CD Review: Sarah McLachlan – Laws of Illusion

Yes, this isn’t something that I would normally review. But I will be honest, I have a bit of a soft spot for Sarah McLachlan. It all started when I was a freshman in High School (1997) and Surfacing came out. I was big into the Alternative/Grunge scene (as well as Hip-Hop) so I mostly stuck to that kind of music – till I heard “Building a Mystery” and it changed my view on music. Then came the ASPCA ads that featured “Angel”. I’m a big animal activist and it hit me so hard when those commercials played that I actually support ASPCA each month. To this day, those ads still make me cry (poor kitties and puppies). Hell I even loved the the mix she did with Canadian electronic artist Delirium.

Now she releases her first album in seven years, Laws of Illusion. The first track of the album, Love Come at times sounds like a Kings of Leon song. My favorite track off this album has to be “Forgiveness” – it really hits you like a tidal wave. Other stand out tracks include “Awakenings” and “Illusions of Bliss”. Also at times it feels the record has elements of Counting Crows and Band of Horses.

However, the rest of the album is lacking as it sounds very repetitive and bland. Most of the time it sounds like she’s trying way too hard to be like Dido and in some cases . . . Enya. It makes me wonder what happened to her folksy/alternative sound she had during the late 90’s that made her popular. Overall rating: 2 ½ /5

By: Xander Deccio

CD Review: Prince – 20Ten

So a friend of mine from the UK sent me a copy of this album as it was released for free with the Daily Mirror. It hasn’t been released in the US and to be honest, with the way Prince is acting these days I doubt it will be any time soon.

I’ll be honest, I’m a HUGE Prince fan. Ever since I was a kid, Purple Rain was one of my favorite records growing up. I had it on cassette and on vinyl, and carried the cassette tape with me where ever I went, just to get my parents to play it on car trips. When I got my first CD player, the first CD I got was Prince: The Hits. Yes, when I say I’m a huge Prince fan, it goes back to my childhood.

But with his latest release 20Ten, I’m starting to think he’s lost his damn mind! (Oh wait, HE HAS LOST HIS DAMN MIND!!!) 20Ten starts out with “Compassion,” a funk influenced rock song that makes you want to jam out at a house party with your friends. The next track “Beginning Endlessly” goes back to his old school roots like “1999” and some of his stuff he did with New Power Generation back in the 90’s.

But after those 2 tracks that’s where things go from great to horrible. Every other song on this record sounds exactly the same. Most of the time it’s repetitive and boring and makes you wonder what the hell happened to Prince. This isn’t the Prince I grew up with. What happened to the days of “When Doves Cry” and “Thieves in the Temple”? I understand Prince is now a Jehovah’s Witness, but that shouldn’t interfere with him making awesome records like he did during the Revolution days. Maybe Prince should hold a meeting and try to get the band back together, because this new crap isn’t working

Overall rating: 2 out of 5

By: Xander Deccio

Photos & Review: Toadies @ The Showbox

It’s been a really long time since I’d been so excited for a show.  About 15 years ago I was an impressionable young high schooler with little to no musical influences.  A tape fell into my lap (well, tossed really, into my sibling’s discard pile where I quickly grabbed it up) and it stayed on repeat for the next few months. That tape was Toadies’ Rubberneck and catapulted my musical hunger into overdrive.  This show was bound to be epic, whether anyone else attending felt it or not. Though, from the excitement of the crowd and the palpable tension building between the openers’ sets and the headliner’s first appearance, that would not be the case. The age of the crowd ranged from pre-drinking to late thirties. The group of teen-aged attendees were a surprise considering the Toadies’ radio hits peaked in ’94 and ’95. Apparently their small discography has stood the test of time, even if just for a small contingent.

The local group Absolute Monarchs started out the night with an energetic set. They are a hard rock with more than a mere dash of punk thrown in they don’t just sing and play, they feel their music. You may not be a fan of the music genre but you have to admit they’ve got something that draws you in.  Dead Country kept the night going with a set of poppy tunes that could have been interesting, but lacked uniqueness. After the first couple songs it felt like the breadth of their work was played out.  It also seemed like the lead and backup guitarists were perfecting the art of rock stances and smoldering sexy looks rather than moving their talents to a higher level.  It wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t much that grabbed your attention either.

The exuberance of that younger crowd quickly turned into a mosh pit as the Toadies took the stage and started their set with “Backslider” quickly followed up a few songs later with “Mr. Love”.  The floor was literally bouncing, in fact it moved so much the onstage mics were rocking back and forth. It was obvious the members of the band weren’t expecting this type of reaction, and responded to the audience’s excitement with an abundance of their own.  Their occasional smiles and incredulous comments about the Wednesday night crowd being more like a Saturday, it turned into a battle to see who would have more fun, us or them.  You can bet they’ll be back in Seattle again and hopefully we’ll show them just as much love the next time around. I know I will.

The Toadies

Toadies @ the Showbox

Toadies @ the Showbox

Toadies @ the Showbox

Toadies @ the Showbox

Dead Country

Dead Country

Dead Country

Absolute Monarchs

Absolute Monarchs

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Photos: Victor Shade & Fresh Espresso @ CHBP/Neumos

Victor Shade and Fresh Espresso closed out Capitol Hill Block Party on Sunday evening by playing to a very excited audience. You’ll be able to see what all the excitement is for yourself when Shade plays the KEXP & Seattle Center Present Concerts at the Mural on August 14th and Fresh Espresso appears at Bumbershoot on September 5th.

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Victor Shade

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Fresh Espresso

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Victor Shade

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Fresh Espresso

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Victor Shade

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Fresh Espresso
all photos by Dagmar

Gallery of Fresh Espresso @ Neumos
Gallery of Victor Shade @ Neumos