Marketed and distributed by Bowline Musiek

It’s not often that I get to listen to Afrikaans music. I guess that because I’m not naturally Afrikaans speaking I’m too lazy to work a little harder to take in the lyrics. Interestingly, having taken the time to listen to Philip De Villiers’ debut CD, it’s the lyrical content that stands out most strongly. Ek Hoor Jou is a slightly schizophrenic mix of largely Afrikaans, but some English, tracks and at first fails to immediately impress. On closer listening, it provides some significant rewards. De Villiers’ voice is a little underplayed here – while it’s pleasant, sweet and even attractive, it could do with a little more oomph to avoid that typical boy band sound. While the first part of the CD offers a number of enjoyable middle-of-the-road sounding songs, like the catchy Ek Hoor Jou and the intriguing Frail, the second half becomes darker and more challenging with the striking Razzle Dazzle, Your Poison and Vorie TV. The contrast doesn’t altogether work. It’s clear that the good looking De Villiers’, thanks largely to his confessional lyrics is a talent to watch out for. Ek Hoor Jou, while a pleasant and worthwhile enough offering, suggests that De Villiers’ could well have much more up his sleeve.

Luiz DeBarros


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

With so much hype surrounding the debut album by John Legend, it would be easy to describe it with a simple word like ‘brilliant’. However, you will soon realise that it’s not easy to pinpoint John Legend’s sound and what exactly it is that makes him and his music stand out. I would describe John Legend as a male version of Alicia Keys but with more sex appeal. At the core of his work lies soul music, but with the street credibility of hip-hop, the smoothness of R&B and the honesty of gospel mixed in as well – which is exactly what makes Get Lifted, his debut album, so remarkable. It glides effortlessly between genres, with the soulful Let’s Get Lifted and Ordinary People, the R&B-tinged Refuge (When It’s Cold Outside) and Live It Up, the gospel-inspired It Don’t Have To Change and the hip-hop mastery of Used to Love You and Alright coming together as a superbly executed sound. He walked away with the Grammy Award for Best New Artist earlier this year and no one deserved it more than John Legend.

Christo Valentyn


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

Oral Fixation Volume 2 kicks off where Shakira’s previous album, Fijacion Oral Volume 1, ended. In essence an English version of the brilliant Volume 1, it’s an album that is generally mellower in sound – the radio-pop of Laundry Service is forgotten and replaced with a more mature, honest, raw and sensual sound that is most evident on tracks like Illegal, The Day and The Time, Your Embrace and Something. The rest of the songs see Shakira return to her Latin and rock roots with the rock-tinged first single, Don’t Bother, and new single Hips Don’t Lie (featuring Wyclef Jean and based on his song Dance Like This from the Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights OST). Shakira is a very underrated artist in my opinion, and while her debut English-language album, Laundry Service, certainly made its mark, Oral Fixation Volume 2 raises the bar considerably. It will be a pity if this album is overlooked by the mainstream buying public, as it is honest, direct and highly enjoyable.

Christo Valentyn


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music

If you’re expecting songs that even remotely resemble classic pop-hits like Love Fool, think again. The Cardigans return with a new album entitled Super Extra Gravity that not only showcases their growth as musicians and individuals but also their move into an even deeper Indie-sound. The opening track, Losing A Friend, showcases Nina’s pitch-perfect voice and certainly had me hooked. Godspell takes you back to the riff-driven beat of My Favourite Game, while Drip Drop Teardrop has a brilliant marching-band quality to it. However, the undisputed highlight on the album is I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer (described as a song on which Nina explores the ill-effects of too much alcohol on a raging jealous tongue – sheer brilliance!). Non-Cardigans fans will probably dismiss the album as boring as it initially sounds rather monotonous. However, when you truly listen you might grasp and appreciate the depth, humour and irony of their lyrics, and subsequently also appreciate Super Extra Gravity for the remarkable album it is.

Christo Valentyn


Marketed and distributed by Just Music

It’s been a while since we had a hot Latino entertaining us with song, but with the arrival of the gorgeous Marcos Hernandez that is set to change! Born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, his musical range and vocal abilities seem to come naturally, although talent and training shine through in each track. Already enjoying extensive airplay with If You Were Mine, the first single off his debut album C About Me, Marcos is bound to be widely popular with a wide variety of listeners. Besides If You Were Mine, songs like The Way I Do, Bailamos, Say, Endlessly, and I’m Lost stand out. The album is a balanced mix of Latin and hip-hop influenced R&B tracks and piano-driven ballads about love, romance, breaking-up and getting close. C About Me is easy on the ear and very listener friendly, the eye-candy merely the cherry on top.

Christo Valentyn


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

I must admit that, apart from all the hype surrounding their first two albums, I’m not very familiar with The Strokes and cannot critically compare their new CD, First Impressions Of Earth, with either of the preceding offerings. It’s a fairly long album and quite a number of songs left me impressed – including You Only Live Once, Juicebox, Electricityscape, Razorblade (with a distinctive Barry Manilow-melody), the waltzy 15 Minutes and Ize Of The World. Widely considered by fans and critics to be a disaster and a letdown, I do not really see or understand why. It’s a good, long rock album filled with songs about God, fate and the meaning of life. It’s heavy at times, has a number of beefy guitar riffs and is generally loud – which is what rock is about. And it has tweaked my

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