Craig’s Lists 2008 – The Worst Albums I Reviewed This Year

All reviews from The Sunday Business Post


Jason Donovan: Let It Be Me Poor Scott from Neighbours; after Charlene (Kylie) went off to be a mega-selling pop princess and Mike (Guy Pearce) found Hollywood stardom, he did his best with the slim pop-pickings and Technicolor dreams, stuff that suited his limited voice. Now back on TV, with a certain retro chic and no little goodwill, Jason Donovan has stymied it all with this appalling record.  Carole King, Bobby Darin, Billy Fury, The Platters, Phil Spector . . . you name them, Donovan’s mauled them. This can only be for his original fans who have bought and heard nothing since Ten Good Reasons came out 19 years ago.  Karaoke arrangements, Fame Academy interpretations, and don’t even mention the wince-inducing high notes. Blue Velvet? Blue murder, more like. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes? No, I think it’s soap, Jason.

musicThe Music: Strength In Numbers The more things change, the more the Music stay the same. Six years on from their debut, and now with a new label, they’re still taking themselves too seriously, still rocking like Led Zeppelin attached to a disco pacemaker and, for all their perceived anxiety, still sounding like their lyrics and song titles are self-indulgent afterthoughts.  For their third album, the Leeds four-piece crank up the beats by recruiting Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll on knob-twiddling duties, but the effort only underlines why the Music were left standing by contemporaries such as Muse and the Rapture earlier on in the decade.  While the anthemic title track is undeniably punchy, and The Spike and The Left Side have a certain sonic verve, Robert Harvey’s primal wail displays a tiresome lack of versatility, right up to Inconceivable Odds, a dire, predictable ballad, tacked on the end like a school disco slowie. Hardly the definitive article.

morrisonJames Morrison: Songs For You, Truths For Me With his debut album, Undiscovered, James Morrison brought his treacly blend of Rod Stewart, Terence Trent Darby and gin-infused honey to multimillion-selling prominence. It’s little wonder, then, that his follow-up takes the same path; still labouring to make ‘soul’ whiter, sweeter and take fewer risks than a health and safety rep.  As before, the emphasis is on emollient emotion, with lovelorn lyrics written by predictive text and achingly evocative string arrangements. You can practically visualise the chest-beating self-effacement in Save Yourself, while You Make It Real could be a motivational note-to-self for Morrison’s vicarious love-pain dispensary.  This is an album of bespoke saccharine grandiosity, with no more slickly sickly example than Love Is Hard, a cloyingly earnest ballad, which probably came out of the production factory marked ‘‘killer final track’’. Soul-by-numbers never sounded more calculated. 

ansellJonathan Ansell: Forever A former member of X Factor vocal troupe G4, Ansell specialises in making ‘classical’ records for people who don’t actually want to listen to classical music. His second album, an unashamedly schmaltzy mix of showstopping arias and pop, carries the optimistic hope that we won’t wince at Queen and Daniel Bedingfield appearing alongside Verdi and Puccini.  But Ansell’s high-camp voice isn’t suitable for either discipline. His fluffy renditions of Libiamo and E Lucevan Le Stelle would evacuate Covent Garden, and none shall sleep after his musical-theatre murdering of Nessun Dorma. He’s happier on Aranjuez, whose subtle orchestration better suits his prime-time TV operatics; even O Holy Night carries a seasonal chill, if not of the festive sort.  The biggest letdown here must be for the England rugby league World Cup team, whose stirring, patriotic anthem Hearts Of England sounds like a disenchanted prelude to certain defeat.

kdKD Lang: Watershed The once-magnificent Lang returns with her first proper album in eight years, but the rest hasn’t done her creativity much good.  These 11 tracks, all set to the pace of a snail in rapidly drying cement, see Lang easing herself into the elasticised waistband of Ingenue-lite MOR, where the torch casts a shadow and the country grates. Lang’s rich, voluptuous vocals are very much intact, but any potential beauty within the structures of these ballads is routinely spoilt by sentimental strings, superfluous steel guitar and copious, gruelling banjos.  The tender, heart-melting chords of Shadow And The Frame almost rescue a shred of Lang’s former glory at the death but the miserable whimsy of closing track Jealous Dog ends the album on a low ebb.  Absolute torpor and twang.

innerpartysystemInnerpartysystem: Innerpartysystem Ever wondered what bad ’80s hair rock would sound like if it went electro? Of course you haven’t; why on earth anyone at Island Records did is beyond comprehension. Pennsylvania’s Innerpartysystem sound like the result of a twisted experiment to make an album sound dated, no matter when it was released.  For all their calculatedly fuzzy bombast and Patrick Nissley’s strangulated introspection, they rock like an emo Roxette.  Shockingly inert chord progressions fill out progressively ordinary anthems, each containing abysmal lyrics stating the entirely obvious via terrible metaphors. The album comes without a single redeeming feature, and if ever there was a case for judging a record by its song titles, this was it: Heart Of Fire, This Town Your Grave, This Empty Love and, worst of all, Die Tonight, Live Forever, all sound like leftovers from a video shop’s bargain-bin sale. Utterly excruciating.

79cortinaz79Cortinaz:  Hopioki Carlow quartet 79Cortinaz march ebulliently and belatedly into the fray with their bouncing debut but what they’re quite so cheerful about remains a mystery.  Hopioki’s sore-thumb standout is Deirdre’s Song, their four-year-old first single and the point at which their melodic aspirations apparently peaked; besides the promising intro to I Can’t Stand It and the chiming lament of She’s Awake, this album merrily plumbs new depths of barrel-scraping indie-rock mediocrity.  Witless opener Cindy Cindy is forehead-banging bilge, Drive Me Home is a sonic wince-fest with a vocal in need of industrial nasal spray, and Raspberry Bon Bons blows a last-gasp Bronx cheer in the face of good taste.  Producer Rat Scabies does his best to turn scraps into sustenance and roadies into rock stars but this album is an ideas vacuum; if they seriously believe Hopioki is okey-dokey, 79Cortinaz are heading rapidly for rock’s great scrap yard.  [N.B. They split in December 2008]

chumpsKaiser Chiefs: Off With Their Heads There’s a vogue among established bands to announce a third-album change in musical direction; more often than not, it involves a couple of leftfield experiments, followed by a quick scurry back to their comfort zone. And so to Kaiser Chiefs’ third effort, which distinguishes itself from its predecessors merely by its directionlessness.  Sure, the catchy single Never Miss A Beat charms and infects to the point of nuisance, while the meaty Half The Truth recaptures some of debut album Employment’s rascally vitality; but elsewhere there’s little ubiquitous producer Mark Ronson can do to stop the musical and lyrical rot.  Tomato In The Rain is typical of their poetic paucity, Always Happens Like That is a lazy mangling of early Blur, and the Robert Palmer-aping line ‘‘might as well face it’’ on Addicted To Drugs is simply humourless. Off With Their Heads is, at best, a stay of the Chiefs’ overdue execution.

roryRory: God Bless The Big Bang The former lead singer of Donegal rascals The Revs, Rory Gallagher picks himself a new sound, a shorter monicker and a sunnier outlook in a bid to make up for lost opportunities; the only problem being that his solo debut is a stinker.  Very much from the Mickey Harte school of variety show mediocrity, God Bless The Big Bang is an abject demonstration of abandonment of creative fire in pursuit of the straightforwardly dire. Gallagher’s old band’s cynicism about corporate codswallop (on songs like Louis Walsh) seems a world away on wishy-washy ditties like Walking In My Dreams and Happy Medium.  Whimsical titles like Daze And Knights only veil a lack of musical and lyrical imagination, most pitifully exposed on the Prince-paraphrasing emptiness of End Of The World Boogie (‘‘Dance like it’s the end of the world’’). Sadly, the rejuvenated Rory’s revs have backfired.

nkotb-theblockNew Kids On The Block: The Block This reviewer wouldn’t deny feeling a certain nostalgic warmth for NKOTB classics such as Cover Girl and Tonight. But, after 14 years away, the old Block are sounding a little chipped, and are hangin’ rather limp these days. Who would have thought a surefire notion like bringing in R&B heavyweights like AKON, Ne-Yo and Timbaland could end up sounding so lightweight?   Mid-tempo is the new rockin’ for all ageing boybands, and these 15 similar tracks merge almost seamlessly into a pool of laid-back, clinical gloop. Vocals are either heavily whispered (presumably attempting ‘sexy’) or rendered anonymous through an over-used vocoder, making it difficult to distinguish between Sporty, Scary, Baby, Sexy or Dorky.   Without any standout hits (neither Summertime nor Single work, although Full Service almost does), the Block is a real shrinker: it sounds worse every time you play it. A horrid, indelible new blot on the kids.

31 thoughts on “Craig’s Lists 2008 – The Worst Albums I Reviewed This Year

  1. I totally disagree on your take on NKOTB’s The Block. It is the only album I can listen to from 2008 from start to finish and I’m still listening to it 3 months later. Almost every song could be a hit. I feel like if the guys created a fake name and marketed as if they were someone else, it would have been all over the radio.

    As for the rest of your choices…the only other person I’ve even heard of is KD Lang.

  2. “This can only be for his original fans who have bought and heard nothing since Ten Good Reasons came out 19 years ago.”


  3. 79Cortinaz split what in December?…split what, the Atom?, your fat ugly lip??

    Hiding behind a blokes name gives you the freedom to spout your third rate reviews.. unfortunately it does nothing to hide your lack of musical knowledge or your crap taste.. .Personal vitriol does not a good review make oh great caked in make up one. except when it’s funny or true, which you are neither.

    Rubbish newspaper!
    Rubbish hack!

  4. “LOL”. A truly dignified response there.

    You’re right, reviews of Irish bands should only ever be written by their friends or their grannies.

  5. No more dignified than you deserve Ms Groupie Hack.
    By the way “LOL” is SOOooooo “2005”
    You’re right too, my friends gran would write better/funnier/more acerbic reviews than you. She wrote music reviews for THE SLATE, and you’ll never better that.
    Better than your witless review of 79Cortinaz independently released album hopioki…spitting out of the side of your mouth, head down with your hand over your face.
    You grudgingly admit to liking some of the songs and then claim the album is an ideas!

    Not one of your ‘cutting edge put downs’ are of any use..(painful as they were to read) you seem to like to pick easy targets(Rory) and jump too quickly on to backlash bandwagons(keiser chiefs)
    You call the lads in 79Cz “Roadies”…ooooh Meow! (Can you imagine a real journalist like Bill Graham R.I.P printing something like that about an unsigned Irish band (R.I.P to Irish music reviews)
    But you are careful enough not to slag off Rat Scabies the Producer (Are you afraid of being doused in Rattys lighter fuel and set alight?.probably right there.)
    Trying to stay on the ever shakey COOL fence as you spit your vitriol just makes you a dumbass….which you are.
    A big Bronx cheer to you.

    Gutless right wing newspaper!
    Gutless right wing hack!

    P.S Could you edit that *N.B they split in dec..crap please. Two members left the band in december, but the 79Cortinaz are still making great music, not that it matters to you.

  6. Sorry about the Groupie hack comment, i dont even know you. edit that if you like..i meant Ms Total c**t.

  7. You are one bitter soul, and if 79C are ‘still making great music’ then p’raps it’s time to edit the myspace page,non?

    ’79Cortinaz as a band are no more. Started in 2003 by Cormac Strain, Darren O’Neill and Gala Hutton the band split in December 2008 with a string of singles and one album under their belt. That album, called ‘Hopioki’ can be found on various mobile networks including Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile.

    The band would like to thank everyone who has been there for them. ‘

  8. Or perhaps there has been a big reunion since 5/6/2009 when you were last logged on and we missed it?

  9. Apparently the Cortina is one of the most scrapped cars of all time. Obviously after an initial outing it was deemed to have been a failure and not worth hanging onto. Wonder why? Maybe it was its poor surface handling? Perhaps it was more a general poor performance? Maybe it tended to be excessively noisy with polluted the environment with its dodgy emissions.

    Was it a singular thing that made Cortinaz, sorry, Cortinas, so forgettable, or was a collection of things? It’s so difficult to decide.

  10. Fiona the Queen of the meaningless metaphor,..some seriously dodgy emissions from your rear my dear.

    Who the fuck is Ian Says?

    I see your friends are rounding now so i’ll be leaving you to your nasty little job in your nasty little noospaper, all proud of your years worth of nastiness.

    I just got the news that the 79Cortinaz are NOW finished.
    So you were right about that all along.
    Oh well.

  11. No Fiona, thats my brother Brendan, were both called Gala, but thats neither here nor there.

    Im not bitter peaches, just trying to stink up this page that you seem so proud of,
    and hope you think twice about laying into home grown talent like 79cz and Rory Gallagher again, at least until they are signed to a major label.
    You are actually a good writer (bet you got As in english) but i dont like your posturing..or your refusal/inability to respond to my gripe…thats all.

    This page is muck!!

  12. Gala, I’m not Peaches, nor am I a woman. Although that point you’ve been making has made me chortle somewhat over the piece, I just assumed you were trying to be offensive. Apologies if I mislead you but I neither wear nor own makeup.

    I’m not really sure what it is you want me to answer to, though. I’ve published all your comments on my own little corner of the InterNerd, even though they’re quite abusive towards me – but then, I’m an argumentative sod, as you know, so I’m always up for a wordy scrap.

    Anyway, to your points: I won’t stop criticising music, no matter who makes it or where it’s from. It’s my job, you see. I’m not a PR agent for the Irish music scene, there are many of those around already, and they are doing a smashing job.

    Nor am I Hot Press, who are the journalistic equivalent of PR for the Irish music scene – that’s where you’ll find glowing reviews of some of the most God-awful, homegrown shite I have ever heard. Which is, again, fine, because certain types of people on the scene want to be friendly with everyone and not worry about where their next free pint is coming from. Myself, I only care about a band’s (and album’s) quality, craft, imagination and resonance, so my policy is, and always has been, to write what I think. There are always people who won’t like what you have to say.

    For the record, and only because you brought it up, I reviewed a lot of homegrown albums last year, by the likes of Crayonsmith, Jape, Saville, The Blizzards and several others – I don’t need to defend my own record on talking up Irish music either, I gave many currently established bands their first piece of usable press on the live scene, not so I could be their hero but because I felt they were worth shouting about. Also, some bands I criticised, sometimes severely, came up to me, personally, and accentuated the positives of what I had to say. I couldn’t let what they thought of me as a person trouble me, that wasn’t the point. The Kinetiks are a fine example of this, ask them.

    Your point about the apparent hypocrisy in the review, where I state that it’s “an ideas vacuum”: just because I liked one song doesn’t mean that song is ground-breaking. It isn’t. It’s just good, and no better than good. Again, accentuate the positives, even though they were heavily outweighed.

    And why does the label status of a band make any difference to their quality? You shouldn’t get a pat on the head JUST for being in a band or for making a record, the country is full of bands and shops are full of their unwanted CDs – for most of them, scraping an average review in the Tullamore Tribune would be like winning an Ivor Novello.

    Writing a few songs isn’t an achievement, in itself, either – they have to be good, and that’s where opinions come into it. Yours are different to mine, and that’s a good thing, it means we’ll always get variety.

    The other point is, I was commissioned to write these reviews by the arts editor of the paper – I didn’t choose these titles. I actually prefer to write about albums I like. You don’t appreciate the honesty in the review, that’s fine. It hurts, if you’re a fan, or you’re related to the singer. But these are my opinions, whether you like them or not. Your opinion of the paper is as valid as your opinion of me as a critic – no one’s telling you what to spend your 2.50 on of a Sunday.

    And, as it happens, I did get As in English. And I’m from Scotland.

  13. Yes, Johnnie is a good writer and he is also entitled to his opinion.

    Just to clear up your obvious confusion(in this case,clearly masking itself as pig ignorance) below are some definitions you should familiarise yourself with;

    Main Entry: 1crit·ic
    Pronunciation: \ˈkri-tik\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Latin criticus, from Greek kritikos, from kritikos able to discern or judge, from krinein
    Date: 1588
    1 a: one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique b: one who engages often professionally in the analysis, evaluation, or appreciation of works of art or artistic performances
    re·view (r-vy)
    v. re·viewed, re·view·ing, re·views
    1. To look over, study, or examine again.
    2. To consider retrospectively; look back on.
    3. To examine with an eye to criticism or correction: reviewed the research findings.
    4. To write or give a critical report on (a new work or performance, for example).
    5. Law To reexamine (an action or determination) judicially, especially in a higher court, in order to correct possible errors.
    6. To subject to a formal inspection, especially a military inspection.

    Nowhere does it state that one should rave about “home grown ‘talent’ ”
    I believe it is this ‘reasoned view’ that angers you so.

    I suggest you take up yoga, as it is abundantly clear you exude negativity. You could also just pipe down,but then that would put a halt to the absolute belly laughs I get each time you throw your little tantrums.

  14. can I just say, as an ex-member of 79Cortinaz, that I actually liked the review. I think Gala has gone a bit OTT and is, frankly, embarrasing.

  15. My dog likes the New Kids on the Block much more than the 79Cortinaz.
    My dog is deaf.

  16. I liked the early 79Cortinaz – the first single. Don’t know what happened to the later stuff. It wasn’t as good. I guess its ok they broke up. The world has enough bands with singers who can’t sing in tune.

  17. okay id just like to clear this up..ahem…(deep breath)
    This is the truth..
    I was led to believe that these reviews were written by a certain female writer with a particular personal malice towards the 79 kortinaz,, especially the bass player (She shall remain nameless)..I have since discovered that this is NOT so… . which makes me look like a prick and okay a bitter bitter prick..blah blah blah.have your laugh.
    This information was provided to me by someone i wholeheartedly trusted who it turns out.. is an idiot.
    I will therefore try to recant everything i have written on this page unreservedly and hope i can type something that nears the true feeling of sincerity in my apology.
    I was wrong.
    Absolutley wrong in my assumptions.
    sorry sorry sorry.
    I am the drunken objector who arrives at the wrong wedding!
    The shell to sea objector who pitches his tent in Kilkenny!
    Out of order
    why dont ya kill me.
    However i think i acted in good faith toward my brother,
    I love that guy..(All my guff about your reviews was just guff designed to get you to show yourself..okay THATS how wrong i was)
    again apologies x infinity.
    i got it wrong.
    Sorry Johnnie…
    and Peaches
    and Fiona
    Im sure you are all cool people and any offence i tried to cause was unjustified.
    Im off now to write one hundred lines”I must not shoot my mouth off on the word of an idiot”

    peace to you all

    Still dont like yr paper tho
    boring rag………….like me.

  18. Alright, my dog DID like the “early” ’79Cortinaz. It was all the later stuff that caused the deafness.

  19. i would guess 2/3s of 79Cortinaz also liked the early stuff but one third preferred the ‘new’ material. thats just an assumption since a) they went crap and b) 2/3s left.

  20. Now, now, you wise wags from the Giraffe gaff, you’ve had your chortle (and so have I) but I think both Gala and Gala (or whichever one it was) have paid for this petulance by apologising, even though (t)he(y) took quite some time to accept that the band has split. Thanks though, Cormac, for realising that a review is a review and the best thing to do with a bad one is put it behind you and move on.

    Still, I’m delighted to know that Michael Jackson isn’t the only person in the world to give two of his sons the same name. Which one of the Huttons is Blanket?

  21. “Which one of the Huttons is Blanket?”

    Step 1. Let’s first find out many Hutton Sons there are.
    Step 2. Determine how many are named Gala?
    Step 3. ‘s popular name, isn’t it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s