Monthly Archives: March 2011

Sucker Punch

Year: 2011

Label: WaterTower Music

Subculture Media Reviews:

(originally published on Suite 101)

Sucker Punch does the unthinkable. While the film may well be one of the worst films to surface this year, the soundtrack simply has to be one of the best. This is a sensational soundtrack that is only let down by the fact that it is only nine songs long.

One of the things that really surprises you when you first hear the Sucker Punch Soundtrack is that young actress Emily Browning has a voice that would put most pop-stars to shame. She is amazing and clearly shows this on the opening track, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of Us)”. If you thought that Marilyn Manson’s version of this track was good … well Browning’s blows it completely out of the water.

The unlikely pairing of Bjork and Skunk Anansie also produces a classic track with the Sucker Punch remix of “Army Of Me”. Skunk Anansie’s music gives the track a strong cinematic feel while the power and passion of Bjork’s vocals make this a real classic song. However, the same can’t be said for Emiliana Torrini’s “White Rabbit”. Her voice may be up to scratch but the song never really reaches the heights it was aiming for.

The producers of the soundtrack also make a brave choice when they choose to mash up the Queen classics “I Want It All” and “We Will Rock You”. And while rock purists may faint at the thought of these two being held together by the rap of Armageddon (aka Geddy), the song actually does work remarkably well and is a track you’ll keep returning to. It’s like a guilty little secret.

“Search And Destroy” sees Skunk Anansie go punky while the good “Tomorrow Never Knows” sees Carla Azar and Alison Mosshart enter the studio together. However, these tracks are quickly over-shadowing when Emily Browning returns with a haunting Decoder Ring-like track named “Asleep”, however it is her vocals on the epic “Where Is My Mind” (with Yoav) that really do show that she has the talent to make it as a singer. This even outshines the jazz-rock of “Love Is The Drug” by Carla Gugino and Oscar Issac.

While the film totally disgraces itself the soundtrack really does deserve a listen, even if only for the excellence of Emily Browning. In time this soundtrack will be considered a classic.

 

Subculture Media Review #2:

originally published in Buzz Magazine

It isn’t very often that you go and see a movie and leave thinking the best thing about it was actually the soundtrack. But that is certainly the case with new film Sucker Punch. While the film is dreadful the soundtrack certainly isn’t… the only gripe you can make is the fact that there is only nine songs… at least they are mainly songs of quality.

The big surprise on the Sucker Punch Soundtrack is how good of a singer young actress, Emily Browning is. She is absolutely stunning. Her vocal work on opening track, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of Us)” make the reworking of the old classic a must listen. She is so good that she nearly eclipses the version of this track that Marilyn Manson recorded a few years ago.

This is followed up by yet another classic track, Bjork and Skunk Anansie teaming up together to produce a Sucker Punch Remix of “Army Of Me”. Bjork’s powerful and passionate voice makes it a classic while the music gives it a real cinematic feel. The album does dip a little with Emiliana Torrini performing “White Rabbit”. While her voice is good the song never really reaches the crescendo it was aiming for.

Another standout is the “I Want It All/We Will Rock You Mash Up” featuring original vocals by Queen but also containing some great rap work from Armageddon (aka Geddy). While many may say it is blasphemy to tamper with two classic songs like this, this time around it actually does work.

Skunk Anansie turn to punk on “Search And Destroy” while the good “Tomorrow Never Knows” sees Carla Azar and Alison Mosshart team up together. Emily Browning returns with the haunting “Asleep” (where she sounds like Decoder Ring) while her work on the epic “Where Is My Mind” (with Yoav) once again proves that someone out there needs to offer the girl a record contract. The album then closes with the average jazzy-rock sound of Carla Gugino and Oscar Issac teaming up on “Love Is The Drug”.

Done the track it’s obvious that this soundtrack could genuinely be recognized as a piece of brilliance in itself… it’s just a pity it is tarnished by the crap film that comes along with it.

Rating: 5/5

Lupe Fiasco - Laser

Year: 2011

Label: Atlantic

Track Listing:
1. Letting (feat Sarah Green)

2. Words I Never Said (feat Skylar Grey)

3. Till I Get There

4. I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now (feat MDMA)

5. Out Of My Head (feat Trey Songz)

6. The Show Goes On

7. Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways) (feat MDMA)

8. Coming Up (feat MDMA)

9. State Run Radio (feat Matt Mahaffey)

10. Break The Chain (feat Eric Turner & Sway)

11. All Black Everything

12. Never Forget You (feat John Legend)

Subculture Media ‘Lasers – Lupe Fiasco’ Review:

Many of the genre’s most hardened fans would admit that, over the past decade, true rap/hip-hop has been replaced by some kind of commercial hybrid that sees artists wanting to rhyme about bling, girls and clothing rather than deliver political comments like the rappers of old. But here’s where Lupe Fiasco is willing to step up and separate himself from the rest of the pack. His latest album, Lasers, sees Fiasco deliver an album that most old-time fans would certainly be proud of.

The lead-off track, “Letting Go,” sees Sarah Green join Fiasco and show everyone that commercial R&B can still sound good. Lupe Fiasco then stands up and delivers one of the most rap tracks to see the light of day for a very long time. “Words That I Never Said” sees Fiasco take a huge swipe at Muslim Jihadists and then turns the tables by taking aim at the United States for its war on terror. He really doesn’t hold back.

If you have any doubts about why Lupe Fiasco is in the music industry, then one quick listen to “Till I Get There” will change your mind, while the extremely electronic “I Don’t Care Right Now” is just screaming to be the next radio single. Then Trey Songz teams up with Lupe Fiasco for what is clearly the worst track on the album. “Out Of My Head” may sound like a song that would have been perfect for Michael Jackson, but it certainly doesn’t do Lupe Fiasco any good.

The very commercial “The Show Goes On” is certainly a terrific track, but being overplayed on radio and television has made it lose its message. However, Lasers picks up again with “Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways),” which allows the world to see what a great songwriter Fiasco really is.

“Coming Up” is a real shocker, but if you can get past the cheesy onslaught of “State Run Radio,” you will indeed see that it contains a powerful message. Lupe Fiasco’s love of all things electronic continues with “Break The Chain,” and then he gets deeply political with the brilliant “All Black Everything.” The delightful John Legend then joins Fiasco on the smooth “Never Forget You.”

Lasers is more than just a good album. It shows just how talented Lupe Fiasco really is. Forget the likes of Usher and Kanye West—Lupe Fiasco is the real deal.

Other Subculture Media ‘Lasers – Lupe Fiasco’ Reviews: This review of ‘Lasers – Lupe Fiasco’ by David Griffiths first appeared in Buzz Magazine.

You wouldn’t know by listening to most of the rap/hip-hop that makes it to radio today but there was once a time when rappers used their music to get across their feelings. Not how they feel about ‘bitches or hoes” or how much bling they have, but instead their feelings about politics and other things close to their hearts. Well Lasers shows that Lupe Fiasco knows how to stay true to that old-style rap philosophy.

While the world has fallen at the feet at rappers like Usher and Kanye West, the very talented Lupe Fiasco has been plying his trade in the shadows and now Lasers sees him break-out into the spotlight and truly announce himself as one of the best rappers going around at the moment.

Lupe Fiasco teams up with Sarah Green on “Letting Go” and shows the world that not all commercial R&B has to be crappy and lame, and then he really announces himself with “Words That I Never Said”, a track that seems call the War On Terror bullshit while also taking a swipe at some Muslims… see a rapper that has the guts to come out and say what he feels.

“Till I Get There” sees Fiasco get heartfelt about his career and why he is in the rap game while the very-electronic “I Don’t Care Right Now” is catchy enough to be the next radio single. “Out Of My Head” sees Fiasco team up with Trey Songz and momentarily head down the commericial track with a song about a girl, it doesn’t fit his normal style and the only thing that saves it from being a complete disaster is that it has a real Michael Jackson sound to it.

“The Show Goes On” is an amazing track but you can’t help but wonder if the fact that it has been played to death on Australian TV may mean it has lost it’s heartfelt message. MDMA steps up to the mic on the emotional “Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)” and once again Fiasco’s great songwriting abilities are on show.

“Coming Up” is a truly forgettable song while :State Run Radio” may sound cheesy but if you listen carefully it takes a fair swipe at modern radio and the military. Fiasco mixes his styles up with the Ministry Of Sound-esque “Break The Chain” and then takes his fans on a poetic history listen with the very important ‘All Black Everything”. Lasers then closes with the smooth “Never Forget You” which is sung with true meaning by Fiasco and John Legend.
Rating: 4.5/5

Adalita - Adalita

Year: 2011

Label: Liberation

Track Listing:

1. Hot Air

2. Perfection

3. The Repairer

4. Jewel Thief

5. Invite Me

6. Good Girl

7. Lassa Hanta

8. Fool Around

9. Goin Down

10. Night Orchid

Subculture Media Reviews:

(originally published on Suite 101)

Recent times have been sad times for fans of the band Magic Dirt. Band member Dean Turner’s death was a shock to hardened fans, and making it even more heartbreaking was the fact that he was producing the band’s front woman Adalita Srsen’s debut solo album at the time of his death. This album has been long anticipated, with Adalita showing the world how good she is a solo artist after recording “Double Dare” for the Suburban Mayhem soundtrack. Lucky though, Turner’s death didn’t mean an end to this album.

Instead, Adalita makes her self-titled solo release a tribute to Turner, and as any great musician would, Adalita captures the melancholy feelings beautifully on the album. This, in turn, does bring a sadness to the album, which in some ways seems to enhance it. Unlike a lot of artists before, Adalita doesn’t allow her solo project to simply mirror her band (in this case Magic Dirt). In fact, the rough rock stylings of Magic Dirt are nowhere to be seen, and the best way to describe Adalita’s new style is severally experimentally.

The album is so far removed from what Magic Dirt fans have come to know and love that it will take some getting use to, but at least fans get to see that the slow style of tracks like “Hot Air” and “Perfection” do actually complement Adalita’s voice and allow her to portray emotion a lot easier.

The melancholy feel of the album is broken up by Adalita’s bringing a beautiful melodic chorus on “The Reporter” while a strong folk sound makes “Jewel Thief” stand out. However the best track on the album is clearly “Invite Me,” a track that allows Adalita to show just how good her song-writing abilities are. The tracks mix of spoken word and smooth lyrics takes the album to a higher level, and this is the kind of song that most music lovers will want to listen to over and over again.

“Lassa Hanta” reminds fans that Adalita is, in fact, a gifted musician and not a singer. This instrumental track is a joy to listen to, while “Good Girl” shares the “sadness” of the rest of the album but is also catchy enough to make you want to sing along. “Fool Around” is really heartfelt, while ‘Goin Down” and “Night Orchid” contain strong blues’ influences.

It is hard to see Adalita becoming an album that your average pop music fan will find themselves enjoying; no, this is more a work of art that will be enjoyed by a music connoisseur.

Subculture Media Review #2:

originally published in Buzz Magazine

Adalita Srsen provided she had a promising career outside of Magic Dirt when she recorded “Double Dare” for the Suburban Mayhem soundtrack, she then teased her audience with the release of her 2010 EP which featured “Hot Air” the first single of her now released self-titled debut album.

Unlike a lot of artists before Adalita doesn’t allow her solo project to simply mirror her band (in this case Magic Dirt). In fact the rough rock styling’s of Magic Dirt and nowhere to be seen and the best way to describe Adalita’s new style is severally experimentally.

As you would expect Adalita is laden with sadness, not surprising considering that the album’s producer and Magic Dirt member, Dean Turner died during the album’s creation. As any great musician would Adalita captures the melancholy feelings beautifully on the album and you really do feel that the album is a tribute to Turner’s memory.

The slow style of “Hot Air” suites Adalita’s vocal styling and while this and tracks such as “Perfection” will take Magic Dirt fans a while to get to used to, you do actually soon find yourself loving the “sadness” the album portrays.

“The Reporter” sees Adalita break up the sad moody feel of the album by introducing a beautiful melody to the chorus while “Jewel Thief” continues the mellowness but also brings a strong folk sound in parts.

Perhaps the best track on the album though is “Invite Me” which showcases Adalita’s song-writing abilities and is a great mix of spoken word and smooth lyrics. It is the kind of song that any music lover will return to time and time again.

The melancholy but catchy “Good Girl” sees Adalita announce that “I am a good girl again” which symbolizes her change from Magic Dirt member to a solo career while “Lassa Hanta” is a smooth instrumental track that allows your mind to wander.

“Fool Around” once again shows Adalita’s ability to capture heartfelt emotion in her songwriting while “Goin Down” is faster-paced and consists a blues guitar line, which also complements the bluegrass feel of closing track “Night Orchid”.

Adalita really isn’t an album for the pop-set. It is however a fine album that will be well received by true music fans. Adalita is a work of art.

Rating: 4/5