Archive for the ‘Charley says ALBUM!’ Category

Charley says ALBUM! Rochelle – You vs. Me

April 4, 2012

There’s few words that make pop fans run for the hills faster than “authentic” and “guitars”. However, you might want to stick around for Rochelle’s debut album because it is very very good indeed. Rochelle has a natural popstar edginess to her and injects attitude into a brilliantly in-your-face album.

In 2011 Rochelle became the fourth Dutch X Factor winner and released a stripped down cover of Jordin Sparks’ epic “No Air”. With coach and producer Eric van Tijn firmly by her side she set out looking for the perfect sound to build her album around. For the next year a whole bunch of demos were recorded and a whole lot of different styles were tried out. At one point she teamed up with The Partysquad for the club/R&B-tinged theme to dance movie “Body Language”.

However, as I heard people from her label say on a Sony Music Benelux event where I saw Rochelle perform, in the end she decided: “You know what? Just give me a band to rock out with”. With her musical direction finally set in stone, everything quickly fell into place. Having carefully selected songs written by, among others, the people behind Sabrina Starke, Rochelle and a bunch of musicians got into the studio. Eric van Tijn was aided on production duties by the likes of Tearce ‘Kizzo’ Keaz of ‘Silly Boy‘ fame.

The first of the resulting songs we got to hear was lead single “What A Life“. The track takes the best bits about Jessie J and scrapes off the shiny pop gloss, till all that’s left is a raw yet approachable and damn catchy tune. Upcoming follow-up single “Untouchable” was created by Emeli Sandé and is a full-on anthem. Think “My December” era Kelly Clarkson. It’s not the only epic moment on the album “You vs. Me”, with the goosebumps inducing chorus of “Talking To My Shadow” as one of many examples.

In fact, Rochelle has opted to pack the entire album with as much power as possible. The only thing that comes close to a ballad is “Mummy’s Boy“, a musical fuck you to the man in the title that sounds reminiscent of Shontelle’s “Impossible”. On other tracks, like “Chasing Fire“, Rochelle has a touch of Gossip to her, while the verses of “Little Miss Unhappy” fit right in with Gotye. In the end though, all these influences combined result in the album being 100% Rochelle and 100% amazing.

“What A Life” by Rochelle is available on Spotify and iTunes.
“You vs. Me” by Rochelle is available on Spotify and iTunes.

Charley says ALBUM! T-ara – Breaking Heart

February 24, 2012

The guy behind Popsessed has been organising an Album Shuffle over on Popjustice! Everyone sends in an album and randomly gets assigned someone else’s to review. For round two I got Breaking Heart by Korean girl group T-ara. My review was just posted and because I loved the album so much I thought I’d put it on here as well.

Put on the album, enjoy and, perhaps, see you for the next round of Album Shuffle on Popjustice!

For ages I’ve been trying to get more into K-Pop, but the number of amazing acts  and albums is so overwhelming that I always end up just putting 2NE1’s “I Am The  Best” on repeat with their “Ugly” and Girls Generation’s “Echo” played in  between every now and again. This Album Shuffle was the perfect occasion for me  to finally have someone say “Now this is where you’ll start”.

I wasn’t  that familiar with T-ara other than their thread in the K-Pop subforum on Popjustice  having their name with a fancy symbol in the title: T♔ARA. To be perfectly  honest, at first I had them confused with Monrose covering girl group f(x)  somehow. Nothing that a quick visit to Wikipedia couldn’t fix though. When  reading up about Breaking Heart it became clear that this was a rerelease  of T-ara’s debut album, originally titled Absolute First Album.

The album  starts off with the two songs that were added for the rerelease and from the get  go it was clear that this would be an awesome ride. If you don’t want to live in  a world where there’s only one of Britney’s Womanizer (or three if you count Crazy Possessive by Kaci Battaglia and Ruff Me Up by Brooke Hogan) then rest  assured, there’s another! Opening track I Go Crazy Because Of You (Neo Ttaemune Michyeo / 너 때문에 미쳐) is essentially Womanizer’s darker counterpart. This  whirlwind of a song with its delicious “Aw! AW! Aw! AW!” chorus is without a  doubt one of my favourites on the album!

The first few seconds of  follow-up I’m Really Hurt (Naega Neomu Apa / 내가 너무 아파) remind me of Metro  Station (that’s a good thing, if you were wondering) and despite being less  memorable than the previous track it still has you singing along to the chorus  despite not being able to understand a word.

Track number three, the  album opener for the original release, makes as much an impact as I Go Crazy Because Of You does. I put a YouTube link at the bottom of this review, but you  simply have to track down a glorious HQ version if you can! One & One  has the best intros I’ve heard in ages. Seriously, it’s awesome. I suck at  recognising instruments so I’m just going to guess they’re synths? What makes  them so amazing is that they have this sharp, steely quality to them that  pierces right through your speakers and sucks you into the song even before it  properly explodes. The song’s bridge is so effective that it has you at the edge  of your seat for what’s next. This is one of those songs that if released by  Girls Aloud would have people fawning over multiple choruses or added hook-parts  and whatnot. Now, I also suck at recognising a song’s structure, but I can  confirm that this one is brilliant however you choose to identify the different  parts of it. When the sharp synths shoot back to the forefront for the final  notes it seems like the only appropriate course of action is REPEAT REPEAT  REPEAT.

Inevitably any track that would follow One & One would seem  like a slight disappointment at first, but given the time the chorus of Like  The First Time (Cheoeum Cheoreom / 처음처럼) sneaks up on you as well. It’s a  song that really uses those typical K-Pop vocals to its advantage.

Bo  Peep Bo Peep was T-ara’s big breakthrough and it’s easy to see why. After  the computerised “Don’t lose your temper so quickly” intro, it bursts straight  into its insanely catchiness. Although beware, if you’re not a fan of repetitive  choruses (something not uncommon throughout this album) this one takes it to  another level. As in other K-Pop tracks English words are scattered among the  lyrics, so being able to shout “MAN TAKE A BOOTY CALL” among the gibberish  you’re singing is an added bonus.

The album continues being great with  the likes of Tic Tic Toc (thumping distorted disco beats) and Bye  Bye (super singalongable). Apple Is A, originally from a commercial  for apples, sees T-ara at their bubblegum poppiest, while Falling U is  the obligatory girl group ballad.

Unfortunately the album falls a bit  flat after that. The songs aren’t awful, but from what I understand tracks 11 to  16 are songs from before T-ara made it big with Bo Peep Bo Peep and you can kind  of tell. Most of them sound pretty dated in a mid 00’s kind of way. Others just  don’t really fit with the rest of the album, like Good Person (Joheun  Saram / 좋은 사람) which they recorded for a soundtrack and actually reminds me of  Dana Glover’s It Is You (I Have Loved) from the Shrek OST. Fortunately Breaking  Heart ends on a high with Wanna Play? (Norabollae? / 놀아볼래?) which has a  cool “Eyo, what time is it? It’s time for T…AR…A” spoken bit at the start.  It doesn’t reach the heights of the first part of the album, but would make a  nice theme song should T-ara ever have their own tv show.

Now don’t let  this last paragraph put you off checking out Breaking Heart. Just consider the  last six songs bonus tracks to an amazing 10 track album. On it T-ara have put  together a collection of super catchy girl group tracks with some of the  slickest production many a pop act could only dream of. The album has its unique  K-Pop touches, but remains accessible enough for those of us mainly familiar  with western pop. It is awesome.

Be sure to check out I Go Crazy Because Of You, One & One and Bo Peep Bo Peep!

Breaking Heart by T-ara is available on iTunes.

Charley says ALBUM! Lady Lounge

February 21, 2012

Here’s something you’ve been missing out on! Lady Lounge has the best female voices from The Netherlands record the greatest pop songs with a lounge twist. Mark den Hartog, Dorian Broekhuyse and Frank Wijn, best known for the Supperclub Lounge Albums, have taken on production duties for our favourite chill album since “Unclubbed“.

You can check out previews from the album in the embedded YouTube video below or the player on the Lady Lounge site. You can also listen to the full songs on YouTube through the links I’ve collected in this post!

Let’s have a look, shall we?

1. Do – Move Closer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_JtL06Dg4s
Who? One of my favourite Dutch popstars, Dominique Van Hulst, who took the world by storm with her Bryan Adams cover “Heaven”.
Originally by? Phyllis Nelson

2. Birgit Schuurman – Just Say Yes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX70ugmxqxs
Who? Musically the more credible alternative to her famous sister Katja Schuurman.
Originally by? Snow Patrol, although the song was at one point recorded by the amazing Nicole Scherzinger.

3. Krystl – I’m In Love
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5PFLOug9f0
Who? Singer/songwriter whose highest charting single is “Golden Days“.
Originally by? The lovely Norwegian by the name Maria Mena, one of my all time favourite singer/songwriters.

4. Sabrina Starke – Hedonism
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbBJ-JDNpmc
Who?
The woman who made you tap your foot along to the chorus of “A Woman’s Gonna Try“.
Originally by? Skunk Anansie, although I know it best as a Sinéad Quinn b-side.

5. Belle Perez – Angel Eyes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h49TfBhph9g
Who? Belgium’s number one latina whose catchy tunes have made her a household name across the border as well.
Originally by? Wet Wet Wet

6. Pearl Jozefzoon – Crazy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdV1a-oRHQE
Who? The Voice Of Holland sensation who’s competing to represent The Netherlands at Eurovision this year. Her Wolter Kroes duet “Breken Van De Lijn” was deservedly a Dutch top 10 hit.
Originally by? Gnarls Barkley

7. Lois Lane – It’s The First Time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftRJ3wOMN4s
Who?
Duo Lois Lane have reworked their 1989 top 10 hit “It’s The First Time” for the occasion. Most recently the women were seen competing on “The Winner Is…”.
Originally by? Lois Lane

Do – Move Closer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_JtL06Dg4s

8. Shary-An – Rude Boy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJDnPyGn9pc
Who?
The Voice Of Holland discovery who, with “Six Feet Under“, has her very own top 10 hit to her name.
Originally by? Rihanna

9. Twarres – Heart Of Glass
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsdKCe-ojws
Who?
When they topped the Belgian and Dutch charts with “Wêr Bisto”, a gorgeous ballad sung in the Friesland dialect, Twarres was a boy/girl duo, now just Mirjam Timmer remains.
Originally by? Blondie

10. Carolina Dijkhuizen – I Don’t Want To Talk About It
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpmHBfM7f-8
Who?
Star of the Dutch versions of musicals like The Lion King and Aida.
Originally by? Rod Stewart

11. Leonie Meijer – Message In A Bottle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KFK2DlztBo
Who? 
After being on The Voice Of Holland, Leonie released a duet with her coach Jeroen Van Der Boom.
Originally by? The Police

12. Jennifer Ewbank – Imagine (Undressed Version)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJv3xw06yaM
Who?
The sister of producer and songwriter John Ewbank released single “Line In A Song” from the album “London Tree” after her run on The Voice Of Holland.
Originally by? John Lennon

13. Caro Emerald – I Know That He’s Mine (Bonustrack)
Who?
Caro Emerald is included as a bonus track with a song from her internationally successful album “Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor”.
Originally by? Caro Emerald

14. Trijntje Oosterhuis – Close To You (Bonustrack)
Who?
One half of Total Touch and one of the most respected singers in The Netherlands. She’ll be joining the third season of The Voice Of Holland as one of the coaches.
Originally by? Best known as sung by The Carpenters.

Lady Lounge is now available on iTunes.

Charley says ALBUM! Vlaanderen Muziekland

August 16, 2010

Today I treated myself to the Vlaanderen Muziekland compilation…

1. Milk Inc. – Chasing The Wind
2. Belle Perez – La Colegiala
3. K3 – Handjes Draaien
4. Christoff – Lekkere Chocolade
5. The Sunsets – Hollandse Hitmedley
6. Dana Winner – De Vlinders Achterna
7. Jo Vally – Kus Me
8. Nelson – She’s Gone
9. Regi & Stan Van Samang – Hang On
10. Sylver – Turn The Tide 2010
11. Lasgo – Tonight
12. Annagrace – Celebration

13. Mega Mindy – Megamobiel
14. Roel Vanderstukken – Neem Ze Mee
15. Yevgueni & Stef Kamil Carlens – We Zijn Hier Nu Toch
16. Andes ft. James Walsh – Één Dag Meer/One More Day
17. Born Crain – Calling All Cars
18. The Ditch – When Blood Runs Cold
19. Paul Michiels (It’s A Gas) – I Am Home
20. Dean – Someday
21. Tom Helsen presents Barbara Dex – I Am
22. Tom Dice – Me And My Guitar
23. The Baseballs – Umbrella (Bonus Track)

Based around the music show of the same name, it is basically the who’s who of the Flemish pop summer 2010.

There’s some Flemish schlager songs at the start of the tracklist which I don’t really feel strongly about, either positive or negative, but other than that this is a top notch compilation that brings together so many great Belgian tracks out there this summer.

About half of these songs have been featured on Charley says POP! earlier, so rest assured that this has my seal of approval!

If you’re thinking of making yourself a playlist, but find 23 tracks a little overwhelming, then you’re in luck. I’ve put the songs in bold that have that little bit of extra Charley says POP! credit!

(Which isn’t to say that I don’t approve of the other tracks, but there’s no point in putting them all in bold, is there?)

Vlaanderen Muziekland airs every friday on Flemish channel één.

Catch up on all performances so far by clicking here!

Charley says ALBUM! Andes – Andes

July 28, 2010

I hadn’t really gotten round to doing a proper review of Andes’ debut album yet.

I have to admit that has to do with the fact that the album as a whole hasn’t quite managed to capture me the way ‘Vergeef Me‘ and ‘Een Dag Meer / One More Day‘ have.

Which isn’t to say that the Zo Is Er Maar Één alums’ eponymous album isn’t decent. How could an album containing ‘Vergeef Me‘ not be?

Plus, with Jeroen Swinnen on production duties and the likes of Stefaan Fernande and Nailpin singer Sean D’Hondt collaborating on the songwriting, there were some great musicians helping Andes a hand.

Besides the three singles, ‘Dit Is Anders‘ was independently released before the band signed to Universal, the album tracks just haven’t really clicked yet.

That is, except for one in particular.

Sinds Je Weg Bent‘ should surely be the next single? The hook “Sinds je weg bent, ben je overal” (“Since you’re gone, you’re everywhere”) is simple, but great. When the only comment I can think of is that the line “Woorden schieten soms te kort” (“Words fail me sometimes”) tends to make me want to listen to ‘Hou Me Vast‘ by Volumia, you know you’re onto a winner. ‘Sinds Je Weg Bent‘ is most definitely the one album track I keep going back to.

You can check out an acoustic rendition in the incorrectly titled YouTube video below!

See also: Charley says VIDEO! Andes – Vergeef Me
See also: Charley says SONG! Andes ft. James Walsh of Starsailor – Een Dag Meer / One More Day

Charley says ALBUM! Tom Dice – Teardrops

May 28, 2010

I’d promised you a review of the Tom Dice album and what better day to do it than the one on which he will be singing in the big Eurovision final after becoming the first Belgian ever to make it out of the semi final?

This post will focus on the album ‘Teardrops‘, but if you want read about Tom’s career pre-Eurovision there’s always this one I wrote some time ago.

In short, the Tom Dice album is very good. It’s not perfect, but it’s very good. I usually listen to a selection of the tracks as posted below. The other songs aren’t bad, but I mostly feel they either don’t fit (‘A Soldier For His Country‘) or just add too little to the album (the Isbells sounding intro ‘Start Without The Ending‘).

1. Me And My Guitar
2. Lucy
3. Too Late
4. Murderer
5. Why?
6. Always And Forever
7. Broken
8. Bleeding Love (Bonus Track)

There’s little need to introduce ‘Me And My Guitar‘. When Tom was announced to be Belgium’s 2010 Eurovision contestant reactions varied between “Who?” and “Why?”. Suffice to say that expectations weren’t exactly sky high when he premiered his entry. However, with the simple tale of a boy and his guitar he managed to convince Flanders and the song ended up topping the charts. ‘Me And My Guitar’ was co-written by Tom, Ashley Hicklin and producer Jeroen Swinnen. Jeroen previously had a hand in songs like Ellektra’s ‘I Hate It But I Love It‘ and Born Crain’s ‘Tell The World‘.

Lucy‘ is set to be the follow-up single from ‘Teardrops’. The summery track was co-written by Tom Helsen, a singer/songwriter we mentioned earlier when he released a track with Belgium’s 1993 Eurovision entrant Barbara Dex. With a chorus that has Tom pleading “Lucy, I love you, why don’t you love me?” the song sounds like a male version of Colbie Caillat’s ‘Realize‘.

People who followed Tom on X Factor may recognise ‘Too Late‘. Tom performed the selfwritten track in the final episode of the show. It may not have won him a record deal at the time, but I’m glad it’s included on the album. The song was given a makeover by Erhan Kurkun, who produced nearly the entire album. The new version sounds a lot ‘fuller’ than its acoustic original. A definite favourite with a chorus so catchy that we can even forgive the wonky lyric “I still love you, even if you slap me every day”.

Murderer‘, ‘Why?‘ and ‘Broken‘ continue the theme of great pop/rock tracks with catchy bits, bits where the music drops out on Tom’s vocals only to come back full force and bits where Tom asks “I’ve been searching for a girl like you, why did you leave?”.

My favourite song on ‘Teardrops’ however is ‘Always And Forever‘. It basically makes Tom sound like the most romantic boyfriend ever. He may be always on the road, but finally Tom gets to announce “I am on my way to visit you tonight, but the detail you don’t know is that I’m staying for a while”. And how does Tom tell you? “Now what’s your favourite movie, cause I’ll be coming home soon…” However, tragedy strikes before Tom and your DVD of choice ever get to arrive. The song builds to its finale with Tom defeatedly asking “But I wanted to stay?” Oh, Tom…

See also: Charley says ARTIST! Tom Dice