Loud releases: Check the four reviews


They may be two-thirds of US country trio Dixie Chicks, which are currently on hiatus, but their sound is a far cry from the trio.

In stepping up as lead vocalist in this side project, Emily Robison commands attention to her underrated wispy, angel-like voice, once hidden as Dixie Chicks' backing vocalist and overshadowed by the band's main singer Natalie Maines.

In Court Yard Hounds, Robison and her sister Martie Maguire deviate significantly from country music to deliver a folk sound.

Phoebe and Rock All Night could have easily been Dixie Chicks tracks, but other songs are extremely light and jaunty. This album is like a burst of sunshine, and the first track - aptly called Sunshine - serves as a fitting opener.

This feel-good album makes it seem like Maines' reluctance to get Dixie Chicks running again is a blessing in disguise.

Format: CD, digital



Asking Alexandria's brand of electronica-infused metalcore divides listeners - heavy metal purists will detest the band's blatant use of trance beats, while youngsters looking for cathartic, head-banging riffs will not be disappointed.

On their third studio album, From Death to Destiny, the quintet from North Yorkshire, England, lay all their major influences on the table, from the haunting preambles a la Slipknot to 80s glam rock a la Skid Row.

The result? An astounding effort of 12 tracks that contain something for everybody.

There's the ferocious, angst-ridden Don't Pray For Me, power ballad Moving On, and the chugging, melodic Until The End.

Much has been said of late about frontman Danny Worsnop's ongoing battle with substance and alcohol addiction, but one thing's for sure - he is a brilliant songwriter.

Format: CD, Digital


You know you've arrived when your big bosses co-write, sing and star with you in your music video.

Mandopop singer-songwriter Yen-J, who recently held a successful debut sold-out concert at the Taipei Arena, must have impressed pop rockers Mayday (he is signed to their label, B'in Music International) so much that they've collaborated with him on Neat Freak, an upbeat number taken off his third studio effort, Y4 You.

Alas, that is also the album's only highlight.

In contrast to the unpretentious simplicity of his second album, Simple Love, Yen-J comes across as a tad overambitious on Y4 You.

The first single, Good Lover, sees him venturing into falsetto territory on too many occasions, exposing his weak vocals.

Winning Ticket In Hand, featuring a rap verse by Magic Power's Ting Ting, is hardly pleasing to the ears, whereas ballad No Answer is sappy and boring.

Format: CD, Digital



I've noticed a trend among artistes signed under giant music label SM Entertainment. For some strange reason, they have a dearth of powerful, strong melodies.

Like seniors Super Junior and Girls' Generation, the members of K-pop boy band SHINee are excellent when it comes to flaunting their dance moves and pleasing the crowd with their infectious - albeit monotonous - electropop earworm tracks Lucifer and Ring Ding Dong.

But they falter when it comes to delivering ballads or mid-tempo numbers.

It's not that they can't hold a tune. Selene 6.23 and Better Off, the two new songs taken off the quintet's third full-length album The Misconceptions of Us (a compilation of mostly old hits), are slow, soulful tunes that feature the dudes literally hitting all the right notes. What's missing is the hook.

I've listened to these tracks a few times, yet I still can't remember how they sound like.

Format: CD, Digital


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