CD review: Color It Red, Linkin Park return

Posted at 08/17/2014 1:01 PM

Color It Red
"Silver"

Color It Red’s crowd-funded new album comes out in celebration of the band’s 25 years of running around recording studios and hounding stages here and abroad.

 

At the album’s formal launch in Tiendesitas, the band still fronted by the radiant Cooky Chua played the new songs interspersed with the old hits. The set list then didn’t feel right. The more recent songs seemed twee in the company of the group’s old memorable tunes.

It’s crow eating time. "Silver" is far from inconsequential. On its own terms, it simply captures the sound of Color It Red now. Then again, a quarter of a century together must have imbued them with the confidence to add new tints to their sonic palette.

Starting off with a bit of The Dawn in “Di Magtatagal”, Cooky and company bulk up their fully realized pop songs with funk (“Disk-O”), reggae (“Weeh”) and jazz fusion (“Maggie”). Two tracks stand out on the album and on the band’s back catalog: “Buhay,” a throwback to ‘50s torch songs with an existential undertow in the lyrics, and ”Move On,” a lovely pop rocker about deceit, featuring the inimitable rapper Gloc-9.

A bunch of songwriters (including Gary Granada), producers and sidemen collaborated with the band on Silver. With a wealth of partners, Color It Red not only enriched their original music but also stretched out their comfort zone. On to a Gold album!

*****

Magic!
"Don’t Kill The Magic"

The four-man band’s press bio says Magic! lead vocalist Nasri Atweh always wanted his own project that merged reggae, rock, pop and a little bit of soul. Nasri is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter who has penned music for Justin Bieber and Chris Brown as well as Pitbull and Christina Aguilera.

He got half of his wish when his frequent collaborator guitarist Mark Pelli strummed a reggae-tinged riff that became the motif behind “Rude,” which eventually turned into one of the year’s biggest hits.

That "magical" moment with a rough cut of “Rude” led Nasri and Mark Pelli to produce a full album with drummer Alex Tanas and bassist Ben Spivak. Naming themselves Magic!, the quartet released a debut album that keeps alive the magic behind “Rude.” The song itself has blossomed in the studio into a shimmering reggae-pop tune, like the 311 band hit “All Mixed Up” exposed to California sun.

More reggae jams come by way of “Let Your Hair Down”, “No Way No” and “Stupid Me”, the latter perfectly demonstrating Nasri’s avowed love for UK band The Police. “Paradise” rocks to a ‘80s power pop beat while “Little Girl Big World” sprints to a rocking finish.

It looks like the “soul” part is missing in Magic!’s first time around the block but with a blockbuster debut, they are assured of a wide open future where they can make things happen.

*****

Linkin Park
"The Hunting Party"

A badly altered voice introduces the first track, “Keys To The Kingdom” and before you can imagine Linkin Park has gone deathcore, the instruments pull up to the band’s trademark melodic rap metal collision. The next cut “All For Nothing” kicks off with a riff borrowed from Technotronic then explodes into a hyperactive power metal discharge.

 

They’re portents that the hammer is finally coming down hard and in Linkin Park’s new hybridized rock slam, other genres like punk, hardcore and prog-rock galvanize rap metal’s fraying seams. Helmet’s Page Hamilton and former Rage Against The Machine Tom Morello add guitar firepower to Linkin Park’s most consistently aggressive release since their first two albums a decade back. The song titles themselves (e.g. “War,” “Mark The Graves,” Wastelands”) should clue the curious of the incendiary material in the album.

"Hunting Party" is not exactly a return to fighting form because Mike Shinoda still needs to burden listeners with long-winded meditations (“Final Masquerade”, “A Line In The Sand”). With a lot of new noise turning up in unlikely places (i.e. stoner rock from America’s Midwest and Sweden, for instance), Linkin Park’s latest platter is a loud detour to the old haunt. It’s just swell that the band continues to deliver more bang for your buck than your average nu metal outfit.

*****

Ed Sheeran
"X"

Pronounced "multiply," “X” is just the second album of acoustic guitar-toting British sensation Ed Sheeran. It debuted at the top of Billboard/Soundscan 200 charts and has proven to be the fastest selling record of the year so far.

The stuff that fuels boyish-looking Sheeran’s rise to music stardom is his adroit blend of rock, pop, folk and rap. On his new album, multiple producers who include Rick Rubin and Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid help distill Sheeran’s innate gifts to ear-hugging lusciousness usually equated with chart-bound hits.

Sheeran is an amazing acoustic singer/songwriter as the two opening tracks and a smattering of slow numbers in “X” show. By the third song entitled “Sing,” he funks up his main gig and comes on remarkably like a one-man Black Eyed Peas. “Nina” sees him looking back at Moby’s gospel-tainted electronica, complete with clear rapping and handclaps. He unleashes his soulful side in “Photograph” and “Tenerife”, and does anthemic rock elsewhere, with fast strums and finger-picking.

Like ‘90s Beck, Ed Sheeran also has a poet’s eye in giving voice to his inner turmoil. He graphically describes an addict’s agony in “Bloodstream.” X truly marks the spot.