April 28, 2005

Amateur Music Review: The Sights - Jem

The Sights – The Sights

Like all rock bands from Detroit, from the MC5 and The Stooges on down to the White Stripes, The Sights favor loud, hard and fast. This record is a blazing throwback that could have been released in 1968. It would have sounded as good then as it does now. Lead Sight Eddie Baranek is a deft songwriter, moving between the psychedelic crunch of “Circus” and “Will I Be True?” with the more pop sensibilities of “Suited Fine” and “Baby’s Knocking Me Down.” He also hides a deceptively cynical streak in his lyrics. To wit: the chorus of “Waiting on a Friend”, a seemingly sweet country-pop ballad, is “I don’t care what happens to you.” The standout track on this album is the aforementioned “Baby’s Knocking Me Down”, a note-perfect late-60’s ballad that sounds like a long-lost Badfinger track. The Sights also show a good sense of history; a thunderous cover of The Faces’ bad-boy anthem “Stay With Me” is the album’s hidden track.

The Sights kicks off with a Mahalia Jackson cover, of all things. When Baranek belts out “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in my Song” he isn’t talking about traditional gospel, it’s the gospel of rock. And he means it.

Jem – Finally Woken

Welsh songstress Jem Griffiths mines the same cool electronica pop popularized by artists like Beth Orton and Dido, though she’s less depressed than the former and a lot more adventurous than the latter. Finally Woken is her strong full-length album debut. The standout title track, a sly and subdued vocal under a repeating drum line, was recorded a couple years before this album, and actually got her a record deal in the first place. This debut starts well –were this an LP it would have a dynamite first side- with the single “They”, a playful track highlighted by a sample of a child spouting gibberish. The warmly erotic “Come on Closer” , the insistent, rock-tinged “24” and the R&B bump of “Save Me” round out a killer opener. The album falters somewhat at that point. “Missing You” sounds like a rightfully forgotten Everything But The Girl outtake, and the 60’s pop “Wish I” misfires badly. Finally Woken recovers near the end with the soaring “Falling for You” and “Flying High”, which sounds like a good ETBTG track.

Jem’s debut album is a touch erratic, but her sense of playful adventure is refreshing. There is much to like about this album.

Posted by Frinklin at April 28, 2005 06:19 PM

I can't get enough of Finally Woken. It's one of my favorite albums the year.

Posted by: Richard at April 28, 2005 11:59 PM
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