Dig These Discs :: Deluka, Peter Block, KXP, Isabel Rose, Debi Nova
Trying to come up with a title for an album has to be difficult. After spending all of the time in the studio working on 10-12 songs and pouring all of their emotions into it, an artist has to be drained. To find a word or phrase that will accurately summarize and depict what the listeners are about to get has to be a tough task.
However, releasing a self-titled album is the easy way out. You don’t see author’s writing books they they title after themselves. Yet, as listeners we give musicians a pass when it comes to this. Each singer or band is given one album to name after themselves, and no one will say anything about it. However, the three of the five discs reviewed here are named after the band. It’s an excessive coincidence, and this is the call to action, asking artists to harness a little bit of energy that is left to come up with a catchy name. Sometimes, it’s just the small things that matter.
Deluka - Self Titled EP
A throwback treat for anyone who loves to have dance parties: the British imports are breaking onto the U.S. scene with the self-title EP, Deluka.
This short five-song set is just a perfect sampling to whet your appetite for a full album. Reminiscent of Blondie and the fun feel of the Ting Tings, Deluka is a band that is will definitely be making a bigger name for themselves.
Like a packet of Pop Rocks, the Brits come jumping out of the speakers with their first song, "Cascade." The party doesn’t end until closer "Mixed Messages" goes blank. Midpoint "Finito" is a little too frivolous, but other than that the collection is easily able to be played from beginning to end.
Hopefully, there won’t be a long wait before seeing what else the band has to offer.
Peter Block - Peter Block
Want something that will have you bobbing your head instantly? Peter Block’s self titled fifth album will do it for you.
While recording the album, Block encountered a series of personal tragedies. However, he takes dark issues that might not be otherwise poppy, and puts a peppy tune behind the sometimes-downbeat lyrics. Viola! Both opener "Die A Little EveryDay" and followup track "Icicle Days" manage to take these tasks and pull off the difficult feat with flying colors.
Many artists try to channel their personal turmoil into their art. But not everyone is able to do so successfully. Rihanna’s Rated R is a recent example of channeling a trying experience and having a mixed response.
Even in the slower tracks like "I No Longer Resemble Myself," Block is able to tackle this issue while doing so in a way that has more than just a cathartic release. Part of the credit should be given to Block, but also to Mike Viola, who has worked with Mandy Moore, Fountains of Wayne and most recently on the soundtrack to "Get Him to the Greek." Viola knows how to create a catchy tune and has helped Block to do so here as well.
KXP - KXP
Fronted by Timo Kaukolampi, KXP is a trio from Helsinki, Finland.
Their debut, self-titled album is now available, and offers a tribal feel upon listening to the aptly titled "Elephant Man." The group does a good job of keeping a steady pace through the eight-track album; however, the electronic music could use some editing. To make matters worse, by the end some of the songs begin to sound a lot alike.
Kaukolampi and his compatriots know how to put a good beat together, though. This is the key to the album. While there might be a sense of repetition at times, it all comes together because of the beats that will leave you wanting more. "18 Hours (of Love)" is one of those songs that you hear in a film right as the tough guys are going to cause some trouble with their rivals.
The album’s closing "Epilogue" is also as ominous, sounding like a fitting close to the final act of a horror movie thanks to its haunting organ.
While some people might try to classify KXP with the dance music that is usually put in the electronic de facto category, the group and their music is much harder to classify. Their self-titled album would be something to put on when at home chilling out.
Isabel Rose - Swingin’ from the Hip
Isabel Rose already has a thriving career--well actually, a couple. In the last decade she wrote and starred in Anything But Love and also signed a deal with Doubleday to write a novel.
But now she is releasing her debut album. Swingin’ from the Hip is a cabaret album filled with new renditions of both standards and other popular songs.
The songs get a jazzy, swing makeover. It works better on some songs than others. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" is a rendition that is just as welcome as the original version.
The most interesting of her remakes is of Pat Benatar’s "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." It’s a completely new take on the song and one that is both surprising and fun to listen to. Not receiving as good a treatment is the slow burn, harmonica tinged "I Only Wanna Be With You."
With someone who has made a career as a writer, Swingin’ from the Hip is a little bit of a disappointment that Rose never tries her hand at songwriting. She takes the easy route by recording songs from others and while they are not bad, it would be better to see her extend her reign as a writer.
In other words, seeing her shoot from the hip would be better than just merely "swingin’."
Debi Nova - Luna Nueva
Singer Debi Nova knows her market. In almost every song she makes a point to mention Costa Rica, sometimes more subtly than others. The pop singer is moving into the spotlight with her debut album Luna Nueva to prove she is more than just a talented background singer.
Nova is credited with co-writing the entire album. She has a knack for crafty catchy music. The first single, "Drummer Boy," was made for the clubs.
However, like many of the pop stars that are out there right now, Nova excels when the beat slows down. Whereas many of pop stars behind dance beats and fast-paced lyrics to keep from actually having to display their vocal range (or lack thereof), Nova is better when she is able to belt out the heartfelt lyrics, like on "Ashes & Pearls."
With Luna Nueva, Nova is announcing herself as an artist. She has previously worked in more hip-hop tinged music like "Tomorrow" with Q-Tip. She isn’t interested in going that route. Rather, she is a "hang on the deck with a drink in your hand and the breeze running through your hair" type of pop singer. In other words, she is good for almost any occasion and you’d be remiss not to check her out.
by Deluka, Peter Block, KXP