Music

GrooveOut Shorts: May 2007

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The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, Broadway Scene Stealers, Mika, Macy Gray, Hilary Duff, Amy Winehouse, Ultra Naté, Ryland Angel, Joan Armatrading, Dr. Dog, Paula Abdul, Tracy Young, The Alan Parsons Project PLUS WEB ONLY SHORTS

Various Artists
New Arrivals, Volume 1
New Arrivals, Volume 2
NewArrivalsThe visually delicate yet heavily talented Rachael Sage, who played the 2005’s Houston GLBT Pride Festival, performs on Vol. 1 and conceived Vol. 2. She and other like-minded artists, like Melissa Ferrick, Ellis, and Girlyman, have waved their fees, with all proceeds to hurricane relief and hunger projects. Good music for good causes. From MPress Records (www.mpressrecords.com).
Preview: Nancy Ford

Original Cast Recording
The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin
Gender, race, and relationships are explored in this pop musical by Kirsten Childs, with LaChanze, last year’s Best Actress Tony winner for The Color Purple, brilliantly leading the cast. “Sticks and Stones” and “Granny’s Advice” make me want to see the whole show instead of just hearing it on CD. From Playwrights Horizons and Ghostlight Records (www.ghostlightrecords.com).
Review: Nancy Ford

Various Artists
Broadway Scene Stealers — The Women
Broadway Scene Stealers — The Men

BwayThese two discs focus on songs that were not runaway hits from their respective shows but perhaps should have been. Includes yummies like Dorothy Loudon’s “Little Girls” from Annie, Paul Wallace’s “All I Need Is the Girl” from Gypsy, Barbra Streisand’s “Miss Marmelstein” from I Can Get It For You Wholesale, and many more. From Playbill Records (www.playbillrecords.com).
Preview: Nancy Ford

Mika
Life in Cartoon Motion
This London-based singing/songwriting Lebanese émigré hit big with “Grace Kelly,” the kicky first cut on his debut CD. Mika describes himself as “Beck via Queen and Elton John with a touch of Rufus W.” But it’s Scissor Sisters who pop out, especially with “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).” From Universal Republic (www.universalrepublicrecords.com).
Review: Nancy Ford

Macy Gray
Big
BigHer remarkably unusual voice and fashion sense made her a huge success and distinguished her from her musical peers. Big is nothing like Gray’s previous albums. This dynamic new recording features a variety of styles with a bit of hip-hop and rock. Along with guest performances by many notable artists, the soul diva’s unique sound and soulful charms prevail. From Will.i.am Music/Geffen Records (www.geffen.com).
Review: Andrea Rodricks

Hilary Duff
Dignity
Like this CD’s promotional material says, “Dignity isn’t for sale. It comes from within.” Stop laughing — she’s serious. This former Houstonian and Lizzie McGuire star is listed as co-executive producer for her third release, an apt platform to distinguish her from her paparazzi-magnet contemporaries. From Hollywood Records (www.hollywoodrecords.com).
Preview: Nancy Ford

Amy Winehouse
Back to Black
AWinehouseBluesy and ballsy, this “Ronette from Hell,” as the Village Voice calls her, pays tribute to girl groups of the ’50s and ’60s — but with a dark, dark twist. “Back to Black” and “Some Unholy War” stand out. From Universal Republic Records (www.universalrepublicrecords.com).
Review: Nancy Ford

Ultra Naté
Grime, Silk & Thunder

This R&B/dance CD lifts its title from Rolling Stone magazine’s description of Nirvana’s Nevermind. And while we appreciate her tribute to Grace Jones with “Love’s the Only Drug,” U.N. is no Kurt Cobain (nor Grace Jones, for that matter). Tedious, at best. Available May 22 from Tommy Boy (www.tommyboy.com).
Review:Nancy Ford

Ryland Angel
Ryland Angel
RAngelThis countertenor has saccharinized recognizable classical/sacred tunes for his debut CD, like “Salve Regina,” “Jesu Redemptor,” and “The Water Is Wide,” most of which were recorded at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios. Is that John Lennon we hear spinning in his grave? From Manhattan Records (www.manhattanrecords.com).
Review: Nancy Ford

Joan Armatrading
Into the Blues
Bold and unpredictable, Joan Armatrading has stood the test of time. Her definitive vocal style and superb lyrics have captivated fans since the ’70s. A celebrated singer/songwriter, Armatrading proves just how much she enjoys playing the blues. She explores this classic American art form playing blues guitar and drawing from her rich soul vibe. Into the Blues features an eclectic mix of songs that incorporate various types of blues. From 429 Records (www.429records.com).
Preview: Andrea Rodricks

Dr. Dog
We All Belong

AllBelongTrue, the name is terrible. Despite the lousy moniker, the band’s style (early Beatles psychedelia) is compelling. After a couple listens, the harmonies are hard to forget. The vocals on “Worst Trip” are reminiscent of Ray Davies. “The Girl’ has an early Flaming Lips vibe, in the vein of the Lips’ “Tangerine” but without coming off derivative. From Park The Van Records (www.ParkTheVan.com).
Review: Eric A.T. Dieckman

Paula Abdul
Greatest Hits — Straight Up!
Well, shut my mouth and call me Sanjaya — did you know that Paula Abdul had enough “hits” for a greatest hits album? Neither did I, but all 18 of them are on this collection. Yes, 18! Available May 8 from Virgin Records (www.virginrecords.com).
Preview: Nancy Ford

Tracy Young
Danceculture 2
TYoungOne of the circuit’s most requested producer/DJs, Young was tapped by Madonna Penn Ritchie to spin at her more recent wedding. At press time, she was scheduled to have played her compilations at the Purple Party in Dallas on April 28. From Ferosh Records (www.ferosh.com).
Preview: Nancy Ford

The Alan Parsons Project
I Robot
and Eye in the Sky
These two ’70s-era classics have been digitally remastered and expanded to include 11 previously unreleased bonus tracks. The Eric Woolfson/Alan Parsons songwriting and producing team play overseers to this new project, assuring quality renditions of past hits, “Sirius,” “I Wouldn’t Want to be Like You,” and more. From Arista/Legacy (www.legacyrecordings.com).
Preview: Nancy Ford

GrooveOut Shorts WEB-ONLY

Cibo Matto
MattoPom Pom: The Essential Cibo Matto
It’s no surprise that Yoko Ono praises this eclectic, sample rock duo’s yummy compilation: It’s witty, wry, and discordantly appealing (plus, Sean Lennon guests). “Artichoke” is the Yoko-est of the 19 cuts. Super cool, if you’re in the mood for this flavor. From Rhino Records (www.rhino.com).

Palomar
All Things, Forests
With thoughtful titles like “Bury Me Closer,” “How to Beat Dementia,” and “Bridge of Sighs,” one might expect something a bit heavier than this energetic pop rock. Think Cranberries without the gravitas. From Misra Records (www.misrarecords.com). More: www.palomartheband.com.

Heaven 17
Before/After
BeforeAfterYou might recognize some these UK synthfunk/dance pop godfathers’ voices. They used to be known as Human League back in the ’80s. They still make us bob head to their infectious rhythms, especially with “I’m Gonna Make You Fall in Love with Me.” The “Don’t Fear the Reaper” cover needs more cowbell, though. Way more. From Ninthwave Records (www.ninthwaverecords.com). More: www.heaven17.com.

Wensday
Torch Rock
Sultry and full-throated, Wensday don’t need no stinkin’ D in her name to deliver this load of intriguing blues. Her C&W, barroom version of Alice Cooper’s cruel “Only Women Bleed” is getting a big push, but we prefer the folky “Pirate Love.” From Desert Dreams Records (www.desertdreamsllc.com). More: www.wensdaymusic.com.

Various Artists
Forever Country
ForeverCountryGet ready to line dance faster than ever before! Here we have a double CD of C&W classics, like “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Stand by Your man,” and “Rose Garden.” Best is Midnight Cowboy’s clever medley overlaying “Wicked Game” with the theme from Brokeback Mountain. Get to kickin’! From Centaur (www.centaurmusic.com).

Sasha & Shawna
Siren
Tapping works by Radiohead, James Taylor, Sting, Donizetti, and Bach, you’d think perhaps this female duo has bitten off more than it can chew with those pretty little mouths. The only surprise is that each cut is better than the last; all are classics you can easily get hooked on. From Manhattan Records (www.manhattanrecords.com).

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult
The Filthiest Show in Town
ShowInTownCelebrating its 20th anniversary, this time TKK explores “the darker side of the nightlife scene” which they believe is “life itself—raw, lurid and desperate.” In this case, they forgot another, more descriptive adjective: “boring.” We expect far more subversive of something pegged the filthiest. From Rykodisc (www.rykodisc.com). More: www.mylifewiththethrillkillkult.com.

The Puppini Sisters
Betcha Bottom Dollar
Remember The Fabulous Flirtations, those a cappella gay boys from the late 20th century? The Puppini Sisters are reminiscent, similarly choosing songs you wouldn’t normally expect to hear in Andrews Sisters-like three-part harmony, like stuff from Blondie and Kate Bush. Too much fun. From Verve Records (www.ververecords.com). More: www.thepuppinisisters.com.

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