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Sandy (Brussels, Belgium)

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Faces Down
Faces Down
Offered by Smart-UK
Price: £13.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Talent and personality in sight, 4 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Faces Down (Audio CD)
Sondre Lerche was only 16 when he wrote these songs. It should not mislead you: this is not another 'teen musician' TRL likes so much. The result is surprisingly mature. If you like guys who write good folk-rock guitar melodies and care about their lyrics, this one is for you. Mix Bruce Springsteen, Toploader and Pete Yorn with Prefab Sprout (Sondre worships Paddy McAloon) for the music and Beck for the voice and you will get a rough idea.

The evident singles "Dead Passengers" and "Sleep on needles" have gotten regular airplay on Belgian alternative rock radios. "Suffused with love" is a great mid-tempo ballad with ghost synth and guitars. "Side Two" is totally acoustic with just guitar and vocals. On the fresh upbeat "Modern Nature", Sondre shares vocals with Lilian Samdal, the feminine touch bringing variety. The drums solo 'tap dancing noise'imitation in the middle of the song gives a humorous feel to the ensemble. "Virtue and wine" starts slowly with piano and strings to turn into a rocky tune. The pace changes inside of this song show the mastery of this young man in writing melodies. I also like a lot "All luck ran out" quick rock pace. "You know so well", "On and off again" and the excellent (9:25 long) "Things you call fate" complete this first album.

This young Norwegian is showcasing a real song writing talent and a very personal musical world, which deserves to get attention. If today's music bizz lets him grow he might do great stuff in the future.


La zizanie
La zizanie
Price: £18.71

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh French pop with concerned lyrics, 4 Sept. 2009
This review is from: La zizanie (Audio CD)
"La Zizanie" is her 4th album. She is now established among the singer songwriters that matter in France. Her trademark is playing with words and expressions, which makes her lyrics difficult to translate literally.
The three singles released so far have got a lot of airplay. "Rue de la paix" is an upbeat utopian song about peace, commercial equity and ecology: "I'm selling everything I own against everything I'm missing, I'm selling what can be bought against what's priceless. I'm selling what I'm worth against what I value most and if it's not worth a dime, I will give everything away to build up an hotel on Peace Street (...) I'm buying a world where everyone wins." The dance track "Adam et Yves" is about homosexuality: "which love is ideal, who's normal? They go from parties to failures, always glamorous. Yet they've been to war to dare to love each other in daylight". In the tender ballad "Sur toi", she explains to her loved one: "You don't write you're not missing anything, that you're happy, that everything is fine. That's why I don't write about you". Instead she writes about what bothers, hurts or scares her without sounding heavy or dark thanks to the well produced and often danceable music and the humor she can bring to the lyrics.

For example, the vicious circle of domestic violence and lack of love depicted with half words in the fragile ballad "On éteint" (One turns the light off), or women rights in "Aux armes citoyennes". The bouncy "Tais-toi et rap" (shut up and rap) is a song about becoming someone and taking your future in your hands even if you're coming from a disadvantaged area. The song destroys the cliché 'immigrants (mainly Algerians, Turkish, Moroccans in France) equals non-schooled youth imitating American hip-hop culture'. It is an answer to the insecurity feeling exploited by Right Extremists. Other danceable tracks are "Danse avec les loops" (just released on single), portraying young people clubbing culture as their only evasion from a life they do not control, "La Zizanie" and "Cheese", about Star System and today's cult of personalities: "Is my skirt short enough to hope show bizz opens its doors to me (...). Is the frame becoming the center of our world rather than what we have inside? (...) Say Cheese, I know that image is stronger and takes the full page".

"La fan de sa vie" is about building up your life around your favorite singer or actor. "You're the fan of his life, there is a bunch of love hanged on your bedroom walls (...) You're a fan and you'll be until the day you'll see that love is not for sale but for living it". Zazie goes introspective in the ballads "Qui m'aime me fuit" (Who loves me avoid me) and "Si j'étais moi" (If I were me), a song about the difficulty to accept yourself. "Dans la lune" (In the moon) is a dreamy ballad about escaping the problems inherited from previous generations.

Easy to listen to, but mature and thoughtful: a recommendable artist.


En Toute Intimite
En Toute Intimite

4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic live acoustic recording, 4 Sept. 2009
This review is from: En Toute Intimite (Audio CD)
To be honest this is the first Lara Fabian's album I'm buying. She used to fall in the annoying 'screaming from the top of my lungs' trap in her first recordings. Her latest studio album "Nue" was already showing a step towards more sober interpretations. This live recording is a definitive proof she has matured. She does not feel the need to prove she can sing loud anymore, which permits her to use her (incredible!) technique at the best.
I first heard the guitar/voice delicate new version of "Bambina" on the radio and could not believe it was Lara. The tenderness and melancholy of the lyrics, dedicated to her granmother, are only enlighten by the new arrangements. The entire album follows the same path.

Lara brings new versions (supported by piano, acoustic guitar and strings) of her big hits: "J'y crois encore", "S'en aller", "Je t'aime", "Tout", and "Immortelle". Her beautiful duet with Maurane "Tu es mon autre" is also included. "Si tu m'aimes" and "Parce que tu pars" are presented in a medley.

She throws in a couple of covers. French classic hits: Aznavour "Comme ils disent", Brel "Voir un ami pleurer", Renaud "Mistral gagnant"; the famous "Caruso", Bagdad Café soundtrack "Calling you" and the wonderful medley of "Starmania" musical classics (Le monde est stone, la serveuse automate, les uns contre les autres).

She even sing an aria from La Traviata ("Addio del passato").

Lara proves here she is in full control of her art. She can sing as an opera diva, control her powerful vocals to smooth even the most irritating power ballads: what a difference between the screamed out original version of "Je t'aime" and it's much classier version here... She can play with her voice, permits herself humour. Without losing her powerful presence, Lara Fabian is gaining maturity and wisdom. Emotions are here much more important than performance.


A-Ha: Homecoming - Live At Vallhall [DVD] [2002]
A-Ha: Homecoming - Live At Vallhall [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Magne Furuholmen
Price: £8.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Great concert and loads of bonus added, 4 Sept. 2009
This was the first full concert a-ha released on DVD. It was the final concert of the Minor Earth Major Tour in Oslo, and the crowd was composed from fans from every corner of the planet. Some came from as far away as Japan and Brazil.
Four types of people should get this DVD.

One, the fans who are following the band since their beginnings, or even more recently - because if they have been to any show of the tour they will enjoy the memories and if they have not, it will give them an idea of how it felt.

Two, the fans who liked them in the 80's and lost track after that - because they will be filled in about what they missed in the bonus features and get some of their favourite songs in a brand new live version.

Three, those who believe MTV and VH1 when they call a-ha 'one-hit wonders' - they will get the facts right in the bonus features.

Four, people who do not know a-ha yet and enjoy good pop-rock music with well-written lyrics and real sense of melody - because this is what a-ha is about.

I was in the crowd at that concert, and I loved every minute of it. Getting to live it again with this DVD is a real treat. If Magne is the most talkative, Paul is obviously enjoying himself playing guitar (he rocks) and singing backing vocals. He is keeping an eye on everyone on stage. Morten has the difficult task to pull out some often very demanding songs until the end. I still think singing "Summer Moved On" at the end of a concert is suicidal, but he seems to go through it without problem. The backing band is doing a great job and the graceful Anelli Drecker (from the Norwegian band Bel Canto) brings a welcome feminine presence on stage.

The track list is a mix of old and new songs. There are the crowd pleasers: the inevitable "Take On Me", "Hunting High and Low" (listen to the crowd singing), "The Living Daylights", "The sun always shines on TV" and "Manhattan Skyline" to name but a few. The new songs are much more alive than in the studio version thanks to the band rockier sound: "Minor earth major Sky", "The sun never shone that day", the nice ballad "You'll never get over me".... Only sad note: the second encore "Angel" was cut from the DVD. My personal highlights: the 'unplugged' part of the concert, with piano/guitar/voice versions of "Stay On These Roads" or "Crying in the rain" and the wonderful "Mary Ellen Makes The Moment Counts" and Anneli's entry on "I wish I cared" with the little game between Morten and her.

The bonus features are a goldmine. The 4 videos of the Minor Earth album are included. There is a long interview of the three guys and informative individual reports about their whereabouts during the 7 years of separation (including the videos for Magne "Dragonfly" and Savoy "Star"). You also get an acoustic set recorded for Norwegian TV in honour of a Norwegian charity. There is a short 'backstage' feature, and a small report 'in the bus'. You will get a short glimpse of the atmosphere at the 'a-ha fan party' that followed the concert and a 'facts sheet' with biography and career summary.

In short: a must-have.


Live At Vallhall (CD + DVD)
Live At Vallhall (CD + DVD)
Price: £8.10

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concert and loads of bonus but prefer DVD only, 4 Sept. 2009
The DVD content is a must-have. It gets 5 stars. I take 2 out for this edition: the CD does not bring anything more as the songs get butchered and badly edited. I would advise you to go for the original DVD only release.

I was in the crowd at that concert, and I loved every minute of it. Getting to live it again with this DVD is a real treat. If Magne is the most talkative, Paul is obviously enjoying himself playing guitar (he rocks) and singing backing vocals. He is keeping an eye on everyone on stage. Morten has the difficult task to pull out some often very demanding songs until the end. I still think singing "Summer Moved On" at the end of a concert is suicidal, but he seems to go through it without problem. The backing band is doing a great job and the graceful Anelli Drecker (from the Norwegian band Bel Canto) brings a welcome feminine presence on stage.

The track list is a mix of old and new songs. There are the crowd pleasers: the inevitable "Take On Me", "Hunting High and Low" (listen to the crowd singing), "The Living Daylights", "The sun always shines on TV" and "Manhattan Skyline" to name but a few. The new songs are much more alive than in the studio version thanks to the band rockier sound: "Minor earth major Sky", "The sun never shone that day", the nice ballad "You'll never get over me".... Only sad note: the second encore "Angel" was cut from the DVD. My personal highlights: the 'unplugged' part of the concert, with piano/guitar/voice versions of "Stay On These Roads" or "Crying in the rain" and the wonderful "Mary Ellen Makes The Moment Counts" and Anneli's entry on "I wish I cared" with the little game between Morten and her.

The bonus features are a goldmine. The 4 videos of the Minor Earth album are included. There is a long interview of the three guys and informative individual reports about their whereabouts during the 7 years of separation (including the videos for Magne "Dragonfly" and Savoy "Star"). You also get an acoustic set recorded for Norwegian TV in honour of a Norwegian charity. There is a short 'backstage' feature, and a small report 'in the bus'. You will get a short glimpse of the atmosphere at the 'a-ha fan party' that followed the concert and a 'facts sheet' with biography and career summary.


Calogero - L'album
Calogero - L'album
Price: £12.15

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good pop rock with intelligent lyrics, 22 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Calogero - L'album (Audio CD)
Calogero began his career in the 80's as the singer of The Charts. When the band called it quit, he spent several years trying to gain personal recognition. Pascal Obispo brought him back in the spotlight. The discreet success of his first solo album was only a preparation for his explosion in 2002/2003 with the second, soberly called "Calogero". After 85 weeks of chart presence, this album was still in the top 20 in Belgium, while its follower "3" was in the top 5. It should give you an idea of the guy's popularity...
Calogero is a solid melodist. He can mix a rock oriented guitars use with his pop sense of songwriting and possess a flexible voice capable of rock grits as well as sensuous murmurs. The lyrics are often straightforward and talk about simple things of life as well as more serious issues. Most of them are signed Lionel Florence.
The album gave 4 hit singles. "En apesanteur" tells the fantasm of a man alone in an elevator with a beautiful stranger. "Aussi libre que moi" is an hymn to the perfect love partner, independent enough to build up her own life outside of the couple. "Tien An Men" is a reflexive ballad about the protection of personal rights ("Maybe Tien An men is closer than we think, that our small fights are also worth it but we don't see it"). "Prendre racine" talks about roots and building up a stable life and your personality by separating yourself from it (to better appreciate them).
Other tracks I'd like to pin point would be: the feel good "Prouver l'amour" (about living together with your loved one), "A la gueule des noyés" (story of a boy who lost a brother to the ocean but still wants to leave himself, between love and hate for the big wide open), "Une dernière chance" (written by Françoise Hardy, telling a couple's fight), the post breaking up song "Je vis ou tu m'as laissé". Note as well there is a hidden track ("L'européen") after "Partir ou rester".
His new album "3" keeps the same style, with a dirtier sound. I also recommend it.


Rendez-Vous
Rendez-Vous
Offered by CDandVinyl
Price: £11.92

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh album full of ideas and made with a lot of smiles, 22 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Rendez-Vous (Audio CD)
When you take a first look at the track listing, you notice two things. First, this album has been recorded in at least 4 languages (French, English, Italian, Portuguese). Second, it lines up artists as different as rockers (Brian Molko, Mickey 3D), crooners (Brian Ferry, Paolo Conte), established French stars with different styles (Alain Chamfort, Souchon, Etienne Daho, Miossec, Manu Chao, Françoise Hardy), independant newcomers (Feist) and bossa nova veteran (Caetano Veloso).
A normal reaction would be to think the ensemble cannot hold. Well, it does! Miraculously, blissfully, it works. The album sounds fresh and relaxed. Jane Birkin reached a point in her career where she can fulfill any fantasy going through her mind. On "Arabesque" she was revisiting Gainsbourg with oriental flavours. On "Rendez-vous", she invites 14 artists with few things in common to duet with her. She had fun recording the album, and the listener has fun listening to it. Sometimes, it is THAT simple. The album has a perfume of innocence and simple pleasure.
If I have to point some favourites, I will say: "Je m'appelle Jane" (My name is Jane), the self ironic single with Mickey 3D, "In every dream home a heartache", the diamond with Brian Ferry, "Strange Melody" (a composition by Beth Gibbons). But the entire album goes down as a delicious sorbet in the middle of a heatwave.


Sit Down and Listen to
Sit Down and Listen to
Price: £6.56

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant acoustic live recording of their biggest hits, 22 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Sit Down and Listen to (Audio CD)
If you already listened to Hooverphonic, this one will be a surprise. They left their trip-hop style behind to record their best known tracks live (but without public) and acoustic. This band is really taking chances, after "Introducing Jackie Cane", a strange concept album, they are once again trying another road. This is what makes this band special!
If you do not know Hooverphonic yet, it will not give you a fair idea of their style (closer to Massive Attack, Portishead, Lamb and early Morcheeba, you should rather try "Blue Wonder Power Milk" and "the Magnificent Tree" if you enjoy trip-hop) but if you like quiet, acoustic music, you will enjoy it.
The voice is incredible, the acoustic versions full of passion, with just piano and strings...
This is the kind of CD you listen too at night.


Luminescence
Luminescence

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh pop album and mesmerizing voice, 17 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Luminescence (Audio CD)
Anggun had a hit a couple a years ago with `La neige au Sahara', I also remembered her for `La rose des vents' and her participation to a DJ electro-jazz project 2 years ago. I was therefore surprise to hear from her after so long with `Etre une femme', first single taken from this new album. I must say it ended up a nice surprise as this album is one of my favourite French albums of 2005 so far.
`Etre une femme' (two versions on the album, the solo/single/radio version and another one featuring rapper Diam's) will remind you of Truth Hurts `Addictive': it mixes oriental vibes with r'n'b rhythm. The lyrics is about being feminine without being misunderstood by men, it is a sort of declaration of independence. The result is rather catchy and will get you to shake those hips, but does not reflect the rest of the album.
There are a couple of beautiful ballads on the album. `C'est écrit'/`Painted' is a power ballad about how love can be written in the stars, written by Anggun in English and adapted by Lionel Florence in French. `Nous avions des ailes' is a breathy ballad, full of tenderness and very dreamy, a little bit melancholic maybe, one of my favourite tracks. `Un de toi' is an almost acoustic ballad about 2 becoming 3, how a couple turns into family. `Sur les cendres' is a grand ballad, with lyrical flight of strings - a true romantic number. `D'où l'on vient' is maybe more an album filler, even is the chorus gets you singing along.
`L'improbable cours des choses' is maybe my absolute favourite. The lyrics are signed Anggun and the music Tété, a folk singer nominated to Victoires de la Musique 2004. It has a cool rhythm that get you snapping fingers - think Jack Johnson.
Then Anggun unleashes the electric guitars on a couple of numbers: `Captivité'/ `Captivity', `Devil in my mind', `Human' (the intro sounding a little bit funky, a la Lenny Kravitz, gets me crazy), `Cesse la pluie' (announced as second single), all of them bringing a great upbeat, rocky feel to the album. I always get a little wild when playing those in my car.
I really enjoyed the album as a whole, and I really got into Anggun raspy and very distinctive voice. Just a good French pop album!


L'album Des Singles
L'album Des Singles
Offered by THE MUSIC SELLER
Price: £3.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars French 'Fame Academy' 3d season finalists, 9 Jun. 2005
This review is from: L'album Des Singles (Audio CD)
The 8 best contestants of Star Academy 3d season solo singles are all compiled here.
1. " De l'eau " - Elodie Frégé: Surprise winner of this edition, Elodie is following the steps of Nolwenn Leroy, winner of StarAc 2. This is a power ballad that starts slow and builds up on the chorus. It's not the best track on Elodie self-titled debut album (released March 2004) in my opinion, but it is a hit. Interesting to note that Elodie wrote 3 songs on her album, something that was not permitted to previous winners. The album includes a duet with Michal.
2. "C'est un beau roman (c'est une belle histoire)" - Michal, Patxi, Lukas & Premix: the boys who made the top 8 plus Edouard cover this 70's hit by Michel Fugain. Nice sing along song, fair track.
3. "Le monde est stone" - Elodie, Sofia & Morganne: the 3 girls who made the top 8 cover a classic from "Starmania" musical. The voices are flowing well all together and the arrangements are different. Good version.
4. "Tu mets de l'or" - Michal: Runner up Michal, a Polish pianist described by the teachers as the most brilliant of the lot, released his first album 'De l'or et des poussières' in April 2004. This first single surprises at first: it's a waltz! The romantic and melancholic lyrics suit the boy well. It includes 2 duets with Elodie and a song in Polish...
5. "Roxanne" - Sofia Essaïdi: From the first show down all bookmakers were giving the Maroccan perfect pro as the winner. She inexplicably losts the girls semi final to Elodie. She sang this Police hit twice on the show, once in duet with Sting, once in "Moulin Rouge" style. The single is jazzy and classy and show off her technique.
6. "A l'anglaise" - Patxi Garat: His idol is Raphaël, it shows in his song writing: unlucky boys semi finalist wrote and composed this good song with intelligent lyrics. This style suits his short vocal range. Worked good in the charts so far.
7. "Duel" - Morganne Matis: Morganne goes pop rock with heavy guitars. The girl has a good voice, the track is fair, but is it distinctive enough?
8. "Le chaos" - Lukas Delcourt: Lukas has always been honest: before StarAc he never sang a note. He won his place among the 8 best thanks to teen girls who saved him from exclusion 8 times, a record in the show history (he's good looking, got a lot of charisma and is the best dancer of this edition). But he also gained support from people who appreciated his dedication, real passion for the stage and hard work. His first album was released in April 2004 in N'Sync (as this single) and Justin solo work style.
9. "Oui ou non" - Premix: Pierre, Romain and Edouard made the clever choice to associate themselves in a band (the first band born out of StarAc). The boys wrote, composed and produced their first album 'Chambre 1512'(released in April 2004) that includes their first catchy single.
Three contestants were not sure back then to release an album. They had the chance to record a second solo track on this compilation.
10. "Alice" - Sofia Essaïdi: At first place I was unsure about the song but the more I listen to it the more I like it. With arrangements a la Garbage and somber lyrics about disillusions (the Alice in question is Alice in Wonderland), Sofia lashes out some frustrations about the way StarAc production treated her. Her album will be released end August 2005.
11. "Dans le rang" - Patxi Garat: another good track from Patxi, in the same French folk style with less irony and bittersweet smile than A l'anglaise. Working on his album with a small record company.
12. "Assez de larmes" - Morganne Matis: another pop rock track heavy on guitars. She is popular but following the steps of Emma Daumas, from StarAc 2 might make it difficult for her to establish her own career.
If you like this, pick up "Star Academy 3: les meilleurs moments" with the same contestants. "Star Academy 3 fait sa bamba" and "Star Academy 3 chante Elton John" complete the serie.


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