While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews,
the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended
or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information.
Click on the title to view the article.
The Good China
More Digest Entries
Previous Digest Entries
Image © 1999
(08 April 2000) The debut album from Tacye is entitled I Don't Need
A Gun (Radikal Records (USA) RAD 90002-2, 2000). Produced by Mike
Bennett, the album is the first to actually be issued as a two-CD set,
with one including an electronic mix and the other an acoustic mix
of the same seventeen track titles. The unique concept actually
works very well from both listening and marketing perspectives-a
single album that will appeal to two distinctly different listening
tastes with a common thread. The vocal work on both compact discs is
stunning in every respect, with lush sensuality even surpassing the
cover image. Soundbites are available at the artist's
mp3.com and at
Radikal Records websites.
Further biographic information is available at the artist's
Both CDs are technically superb with lush instrumental arrangements and
incredible soaring vocals, reminscent at times of Kate Bush and at others
of Enya and other well-known recording artists. Tacye has a stunning voice
with power, range and style reflecting years of proper training.
The "Acoustica" CD is mixed lighter, with clear solo and multi-tracked
vocals arranged without any sort of a club feel. But it is far from being
completely acoustic in nature. Thoughtful instrumentation including piano, synthesizer, guitar and bass join crisp percussion to perfectly compliment
the stunning and evocative lead vocal work. Songs work together to make
a cohesive album, easy to absorb end-to-end without ever feeling repetition
across the variety of tracks. The music is neither new age nor pop. It
is a worldly mixture of adult alternative sounds that are certain to appeal
a wide range of female vocal enthusiasts.
The "Electronica" CD has a definite club feel to it, with instrumental
and vocal arrangements being far lusher, thumpier and more suitable
to a dance atmosphere. Production quality is certainly tops clearly
demonstrating that the recording wasn't just thrown together in a remix
studio. The vocal arrangements and mix are impressive with equal
clarity and levels as on the "Acoustica" CD. Tacye's lead vocals
continue to soar well above the instrumentals with each element of
the music complimenting each other effectively.
What perhaps is the most stunning aspect of this unique two-CD set is
the way that the artist and producer have been able to create two such
different atmospheres from the same seventeen tracks.
Radikal has payed particular attention to the album's packaging and
illustration with stunning sensual imagery accompanying the two compact
discs right down to the artwork silkscreened on the individual CDs.
Listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
here. The "In My Dreams" maxi single contains "electronica,"
"acoustica" and two other remixes of the track. You can order it
Tacye's debut album I Don't Need A Gun is one of the best new releases
of 2000. Worth a cross-country journey, it is absolutely a must listen!
Image © 2000
(02 April 2000) Scarlet's Web is a new solo project from Lucid's lead singer
and songwriter, keyboardest Theresa Musser (Scarlet). She was with Anywhere But
Here earlier. We were provided a six-track demo in advance of the artist's
first full-length independent release scheduled for later this month. A
nine-track digital audio music CD is currently available from the
Scarlet's music blands melodic vocals to hypnotic beats. The result is
an adult alternative almost-pop sound with sensitive lyrical content. Music
Connection Magazine described her voice as "soft as silk yet powerful
at the same time." We could not agree more. Most comparable to Sarah McLachlan,
others have compared her favourably to Enya and Everthing But The Girl.
"Where I Stand" is a jazz-influenced rock number with soaring and sensitive vocals
supported by rich keyboard arrangements and crisp percussion as well as thick
backing vocals. A bluesy vibe with an almost spoken vocal texture drives the
track "Didn't Know." Layers of vocals in the chorus provide a contrasting
texture within the track. "Soul Mate" is a sweet ballad with a jazzy coffee
house edge; it is sung primarily over piano and is illustrative of the artist's
vocal and expressive range.
The track "Melancholy Serenade" is a highly
accessible track with powerful instrumental arrangements, lots of backing
vocals and a lovely mid-register vocal lead. Steve Plunkett's production
is evident in the final mix with vocals way up despite the instrumental
arrangements' thickness. "Fragment" is equally accessible, but with
lead and backing vocals mixed much higher up—in your face—it is certain to
please female vocal enthusiasts. Our demo concludes with "Pretend," a slow
and sensitive yet dance-oriented ballad, with lots of melodic keys and crisp
percussion supporting layers of vocals. The lead vocals are crystalline
and mixed way up, where they belong.
Clearly the Scarlet's Web demo is indicative of an exciting full length release.
Interested listeners are encouraged to sample the artist's D.A.M. CD in the meantime.
A nice listen!
Image © 2000
I Love Lucid Music
Prior to Scarlet's Web, Theresa was the lead singer of Lucid where she
co-wrote and also played keyboards. Lucid's four year old self-titled
album contains twelve rock tracks featuring her stunning vocal work;
two digital audio music CDs are available from the
Unlike the contasting textures of the Scarlet's Web project, Lucid's songs
all move right along and are either pop/rock or new wave in their construction.
Fans of Madonna and Blondie will certainly enjoy their music. Lead and backing
vocal work is stunning and arrangements feature lots of guitar with riffs
spanning both instrumental and vocal excursions.
We asked Scarlet about the album and she told us, "I would say the better
tracks are "Sweet Life," "Mystic Girl" and "Sorry Sister"." These tracks
are indeed the best of the lot, each with stunning lead vocal work, mixed
way up above the instrumentals. "Sweet Life" opens the album with lots of
instrumental power, but the lead vocal is crystalline and like the artist's
other work, mixed way above the backing. "Mystic Life" has a similar
characteristic yet the guitar parts are thicker and more pronounced. Again
the lead vocal is crystalline, powerful and inspiring. Our personal favourite
is "Sorry Sister" which has the basic construction of a ballad but the instrumental
and vocal dynamics give it a slightly harder edge. The chorus is lovely.
The album contains a great collection of memorable pop and rock songs
each with stunning vocal work, excellent instrumentation and effective
arrangements. It works well as an ensemble, and perfectly illustrates
the power and range of the band's lead vocalist. Clearly stunning from a
female vocal perspective, Lucid's album is worth further exploration and
provides a wonderful introduction to this tremendous vocalist!
Image © 1997
(02 April 2000) The debut album from Minneapolis-based Big Sky is entitled
Standing on This Earth (Skysong Productions (USA) SPCD1001, 1997). The
band also have a 10-track digital audio music CD entitled Diamonds and
Other Gems available at
mp3.com website. The latest
CD features eight tracks from their debut album as well as two previously
unreleased tracks entitled "Fire in the Water" and "Thousand Diamonds."
From their website, "Big Sky plays adventuresome, beautiful rock music with
melodies and lyrics that want to live in your head. Shining vocals, otherworldly
ethno-sounds, and rocking grooves combine for a truly unique style." They've
got it just right: the band's tracks are progressive and well arranged, fronted
by stunning lead vocalist Johnna Morrow. She also contributes acoustic guitar,
flute and bells to the band's lush arrangements. Steve Sklar produced their
debut album and plays lead guitar and provides backing vocals, including Khoomei
(Tuvan Throat-Singing; check it out on "Siberia"). Joe Miller plays drums, Mark
Roemer plays fretless bass and Michael Pelz-Sherman plays keyboards.
While Johnna has the style, power and range to sing lead parts entirely solo,
multi-layered vocals are used extensively throughout the album to add texture to
their sound. The album opens with the rousing track, "Into The Sun," where
vocal work is backed by lush instrumentals mixed to great effect—listen to it
through headphones for the full treatment. Guitar riffs and piano compliment
each other nicely. "River in the Pines" is a lovely folk rock tune with
a piano and string melody supporting Johnna's crystalline solo vocal lead.
"Standing on this Earth" is an epic tune, dominated by soaring lead vocals
offset by sensitive backing vocals in the choruses. Here the power and range
of the band's lead vocalist is effectively supported by lush supporting
instrumental arrangements. "Miss Innocence" is a 70s style folk rock tune
with keyboard parts brought into the 90s. With variation as a developing
theme, the band swings with the track "Vivid Dream."
Epic and orchestrally symphonic in its instrumental arrangement, "The
Wind" is a vocally strong track perhaps most illustrative of the power and
dynamic that Big Sky offers their listeners. The flute part within the track
adds a lovely texture and is most notable. The track "Mind" takes another
turn with its sax-based instrumental and jazzy vocal lead. The guitar
and sax riffs during the instrumental bridge are tremendous and
illustrative of Big Sky's flare for big arrangements. The track
"Big Sky" is a lovely and sensitively sung solo ballad. Clearly
featuring Johnna's crystalline lead vocal, the song is backed
primarily by piano although the arrangement is rich with guitar
and keyboards as well. "Long Way Home" continues in a similar vein,
growing to epic progressive proportions with thick instrumental
arrangements joining a stunning and soaring lead vocal.
The feelings of motion evoked in "River in the Pines" return in the
rocking tune "The Innocent One." Laced with rich keyboards, especially
in the chorus, soaring solo vocals are supported by vocal harmonies.
The album closes with the vocally intense calling of "In The Valley,"
perhaps the most illustrative of Johnna's vocal range, power and
Diamonds and Other Gems opens with Big Sky's two previously
unreleased tracks. With obvious recording differences, "Fire in the
Water" is typically Big Sky, moving like "River in the Pines" and
"The Innocent One," with lush progressive instrumental arrangements
and lots of vocaly harmonies. Lots of percussion along with thick
rocking guitar arrangements and a balance of solo and harmony vocals
characterise "Thousand Diamonds." The remaining eight tracks on the
album are for all intents the same as those on the
band's debut album.
We especially enjoyed Big Sky's Standing On This Earth which
is a stunning album in every respect. Excellent songwriting, lush
instrumental arrangements and stunning crystalline vocals work perfectly
in a progressive rock setting. Their digital audio music CD is available
at a bargain price and with two bonus tracks is likely a must for
completists. The production quality of the bonus tracks does not stack
up to their debut album. Certainly worth a long distance—perhaps even
cross-country—journey, their debut album is a must listen!
Image © 1999
Image © 1996
(02 April 2000) Atlanta-based traditional rock and roll band Alastor contacted
Musical Discoveries following our coverage of Sue
G. Wilkinson's recordings. Their latest album, Nothing For Anyone, is
another self-produced recording with eight tracks featuring the vocal work and
songwriting of Elizabeth Elkins. Alastor's music is not the type that typically
attracts Musical Discoveries' editors but we found their two albums a good
listen and serving to expand our coverage of emerging artists in the rock and
pop genre. In addition to lead vocals, Elizabeth also plays guitars while
Scott Roberts plays drums, gutars and an occasional bass part along with
backing vocals. The third band member is Brillo who is responsible for
bass guitar parts.
In an earlier review of the ablum, Hal Horowitz wrote, "Crooning, shouting,
purring, and sometimes even singing, like an uncomfortable combination of PJ
Harvey, Kim Deal and Patti Smith, Alastor's singer, songwriter, guitarist,
frontwoman Elizabeth Elkins demands your attention. And she'll grab it one
way or another." He continues, "On their second album, Elikins and her stripped
down rhythm section, which includes the multi-talented Scott Roberts on drums,
guitars and bass, backpedal to the late '80s when the Pixies (whose "Debaser"
Alastor covers on one of their latest album's two extra hidden tracks), were
challenging the mainstream with their mainstream with their controlled melodic
The band's debut album Javelin Catcher from 1996 was produced by the
band with Ed Burdell. We found the sound of the album simpler, a bit more
melodic, and the vocal work generally softer and clearer.
Horowitz also wrote, "Elkins is less musically agressive than Black Francis
and his merry men, but she pushes the same buttons. With crafty tempo changes
adding to a slightly funky backbeat, Elkins' tunes like "American Universities"
beckon you in while simulateously keeping the listener at bay with murky lyrics
like "twenty words are hanging in the still white air" which sound like they
mean something, although it's impossible to fathom that."
You can find samples at the
Alastor's sound revolves around thick electric guitar and the no nonsense
singing style of Elizabeth Elkins. While she certainly can sing, she has
a distinctively hard edge, certainly contrasting her physical appearance
(see the band's website for
photos). They must be a wonderful live act.
Those interested in a sharp contrast to much of the music typically
reviewed here should pay the band a visit and check out one of the band's
websites for audio samples. Talented musicians, their two self-produced
recordings are worth exploring and a nice listen!
Image © 1992
(02 April 2000) Musical Discoveries' editorial staff regularly compare new
and emerging vocal talents to Kate Bush. From Philadelphia, "A host of
multicultural influences come into play in Lacy James' debut album
Lovefeast (Merriminne Productions (USA) MM001, 1992). Similar
in nature—but not necessarily in style—to singers like Ofra Haza,
Sinead O'Connor and Enya, James' style is delicate and ethereal,
with a molten core and a clear, strong delivery." Another reviewer
wrote, "James includes various musical styles, mostly Middle Eastern,
on the Lovefeast album, and her voice does remind us of Kate
Bush, to whom she's been complimentarily compared."
Her music is dramatic and dreaming with vocals soaring above the
atmostpheric instrumentals that mix a variety of ethnic nuances
into the arrangements. Like Kate Bush, Lacy James is also a professional
dancer. You can find audio samples
at her official
While not all of James' songs will elicit "soundalike" comments from Kate
Bush enthusiasts, certainly the tracks "Foolish Heart/The AntlerCrown" and
"Moon Of Fire" will do so. Soaring vocals join effective instrumental
arrangements and crisp percussion to inspire the listener and delight
female vocal enthusiasts. We found the title track equally inspiring
with layer upon layer of vocal with effective but less thoroughly arranged
sparse instrumentals. Many of the other tracks draw on world sounds of
various cultural origins and include the rhythmic "Silverback" and sparse
"Badful Badful (The Stolen Child)."
We were reminded of Julee Cruise in Lacy's track "White Lion" with its
vocal musings, light instrumentals and soft overall arrangements.
One of the most enjoyable tracks on the album is the rocking tune
"Vengeance Is Mine." Here, lush instrumental arrangements accompany
crisp production and stunning soaring vocal work in a very evocative and
pop rock-oriented number much like we've heard from German artists Chandeen
(review). "Song Of Songs" on the other hand
might be more favourably compared to the gothic-oriented sounds of Love Is
Colder Than Death with vocals soaring way above sparse yet rhythmic
instrumentals. "In The Garden" is performed much in the accessible
style of "Vengeance Is Mine" combining many of the artist's influences
into a highly accessible and melodic result. Soaring Kate Bush-style
vocals join rich instrumental arrangements and interesting effects. The
album concludes with the lovely track "O Master," most reminscent of
Julee Cruise in both vocal and instrumental arrangements and certain
to please ethereal female vocal enthusiasts.
You can order Lacy James' album Lovefeast at
amazon.com. The music and dance of Lacy James are certainly worth
further exploration, especially for Kate Bush and Julee Cruise fans.
Soundbites available at her official and mp3.com websites provide an
excellent platform to begin the journey. Worth further exploration, her
debut album contains ten well-produced tracks of varying textures certain
to please discerning listeners—a very nice listen!
Image © 2000
(09 April 2000) In the case of Liv Cummins' album Exactly (22 Records
(USA) 22-1012, 2000), one would be best not to judge the music by the
album cover. We're told by the producer that it was meant to show
her "wackier side." Liv is an accomplished singer and
songwiter as well as an attractive young woman—a better
photo is available on her website.
Originally from Minneapolis, Liv began performing in Los Angeles after
attending Skidmore in Saratoga and is now currently based in New York City.
Liv is vocally similar to Kate Bush yet lighter with a more contemporary
and creative along the lines of rising star
Michelle Young, her new seventeen-track album
Exactly produced with partner Sandy McKnight is certain to appeal
to a wide range of female vocal enthusiasts. You can listen to soundbites
at the artist's
mp3.com website. Liv's
debut album, Some Days remains in print and is available from the
Exactly is an album of varying styles. Short well-written
folk-rock songs, pop numbers and ballads comprise the vocally laced album.
Liv's vocal work is soft and sweet, evocative and sensual, and highly
polished. Well produced instrumental work includes guitars, cello, bass,
lush keyboards including Hammond organ parts and crisp percussion. Vocals
are naturally mixed way up, yet they are sung softly with only rare soaring
excursions. Frequent use of multi-tracked backing vocals adds to the
overall texture of the album's sound.
We especially liked the range of styles included on the album and
the balance between folk-rock, almost-pop, ballad and even an occasional
jazz-oriented number such as the stunning "Hurry Up Your Love" with its
uniquely sensual lead vocal part. The highly accessible, almost-pop
track "Deal" is especially notable and actually perfectly suited for
radio. The album's ballads are most like one would expect of Kate Bush
and, with heartfelt performaces, are the most vocally stunning songs
included. A multi-tracked and equally heartfelt contemporary cover of
"I'll Be Back" (J. Lennon/P. McCartney) is especially memorable.
Liv Cummins' Exactly is an excellent album with great vocal
work that should be explored further. Artwork includes full lyrics and
performing credits as well as a couple of non-descript photos. With
soundbites available both at mp3.com and cdbaby.com, online listeners
can easily do so. Liv's album Exactly can be obtained at
cdbaby.com. Worth a journey, the album is a very nice listen!
Image © 2000
Dream Control Music/Socan
(08 April 2000) Likened by some to Edith Piaf, Radio Head, Kate Bush and
even Garbage, award winning singer songwriter Anet has managed to reach the
spotlight with a hit song "Tortured," also the title of her debut album on
Dream Control Music (SOCOM, Cat. No. 7 6700 61539 2, 2000). Earlier songs
have been included in films and television series and other artists'
recordings. Anet is based in Vancouver, BC. From her mp3.com website
"A Diamond Award Winning Singer/Songwriter of "Sinking Like a Sunset", from Tom Cochrane's multi platinum selling album "Mad Mad World" and a two time winner of the Socan Songwriter award for Song of the Year, Anet has also been nominated for a "Juno" (Canada's version of a Grammy) in addition to various awards and accolades throughout the world." The new album is best classified as 'alternapop'—it fits into neither
alternative nor pop genres but actually fits into both.
Rock instrumentals dominated by guitar back lead and often multi-tracked backing
vocals. Music is highly accessible and will most likely appeal more to teens
than adults. Vocals are sung or slightly spoken and the music most closely
aligns to that featured regularly at MTV. The lead vocals are lovely and at
times are sung sweetly and evocatively while others they are rough and raunchy
demonstrating the artist's ability to vary styles dramatically.
Tortured is not the typical album reviewed at Musical Discoveries
in many respects, however, the interesting instrumental arrangements include
Celtic strings at times, which should expand the appeal of the album to our
audience somewhat. A couple of tracks difficult to categorise included
the rap-like "Cursed" and multi-genre "Astronauts" and "Friends" which
were equally difficult to appreciate. Straight rock tracks, including
"Tortured," "Stop Shooting Me," "Normal," and "Stuff," are actually quite
good but will most likely appeal to younger audiences. The album also
includes two more club-oriented dance mixes on the tracks "Die 4 You"
and "L'Etat D'Amour."
Heartfelt ballad-like rock tunes accompanied by guitar and strings are the
highspots of the album. With embedded soaring vocals and a range of singing
styles, these include the stunning tracks "Realness" and "Whore." "For The
Moon" is a heartfelt, yet almost spoken, sensitive ballad that closes the
album. The multi-tracked backing vocals add a lovely texture to the track.
Anet's debut album Tortured is an excellent introduction to this
multi-dimensional female recording artist. While the ballads were the
highlight of the album for us, clearly the rock, dance and rap-like numbers
will appeal to a broader audience. She is an attractive lady and the photos
within the album's artwork clearly illustrate that while providing complete
lyrics and recording credits. You can find ample soundbites
mp3.com website and order
one or both of her digital audio music CDs there. You can order Anet's
album Tortured from amazon.com
here. Clearly worth further exploration, Tortured is a nice listen.
Image © 1999
Velvet Ink Publishing/Records
(08 April 2000) Las Vegas rock band Inside Scarlet released their debut
album Red (Velvet Ink (USA) IS-0004, 1999) over a year ago but
are gaining popularity via online listening forums.
Fronted by Sharay Larsen (vocals, guitar) and Heather Tampa (vocals,
bass), the traditional four-piece rock group
also includes Mike Cromer (guitars) and Brian Festone (drums).
Chris Ripley wrote, "Inside Scarlet is one of the premiere local bands
in Las Vegas. Their unique, yet distinctive sound sets them apart from the
pack. When you hear and watch this band you get the feeling you will soon
be paying high ticket prices to see them in a major venue or stadiums.
Inside Scarlet is definately making a name for themselves in Las Vegas
and certainly has the potential to become a major act in the music
entertainment industry." A visit to the band's brilliantly designed
website provides a peek
into their style.
Inside Scarlet and their debut album Red continue to broaden
the industry coverage of Musical Discoveries. The female vocal thread
is clearly the major element of this group's music, but the tunes are
largely harder, than other artists and albums reviewed at this website.
Both Sharay and Heather are vocally very strong with their lead parts
clearly driving the band's sound. Most of the album's songs rock in one
way or another, some being more accessible than others. "Midnight" is
a particularly memorable number with vocals far outweighing the supporting
generally lighter-than-the-rest-of-the-album guitar-laced instrumentals.
Even the band's ballads have an edge. "Gently" is song evocatively
yet powerful guitars provide a sharpness and rocking feel to the basic
song construction. "Leap Of Faith" is similarly constructed. Contrast
this with an almost-spoken vocal in "Stick," a track that would be
comfortably placed in any one of the popular teen-oriented Warner
Brothers' television shows. We found the vocal layers in "Summer Sky"
especially sweet in the verses, illustrating a slightly softer side to
the band's sound. "Fly" is filled with musical constradictions: here jazz,
swing and rock all meld together with screaming guitars and sensuous
vocals binding the song together. Lush guitar work dominates the
The title track that is meant to close the album is
one of two that highlight it. Listen to the two vocalists sing this lovely
duet together over acoustic and electric guitar, with instrumentals
that build up as the song develops. The second part of the song, equally
accomplished in its construction is sung by the two vocalists over exotic acoustic
and electric guitar, bass and the lightest percussion. The vocals and instrumental
work in this track are lovely—the best on the album.
Full songs can be downloaded from Inside
You can read further reviews, hear further soundbites and order Inside Scarlet's
album Red at amazon.com
here. The band's debut album Red is filled with contrasts and
as a live act the group are certainly worthy of further exploration. See the
band perform if you get to Las Vegas. Distinctly more rocking than many of
the albums reviewed here, it will appeal to a broad audience. It is indeed
a nice listen.
Image © 1999
(08 April 2000) With music written and/or arranged by Phil
Coulter, Roma Downy's Celtic-influenced Healing Angel
(BMG Classics (USA) 09026-63551-2, 1999), is a lovely album that
stretches Musical Discoveries' coverage in an altogether different
direction—the spoken word. The attractive Roma Downy, an Irish
woman with a lovely spoken voice and gentle accent, is the star
of the popular television series Touched By An Angel.
Healing Angel contains 15 tracks, all with rich instrumentals
and several with lovely vocal parts.
Coulter's latest album Highland Cathedral is reviewed at
Musical Discoveries here.
Besides the spoken vocal parts of Roma Downy, the album features
tremendous vocal performances by Aiofe Ni Fhearraigh, Brian Kennedy
and others. Aiofe sings Coulter's arrangement of the traditional "Be
Thou My Vision," a track that has also recently been recorded by Máire
Brennan (review) and Joanne Hogg
(review). Aiofe's version here is
tremendous in every respect.
Roma Downy's spoken parts are sensitive and heartfelt and well
supported by tremendous instrumentals provided by a bevy of major
Irish recording artists. Brendan Monaghan plays uillean pipes,
Frank Gallagher plays whistle and solo viola and Alison Hood plays
solo cello. Further supporting instrumental work is provided by
The New Chamber Orchestra led by Michael Darcy.
The female vocal numbers are tremendous in every respect and
Aiofe Ni Fhearraigh's vocal work is also featured in the tracks "A
Simple Prayer" (vocalise) and "An Irish Blessing" (lovely sung part).
The music perfectly suits her voice. Her self-titled solo album
(Gael Linn(Ireland) CEFCD 172, 1996) performed with Máire Brennan
and other major guests is also worthy of further exploration.
Phil Coulter wrote, "As a record producer you rarely get to work on
a project as rewarding as this. Writing the words, or adapting them from
old Celtic prayers and other texts, was a spiritual experience in itself.
Composing the music to enhance them was a joy, from the very first
note to the final orchestral cadence. And putting it all together in
the studio with Roma was the kind of job most producers would die for."
Healing Angel is a lovely album of Celtic instrumentals
accompanied by sensitively spoken words by a major television star.
Aiofe's three solo vocal numbers are the highlights of the recording.
You can order the album at amazon.com
here. Artwork accompanying the CD contains lovely images of the artists
and a complete set of lyrics. Certainly worthy of further exploration the
album is a very nice listen!
Image © 1998
The Good China
(08 April 2000) The Good China is a rapidly emerging alternative
rock band from San Diego, CA featuring the stunning vocal work of
frontwoman Ren Zenner.
Their debut self-titled album (The Good China (USA) TGC 54321, 1998)
includes a short introduction and eleven full-length well-produced
alternative rock tracks. Check out soundbites at the band's
Self-produced by The Good China, the technical production quality of
the recording is tops, with vocals mixed clearly and well above the
balanced instrumentals. Gilbert Kuory plays guitars, Ricth 'Bloody-Bone'
Shefke plays bass and Dave Marinesi plays drums. Lead and backing vocals
are provided by Ren Zenner. She has an incredible voice and looks to
match as a photograph within the lovely booklet accompanying the CD
illustrates. Complete lyrics are also provided. Although they don't
like comparisons, the band's sound can be favourably aligned to the
new lineup of 10,000 Maniacs.
Even though "Leave The Light On" is a ballad, it is richly instrumented
and thoroughly arranged with powerful vocals making for a interesting
contrast within a song. The band's most accessible number, typically as
their demo (downloadable from mp3.com for example), is "This Is Your Life"
where evocative and melodic and spine-tingling vocals join well-arranged
guitar and lush keyboard instrumentation. "The Machine," "Funny These
Things" and "D-Day" are rocking numbers with heavier guitar-based
instrumentation, soaring vocals and lovely melodies.
Gil Koury's guitar work is a main feature of "Falling Down" whereas
lead and lovely multi-tracked vocals remind us that we're listening to
The Good China. We especially liked the sensitively sung solo vocal parts
and supporting saxophone in "Strange." Ren's vocal work dominates in
"Late Again" and "Another Day" with lead being effectively balanced by
backing vocal work. Both guitars and vocals are actually reminscent of
Leger De Main's sound
(review). The album concludes with the rocking
"Burning Up" which features an almost spoken-style vocal, lots of guitar
and crisp percussion. A sultry jazz-influenced sax-laced bonus track is
embedded within the final track beginning at approximately 4:10. Soaring
vocals and accompanying instrumental arrangements are tremendous.
The Good China's debut album is a great collection of vocally-laced
numbers featuring the everso talented Ren Zenner. Clearly the band are
at the beginning of their musical career and have a bright future. Worth
a cross-country journey for further exploration, especially for the vocal
work, the album is a must listen!
Nettwerk Productions 1996
(01 April 2000) Tara McLean's debut album Silence (Nettwerk
(Canada) 0 6700 30106 2 7, 1996) was recorded when the artist was in her
early 20s. Like her most recent release
(review), the album is comprised of
adult alternative vocally-laced tracks featuring the sensitive and
evocative work of this very attractive young woman.
Electronic and conventional instrumentation are used to back tracks
of varying styles. "Evidence" is a pop-oriented dance beat track with
sensitive soaring vocals mixed well above electronic instrumentation.
A slide guitar part on "Let Her Feel The Rain" elicits a slight country
atmosphere in anotherwise folky rock track with sensitive whispy vocals.
"That's Me" and "More" are two of the album's lovely ballads where Tara
MacLean clearly shines. "Silence" is a blues track sensuously sung
evocative track with vocals soaring above everso light instrumentation.
A sultry coffee house jazz atmosphere is the backdrop for the almost
spoken vocal track "Red." Tara's soaring vocals are spine-tingling and
completely illustrative of the power and range of this stunning artist.
"Holy Tears," "For You" and "In The Wings" are among the most sensitive of the
album's ballads sung with only the lighest instrumentation. "If You
Could" picks up the pace everso slightly with even sweeter vocals and
a lovely melody certain to please a wide ranging audience. The album's
final listed track is a lovely acoustic version of "Let Her Feel The Rain."
A bonus track that follows contains a string-based instrumental of the
Tara McLean's debut album is lighter and softer than her followup,
featuring a vast collection of sensuous and heartfelt ballads. The
package contains a lovely booklet with complete lyrics, production
credits and photographs of the artist.
You can listen to soundbites,
read other reviews and order the album from
here. Worth further exploration and a journey, the album is a very