CD Reviews by Morgan

16 Frames
Where It Ends
(Verve Music Group)

Here I am, sitting on my bed with my laptop at hand, typing, while the fifth track of 16 Frame’s debut album Where It Ends plays on my iTunes and I’m in love. Of the few CD’s and bands that I’ve happened across randomly, and the even fewer that I’ve written for The Rock Star Stories, I’ve never completely fell in such a deep, compassionate LOVE within the first minute of listening. 16 Frames is an LA based band led by singer and songwriter Steve Sulikowski and are dripping with a classic alternative rock sound that is just amazing. The band itself has already had songs featured on hit primetime television shows like Kyle XY, Private Practice, and the last season finale of the ever popular Cali-based show The Hills. Now, when I first happened upon a picture of the band before I had even listened to their music, I was immediately struck with “Cold War Kids.” The band had only made that first impression because Sulikowski honestly reminds me of the singer of the Cold War Kids, therefore I believed I’d be reviewing a wannabe British rock band but it wasn’t the case at all. It’s just as they described on their website’s bio: “Precisely 35 seconds into the opening track…the clouds part and a monumental chorus breaks through.”

Yeah, that pretty much explains everything.

Vienna Teng
Inland Territory
(Zoe Records / Rounder Records Group)

“Artist: Vienna Teng
Album: Inland Territory
Genre: Unclassifiable”

When I see the genre category “unclassifiable” I generally get a little nervous as to what to expect. Thankfully, Teng’s music is anything but “unclassifiable” in that sense. Vienna Teng is another one of those folksy-pop female singer/songwriters that tend to worm their way into the music scene and are one in a few. She strikes me as a more gospel version of Michelle Branch, since her voice sounds like it belongs in a church service choir. It’s a perfect match for her folk-pop song. Teng, who has several albums and preformed on David Letterman’s Late Night Show, is a California resident who made her way here with her parents from the island nation of Taiwan. Though, as I said in the review of Lisa Hannigan’s single “I Don’t Know,” I’ve never been a huge fan of folksy singer/songwriters, but there’s always and exception to the rule. I’m captivated by her voice, unique lyrics, and her amazing talent at playing the piano. If you love folk-pop singer/songwriters like Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, and Anna Nalick, pick up Vienna Teng’s album and you won’t be disappointed.

Zap Mama
Recreation
(Heads Up International; Concord Music Group)

I want to write out my opinion of just my first impression of the CD itself before I listen to the music… The cover itself looks harmless enough, but nothing that would interest me in the least. Her name wards me off on its own. And, by looks of it, one of her songs may be… French? (Its title reads: “Non, Non, Non,” or “No, No, No” for those who know nothing of the French language). Okay. Let’s listen…

Bien sûr, le CD est en français!

Well, the SINGER speaks French anyways.

Zap Mama is actually a Walloon, hailing from Brussels, Belgium, and belongs to the afro-beat/pop/jazzy/folk genre. I was pretty excited to hear music in French, since I’m still taking the language and I find it fun to see how much I actually understand, but this was, uh, not what I was expecting. To put it bluntly: No, I do not like it. At all. It’s a bit too… European maybe? There isn’t much I can really say about it. Zap Mama blends together a strange mixture of music that just odd in general and left me thinking, “what is this? And, why is this?… I don’t know.” Listen to this if you like being left with the feeling of not knowing who you are anymore.

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