Basement Jaxx," which I could say about many of the tracks on their last couple of discs.  Feelings Gone (featuring Sam Sparro) and My Turn (featuring Lightspeed Champion) are both pretty good too, but if this album had never been released I'd still have had a higher opinion of the band... and I wouldn't have heard Yoko Ono moaning orgasmically, either.

Up next was Yeah Ghost, the latest from Zero 7.  Apparently, without the influence of their emotional lead singer Sia Furler, they've rather ironically lost some of the soul of their music.  A lot of the songs here are pretty bland, and the fully instrumental tracks fit the weird title and theme of the album but don't add much.  The best Swing, Medicine Man, and Sleeper, but as was the case with Scars, these are a really poor substitute for Zero 7's awesome past work.  The fairly painful track Ghost Symbol is a great example of what's wrong with this disc.

The Resistance, the latest from Muse, took a while to grow on me, but I've come to like it.  It's also the only CD on here from which a track is featured on the playlist of hopeful pop songs on the Vatican's official MySpace Page.  (Wait, Muse is on the playlist of pop songs on the Vatican's MySpace?)  (Wait, the Vatican has a MySpace page?)  The song in question is Uprising, my second-favorite on the disc, behind the sexy and catchy Undisclosed Desires.  The "previously unpublished Queen song" United States of Eurasia is amusing, and the 13-minute closer Exogenesis Symphony is purdy.  There's a lot of variety in the sounds of this album just like there was in their last, and that's part of the reason that I've decided that I really like it after all.

Finally, Nelly Furtado's latest CD Mi Plan is all in Spanish, and it too is pretty good.  I don't know Spanish, which makes it hard to fully appreciate this, but Nelly sings well, and the songs are produced well.  Other than the change in language, it's in the style of her first two albums, not the recent Timbaland-produced one Loose, so if you found that transition distasteful, you should give her another chance.  Her music is full of conviction and emotion while still being catchy, and whatever she's singing about, she really seems to feel it.  The best songs on here are Manos al Aire (Hands in the Air), Suficiente Tiempo (Enough Time), and Silencio (Silence).

I'm also listening to the new OneRepublic album which is turning out to be better than I was expecting, and I'm looking forward to the latest from Shakira soon as well.

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