By Corey Deiterman
By William Michael Smith
By Jef With One F
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Sonya Harvey
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Nathan Smith
The Braxtons may want to take a tip from big sister Toni, who on her sophomore release Secrets manages to add a few new elements to her diva balladeer repertoire without pummeling listeners with too much diversity. On the CD's first single, the guitar-heavy, spiraling-synth jam "You're Making Me High," Braxton makes a powerful case that she's more than a mouthpiece for drippy ballads. True, it's hard to excuse an appearance by (gasp!) Kenny G, but the pairing of Braxton and producer Keith Crouch on the steamily seductive "Talking in His Sleep" goes a long way toward dulling that unfortunate gaffe. With additional help from studio craftsmen such as Babyface and R. Kelly, Braxton showcases her soul-stirring vocal range, making Secrets well worth exposing. (*** 1/2)
Houston music (it's a fact) is sometimes under-appreciated -- and not just by wayward national observers. Even among the city's most loyal and involved boosters, a certain malaise, a certain hopelessness, perhaps even full-bore disgruntlement, can set in, painting the local tapestry black. The antidote? Just try listening to some of the crap coming out of Dallas these days.
There is -- off in the distance -- a cutting edge where industrial textures and rhythms mesh with metal's grinding guitars to compelling effect. But alas, Pail couldn't see that horizon from a mountaintop on a clear day. Volume One is the four-year-old product of two then-Dallas-based journeyman metal fiends, identified only as Powell and Titsworth, veterans of outfits like Angkor Wat, Plowman and Auschwitz 46.
What Powell and Titsworth don't seem to understand is that noise for noise's sake is hanging around these days on every street corner. To make it interesting you have to add dynamics. Dy-nam-ics. Listen close, guys. There are beginnings and middles and ends to the editing room sweepings here strung together as one long track (I guess that makes it a concept work), but they exist only on the clock counter. All you'll hear is a half-hour of monotony, plus another tacked-on 40 minutes of low-grade audio hum and a "bonus track" that sucks harder than what came before it. This might be serviceable as a random mosh-generator in a live setting, but according to press material, Pail don't do much stage work. I wish they'd done less of this. (P)
Someone writing for something called Study Breaks pretty much summed it up when he described Jibe, another Dallas-bred incarnation, as "alternative-ish." Fair enough. But unless you think Live deserves a full-time tribute band all its own, there's not much room left for discussion. Three hapless players, 11 terrible songs composed on borrowed echo boxes in back corners at the local guitar shop and a vocalist with an acute case of Bono envy. Gosh, I'm trying to think of something else to say ... wait, here it comes ... only pods could make music with this little character. (*)
-- Brad Tyer
CDs are rated on a one to five star scale.
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