Jungle Sounds were in My Ears

Some of my co-workers and I started sharing some of our favorite music. We’ve been doing it for a while, but now we’re actually reviewing them and sharing those reviews with one another.

Here’s how I rate things. If I give something one star, it means I don’t think it qualifies as music. Five stars mean I wish I wrote the thing. Most music for me is a three.

Florence and the Machine – What the Water Gave Me (2011)

Kari just shared one song this week. Actually, she didn’t share anything this week, so I’m reviewing something she sent me via Spotify last Friday.

I’ve only heard their first album. There’s some good writing and good energy, but her voice kind of annoys me. So I’m not a huge fan, but they do grow on you.

And this song is no different. Great writing, great energy, kind of annoying vocals, and it grows on you. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. 3/5

MC Hammer – Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em (1990)

This whole album screams early ’90s to me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I can’t say this has aged well. Especially the drums. The bass actually feels very ’80s.

I was really surprised by songs like Have You Seen Her and Help the Children, which are so soft and different. Well, Have You Seen Her is actually a Chi-Lites cover, but I’m still surprised Hammer chose to cover it like he did. The On Your Face and Dancin’ Machine covers made more sense, especially the latter. I digress a little. On the other side of it all, Black is Black is heavier than most of the rest of the album. I’m kind of surprised it’s all by the same artist.

However his cover of Prince’s She’s Soft and Wet? No thanks. It reminds me of some stuff off my coworker Kari’s high school mixtape. I guess musically it’s not horrible, but the lyrical content?

All things considered, it’s a fine album and it’s more my thing than Boyz II Men, but I probably won’t ever listen to it again. I was surprised how much I liked Pray, even though it did seem rather long (same with Crime Story) and repetitive by the end. I guess that’s the major drawback of the album, it just felt long and – except for two or three tracks – it was a lot of the same. I think this is somewhere between a 2/5 and a 3.

The Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up the Girl (1998)

I have this album. It reminds me of my first ever girlfriend. This album brings all kinds of nostalgia. This was the album that got me into The Goo Goo Dolls. And it ties for the album of theirs I listen to the most.

I’ve never seen these guys live, but if they promised to play this album and stuff from Let Love In, I’d think about going. I’m also sure it wouldn’t sound the same. You can tell they’ve upped their production budget. You can tell they had moderate success with their previous album; enough that they felt they could afford some backing string arrangements, etc.

And I think it paid off. When Chris shared this album, he said even the Robby Tukac [sic] songs were listenable. And he’s right. If anyone is looking for some good, late ’90s pop rock, I’d point them toward this album. While some of the songs on here deserve a 4 and there are no really bad songs, the album as a whole gets 3/5. It’s been a hard week for me to nail down a specific rating.

Side note: back when I was in high school, I had some friends who wanted me to play mandolin in their band. I think I played with them once and we covered Iris off this album and Billy Joel’s Piano Man. And I don’t think I did either song justice.

The Police – Ghost in the Machine (1981)

I have this album, too. Or most of it. I’m admittedly mostly a greatest hits listener of The Police. Not because I don’t like anything else of theirs, but I’ve never gone out of my way to put anything else on my iTunes. So mostly all I have is the hits. But aside from the first three songs on this album, I have picked up a handful more. Just not the whole album.

I’ve always liked the feel of The Police’s songs. The obviously have reggae influences, but even the less groovey songs have a good feel to them. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I’m not exactly sure why all of these aren’t greatest hits. There is not one song on this album I dislike. This album easily earns a 4/5.

Also, I was really excited when I made the mental connection for the cheat code for unlimited magic in WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness, which is “every little thing she does.”

“Every little thing she does” is for magic.

“Every little thing she does” … is magic! I remember my brother and I looking at one another as the synapses fired. We felt really cultured.

Jack and White – Gemini (2011)

After I shared Mägo de Oz, I promised Tim the next time I shared a double album, I’d share something short after that to balance it out. So after last week’s double Metallica album, here’s 20 minutes of music. Bump that up to 36 if you add in their second EP, Winter.

This is Brooke White (an American Idol alumna) and her songwriting partner Jack Matranga. I’ve already written a review of their stuff when I saw them live. I really like them a lot. It’s mostly ’70s inspired folky pop rock. Very Fleetwood Mac-esque. Listen to the studio version of Gemini. It’s good. So is Winter. The acoustic recordings of Gemini are even better. My coworker Tim hates listening to music on YouTube (and I don’t disagree with his reason), but for the rest of you, their acoustic stuff can be found on YouTube. I’d give the studio version of Gemini a 4/5 and the live acoustic version 5/5. And I’d give Winter a 5/5 as well.

They took a break in 2012-2013 so Brooke could have a kid, but say they are currently writing more songs to record. They like doing EPs. They may be short, but they can get two or three EPs out a year. And they’re more cohesive collections of songs.

Here’s what my coworkers thought:

“This was a really good album. I remember Brooke White from her season on American Idol, and actually voted for her more than once. I’ve often wondered what became of her, and where she went after Idol, so this album was a great surprise. The music had a really good sound, and was really well composed. But, I have a problem with the concept of these Eps that have caught on lately. It just seems too….hipster to me to release these short snippets. While Paul mentioned it helps to keep a theme for the album release, I argue that it actually limits the ability to tell a story, or message, across the entire album. Sometimes you need those down tracks, and EPs just don’t have enough room for that. That being said it was good music. It deserves the three stars I gave it, but as an album I felt it could have been more…almost like lost potential.” 3/5 – Tim

“Paul, nice share. Looking forward to this one, I still say Brooke White’s shoeless performance of “Let it Be” was one of the show’s top highlights…ever.

Man, Brooke White is a throwback. She is making music 30 years too late. She has chops right up there with Carole King, Carly Simon and Stevie Nicks. Seriously, I think she is THAT good. The problem is, music like this never sees the light of day in 2014. Today, women in music are either angry blondes doing country or tatted-up bimbos doing hit factory pop. The music world doesn’t DESERVE Brooke White! I liked the album, it was a great find for me. I have begun listening to their other stuff as well.” -Phil

“I’ll mirror the other sentiments and declare my surprise to the quality of this one. I was expecting her voice to be good, but I wasn’t expecting the tunes to be this pleasant. Approachable but unique enough to be interesting. Very cool. And I agree with Phil, she has a very Stevie Nicks sound to her. I really enjoyed “Inside Outside.” That one especially sounded like a Fleetwood Mac tune to me. And “Telephone Games” followed it up nicely. As a taste into her sound, a very enjoyable EP. Nothing mind blowing, but surprisingly good. Not sure what else to say really. Kudos to her. If Jack was dressed like a giant pink bunny maybe they’d go somewhere. (Or maybe they’re actually good because he’s not…?)” 7/10 – Chris


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