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You Go Girl
You Go Girl
Price: $7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why We Love House, November 26, 2014
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This review is from: You Go Girl (MP3 Music)
Four on the floor and I want some more! Really, what are the limits of that 4/4 thump? Apparently there are none, but about once every eighteen months somebody has to release something that reminds us why we keep coming back to house, even thirty years on. This time Frank & Tony are the messengers and "You Go Girl" is the message.

Yes, this is house, boom-chik-boom-chik throughout. Aesthetically, however, it is lacquered with airy-fuzz and subsonic's characteristic of the currently very "it" dub-techno purveyed by the likes of Andy Stott and Voices from the Lake (dare I mention Burial?). The low-end is a submerged thump, above that are layers of static synths. Creeping out from all corners are very rewarding sonic details. Nonetheless, the groove keeps it all grounded; it's erudite and adventurous, but more about comfort than experimentation.

The attention to minute detail and subtle dynamic on "You Go Girl" is reminiscent in many way's of Luomo's 2000 watershed album "Vocalcity". That album, like this one, was an entire environment. There was the up-front rhythm/melody that marked a track, but the multiple backgrounds and ephemeral noises compelled the listener to keep coming back, it wasn't all figured out, it had to be felt again and again.

"You Go Girl" is a long way from the likes of, say, Frankie Knuckles or even Naked Music NYC. Yet, even after multiple listens give way to deeper elements, it all comes back to that classy, deep groove. "Deep" is that word thrown in front of "House" to describe so many different acts that one wonder's if it still has any relevance. For Frank & Tony on this album it does. "You Go Girl" is solitary in it's use of resources, but in the grand tradition of chillax, it sits along side the greats of the deep.

Tough Love
Tough Love
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Price: $9.89
56 used & new from $5.19

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Listenable but Underwhelming, Lacking in Adventure, November 26, 2014
This review is from: Tough Love (Audio CD)
There's an issue with basing one's grievances on expectation; it's not really fair, is it? So when this listener's first reaction to Jessie Ware's "Tough Love" was one of disappointment, an effort was made to scrub out any references to her astonishing debut "Devotion" and judge this work upon it's own merits. Future listens brightened the corners, but the overall conclusion regarding Ware's sophomore effort is that it is a pleasant album suffering from a lack of substance.

"Tough Love" opens strongly with the title-track and lead single, which is, no argument, the strongest song on the album. Ware and co. knew this, that's why they released it first, placed it first, and named the album after it. It is a very dramatic piece with an epic build - each verse/chorus more urgent than the previous. Ware shows off her knew found love of high-pitch early with this track, and it is a trend that pop's up frequently throughout the album. As strong as the song "Tough Love" is, there is a real risk an opening an album with a song that is clearly better than all the others - it really is mostly lukewarm from this point. Also, the title track feels as though it aborts too early. It is a big song, a five-minute mark makes sense for a song of it's stature.

"You & I (Forever)" and "Cruel" both indicate what comprises 75% of this album; croonery verse-chorus pop/R&B tracks, backed by timely electronic rhythms with a heavy emphasis on vocal melody. Both tracks have stand-out beats and verses, but choruses that don't quite pack the punch established early on "Tough Love". Choruses get a bit wordy, gone are the repetitive groove-locks that were a trademark of "Devotion". Listeners do get some nice repetition on "Kind Of, Sometimes, Maybe", but it lags a bit, not nearly as endearing as "Still Love Me" or "No to Love".

The most major departures from the hipster-adult-contempo endemic of "Tough Love" arrive on "Champagne Kisses" and "Keep On Lying". "Keep on Lying" features a church-choir to dull-effect, but it also is accompanied by a Casio-keyboard to strong effect. "Champagne Kisses" is this reviewers second favorite track on the album, a fun and sexy little song that reminds me of "Walking on Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox in it's baroque dressings to a basic pop-song. For the better on "Tough Love" there is also "Sweetest Song" and "Want Your Feeling", while, for the worse we get "Pieces" and the unsatisfying closer "Desire".

Now for that comparison part. What "Devotion" had that "Tough Love" lacks is a sense of adventure on every track. I was first drawn in by the Bryan Ferry-ish suave of "Running", instantly clicked with the urgency of "Wildest Moments", and hooked by the 90's alterna-dance power of "Still Love Me". "Devotion" (the song) featured calm talk-singing over that minimal beat until she desperately broke in with "Don't leave me in the dark, don't leeeeeave me this way!". "No to Love" was all repetition, and she really said more there in five words then she did on any of the seven overly wordy tracks on "Tough Love". "Night Life", "Sweet Talk", "If Your Never Gonna Move" -- they all possessed something distinct, some flash of risky creativity that really pulled Jessie out of a crowd.

"Tough Love" is consistently mushy. A nice beat will be established, maybe a pleasant verse, and then, with few exceptions, nothing to cling onto. It's a bunch of not-so-memorable hooks where JW speaks of heartbreak or love or some combo, with too much focus on how well it is being sung rather than how good the song can be. Nothing, not even the title track or "Champagne Kisses", hit me the way anything did on her debut. It's all ground that's been tread before, not by Ware, but by other much less-interesting artists a decade ago.

Granted, a certain audience will like this album much more than it's predecessor. The more-or-less radio audience, the people who want those same old love songs, are going to get much more out of this than those who found pleasure in the depth and variety of "Devotion". Consider me in the latter camp.

With a Little Help From My Fwends
With a Little Help From My Fwends
Price: $11.99
50 used & new from $4.04

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars GAW!, November 10, 2014
First of all, I love the Flaming Lips, or the Lips as us hardcore fans call them. I've been listening to them ever since their early days when they debuted with "Yoshirmi Versus the Pink Robots". That album combined all the things I loved about anime and having a short attention-span into one great disc (a burnt disc, since record stores like Best Buy are too xxxpensive, GAW!).

Anyways, I also loooove the Beatles. After I got their album "1", I decided to check out some of their older stuff too. One of those was the iTunes deluxe version of "Sergeant Peppers Lone Hearts Club Band Army". At first when I heard it I was all like, "Whuh?" I was all like, "Huh?" "Wheres that clapping coming from". It definitely made me know what it was like to be on hard drugs. It wasn't packed full of great hits like "1" or "Across the Universe" but it grew on me, cause I was growing as a music fan, what with going to see cool bands at festivals.

Anyways, you can imagined how thrilled I was to hear the Lips were coming out with a Beatles "Sgt. Peppers" tribute. I mean, what next?!?! A tour together!?!?

Well, my hopes were dashed because this album is straight up NOIZE! I mean, GAW! I wish it sounded exactly like the original! That's what I wanted! GAW! I can't believe the Beatles aren't suing!?!?!?! And, to make matters worse, it has POP music stars like MILEY CYRUS on it! GAW! I hate pop music! I'm into real musicians, and Miley is NOT a real musician. In fact, bands like the Lips and the Beatles are supposed to be the opposite of pop music cause they are so much better.

Anyways, this album sounds nothing like the original masterpeace Sgt. Peppers. And if you are going to do a tribute, it shoudl sound like the original. I guess my main issue with this album is, other than it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to wieeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrd for listening, is that it doesn't sound like the original.

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2014 10:52 AM PST

Some Heavy Ocean
Some Heavy Ocean
Price: $13.12
19 used & new from $9.12

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spooky Girl, June 9, 2014
This review is from: Some Heavy Ocean (Audio CD)
Emma Ruth's voice echoes like she's on the other side of a cave, bouncing off walls and retaining a natural timbre. Other than her voice the primary instrument is an electric-acoustic guitar, played with strength to place an emphasis on resonance. This is not folk music; this is stormy night music, music to accompany a dramatic turn of events. Distant strings and drums (among other affectations) accompany Rundle throughout this tumultuous album, their distance and vagueness providing for a sense of largeness from otherwise simple elements.

Rundle's other affairs are in the heavier realm, not so much metal, but within the same breath. The instrumentation here plays like metal bereft of it's armored exterior. Songs play as though on the precipice of something violent. But where a passage is expected to break for sudden releases of intensity, Rundle steadily builds to a moody climax.

Though not a terribly memorable album, it will occupy a unique place in the listeners palette. Recommended for fan's of music by artists as diverse as Neurosis, Mark Lanegan, or Cocteau Twins.

Persona Non Grata
Persona Non Grata
Price: $13.88
30 used & new from $6.94

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here, Let Me Review It, May 8, 2014
This review is from: Persona Non Grata (Audio CD)
" it comes, that old ennui..."

A low budget but very tasteful video for "Shaker", the first track off of "Persona Non Grata", begins with the Cosmonauts boys sitting on a couch, smoking cigarettes, yawning, watching a TV. When we get a glimpse of the TV, it's nothing but static fuzz. An appropriate image for the Cosmonauts ethos. Nothing to do, nothing worth doing, and even worse, nothing on TV. Let's start a band. What motivates us? Nothing.

In that case, it's hard to imagine these songs are this good, let alone the fact that they ever got off that couch. The Cosmonauts sound is heavily indebted to various strands of 80's UK psych rock, but the sunlight of their homeland of Los Angeles shines through in twangy form. Sonically they've tapped into the new American tradition of being over-stimulated to the point of boredom, but thank god dad's voice was in the back of their skulls nagging them to "get off your ass and do something!".

Now, I keep hearing Spacemen 3 comparisons thrown around in reference to Cosmonauts, and at a cursory glance that might hold up, but I hear more Madchester than I do Rugby. Perhaps the jaded vocals are what point in the Spaceman direction, but the melodic jangle and groovy rhythms have me thinking Stone Roses and Happy Mondays (in fact, at a recent live performance, Cosmonauts indeed began singing the line "God made it easy, god made it easy on me!" at the set's end).

Twangy and/or effects-ridden guitars over retarded (in the dictionary sense) driving rhythms are a constant. Vocals are slurred,mumbled, monotonous or exhausted, making a great impression on the listener of this bands overall disposition. Songs never get lost in self-indulgence or noise-fests; the 'Nauts know when to end a number. Credit to the band for not putting some kind of reverb or echo on EVERY last aspect of the music (especially the vox). These days countless indie/rock/whatever bands are making up for a lack of originality by making stuff blurry and the 'Nauts keep it crisp. Lazy, but crisp.

The song's are all unique but still uniquely theirs. They eschew traditional verse/chorus/refrain patterns on many tracks, opting instead for building to climaxes or repetition of certain lyrical themes.

A solid album by a band who, should they get lost in the shuffle of infinite bands coming out at present, will have a legacy in the future. As young as these guys are, they seem to possess a breadth of maturity and taste beneath their bratty veneer. Color me impressed, among a deluge of Burger Records kinda-garagy-psych-pop-rock bands, Cosmonauts are more than Purely Posturing.

Offered by skyvo-direct-usa
Price: $21.31
27 used & new from $6.51

3.0 out of 5 stars Unique Enough, Tends to Drift Into Predictability, December 9, 2013
This review is from: Dominae (Audio CD)
"Dominae" is enjoyable enough for it's feeling, but refinement of these songs would've yielded more gripping results. The songs on Ejecta's debut are good enough, but little touch up's here and there would help the laid back listener locate the pop songs amongst the lush synth fantasy. If Ejecta is going for the monolithic on "Dominae", I'd really love to hear what they can do on a more varied affair.

Not to accuse the songs on "Dominae" of being overly similar, as they really aren't. But Ejecta seem very intent on keeping the sound within a very specific realm in a genre (of sorts) that allows for multiflorous variation at the push of a button. That is actually quite applaudable, but the results won't all be memorable. The sound here is slightly reverberated synth pop with some gothic leanings. It's moody and sensuous stuff, darker and more mature than it's overnumerous peers.

"Dominae" features one great song ("Jeremiah") two good songs ("Mistress", "Silver"). The rest isn't terrible, just indistinct. Beyond that, it seems like their self-imposed restrictions keep them playing in circles. By the time the album reaches "Eleanor Lye", it seems like Leanne is singing melodies we've already heard. These are songs that don't have to drift into predictability, but the band seems to want the smoke to settle that way. "Inside" and "Small Town Girl" have ideas that might be outside the realm of "Dominae", but this albums vision doesn't see that far.

If "Dominae" doesn't offer a whole lot in the way of twists and turns, it is at least a very comfortable record to spend time with. It's highest moments are great, but when it ceases to be the center of your attention, you aren't unhappy it's there. It offers something very sensual and not without passion. Though it might seem cold at first, it's ultimately inviting. If it is only an "OK" album, it's at least one that you'll still pull out regularly.

Price: $9.99
27 used & new from $2.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2.5 Stars - Some Might Say "Monolithic" - I Say "Samey", December 3, 2013
This review is from: Goldenheart (Audio CD)
Let me start by giving props to Dawn Richard for attacking the R&B game from a unique angle AND for her creative control over this project. Dawn's cover art, lyrics, and (up to a point) production all exhibit her potential to really stand apart-from and well-above an ever-growing crowd of throwaway female pop stars. After listening to "Goldenheart", however, it is clear that her greatness is still hiding behind potential. Dawn's inability to reach this potential is due in large part to the lack of dynamic to be found on "Goldenheart".

The brief introduction "In The Hearts Tonight" hints at something epic - and tracks two through four ("Return of a Queen", "Goliath", & "Riot") really had me thinking I was indeed embarking upon an epic listening experience. "Return of a Queen" is clearly the best track on Goldenheart. Killer production, interesting music, catchy chorus, and an overall powerful feeling. When she hits the final line of the song it's like a great gate is opening from behind which she is emerging, saying, "Here I am, and this is gonna be big!". Then we get to "Goliath". Initially the listener is thinking it's another powerhouse track, then it breaks and for two measures there is an amazing little dance beat...then it stops. It's just an interlude...why? "Goliath" had the makings of something awesome, and we are teased at the end by a beat that is (possibly) the best five seconds of the album. Then it's over! "Riot" is a fun enough song, the type of number that gets dance floors moving with swirling synths and a fun chorus. It is the type of song that would make a great third single...

By the time "Gleaux" ends and we are trucking on into "Pretty Wicked Things", it should start to dawn (no pun nintendoed) on the listener that these tracks are starting to sound a little too similar. Melody-wise they are different, but the beats are all mid-tempo, the production all seems cut from the same euro-dance meets hip hop cloth, and the structure is very formulaic (verse, chorus, verse, bigger chorus, all with that sort of empowered-goddess vibe). I want to enjoy "Northern Lights" and "Tug of War", but I feel like I've been listening to them on repeat for half an hour by the time they arrive on the album. The unrelenting sameyness of the tracks makes me feel like I'm in a loud shoe store at the mall, where they play loud dance tracks on top of each other to put one into a "buying mood".

"Goldenheart" ends gently with "300" and the outro. It's a nice change of pace, but it beg's the question, "Why didn't you put these slower numbers closer to the middle?". I'm frustrated by the lack of change on this album and when I'm already bored with the album you decide to close it with something that I won't be able to wake up from? Variation would really save this album, anything -- a jazz number, a quick punky song, some guest artists, a quirky instrumental. Instead we get about twelve renditions of the first song, only none as strong. It's as though Dawn showed up for a duel with her gun already drawn.

To bring it back home, the real frustrating thing about listening to Dawn Richard's "Goldenheart" is that it is clear the she is capable of something better. Not just something better than "Goldenheart", but possibly something for the ages - an epic R&B concept album with all sorts of unexpected loops and innovative ideas. Listening to some of the really great beats and synths, as well as the incredible depth of producer Druski Scott, one wonder's WHY this album has to fall so short? What would've saved it? Dynamic. Dynamic. Dynamic.

I'm not giving up on Dawn though -- hopefully that epic I know she is capable of is on it's way.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Minimalist Cassette Player. Functional, Poorly Made, Inexpensive, October 26, 2013
Amazon might have this guy a bit overpriced at $14.95 + shipping. If you find an older but still working Walkman at a yardsale for $5, I say take it. If you can't find some relic at a yardsale or Goodwill (the hipsters are making them harder to find), then the Coby CX-C21 is a cheap, and unused, solution. Just don't expect fancy add-on's like AM/FM radio or the ability to rewind. But it does have AUTO STOP. (?)

Upon arrival mine had a lot of hiss and static -- the problem did not last, it played itself out as the spools were put to use (keep in mind, cassettes always have a lil hiss). If yours ends up inoperable after two months, however, don't be too surprised. Or feel ripped off, for that matter.

I also like the headphones. I mean, they suck, but they look cool. I wear them as an accessory cause it's 90s-retro-chic.

Pull My Hair Back
Pull My Hair Back

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul in a Freezer, October 2, 2013
This review is from: Pull My Hair Back (MP3 Music)
Of the current crop of 'forward thinking' R&B/Soul (Rhye, How to Dress Well, Inc., etc.,) Jessy Lanza instantly rises to the top. Hers is an icier soul -- her fallen angel's voice, though carrying very tangible melodies, works symbiotically with the music; it's streamlined into the sound as though her siren is inseparable from the beat. On "F- Diamond" she is practically percussive, and the title track has her voice flowing so well with the music that you'd think it was computer generated too.

Lanza is distinctive from the herd in that electronic music (not merely music made by electronics) has a greater influence on her sound. Keep in mind this is a Hyperdub release, and it's unlikely that you'll find anything on the label that isn't cutting edge EDM. And that's a good starting place for comparisons. Take broken beats similar to two of Hyperdub's higher profile artists, Burial and Laurel Halo,simplify and sex them up with sleek female vocals and smooth synths - you start to get an idea of her sound. The ambiance of such is owed to producer Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boy's, who has as much of an impact on this album as Lanza.

It makes sense that in the age of instant information and artist transparency that the kids would start to flock towards the quiet storm. When seemingly anything can be emulated rather immediately, music appreciators will only be on higher guard for true authenticity. Well what really brings about true authenticity? Feeling -- being in touch with and understanding your OWN feelings -- is what keeps an artist true. Say what YOU will, but I don't think feelings always translate well into complicated time signatures, chord changes, and overall pretentiousness. Soul and R&B keep things (relatively) simple whilst being evocative of passion, love, heartbreak, and sex.

Jesse Lanza takes it all a step forward. Those deep inner feelings are distilled into an orgasmic mesh of beats and vocals. Like an erotic music box, "Pull My Hair Back" emanates beautiful melodies that are subtle enough to slip beneath the listeners subconscious; but paying attention pays off in dividends. Natural, but oh so out of this world, "Pull My Hair Back" is pure sex.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2014 10:19 PM PST

This Is... Icona Pop
This Is... Icona Pop
Price: $8.49
100 used & new from $2.89

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short, Sweet, Not Trying to Sound "Smart", September 25, 2013
This review is from: This Is... Icona Pop (Audio CD)
"They say, 'You're a freak' when we're having fun. Say 'You must be high' when we're spreading love. But we're just livin' life and we'll never stop. We got the world".

It doesn't take a genius to write the above lyrics, but it does take a certain amount of awareness and, dare I say, intellect, to know when simplicity comes off as more profound and sincere than hyperbolic language. Icona Pop are applauded for keeping their songs short, fun, and to the point. Not to make comparisons that don't quite work, but not since Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices? Crickets.) has a musical act known when to STOP writing and when to cut a song off and start the next one up.

Icona Pop definitely keep things formulaic. A hard hitting dance beat, heavy on bass, gives way to unison vocals, the beat builds and the music crescendos into a super-fun chorus. These are the types of songs that are made for audiences and dancefloors to scream-along too. The obvious example is their mega-hit "I Love It", other "choice cut" examples are "On A Roll", "Ready for the Weekend", and my personal favorite, the above quoted "We Got The World". "We Got the World" is so wonderful because it is a celebration of life and youth at it's best -- just feeling good and spreading that feeling. Too much angst and bad-vibes, even in pop music, have permeated music for the last quarter century. Fun fun fun, that's what Icona Pop (and the Beach Boys and the Big Boys, anybody?) are all about.

"This Is...Icona Pop" is not the type of album that is going to change your life. It's not going to have the listener saying, "Wow, what an interesting chord progression, and what mode are they playing?". You might listen to it tonight, love it, and forget it happened tomorrow. But, for what it's worth, it is a whole lot of fun.

SIDE NOTE -- a lot of listeners seem to find fault in the albums length. First of all, this is pop music, it should be kept short and to the point. Second of all, several great albums throughout the ages have been very short. "Reign in Blood" by Slayer is 28 minutes long, "Nashville Skyline" by Bob Dylan is a minute shorter than that. Quality of content is not dictated by running time. If you feel "ripped off" because this album is too short, then you are listening too much as a consumer of products and not enough as an appreciator of music. Enjoy it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 30, 2013 4:28 PM PDT

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