Three of the dudes in this band are rather short, and it’s my duty to warn you that some Oompa Loompas busted out of the Chocolate Factory and are makin’ mischief, bad music mischief.
OneRepublicDreaming Out Loud*1/2Three of the dudes in this band are rather short, and it’s my duty to warn you that some Oompa Loompas busted out of the Chocolate Factory and are makin’ mischief, bad music mischief.
Christian undertones are thinly veiled among this low-talent pastiche that blends power-pop beats, bland pianos and violins, and breathy vocals in a quasi-falsetto. The occasional guitar work is utterly uninspired, and the lyrics are painfully predictable. Their breakout single, “Apologize,” gets remixed by Timbaland at the end of the album, and it’s the only above-decent listen out of 13 tracks. In all fairness, OneRepublic peppers flashes of potential greatness across Dreaming Out Loud, but ultimately it serves as little more than a showcase of the mess before the success.
Better luck next year, my vertically challenged friends.-Robert Seitzinger
Barton CarrollThe Lost One**1/2Barton Carroll’s light folk-plus-country sound makes me think of a rural and slightly less subdued Gary Jules. …except Carroll isn’t as good. The relaxed feel of this album is pleasant and soothing to the ears, but unfortunately it also gets boring quickly–relegating it to the realm of background music. Still, The Lost One‘s sensibility has an undeniable appeal in its dulcet tunes. It’s not good enough to make me pop it into my regular listening rotation, but if I ever need to take a road trip across the country again, this will be around the top of my playlist. –Jesse Thiessen
Miwa GeminiThis Is How I Found You**Miwa Gemini does not play the blues. Sure, the basic components and chord progressions are present, but in a somewhat stilted fashion, as though titular vocalist Ms. Gemini doesn’t really know what she’s doing. To the album’s credit, song construction is simple, and simple is hard to fuck up. Hell, a couple of songs aren’t even that bad. Still, This Is How I Found You mostly falls flat simply because it’s boring. Not that Ms. Gemini isn’t talented; it’s just that her brand of “blues” run through an indie-ish filter isn’t that exciting.-Steve Haske
CharmparticlesAlive in the Hot Spell***1/2If The Cranberries and Sarah McLachlan had crazy lesbian sex while crashing a Coldplay show covering Azure Ray, it might sound something like hometown Portland trio Charmparticles. Their debut album, Alive in the Hot Spell, is equally catchy and shoegaze-y, with invasive guitar work a la Godspeed You Black Emperor!, a strong vocal presence and surprisingly decent lyrics. It strikes an eclectic balance between driving rock and a slower, more contemplative sound. Occasionally, this pair of gals and a dude get a little too lost in themselves–but it’s fleeting and even enjoyable. Overall, you could do a lot worse.-Steve Haske