Saigon Lounge, a collaborative effort between MC/singer Nguyet Anh, songwriter/producer Quoc Bao, và French arranger Laurent Jaccoux, is a perfect cure for insomnia. Lượt thích its title suggested, the album is intended for lounging bars, café shops, và maybe some make-out places in Ho bỏ ra Minh City. Over electronic, mellow-out arrangements, Nguyet Anh delivered Quoc Bao’s eight familiar tracks like a really-bad-French-romantic-ballad singer. On “Vang Em,” her indistinctive voice comes through lượt thích an audio-reading device. Then there’s the horrendous Caribbean jazz groove on “La Yeu Chua Tung Yeu,” an unbearable smooth sax on “Cho Em Noi Them Trang,” & “Vua Biet Dau Yeu” is more like a disco joint than a relaxing track. Saigon Lounge is supposed to lớn be for chilling out, but I rather kick back with Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond, or Stan Getz.

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Quynh Lan – Ky Niem
September 29, 2008

Quynh Lan, a bar singer with a sensual, smoky voice, knows a thing or two about intimacy. On Nguyen Anh 9 songbook, Ky Niem, she sings his tuy vậy as if she’s living it. The minimal setting, accompanied by guitar or piano, helps bring out the personal interpretation in her phrasings.

Over a gorgeous strumming guitar, Quynh Lan gives “Co Don” a sense of solitude. She doesn’t belt out, but her words are filled with passion even on the low register. Many singers covered “Tinh Yeu Den trong Gia Tu” in a bossa-nova groove, but Quynh Lan approaches it in a much slower pace & just bares her soul over Nguyen Anh 9’s elegant piano. The advantage of singing it in a relaxed tempo allows her the time khổng lồ express the lyrics word for word. “Mua Thu Canh Nau” is another savory take on the blues. By leaving out drum, bass and horns (saxophone or trumpet), the piano provides only the essential chords and what left are simply the raw emotional vocals.

Though Ky Niem is not groundbreaking, the record is perfect for those who enjoy Vietnamese intimate ballads. Listening to it tuy nhiên for tuy nhiên on a rainy night is a pure melancholy pleasure.

Kevin Mahogany – Kansas đô thị Revue
September 27, 2008

Kevin Mahogany’s last night performance in the Kennedy Center was enjoyable but not as ecstatic as the first time I saw him at Jazz in the Valley in West Park, New York. His gruff, husky voice hasn’t changed, but the band, The Godfathers of Groove, accompanied him didn’t hold up. The trio group consisted of Grant Green Jr. On guitar, J.T. Lewis on drums and Reuben Wilson on Hammond B3 organ. Personally, I prefer the piano to the organ. The major drawback was no thumping double bass khổng lồ accommodate Mahogany’s hypnotic low register.

The Godfathers of Groove opens the show with an instrumental number and Kathy Kosins whose voice sounds lượt thích Diana Krall but less smoky sang trọng two Kansas thành phố blues, included “You Turned Your Back on Me.” She introduced Mahogany to lớn the stage and he kicked off with him own blues tune called, “Kansas thành phố Born và Bred.” He performed a handful of Kansas, shouting blues including “Centerpiece,” in which he scatted the entire B section. My favorite piece is “Please Send Me Someone to lớn Love,” in which he quý phái with a soulful, gospel feel. There was also a medley that started in slow blues, but progressed in triple tempo. The best part was when he invited Kosins to join him for a scat duet.

The show was an hour & a half long, but it went by so fast. Mahogany was quite a funny man & he made us laughing in between the songs. I copped his live recording of Mahogany sings Hartman after the show. By the way, the Kennedy Center was gorgeous, và looking down to DC at night in the rain was a wonderful experience.

T.I. – Paper Trail
September 22, 2008

Just hours away from his scheduled performance on the 2007 BET Hip-Hop Awards, T.I. Was arrested for attempting khổng lồ purchase several unregistered machine guns and silencers. He was bailed out, but required to lớn stay inside his trang chủ at all times. While under house arrest, T.I. Decided to lớn make good use of his time. He cut an album called Paper Trail. The title refers to lớn the technique of writing down rhymes, something he has abandoned after his 2001 debut, I’m Serious.

Although T.I. Has proved his lyrical skills without the aid of pen và paper, his rhymes get more complex và evocative when he takes the time khổng lồ write them down. The John Legend assisted “Slide Show” provides snapshots of T.I.’s life in vivid details as well as some retrospection: “If I only knew back then what I know now / how much better life would have been if I slow down.” The jazz-inflected “You Ain’t Missing Nothing” is a devotion lớn his hommies who are locked behind the walls counting months after months. The stories are eloquent & sentimental, but T.I. Managed khổng lồ throw in some light humors: “The club on hold and the bras on pause / You get home it’s going to lớn be waiting on y’all.”

Still, T.I. Is at his best when he boasts his braggadocio. On “I’m Illy,” T.I. Presents his virtue in rich rhythmic flow & doses of arrogance: “hip-hop champion,” “five-star general,” “OG veteran,” & “stack cash like US treasury.” One of T.I.’s assets has lớn be his swag. He knows it và never shies away from displaying it. On a contagiously catchy “Live Your Life” with Rihanna holding down the hooks, T.I. Boosts: “I am the opposite of moderate… Spirit of a hustler & a swagger of a college kids.” On “No Matter What,” T.I. Spits with confidence: “Never have you seen in your lifetime / a more divine southern rapper wit a swag lượt thích mine / Facing all kind of time, but smile like I’m fine / brag with such passion và shine without trying.” If those aren’t showcasing enough swag already, T.I. Invited three more swaggers (Jay-Z, Lil Wayne và Kanye West) khổng lồ join him on “Swagga like Us.” Unfortunately Kanye & Lil Wayne killed the track with the use of Auto-Tune.

Paper Trail suffers when T.I. Throws a bone for the ladies (“No Matter What’), drops a club hit (“Swing Ya Rag”), & reveals his horniness (“Porn Star”). Toss out the mainstream fillers, the album is quite impressive. With his virtuosic flow & articulate lyricism, T.I. Lives up to his self-proclaim title: “king of the south.”

Van Son 40 in Dallas – Nhung Chuyen Tinh Bat Tu
September 19, 2008

Van Son needs some serious renovation in his production. The skits have always been his niches, but Van Son 40 in Dallas had shown that the comedies were getting drought out. I tried my hardest khổng lồ get through Kieu Oanh & Le Huynh’s charmless acting as well as quang quẻ Minh and Hong Dao’s phoniness, và I couldn’t. Kieu Oanh annoyed the heck out me. Even Van Son and Bao Liem’s second skit was such a repetitive.

What Van Son needs to lớn revamp the most is the musical production. Nguyen Khang và Diem Liem gave a superb performance of “The Phantom of the Opera,” but the music brought down their vocals. Van Son should invest in real orchestra, but the budget wouldn’t allow that (my prediction). I could barely get through the songs because of the crappy arrangements. As for the singers, V-pop sang & moved lượt thích a bunch of pussies. They even had a clown-ass rapper lớn join them.

One of the enjoyable performances was Tinna Tinh. She’s xinh đẹp rock chick and Viet Thao needs to cut out his dick joke. He kept pressing on và on about how many “cu” she brought with her. I don’t know about you, but that shit is sexual harassment lớn me.

As for Van Son, was he mocking Tuan Anh in his rendition of “Nail Nail Nail.” But then again, the tuy nhiên is actually more suitable for him than Don Ho. The lyric is such a joke và only a joker lượt thích Van Son could make it funny. Van Son 40 is a waste of time.

Ha Tran – Ca Khuc Tran Tien
September 12, 2008

Ha Tran apparently realizes the disaster of going overboard with the production on her Communication ’06. With her new release, Ca Khuc Tran Tien, she scales all the way back khổng lồ a minimal approach. Electric guitar is the main instrument and the beats are mostly spare và ambient. Wise decision.

“Ra Ngo Tung Kinh” is a great starter. Although the production is very subtle, you could hear the temple bell ringing, voices of the children chanting, organic sounding, electric guitar licks, zither plucking & clap-like drums all come together to create an atmospheric vibe. Best of all, Ha Tran’s angelic voice never drowns in the production. “Ngau Hung Pho” sets in a straightforward Latin rhythmic và her vocals ebb và flow effortlessly along with the guitars. “Mot Minh” is an unadorned beauty. She starts off with the first few bars naked & then the simple plucking guitar joins in to allow her to pour out her heart và soul.

The major flaw of the album is that Ha Tran allows too many guest spots và they just interrupt the flow. Hoa Tran isn’t contributing anything outstanding. “Lien Khuc bỏ ra Toi” is saved by the hypnotic beat và her gorgeous rendition of “La Dieu Bong.” Tung Duong is also a disappointment. His restrained delivery on “Doc Huyen Cam” is utterly awkward. The album would have been better if Ha Tran is the only one khổng lồ run the show.

My Tam – Nhip Dap (to the Beat)
September 2, 2008

With her new album, Nhip Dap (to the Beat), My Tam tries to lớn take her fans back khổng lồ the club one more time. After the failed attempt of Vut Bay, she has learned some valuable lesions. Gone are the rubbish rap verses, generic productions & Korean singings. She knows that a dance record has khổng lồ be driven by the beat, but she also knows damn well not lớn let the beat overpowers her voice.

Nhip Dap spins off with Le Quang’s “Quen Di ngay Yeu Dau,” a speedy cut with Andre 3000’s drum loop that will guarantee to lớn groove you. Tran Tuan Anh’s “Nho Anh That Nhieu” features a flavor of sunshine Bollywood sound, but what make the tune works are My Tam’s swift flow and the way she rides the tempo. She has written three tunes for the album. The standout one is “Vu Dieu French cho Anh,” a fantastic mix of Latin riff guitar và classical sample (Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”) over pounding beat. Mad proper to producer mang đến Sung Jin for the hypnotic production.

Getting rid of her useless English singing is something My Tam has yet to learn. Ho Hoai An’s “Lac Loi” and her own “Do It (Niem Tin)” are perfectly ruined by interjecting one or two lines of English into the chorus. On the straight English “Tic Tac Toe,” her accent is somewhat forgivable though. Who wouldn’t even when she sings in imperfect English lines like, “Tic tac toe, trap you in the corner / Where you gonna go?” Wouldn’t you just want to lớn stand there và let her grind you?

All kidding aside, My Tam has definitely upped her game with each release since her previous return. If Tro Lai captured your heart, Nhip Dap would move your feet.

Paris by Night 93: Celebrity Dancing
September 1, 2008

What makes Celebrity khiêu vũ entertaining is that singers don’t have to lip-synch if they don’t want to. They just have khổng lồ dance. Before the show, I could see why they picked Nguyen Hung and Shanda Sawyer as judges. After the show, I could figure out why they picked Khanh Ly & Duc Huy. They were on the panel khổng lồ provide comic releases. Among the judges, Sawyer gives the most invaluable criticisms from the way she compliments on the technical skills to toàn thân chemistry khổng lồ facial expression.

Mad props go out to lớn Huong Lan & Huong Thuy. They made my jaw drop, especially Huong Lan. I couldn’t even imagine she could pull it off the way she did. Mai Tien Dung got his swing on. He was such a lovely puppy. Minh Tuyet was hot in Salsa. She knows how khổng lồ work her assets. Still the one that leaves me breathless is the mambo MILF Khanh Ha. Her dress was sexy và she has the groove as well as the attitude. He spanked her ass and she returned with a slap. Don’t mess with hot mama. Furthermore, her rendition of “Mambo Italiano” is gorgeous. She has the Italian accent down pretty well.

Mad kudos goes out lớn all the professional dancers too. They have done a great job of turning some of these singers whose feet have no rhythm into some viewable performances. Well, maybe not Tran bầu Hoa. The dude simple can’t dance. But when you watch the chick who was Luong Tung Quang’s partner, you just have to lớn say: God bless dancing.

Cannonball Adderley – Somethin’ Else
August 29, 2008

On Somethin’ Else, Cannonball Adderley somehow managed lớn snatch up his leader Miles Davis as a sideman. The title track kicks off with a call và response between two gifted musicians. By feeding off each other’s vibe, Davis & Adderley were having a great musical conversation. With Art Blakey, Hank Jones and Sam Jones holding down the rhythm section, Davis & Adderley gives “Autumn Leaves” an ultimate beauty. Davis is a master of selection (only plays notes that are meaningful) & his muted trumpet is both hunting và chilling. Adderley’s intricate phrasing on the alto sax, however, provides a rich contrast lớn Davis’s minimal approach. This record is simply somethin’ else.

Cardin – Va Hom Nay… Now I Know
August 27, 2008

Cardin Nguyen is one hardworking kid in showbiz. He writes his own lyrics, produces his own tracks and sings his own tunes, but he can’t obscure the fact that he doesn’t have what it takes khổng lồ make even just a passable record. Va Hom Nay… Now I Know, his new release, is a proof. His rhymes are elementary; his beats come straight out of the club factory; và his singing is still mediocre. Even Auto-Tune couldn’t help correct his wimpy pitch.

On “Sell Out,” a sacrilege sample of Cheryl Lynn’s “Got khổng lồ Be Real,” Cardin addresses those who talk behind his back. He mumbles some shit about daring someone khổng lồ write a tuy vậy and throw it back at him. He also accuses somebody of a copycat who can’t even translate some lyrics. He tries to talk in a tough voice, but you can tell, dude can’t even break grapes in a food fight.

His soft side comes out on Truc Ho’s “Va Hom Nay” và the Chinese-inflected “Mai Yeu Nguoi Thoi” with Chosen who drops some kindergarten rhymes about some chick who had done him wrong, even though he tatted her name on his arm. As if the slow version isn’t dull enough, he cuts another lounge session that is perfect for, well, lounging. & if you isn’t fallen asleep by then, the “Outro Lullaby,” which he sings for his child when it’s time to lớn turn out the lights, will make sure you do.

To be fair, Cardin deserves the props for making his own music. Just give him about twenty more albums và he might get somewhere. We’ll see.

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