liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Music From the Cube: What Am I Listing To Today?

Ooooo, me love the MyLJ thing-y. I'm such an obsessive sucker.

Upside, I finally can wish someone a happy B-day on my Flist because — YAY — birthdays are listed!

So, happy b-day a2zmom with your awesome sitcky-uppy-haired icon! When I see it, I know it's you.

Now for the tunes!

Bering Strait, Bering Strait Rating=$$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Freebie demo from my Bordersverse Daze.

What happens when you get a bunch of classiaclly trained musicians from Russia and turn them on to that Nashville sound? You get Bering Strait and their self-titled first album. I do enjoy this CD and it's mellow take on blue grass/country, but there's something key missing. It's hard to pinpoint. The music is pitch-perfect, the lead has a gorgeous voice, but the songs are, for lack of a better word, cookie-cutter. It's almost as if you're getting someone's idea of what blue grass/country music is as opposed to the real thing. For lack of a better word, this CD seems to be missing the blue grass in its soul. Bering Strait made quite a splash when this CD was released, but I wonder how much of it was because the band members were from Russia. While I can understand the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when native music crosses national boundaries (and no, not necessarily American music getting exported into formerly hostile environments; more on the idea of musical fusions criss-crossing all across the world and finding receptive ears among people who'd never heard such a thing...I mean, how many people didn't know about the wonder that is rai and Cheb Mami before Sting's 'Desert Rose?' But I digress.), the fact is, if this band was made up of Americans (even classically trained ones like Bering Strait), I doubt they would've gotten as much attention as they did.

That said, the CD is pleasant to the ear and the music is rather good to groove to while you're in the "working it zone." Worth having if you find in the used bin, or maybe even new if you can buy via iTunes for less than $10.

For your enjoyment, I've included the one Russian track on the CD, 'Porushka-Paranya,' if only because it's really the track where Bering Strait seems to really come alive. I almost did something mean and posted their live track, 'Love Me Like a Child,' the kind of song that made me wonder just how good their English really was because...dude...this is one song that can be taken in soooooo the wrong way without any tweaking irony to offset it ("hold me like a lover and love me like a child..." oooooookay then). Once I got over snorting ang giggling over the lyrics of the faux pas passing itself off as a song, I opted to spare anyone and uploaded 'I Could Use a Hero' instead.

Sample Song Download: I Could Use a Hero, Porushka-Paranya

Wonderful World, Tony Bennett & k.d. lang Rating=$$$$$
[Support the Artists]
How I Got This CD: Freebie demo from my Bordersverse Daze.

I only have one word to say about this CD: "SCORE!"

The world's most unlikely team-up gives you the world's most perfect CD of American standards. If you don't have this, you don't know what you're mssing. It's enough to make the angels themselves weep with envy.

So let me close this brief review with another word: "GUH!"

*whine* I can only choose two *whine*

Sample Song Download: Dream a Little Dream of Me, You Can't Lose a Broken Heart

The Best of A Capella, Various Artists Rating=$$$$
[Support the Artists]
How I Got This CD: Bought new from the Tower Records cheap bin for $5 when I was in college

Okay, can someone explain to me how I forgot that I had sheer awesomeness like this in my collection? Please?

All of these tunes date from 1965. All of these tunes are a capella. All of these songs are in the doo-wop style. Unless you're a freak like me, you probably heard of none of the groups. This is stripped down music at its best. No masks, no technology, no instruments. You can hear every mistake, every flat note, and it sounds like these groups had to record their songs in five minutes or less. However, the exhuberant joy and moments of breath-taking vocal expression more than makes up for the the mistakes and shortcomings. This is what making music should be about. They don't make 'em like this any more, and that's just a damn shame.

Choosing only two was hell. Especially since every song on the collection is 2 minutes or less. So I kicked it up to three.

Sample Song Download: Lonely Way by the Zircons, Let Me Iell You by the Nutmegs, I'm in Love by the Velvet Angels


Read the index for previous thumbnail reviews.

Rating system:
None = Avoid at all cost. Worth cutting your ears off to avoid if someone threatens to play it for you. When faced with even the threat of its cellophane-wrapped presence, your best option is to RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

$= If you stumble across it for cheap in a used bin, it might, maybe, perhaps could be worth the buy, but only if you need a cheap coaster for your cold drinks or a cool-looking frisbee.

$$= You might want to give this CD/artist a try, but only if the sample track tickles your fancy. Don't bother buying this one new because the good tunes you'd get out of this one ain't worth that kind of money.

$$$ = Worth looking for on a casual basis and maybe even buying new, but no big rush.

$$$$ = Definitely worth having in the ol' CD collection and definitely worth buying new, but don't re-arrange your personal "must have" list to get your hands on it.

$$$$$ = Why haven't you bought this CD yet? Go. This is a "Want. Take. Have." situation because you so want this.

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