By Cook Young, December 1998
Wooster Sang, Wooster Sang (1998 Wooster Sang)
I know it's the music that counts, but I simply must say that Wooster Sang puts out a most impressive press kit. One listen to their CD, and it becomes obvious that the New York City-based quartet has invested equally as much time into crafting their songs as in printing their promotional material. The music is written to seduce you and it works on many levels. With hints of blues and jazz, their self-titled debut album is one grooving pop rock tune after another. I found myself liking the CD more with each listen, perhaps because Wooster Sang's complex songwriting is
reminiscent of early Lenny Kravitz and this is meant as a compliment... a strong one. The band members bring twenty years of experienced musicianship to their recent collaboration and it seems to be serving them well. Wooster Sang was rated Billboard's Artist of the Week in July 1998 and went on to receive rave reviews at the CMJ Musicfest in November 1998. A page in their kit which listed some thirty recent and upcoming gigs goes to show that people are taking notice. Wooster Sang can be purchased at the band's Web site.
Emilia, Big, Big World (1998 Universal Records)
If a soulful, melodic dance beat is your thang, search no further. Sweden's sensation, Emilia is the one for you. Her beauty, enchanting vocals, and charisma will sweep you away. Emilia's debut release, Big, Big World is filled with tuneful, right-on-the-money vocals (unlike Madonna, this girl can sing) and is backed by sounds that go from soothing your mood in one song to getting your hips in sync with your feet in another. Emilia's talent can be traced back to her father, an Ethiopian jazz musician, who helped cultivate her love of singing and music at an early age. Before he left for New York when Emilia was just a few years old, he laid the groundwork
which continued to blossom while she attended the esteemed Adolf Fredriks music school in Stockholm from the ages of 10 to 18. Now at the ripe old age of 20, Emilia has released the single, "Big, Big World" off of her debut album of the same name. It has already skyrocketed to number one in Sweden, number two in Denmark and Norway and is climbing the charts in neighboring countries such as Holland, Germany and Austria.
Bliss, Chasing the Mad Rabbit (1998 J-Bird Records, Inc.)
Think of what Beethoven's music may have sounded like if he were on speed and his mentor were Trent Reznor and you have the sounds of Bliss (Michael Trapp, songwriting/instrumentation; Matt Wells, vocals). Although based in rock'n'roll, the duo's music is academic. The combination of these two forms produces an arty heavy-metal sound, clearly to their credit, but at times I yearned for the band to break from their obviously heavily studied influences. On the debut release, Chasing the Mad Rabbit, one song sounds a tad too much like Black Sabbath, another like NIN, a third like Nirvana, and a fourth like Yes -- all with appealing Ozzy-esque vocals on top. Their eclectic tunes go from country-tinged pop to razor-sharp heavy metal, which again is to their credit, but more originality and a few less familiar riffs would be nice. Click here, to purchase the CD.
Gregg Swann, Dizzy at the Door (1998 Dalin Records)
Simply put, Gregg Swann's music is perfectly pop. Dizzy at the Door is simple, catchy, and original, all the while somehow managing to rock out without screeching, grinding, where-are-my-earplugs guitars. If you prefer a kinder, gentler pop rock with simplistic songs, this one is for you (my only complaint is the songwriting is somewhat elementary). Swann, having previously resided in various cities across the country, settled in New York City a while back and we're glad to have him. Although, I imagine, he won't be home much as he takes to the road in support of his latest effort, Dizzy at the Door to be released January 15. Touring is nothing new for Swann. In addition to covering the States, he's performed in Europe, opened for Soul Coughing, and done live radio broadcasts. To find out when Gregg will be passing by a town near you or to purchase his new release, check his Web site.
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