CD Review

Anyone that has not yet heard of Chris Brown must be living under a rock. A genuine young talent, which is hard to find, Brown is the latest craze in pop music. His name has

Anyone that has not yet heard of Chris Brown must be living under a rock. A genuine young talent, which is hard to find, Brown is the latest craze in pop music. His name has become synonymous with the number one spot on most radio stations all across the country. Make no mistake about it, the hype is real.

Brown, 16, has released an album that should make his friends and family back home in Tappahannock, Virginia proud.

Jive Records, Brown’s record label, emptied the bank producing its up-and-coming superstar’s self-entitled debut album. With upper tiered producers like Scott Storch, Jermaine Durpi, Cool and Dre, and the Underdogs on the album, platinum status is inevitable. He is just the latest teen idol that Jive Records has introduced to the world. Their list of stars already includes Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and *NSYNC, just to name a few.

Chris Brown is such a rare find because his charisma attracts both sexes. Guy can relate to his lyrics in songs particularly like those in his second single, “YO!”, as well as in another song entitled, “Ya Man Ain’t Me,” both dealing with falling for a girl but each under different circumstances that may make you say or do crazy things to show how much you want to be with them. On the other side, Brown has the handsome looks and a voice that makes the ladies scream. Because of this, he is already starting to draw comparisons to Usher and Michael Jackson (the young one, of course).

The album has the perfect blend of club bangers and love ballads. Tracks like “Run It” and “Gimme That,” both produced by Scott Storch, have beats that are so hot you may need a pulse check if they don’t make you nod your head or stomp your feet. At the same time, it also features slow jams like “Say Goodbye,” “Ain’t No Way,” and “Young Love” that deal with love problems that both guys and girls equally can relate to in their own history of relationships.

Most fanatics of R&B music have been hoping and waiting for the next Michael Jackson to reach the surface and catapult their favorite genre over rap music once again in popularity, much like NBA fans have been waiting for the second coming of Michael Jordan. Although many names have been linked as possible successors to both icons in their respective fields, arguably none of them have claimed the title of the “next big thing.” However, in regards to this comparison of music and basketball, maybe the time has come. Perhaps Chris Brown is to R&B, as Lebron James is to the NBA.

Some people, especially adults or older teens that are “too cool for bubble-gum pop music” are usually hesitant and not likely to listen to a teen artist because they usually just make one hit single, then hit puberty and are never seen again. However, for those who believe that, Chris Brown is a nice guilty pleasure to indulge in. He may be just a kid, but his music, as well as his star potential, is very grown.

– Christopher Guest

Antigone Rising: From the Ground Up

Antigone Rising, an all female folk/rock/adult alternative quintet, is a band you would expect to have listened to during feminine folk rock surge of the mid 90s. Antigone’s sound seems to be comprised of equal parts of Sheryl Crow, The Indigo Girls, and Alanis Morissette, with just a pinch of Melissa Etheridge. The band formed in 1995 and has been touring almost relentlessly for the last 10 years, a move that has earned them quite a large grassroots following in the U.S. The group has the kind of Lilith Fair sound that appeals to the female, middle-aged, Machiatto-sipping Starbucks crowd, something the Seattle-based caffeine conglomerate recognized when it chose Antigone Rising’s latest release From the Ground Up to be the first release under Starbucks’ Hear Music Series. Released on May 11 of this year, the in-studio live album, (meaning that the music was recorded in a studio, not live) is made up of acoustic versions of both new and old songs, which give the album a live-in-concert feel. Antigone Rising’s songwriting is solid, and there is little doubt that these women are fully capable musicians. The music however, leaves something to be desired. Plain and unimaginative chord progressions are populated with trite guitar riffs that do little to add real depth to the music. The vocals are strong, but the melodies and lyrics are simple and predictable. The percussion is intuitive, using a variety of different drums from different parts of the world to provide a lush rhythmic landscape behind each track, but the upright bass is often if it wasn’t for the studio-audience applause that is inserted between the tracks.

All of this criticism does not mean that Antigone Rising is making bad music. Most casual music listeners will find no faults, and declare this music wholly fulfilling. Regardless of their simplicity and predictability, From the Ground Up is packed with enough infectious folk/pop sounds to earn many spins in CD players all over the country. Filled with catchy hooks and melodies, with lyrics that are easy to understand, learn, and identify with, Antigone Rising creates an easy-on-the-ears sound that is uplifting and has the potential to turn your day around. As a whole, From the Ground Up presents Antigone Rising as a completely capable, albeit horribly average, band that has the potential to sell many records and play many sold-out shows.

–Brendan Mulvihill

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