TANYA GALLAGHER: One Hand On My Heart

 

Tanya Gallagher leads a double life. By day, the Pensacola, Florida native who once interned for NASA practices cartography, turning geographic information into maps for Santa Rosa County, where she resides, and by night, she pens soulful, folk etched pop songs. Gallagher wrote all of the songs on One Hand On My Heart while she was pursuing a PhD in forestry in Vancouver. Heartbroken after a split with her longtime boyfriend, she nearly found the stress of academia too much to take. “Had it not been for music, I don’t think I would have made it through my PhD,” says Gallagher.

With a smoky and soulful voice, Gallagher really gives off a ton of emotion and heartbreak on this album. The songs tug at your soul, never mind your heart and you can hear just how much her pain was, but with pain, you sometimes get great art, and she did create beautiful art on this EP. The production is clear and lets the rawness of her lyrics pour out, plus the laying is exceptional. This is the kind of album that I would expect people who like Fiona Apple to love as well. I loved “Dolphin In The Snow” because it was fairly upbeat sounding and her little laugh at the beginning of the song made me smile. She compares herself to a dolphin in the snow and how she doesn’t fit in. This is such a peppy song that gives everyone who listens to it the same thought, “do I fit in?”

This is a short, amazingly personal collection of songs, but I believe that a lot of people could relate to what she is singing about. While not a fan of this kind of music usually, this is an album that really touched me and will connect with you as well.

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NICK DE LA HOYDE : Animals (Single)

This is a new summer track from Sydney-based pop/R&B sensation Nick de la Hoyde entitled “Animals.” Growing up in a multi-cultural home with a Syrian mother and British father, Sydney based singer-songwriter Nick de la Hoyde was exposed to many global influences that he now weaves into his music. Melding his love of hip hop, pop and R&B with introspective lyrics that chronicles a young musician’s journey to adulthood, overcoming life and artistic challenges along the path, Nick and his long-time producer/collaborator/older brother Joseph (ZUZU) de la Hoyde, have together crafted a sound that is simultaneously intimate, expansive and engaging.

I have to be totally honest, I really wasn’t expecting much and to probably hate this, but I went into it with an open mind and I really enjoyed this song, as well as the video which shows someone with an animal head on being lonely and melancholy, then meeting someone and being extremely happy doing all of the things with someone else, that also had an animal head on. The video made me smile and the song stuck with me, something that rarely happens with music that you would normally hear on pop radio. The song is, the artist says, “Animals” is a song about love! I wrote the song because I am constantly in awe of the unconditional love that I see in all animals, whether in the wild or the ones we are blessed to share our homes with! No matter what sort of day you have had, or how bad you are feeling, when you get home you are greeted with love and affection that puts a smile back on your face. Human beings can learn a lot from animals, and real, unconditional love is the biggest lesson you can learn from them and one that we should put into practice in our own lives.” All I can say is that he nailed it perfectly. The song is smooth, the vocals are sincere and I got into the light groove that it had.

I enjoyed everything about this song, especially watching the video and listening to the song together. A great taster to what I hope that the album will be like and a great song to make you smile.

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WEATHER McNABB: Cubicle Zombie

https://alteredfrequencies.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/c0bbd-weath.jpg

Weather was born in Minneapolis but has spent most of her adult life north of Boston. She has been working on her music since 2012 and has finally been able to get her debut album out.

Having been a cubicle zombie myself at a few jobs that I have had in the past, I can appreciate the sentiment behind this album. The vocals and the sound of “Good Morning” reminded me of Lily Allen a bit, but in a good way. It had that same kind of poppy, peppy sound, but with lyrics that made you know that this person is more aware than the average person. The biting lyrics are a definite plus on this all too short album. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into everything on this album, from the lyrics, the music to the great production. It also reminded me a bit of Carole Pope from Canada’s Rough Trade in the expressiveness of the vocals. The whole album is just a great listen and every track is a definite keeper, the quality behind this release is amazing.

For a first album, this is just incredible with how well everything is presented. Most female vocalists are too wispy and boring, this has power and emotion to it, something rare these days and for one, I’m so glad that I got the chance to hear this…now you need to get this for yourself…go ahead, it’s worth it.

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ANDREW RIDGELEY: Son Of Albert

This is the first reissue for Andrew Ridgeley’s debut album Son Of Albert that was originally released in 1990, four years after the breakup of Wham! Andrew Ridgeley as one half of the 80’s Supergroup Wham! sold more than 28 million records worldwide between 1982 and 1986. This Special Expanded Edition includes the nine original album tracks from the vinyl release plus 7 related bonus tracks. This includes “Shake (Hardcore)” that was featured on the CD version of the album.

One day at the record store that I worked at, a label compilation was given to me be the rep and I took a look at it and saw that a solo song from Ridgely was on it and I was interested in hearing it. I cued it up on the old CD player and there it was, the first single, “Shake.”The song starts off with guitar and vocals, then the band kicks in with a catchy chorus and I was kind of shocked that it had nothing to do with the way that Wham! sounded. A lot more rock and not pop at all, so I was interested in hearing more from the album. For whatever reason, the album never seemed to appear in the store and I promptly forgot about it, until one day, Was in another record store and saw the CD in the used bin on sale for 3 for $10. I dug around and grabbed a couple more discs and headed home. When I put this on, was I ever surprised with what I heard! This was a hair metal CD, not a guy from Wham! I had thought that I got a mislabeled CD, until I heard “Shake” and realized that this truly was the real one. Starting off with “Red Dress,” I was shocked to hear a rocking song with more than a touch of hair metal, almost Poison-like in sound. Next was “Shake,” then “The Price Of Love” which is a more rockin’ out tune with an early Alice Cooper vocal sound. “Flame” is a dirty sounding track with ripping guitar playing. “Hangin'” is more pop-oriented, less hard rock and a ridiculously catchy chorus. “Mexico” sounds almost exactly like Poison and is really hair metal. “Big Machine,” “Kiss Me,” and “Baby Jane” all carry on the hard rock sound. I sat there and couldn’t believe that the guy who helped put out songs like “Wake Me Up,” and “Wham! Rap” was doing a metal album now! I can see why that this was not a hit because where would it have gotten air-play? Rock radio would not touch an album from a guy from Wham!, and pop radio wouldn’t play a metal album, so then what? Now, after a lot of years, we get a remastered version with bonus tracks and a chance to re-think the whole thing. This version contains a recent interview with Ridgeley and co-producer Gary Bromham, remastering from the original tapes, the single “Shake” in “Hardcore,” “Accapella,” and “Extended” mixes, second single “Red Dress” which features backing vocals by George Michael, with “12”” and an additional “Extended Mix,” and “Hangin,” with the “Extended” and “Alternative Extended Version.”

“Shake (Hardcore)” is mostly just music and effects added to it, “Acapella” really isn’t since it has a guitar in it, and “Extended” is not as dancey, more open sounding. “Red Dress (12″ Mix)” is a fairly rocking mix that sounds great, “Extended Version” is exactly that, an extended mix. “Hangin’ (Alternative Extended Version)” is more of a dancey track, and “Extended” is, even more, pop-oriented and dancey than the other mixes.

The sound is great, and listening to this again, with al the years between the first listen and today, this isn’t that bad of an album, kind of fun and definitely something that stands as his own statement. Take a chance and give it a listen for yourself.

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HAIRCUT ONE HUNDRED: Paint And Paint

After a massive first album, Haircut One Hundred were now without a singer, no record label, a backlash against their pop music and in dire straits. This album came out of that difficult time and was not a hit, but has become the holy grail of their music since it has never been on CD, and copies of the album were hard to find. Now we have a remastered and expanded CD that is a welcome addition to your collection.

I loved their first album, playing it on my Walkman over and over again, then waiting, and waiting for more music from them, finally reading in Smash Hits magazine that they had a new single out. I headed out to the record store over and over again in Hamilton to try to buy their music, and finally, I found the single “Prime Time,” with “Too Up Two Down” on the other side. I hurried home, removed the 12″ single from the sleeve while admiring the cool shopping bag that the single was packaged in, and put it on. I was a little bit taken aback that the songs, while good, were so different to the first album, and the singer was a bit different than Nick Heyward, but after a few listens, I was hooked and had to find the album. Well, that didn’t happen for around 5 years because no one carried it and it was not able to be ordered since it wasn’t popular. I did finally find the album on cassette and was happy to finally have it. I played it a lot and eventually hoped to find if on CD, but that wasn’t going to be happening. I was excited to see that Cherry Red was able to get the rights to it and add a second disc of bonus tracks. I put this in my stereo, turned it up and relived the songs that I knew, and enjoyed the way that the album was different than their first one, but still retaining the charm that I loved from the first album. The first disc has the 11 original album tracks plus four related bonus tracks; the 7″ remix of “Too Up Two Down,” the 12″ mix of “Prime Time (Late Night Shopping Version),” and two b-sides “Evil Smokestacking Baby,” and “After It’s All Been Said And Done.” The second disc starts with the 12″ version of “So Tired (Long Slumber Mix),” and its b-side “Fish In A Bowl (Deeper Version).” The next nine tracks were supplied by the band from their own archives. They feature working mixes taken straight from the mixing desk during the recording sessions for the band to listen to at home and work on additional arrangements and brass parts. And at the end, you get four tracks recorded at the BBC for a session on the David Jensen show. They were aired on his show on 13th May 1984.

As you can see, this is an amazing collection of tracks that give the fans an idea of where the band was going and what they were trying to accomplish. Sadly, no matter how good and poppy the album was, fans didn’t buy it and they broke up, but at least we have a collection of songs that hold up and add to the memory of a great band. The booklet has memories of the album and the recording process and was a great read. The added music, along with the remastering has made this a dream come true for fans.

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BETTY BOO: Boomania

BETTY-BOO

Betty Boo’s original breakthrough came with the release of “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” as The Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo on Rhythm King in 1989. Her debut album Boomania followed in 1990 peaking at # 4 in the UK album charts and achieved platinum status of 300,000 sales. This Deluxe Edition includes the twelve original album tracks, plus fourteen bonus tracks, it has been remastered using original master tapes, and the sixteen page full color booklet features an expanded design of the original artwork, extensive sleeve notes written by Michael Silvester and a full UK discography featuring Betty Boo’s front cover images.

I had originally heard the Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo, and was intrigued when the news of her own album was first put out. I had been into house for a while and was looking forward to her album. The good news was that it was every bit as good as her song with the Beatmasters and actually improved on the sound by being even more infectious and attention grabbing than before. Of course you get the hits “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing),” “Doin’ The Do,” “Where Are You Baby?,” and “24 Hours,” but the crazy amount of remixes makes this a treasure trove for those that wore them out back in the day, or couldn’t find/afford them all. The mix of pop, rap, and dance/house kind of dates the music, but if you were there, it sounds glorious to your ears still. It just shows how the charts actually had a mix of music back then, as well as happy music mixed in with the dour sounds of grunge, or what the media was improperly calling punk back then. The songs and the videos had a sense of sixties kitsch to them, and the hooks were huge, so big that just the titles on here alone will make the song creep into your head again and get stuck all day. The remastered sound is cleaner and clearer, adding to the sounds and effects on the album, and giving it a touch more depth.

The great mix of styles, the hook laden tracks, and the pure fun of this album will make you smile and dance a hole into your carpet. It brings back the fun and the excitement of youth, not just your own, but youth in general, hearing the songs again, or for the first time for the curious. This truly is a treasure trove and will be getting lots of plays around my house.

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THE ARCHIES: Sugar, Sugar – The Complete Albums Collection

Finally, all five of The Archies albums are released on CD for the first time which will make fans quite happy. I was, and still am a fan of the comic books and I owned two of these albums on vinyl way back in the old days. The sad thing about this collection, which I have only as a download, so I can’t comment on the booklet, is that they are sourced from vinyl, not remastered. You would think that such an undertaking would have them doing that one step to take this over the top.

Well, onto the music, which is a delight, a complete joy to listen to and will put a smile on your face and get your toes tapping and you will sing along, yes you will. Of course you get the huge hit “Sugar, Sugar,” but there is so much more on her besides that. “Jingle, Jangle” is every bit as good and I love that damn song. The songs are of course bubblegum, and I have no problem with that, but they also went a bit weirder and got into social statements as the albums progressed, so take that people who dismiss this band. Other standout songs are “Archie’s Theme (Everything’s Archie),”  “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.-D.O.O.),” “She’s Putting Me Through Changes,” “Get on the Line,” and “This Is Love.” The male vocals for the group were provided by Ron Dante, who started his career as a member of the Detergents who did “Leader Of The Laundromat,” and was also the voice of  The Cuff Links. The albums truly are a delight to hear again, and not just have a greatest hits collection that just gives you a few songs, this gives you all of them and you can hear the band progressing and changing. Maybe they never rose to the heights of “Sugar, Sugar” again, but this is definitely not throwaway music, this is a bit of history that will never be repeated, a time of crazy pop music aimed at kids that grew up and still sounded great.

While maybe not the perfect box set, this is a pure delight that will give you smiles and if you were there, memories that will come back to you and make your heart happy. In these strange times, isn’t something that makes you happy worth owning? I think so.

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