Artist: Barack Obama
CD title: “Off the Cliff”
Rating: **½ out of five
A follow-up to his 2008 debut CD Yes We Can, Barack Obama returns four years later with this strangely titled CD. The songs on this collection are mostly remixes of previously recorded material, but will resonate with listeners who feel that there isn’t anything else worth listening to.
Fans of Barack Obama will buy this CD no matter what, but the tracks are mostly uninspired and lack the same hopeful drive that permeated his first album. The one exception is the final track on the album, Off the Cliff, which is about taxing the wealthy. Its haunting, driving rhythms are compelling and the listener will get the sense that something very, very bad will happen if American legislators cannot arrive at a consensus over the budget before the end of the year.
Other than this track, however, most of the others are a bit bland. It’s the kind of CD that makes for mediocre background music at a party (perhaps the Democratic convention), but not one that you’d listen to over and over again. Good enough to sell to 52% of the population, yet not able to draw America together. In fact, some people in Texas want to separate over this album.
Artist: Jim Flaherty
CD: “It’s Not Our Fault”
Rating: *** out of five
Breaking from tradition, Canadian country artist and Finance Minster Jim Flaherty surprised no one this week with the release of this collection of sad songs.
After plenty of peppy, upbeat tunes over the past seven years, including his #1 hits Canada is Awesome! and The Deficit Gone by 2015, it was time for a departure. A few songs, particularly the title track, pin the blame of Canada’s financial mess on others. It’s trendy these days to blame Europe and the United States for Canada’s economic mess—and indeed the blame is justified. Still, there is just a tinge of whininess to this CD that seems unbecoming of Mr. Flaherty.
His fiercest critics in the music world, including hip-hop artist Thomas Mulcair, were quick to jump to the conclusion that Flaherty’s music is tired and dishonest to listeners. Others were less hostile, concluding that the decision was not his to make. Unless he wanted to slash transfer payments to the provinces or individuals, Flaherty had no choice but to release this sad, sad CD.
Artist: The Angry Spanish
CD: “Trash This Place”
Rating: * out of five
For a band that has delivered so much amazing artistry in previous CDs, including Manchego Cheese and Barcelona, the latest effort from heavy metal band The Angry Spanish is a huge disappointment. They’re clearly furious about something, and it shows in this CD.
In the first track, entitled We Hate Austerity, they openly encourage starting fires and overturning vehicles to protest funding cuts. The target of their rage is the Spanish government, which is imposing austerity measures required of them by Germany, the IMF, and the European Central Bank. While one can reasonably sympathize with The Angry Spanish over the unpleasant cuts to their wages and government services, listeners may grow a bit tired of their rants and violence. One listen and you can’t bear to hear it again.
CD: “Oil in America”
Rating: ** out of five
The Paris-based band IEA, also known as the International Energy Agency, raised eyebrows this week with the release of its latest CD, Oil in America. While the band has been around for decades and has had steady hits in the past, listeners will either love or hate its latest attempt.
Most of the themes in this collection are predictions about how the United States—still the world’s biggest consumer of oil—could actually become the globe’s most prolific oil producer by the year 2020.
It was a shock for many in the music word, but some of the tracks are catchy and are getting heavy radio play. Critics aren’t so sure that IEA has done its homework. Are they just projecting with a straight line some of the recent trends with U.S. oil production? And can a straight-line projection be trusted? A lot can happen between now and 2020.
Whether it is fact or pure fiction, this CD is reportedly causing trauma in some music markets. If the US really does become self-sufficient in oil in eight years, what does that mean for a province like Alberta?
Even though some Alberta music lovers are quickly tuning out the IEA, the songs are at least worth a listen.