Tori Amos, Scarlet's Walk Rating=$$$$
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How I Got This CD: Paid 40% on employee discount day during my Bordersverse Daze.
This is probably Amos's most accessible CD in years. While the musical experimentation on Amos's part was fun, it didn't exactly inspire me to invest in her CDs. Although Scarlet's Walk is musically accessible, the songs still retain their loopy and hallucinatory lyrics. It's a nice middle ground if you're not a raving fan, but do feel the pull towards Amos's work.
The biggest flaw of the CD is that A Sorta Fairytale (which has been used in far too many bad songfics) and Taxi Ride (which was a minor hit in the U.S. on contemporary adult radio stations) are really the stand-out songs. While the other tracks are nice, they are of variable quality. The CD's case is not helped by the fact that the opening bars of Taxi Ride and A Sorta Fairytale are so similar that at first you think it's the same song.
The CD is worth having if you're a casual Tori fan. If you're a hardcore fan, I say go for the special edition Scarlett's Walk since that has oodles of good extras.
Sample Song Download: Another Girl's Paradise
Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes Rating=$$$$
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How I Got This CD: Bought used when I was living in New Hampshire.
Remember when it was basically Tori and a piano? Come back with me to yesteryear and revisit Little Earthquakes. Truthfully, I have to be in the mood to play this, which is why it fails the 5-star treatment from me, but there's not really a clunker in the bunch, even if Me and a Gun freaks my shit out whenever I hear it.
Just the same, I do recommend you make room for this one in the ol' collection, if only because there are so many classic Amos tunes on this one.
It was hard choosing just one track to put up, but the sly humor of today's cut made it a "must."
Sample Song Download: Leather
The Avalanches Rating=$$$
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How I Got This CD: Freebie from my Bordersverse Daze.
This is the first time I had a chance to play this CD since I snagged it from the demo box almost two years ago and I am positively thrilled I got it. This Australian trip-hop group pulls in a mixture of songs, movie sound clips, and noises into their mashups (it sounds like they're trying to use their entire collection of vinyl gems) and the tracks flow seamlessly from one to the next. Fans of Moby will dig it, people who aren't thrilled with mashups will be less happy with it.
The CD's fatal flaw is that it starts off strong, sags in the middle, and limps to the end, like The Avalanches just ran out of steam somewhere during the making of it. Still, it's good enough to keep me interested and bopping. Good for the cube, but bad if you're just listening, is that the aural sensory overload eventually causes you to tune the CD out. This is fine if you're background noising it in the cube or while you're doing something else. Less fun if you're actually trying to listen to the CD and catch all the different elements that are put into the various tracks.
There is one negative for the cube set, however. Because of the use of voices, traffic, and other assorted everyday noises, if you work with your back to the entrance of your cube (like me) it can be distracting because you think there's someone behind you trying to get your attention.
Sample Song Download: Since I Left You
David Arkenstone, Avalon: A Celtic Legend Rating=$$
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How I Got This CD: Freebie from my Bordersverse Daze
This is a relaxing, laid-back, New-Agey instumental CD that sounds suspiciously like a soundtrack. Without a doubt, some of the music is generic enough that it would be right at home in any number of television shows. To sum it up: this is Musak — Musak with original compositions and slightly more pleasant — but still Musak. For the cube-bound, it's pleasant background noise that's inoffensive and won't startle you with any sudden increase in volume. An utterly forgettable work notable only for its vague New Age-y Celtic sound. I will admit it, it's a small step above the usual crap that passes itself off as New Age instrumentals.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that this CD lacks anything resembling personality.
As an interesting personal note: This CD was played on the overhead sound system in the books section of the Borders where I worked for a solid year. All of us joked that our ultimate goal was to shoot the overhead so we wouldn't have to hear this damn CD any more. Just the same, when it showed up in the demo box, I grabbed it because I liked exactly one song.
This CD remained among the missing in my collection for nearly two years until the great CD reorganization project of 2005. Upon listening to it again, I don't feel the retail rage it once inspired in me, although I'm hard pressed to remember which track stood out for me enough that I actually took the CD home.
Sample Song Download: Enchantment
AT&T, Service Sign-Up Disc Rating=None
How I Got This CD: Freebie in the mail. A gimmie AT&T used to get people to sign up for their Internet service.
Unlike AOL that just sends you disc after disc after disc with noting but AOL crap on it, AT&T once upon a time would try to lure people to their service by including five music tracks on their CDs. This one was a freebie in the mail that included five songs that were swirling around on Top 40 stations at the time. I have no idea why I didn't toss it at the time and I have no idea why I've still got it since it's not really worth the time to listen to or the space it takes up in my collection. Since I can’t actually sell this off (again, freebie CD from AT&T to get you to sign on to their Internet Service), I think this one is going directly into the trash.
Sample Song Download: Wrong Impression by Natalie Imbruglia
Read the index for previous thumbnail reviews.
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.