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Joan Osborne – Little Wild One (2008)

Posted in Music Reviews by lynn on December 16, 2008

Joan Osborne - little wild one

Joan Osborne
Little Wild One
Joan Osborne’s Little Wild One

Joan Osborne’s seventh studio album and latest release, Little Wild One, came out in September. This album is sure to receive a lot of attention as it’s the first time Osborne has re-united with Rick Chertoff, Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian since her album, Relish, which launched her into the spotlight with her controversial what-would-Jesus-do song “One of Us”. The songs on this album have a poppy Americana and alt-country feel.

On Little Wild One, Osborne continues her religious theme by opening with “Hallelujah in the City” which contains a chorus of “hallelujah’s”, and again with references to angels in the piano-driven “Cathedrals.” Despite her religious lyrics, Osborne is a strong advocate for reproductive, LGBT and women’s rights, among other issues. She’s also had quite a few intimate encounters with women which she openly speaks about in an interview with Velvet Park.

In the first single off the album, “Sweeter Than the Rest” Osborne sings: “I am crossing Brooklyn ferry with the clouds to my west and I know what I’m missing, some are sweet but you are sweeter….than the rest”. Osborne pays homage to her New York City home multiple times on this album. She turns the tempo down a bit with one song written soley by herself, “Meet You in the Middle” and then turns that tempo back up with the exotic world sounds of “Can’t Say No.”

Little Wild One’s atmosphere is a great sound to accommodate those family gatherings during the Holidays.

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Melange Lavonne – The Movement (2008)

Posted in Music Reviews by lynn on November 21, 2008


Melange Lavonne
The Movement
ON SALE NOW: Melange Lavonne’s The Movement

Melange Lavonne is an African American, female rapper. She is also an openly out lesbian. She describes her music on her MySpace page as “Christian Rap” and also identifies herself as a Christian. The songs on her album, The Movement, touch on real issues that are often not talked about. The album opens with “Gay Bash” in which she outright calls Christians who hate on homosexuals hypocrites. This song brought a smile to my face because everything she said were things that I wish more people would stand up and say.

This is an important album for our society to hear right now because it speaks so many truths on many different topics from gay parenting to global warming. The issues are real not only to Lavonne, who raps from a very personal standpoint about her life and the obstacles she has faced from being openly gay, but to every single person who has questioned their sexuality or been judge, discriminated or hated because of it.

Lavonne had a rough time coming out which included losing her College Basketball Scholarship and going through suicidal depression after not being fully accepted by her parents. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and has been battling the cancer for years. She has also been a victim in an abusive lesbian relationship which she talks about in Domestic Violence.

Although the topics Lavonne covers in her songs are often hard to be heard in mainstream music because they are so honest, it is such a relief that someone is standing up and creating visibility with their music, especially in the hip hop / rap scene which is polluted with so many misogynist and sexist content. Her song, “The Game” addresses issues of stereotypical sexism, racism and the sensationalized glamour of thug life in hip hop culture. Lavonne blames the ignorant lyrics of today’s rap songs on the record executives, saying: “he’s the one that allowed the ignorant shit to flow through.”

It’s rare to find a good rap song with meaningful lyrics these days. You can tell that Lavonne puts a lot of thought into every word she chooses in her songs. In an article on AfterEllen, Lavonne states “There’s never a song where I write and have the facts screwed up. I love hip-hop because I can articulate in about four minutes what I can in a conversation.”

The first time I listened to The Movement, I started nodding my head, and not because of the beat; I was nodding in agreement of everything Lavonne said.

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Yelle – Pop Up (2008)

Posted in Music Reviews by lynn on November 21, 2008


Pop Up
Official Website:
ON SALE NOW: Yelle’s Pop Up

I first heard Yelle unknowingly at a dance party when “Je Veux Te Voir” came on and bodies started dancing all around me. That wasn’t the last time I heard that song and every time I heard it, I always wondered who it was.

After figuring it out, I listened to Pop-up in its entirety. The first song starts off with a catchy pop tune full of whistles and hand claps. The album title appropriately describes the sound you’ll hear for the next 50 minutes, but don’t let the electro bubble gum pop fool you. I almost wrote the album off thinking the whole appeal of Yelle was that it was just generic pop with French lyrics, until I really listened to what she had to say.

I wanna see you in a porn flick, getting busy with your potato or french fried shaped dick, so your body will have no more secrets from me” are the lyrics to Yelle’s single “Je Veux te Voir” which are directed towards Cuizinier, of the French rap group TTC, who is known for rapping sexist lyrics. She rose to MySpace fame from this parody and went on to record what is now Pop-up.

Her songs speak about sex and sexuality in humorous ways. “85A” is about itty bitty titty power, “Les Femmes” is about lesbian temptation and finger snaps (and by finger snaps, I mean the actual act of snapping your fingers along to music, not any nouveau lesbian sex technique, though that could be quite interesting as well…), and “Mon Meilleur Ami” is an ode to her best friend, a vibrator.

If you’re looking for something funky, fresh and French, Yelle’s Pop-up is worth the listen.

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The Places – Song for Creeps (2006)

Posted in Music Reviews by lynn on November 21, 2008


The Places
Songs for Creeps

Official Site:
ON SALE NOW: The Places’ Songs for Creeps

The Places is made up of Amy Annelle from “panhandles/plateaus/ponds” and plays “Acousmatic Tape Music”, as her MySpace page describes.

Songs for Creeps starts off with a collection of many different sounds on “Miners Lie!” with Annelle’s comforting voice steering us through the song. Annelle’s songs take us on a ride, and there are so many things to hear along the way. Take for instance, “The Natural Arc,” which feels like a long wait for a train ride that starts off slow and builds into a fast, churning locomotive with a rhythmic low-tuned acoustic strum.

“Blessed Speed” and “The Lions Eye”, are much more folkier with guitars layering each other. She sings in a careless way and it suits her unique style and sound quite well.

Though her experimental style remains mostly folky on this album, Annelle incorporates different sounds that are often omitted from this genre, such as background radio-like noises and drum machines.

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Laura Wood – Let Me Live (2007)

Posted in Music Reviews by lynn on November 19, 2008


Laura Wood
Let Me Live
Official Site:
ON SALE NOW: Laura Wood’s Let Me Live

Laura Wood’s new album, Let Me Live starts off with “Falling From The Ground,” chock full of energy and catchy guitar riffs and solos which seem to be a prevalent theme on each song.

“Tell Them Why” starts off with a poppy drum beat that gets my head bobbing back and forth, but once you start listening to the lyrics, I don’t know whether I should be bobbing back and forth in the fetal position in the corner of a room or not. The lyrics are serious and dark, and Wood asks vaguely, “whose going to tell the children?” but I am left wondering what the children need to be told.

“Let me live” has hints of a Tracy Chapman influence which sets the tone for the fifth track “Time” which slows the pace for a moment but then gets amped up again with “Everywhere I Am.”

“Without Me” starts off with a bluesy bass line and lends hints of a Hedwig and the Angry Inch sound due to Wood’s uniquely raspy and androgynous voice.

The album ends with “This ain’t the end,” an acoustic closing accented with violins as Wood sings “Goodbye my friends, this ain’t the end.” If you like older, generic rock n roll, this album is for you. There’s nothing really original or fresh about it.

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Ferron – Boulder (2008)

Posted in Music Reviews by lynn on November 18, 2008


Official Site:
ON SALE NOW: Ferron’s Boulder

It’s apparent how respected Ferron is within the lesbian music community. Boulder is an album produced by Bitch and full of special lesbian appearances, by Ani DiFranco, JD Samson, and the Indigo Girls to name a few. Collaborating with such high profile artists definitely worked in Ferron’s advantage to create exposure of her music to younger generations that are more familiar with Bitch and JD Sampson. Ferron’s music is a calmed down, older and folkier version of Bitch, perhaps this is what Bitch would like to become in her later years after getting all of her riot grrl angst out.

The songs are beautifully written, with many different instruments ranging from violins to a saw which set the mood as a backdrop to Ferron’s deep, narrating voice. It’s a very pleasant album to listen to and served nicely as the backdrop to a quiet, relaxing evening.

Ani DiFranco appears on “Girl on a Road” which makes sense because the vocal style sounds just like an Ani DiFranco song. The album ends with a totally different feel with “In the Meantime” which features drum machine beats by JD Sampson. This song sounds like it wants to break out into something that you can dance to, but never quite reaches a climax.

This is an album that will accompany many heartbreaks.

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Lalah Hathaway – Self Portrait (2008)

Posted in Music Reviews by lynn on November 18, 2008

lalah hathaway

Lalah Hathaway
Self Portrait

Official Site:
ON SALE NOW: Lalah Hathaway’s Self Portrait

To me there’s two kinds of R&B: the good and the bad. The bad consists of the same generic beats, melodies, patterns and structure. I listened to a lot of R&B back in the 90’s. Good R&B is supposed to serve as a backdrop for a romantic evening. It shouldn’t be something that becomes bothersome or has to be turned down. When done correctly, R&B is the sound that hugs you and cradles you to sleep. Lalah Hathaway is a self described soul singer who definitely falls under the “good” R&B category. Her voice is deep, soothing and pretty. And it’s no coincidence; her father was a soul singer and her mother was a classically trained vocalist. You can tell that Lalah has been singing and deeply involved with music all of her life.

On Self Portrait, Hathaway sings about the lessons she’s learned as shes grown. In “That Was Then”, Hathaway sings: “It was like a lifetime passed through my fingers. So long ago. So much that I didn’t know. Kind of like a light shined down and showed me how, gotta move on. That was then and this is now.”

Self reflection and introspection are constant themes on the album. When I listen to “Learning to Swim,” I picture Hathaway sitting by herself in a peaceful location, but instead of pure silence filled with heavy pondering, her thoughts are translated instantly into songs. It just seems to come naturally to her.

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