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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Busy Signals
Pretend Hits
Sugar Free Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Let's not blame anybody for trying to write music that people will find easy to listen to. Howard W. Hamilton III (Busy Signals) wants to write hits. He wants to make people happy through his music the way music has made him happy. It's hard to argue with that. Knowing where Howie stands on this issue makes his music much easier to listen to. I mean there are certain moments when you listen to music like this where you almost have to catch yourself. Certainly some people could call this music cheesy. The Busy Signals are not just another band. HWH3, as Hamilton apparently likes to call himself, surely has a strong fan base. This is the type of music that I think a certain part of the population could totally fall in love with.

Let's be honest though, the album is not quite as diverse as it wants to be. Hamilton wanted this CD to be like a mix tape, a party album for people who don't go to parties, but the songs do not quite hit the mark. It is not always a bad thing for songs to sound similar, but this CD is obviously trying to press some boundaries and be diverse. It comes up a little short. Perhaps the Busy Signals are just trying a bit too hard. When I am at my mother's house listening to a CD and she finds it too repetitive, then I think we have a problem. (FYI her most recent purchase is Celine Dion's greatest hits) The main problem is the tempo. All the songs have about the same pacing. Maybe his drum machine is stuck on one time.

I don't know about Phonte, a rapper whom Hamilton apparently met on the internet or something. His singing in the second track is not quiet first rate and overall his rapping is just okay. Hamilton's vocals are good, but his lyrics are kind of dumb sometimes. Take a track like "All the Young Designers." "And all the young designers love little old ladies, 'cept when they are driving behind them." I guess some humor is just not for me.

All this aside, I would say this is a pretty good album. "The New You" is a song you can absolutely fall in love with. It is easy listening at its finest. Aside from the pacing, there are some neat noise and nuances that do hold the listener's interest through most of the album. "She's Got Soul" is a fun song that shows off many of the things the Busy Signals do best; blend pop, hip hop and studio trickery.

An interesting collection of pop songs and shades of electronica that does not really get past its search for finding a big hit, it still works because we get the sense that Hamilton is definitely making the music that he wants to.

Reviewed by John Steinbacher
The last we heard, Steinbacher was living in Minneapolis.

See other reviews by John Steinbacher



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