Unstoppable Momentum - Joe Satriani
I have a copy of US guitar maestro Joe Satriani's 1992 near-flawless instrumental album, The Extremist. Every track is top-notch.
Unstoppable Momentum, the 56-year-old virtuoso's 14th studio effort, is still classic Satriani from start to finish.
Timeless, haunting and imaginative, he uses the guitar to rival how the best singers use their voice, shunning show-offish heroics in favour of simple yet phenomenal melodies.
The pulsating title track puts one in the mood for an enjoyable rock and roll ride, but it is the second half of the album where Satriani's magic truly comes alive.
Shine On American Dreamer is a stadium rock anthem that would have you pumping your fists, while funky, groovy The Weight of The World makes you want to put on your dancing shoes.
Format: CD, Digital
- Tan Kee Yun
Long Way Down - Tom Odell
Apparently, Tom Odell's dad called up music magazine NME to complain about them giving his son's full-length debut 0 out of 10 in their review.
To be fair to Odell Senior and his 22-year-old British singer-songwriter son, the album is not that bad.
Its biggest crime is looking like a collection of great songs, but failing to deliver.
Odell achieves this effect by specialising in the mid-tempo piano-and-guitars track that builds up to soaring choruses too early and coasts on said chorus for another two to three minutes.
Even Keane, the English band that's just about trademarked the mid-tempo piano ballad, swerves often enough into other time signatures and genres to remain a little interesting.
Odell's singing is one note. He substitutes a constant half-croakiness for nuance, and it gets grating a few tracks into the album.
Hopefully he learns a thing or two from The Rolling Stones when he opens for them later this week at Hyde Park.
Formats: CD, digital
- Juliana June Rasul
The Divine Comedy - Ai Weiwei
Chinese dissident and visual artist Ai Weiwei's debut album, The Divine Comedy, reminds me of 2011's befuddling experimental mess Lulu - the much-hyped collaborative album between heavy metal legend
Metallica and singer-songwriter Lou Reed that ended up all wrong.
If you are not in tune with Ai's political activism or his stinging criticism of the Chinese government, then The Divine Comedy would simply be a huge wall of noise to you.
On these six tracks, which includes the profanity-laced Dumb***, the 56-year-old doesn't sing but reads out his lyrics - like a spoken word track - to dreary, gloomy music composed by Beijing-based avant-garde musician Zuoxiao Zuzhou.
Even though Ai refers to The Divine Comedy as a "metal" effort, Zuoxiao Zuzhou's tunes lean more towards electronica, gothic and industrial. Aside from Give Tomorrow Back To Me and Just Climb The Wall, which boast underlying folksy vibes, most of the material is punishing to sit through.
– Tan Kee Yun
Don't Cry - Issac Dang
Malaysian rookie singer Issac Dang is often compared to Hong Kong's bad boy Edison Chen because of their similar appearance.
Yet, the 28-year-old's debut album Don't Cry is nothing like what one would expect from a bad boy lookalike.
The 11-track album consists of sappy love ballads which blur into similar repetition with no standout songs.
Dang's title track, Don't Cry, evokes strong emotions especially during the chorus when he sings: "There's a type of guy like me who bleeds and not tears, as pain can numb the bitterness of the taste of tears".
It's a pity that the album closer, a cover of Hong Kong legendary singer Leslie Cheung's Chase, falls short of expectations.
The album is a sincere effort by a new singer in a saturated Mandopop market. It could have been better if there were at least one memorable track with a catchy hook.
Format: CD, Digital
- Jocelyn Lee
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