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International Music Releases from the Last Fortnight- Reviewed

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Blue Oyster Cult/ The Symbol Remains, Hard Rock, Frontiers Records

After releasing its debut in 1972, American hard rock band Blue Oyster Cult kept producing records till 2001. After a 19-year gap, they come out with The Symbol Remains, a title inspired by a line from their earlier song Shadow Of California.

The band’s keyboardist Allen Lanier passed away in 2013. Here old-time members Eric Bloom, 76, and Buck Dharma, 73, share vocal and guitar credits with the younger Richie Castellano. BOC still has that ability to rock, keeping the album alive with sizzling guitar solos.

The vocals are packed with energy on tracks like Box In My Head and Nightmare Epiphany, which are an extension of their trademark sound. Other stand-out cuts are the Iron Maiden- inspired The Alchemist, which talks of sorcery and celestial beings, the country-rock beauty Train True, and the hope-filled Secret Road, with its brilliant lead and rhythm guitars. Fight has a great hook, just perfect to close the album.

The last BOC album Curse Of The Hidden Mirror was a commercial disaster, and the group decided to focus on touring after that. Hopefully, The Symbol Remains has more takers. It has the right content, for sure.

Rating: 8/ 10

 

Blackpink/ The Album, K-pop, YG Entertainment 

The Spice Girls of South Korea, Blackpink’s latest album is a short, 24-minute collage of formula-driven of eight bubblegum pop numbers. The sound works among teenyboppers, and the group hit the headlines a few months ago when their single How You Like That broke records for being the most viewed video in the first 24 hours after release.

Comprising Lisa, Rose, Jennie and Jisoo, the group uses a K-pop base but blends elements of hip-hop, electronic dance music and trap. Guest appearances by Selena Gomez on the Ariana Grande composition ‘Ice Cream’ and Cardi B on Bet You Wanna add to the glamour quotient.

Lovesick Girls, originally composed by David Guetta, and the well-orchestrated Crazy Over You keep the teenage girl in mind. However, most songs lack a defined hook, and some of them seem over-packed with instruments. But they cater to their target audience, and that’s what’s important.

The album comes a few months after Blackpink collaborated with Lady Gaga on the song Sour Candy from the album Chromatica. The girls obviously know how to be in the news.

Rating: 6/ 10

 

Rey&Kjavik and Ravin/ Buddha Bar, World Lounge, George V Records

After its first compilation was released in 1999, the Buddha-Bar series has been a favourite among lounge and ambient music listeners. What started as the theme music for a Parisian restaurant slowly became popular across the globe, just like the set inspired by Cafe Del.Mar in Ibiza, Spain.

The latest compilation is divided between German DJ-producer Rey&Kjavik, and old-time Buddha Bar DJ Ravin. Blending world music elements like Indian, Middle Eastern and the Mediterranean with lounge, deep house and chill-out dance flavours, the tunes grow on repeated listening.

Rey&Kjavik has some groovy tracks like Zaara, Noc, Ajala and the bhangra-influenced Calido. Habasa is a full-on party dance number, whereas Lenmana uses a sample from popular Indian spiritual song Saanson Ki Mala.

Ravin, the man behind many Buddha-Bar tracks, follows up his phenomenal work on Buddha Bar XXII, released earlier this year. The jazz-influenced All The Places I Could Go, featuring Dutch singer Roos Jonker, and Intimity, with Mumbai-based Reewa Rathod, are highlighted. If you have liked the earlier Buddha-Bar material, this is just the right thing for you, even though the basic ingredients remain the same.

Rating: 7/ 10

 

 

Travis/ 10 Songs, Soft Rock, BMG

Scottish soft rock band Travis became huge with its second and third albums The Man Who and The Invisible Band, released around two decades ago. With their Britpop sound, the songs Why Does It Always Rain On Me?, Sing and Side were fan favourites.

Fronted by Fran Healy, the band has maintained its core following, though the earlier mass appeal faded with time. Musically, it has been fairly consistent too, evolving from the early Britpop phase.

 

The latest record 10 Songs has its highs, even returning to their classic sound at times. Healy instantly gets into form with Waving At The Window. The next song The Only Thing is a duet with Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles. But the early Travis sound is best found on Valentine, Butterflies, A Million Hearts and the well-produced Kissing In The Wind, which begins with the line “You’re only happy when you’re dreaming.”

The uptempo vibe and Andy Dunlop’s twangy guitars make A Ghost a treat. Lines like “Your love is made of gold, your love is rock n’ roll” adorn the love song All Fall Down. Healy’s falsetto on the melancholic No Love Lost adds to the variety of this wonderful collection.

Rating: 8/ 10

Narendra Kusnur

Author: Narendra Kusnur

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