Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

Katherine McPhee is currently riding high on the global charts after making an impact on American audiences during her run on American Idol. The bulk of the songs on her self-titled debut are about relationships, either those starting out or those coming to an end. While the subject matter is not entirely groundbreaking, she manages to put a unique spin on it that makes it enjoyable instead of predictable. Melodically it’s an up and down affair, the one track fast and funky, the next slow and stripped down. This is most effectively displayed with Love Story, which opens the album with an infectious melody and beat, and Over It, the first single that changes pace to a delightfully slowed-down pop beat. Ups and downs aside, it must be said that Katherine is at her best when she takes on slower, more emotional songs; she has a spectacular lower register (yet manages to soar to the higher notes with equal ease). As such, Ordinary World is the best song on the album for me, reminding me of when Mariah Carey was still at the top of her game. Better Off Alone, which reminds me of Christina Aguilera, comes a close second, with Neglected and Everywhere I Go tied for third place. I’ve always been of the opinion that American Idol should just chuck out the boys, because out of all the seasons to date, the girls have made a much bigger impression than anyone else (aside maybe from Clay Aiken). With this album, Katherine McPhee and has confirmed that we’ll be hearing lots more from her in the future.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

The Manic Street Preachers are somewhat of a hidden treasure; with their unique brand of rock not exactly making massive waves on the global music scene. In fact, the last time I heard one of their songs on a mainstream radio station was in the late nineties, right after their breakthrough release, Everything Must Go, in 1996. Subsequent releases came and went below the radar, remaining relatively obscure collections only die-hard fans would know about. Send Away The Tigers sees the band return to the form that put them on the map close to a decade ago, with a collection of strong, melodic pop-sensible songs that should in fact be getting a lot more airplay than they are. The title track is a prime example, as is the smile-inducing melody of Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, which sees James Dean Bradfield’s distinct voice share the spotlight with Nina Persson of The Cardigans in a song perfectly suited to mainstream radio. Indian Summer and The Second Great Depression also stand out as remarkable works , with Autumnsong’s soaring vocals and flowing melody providing the highlight of the album. Send Away The Tigers is a welcome return for The Manic Street Preachers and will be cherished by fans as one of 2007’s greatest, yet most secret, pleasures.


Marketed and distributed by EMI South Africa

Upon the release of KT Tunstall’s debut album, Eye To The Telescope, late in 2004, I was immediately in love. The album combined pop, rock and folk in such an interesting and unusual way that it was impossible not to like it. Her immense successes in the UK, and especially the USA, confirmed my opinion of it, and to this day, tracks like Black Horse And A Cherry Tree, Suddenly I See and The Other Side Of The World rank among my favourite songs. This year KT returns with Drastic Fantastic, and while the collection can certainly be described as fantastic, it’s unfortunately not that drastic. The quality of the music and lyrics cannot be faulted and KT is definitely still on top of her game, but the decidedly slower and more introspective pace means you have to drop your expectations of what the album should have sounded like. If not, you will probably find Drastic Fantastic boring and disappointing. Little Favours, Funnyman, Hold On and I Don’t Want You Now are the best of the upbeat numbers and reminded me of why I liked KT in the first place. But, she really does shine even brighter on the slower tracks: Paper Aeroplane is a gorgeously stripped down song, and only White Bird comes remotely close to its basic honesty – both well worth putting on repeat. As part of the large scale British invasion of the American charts, KT Tunstall has some tough competition (Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse). It is however refreshing to see her stay true to the styles that suit her. With Drastic Fantastic, KT Tunstall provides ample proof that she deserves to be in the pack leading the invasion.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

Rock & roll is all about pedigree, something Velvet Revolver certainly do not have to worry about. Although Libertad is only their second album (the follow-up to their equally brilliant debut, Contraband, from 2004) their pedigree shines though on every track. With Matt Sorum, Dave Kushner, Duff McKagan and Slash of Guns & Roses-fame in charge of music and Scott Weiland of Soundgarden on vocals, Libertad is a rock masterpiece. Soaring guitars and scorching riffs merge with soul-stirring drumbeats, setting an excitingly fast pace for their brilliant and remarkably melodic brand of rock. This doesn’t happen very often, but on Libertad, every single song is highly listenable and enjoyable, displaying a clever mainstream sensibility that makes them approachable to the masses without losing their rock edge. The album opens with the scorching Let It Roll, effortlessly moving into the guitar-heavy She’s Mine, dropping the pace ever so slightly for Get Out The Door before going full throttle into She Builds Quick Machines. The pace slows on The Last Fight, but not for long: Pills, Demons & Etc, American Man and Just Sixteen are heavy rock masterpieces. Strangely enough, Libertad closes with a Bruce Springsteen-ish hidden track 20 seconds after Gravedancer ends, a track that’s fantastically different. Considering the quality of the music, it’s a shame that Velvet Revolver doesn’t get more radio exposure. If rock & roll rocks your world, Libertad is possibly the best album you’ll buy this year.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG Music Entertainment

South African songstress Louise Carver is probably one of our country’s most popular new musicians, her gorgeously smoky voice by now instantly recognisable across numerous genres. Her latest album, Saved By The Moonlight, is testimony to why she is such a highly regarded artist. The songs float between pop and folk, and have a radio-friendly sensibility to them that manages to not sound remotely manufactured; a quality aided by the fact that Louise composed all the tracks and was in charge of the prominently featured piano. Even the productio

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend