One of my pet peeves is people who sing about what an individual they are, and do it in the most cliched manner imaginable. Cliched lyrics and clichÈd music. That’s Josie Aiello, at least as presented on the sampler provided from her new album on Qwest Records. Musically, this is bland modern R&B; (the slow-jam style that passes for R&B; these days, far removed from what the term meant when I was young), marked by vaguely hip-hop beats and Mariah Carey style warbling. It’s well-produced, and occasionally even catchy, but I don’t hear anything new or innovative in it. But the lyrics are what really get me on this disc. Half the songs presented espouse individuality, and two of those (“Free” and the title track) discuss what an “individual” Josie considers herself to be. Yet her notion of being an individual seems to be that she was “born and raised in Chi-town” and likes “cold pizza and cookie dough.” Maybe I just know too many real individuals, but my standards for that honor are a little higher (unless she’s eating the pizza and dough together, and that’s just sick). Of course, today’s culture is full of conformists pretending to nonconformity (is there anybody reading this who thinks there is anything “different” about Dodge cars?). All of those cookie cutter consumers who are “different just like everyone else” need something to confirm their self-assesment. And cliché has certainly never slowed down sales, especially of popular music, which thrives on recognizability. So I predict that Josie will be a big hit, and we’ll be inundated with another crop of kids who mistake poor spelling for creativity.

G. Murray Thomas

More Life More Trouble
Abstrakt Reality Records

cd darwa

On first listen, More Life More Trouble just sounded like pretty standard trip-hop, following in the path of Massive Attack and Stereolab. But every time I listened to it, I heard something new and interesting, and grew to like the album more and more. It consistently revealed new depths and flourishes, musically and lyrically. The music is appropriately trippy jazz. a solid beat propels, but does not overwhelm, the songs; the music has room to space out. But it’s the details which really make it work — percussive flourishes, swooshes of synthesizer, a plaintive saxophone. These are blended in in such a way as to surprise the listener without ever sounding out of place. The production, by Mario Marolt and Peter Lorimer, beautifully brings out the potential of Darja Klancar’s song writing and vocals. The key to the success of More Life More Trouble is how it works on many levels. One can enjoy it as background (and it would work equally well in a party context or a quieter moment), or one can give it close attention and be equally rewarded.

G. Murray Thomas