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BERTGANGL Space-Age Contributor
Uncommon Days - Circleside
Uncommon Days - Circleside
It's a safe bet that more than a few who were around for the Christian alternative rock boom of the early '90s will greet Uncommon Days with at least a modicum of hesitation, if not outright dismissal. Those willing to look past the arguably immodest appropriation of a time-honored masterpiece (the 1990 Circle Slide album from alt-rock pioneers The Choir) for a band namesake, though, will discover a cornucopia of soaring vocals, insightful lyrics and stick-in-your-head melody lines sure to win over all but the most obstinate of hearers. To be sure, the shimmering, intelligently-written Days offers incontrovertible proof of the most listenable kind that the members of Circleslide possess an aptitude and agility equal to their audacity.
The Obvious - One Hundred Days
The Obvious - One Hundred Days
Few folks in either the Christian or mainstream camps have heard of One Hundred Days. A shame, really, in light of the fact that key songwriters Andrew Horrocks and Ian Tanner were responsible for some of the most insightful, proficiently-performed Christian pop/rock of the 1990s. Using the lilting, melodic power pop of artists like PFR and The Rembrandts as a starting point, Tanner and Horrocks inject elements of blues ("Thrill Town"), psychedelia ("Me Mr. Messed Around"), post-grunge ("Learning to Live") and progressive rock ("Without the Fire") as effortlessly as most of us rattle off our home phone number. A defining effort from one of the most criminally overlooked groups of the past fifteen years.
...And The Rest Will Follow - Project 86
...And The Rest Will Follow - Project 86
Coming in on the heels of Songs to Burn Your Bridges By, a scathing indictment of the music industry inspired by the foursome's less than fruitful tenure with Atlantic Records, Follow finds the P86 fold — now at Tooth & Nail — in a (relatively) kinder, gentler frame of mind. Indeed, while Songs pointed more than a few accusatory fingers outward, the lion's share of the new effort shows lead singer Andrew Schwab taking the proverbial axe to his own sinful inclinations. Fans holding out for a return to the blistering rap-meets-metal fusion of the band's first two efforts will find little of that on the new outing, which finds the group tackling everything from melodic heavy metal to Anberlin-inspired hard power pop. For those who bit their tongues as the group exorcised its demons on the Bridges record, though, the new album will seem like a welcome visit from a long-lost friend.
Nothing Is Sound - Switchfoot
Nothing Is Sound - Switchfoot
One of the most hotly anticipated releases of 2005, Nothing Is Sound showed that Jonathan Foreman and his cohorts in Switchfoot still had a trick or two up their sleeves in the wake of the wildly successful Beautiful Letdown album. Although the unrelentingly stark Sound threatens more than once to cave in under the weight of its own somberness, Foreman & Co. prop things up with their characteristically buoyant brand of pop and manage to scatter just enough optimism and hope throughout the proceedings to keep listeners engaged and, ultimately, encouraged. A bit inscrutable in places, particularly at first spin, Sound reveals its underlying truths over time, offering a greater appreciation of its imposing wisdom and depth with each new listen.
Do It For Love - Daryl Hall & John Oates
#1. Do It for Love - Daryl Hall & John Oates
Most folks who remember Hall & Oates think of the duo's most fertile period during the first half of the '80s when they sold some ten million albums and sent an impressive 18 singles into the Top 40 (five of which hit the Number One spot). Although the group continued to record intermittently in the years that followed, they barely registered on the pop radar. Then, in early 2003, out of nowhere, they released Do It for Love.

Foregoing the synth-heavy new-wave pop of their early MTV-era offerings, Love harks back to the smooth, blue-eyed soul that was the twosome's bread and butter before the Voices album vaulted them to household name status in 1980. Songs like "Man on a Mission" and the title track are soaring pop-soul of the highest order. "Intuition" and "Getaway Car," on the other hand, are letter-perfect examples of laidback, midtempo R&B-tinged pop. Even the teen-pop-inclined "Breath of Your Life" seems likely to please those in the over-forty crowd who spent the waning hours of their senior proms slow dancing to H&O classics like "She's Gone" and "Sarah Smile."

Members of the faithful who believed all along that Hall & Oates still had at least one great album left in them have now, at long last, been proven right. Graced with an absolutely sparkling production aesthetic and what is easily the duo's strongest and most consistent set of songs of the last twenty years, Do It for Love finds Philadelphia's most successful musical sons schooling their contemporaries in the fine art of making a comeback. Adult education, indeed.

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