URGH! A Music Blog

No More Trauma!

Posted in Mary J. Blige,Music Reviews,Pop by M on December 31, 2005

Mary J Blige

Mary J. Blige is back with “The Breakthrough”, just in time for Grammy consideration. But don’t believe the hype! Other music bloggers are drooling, but there’s nothing new and nothing exciting about the new MJB.

Here’s a confession; I can’t stand the Blige! I don’t like her voice, and I really don’t like her weak-ass production team.

I know, I know; Mary J. recites more than she sings, and her conviction should be enough. But that’s why her production is such a big mistake. Her vocals are pushed way out in front of the instrumentation and pumped up to such a high volume that her performance is turned into an assault. Mary’s like that guy in a teleconference that shouts into the speakerphone.

And Jesus, Mary; just walk into the booth and fire everyone. As an album The Breakthrough is an Adventure in Homogeny. Every upbeat is punctuated by a finger snap, a hand clap, or a triangle ping. In every song.

Except for one: I’m hoping “Baggage” becomes a single and picks up some good remixes. This one has a great beat, but the vocals need to be mixed back down into the music.

And that cover of U2‘s “One”? Hideous! But it’s mostly Bono‘s fault for a phoned-in, hammed-up performance.

I don’t want to hate MJB, really. But there’s nothing special about her voice or her music, and nobody she works with seems interested in making her sound any better. She’ll get by coasting; she always has. But I’d rather see her with a smooth producer that can use her power and her sense of rhythm to her advantage.

In the meantime, I’ll be nasty:

A bilge pump version of Mary J Blige

More like Mary J. Bilge! Ha ha ha!

Perfect Beat Sale

Posted in Dance by M on December 30, 2005

Perfect Beat Goodbye 2005 Sale

Earlier this afternoon….

M: “Wow! Perfect Beat is having a sale! Hey, they have that Binary Finary single I was looking for!” *CLICK*

Perfect Beat: “This title is no longer available.”

M: Augh!! Hey, they have that Black Legend single I was looking for!” *CLICK*

Perfect Beat: “This title is no longer available.”

M: Augh!! Hey, they have that Bob Sinclar single I was looking for!” *CLICK*

Perfect Beat: “This title is no longer available.”

M: Augh!!

And that’s just the “B”s!

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But Now He’s With Somebody New

Posted in Dance,Music Reviews by M on December 21, 2005

All right, kids; it’s time to go back all the way to the year 1996. We’re looking at an old, but interesting cover tune:

Let The Music Play by Mary Kiani vs Let The Music Play by Shannon

It’s “Let The Music Play” by Mary Kiani (“MäRY KiANi”?), a cover of the 80s song by Shannon!

So what’s interesting about it? For starters, who would have thought that Motiv8 would have the most respectful remix?

Kiani’s original Radio Mix is pedestrian 1996 cheese-pop; nothing at all distinguishes it. Was Jackie “O” busy? (BONUS: See below.)

Surprisingly, there’s a Perfecto Studios mix. And even more surprisingly, it isn’t that good. Perfecto’s sound has aged much better, but Oakenfold and the gang have made some boring decisions, making this second track almost as pointless as the first. Oakenchoad would later use the exact same piano chord progression for Wild Colour‘s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams.

So what makes Motiv8 so special? It’s his intro. Motiv8 starts off with the same played-out 90s synths, but after a few seconds drops in the “harpsichord” sample from the original Shannon song! Far out!

Then there are four more tracks nobody cares about.

So the moral of this story is that sometimes, even the guy who remixed “Jellyhead” can do better than Oakenfold.

BONUS DERISION! There’s no need for a Where Are They Now for Jackie “O”. She’s still doing the same goddamn thing:

  • In 1995 she did a dance cover of Oasis. People said: “Jackie’s vocals last for a longer time and offer a more dynamic range than those in the original.”
  • In 2005 she did a dance cover of the Pussycat Dolls. People said: “This is exactly what kills Almighty’s reputation,” and “Vocals sound like a transvestite.”

I Love You Anousheh Khalili!

Posted in Anousheh Khalili,Deep Dish by M on December 20, 2005

You already know I was unimpressed with Deep Dish‘s new album. But I’ve enjoyed many of the tracks individually, especially the second single, “Say Hello”.

Especially now that I know that the vocalist is totally hot.

That vocalist is one Ms. Anousheh Khalili, a Virginia-based singer-songwriter. Her original version of “Say Hello” was delicious, and when she and the boys sprinkled some Paul van Dyk on top I fell head over heels in love.

Her record label has selected tracks from her solo album: here are “Submarines” and “Parachutes”, for your downloading pleasure.

Anousheh’s a killer vocalist—all she has to do is learn to yodel and she’ll put Dolores O’Riodan out of business. But more importantly, these are some well-built songs. Nobody praises singer-songwriters for “good structure”—regardless of how vital it is to a songwriter. And Anousheh’s work is quality.

And OMG kids: she’s on MySpace!

You know what that means; she’s totally blogrolled.

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Kabuki Donna Summer Rules!

Posted in Donna Summer,Music Reviews,Pop by M on December 18, 2005

While the current favorite song at URGH headquarters is “Bliss” by the run-on sentence of Alan Braxe & Fred Falke & Savage, current favorite album is going to Miss Donna Summer‘s Another Place And Time!

Donna Summer - Another Place And Time

Maybe y’all knew about this one, but my mental history of Donna Summer has a big gap between “She Works Hard For The Money” and VH1 Divas Live. I even have Donna Summer Gold—which has three songs from Another Place And Time—but never listened to the tracks.

It wasn’t until I randomly saw the video for “This Time I Know It’s For Real” a few weeks ago that I got turned on. It’s totally Rick Astley! Indeed, Donna even uses Rick Astley’s production team (Stock Aitken Waterman) for the album.

I even had a problem with the album for Bad Girls, even thought it’s really well made, I hated the way Donna kept switching genres from disco to pop to Dolly Parton-esque ballads like “Dim All The Lights.” On Another Place And Time it’s late 80s pop all the way through and it works so well.

Read these Amazon reviewers for more information, but take my word for it: this is terrific stuff.

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Push Push In The Kate Bush

Posted in Kate Bush,Music Reviews by M on December 10, 2005

I’m a believer. After I talked smack about Kate Bush and confessed my unfamiliarity with her work, I finally heard a single off her new album Aerial on the radio. Papa likes it!

I now have the album in my hands, though I’ve only listened to Disc 1: “A Sea of Honey”. It’s not perfect; I can use some of the same insults I use against Tori:

  • Too many solo piano numbers.
  • Her voice ain’t good!

Bush sidesteps a lot of these problems, though. She’s got awesome synths and a good pop sensibility that makes her very listenable.

I’ve listed the tracks off Disc 1 and my thoughts below. This time I’ve crossed out the tracks I just can’t deal with. It’s our URGH way of saying, “beware”!

  1. “King of the Mountain”—The synths are great, the tempo is groovy, and that touch of guitar is hot! This is the single currently on the radio; good choice!
  2. “π”—He does love his numbers. A little trying, but the change-offs between the acoustic guitar and synthesized bass keep things interesting.
  3. “Bertie”—Too English! That’s OK; it happens to the best of us, even The Zep!
  4. “Mrs. Bartolozzi”—Sorry; this one’s a deal-killer. The opening ain’t bad, but Bush doesn’t do nearly enough on her solo piano to make it worth sticking around for six minutes. Tolerable only if you play the Mrs. Bartolozzi Drinking Game: Drink every time Kate Bush says “Washing Machine”. You’ll be passed out by the time you get to “Splishy Sploshy Splishy Sploshy, get that dirty shirty clean.” Hell yeah!
  5. “How To Be Invisible”—This is more like it! I don’t care if it baldly lifts from Depeche Mode, it works! And whoever plays guitar for KB deserves a medal.
  6. “Joanni”—It’s not bad, though there’s no way I’m going to approve that Muppet-esque grunting at the end of the track. Not to be confused with “Gimme Hope Jo’anna” by Eddy Grant.
  7. A Coral Room—Another six minute solo piano number? You can let me off right here.

Stay tuned for Disc 2: A Sky of Honey!

Damn The Automator!

Posted in Dance,Handsome Boy Modeling School by M on December 7, 2005

Aw, crap!

I take back everything nice I ever said about Handsome Boy Modeling School.

Why? Search Google for “Dan The Automator” in quotes. See that first result?

A Google search for Dan The Automator with a listing for www.spicegirlsforever.co.uk

Spice Girls Forever??? Hey Nakamura, did you get Googlebombed? Just watch yourself; the Gorillaz are annoying enough as it is.

Meanwhile a search for “Prince Paul” reveals no such distasteful associations.

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A Pain That I’m Abused To

Posted in Depeche Mode,Goldfrapp,Music Reviews by M on December 5, 2005

Oh, Jesus! This Depeche Mode remix by Bitstreamis terrible! It’s just boops and beeps! What could be worse than this?

A screenshot of iTunes playing A Pain That I'm Used To (Goldfrapp Remix) by Depeche Mode

Aw, hell! More Goldcrap!

It’s worse than it looks. Not only does Alison filter Dave Gahan’s voice through a robot vocoder, but she overdubs her own harmony, making this the Gahan/Goldfrapp duet you never wanted to hear!

Please kill me!

Bonus Masochism: Fast forward to the time pictured above to hear what sounds like Beck throwing up!

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Seuss Abuse

Posted in Black Eyed Peas,Dr. Seuss,Pop by M on December 2, 2005

Black Eyed Peas lyrics revealed!

I’m not the first person to say it, either. This goes beyond bad music; it’s now a conspiracy to make us all retarded.

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Confessions of a Dance Whore

Posted in Camille Paglia,Dance,Madonna,Music Reviews by M on December 2, 2005

In Friday’s Salon cover story, Camille Paglia give Madonna a well-deserved smackdown for her new album Confessions on a Dance Floor. But Paglia has a confession of her own:

I for one do not dance to dance music; disco for me is a lofty metaphysical mode that induces contemplation.

Cammy, don’t admit that! If critics confess they don’t dance, then soon us music bloggers will have to come clean, too! Then the only opinions musicians trust will come from wasted girls at String Cheese Incident concerts!

Please! Let’s be pretentious again!

Madonna - Hung Up

PS: After listening to about 7% of the new Madge album, I agree. LAME!