That's how we play the game, now on to the adventure....
You will have to pardon this edition. I went through a phase a couple of months ago where I was listneing to a lot of mainstream pop, so, it's not like a lot of this is ground-breaking stuff you've never heard of... bear with me, they'll get better. ;-)
Justin Timberlake - Justified (2003)
I was ready to be mildly surprised by this record but in the end was disappointed. After hearing a couple of very infectious singles on the radio and seeing his energetic performacnes on TV, I was beginning to wonder if it was possible that Mr. Timberlake had taken a chance with his first step away from N Sync. Sadly, this isn't the case. The album is largely the same, sappy fodder that is typical of the boy bands. Other than the fun "Rock Your Body" which everyone and their brother has heard by now, the only other thing redeeming I found on the record was "Like I Love You".
Kelly Osborne - Changes (2003)
I didn't expect much from this album so, in that resepct I wasn't disappointed. That's not to say that it doesn't have its redeeming qualities. Being the daughter of one of the more influential artists in the business has its perks. Her "band" is very adept and play with a verocity and techincal ability that is commendable, however it can't salvage the pitiful melodies and her horrid, horrid voice. It's bad when the highlights of your album are a cover song (Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" sounds like "Eleanor Rigby" amidst this dross) and a duet with your rock star father. Check out the duet, "Changes"... it actually gave me chills, in a good way.
Backstreet Girls - Boogie Till You Puke (1988)
When I first came across this record I was intrigued by their obvious distaste for the mainstream and penchant for the tasteless. Turns out that's exactly what this album was, obvious and tasteless. In the midst of of this horrible excuse for an album was one little gem that is better than anything most bands ever do. Funny how music works this way sometimes. "Tougher Than The Train" could fool someone into thinking they were listening to a Cramps song very easily.
Sum 41 - Does This Look Infected? (2002)
You've heard them, you probably hate them and the good news, it's safe to continue doing so. What a waste of time listening to this album was. The song I chose is intereesting only because of its little Metallica homage near the end, and it's not really that interesting. But if you're a Metallica fan, you owe it to yourself to listen to "Mr. Amsterdam" just for the hell of it.
Britney Spears - In The Zone (2003)
I feel it's my duty to listen to a wide variety of things, even things I know I probably won't like, just so I'm not like some people who simply dismiss everything. A friend of mine told me you can smell the shit without having the wallow in it, but I don't think that's really fair. If I'm gonna slag someone and their art, I should be informed. I have no love for Britney Spears. She's a jailbait fantasy who wraps herself in dance routines and little else and laughs all the way to the bank. This record does nothing to alter my opinion on this. "Me Against the Music", though, a collaboration with Madonna yields some positive results. But you won't find much else on the record worth listening to.
Nena - 20 Jahre (2003)
Nena Kerner had one of the biggest "one hit wonders" of the 1980's, so it's no surprise that a lot of her subsequent albums have featured reinterpretations of her signature song "99 Luft Ballons". This version features an acoustic guitar, scratching tunrtables and a complete reworking of the song's melody. The rest of the album is bland Euro-pop that's hardly worth your time.
Eminem - Straight From the Lab EP (2003)
One of the things that has made Eminem so popular as a rap artist is his ability appeal to a large, white youth base while simultaneously having the mic skills and inner city street cred to not be totally written off by the large, black youth base as another Vanilla Ice. It doesn't hurt to have Dr. Dre in your court either. In the wake of 3 multi-platinum records, a feature film, and the creation of Shady Records (with multi-platinum cross-over phenom 50 Cent to boast on the roster) one is left wondering how long the fairy tale will last. I have a prediction based on listening to this "unofficial EP" of new meaterial from the forthcoming LP (it was conveniently "leaked" to the internet), Eminem has peaked. This is not to say that he's not capable of more. "Lose Yourself" and "Rabbit Run" on the 8 Mile soundtrack were brilliant, masterful songs proving that Eminem is still very much in his prime, but if the direction he is taking is indicative of this sampler, then we're witnessing the fall of Slim. While his skills are intact it's the themes that will begin to alienate his audience. Disenfranchised youth of both races could identify with Eminem's earlier albums' tales of the hard life of poverty, of childhood abuse, of single-parenthood, of volatile domestic relationships. Of the seven tracks on here, two of them feature Shady Records "featured" artists like 50 Cent and Obie Trice leaving you to wonder of this is an Eminem record or an advertisement for the label. Of those two, one, plus three other songs, is about music industry insiders, singling out everyone from Jah Rule and Canibus ("Can I Bitch")to Source magazine. Yet another song is the pseudo-anti-war "We Are Americans". The end result is Eminem comes off looking like a filthy rich rap star who has forgotten what it's like to live in the everyday world of the people who idolize him.
David Lee Roth - Eat 'Em And Smile (1986)
I had forgotten how much fun this record was! After Diamond Dave left Van Halen for greener pastures he put together a top notch band that featured Billy Sheehan and Steve Vai among others. This was the first full length album with this new band. There were no great leaps in artistry achieved, but it was what it was - a showcase for the techincal ability of the assembled musicians (although frankly I've always found Vai's guitar work rather sterile sounding) and the persona that is David Lee Roth. I mean, you can't go wrong with a talking guitar ("Yankee Rose"), a John Loudermilk cover ("Tobacco Road") plus pre-Nirvana hard rock gems like "Bump and Grind" or "Shyboy". With all the talent on this record, it'd be easy to succumb to excess yet most of the songs clock in around 3 minutes long. If you ever get a chance to enjoy this album in its entirety, do so.
The 184.108.40.206's - "Barracuda" b/w "Tallhassee Lassie" (1997)
In the Blue Orchid fight scene at the end of Kill Bill Vol. 1 the pretty, barefoot trio of ladies rockin' out for the restaurant's patrons are this band. They've been around since the early 90's, erratically releasing a handful of albums and 7" records. They are a throw-back to the garage-band party songs of the early 60's (think "Louie, Louie"). This 7" features the incredibly fun "Barracuda", that'll have you wishing you owned a pair of go-go boots and a polyester mini-dress. The vocals are playful, the guitar tone is perfect, and the backbeat will knock your socks off and possibly cause you to throw your back out. My favorite song of the nanosecond. "Do the Barra-cooooooooooooooooooooooda!"
Nickelback - The Long Road (2003)
Nickelback recycles the bombastic riffs of Bush, who basically recycled Nirvana, so, Nickelback is basically a rehash of a rehash of Nirvana. Sill with me? It's hard for me to be objective about this band because I really don't like them. This album just furthers the distaste. Sure it's heavy, and often fast but it feels calculated, cold, and contrived. On top of that they had the audacity to cover Sir Elton John's "Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting". Ugggh. To be fair, the opening cut on this thing ("Flat On The Floor") is rather rockin' and catchy, but you can have the rest of it.
Brak - Brak Presents The Brak Album Starring Brak (2000)
If you listen to nothing else presented here, you have to download and listen to "Highway 40", Brak's duet with Freddie Prinze, Jr. It is adorable and hysterically funny. If you have kids, they will love it and you can have fun singing a long with them. Even if you don't who the hell Brak is, you'll enjoy this song. That said, the album, altogether, is somewhat uneven with some songs being near perfect comedy gems while others are a chore to suffer through. For some more of Brak's brand of madness, try "Soup On a Stick" or "Magic Toenail".