CD reviews (Summer 2008)
L.A. Youth writers give thumbs up to the latest from Coldplay and Cat Power.
COLDPLAY: Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
By Tyler Brewington, 17, Palisades Charter High School
Coldplay’s fourth album, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, combines singer Chris Martin’s always powerful lyrics with new and innovative sounds which makes the album shine. No wonder this CD was number one on the charts for two weeks. From the popular “Viva La Vida” to the more obscure songs such as “Yes” and “Strawberry Swing,” this album is genius from start to finish.
A majority of Coldplay’s songs have the same sound, but with Viva La Vida each song has its own individual theme that correlates with the album’s title. The instrumental opening song, “Life in Technicolor,” serves as a prelude to the amazing journey that the album takes the listeners on.
As the album progresses, the emotions in each song also grow stronger and stronger. In the song “42” Martin uses his entrancing voice to change the direction of the album from a tranquil and dream-like to a more realistic one. Martin sings about the realities of life: “Those who are dead are not dead/ They’re just living in my head/ And since I fell for that spell/ I am living there as well/ Time is so short and I’m sure/ There must be something more.”
Coldplay continues to deliver Top 40 singles while maintaining the seriousness of the music. In “Viva La Vida,” Martin sings about loss of power: “I used to rule the world/ seas would rise when I gave the word/ now in the morning I sleep alone/ sweep the streets I used to own.” As the song continues, I could sense Martin’s desire to gain back his glory as he fights using his “mirror, sword, and shield.” “Violet Hill” is an attack on politics: “When the future’s architectured/ by a carnival of idiots on show/ you better lie low.”
Despite the serious messages on the album, songs such as “Lovers In Japan/Reign of Love” and “Yes” are uplifting and positive, while “Lost!” (there are two versions on the album) offers hope: “Just because I’m losing/ doesn’t mean I’m lost/ doesn’t mean I’ll stop/ doesn’t mean I’ll cross.” I am a huge Coldplay fan, and this album is the most eclectic out of all of them. It was one of the best CD purchases that I have ever made.
CAT POWER: Jukebox
By Paranoid writer
There is a special quality to Cat Power’s voice—it’s hypnotic, and soulful. I picture her sitting in a smoky bar, strumming on her guitar while confessing her emotions in her silky smooth voice.
Cat Power’s latest album, Jukebox, was much better than I had expected. I had heard mixed reviews from my friends, who told me that her previous albums were much better. Despite the hype from my peers, which usually signifies an overrated album, and her recent collaboration with the over-priced and also overrated Urban Outfitters (a recent promo video features her song, “Metal Heart”) Cat Power never fails to deliver that same amazing quality from her previous albums. However, this album sounds different in that it does sound more soul than indie, like her other albums. This is her second album of cover songs with the exception of one song.
The opening song, a cover of Frank Sinatra’s “New York,” is arguably one of the best cover songs I have ever heard. I could not have guessed that it is a rendition of the famous Sinatra song without having matched the lyrics. The song possesses the same passion, but instead of a jazzy rhythm, Cat Power’s version is acoustic, edgy and rough.
Jukebox, in comparison to Cat Power’s other albums, has more soul and sounds more heartfelt. With song titles such as “Woman Left Lonely,” “Lost Someone” and “I Feel,” this album is oozing with “break-up songs.”
However, this album isn’t all about sadness. Songs like “Aretha, Sing One For Me” and “Song To Bobby” feel more positive. “Aretha” is especially upbeat and sounds like a gospel song, complete with organs in the background.
I can listen to Jukebox over and over. The simplicity of the songs combined with the moderate catchiness (the songs aren’t so catchy that I didn’t get tired of them in a week) make a well-composed, beautifully done album. I’d give it five stars.