Mini-CD Reviews

Now that Cornerstone is two months in the rear-view mirror, I thought I would review some of the CD’s that I picked up between now and then:

Tifah – Safe and Sound
Lush sounding CD led mostly by Latifah Al-Attas on vocals and piano with songs mostly centering around the theme of love. Her voice is unique and easy to recognize, reminding me of The October Project or Paula Cole. The strength of the album is that songs are carried along by some great instrumentation featuring guitars, drums, and violin. The strong instrumentation reminds me very much of Over the Rhine, another band that exudes a quiet intensity. The band isn’t afraid to rock a little bit in my favorite track, “Enough”, and “This is Love” is a fantastic closing track. This band was a really pleasant surprise for me at Cornerstone. I hadn’t planned on seeing them but they were playing before another band I wanted to see on the New Band Stage. I’m glad I discovered them.

Jonezetta – Popularity
A lot of the songs on this CD aren’t too “new” to me, because I had already seen this band last year at Cornerstone and also opening for Mute Math last year. I had their four-song sampler and the songs are on this CD, too. Popularity has a little bit better production and more keyboards than the demos I heard. This is a fun Tooth N’ Nail band that merges a little bit of the 80’s with modern music similar to The Killers or Franz Ferdinand. I think most of my favorite tracks are still the ones I already knew like “Welcome Home” and “Communicate”, but “Get Ready (Hot Machette)” is pretty fun, too.

Future of Forestry – Twilight
I bought this CD on the strength of the opening track “Open Wide” which is an amazing track. A relatively big-name producer (Ken Andrews) adds a great sound to the songs. The band reminds me a little bit of bands like Coldplay and Snow Patrol and the anthemic songs make me think of U2, of course. This one has really done well over repeated listenings. It appears that the band is about to undergo some lineup changes and I’m hoping the band sticks around for some a while and matures their sound.

Ruth – Secondhand Dreaming
This CD is exactly what comes to my mind when I think of a summer CD. It’s the kind of CD you want to put in your car and roll down the windows and take a drive. The immediate comparison that I hear is Third Eye Blind, but I have to confess that I like this a whole lot more than Third Eye Blind. I love the songs like “Here to New York” and “Secondhand Dreaming” that just beg you to sing along with them.

Paper Route – self-titled
This is a quirky little EP that I picked up that features a great variety of instrumentation. It’s got a lot of electronic percussion (and band name) that reminds me of The Postal Service, but it’s not totally derivative. Nice harmonies and intricate melodies.