New releases join music scene with gusto

Sandi Thom
Smile... It Confuses People

Well, I was no doubt confused by the music of Sandi Thom. Her biography boasts of music that is a fusion of soul and folk, but I must have missed the soul portion of her debut album, which is supposedly inspired by legendary singers like Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

I think not. Sandi Thom’s songs were definitely folky, reminding me of a semi-punk-rock-country genre that doesn’t exist. Think KT Tunstall meets Carrie Underwood. It was only her music that didn’t impress me, though; I will praise Thom’s voice — her vocal talent cannot be denied, as strong and fervent as it is. Her high and enthusiastic voice surprised me: From the cover of her album and the titles of her songs, I expected to hear the voice of a grunge rock type. The material of one of her songs is somewhat admirable: In “I Wish I was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in my Hair),” Thom sings about the troubles of the world today, revealing her preference for a simpler time “[when] music really mattered and when radio was king … and the media couldn’t buy your soul.” Singing critically about her own industry, she definitely has a point. It isn’t necessarily hypocrisy, just an interesting take on things.

You may want to delve into Thom’s series of folksy ballads if you like indie/folk singer Adam Gardner (who claims to sound like both Jack Johnson and Damien Rice; you choose). I get the impression that Thom’s music isn’t universal — not everybody will enjoy it. In the end, though, she has some potential and a great voice.

Mat Kearney
Nothing Left to Lose

Mat Kearney’s debut — as far as major record labels go — is an excellent compilation of songs that a lot of different audiences could relate to. Delivering a synthesis of pop and hip-hop, a little bit of rock, and a smidgen of folk, the songwriter serenades you not only with his memorable voice, but also with his guitar skills and bits of spoken word. He credits his musical interests to artists from Miles Davis and Billie Holiday to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Kearney’s admiration of these artists fueled his interest in blending speech and poetry in his writing. He produces a style that cannot be categorized by any one genre, only described.

And yet, there isn’t a track on Nothing Left to Lose that is amazingly incredible. Despite the general likeability of the CD, none of the songs manage to stand out. Not to be mistaken, the songs and the material aren’t horrible — Kearney’s tracks are good; they simply are not grand or superb.

Kearney’s voice is Chris Martin-esque, but a little more grungy and disheveled. The Fray, Coldplay, and John Mayer are similar to various aspects of Kearney’s style: You may like Kearney’s music if you like any of those artists. This album is definitely worth a listen.

Live Like We’re Alive

Turn on this pop/rock CD and hear all other pop/rock CDs: Daphne Loves Derby, Fall Out Boy, etc. If you are a fan of these artists or similar artists you may be fond of Nevertheless, a novel band debuting with the album Live Like We’re Alive.

Members Josh Pearson (lead vocals/guitar), AJ Cheek (lead guitar/background vocals), Brad Jones (guitar/background vocals), Adam Wann (bass), and Adam Rowe (drums) are the cast of this brand new band. Their newest album is an anthology of emotion-ridden songs like “Lover” and “Let It Fall,” which describe the profound sentiments associated with love, faith, and life. It is true that underneath the exterior of what may come off as another faceless emo/punk/pop/rock band, Nevertheless has something more to offer: content. The lyrics go beyond the typical stereotype of heartbreak and sadness, which sets them apart many similar bands. Theirs is a good effort and a decent album.

Liberation Transmission

Intense. That’s the first word that came to mind in listening to Lostprophets’ new album, Liberation Transmission. The first track, called “Everyday Combat,” certainly gave the impression that the rest of the CD was going to be great. The combination of indie and comparitively harder rock works well for the boys of Lostprophets, which includes Ian Watkins, Jamie Oliver, Lee Gaze, Mike Lewis, and Stuart Richardson. Titles of the tracks, such as “Can’t Stop, Gotta Date With Hate,” make you laugh out loud in amusement, and, in some tragic way, you can’t help but to relate to the lyrics.

Liberation Transmission is an album that feels out of place in its genre. Having an interest in rock bands such as 311, Linkin Park, or Hoobastank might leave you open to this alternative metal/rock band. The style and presentation of this band are both somewhat unique; however some of their songs seem all too familiar. Despite this, this album offers entertainment and enjoyment — check it out.