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Tales From The Zero-Listens Stack

Heading into 2010, I was thinking about two things: 1) I've acquired a large number of records I'm probably never going to review comprehensively in this lifetime; and 2) I had no clear idea what I was doing with the W&A Twitter feed. So I set myself a challenge to plough through my "zero-listens stack," one CD/LP per day, and say something about each one. A few good things came out of this, notably that I discovered some very good records which had been sitting in my "to review" pile so long I've forgotten how I originally got them (Martha Redbone's Home Of The Brave; Utada's Exodus; Love De-Luxe's Again And Again). So all the following one-liners originally appeared on Twitter, and I've collected them in one place because that site doesn't seem particularly interested in anything that happened prior to three days ago (not unlike the music press in general). (DBW)


Awaken, Tales Of Acid Ice Cream - Off-key, off-tempo electronica, but I like the pensive pop "Numbness Of Highlights."

B-Tribe, ¡spiritual, spiritual! (2001) - classical guitar and chillout grooves for a date-night restaurant, pretty decent.

Batman Forever (1995) - Got it for Meth's "Riddler"; PJ Harvey is solid, Kravitz's Brandy production the nice surprise.

Bell Biv DeVoe, Hootie Mack (1993) - Lazy New Jack Swing: P-Funk lifts, weak MJ imitation & a song called "Ghetto Booty."

Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits (1965) - For those who'd rather hear an anonymous chorus (or Joel Grey) than Dionne Warwick.

Accidental Gap, Uhura (1997) - Pop-prog, like Asia playing a set of Duran Duran covers. "Cancer" is a rockin' tune.

Jeff Alkire, One Summer In Winters (2007) - Solidly performed acoustic jazz; simplest tune ("Weaver Of Dreams) the best.

Mike Arroyo, Transition - Wes Montgomery-style jazz guitarist with facile band and genre reach but too many lite tunes.

Chris Beirne, Freezerburn (2007) - Terrific slide player ("Sugarfoot Rag"), less than terrific singer/songwriter.

It's Christmas Time With Sylvia Bennett (2008) - Hip-hop/metal/Teresa Brewer "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" a must-hear!

David Benoit, Full Circle (2005) - Underwritten/underplayed fusion makes nice music to break out your axe and solo over.

Grupo Afrocuba, 95 (1995) - Dropping the innovative fusion they'd played behind Silvio in favor of tepid NG knockoffs.

Allure (1997) - Vocal quartet on Mariah's short-lived vanity label; her 2 cuts are even worse than Poke & Tone's hackwork.

Amadou & Mariam, Welcome To Mali (2008) - 1/3 electropop, 2/3 Afropop, all slight; it's fun but no Album of the Year.

ambersunshower: walter t. smith (1996) - Laid-back after-hours jazz club vibe like Badu's debut but nothing to chew on.

Ao, Growing Wild (1999) - They're so sincere about their World Beat/New Age/Earth Goddess/Esperanto I can't put 'em down.

Astarte, Demonized (2007) - Subpar Greek black metal band; title track best of weak crop. Got it for Gossow guest vocal.

Bait (2000) - Hip hop (Trick Daddy), R&B (Mya, "Free"), or combo (Total/Missy Elliott, "Quick Rush"), it's all dreadful.

Gary Bartz, The Red And Orange Poems (1994) - Half standards, half original, all traditional, but unexpectedly unengaging.

Regina Belle, All By Myself (1987) - Proto-Mariah smooth R&B mix of dance and ballads, well sung, but songs fall short.

Mississippi Charles Bevels, Not Of Seasons - Soothing Southern soul while lyrics sketch singular pro-sex pro-Jesus vision.

Hakim Bey, T.A.Z. (1994) - Stands for "Temporary Monotonous Zone"... Anarchist philosophizing over Blahswell backdrops.

Bjork, Debut (1993) - If you can deal with her eternally overreaching vocals, at least one musical context will suit you.

Black Eyed Peas, Bridging The Gap (2000) - Pre-Fergie but same party grooves; "On My Own" rules, rest is superficial.

Blackwell, Boogie Down! (1978) - Despite promising titles ("Move Your Ass Gringo") it's just flat, flavorless disco.

Jane Ira Bloom Meets Jackson Pollock, Chasing Paint (2003) - Concept's pretenziossimo but music's crisp, airy, agile.

The Bludlows, Americaville - Lo-fi class warfare blues-rock is cool, but the slower numbers show more depth. Recommended.

Tracy Bonham, The Burdens Of Being Upright (1996) - As Big Daddy Kane put it, rippin' off PJ Harvey ain't easy.

Boyz II Men, Cooleyhighharmony (1991) - Largely self-penned & Dallas Austin-produced; LaFace a better fit on both counts.

Brandy (1994) - Hackneyed, dull, mechanical bubblegum R&B. Note to self: avoid Kevin Crouch productions at all costs.

Danielle Brisebois, Arrive All Over You - Angsty former child star, L.A.-smooth pop production, nauseatingly familiar.


Rachel Brown, Love, Life & Relationships - Anita Baker-style "classy soul" but well done; "Learn To Love Me" top-notch.

The Buckners, See You In Court (2004) - Jangly pop with vocal harmonies, but rehashed melodies and sophomoric lyrics.

Craig Buhler, Skykomish (2008) - Swingin' to 60s and 70s pop didn't have to be corny but this is ("Waiting For A Girl").

Bulworth (1998) - Tons of big hip hop names, but best cut is Mack 10/Ice Cube's, plus KRS verse on title track.

The Butchies, 3 (2001) - Loved them live; on disc they play well but too tame, tentative - no zip, no fire.

Buzzcocks, Flat-Pack Philosophy (2006) - If crisp pop-punk was edgy once, it ain't now. Could be a snack food commercial.

Donald Byrd and 125th Street, Love Byrd (1981) - Isaac Hayes produced, but as sappy romantic, not funk monster.

The Eric Byrd Trio + 4, Brother Ray (2008) - Pleasant tribute instrumentally, but limpid vocals antithetical to Charles.

C.J. & Co., Devil's Gun (1977) - Produced by Dennis Coffey so I thought it'd be funky, but it's drab disco-by-numbers.

Roger Cairns, A Scot In L.A. (2006) - This song stylist is a natural for all the Richard Harris fans out there.

Calling All Kings & Queens (2001) - Mr. Lady comp; got for S-K live cut, now want to hear more from Heart Beats Red & PME.

Cannibal Corpse, Vile (1996) - Sounds like hell, which is precisely the point but makes it too hard to hear the riffs.

Captain Sky, Concerned Party Number 1 (1980) - Bootsy knockoff; ballads are better than the stale funk concepts.

Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Come On Come On (1992) - Pleasant, economical (if unexceptional) country with sense of humor.

Kenny Carr, Friday At Five (2005) - Breezy guitar-led blues/jazz; often a Blow By Blow-ish vibe, though not the substance.

Cassandra (1990) - Feeble attempt by Motown legends Brian & Eddie Holland to rip off Jody Watley ("Another Lover").

Sharel Cassity, Just For You (2008) - Trad jazz; skilled but too formal, reverent... no feeling they're enjoying it.

The Jimmy Castor Bunch, Butt Of Course (1976) - By now their disco/funk is stale while the AM schlock is excruciating.

Cee-Lo, Cee-Lo And His Perfect Imperfections (2002) - Moving grooves ("Follow Me"; "Country Love") in a lot of clutter.

Joe Cerisano, Carbon Copy - Workmanlike Bob Seger-ish rock with sturdy if well-plumbed themes, melodies to match.

The Church, Uninvited, Like The Clouds - I dig the commitment to their morose, poorly sung, druggy yet economical rock.

City Rhythm Orchestra, Vibrant Tones - If you want to hear a flawless recreation of old school big band, catch them live.

Holly Cole, Temptation (1995) - If I'd known it was all Tom Waits covers I wouldn't have bothered; I do like her swing.

Paula Cole, This Fire (1996) - Pop/dance recalls Sophie B. Hawkins, except for the out-of-tune, self-involved vocals.

Tyler Collins, Girls Nite Out (1989) - Got this for Stevie's 2 so-so songs. Otherwise it's horrendous New Jill Swing.

The Conduit Trio, Beyond Liquid Glass (2008) - Pop-rock instrumentals with loud guitar; bluesy "Melancholia" stands out.

Con Funk Shun, Secrets - Disco-funk ("ConFunkShunizeYa") and ballads ("I'll Set You Out O.K.") unoriginal but effective.

Pedro Conga y su Orquesta, En Acción (1988) - You know how it goes: The sexier the album cover, the weaker the album.


Coolio, Gangsta's Paradise (1995) - G-funk meets pop samples, like the title track but generally sillier ("Too Hot").

Alice Cooper, School's Out (1972) - Mid-transition from imitation Marc Bolan to prototype Ted Nugent, a step up.

Deborah Cox (1995) - Soul divas should never sound anonymous. That said, some nice work from Dallas Austin ("My Radio").

Cracker, Greenland - Dylanesque love songs are awful ("Maggie") but sleazy rocker "Gimme One More Chance" is terrific.

Elvis Crespo, Regreso El Jefe (2007) - "Bambaribiri" a masterpiece of arranging; otherwise, routine urban merengue.

Cycle Sluts From Hell (1991) - L7 minus brains equals slick pomp metal with aggressively stupid vocals.

DJ Clue?, The Professional (1998) - Loads of star rappers but incredibly dry, dull and repetitive tracks.

Joe E. Daddario, Living In The Restless Age (1998) - Pop-rock attempt to make compelling art out of 12 Step lingo.

Julia Darling (1999) - Pop-dance with breathy vocals like watered-down Tori Amos or Suzanne Vega, never registers.

Das EFX, Dead Serious (1992) - Wiggety weak De La Soul knockoff, way too higgety heavy on the thiggety thing.

Joe Davidian Trio, Silent Fire (2007) - Deft piano trio, more adept at moods - from meek to mighty - than melody.

Jenny Davis, It Amazes Me (2007) - Self-pleased jazz singer, but with bright, unforced voice, sharp musicians.

Dawn Of The Replicants, Candlefire (1998) - EP from sluggish indie rockers; worst song titled "Chesty Morgan" ever.

Michael Dease, Clarity (2007) - Young bop trombonist has the form down but the content is dry and mechanical.

The Dells, Love Connection (1977) - Some disco, some funk, some soul, even a little doo-wop, but nothing hits home.

Sandy Dennison, Jazzed! (2007) - Anything but... Curiously listless jazz singer, I'm kinda worried about her.

Neil Diamond, Headed For The Future (1986) - Unexpected similarities to Leonard Cohen's pop-synth period.

Disciples Of Christ, Righteous Funk (1995) - Like a pro-Jesus Color Me Badd; disappointingly negligible Bootsy input.

Peter Dizozza, Pro-Choice On Mental Health (2002) - Odd, engaging pop opera with riveting monologues, some fine tunes.

Dr. Buzzard's "Savannah" Band (1976) - 20s-styled disco echoes Ritchie Family; don't dig beyond "Cherchez La Femme."

Dr. Doolittle (1998) - Generally bland leftovers from Timbaland proteges (though Playa's is pretty good) and others.

Steve Dooks, Cocktails, Heartaches And Cigars - Jive jazz tunes, shaky vocals and bland solos, but it's well engineered.

Dorothy Doring, Southern Exposure - Vocal jazz standards, faster numbers ("Giant Steps") show verve.

Double Exposure, Ten Percent (1976) - Credible Spinners imitators, from same Salsoul/Philly Soul axis.

Sarah Dougher, The Bluff (2002) - Middling cross of Cadallaca's 60s pop and standard singer/songwriter.

Carol Douglas, Midnight Love Affair (1976) - Simplistic Donna Summer knockoff utterly lacking in flair and personality.

Down In The Delta (1998) - High-profile misfires, mostly, but Keb' Mo/Me'Shell collab redeems everything else.

Paulette Dozier, With You (2005) - Sophisticated soul singer with hot band; "Walk On By" is outstanding.

Draztic, The Image Of Pain (2008) - Hip hop with taut, R&B-laced grooves; rapping has more presence than purpose.

Dream Theater, Images And Words (1992) - Either the metal version of Alan Parsons Project, or the 90s version of Kansas.

Roberta Duchak, Intersections (2007) - Freewheeling and spirited vocal jazz, often infectious if slightly overdone.


Duende: Maria Woodford & Alex Radus - Lugubrious folk duo; Woodford has a sultry, countrified voice, Radus doesn't.

Brenda Earle, Songs For A New Day - Strong jazz pianist/okay vocalist; languorous "Don't Dream It's Over" stands out.

Tim Easton, Break Your Mother's Heart (2003) - Country/folk-flavored tunes, Woody Guthrie-ish vocals, too mellow/mild.

Eagle Nebula, Cosmic Headphones (2008) - Good-natured but lukewarm Soulquarian imitation; pick: "Celebrity Stylist."

Ebony Vibe Everlasting, Groove Of Love (1994) - Promising maxi-single; too bad their scheduled album never came out.

Jan Eisen, Summer Me, Winter Me (2006) - Yet another proficient jazz vocalist singing standards like "Skylark." TIOLI.

T.C. Ellis, True Confessions (1991) - Prince donations the only stuff vaguely worth hearing from this sub-Tony M. rapper.

The 8th Day, 8th Day (1971) - Distressingly generic H-D-H production; 4 Tops-ish vocals but drab tunes.

Joy Enriquez (2001) - Featherweight dance/pop (despite name producers) with distracting pasted-on faux Latinisms.

Erotic Drum Band, Touch Me Where It's Hot (1980) - From imitation Moroder to imitation Chic, equally ineffective.

Eruption Featuring Precious Wilson (1978) - Able covers of hits from across R&B/funk spectrum but no originality.

Explorations: Classic Picante Regrooved - Great Latin jazz (Tjader, Puente) streamlined into dancefloor crud.

F.A.T.E., For All That's Endured (2000) - Deadly dull En Vogue clone; can't remember why I picked this up.

Fabolous, Street Dreams (2003) - Some enjoyably homemade Latin-y beats ("Damn") but boring, puerile raps.

Marianne Faithfull, Before The Poison (2005) - Seriously unpleasant wrist-slitting fare, 5 PJ Harvey tunes included.

Fat Boys, Big & Beautiful (1986) - Mix of Sugar Hill Gang and Run-DMC; sounds a bit stale today but not terrible.

Fatback, Gigolo (1981) - Funk's fade forced the faking of a flurry of formats (soul, rap, a cover of "Na Na Hey Hey").

Wilton Felder, Let's Spend Some Time - On sax not bass, playing what sounds like early 90s overprogrammed Smooth Jazz.

Rodrigo Ferrari-Nunes Presents The Bias Project - Reasonable if redundant runthroughs of bop landmarks like "Donna Lee."

Rachelle Ferrell, Individuality (Can I Be Me?) (1998) - Anita Baker-y soul plus screaming is not my cup of anything.

Ferron, Testimony (1980) - "Women's music" singer/songwriter with a discouragingly mainstream sensibility.

Fetish Chicken, Volume = Talent - Avant garde rock; equal parts righteous riffs ("Baby") & sophomoric silliness.

Matt Finley, Brazilian Wish - Brazilian-styled jazz led by fluid horn player; enjoyable if a bit by-the-numbers.

Elisa Fiorello, I Am (1990) - This was a bleak time for Prince protege acts. Pathetic pop-funk dance cheese.

Anna Maria Flechero, Within The Fourteenth Hour - Sturdy, dignified readings of VERY familiar jazz/pop standards.

Patrick Flynn, Good News - The blues-pop isn't special but the guests (Mardell Stickley, violin; Mel Martin, flute) are.

Dan Fogel & His Quartet, 15 West - I know it's fun to jam on chestnuts like "Night In Tunisia," but why put it out on CD?

Folkways (1990) - A-listers cover Leadbelly & Woody Guthrie; no surprises but Dylan, Springsteen, Taj Mahal get job done.

Foreigner, 4 (1981) - Gramm's self-important and the production defines "dinosaur rock" but it's a solid batch of tunes.


Mimi Fox, Perpetually Hip - 2-CD set from agile jazz guitarist who makes standards into unconnected strings of licks.

Frank, Life By The Hour (2003) - Spin Doctor-y chipper rock with funk pretensions; well done for what it is.

Freekbass, Body Over Mind - Well-worn electro-funk except for fine slow grind "Do What You Gotta Do"; Bootsy produced.

Fred Fried and Core, Core 3.0 - Acoustic jazz guitar trio is delicate and tasteful - perhaps too much so.

GRProject, Sculptures In Time - Proficient Pat Metheny-ish mix of jazz styles; gentle "Todo Claro" is outstanding.

Rosie Gaines, Closer Than Close - She's got that Mavis Staples voice, but songwise it's a sorry, sodden mess.

Gemini Soul, Live: The Liquid Soul Tour - Lite funk/jazz trio; too mellow/discursive with too much slap-n-pop bass.

Get On The Bus (1996) - Best Spike Lee soundtrack I've heard, thematically and musically; Guru one standout of many.

Janine Gilbert-Carter, A Song For You Live - Nice nightclub atmosphere and delivery, but drearily familiar songs.

Gipsy Kings - Tacky restaurant music, yes, undervaried and oversung, but "Bamboleo" really is a great tune.

Philip Glass, Symphony No. 6 Plutonian Ode - Allen Ginsberg recites what Lauren Flanigan sings, w/ orchestra. Ponderous.

Global Noize (2008) - Overly laid-back acid jazz-like grooves; eclectic but concept is World Beating a dead horse.

The Go-Betweens, The Friends Of Rachel Worth - Sleater-Kinney backing a plus, but tuneless "singing" a buzz-kill.

The Great White Hype (1996) - Weak considering there's 3 from Wu-Tang, 2 Bone Thugs, plus Biz Markie doing Cole Porter.

Ken Greves, The Face Of My Love - Vocal jazz; small combo camps up standards with admirable confidence if little else.

Groovegrass 101 Featuring Groovegrass Boyz (1998) - I love Bootsy, but this bluegrass/funk hybrid dumbs down both.

The Guys, Live The Party (2006) - A next generation Trashmen, generally in a good way; mellow tunes are less effective.

Lua Hadar with Twist - Overreaching, jazzed-up pop stylings; haven't heard this much vibrato since Mrs. Miller.

Anthony Hamilton, Ain't Nobody Worryin' - Retro-soul; 2 needles - "Never Love Again," "Sista Big Bones" - in the haystack.

Lionel Hampton, For The Love Of Music (1994) - So many guests and gimmicks, you get no sense of this durable bandleader.

Handel's Messiah - A Soulful Celebration (1992) - Q's all-star Hallelujah Chorus soars; all else is padding.

Heatwave, Too Hot To Handle (1976) - Blah songs but production set the blueprint for late pop-disco e.g. MJ, K&TG.

The Heavy Blinkers, The Night And I Are Still So Young (2004) - On the wrong side of the Crowded House/Air Supply divide.

Glen Helgeson, Distant Borders Revisited - Percussion and guitar (plus guests) go World Beat; well crafted but lite.

Johnny Hiland (2004) - Phenomenal, pyrotechnic country-rock guitarist, but songs are strictly by-the-numbers.

Tish Hinojosa, Dreaming From The Labyrinth - Singer/songwriter is earnest, simple and bland, like a bilingual Raffi.

Loleatta Holloway, Loleatta (1977) - A classic of form - diva-belted Philly soul - but not of content.

Ellen Honert, Breath Of The Soul - Mellow; basically a album-length tribute to Patrice Rushen's "Take You Down To Love."

Hoodlum (1997) - Soundtrack w/ hip hop shaped by big band or 70s soul; ODB meets Cab Calloway not as fun as you'd think.

Laura Hull, Hullabaloo (2006) - Peppy, "jazzy" singer-songwriter; not as much fun to listen to as it was to record.

Howe, LaRocca, Martinez - Remarkable harmonica solos, well-worn jazz standards, kitschy trio arrangements.


Chris Humphrey, Nothing But Blue Sky - Vocal jazz spanning Duke and Monk to Johnny Nash(!); not my speed but well done.

An Evening With International Guitar Night - Several Django-ish acoustic players sound off; samey with pockets of fun.

Yuko Ito, Mania De Você - Same ol' samba-n-standards, but Oriente Lopez flute solo on "Flor De Lis" is breathtaking.

Bruce Jackson, Don't Sleep On Your Dreams (2006) - Trad jazz trio with low-key takes on Monk, Shorter, Gershwin, etc.

Ron Jackson, The Dream I Had (2003) - Guitar-led smooth jazz; cover of Stevie's "Too High" was nice idea but too bland.

Peter Jacques Band, Fire Night Dance (1979) - Follows Moroder/Cerrone-style Eurodisco formula but is oddly joyless.

Jade, Jade To The Max (1992) - Terrifyingly routine R&B/soul trio, via producers Vassal Benford & Ron Spearman.

Jazz Vocalists, Hear And Now - Incredibly far-ranging compilation has its share of winners though lacking coherence.

Joe Jewell Quartet, Every Note Counts - Mostly Smooth Jazz, but "Chicken Shack" and fusion take on "In Walked Bud" kill.

Karen Johns & Company, Star And Season - Big band/nightclub jazz; Johns is arch but control and verve are astonishing.

Ed Johnson & Novo Tempo, Movimento - Mostly acoustic guitarist leads affecting romp through various Brazilian idioms.

George Johnson, Jr., All-Star Tribute - Not sure who's being tributed here, but there are stars, and quality hard bop.

Jessica Johnson, Till It Happens To You - Soul & jazz ballads American Idol-ishly oversung; voice & arrangements solid.

Syleena Johnson, Chapter 3: The Flesh - Not terrible as Mary J. knockoffs go, but far too much R. Kelly-ish recitative.

Ray Jozwiak, For The Ride (2008) - Solo piano, generally comes off as sketches for pop tunes with noodling interludes.

Juicy, It Takes Two (1985) - Synth-soul duet; band name + romance lyrics + they're brother and sister = ick.

Patrick Juvet, Lady Night (1979) - Disco from Village People mastermind; only surprise is Juvet's not audible anywhere.

Sandy Kastel, This Time Around - Great American Songbook; who better to belt "Viva Las Vegas" than a former Miss Nevada?

Kelis, Kaleidoscope - The Neptunes' usual techno-soul with jazz chords, best is "I Want Your Love"; vox just lie there.

Roberta Kelly, Trouble Maker (1976) - A good belter but too rousing for the Eurodisco style Moroder was trying to invent.

Kenny & Leah, You And The Night And The Music - She sings standards, highly stylized; he blows tenor, polished if pallid.

The Kid Espi, The First Book - Oregon's finest vegetarian rapper; knuckleheaded rhymes, nice beats ("So Many Questions").

Killing Joke, Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell (2006) - Metal vamps over disco beats, limited but still trance-inducing.

Gerald Jay King, The First CD - A winning, disarming singer/songwriter when I saw him live, but overproduced here.

Klymaxx, Meeting In The Ladies Room (1984) - Electro-funk and ballads, performances okay but writing is not so hot.

Lina Koutrakos, Leave A Little Something - The female Meat Loaf; I can't decide whether that's a good thing or not.

Dan Kozar, I Remember You - Solo jazz guitarist plays the songs you already know the way you've already heard them.

Lady K and the Kings of Swing featuring Dale Head, Live At Blackhawk - Big band bombast w/ Louis Prima-lite vocals.

The Lady of Rage, Necessary Roughness (1997) - Careful student of Chuck D's diction, but has nothing to talk about.

Paula Lammers, A Blanket Of Blue (2005) - Laid-back small combo vocal jazz, leaves a pleasant but not lasting impression.


Grupo Latino, La Nueva Ola Del Rock! (1980) - Blissfully tacky mix of AM originals and corp rock covers ("Doctor Doctor").

John Legend, Get Lifted (2005) - Top-selling but ordinary (sorry) retro-soul: no bad songs or really good ones either.

Christopher Lehman, PopJazzic (2009) - Jazz horns over pop/funk, Tower Of Power style, but songs all seem familiar.

Dave LeMieux and House of Soul, Jazz Shaped - Medium-sized band ranges over the jazz/R&B map with scattershot results.

David Leonhardt Trio, Bach To The Blues - Classically based piano improvs, more rambling than illuminating.

Loose Change Trio, Unstruck Note - Mainly city blues with a little folk and jazz; soundly rendered but inconsequential.

Emily Lord, Brand New Day (2005) - Inoffensive singer-songwriter soft rock, mostly, but "This Game" has a kick to it.

Mather Louth and Radio Noir, The Swamp Jazz Sessions - EP a convincing combo of nightclub jazz and Cure-style mope-rock.

La Lupe, The Queen Does Her Own Thing (1969) - Hardly: the salsera contends with jive pop arrangements/tunes ("Touch Me").

Julian Lage, Sounding Point (2009) - Audaciously talented jazz guitarist fritters his way through diffuse set of sketches.

Michael C. Lewis, Reflection (2009) - Sings and plays competent Too-Smooth Jazz, like George Benson only on trumpet.

Malcolm McLaren And The Bootzilla Orchestra, Waltz Darling (1989) - Pretentious pablum, despite Jeff Beck & Bootsy.

Lin McPhillips, My Shining Hour - Pop-jazz backing goes down smooth, though vocals are a bit precious.

Ms. Toi, That Girl (2001) - Perfunctory programmed beats with rhymes to match. Who thought this merited release?

Tim Maia (1980) - Brazilian take on EWF-style funk/disco, falsetto backing vox and all; pick is "Não Esquente A Cabeça."

Grupo Mandarina, Dispuestas A Todo - Translated "Down 4 Whateva," & this all-female merengue band is equally gimmicky.

Paul Manchin, Natural - Dance-pop concept album a la late Madonna; good-natured but thin apart from hook-filled "Denim."

Manolin, Giro Total (2003) - El Medico De La Salsa commits malpractice with a set of toothless pop-rock.

Tony Marcus, Vanishing Point (2009) - Stylized, samba-influenced jazz vocals with some clever lines.

L'Tanya Mari', A Teardrop Of Sun (2009) - Finely rendered small-combo vocal jazz; sedate but sophisticated.

Martika, Martika's Kitchen (1991) - Marginal pop singer, but 4 Prince donations put it over ("Love...Thy Will Be Done").

Angelyna Martinez, Labor Of Love - Helium-voiced, profoundly coy treatment of Great American Songbook.

Bob Masteller & Friends, The Jazz Corner Swings Latin - Standards, corny at times, but solid bass and piano anchorage.

Men In Black: The Album (1997) - Like the title track, more mall-friendly raps remaking mid-tempo 80s megahits.

Michael's Jazz Quartet (2008) - Antonelli, that is: energetic tenor who's mixed far too loud on this so-so bop collection.

Kristine Mills, BossaNovafied (2009) - Like it says: all originals, ably performed with a small jazz combo.

Misery Index, Traitors (2008) - Death metal with hardcore vocals and lefty lyrics, but all the outrage sounds forced.

Quinteto Mocambo, Siempre Son - Traditional Cuban styles from Veracruz, Mexico; sharp ("Mulato Ven"), never stale.

Moes Haven, Victory Is Ours (For Now) - Acoustic awk-rock, like Moldy Peaches with better jokes; top songs too short.

Tony Mola & Bragada, Quebra Mola - Enthusiastic Brazilian axé & samba, but lacking in substance and melody.

Sam Moore, Overnight Sensational (2006) - Glad he's still working, but star duet/remade hit formula is beyond played.


Dan Moretti, Tres Muse - Strikingly Trane-like tenor playing, arrangements and mood, to the point that it's distracting.

Carol Morgan Trio, Opening - Delicate trumpet-led jazz combo embodies Miles Davis's restraint but not his feeling.

MotoSapien (2006) - Library of 60s guitar sounds is impressive; lo-fi mix, surf-rock tunes, yowling vocals aren't.

Mark Moultrup, Dar Cho (2009) - Strong piano-led bop, mostly original tunes, solid except when Moultrup's singing.

PC Muñoz & The Amen Corner, A Good Deed In A Weary World - Soulful pop that's thoughtful & well executed, yet lacks punch.

Walter Murphy, Phantom Of The Opera (1978) - Classical pieces shoehorned into disco, pop & rock, lacking the fun of "Fifth."

My Morning Jacket, Z (2005) - The indie Coldplay: omni-imitating nerd-pop that's long on atmosphere, short on tunes.

Frankie Negrón, Lo Que Llevo Por Dentro (1999) - Studied knockoff of late 90s Marc Anthony, but voice stuck in low gear.

Night Ranger, Dawn Patrol (1982) - Smarmy Loverboy clones, but "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" ROCKS.

Carolina La O y Los Gemelos, Reencuentro Con Los Gemelos (2009) - Satisfactory, safe, superfluous retro-salsa.

Olodum, A Música Do Olodum - Brazilian drumming corps, but unlike Timbalada a one-note (or should I say one-beat) affair.

Oz (2000) - Hip hop soundtrack is appropriately grimy and hard-edged; best are Pharoahe and Krayzie.

Paebak Black, Roots Calilou - St. Thomas-to-NYC transplant with smooth grooves and delivery to match; worth a listen.

Panther (1995) - Classic R&B covered by sub-classic 90s artists, largely, but all-female-star rap "Freedom" a winner.

Mica Paris, Contribution - Soul II Soul-esque mellow dance. Faint Praise Dept: Her "If I Love U 2Nite" does beat Mayte's.

Pebbles (1987) - L.A. Reid's thin-voiced then-wife imitating Jody imitating Janet ("Girlfriend"); LaFace at its worst.

Lucky Peterson, Lifetime (1996) - Good-natured but tepid retro-funk and blues. Plus, inexplicably, a Sting cover.

Kristin Porter, By The Light Of The Moon (2010) - Conventional jazz vocalist; self-penned title track is frisky fun.

Poussez! (1979) - Contemptuously contrived disco (all moan, no melody) via slumming jazzer Alphonse Mouzon.

Pantera, Cowboys From Hell (1990) - Groove-metal with Steve Stevens-ish guitar, Bon Jovi-meets-King Diamond vocals.

Isabel Pantoja, Buena Suerte - Latin torch singer has a fine voice but oversells every tune: classic case of more is less.

Peepshow Nouveau, Alter Ego - Aussie "neo-burlesque artiste" sings like Deborah Harry; hubby on jangly guitar. Decent.

Kelly Price, Soul Of A Woman - Singer with force & feeling, but loved & left songs soggy ("Take Me To A Dream" excepted).

John Prine (1971) - Jokey, pointed, melancholy folk-country with reedy vocals, sort of a thinking person's Jim Croce.

The Pseudonyms, Apotheosis Now - DIY crew w/ real insight ("Start Breathing Again") under the self-conscious cuteness.

Public Image Ltd., Second Edition (1979) - Dub/bleat from Johnny Rotten, the master of "influential yet unlistenable."

Quartz (1978) - Thumping electrodisco, like Cerrone on amyl nitrite, points way to techno and related dance genres.

Racionais MC's - Agit-rap over leisurely funk samples, São Paulo's answer to N.W.A. ("Fim De Semana No Parque").

Queen Pen, My Melody (1997) - Trackmasters-like mix of overfamiliar samples, solid pop production, good-time raps.

Ray, Goodman & Brown (1979) - Apart from cornball hit "Special Lady" - which I love - workmanlike Stylistics knockoffs.

The Red, Burn (2004) - Sort of an indie John Mellencamp, or a less arty Wilco. Not my cup of Postum but I can't knock it.


Helen Reddy, I Am Woman (1972) - Forget the title track: the real kitsch classic is the swaggering "Hit The Road Jack."

Revelation Theory (2004) - Debut EP from very proficient Creed carbon copy now known as Rev Theory.

Maria Rita, Samba Meu (2007) - Elis Regina's daughter; a top seller in Brazil but sounds dry and ordinary to me.

Lee Ritenour, Smoke 'N' Mirrors - Smooth Jazz is rarely this enthusiastic OR nuanced, let alone both, via strong cast.

Lalo Rodríguez, Un Nuevo Despertar - Beyond Palmer Hernandez's "Ven Devórame Otra Vez," passable if impersonal NY salsa.

Rufus Maneuvers - Snappy sensitive-guy rock (along the lines of early Joe Jackson) may sound easy to pull off, but isn't.

Skipped a bunch of days at this point as I was in Eastern Europe with no internet access to speak of.

Rahim Samad, Travel Properly - "Low normal" rapper: does everything okay but nothing particularly well.

Santa Esmeralda 2, The House Of The Rising Sun - Disco Animals covers is a terrifyingly small niche, but all theirs.

Side Project, Our Last Album (2004) - Mostly slack horn-backed funk; better when veering into Sonic Youth territory.

Silversky, Calling All Killers (2008) - 3-song EP of energetic power-pop w/ swinging drums, wild solos, great vibe. More!

Sloan, Smeared (1992) - Geffen-era Sonic Youth + harmony singing + smart-aleck lyrics - tunes = self-congratulatory mess.

Sons Of The Late DC, Better Days (2010) - Steve Miller-ish pop-rock ("Frozen In Time" = "Take The Money And Run").

Peter Spencer, Handsignal - Down-home, old-timey acoustic guitar & vocals with jazz twist ("'Round Midnight"). Benign.

Sufjan Stevens, Come On Feel The Illinoise - Hopelessly contrived; if a practical joke on hipster critics, it worked.

Cat Stevens, Numbers (1975) - So bright & breezy (if often banal) you'll forget it's a numerology concept album.

Stinking Lizaveta, Scream Of The Iron Iconoclast - Jazz-metal; tunes nothing special but worth a try for Buckethead fans.

Stone Temple Pilots, Core - Kind of a punchline nowadays, but their Loverboy-meets-Zeppelin approach gets the job done.

Sublime (1996) - Ska punk with attention-seeking lyrics and recycled melodies; went platinum after the singer overdosed.


Johnnie Taylor, Eargasm (1976) - Better at sounding like anyone from Philippe Wynne to Marvin Gaye than his own self.

Total, Kima, Keisha & Pam (1998) - Me-too hip-hop soul; 8 Missy tracks, but D-dot's "Sitting Home" is the standout.

Jonathan Townes, Zomo - One-man band electronic light jazz; give it a listen if you like late Weather Report.

Simon Trinh, Very Strange Night - Varied, entertaining throwback big band jazz (some vocal) from Richmond, VA.

Triumph, Just A Game (1979) - Somewhere between Grand Funk Railroad & Journey. Or more simply, a lesser Bad Company.

Turkish Hits Vol. 1 (2009) - Now a free DL from Amazon: check out Candan Erçetin, Serdar Ortaç, Nazan Öncel & Tarkan.

UberScenester, The Mini-LP (2001) - Cars/Knack-esque power popsters, first-class when at their best ("Cheap").

Water Shed 5tet, Blue Plate Tectonics - Experimental jazz; some hipster retro-corn but often bracing & thoughtful.

Val Watson, Live At The Funk Lounge - Weak, wishy-washy semi-funk, Bootsy & Clinton cameos notwithstanding.

Cornel West, Sketches Of My Culture - Flashback to Black Studies 101, but my prof wasn't nearly as condescending.

Urban Funk Monkeys, On The Bus - It's hard to hate on jam bands because they always sound like they're having fun.

The Whitefield Brothers, In The Raw - Bare bones retro-funk; "Weiya" should be sampled by a conscious rapper pronto.

Antonio Valdetaro & Grupo, Leticia - Buoyant, capable jazz from Brazil; lightweight perhaps but also lighthearted.

Deniece Williams, This Is Niecy - Ace backing from Earth Wind & Fire, but she wrote the tunes & they're not good.

Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (1998) - Pleasantly familiar alt-country, inexplicably hailed as landmark.

The Dave Wilson Quartet, My Time - Spirited jazz; Wilson (not me) on tenor/soprano has outstanding tone & finesse.

"Z," Music For Sensuous Lovers - Z is the grade this attempted cash-in (synth-lounge w/ overdubbed lovemaking) deserves.

Zebra (1983) - Arena hard rock, often formulaic & uniformly overscreeched, but "Tell Me What You Want" is a classic.

A Fine Frenzy, Bomb In A Birdcage (2009) - Not frenzied or fine either, just another Dido with even less oomph.

Acción, ¡Algo Diferente! - Not exactly; still, respectable 70s son covers w/ cool "dancing robots" LP cover.

Adam And The Ants, Kings Of The Wild Frontier - Tribal drumming's cute, but a slender thread to hang a whole act from.

Christina Aguilera, Bionic (2010) - Reinventing yourself is one thing; mimicking Lady Gaga is quite another.

Angel, Helluva Band (1976) - Hypercheesy arena rock w/ helium vox & endless synth twiddling: the original The Darkness.

Wanderin' With Eddy Arnold (1956) - Crewcut folk; though Eddy means well, you can hear what Dylan was reacting against.

Bananarama, Wow! (1987) - Stock-Aiken-Waterman were never original or authentic, but here they're at their most fun.

Baroness, Blue Record (2009) - "Ogeechee Hymnal" a brilliant Zep homage; otherwise, Daydream Nation-ish w/o the humor.

Bay City Rollers (1975) - Retro-sock hop; no idea why this sold like hotcakes but then I never got the Carpenters either.

Bazile, The Sojourn Of Professor Narducci - Alt-psych-folk, best for the occasional rock moments ("Modern World").

Black Dahlia Murder, Deflorate (2009) - Noisy melodic death metal; little attention to dynamics or memorable licks.

Angela Bofill (1977) - Fusion-y, big-voiced pop & disco not unlike Cheryl Lynn, which is a (mild) compliment.


Alicia Bridges (1978) - Scary once past "Love The Nightlife": she's halfway between a Bee Gee and a Ban Shee.

Carnifex, Hell Chose Me (2010) - Me-too death metal; growling, bashing & breakdowns all utterly predictable.

Black Flag, Damaged (1981) - Punk's mock consumerist standard bearers ("TV Party"); fun, though songs are all alike.

Anita Bryant, Old Fashioned Prayin' (1975) - Self-righteous whitebread gospel, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Black Tusk, Taste The Sin (2010) - Loud, lumbering Southern metal, like Baroness & Mastodon but even less novel.

Kate Bush, Lionheart (1978) - Irritatingly cryptic & self-important - albeit occasionally arresting - pop-rock.

Shaun Cassidy, Room Service (1979) - The reaches for depth are even more embarrassing than the attempts to rock out.

Chucho & Mario, Nocturnal - Martínez Gil's vibrato-y crooning leaves me cold; Ruiz Armengol's bolero charts are cool.

Merry Clayton, Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow (1975) - The Baretta theme + lots more boisterous, unsubtle pop/jazz/funk.

Cocteau Twins, The Pink Opaque - Good 'n' gloomy synth-rock, somewhere between Thompson Twins and the Glimmer Twins.

Common, Finding Forever (2007) - Pop crossover attempt with odd, though not unpleasant, overreliance on Syreeta samples.

Agalloch, The Mantle (2002) - Very long folk-metal syntheses; too noisy for background music, too dull for foreground.

Ann-Margret (1980) - Paul Sabu's disco-rock isn't half-bad, actually: it's her carnivorous campiness that sinks the ship.

The Babys, Union Jacks (1980) - John Waite's Foreigner-esque first band sums up everything I loathe about power pop.

Despised Icon, Day Of Mourning (2009) - Montreal deathcorers have loads of intensity but very little else.

Sean Morton Downey, You'll Never Have To Ask Me If I Love You - TV host's early life as Andy Williams imitator.

Ian Dury, New Boots And Panties!! (1977) - Disco/New Wave w/ tuneless vocals & puerile mockery exudes a peculiar charm.

Electric Light Orchestra, Discovery (1979) - Bizarre, tasteless hash of Beatles nicks & disco arranging gimmicks.

Bent Fabric, Alley Cat (1962) - Jazz piano trio applies title tune's brisk minimalism to range of material; results vary.

Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma (2010) - Brief beat & synth instrumentals that only infrequently manage to create a mood.

Frenchy's Fantasies - Rubato vocal/organ stylings conjure up the ambience of one of 70s Wisconsin's foremost supper clubs.

G2 Bluegrass Band, Where The Tall Grass Grows (2007) - From Sweden; well played but rather mild & way too perky.

Garden Of Eden, Shameless EP - Whispered vocals over dance-rock (Cure-style) isn't my thing but it's done well here.

Gatling, Hen In A Pumpkin (2009) - Hit and miss technical death metal with, shall we say, uneven sound quality.

Lisa Germano, Geek The Girl (1994) - Breathy, morose feminist concept album is a tough listen, in more ways than one.

Gim-Su-Ki (1981) - Standard ballad/disco split, mostly in Korean; no clue who the male voice on 5 cuts is. [Pic]


Lena Horne: The Lady And Her Music (1981) - With an emphasis on the former; in fine voice despite Broadway excesses.

Hudson Brothers, Hollywood Situation (1974) - "So You Are A Star" a spot-on Wings imitation; else, era-norm boogie-rock.

Intronaut, Prehistoricisms - Looong, sludgy prog-metal grooves; gems ("Literal Black Cloud") lost amid endless meandering.

Al Jarreau, In London (1985) - In place of his customary chipper vocalese, lots of substandard sappy ballads.

Håkan Lidbo feat. 2KH, Bad Girls Go To Hell (2002) - Limp electronica; as Doris always said "you can't copyright a title!"

Love On Love, Makin' Love On The Phone (1977) - 70s pop schmaltz; least awful is Stylistics bite "Makin' Love In Love."

Malo (1972) - The Other Santana (Jorge) & band play jam-heavy Latin rock/fusion too, but w/o the passion or elegance.

Herbie Mann, Discotheque (1976) - Assembly-line runs through pop hits ("Lady Marmalade"), barely classifiable as jazz.

The Masqueraders, Love Anonymous (1977) - Anonymous is the word for this Isaac Hayes-produced batch of smooth soul.

Melanie, Candles In The Rain (1970) - Singer/songwriter w/ an ear for catchy bathos ("What Have They Done To My Song Ma").

Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday (2010) - Facile, attention-seeking demonstration that no line now divides pop from hip-hop.

Mirkelam, Mutlu Olmak Istiyorum (2006) - His electropop is as joyful ("Elma Degil Ayva") as his slow stuff is painful.

T.S. Monk, House Of Music (1980) - Not as bad as you've heard; standard-issue Kool & The Gang (pop version) meets Chic.

The National, High Violent (2010) - You're doing too much indie-rock if this dazed, affectless set sounds classic.

Nile, In Their Darkened Shrines (2002) - Ample talent ("Sarcophagus") but be warned: the dread & doom taken v. seriously.

Serdar Ortaç, Kara Kedi (2010) - High, clear voice wasted on a mechanical set of tuneless electronic dance tracks.

Ray Parker, Jr., Woman Out Of Control (1983) - "Electronic Lover" is pretty good faux Time. Else, subpar urban pop.

Roger, The Saga Continues - This time he saves the talkbox for the electrofunk & actually sings the love songs. Mistake.

Esther Phillips W/ Beck, What A Diff'rence A Day Makes (1975) - Cracked, querulous voice doesn't suit pop/disco context.

Sundar Popo, Screwdriver (1988) - Groovy & batty ("I Wish I Was A Virgin") electro-calypso via Trinidad's King of Chutney.

Rice & Beans Orchestra, The Blue Danube Hustle (1976) - "Classical goes disco" record, more Salsoul than Walter Murphy.

The Shaved Pigs, Breakfast Is Served (1987) - Decent NYC hardcore w/ dynamics/tempo shifts, fun Robert Chambers tune.

Tyshawn Sorey, Koan (2009) - Leader conceals his formidable drumming technique in favor of barely-there guitar noodling.

Synergy, Sequencer (1976) - Pseudoclassical synthesizer orgy has some fine moments if you can look past the tackiness.

The-Dream, Love King (2010) - May parlay "singsong horny robot" routine into a career as the new R. Kelly, but I hope not.

D.W. and The Party Crew, Freaky Lover (1985) - 12" from the "State Of Shock" guitarist is a pointless "Planet Rock" redo.

The Walkmen, Lisbon (2010) - Slightly disconcerting indie Americana w/ plaintive tunes & flexible vocals. A winner.

Tanya Tucker, TNT (1978) - Jerry Goldstein-produced R'n'R project ain't subtle, which is 1 reason I like it so much.

What will these idiots think up next?

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