Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair Review

Please read Scott Gregory’s pick for Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair before reading and listening to our reviews below.

Quick Summary: 

Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair Review
  • Worth the hype?
  • Influence us and our tastes?
  • Would we recommend?
2.4

Summary

The songs we remembered from Tears for Fears, Songs from the Big Chair were great. Unfortunately, most of us felt that the other tracks on the album didn’t meet the same standard. This album was from 1985 and was very successful for Rowland Orazabal and Curt Smith who hailed from Bath, England.
You definitely have to keep in mind that this album is over 30 years old and skirts the line of 80s pop and new wave music, which was very popular at that time. We invite you to listen to all our praises and rantings.
Our new audio format is exciting for us and allows us to chat and compare our opinions instead of blindly writing them down. We hope you enjoy the new format!


 
Our Individual Review Scores
Scott Coates:
Overall opinion: 2 (two hit singles)
Would I recommend?: 1
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype?: 1
Darren Scott:
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would I recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 2.5
Scott Gregory:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced our tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Alain DuPuis:
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3.5
Greg Jorgensen:
Overall opinion: 2
Would I recommend?: 2
Influenced our tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 2

Review of George Thorogood & the Destroyers: Bad to the Bone

Please read Greg Jorgenson’ pick for George Thorogood & the Destroyers: Bad to the Bone before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
We like surprises in this group, and I think this album caught most of us off guard. Sure, some of us had fond memories of GT&TD but we weren’t sure how an album like Bad to the Bone would hold up.
Overall, we were impressed at the fact that that this album was still so fun. We had different opinions obviously, but most agreed that this album was a fun introduction into rockin’ blues. The band kept the rhythm and songs on point and it was just so fun. We would all recommend this album. Please read and listen to the reviews.
What was cool about this album:

  • Bad to the Bone. I mean… c’mon.
  • Introduced white kids to classic blues.
  • It just rocks.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Sounded similar across several songs
  • Not groundbreaking music at the time, but hit the right people at the right time..

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 4
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
The first time I heard this album – back when “rock and roll” meant Def Leppard to my untrained ears – music like this was fun but strange. It had elements of badass rock and roll, but also seemed aimed at the band camp geeks at school (who mixes electric guitar with saxophone??). And what’s with the drums? They were strong but not crazy, and of course I knew that REAL drummers threw their sticks up in the air and tossed their sweaty hair around. and just when things got going, the next song would be a slow shuffle where the drummer used one of those weird whisk things. What was this stuff?
What a blast from the past. It’s no wonder this one has stood the test of time. While listening it struck me that this would be the perfect set list of a live gig – hard, driving, blues songs broken up by slower pieces that show off the band’s talents on their individual instruments and let the front man connect with the crowd.
The songs were suitably different from each other that each one shined on its own merits. Standouts for me were Back to Wentzville, which started things off with a bang, New Boogie Chillen, and the down-tempo It’s a Sin/As the Years Go Passing By, both lovely, relaxed little pieces that are perfect stories to be told by George’s somewhat-shaky vocals. I liked Wanted Man too, but it somehow felt it should be a song by Bon Jovi from the Young Guns soundtrack.
And then there’s Bad to the Bone. Man, those guys sure struck gold on this one – there are only a handful of songs out there that are immediately recognizable from the first note, and even less that remain so toe-tappingly listenable after nearly 4 decades.
One of the negatives for me were that some songs sounded like a diary entry: “I was walkin’ down the street” followed by a rush of music. Then another statement: “And my shoe came off.” More music, as in No Particular Place to Go, which seemed to repeat the same few verses over and over. Not awful to listen to, just…stretching the boundaries of what a ‘song’ is I guess.
Overall this is a great listen, and I’d love to see a live set of this album from top to bottom. These guys are in total control on every song.
Overall Opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype: 4.5
smcoates-About-Picture-200x300Scott Coates’s Review
Bad to the Bone sounds about as classic as it gets. I’ve seemingly known the title track as long as I’ve been old enough to make my own musical choices. The opening guitar lick, lyrics and attitude exude rebelliousness in a pretty innocent way. Diving into the album as a complete work, I was quite surprised how vintage many of the songs sound despite being released in 1982. Not vintage in a bad way, but a good number of the tracks sound as though they’d fit better into the 1950s than the eighties when Bad to the Bone was released.
Thorogood was definitely tapping blues and jazz roots, laid down decades before by mostly black musicians who brought a new musical style to the forefront. He and the Destroyers put a safe Caucasian polish on the style, making it accessible to the masses. Most songs on the album are toe-tapping fun that can be listened to and enjoyed by a wide cross section of society. It’s a pretty safe and stylish format.
Bad to the Bone is a classic winner that will stand the test of time. No need to go on further about this very well known staple. It’s a Sin is one of the more surprising tracks on the album. It’s pure fifties I can imagine high school sweethearts dancing to at the annual Under the Sea ball. For that matter, it would have been a great song on the Back to the Future soundtrack. No Particular Place to Go was a standout, laying down some fun blues-rock vibes with lyrics that could be the soundtrack of any weekend strolling around town. Showing a side of diversity, Wanted Man grabbed my attention. It’s more of a country song than a rock or blues one and could just as easily appear on a George Straight album.
Overall Bad to the Bone is a fun, easy going album you could put on almost anytime, for any crowd and it wouldn’t offend. I’ll dive into some other Thorogood albums in the near future, but likely won’t come back to Bad to the Bone frequently as I found it a bit repetitive at times. That said, when I need something predictable, fun, and a bit rocking, it will grace my speakers.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype?: 4
Darren ScottDarren Scott’s Review 
Please check out my audio review of this album as we are trying new things here at The Sonic Collective. We figure it might be more informative and entertaining to have these reviews as audio or even video going forward. Hopefully we make the time to execute on this.

The Summary of my review is:
I’m sure not many under 35 music fans have any idea who George Thorogood & The Destroyers are, but I really loved this album though when I was in high school we listened to George Thorogood and The Destroyers live album which was a few years after the release of Bad to the Bone.
I don’t actually see his music style as an influence (name another boogie oogie blues band) but what he did was taught 80s white kids the blues. Think of a blues riff? Does it sound like Bad to the Bone? Yup. By introducing white north American kids to the blues he opened doors and eyes for young aspiring bands to seek out the roots of rock. This was very influential to upcoming rock artists. However, his style of music was a bit of a dying art form.
This is a great introduction to Blues and is fun as heck. Lots of covers here that many would not know they are covers. I really liked this album and had fun with it. Great band and worth a listen.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype?: 4
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review
I don’t know why, but I seriously couldn’t get into this album. I always considered myself a fan of George Thorogood, and who can argue with the pure testoterone oozing out of the titular track, Bad to the Bone, but I guess I’m a fan of George being spread out over a playlist. These reviews are about full albums, and I apparently can’t sit through a whole George Thorogood album.
He’s an incredible guitar player, and has one of those signature styles I really appreciate, but that didn’t seem to enough to carry me through. Rather than dwell on the negative, let’s talk about the one thing I definitely enjoyed: the slower tracks. I never associated George with a super bluesy slow jam, but there are a couple tracks that really forced me to expand my perception of GT.
As The Years Go Passing By is a very emotional track. I don’t listen to a lot of blues, so there could be tons better saxophone out there. I’m comparing it to George Michael’s Careless Whisper and Tim Capello’s I Still Believe off the Lost Boy’s soundtrack (great track), so that should let you know how qualified I am to judge sax work. Still, I know what I like, and I liked this one. You might like it too.
It’s A Sin is my second-most-favourite song titled It’s A Sin. While not quite as up-tempo and political as the Pet Shop Boys track, I think I can relate more to George’s plight. While I would gladly karaoke either song, I think George’s song would be easier after six or seven shots, and actually still sound very authentic. Plus, more sax. Maybe I’m turning in to a sax addict?
I think we’ve established I’m not a blues fan, new or old, even when performed by someone whom I think has a great voice and is a talented guitarist. If you’re in to the rhythm and blues thing, I think this one was meant for you instead.Bad to the Bone is on this album, and who can resist singing along to that?
Worth at least one listen, and if you don’t like it you can add that one song to your singing in the shower playlist and be done with it.
Overall Opinion: 3
Would I recommend: 3
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype: 3
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
When I saw the email come in enlightening me that this month’s pick would be Bad to the Bone, I groaned. My knowledge of George Thorogood didn’t exceed any further than the title track, “Bad to the Bone”, a song that I really don’t care for. I figured I’d be in for a disappointing review this month. Happily, I was wrong. I actually really enjoyed this album. It has just the right mix of rock, country, blues,  and southern storytelling to keep me intrigued. It’s very different from the kind of music I tend to reach for.
Three songs on the album stood out to me as instantly likeable. The first track, Back to Wentzville is fun, fast-paced, and exudes rock and roll. It has all the hallmarks of one of those classic old-timey rock songs. Saxophone solos, pianos, blues guitar chords, and an ode to his car. Nobody But Me, and No Particular Place to Go are equally enjoyable for most of the same reasons, with varying degrees of bluesy guitar solos and sax solos. I loved the energy and the storytelling.
Where the album is weakest is with the slower songs. (I’d hesitate to call them ballads.) Songs like It’s a Sin just aren’t that fun to listen to. Thorogood’s vocals are…  well, lets just say he could be outshined by any of the regulars at the bar where I host Karaoke. Wanted Man is another one that really just doesn’t keep me too engaged. I’m not even gonna talk about Bad to the Bone because I hate it. I’ve heard it ad-nauseum since I was a little kid.
I liked the album overall. Does it hold up to modern music? Not a chance. The bravado-oozing, self-congratulatory lyrics are best served in hip-hop music these days. The songwriting isn’t groundbreaking. In fact, it’s pretty elementary. The vocal skills of George are not exactly gonna set hearts and minds on fire. But, all together with the skillful instrumentals to accompany him, listeners are able to just forget about the real world and enter a world where cruising around in a Cadillac Coupe DeVille trolling for  groupies all night appears to be the greatest thing ever. I don’t know what it is about the album, but I just really enjoyed it. Great pick, Greg! I’m glad I was wrong about this one.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 4

Tears for Fears: Songs from the Big Chair

If you’ve tuned in to a couple reviews, you’ll see I rate many albums by how inclined I am to add it to my morning shower karaoke. I’ve also managed to hide it for over a year, but I’m also deeply addicted to 80s music, particularly from either the UK or Australia. I can fight it no longer. I’m Broken. I have to Shout the name of this band that has me Head Over Heels. Ladies and gentlmen, I give you Songs from the Big Chair by Tears for Fears.
tears-for-fears-songs-from-the-big-chairWhen first looking it up, I didn’t expect the album to have only 8 tracks, and for half of them to be singles. It made me all the more curious how the entire thing would come together. Will the new songs weave my favourite singles in to a greater story previously unknown? What emotional journey might await?
Numerous music magazines list this as not only one of the top albums of the 80s, but on their “must listen to before you die” lists, so I’m very hopeful. It’s the second studio album by the band, and normally I’d be a little leery of a sophomore slump, but considering the #1 chart rankings for both the album and singles across multiple countries, I think we’ll be ok.
So feather that hair and get ready to belt out some old favourites while hopefully meeting some new ones! My only regret is that the song with the greatest <https://youtu.be/u1ZvPSpLxCg?t=2m15s> is off a different album. (That’s right Michael Jackson, I said it.)
Links:
Songs from the Big Chair on Wikipedia
Album link on iTunes
Official Tears for Fears website
More awesome 80s dancing

Review of Sam Roberts: We Were All Born In a Flame

Please read Scott Coates’s selection article of Sam Roberts: We Were All Born In a Flame before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
Sam Roberts is a well-known Canadian artist that seemingly always has songs on the radio. That’s a good thing and a bad thing as it becomes like pop radio where all they do is kill pop songs until you can’t stand them anymore. If I hear Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling one more time I’ll explode! The 3 of us living in Canada all agreed the hits were too overplayed and it turned us away from Sam Roberts slightly.
The great news is that when we now go back and listen to this album as a whole, we almost all(looking at you Greg) agreed there was so much more to Sam Roberts and to this album. It was a great listen and we all picked up on different nuances about it. Enjoy the individual reviews below and please take time to appreciate this great Canadian artist.
What was cool about this album:

  • The album was great beginning to end.
  • Songs like The Canadian Dream and Higher Learning were amazing songs we had not heard before. Sam Roberts is so much more than just those overplayed hits.
  • We get to post this review on Canada Day.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Canadian radio stations absolutely overplayed Sam Roberts singles which turned some of us off his music years ago.
  • Greg didn’t find the album that great. Sheesh Greg, you like Meatloaf and Skunk Anansie but not Sam Roberts? Ha ha…

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 4
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3.5
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

 
smcoates-About-Picture-200x300
Scott Coates’s Review
In the summer of 2003 I was visiting Canada (I live in Thailand) and it seemed there were two songs on the radio, both by Sam Roberts, Where Have all the Good People Gone and Brother Down. You couldn’t walk into a bar/restaurant without hearing at least one of these songs. I enjoyed the two tracks, returned to Thailand and that’s where my Sam Roberts experience ended.
This month was a highly enjoyable one, listening to We Were All Born in a Flame many, many times. This is a solid album from start to finish. And Canadian to boot! There’s such breadth and depth throughout. Truly an album for multiple occasions: over dinner, while working, reading a book, enjoying a bottle of wine, this is a very likeable and versatile collection.
While I like Where Have all the Good People Gone and Brother Down, the two biggest radio hits from the album, other tracks resonate more, particularly The Canadian Dream, which I’m still playing over and over. There’s a depth to this song that pulls me in each time I listen. Trippy guitars in the background, superbly Canadian lyrically imagery and an overall fantastic musical sound make this, easily the standout track of the album. Fantastic!
Debut albums are often artist’s best as they have a collection of songs they’ve honed for a long time, sometimes rendering follow-ups a bit of a disappointment. I’m not sure if this is the case with Sam Roberts but will be diving into his catalogue deeply in the coming months. We Were All Born in a Flame has captured my musical spirit, made me proud of Canadian artistry and seriously turned me on to Sam Roberts’ work.
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype?: 4
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
When Scott picked Sam Roberts I was a little surprised. Scott Coates and our other member Greg Jorgensen have both lived in Thailand since about 1999. Even though both of them are Canadian it is obvious they would be a little removed from the Canadian music industry. For me, I had always liked Sam Roberts hits I heard on the radio and I bought most of the singles over the years. However, though I really liked Sam Roberts, I had not really bought an album or really dedicated much time to listening to his music. I would compare Sam Roberts to my wife Shaida’s hair. My wife has beautiful, exotic, curly, thick amazing hair and when people meet her they often comment on how much they love her hair. As we have been together since 1998 I see it every day and though I appreciate how awesome her hair looks I’m just used to it and don’t really think of it on a daily basis. Sam Roberts music seemed like that to me. When I started hearing him in the mid-90s on radio I liked it and knew who he was but listening to just singles it just came to a point where the music blended in with all the other music I listened too. I knew it was great music, I just heard it often and got used to it so I never thought of it day to day.
I owe Sam Roberts an apology. I’m so sorry Sam. As a proud Canadian and supporter of Canadian music I should have made time to really listen to his music. As soon as I got through the album for the first time I was blown away how great it was. Sure I heard the singles I knew and liked but the album was an amazing listen from beginning to end. When I finally reached the song The Canadian Dream I was fully converted. Wow, what a great song, and it spoke to me as a Canadian. So good.
The rest of the month I enjoyed this album each and every time I listened to it, which was often. I also took time and listened to his other albums which are also great. I don’t know how I somehow missed getting more into Sam Roberts the past 20 years but I won’t let that happen again. I now think he is one of the greatest Canadian artists I listen too and I’m actually surprised he didn’t garner more international fame.
As I sit here on Canada Day getting ready to go volunteer at the new National Music Centre here in Calgary, Alberta I feel proud that I got to rediscover such a great Canadian artist. Great pick Scott, great music Sam!
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 4
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review
I think most of us had a superficial idea of Sam Roberts’ music coming in to this review. He received a good amount of airplay in Canada for many of his singles, and I think how we responded likely had to do a lot with what we were up to at the time.
I really caught the Sam Roberts wave when I went back to university, which worked out well for me. I don’t think Brother Down was quite as strong an album as We Were Born in a Flame, and luckily Flame was out when Roberts came to campus. I really got to appreciate him in the context of all the youthful energy of fellow students 10 years my junior. Don’t Walk Away Eileen is still one of my top-two favourite songs about women named Eileen.
Roberts is an incredibly gifted and diverse songwriter, and I appreciate how he can keep the instruments thrumming and have the lyrics thrive in front of it. He’s not afraid to let the guitars off the leash, but you get sucked back in by his measured vocals that include great transitions from solo to harmonizing. Truly a joy to listen to.
Already mentioned before, Don’t Walk Away Eileen is one of my all-time favourite songs, let alone by Roberts. You queue this up with Money City Maniacs by Sloan and you’re well on your way to a great air guitar session. It’s loud, it’s aggressive and it’s infectious without being coarse. If this makes sense, I think it’s an amazing example of a well polished unpolished song?
The start to Hard Road is my favourite part of this album. It’s fluid, low-key, and sits underneath Roberts’ vocal amazingly. You have to really be paying attention to catch the subtle shifts in the guitar as he moves through the various parts of the song. Once you’ve given it a couple listens, I highly encourage you to go back and listen to all the transitions.
It’s hard not to go with three of the singles as favourites, especially since half the album received airplay. Perhaps Rarefied? He lets the percussion take a larger role in this song, particularly the bass. The more-pronounced overdub on the backing vocals was fun and different as well. What’s better than Sam Roberts? Sam Roberts backing Sam Roberts of course!
It goes without saying that, patriotism aside, I really love this album and think it was a wonderful pick. I highly recommend anyone that likes a rockin’ time to give it a listen.
The numbers:
Overall Opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype: 4
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review

I’d never heard of Sam Roberts before, which isn’t surprising. Living overseas for 15 years will remove anyone from the sphere of pop culture influence from their home country. I didn’t know what to expect from Scott’s pick, because while we share a lot of common tastes, we also really disagree on a lot of music. We Were Born in a Flame fell somewhere in the middle.
This was a really pleasant album to listen to, and everyone involved is obviously very talented and competent. But it didn’t grab me, and fell into the “starts strong but trails off” category of albums. Save for a few tracks, almost every song made me feel a bit listless, like it would be a perfect listen for a rainy day stuck indoors. There was enthusiasm but no energy. Rock but no roll. Spirit but no vigor. I listened to it half a dozen times but maybe I was just in the mood for something a little harder each time…?
It started off well, and Hard Road was a fun song. Don’t Walk Away Eileen was a good choice as one of the album’s singles, and Brother Down had me tapping my toes. Taj Mahal had a beautiful melody, but the rest kind of faded after that.
I don’t really have a lot to say about this album except that it was perfectly fine, but not something I’d specifically choose again. If it came on, I’d be happy to listen, but I don’t think it will be in rotation on my playlist.
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would we recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 2.5
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
I vividly remember when this album came out. As it was Canadian Content, the Calgary radio stations would play singles like Brother Down and Where Have All The Good People Gone ad-nauseum. I think it kinda left me sour about anything to do with Sam Roberts. Additionally, because his music lacked the aggressive guitars and snarling vocals that I really loved in my music at the time as well, he didn’t rank very high on my list of bands to give a shit about. But that was then, and this is now. How does it hold up against a matured musical palate?
Here’s the thing. This album came out in June of 2003. It’s been a long time since it was first released and I still can’t stand the singles. If I never hear Brother Down, Where Have All The Good People Gone, and Don’t Walk Away Eileen again, I will not be sad. I guess that’s the downside to the Can-Con regulations. (If you aren’t aware, the Canadian Government mandates that Canadian radio stations play between somewhere between 35% and 40% Canadian artists every hour. This should be a great exposure boost for emerging artists, however, in my observations, what actually happens is that the same few proven hit-makers see proportionally higher rotations on the air. That means a lot of repeated Nickelback, Sam Roberts, and Avril Lavigne tracks.)
The good news: The non-single tracks on this album are actually pretty good! I’m really happy Scott chose this pick. I wouldn’t have otherwise delved into Sam Robert’ discography.
I think my favourite track on the album was Higher learning. I enjoyed the energy. It sounded more rock n’ roll than the singles I’d heard before it. Frankly I’m a little surprised this song wasn’t picked as a single – it’s very catchy!
On the Run had a really rad base line and a sense of frenetic energy to it that had me moving my head to it. That song earns a spot on my permanent rotation for sure. Despite the fact it’s a pretty basic tune that features a whopping 4 chords, it’s a fun throwback to before music took itself so seriously.
Dead End, and No Sleep were also fun tunes to bump to. They sounded fresh to me, and again had me wondering why more tracks from this album weren’t getting radio play.
Overall I enjoyed We Were All Born In A Flame much more than I expected to, despite some of the tracks having worn themselves out on me from years of radio play. The album has a garage-band feel to it, but maintains a level of tightness that I appreciate. Lyrically, a lot of the tracks are relatable and totally reek of Canadiana, which I dig as a proud Canuck. It’s accessible, and fun overall. Go give it a listen!
My personal opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 3.5

Review of Chantal Kreviazuk: Colour Moving and Still

Please read Scott Gregory’s selection article of Chantal Kreviazuk: Colour Moving and Still before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
Maybe our collective group needed a break after reviewing Bat out of Hell because this easy-listening pick was just what we needed to chill out, relax, and for some of us, get the nasty taste of Meat Loaf out of our heads.
The five of us were similar in our reviews this month but for different reasons, but we all had to admit that Chantal’s voice, music, songwriting and beauty of her personality won us over. Colour, Moving and Still was a worthy addition to the amazing women vocalists of Canada in the 90s and her philanthropy and the use of her fame for good is truly noble. Check out what else we had to say and put on this album and chill out while you read.
What was cool about this album:

  • It’s a beautifully written, relaxing album that makes you feel good.
  • The more we learned about Chantal, the more we fell in love with her. So much talent and so much giving back. Thanks Chantal.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • With exception of Scott Gregory we all commented that we usually don’t listen to albums that are in the adult contemporary, easy-listening genre.
  • As per the previous point, our scores for how this particular album influenced us was low as we just didn’t listen to this type of music 20 years ago.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would we recommend?: 4
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review
I consider Chantal Kreviazuk one of Canada’s best contemporary singer/songwriters. And while I remember her mostly from a childhood filled with Much Music videos, these days it’s her humanitarian work and candid social media presence that’s drawn me in. That great musician just happened to be an all-around great person too! With that in mind, my 24 year-old awkward college-self finally found the courage to ask her second album out on a date.
The composition on this album is amazing. As much as I love the piano, I need it to either be crazy-brash like we saw on Meatloaf Bat out of Hell, or it needs to be in perfect harmony to avoid the instrumental version of lead-singer-disease. I’ve listened a bunch of times, and I can’t pick out anywhere she sells out a song to showcase her (amazing) piano skills.
I can’t help but love the whole album, because you can clearly feel it as a whole. I find myself stopping and thinking about these songs. Thinking about the choice in transitions, spikes and ebbs in emotion. I also find myself stopping in songs like Soul Searching trying to figure out just how to classify what I can only describe as the “shimmy shimmy” percussion going on, and how it’s defied any other classification.
While the entire album peels my heart and mind back in layers, I’ve pulled out the three songs that stand out for their own reasons:
Eve
I’ve spent an entire month with this song and I still don’t know exactly what is going on here! The opening haunts me. Like haunts me. I’m talking like instant hair standing up and mind at attention feelings. I’ve poured over the lyrics and I’ve moved from interpretations of loss of a child to loss of childhood, narrator to sibling looking in. I really need to know what she is forgiving!!! This song is costing me sleep and sanity. You should really check it out.
Until We Die
This song struck me as even more relevant today than it could have been 17 years ago. With far more people meeting online, be it through games, social media or dating sites, and the ease with which one can maintain a relationship through cheap phone, Skype, and other services, there are far more people going through the beautiful torture of a long distance relationship. I could clearly remember the angst and exaggerated highs and lows that “being here for you but not being there for you” can bring. I can only see this song becoming more powerful as time goes on.
Before you
When this single dropped, I was spellbound watching this video on Much Music. She was beautiful, gifted musically and the lyrics were simultaneously the love letter I hoped I’d one day receive from a woman and a checklist of what to do to get it. The joy just oozes out of every layer of this song. Listening to it again after all these years, I can safely say the battle of 1994 has finally been decided, Chantal has won the long-game against Raine and Before You has replaced Starseed on my shower karaoke rotation. Sorry man, it was a good run.
My review’s been pretty light on the instrumental or production sides, which is likely a byproduct of the emotional response I had. Overall I love the slow, groovy undertones that run through a large part of the album. I’m familiar with some of Jay Joyce’s later work with the Wallflowers and Cage the Elephant and you can see his influence production here. If you’re looking for a timeless, soul-searching, dynamic and challenging album from a duo of master musicians and producers, you’re going to love this one.
The numbers
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype: 5
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
When this pick was put up on the website, it was a nice surprise. Chantal Kreviazuk is a name I haven’t heard, nor thought about, in years. To put a fine point on it, not since 1999, when Colour Moving and Still came out. That was 2 years before I moved to Thailand and largely left Canadian pop culture behind me, so it’s no surprise that she hasn’t played a role in the intervening years.
But I remember the singles from this album being on the radio all the time, and liked them a lot. I’d never listened to the whole album, so it was an interesting one for me. That being said – despite Kreviazuk’s gorgeous voice, powerful vocals, and clear songwriting talent, adult contemporary just isn’t a genre I ever really got into, and this album isn’t any different.
Before You was the big hit on CMaS, and it’s a beautiful song with a fantastic hook – I’ve actually been singing it in my head for the past 3 weeks. I do remember listening to CJ92 and rocking out to this one quite happily on my bright yellow Sony walkman, and it was a pleasure to listen to again. None of the other songs, however, really blew my (ahem) hair back. Dear Life was a nice, peppy listen, and Far Away had some gorgeous vocals, especially near the end.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but I can’t help but get a secondary Alanis vibe from the whole shebang. That’s not saying it’s because Kreviazuk is any less or more of a songwriter/performer, or that Canadians shouldn’t be any less proud that she’s one of ours, but any album from the mid-to-late 90s from a Canadian female singer is likely to be compared to Morisette – and simply by the fact that Jagged Little Pill was such a juggernaut, any album from the same or similar genre will likely be overshadowed.
Beyond that, I found CMaS to be a very nice album, but nothing that really grabbed me in any notable way.
Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 3
Influenced our tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 3
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
This was a really tough review for me. I don’t often deliberately listen to anything that qualifies as “adult contemporary”. The genre has just never really moved the needle for me. When Scott listed this album as his pick for the month, I was eager to give it a listen, but quickly found myself really struggling to get into it. It took quite a few repeats before I started to really appreciate it.
Chantal is clearly a very talented singer / songwriter. Each track has a unique sound, which is actually not a compliment I can bestow on at least half the albums I’ve reviewed for the Sonic Collective. The album comes together really well. Props to the production team, they did a really great job with bringing these songs together and making them each sound unique but cohesive. I even like how the tracks are arranged, mixing it up between the slower songs and the high-energy songs.
Souls won me over, becoming my favourite track on the album, despite the fact I really didn’t like it the first few times I heard it. That segue from a really pretty ambient intro, quietly building into a verse driven by an arpeggiated piano, and then rising into a loud chorus led by strong vocals really sealed it for me.
Several other songs make the cut for me too, such as Dear Life, a fun 90’s alt-rock-ish-sounding take on a relationship on the rocks, and Soul Searching, a jazzy track that could have just as easily found a home on Alanis Morisette’s album Jagged Little Pill – Trust me, that’s meant as a big compliment.
I wasn’t a fan of Before You back in 1999 when it made waves as a hit single and I was a closed-minded metalhead, but I’m sad to report it still hasn’t won me over. The song Until We Die also didn’t turn my crank. I have always had trouble getting into slow sappy piano ballads, and I struggled with this one all month, despite really trying. (Ironically, it seamlessly transitions right into Souls, which I previously mentioned as being favourite track.)
Final thoughts
As the month progressed, I went from being really eager to give Colour Moving And Still a chance, to having a lot of trouble making it through the whole thing without giving up, but it eventually grew on me as a whole, and I found myself gravitating towards several tracks in particular. The production on the album is really well done. I like the subtle reverb used on the vocals, the instruments – particularly the piano – sound rock solid, and I really like the variances in dynamic range found on most of the tracks. Sonically, this is a really really good album. Everything is tight without being overproduced. There’s a very warm, human feel to it.
My biggest barrier to really LOVING the album is my general aversion to sappy, stripped-down ballads, of which Colour has a fair number. It’s totally a subjective thing, but I’m just not there yet. Maybe one day down the road, I’ll revisit it and find that my tastes have changed.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3.5
 
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Scott Coates’s Review
While I semi-regularly listen to lighter pop music, Chantal Kreviazuk’s form of adult contemporary isn’t part of my typical rotation. I was aware of her name, can’t remember the hit single I no doubt heard many times when living back in Canada in the 1990s, and quite enjoyed Colour and Moving Still.
This is ideal music for lounging on the couch while reading a magazine on a Sunday morning, enjoying dinner and a bottle of wine with your significant other, or painting (if I was a painter). The point – it’s relaxing, soulful, introspective stuff. Kreviazuk’s voice is rich, full of range, and seemed very familiar, like an old friend who’s returned after being away for quite some time.
Dear Life is pretty upbeat, got me thinking about life each time it came on, and put me in the mood to give my wife a big hug. In many ways it seems (in a good way) like the kind of song that could have been featured on an episode of Friends. Soul Searching features a nice blend of pop and soulful vocals and also appealed. Far Away was the high point, putting me at ease and making me feel confident about challenges in life and grabbing life by the balls.
Each listen I was reminded of Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan, finding the songs on this album blended the best of both artists, but in a new and unique way. Overall the tracks on Colour and Moving Still seemed like they could be on the soundtrack to any number of romantic comedies. I kept seeing John Cusack walking away from the girl he loves, tear running down his cheek, only to turn around and see her standing there staring at him. This is a good thing.
Colour and Moving Still was a nice addition to our monthly picks, put me in a very relaxing place on many occasions and I’ll be sure to check out some of her other albums. If you’re seeking a mellow and enjoyable background track while hanging with a loved one, or while baking, this is a solid bet.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype?: 3.5
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Chantal Kreviazuk’s Colour, Moving and Still album choice excited me this month. I am a very proud supporter of Canadian music and musicians. I, of course, knew who she was and that she has a very long and successful career, but her music wasn’t necessarily my style. I tend to be more drawn to fast tempo, upbeat music and as I age the rift between anything labelled pop music and my taste widens. I’m not saying you can classify her music as just pop, but that is where it got the most radio play here in Canada. I always liked the songs I heard but had never really thought about buying her albums. No offense Chantal, I just have a massive queue of music I love and you just didn’t crack my personal list.
Again, this is why our music collective is great. Someone will pick an album that you would not have picked, and it forces you to take the time to listen and expand your knowledge of that artist.
As soon as I found out the pick I listened to the album twice in a row and proceeded to read what I could find about Chantal, this album and her career. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect I found myself really liking this album and enjoying Chantal’s story. I was also enamored with her social views and how she is using her fame to make our world a better place. Read her commentary on Kim Kardashian, it’s great.
Though her music was more mellow than I usually listen to at length I was really drawn to the beauty of her voice and the fact that she is an amazing songwriter. I, not unpredictably was drawn to the more upbeat songs like Dear Life and Before You but I did enjoy the others as well.
Her impact on music in Canada and across the world is undeniable and we thank her for that.
I was also impressed that Chantal herself actually responded to our social media posts by favoriting a few tweets. She just seems super cool to me and someone you could have a few beers with and have some laughs.
I really enjoyed this album and I would recommend that, if you haven’t already, you take the time to listen to her great songwriting and music.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
 

Review of Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell

Please read Greg Jorgensen’s  selection article of Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
There have been a few albums that divided the group before but this has to be the new champion. There is no denying the commercial success of this album and that 10s of millions of fans around the world love Meat Loaf. At the time of release it pushed past Prog Rock into a genre by itself and was very innovative and fun. Fans ate it up.
However, not unlike cilantro, in my opinion you either love this kind of music or can’t stand it. Fans and critics are equally as passionate about their opinions but the beautiful thing about music is how personal it is. Nobody can tell you what music you will like or dislike, only you get to make that opinion.
The comments from the group are equally as divided and passionate. You have to read all our reviews about this album. This was a great pick based on the strong emotions it invoked.
What was cool about this album:

  • It was a very influential album for Scott Gregory and Greg Jorgensen
  • Even the haters (Me, Darren included) have to admit that Paradise by the dashboard light is a song that is fun to be involved in a group singing this at least once.
  • The album art is amazing

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Alain, Scott Coates and Darren did not like this album… at all.
  • Way, way, way too over the top for some of us.
  • The songs get repetitive after a while. I had trouble telling what song I was on a few times.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would we recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
You have to love musicians that revel in their image with a rampant enthusiasm that helps define their entire career – those who wrap their music in an additional layer of theatrics. Bony M wasn’t just disco, they were DISCO. NWA wasn’t just gangsta rap, they helped create and shape the genre out of nothing. Marilyn Manson…well, the fact that entire swaths of the population think (or thought) he’s the literal Antichrist says it all. These acts may just be acts (Manson is a weird dude, but he’s no Satanist) but they’re created and refined and milked for maximum value…the yin to the music’s yang. That’s what’s so great about Meat Loaf.
I love Bat Out of Hell. It’s a cheesy, bombastic, verbose, overly-dramatic album stuffed with horns and guitars and backup singers and screeching, and it’s fun as hell. It’s all about the power of rock and roll and you almost believe that Meat Loaf believes that if you sing hard enough, rock hard enough, and pump your fist at the sky high enough, that maybe an angel holding a guitar will descend from heaven on a bolt of lightning and play a riff so awesome that all your enemies will be destroyed and the hot girl in school will fall at your knees while Frank Frazetta paints a portrait of the whole thing.
In fact, you could probably convince someone who’s not familiar with the album that Meat Loaf is a character, like Pee Wee Herman or Ali G, created by and existing inside of a crucible of pop culture glory. But that gets me thinking…maybe Meat Loaf is real, and Marvin Aday, who showed off Bob’s bitch-tits so well in Fight Club, is the character. Hmm…
I realize other members of the Sonic Collective despise this album, and that’s fine, but it does make me wonder why I like it so much. Maybe it’s because I spent every year in high school heavily involved in musical theater, which clearly inspired BooH. Maybe it’s because I ‘discovered’ this album during a particularly meaningful summer full of friends, girls, and road trips. Maybe I just have a weak spot for cheesy, dramatic rock-opera music.
But despite how much I love this album, it’s hard to realllllly nail down why. Structurally and thematically, the songs are pretty repetitive – love (lost or forbidden), sex (forbidden or almost-had), leather, motorcycles, and dying young and leaving a good looking corpse. The compositions by Jim Steinman are basically variations on a theme – heavily layered with guitars and wood/wind/string instruments of various levels and volumes. Personally, I love the tempo changes, some of which happen slowly (All Revved Up With No Place to Go) or suddenly (Paradise by the Dashboard Light). You may not like the album, but you can’t say the songs aren’t trying for something huge and ambitious.
The lyrics and situations the songs are built around are pure juvenile joy – bringing in a real-life baseball announcer to narrate a boy’s journey to third base; explaining his lack of “I love you” because he was too busy passionately proving it by kissing; “We were doubly blessed – we were barely 17 and barely dressed”; “I can see paradise by the dashboard light”; “Just fuck me now and I promise I’ll think about telling you I love you tomorrow”; – I mean, those are funny allusions to stick in a pop song, especially if you’re immature, like I am.
So yes, Meat Loaf – and Bat out of Hell – is kind of like the red-headed stepchild of the music industry, but damn if it’s not a fun listen, and I enjoy it every spin.
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 3
Influenced our tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
 
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
As a frequent karaoke host, I’ve heard my fair share of Meatloaf songs, and they are usually crowd pleasers, so when Greg picked Bat Out of Hell, my first thought was “Alright, this could be fun.” Oh, sweet merciful baby Jesus, I couldn’t have been more wrong. (In hindsight, the fact that my parents own this album on vinyl should have been a clue…)
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. There were some really fun, catchy tunes on Bat out of Hell, but there’s a lot of droning, piano-driven love ballads on this album too, and despite what the sweet cover-art suggests, little to no badassery. I realize this is a completely subjective thing, but love ballads are about as appealing to me as going to the dentist, but without the payoff getting a nice smile out of the deal.
The good:
Paradise by the Dashboard Light, despite being about 4 minutes longer than it probably needs to be, is a very catchy track. No wonder it’s so popular at my karaoke shows! It’s pretty fun and has earned itself a spot in my “Assorted Shitmix” playlist.
Bat out of Hell has a lot of energy. Again, about 5 minutes longer than it really needs to be, but I’ll give it a pass. It’s also pretty dynamic, changing up its tone and pace several times, which helps keeps things interesting, given it’s almost 10 minutes long.
All Revved Up With No Place To Go is another one of those fun, catchy tracks, (Note to self, look up synonyms for “fun” and “catchy”) and, clocking in at just under four and a half minutes, it’s actually one of the shortest tracks on the album.
The piano skills demonstrated on this album are really fantastic. Respect! So is the guitar, for that matter.
Can we talk about how badass the cover art is? I wonder how many people bought this album expecting it to be metal as fuck, only to be sorely disappointed?
The Bad:
For Crying Out Loud – Hang on till about the 4:50 mark, and it’ll start getting pretty good. For the sake of your will to live, be sure to stop listening around the 6 minute mark. (If you insist on listening to the remaining 2 and a half minutes, well… don’t say I didn’t warn you, but there are much better ways to spend your time. Sawing off your own limbs with a hacksaw comes to mind.) I should also mention, if you enjoy this song, we probably can’t be friends.
Heaven Can Wait was perhaps the cringiest love ballad ever written until it was de-throned by Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On in 1997.
The horrible:
Can someone please explain what the hell is going on at the beginning of You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth? That weird verbal fantasy-foreplay thing just ruined the whole song for me, even if the rest of it was halfway good.
That unnecessary baseball-themed sex-noise interlude in Paradise just conjures mental images of Meatloaf boning somebody in a station wagon. I think we can all agree that nobody needs such thoughts. This world is dark enough.
Final thoughts
I figured Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell was going to be a fun album to groove to this month, and occasionally it even was. Unfortunately, I have a great disdain for love songs and all things sappy, so this album is getting swept under the rug, save for a couple of tracks. If you’re a hopeless romantic and don’t mind listening to love songs written by a fat guy named after a medley of ground meats, then boy, have I got an album for you!
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would I recommend?: 2.5
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 2.5
 
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Scott Coates’s Review
In my teens I was a DJ at a roller-skating rink, then graduated to spinning at various bars during my university years. Shortly into my tenure at the roller-skating rink an older skater requested Paradise by the Dashboard Light. I gave it a quick listen, thought it sounded rather odd, but was told by an older co-worker that it’s a popular song and to give it a go. At 8:28 in length I thought it a perfect opportunity to use the toilet and chat with a girl for a few minutes. That’s where my relationship with Meat Loaf started and stands.
I’ve never been a fan of musicals and Bat out of Hell always struck me as the soundtrack to one. It’s so over-the-top and over-produced in all respects I still can’t believe it’s not from a musical. How someone can actively listen to this album in their home, while driving, or at any moment has always boggled my mind. I can’t think of any time or situation where I’d want what’s on this album – unless I was taking in a musical – which I don’t. To be fair, many of the tracks were developed from a musical, but the complete album was intended as a stand-alone work. Bizarre.
I’ve never liked black licorice while some people love it. Perhaps this same principal applies to Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell? From the first time I heard that first song, it never resonated in any way. Rather, I was instantly repulsed, and despite Paradise… providing time for a much needed toilet break and chat with a cute lady, I still dreaded playing it – each and every time.
Twenty-five years since last hearing Bat out of Hell it was time for a revisit, with a more open mind. While wine, bourbon, and a few other things get better with age, Bat out of Hell doesn’t. From the first note of the first track I was instantly transported back to musical hell and confusion as a 15-year-old teenager at that roller-rink. What is this? Who likes it? Why? I still don’t have the answers and never will. I hereby banish Bat out of Hell to the deepest depths of the infernal regions to never plague my ear canals again.
Overall opinion: 1
Would I recommend?: 1
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype?: 1
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Um… I really don’t know what to say about this pick. I heard that South Korea blasts music across the DMZ to annoy the North Koreans and I assume it is this album. This is not my style of music at all, so fans be warned that this won’t be pretty and you are all entitled to listen to music you like but I think this album sucks.
To me, this album is just way too over the top. This is Prog Rock on crack. I can handle some Prog Rock and Broadway type music but only in small doses. Believe it or not I really love live theatre and I’ve been to a few musicals and enjoyed them. However, though I did enjoy the musicals I just saw them once, said “That was fun.” and I haven’t seen them since, nor had a desire to see Phantom of the Opera again. That is exactly the way I feel about Meat Loaf. In high school when Paradise by the Dashboard Light came on I joined in the fun and would dance with my group of friends as they belted out the lyrics. Again, fun, but I had no desire to buy that song or album and it stayed about as relevant to me as my 80s deck shoes. Both are garbage to me now.
Again, I can see why people like it and there is nothing wrong with that obviously. I just like music with more soul and this seems like an experiment to me in how “white” they could make rock’n’roll. I can picture Meat Loaf working with the composer of the album saying, “Hey, rock was born from primarily black gospel, soul and blues music. What would rock sound like if we stripped all that out?”. It sounds like shit to me Meat Loaf. Ha ha ha…
Though it was torture I did get through the album about 5 times this month and I really did try to keep an open mind. I even tried getting a little wasted and listening as usually that makes me get into the music more. Unfortunately, this was just to far out there for me. I guess the only positive is that I can say I had fun a couple of times in the 80s to Paradise but that’s it. I’ve never owned a Meat Loaf album and that won’t change.
Overall opinion: 1
Would I recommend?: 1
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 2
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review
MEATLOAF MEATLOAF MEATLOAF!!!
Out of all the artists we’ve reviewed, I think Meatloaf is going to be the most polarizing one of all. I’d say he’s the meatloaf of music, but that’s just redundant. Let’s call him the cilantro of music: you either hate or love him.
When it comes to this album, I’m very much in the love column. I have enjoyed this album on 8-track, cassette, CD, and digitally. Rather than do my normal take on my favourite songs on the album (Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, You took the Words Right Out of My Mouth, Paradise by the Dashboard Light), I’m going to instead share three facts about this album you might not know:

  1. Meatloaf really loves the weather

Seriously. He just can’t set a song up for you without letting you know what’s going on outside:
It was a hot summer night
and the beach was burning.
There was fog crawling over the sand.
And maybe you can cry all night
But that’ll never change the way I feel
The snow is really piling up outside
I wish you wouldn’t make me leave here
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
And now the chilly Californian wind
Is blowing down our bodies again
And we’re sinking deeper and deeper
In the chilly Californian sand
You’ll always know whether you need a sweater or not when making out or breaking up with Meatloaf.

  1. Bat Out of Hell has a hell of a lot of piano in it

There’s a full rock opera going on, but if you pay close attention you’ll see that piano is dominating practically every song on the album. Compare this album to The Who’s Tommy or Pink Floyd’s The Walland you’ll see the stark contrast this focus provides the album. It’s quite interesting, considering Bat Out of Hell is squished chronologically between these two. I happen to enjoy the piano, particularly on the last track For Crying Out Loud, where it starts out soft and slowly comes to dominate the soft accompaniment to Meatloaf’s voice.

  1. This album is 100% pure 70s panties remover

Seriously. Now by 70s panties I don’t mean some lady that’s 55 now (although that might be true). I mean, if you can pull off a strong karaoke of these songs at a bar you will not only gain the interest of all the ladies with a great sense of humour, you’ll be able to identify the ones sitting through your performance with a straight face that you should write off. Instantly. If one of those cool ladies jumps up on stage and starts singing the female parts with you, marry (or remarry) her immediately.
This album is platinum and bazillion times over and stands the test of time, if only because nothing else sounds like it and you won’t be tired from listening to all the imitators that have sprung up over the years. Just like the food, there is nothing like Meatloaf, you know when you’re having it, and those rare times you seek it out you’ll be glad you did.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype: 5
 

Chantal Kreviazuk: Colour Moving and Still

chantal-kreviazukChantal Kreviazuk is one of Canada’s most-prolific singer/songwriters of the last 20 years. A classically trained pianist and vocalist, she’s written songs for the likes of Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, Carrie Underwood, Drake and Pitbull. Her own albums have received critical acclaim, including the double-platinum second one: Colour Moving and Still.
Before You was the big hit off this album, with the other singles flying lower on the radar and a number of B sides. She penned all the songs on the album with a couple collaborations (including with her husband Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace fame), and her signature piano play is an integral part of every song.
Full disclosure: I’ve always had a bit of a musical-crush on Chantal thanks to her singles, and this is my first deep-dive into one of her albums. Now that we’ve had a couple months of high intensity rock under our belts, let’s see how the Collective responds to some adult contemporary Canadian content.
Links
Chantal’s Site
Album’s Wikipedia page
Chantal on iTunes

Review of David Bowie: David Bowie (aka Space Oddity)

Please read Alain DuPuis’s  selection article of David Bowie’s Space Oddity before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
There were so many great reflections on David Bowie and this album in our comments that I cannot properly summarize in a paragraph. I know I harp on this but as we live in an age of over produced artists and music, it is so important to recognize talent that breaks through on their own merit. David Bowie lead a bold and crazy life and has his place in music history. Please take time and listen to his portfolio, the musicians you listen to now sure did.
What was cool about this album:

  • We all loved this album, but in many cases we all related to different songs. There is literally something for everyone in this work of Bowie.
  • Space Oddity, which debuted 4 months after the Apollo 11 landing took Prog Rock into the mainstream and defined David Bowie. “Ground Control to Major Tom…”
  • David Bowie is cool.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Hard to find a flaw but there are some songs that you will relate to more than others. Also if you are not a folk music fan, you may not warm to this right away.
  • That we didn’t listen to this album earlier and more often. This is well written music.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 5
Influenced our tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
It’s been years since I played this album, so listening to it again was refreshing. I recall not overly enjoying it back in the day, but since then, I’d like to think that my taste in music has grown and broadened somewhat.
A number of tracks on the album really hit it out of the park for me. Of course, the first and probably most well-known track, Space Oddity makes the cut. Anyone else immediately think of that scene from Friends where Chandler awkwardly sings it into a VHS Camcorder?  No? Just me? It’s a great, sci-fi classic that (I’m assuming) played off the excitement of the Apollo 11 mission, and the cold war space-race at the time.

The song Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed was another fun one to listen to. I kept going back to it. I think the harmonica plays a big part in the “fun factor.”
Janine was a fun track as well. The guitar noodling and bouncing bass line throughout the song really made it a joy to listen to on repeat. I found the song to be quite catchy as well.
I wasn’t a big fan of the songs Letter to Hermoine or Cygnet Committee musically, though I have to admit the lyrics are masterfully written. Ultimately though, I just didn’t feel anything when I listened to them, which is a big deal for me when it comes to how much enjoyment I can get from a song.
Final thoughts
The album was a lot more folksy than I remember it being, but it occurs to me maybe that’s why it didn’t really strike me as being enjoyable when I was younger. I can certainly appreciate it more these days. It’s fairly apparent Bowie was having fun when he was recording this album. He’s heard laughing on a couple of tracks, and you can almost sense the smile on his face as he delivers his vocals. I am a big fan of the broad variety of unconventional instruments that pop up in the album. Flutes, harmonicas, accordions, woodwinds, retro synths? Check! Yet somehow, despite the fact that those odd instruments usually didn’t appear on the same track together, the whole album still seems pretty cohesive… Minus the title track Space Oddity, which stands out as being very sonically different, and still my favorite on the album.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
 
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Scott Coates’s Review
Appraising a legendary album by a legendary artist is not an easy task, but February’s pick demands it of us! I must admit that reviewing David Bowie’s Space Oddity is a bit skewed, as I, and many others have done – devouring his work since his passing, catching up on everything that was and is BOWIE. This is a person who transcended music, fashion, film, and was a living piece of art for most of his life. I can’t purport to have been a Bowie super-fan, but did own a couple of his albums and have admired a good number of his better-known songs most of my life. Since his passing, my knowledge of a wider scope of Bowie’s catalogue has increased (not sure why I needed to wait until he passed away) and I have a much greater appreciation of an artist I view as one of the greats.
Space Oddity is a highly risky and exploratory work. It’s tough to imagine how a then unknown artist would put out this collection of songs, while looking as he did. It must have been a bit like walking the plank and career suicide in the eyes of most. But as is the case with some geniuses that go down as legends, he seems to have known precisely where he was headed and wove a work that was complex in many complicated ways. It requires a good many listens to begin to fully grasp this album, digest and appreciate it. He set his legendary status in motion from the get go.
Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed particularly grabs me and exudes a slinky feel that is reminiscent of time – what the Stones, Yardbirds – and others were doing at the time. But this was vibrantly Bowie – blazing trails out of the gate.
The first track for which the work is named, Space Oddity, is emblematic – setting a concept forward. What a timely track when released: November 14, 1969; less than four months since Apollo 11 landed Man on the moon for the first time (July 20). Our collective imagination was undoubtedly in dazzled overload and Bowie provided the exploratory soundtrack.
So diving into Space Oddity at this particular time, when the Man, David Bowie, has departed, not only deepened my larger understanding of the character, but I’ve branched out in to other Bowie-related directions. Few times in one’s life are you certainly enjoying a piece of art that truly sets the bar to new heights and illustrates the times passionately. This is one such thing.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype?: 4
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Have I mentioned how much I love this music collective we have? I am fully aware that very few people read our posts, yet I could care less. Any opportunity to immerse myself in music like this is a true treat. As I have always been a music glutton, I simply cannot get enough and as I age I find I am developing a better appreciation for music, especially music that I may have skimmed over previously. This month was a delight to go back to David Bowie’s second album.
I can proudly say that I don’t ever remember not liking David Bowie, but I never owned an album of his until I was 14 when Let’s Dance came out. Hey, I know it is a pop album and reflecting now it pales to his earlier work like this reviewed album, but I was 14 and it was fun. I had heard his popular songs on the radio as a boy/pre-teen but it wasn’t until many years later that I grew to appreciate the artist that Bowie is.
It was great to review Space Oddity as I could not remember the last time I listened to the album in its entirety, or even If I had to be honest. I discovered that as I listened to the album over the month that I loved it more with each listen. Bowie puts so much in to his work that you do really have to listen several times to absorb all the lyrics and complexity and meaning of his songs. I don’t usually say shit like that as you can always just play his music and just enjoy it. I always recommend getting a little “fuzzy” before listening to great albums and chill with a drink while you experience them.
I was a little surprised how mellow and folk influenced this album was. I think many of us assume that David Bowie’s earlier stuff was all uber-alternative and upbeat so this was a nice surprise. This would fit nicely along with many of the Beatles albums around this time. Space Oddity is obviously awesome but so is most every song on this album. I was really drawn to God Knows I’m Good and Janine as other stand out songs for me.
Like all great albums, this one does stand the test of time. Bowie could have released this today and it would still be an excellent album. I was very saddened by the passing of David Bowie, but we all have an end to life and he definitely had a full and rewarding life. If you haven’t already gone back and listened to Bowie, or maybe you haven’t listened to him at all, I plead to you to make room in your music collection for these songs, you won’t regret it.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

David Bowie. Musical legend, taken too soon. Lampooned by Lady Gaga at the Grammies and given a fitting tribute by Lorde at the Brits. It was time to take a look at one of his definitive albums. Certainly the one that began his trip centre stage in Britain and beyond.
Although only Space Oddity still makes it on the radio with any regularity, the entire album is incredibly strong. I’m a fan of the darker, moodier side of folk music, with the occassional love balled thrown in, the likes of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. And while they say this album is supposed to straddle Folk and Prog Rock, I really can’t help but hear the Folk side more clearly.
The instrumental composition on the album is fine, and sometimes even interesting, but when discussing folk I usually focus on the lyrics, and this album has a wealth of great writing to mine. After Space Oddity, here are the three songs I found the most appealing, along with how they spoke to me. You’ll of course find your own connection.
Janine, despite grating on me because of his soft-J on the name, is a touching tale of a man not quite ready to open up and share himself with his love. He pleads to keep things simple and light with her, because to get any deeper would be to face himself and her at the same time.
A Letter to Hermione, no not that one, is a little more straightforward for a love song, but unlike the last one certainly over. Lost love, unrequited? All we know is poor David is left writing to his former love, now in the arms of another. Poor guy has no luck.
Cygnet Committee, wow. Usually when I see a track with a run time of over nine minutes I figure there have to be massive soloes all over the place. But this song has lyrics that go on for daaays! For me, that’s a good thing, considering how good they are. I’m a big fan of dystopian literature, and this song fits the bill. It’s a wonderful commentary on revolution and “careful what you wish for”. Well worth the listen. I also think it’s one of the better composed songs on the album as well.
Overall, if you’re a fan of 60s Folk or 70s/early 80s progressive rock, this album should work out for you. Is it Bowie’s best? How do you pick a best with so many amazing choices? I would say compared to its contemporaries, this album is amazing and worth a listen or two, or three. Out of all the albums reviewed, this one you need to actually sit and “listen” to in order to get full value. I’ve always thought his greatest strength was in his songwriting, and this album has it on full display.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype: 4
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
My first experience with Bowie was looking at his huge package. I’m 12 years old, sitting in the front row of Labyrinth, watching the Goblin King dance around in a tight gray leotard thinking “Man, that’s…obvious.” I didn’t know it at the time, but the only thing that overshadowed the Goblin King’s king goblin was his music. I’m not sure if that had an effect on my future impressions of Bowie, but that was my first experience with the man, anyway.
Like a lot of Sonic Collective picks lately, I hadn’t really listened to Bowie before this album. Space Oddity (the song) yeah, and a few tracks from various movies, but nothing more than that. I was aware he was an influential icon but never really caught the Bowie bug enough to want to seek him out. My mistake.
I really loved Space Oddity(the album), and it surprised me. Much of the stuff that came out of this era (and especially from artists like Bowie who were rather…unconventional) passes through my head like random blips and boops. Space Oddity surprised me with how bluesy and even rockabilly some of the songs sounded. The title song remains haunting, although what really grabs me here are the power of the lyrics. the poetry in how such simple words can express something so horrifying like drifting away from Earth. Wacky, far-fetched sci-fi? Sure. But still a touching and tight goodbye letter from a husband to a wife.
Another standout was Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed, which reminded me of something you’d hear in jam session at a local blues club, and certainly not something I’d expect from Bowie. I’m starting to see why people have always been in awe of his ability to mix genres. Similarly with Janine – I couldn’t help my toes from tapping, and again, if I’d had a few beers you could probably convince me I was listening to a CCR B-side.
Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud was an interesting listen as well, its tempo rising and dipping, horns blaring…is this late-era Beatles? I’m noticing a theme here – I’m hearing alot of other artists in this album, so again – hearing how influential Bowie was is not at all an overstatement.
Even the songs I didn’t really like – Letter to Hermione, God Knows I’m Good, Memory of a Free Festival – were still a pleasant listen. Fine songs, lyrically creative, well put together, and masterfully sung, just not as catchy as the others.
I’m really glad Alain picked this album and sorry I didn’t listen to it earlier. I’ll most definitely be taking a deeper dive into Bowie’s catalogue to see what else I will enjoy.
Overall opinion: 4.5
Would we recommend?: 5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4

Review of Motörhead: Ace of Spades

Please read Scott Coates selection article of Motörhead: Ace of Spades before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
Motörhead. Lemmy. Do you really need to read much more than that? Not really, you should go listen now and crank his songs while you read this review of their iconic album. Also, pour a beautiful Jack Daniels (Mmmm….JD…..). Though we differed greatly on this album on our opinions nobody could doubt that this band can get you pumped up. Please read the reviews this month in honour of Lemmy. As always, we’d love to hear your opinion. Leave a comment about your thoughts on this album.
What was cool about this album:

  • It totally rocks and is a very authentic album.
  • It mashes punk and metal brilliantly
  • You can’t help but get energized when listening.
  • Fuzz bass!

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Ok, it is a bit repetitive.
  • Ok, it can be a little vulgar and Jalibait is a bit disturbing of a subject.
  • Cool lifestyle to read about but you wouldn’t want to live that way.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

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Scott Coates’s Review
Authenticity is powerful and hard to find. Motorhead is perhaps one of the most authentic rock bands I’ve encountered. They look the look, talk the talk, deliver the goods, and there’s no doubt rock and roll was everything to them, 24-hours per day, 365 days a year. Authenticity oozes on every track of Ace of Spades.
There are surprisingly strong parallels with AC/DC in the messages and themes on Ace of Spades, mostly consisting of tales about partying, drinking, women, and the rock n’ roll lifestyle. Except somehow you believe Motorhead meant and lived it a lot more than AC/DC. These guys were the real deal.
You can definitely hear how Motorhead informed the sound of so many other bands, many who achieved greater fame and popularity than Motorhead, but they definitely laid the tracks for a generation of hard rockers to come.
Shoot You in the Back features great underlining guitar licks that could power a dance floor at any rock club. Fast and Loose also has some pretty nice guitar riffs and is classic foot-stomping rock.
(We Are) The Roadcrew is my favorite track on the album and does an awesome job of telling the story of a rock and roll band. There’s no doubt this tells the true story of Motorhead and their crew. Fantastically honestly and it paints a wonderfully loud picture of life on the road.
Lemmy estimated he’d slept with more than 2,000 women and one must wonder how autobiographical Jailbait is? There’s no doubt a bit of jest involved, but this track likely reveals a layer of reality to living the Motorhead lifestyle that ‘The Law’ wouldn’t approve of.
While I likely won’t come back to this album super often, I have a profound respect for Motorhead sticking to their guns, playing and living authentically, and giving us Ace of Spades. This album’s a time capsule of rock and roll and definitely an important piece in the history of the form.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype?: 4.5
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Well shit. Lemmy is dead. I am not surprised, just bummed. Being a “youthful” 46 I remember getting into Motorhead a bit in my awesome 80s headbanging days. I loved rocking out to them back then but I will admit I didn’t listen to them much after the 80s. A few years back I picked up a compilation and I also loved watching the Lemmy documentary. I was interested as to what I would think when I went into this selection of the Ace of Spades album after so long.
First of all, since it has been 30+ years since I was really listening to Motorhead my musical tastes have expanded and changed. Almost immediately I was surprised at how much this album sounded just as close to punk rock recordings of the late 70s era as it did to metal pioneers such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and AC/DC. The next time you listen to the album, pretend it was released as a punk album and it stands up very well in that genre. I had a blast with this album, here’s why.
Motorhead, not unlike many metal, hard rock or punk bands, knows what it does well and sticks to that formula. Sure, they may not win awards for songwriting, but they rock, and they rock hard. Motorhead lead the rock and roll lifestyle and stayed true until the end.
As for the songs, I think I liked most all of them. Ace of Spades is a classic but I really liked Live to Win as well. These are fun and aggressive songs that make you want to party and slam back about a litre of Jack Daniels! Heck yeah!! If you are looking for gentle, moral music then get the hell off of this review, only Lemmy is here.
I loved every second of this month’s listen and I will be buying and listening more to Motorhead in the future. Thanks Lemmy.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools,
But that’s the way I like it baby,
I don’t wanna live for ever”
It’s with a heavy heart I review this album. While no big fan of Motorhead, I know how influential Lemmy was to not other musicians, but to entire genres of music. He was one of those artists that fused the old with the new and came out with something new, original, and destined to be copied by many.
Ace of Spades, a sampling of lyrics above, was the titular track of what’s considered Motorhead’s best album. You may have noticed in other reviews I have a soft spot for really innovative or just plain powerful baselines. This album doesn’t disappoint on both fronts. Lemmy plays base aggressively, frantically, and if you watch it’s more like guitar work than bass. Amazing.
Ace of Spades has a loose feel to the bass, while Jailbait seems to tighten up and thrum. Both songs are just so, for lack of a better term, sonically dense, and just fill the air. Honestly, the only thing that I don’t like about Motorhead is Lemmy’s vocals, which is clearly a matter of taste. Do I think he sounds like a heavy metal/punk front man? Sure. It just wasn’t my cup of tea when it came to the heavier side of the British heavy scene. I was more of a Johnny Rotten kinda guy. Anyway.
Could you imagine if a song like Jailbait was made today? Ha! “You’re jailbait and I just can’t wait.” Very poetic. This is definitely a throwback to another age, but, with its AABBCD lyric structure, aforementioned bass, and rollicking guitar, you can’t help but walk around the office singing it… under your breath.
The Hammer really appealed to me instrumentally with all the drops on the bassline throughout the piece. Very cool. Lyrics are pretty straightforward. Blah blah angel of death, blah blah I’m evil, Stop! Hammer time! Sure, it might seem pretty tame today. I think I had the same feelings about some of the tracks off the AC/DC album we reviewed, but we’re not exactly turning to metal for Shakespeare are we?
Please Don’t Touch! ERMERGERD! I could have hated the rest of the album (I didn’t) and this song would have made it completely worth the time invested. The only thing I love more than bands taking songs from my youth and smashing them is people taking songs from my mom’s youth and doing the same! This album could be recommended just off Ace of Spades and this song. If you’re going to skip the album because you’re just not into metal, Lemmy, or anything in between, look up this song at least!
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend: 3
Influenced my tastes: 1 (4 for influencing the people that influenced my tastes)
Worth the hype: 2 (It doesn’t age well)
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
I remember hearing Motorhead for the first time when the professional Wrestler Triple H started using “The Game” as his entrance music. It was aggressive song for an aggressive sport, so of course it appealed to me instantly, but I never bothered to explore the rest of the Motorhead discography. So, what do I think of Ace of Spades?
I found that all the songs sounded pretty much the same. They followed a formula of fast n’ loud, which is fine. (It wouldn’t be Motorhead otherwise.) But, it made it difficult for me to really identify those one or two songs off the album that really stood out to me as great vs. what might have been recorded as a filler track.
I liked:
I really liked Love Me like a Reptile. The little bit of harmonization in the chorus was enough to make the song memorable to me.
The guitar solo in Live to Win was pretty awesome.
The overall energy of the album was fun. Kept me nodding along, and wondering which songs would make it onto my workout playlist.
I didn’t like:
Jailbait. Really dude? The lyrical content is pretty gnarly. Was that acceptable back in the day? I feel like you’d get put on some sort of government watch list if you released this song today. At the very least you can bet there’d be some serious Twitter wars.
Actually, I found the lyrics in most of these songs are pretty simplistic, and feature lots of repetition. Not exactly making anyone feel smarter. It certainly aims to appeal to the lowest common denominator
As previously stated, the songs all sound basically the same to me. Fast and loud and shouty and repetitive.
Final thoughts
I feel like any track off this album would be at home in a video game. (Particularly one that features skateboarding, or snowboarding, or high-speed driving.) Ace of Spades just has that frenetic energy and machismo approach to music that makes it appealing.
I liked this album much more overall than I enjoyed AC/DC’s Back in Black, both of which were released a few months apart back in 1980.
This isn’t particularly deep or cerebral music, but I don’t think it was intended to be. It was meant for meatheads to headbang to while throwing back beers and having a good time. Listening to it does get me pumped up though, like all of a sudden I wanna participate in extreme sports.
‘Scuse me, I have some backflips to do. “HARDCORE PARKOUR!”
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
Nothing like the death of an iconic singer to make you appreciate a band all over again. It’s even stranger when the singer in question was never an icon to me, nor was the band even familiar. I had always grouped Motorhead into sort of a second-rate metal club – bands from the 70s and 80s that were notable but who never really made the big time, like Megadeth, RATT, Whitesnake, and Winger. The only familiarity I had with them was hearing the chorus to Ace of Spades in high school. Beyond that, I knew nothing about them. I was a bit shocked to read they have released 23 studio albums – only 6 less than the Rolling Stones!
Ace of Spades opens with a bang, the titular song jumping down your throat with a full-throttle roar, which is great. Without even really slowing down, we’re into Love Me Like a Reptile, which mirrors Ace of Spades in its energetic shredding. Then Shoot You in the Back comes up and…it’s great too, but wait…is this the next song, or is Love Me Like a Reptile just really long? No, it’s definitely a new song. Boom, up comes Live to Win…man, all these songs sound really similar.
Repeat until the end of the album.
Not that that’s a bad thing. In our preview reviews for Back in Black almost all of us said that AC/DC does the same thing over and over, but we don’t mind because it’s so awesome. But for me, Ace of Spades didn’t have the powerful hooks or sheer power of an AC/DC album that made you want to pump your fist in the air. On top of that, the vocals on almost every song sounded like it was being held back a bit, like some type of aural Instagram filter had been applied to tone things down. Maybe it was my headphones? Nope, I moved over to some AC/DC and was rocking hard right away.
The one standout for me was Please Don’t Touch because it was a slight departure, an almost goofy rhythm. If I closed my eyes I could almost hear Lemmy off to the side going “Heh heh heh…” in time with the chugging guitars and backing vocals.
WsKFbvVI liked the album and wouldn’t at all complain if it came up on rotation again, but I prefer hard rock with a bit more bite. That being said, it’s hard to argue against the cultural impact and peer influence of Lemmy and his band…especially when there’s been this badass toy made of him.

Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 4

Review of PJ Harvey: Dry

Please read Darren Scott’s selection article of PJ Harvey: Dry before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
I (Darren) picked this selection and will summarize though Greg’s review was not submitted at the time of this summary.
Though I was glad I picked this album it was apparent that PJ Harvey’s Dry may have been a little too rough, alternative and slow to have really clicked with the group. The sound is very reminiscent of the early 90s alternative rock scene but perhaps doesn’t stand up to the test of time as well as contemporaries like Nirvana. Her style is not main-stream at all and even Kurt Cobain admits that Nevermind was written and produced for the masses and not his favourite album. Whereas PJ Harvey, at the time of Dry was just trying to figure herself and her style out and was writing and playing for herself.
Her style isn’t for everybody but I would highly recommend you look at her catalogue of music and give her a listen, maybe just don’t start with Dry.
What was cool about this album:

  • Happy and Bleeding and Fountain were mentioned as favourites on the album.
  • This album is really raw and different and in a modern age of over-produced, same-sounding crap I appreciate efforts like this.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • The rawness of the album and her attempt to push boundaries comes off a little weird in some tracks.
  • It’s a bit of a slow and repetitive collection of songs and you can tell she hadn’t quite found her style yet.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
As mentioned in my pick article, I have been meaning to listen to PJ Harvey but just hadn’t got around to it. As we were running light in picking the amazing women of music, I felt this was the perfect time. As PJ has a vast catalogue of music it was hard to pick an album so I settled on her first album, Dry. I was close to picking her next album Rid of Me as I knew Steve Albini produced it and I love his raw production style. Anyway, on with the review.
I always like going back to the early 90s alternative rock scene as I was, and still am, a big fan of the bands of that era like Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies, etc. I could definitely feel the sound of the era in this album and see why contemporaries like Kurt Cobain admired PJ Harvey’s first album. That being said, this album is definitely not a commercial album that would be liked by most music fans.
I liked it, though I found it was a bit too slow for my taste. Funny I say that as I actually found the track Fountain my favourite and it is a very slow brooding song. It reminded me of Nirvana’s Something in the Way. I also liked the popular tracks on this album Dress and Sheela-Na-Gig. I was impressed that PJ is a master musician and plays multiple instruments and wrote as well. For being so young she was very accomplished. That is not to say that this first album doesn’t show signs of being a little rough around the edges. I can always tell if I really love an album if I immediately have the urge to buy it. I can’t say I felt that urge here but I did feel like listening to more.
Listening to a best of compilation was very fun and I was drawn to her hits like Down by the Water, Good Fortune and 50ft Queenie. I really quickly grew to like her music and many of her albums. But for the sake of this review of Dry I have to rate this album only. As mentioned, I found it a bit slow for my tastes and some of the songs were just a bit too out there for me. I did see where she was going and there was more than enough to get me to explore more of here albums. Overall, I am very glad that I picked her(I still feel bad about the Beta Band pick) and I would highly recommend you explore her music, though you might want to start with a different album.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 3.5
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

I’ve heard snippets of PJ Harvey all throughout the years, but I have to admit I’ve never given any of her albums a full listen before, let alone the first one. I remember her most for singing Down by the Water, which got a lot of play around my parts back in the day. Still, taking a quick look at the Billboard Top 100 for that year, the fact that Baby Got Back , Jump (Kriss Kross),  and Humpin’ Around are the songs that got me reminiscing should tell you where my head was back then.
The only song I recognized off this album was Sheela Na Gig, and I do remember it on the radio way back. PJ (Harv?) has a nice lilting cadence to her singing that really appeals to me. It takes me to the same place the Letters to Cleo, Veruca Salt, and Juliana Hatfield do, with a little splash of Liz Phair’s freaky side. (Joydrop is on the list too, if you’re Canadian and might recognize them!)
I went through quite a phase of Female Alt, and it surprises me now that she didn’t make it onto my playlist more. Limited exposure in North America? I’m just oblivious sometimes? Probably a bit of both, but that’s exactly why I’m in the Sonic Collective! My buds can enlighten me on.
That being said, O Stella was pretty messed up. I’m still trying to decide if I like the song or not. It doesn’t feel overproduced, especially on the backing vocals, but it feels like it was thrown together at a jam session. Not that the whole album doesn’t feel a little thrown together. It’s hard to tell if this is on purpose or not, but Victory has a beautiful baseline intertwining beautifully with the guitar work that makes me think it’s more craft than crap.
I could say that Oh My Lover was my favourite song, but Fountain has this manic-depressive cadence, a nervous energy that really pulls me away from the loud, angst-filled thrashing of Lover and makes me want to go put on some black eyeshadow and watch the Crow, or at least listen to the soundtrack.
Overall, I enjoyed the album, but I think I would have enjoyed it more 10 years ago, cycled between the artists mentioned above, with maybe some Hole and L7 to round things out. I say give it a listen, because you’ll have fun trying to classify her and line her up with your favourite artists too.
The Numbers
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype: 3

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Scott Coates’s Review
PJ Harvey – the name was familiar, but I couldn’t name a song. I was certain I must know something by ‘her’, or was it a ‘band’ called PJ Harvey? Not sure; still not sure. But it turned out I’d never heard a single track by this entity in music. Dry was submitted as December’s pick and I dipped in intermittently throughout the month.
I kept listening to this album not really remembering it, but not being driven to listen again. Time and time again I thought I must have been distracted while listening, hence my lack of desire to partake again, but after some time and many listens, realized it just wasn’t jiving with me.
While trying to figure out why I couldn’t really get into this album, the sound, or even a song, I kept thinking of a girl in high school who was ‘alternative’, cute, we knew each other a bit, I was intrigued, but was never enough like her to ever really make a connection. I think the same principle applies with PJ Harvey and Dry. It’s that interesting, semi-unknown, kind-of-hot-girl, that only a select few ever really get close enough to, to understand, like and appreciate. I’m just not the guy.
Overall this album sounds like a college demo throughout and never much more. It’s just too raw and ‘out there’. I can’t imagine when or why I’d put it on. There’s not a time I’ll be needing more of this. It really is a good time capsule of the outer rings of the alternative time and community of the early nineties and a very select group, but one I’m not a part of, nor can I identify with.
Victory almost gets me interested, Happy and Bleeding starts to provide some intrigue but then it dies, Hair is almost there, but then the lyrics and rhythms don’t quite elevate me enough. There just isn’t one track on this album I’d put on a playlist.
I try to be very optimistic, open, and wanting to like all selections within The Sonic Collective, but I’m afraid PJ Harvey’s Dry leaves me just that – dry – without any pleasure and no desire to explore her catalogue further.
Overall opinion: 2
Would I recommend?: 2
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype?: 2
 

alain-dupuis
Alain Dupuis’ Review 
“What the heck is a PJ Harvey?” I asked myself out loud, as I read Darren’s pick for the first time. Obviously I was unfamiliar with her music until this month’s review. I dug in eagerly, and… well, frankly after a number of repeat plays, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Dry.
I liked:
PJ has a really unique voice. The vocal delivery is on point, dynamic and precise – but with a bit of raw edginess. I couldn’t help but find myself drawing comparisons to Janice Joplin, for better or worse.
I really liked the song Happy and Bleeding. Easily my favorite song on the album because of it’s relative complexity compared to other songs on the album. Despite being a bit of a slow-starter, it builds up in dynamic range and adds layers of instruments and vocals as it carries on.
Plants and Rags features a chaotic array of string instruments, which I thought was a neat touch. Usually when artists add strings to songs, it tends to give them a bit of serious or solemn feel (think Glycerine, by Bush). In this case, it made the song weird and interesting
I didn’t like:
A lot of the songs seemed quite repetitive. Despite most tracks on the album being relatively short in length, some of them just seemed to drone on and on. I can’t really recall any one song that stuck in my head after listening
I didn’t feel that any of the tracks had a hook or anything to reward the listener. Not necessarily a requisite depending on your audience, but it didn’t win any points from me.
Final thoughts
I liked Dry for what it is – An early 90s grunge-ish folksy album featuring untested talent. Would it make it onto my permanent play list? Nah. I don’t think so. It just didn’t do enough to reward me as a listener and keep me engaged enough to come back for more.
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would I recommend?: 1
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 3
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
The only thing I knew about PJ Harvey was that she was a musician; oft-talked about and frequently referenced, but no one that I had any familiarity with whatsoever. I was excited to get into it and enjoyed most of it, but sadly, don’t think I’ll be going back to PJ Harvey anytime soon.
This strikes me as very much what I call a “snapshot record” – that is, a very concise picture of a certain time in musical history. In this case, it’s the early 1990s, which is made clear by the fuzzy guitars, the edgy and concise lyrics with a hard-edged voice belting them out, sometimes off-key but never weak or unsure of itself. Snapshot records aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but have trouble retaining legitimacy outside of the narrowly-defined timeframe in which they originated.
There were songs on here – even parts of songs – that I really, really liked. Oh My Lover had me on the first note, although it never really emerged as the power anthem I wanted it to, and Dress rocked right along at a great clip that I loved. Most of the other songs were good…just fine…not great, not really awful. The kind of music one might expect to hear on a grungy 90s action movie like The Crow. Perfect to put on at a house party as great background music. (my snapshot of the early 90s included a lot of house parties…perhaps then no surprise that this comparison came up for Dry).
All of this, however, is not taking into consideration Plants and Rags, which may be the most aurally abusive song I’ve ever heard. I mean Jesus, it’s like someone picked two songs at random and then forced them to mate. Garbage.
But trying to pick one standout moment is really hard for me. As a whole, it’s a pretty decent album that strikes me as something perfect to have in the background and ignore (reminding me of this great scene in the amazing High Fidelity).
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype?: 3