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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
28 March 2006
Danielle Howle, Thank You, Mark (Valley Entertainment) Rating: 6
Danielle Howle has opened for a number of people, but her voice is unique, not quite soulful, not quite roots or country but able to color both genres easily. The safe, adult-contemporary roots pop of "Roses From Leroy's" sounds like an Austin version of Bonnie Raitt while "I'll Be Blue" (and later "Woman to Win") is an old-school, country honky-tonk song that is quite polished, even it is a tad wordy at times while she scats out portions of the ending. "Fields of Cotton" shows another side of her music, a dark, Appalachian tune that is quite barren, leaving Howle's voice to carry the tune. However, the slow soulful blues of "If I Can't Have You" doesn't quite cut it, despite the horns and shared lead vocals. A far better effort is the tender "This Kind of Night" that is teeming with country soul. The best way to describe Howle is, well, you can't describe her. She is comfortable in all genres and facets, whether it's a slow, moody "Love Is a Fall" that seems to mix Patsy Cline with Nina Simone. Unfortunately the bouncy "Who Knows" comes off as rather hokey. The jazzy, smoky, bass-tinged closer "Jesus Won't Wait" is perhaps not the strongest here, but showcases the myriad of musical palettes Howle is able to draw upon.
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Various Artists, Songs to Break God's Heart Vol.1 (Acuarela Discos) Rating: 5
A compilation with a title like this is begging to be heard. It sure worked on me. But the music is considerably more subtle. In the liner notes, label manager Jesús Llorente explains that the album is more than some spectacle designed to drum up interest in new releases; for a 12-year-old label that's only released five compilations (including this one), the comp is an effort to "prove that we can release records which symbolize a different way of seeing things, beyond markets, preconceptions and labeling". Those unfamiliar with the Madrid-based Acuarela will likely not recognize many of the artists here beyond Xiu Xiu, who himself is still an obscurity in the scheme of things. The 19 songs, in both Spanish and English, are consistently sullen -- or at least downbeat. Pick-me-ups like Darren Hayman's "Little Brown Chevette" (after the one-minute mark), the Strugglers' "Dancing Song", and P:ano's "Hiroshima Mon Amour" rise above the rest. Quality is fairly even throughout, but other notables include previously unreleased songs from Tara Jane O'Neil & Miggy, Tex La Homa, and 12Twelve. Acuarela's diverse roster dabbles in pop, lo-fi, jazz, folk, and ambient; connoisseurs of independent and underground music in each may find their next big discovery here.
Yummy Bingham, "Is It Good to You (Remix)" f/ Fabolous and Red Café (Motown) Rating: 5
"Is It Good to You": take a classic Diamond D loop (itself based around a juicy Flaming Embers sample), throw some new school vocal and emcee talent atop, and you have another exemplary song to pour either the accolades or Haterade for. Do you like the raw belting of Bingham, or find it contrived when held against the skills of her godparents Chaka Khan and Aaron Hall? Do you find Fabolous to be your generation's A.G., or would you rather stick with the original Giant? Do you love the track, or are embittered that the new jacks jacked an old jack? From one God's perspective: "The Choice is Yours." P.S. - "I'ma leave the blow pop in your pink cookie"? Yummy can't even drink yet. Gangsta, please.
multiple songs: [MySpace]
Daturah, Daturah (Graveface) Rating: 3
There are only three songs -- "Shoal", "Warmachines", and "Lovelight" -- on this German group's debut release, but they stretch for 45 minutes. It's mostly droning, instrumental industrial shoegaze, without much in the way of song development or, apart from a few instances, even much aggression. Like the soundtrack to an apocalyptic anime movie, the music paints the still, quiet aftermath of destruction. But above any atmosphere that's created, the music is so heavily-laden with self-importance that I feel lethargic even writing these words. Behind a microphone a voice speaks something in German, but the effect fades, and we're back to the familiar, slow-shifting guitar drone. A dreary exercise without easily accessed emotion, this music will likely appeal only to established fans of the genre, or of Daturah.
.: posted by Editor 7:14 AM