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Product: Audio CD
Title: Give Up
Label: Sub Pop
Artist: The Postal Service
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Electroni-Pop Confection

Postal Service: Give Up (Sub Pop Records).
Admit it. You've got a copy of that Justin Timberlake solo album hidden in your dresser, between the mattresses, or under your bed. You get it out when you're all alone and strap on the headphones and let that syrupy, saccharine white man electroni-soul ooze into your ears like so much cola that's sat in the sun for too long. You give yourself all you can take before you rip the headphones violently off of your head and fling them across the room before collapsing into a grotesque, nauseated heap, all the while repeating the mantra, "never again, never again..." But what's worse is the guilt, oh the guilt this shameless activity dumps on an ordinarily self-respecting music appreciator like yourself. The hairshirt, the ice-cold baths--you'd think you'd learn. But you don't. Within two days you're back swimming in the Timberlake (it's made of Kool-Aid) and it's the whole ordeal all over again. Hey, I know. You want your pop, you want to shake it--and we all do. It's a human weakness. This is why Give Up, the debut album from the collaboration known as the Postal Service is such a revelation for kids like you and me. Yes, it's guilt be gone! Throw that Timberlake in the--well, you know. See, the Postal Service combines all the good elements of electronica, indie-rock and good old schlocky pop to make what is for the most part warm, ingratiating, intelligent music, guaranteed not to leave you too sticky. The Postal Service are Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cab for Cutie's Benjamin Gibbard, who come from their seemingly unrelated musical poles and meet wonderfully in the middle. The collaboration was originally conceived as a one-time project for a song on the debut album from electronic act Dntel. The result was the sublime "The Dream of Evan & Chan," a song that left people clamoring for more. During the months that ensued, Tamborello and Gibbard worked independently on the project, with each completing a part or idea and mailing it to the other (hence, the name). Tamborello, of course, took care of the musical programming while Gibbard contributed lyrics and vocals. Fans of Death Cab for Cutie will instantly recognize Gibbard's boyish croon, although the setting here is anything but indie-rock. Instead, contemporary comparisons can be made to recent groundbreakers in the electroni-pop marriage like the Notwist or the Magnetic Fields, with roots traceable to Low Life-era New Order and the Human League. Gibbard has in fact said that one song in particular on Give Up ("Nothing Better") was inspired by the Human League's "Don't You Want Me." The result is a back and forth that's as old as anything: the guy begging for another chance to make it right like he knows he can and the girl (here played by indie songstress Jen Wood) replying with a cool denial. The result isn't Shakespeare, but it strikes a certain something (she: "so please back away and let me go..." he: "I can't my darling, I love you so..."). Elsewhere finds Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis contributing background vocals that serve as the perfect match for Gibbard, most notably on the dense but undeniable "We Will Become Silhouettes." Lyrically, Gibbard turns in the kind of romantic, idealistic numbers that would sound corny over his regular rock & roll gig. He's a veritable Lord Byron on songs like "Brand New Colony," "Clark Gable," and the designated single "Such Great Heights." On paper, a line like: "I am thinking it's a sign/ that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images/ and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned..." sounds as cheeky as anything you'll get from J. Tim or J. Lo. Maybe it's the earnest delivery, maybe it's Tamborello's complex beats, but it actually works and eventually leads into what is easily one of the sublime chorus melodies of the year. Give Up is by no means a perfect album, but it's certainly already achieved elevated status as far as collaborations go. What's more, no more sneaking around like a hormone-charged teen in the night to get your pop fix. No more hiding and guilt and shame. Give Up is an album you'll be proud to display on your living room coffee table, not to mention your stereo speakers.
Pure electroni-pop confection that lets you forego the Pepto Bismol. 8.1 out of 10

Product: Audio CD
Title: Thriller
Label: Sony
Artist: Michael Jackson
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Excellent remaster

For several years, I refused to even give Michael Jackson's music a chance because he has become such a weird person in recent years. That was a huge mistake. Despite his rather odd personality, Jackson knows how to make excellent pop music that can stand the test of time. This was beautifully demonstrated with his 1982 solo album Thriller. The album has become the best-selling album of all time, and with good reason. And in recent years, the album was remastered and given bonus tracks! Read on for my review of Thriller.
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' - As another reviewer stated, the lyrics to this track are a bit strange, but that doesn't stop this from being an excellent song. It's surprising that this track didn't become a bigger hit than it did.
Baby Be Mine - Like the first track, this is an excellent song that, oddly enough, never became a huge hit. Don't skip this track - you'll only hurt yourself if you do!
Girl Is Mine - This is a duet with former Beatle Paul McCartney. I was expecting a little more from a song that brought the two of them together, but it's still a good track. The argument toward the end is great.
Thriller - One of Jackson's masterpieces. The theme of this song is zombies rising from their graves, and who better to make a guest appearance on this song than the horror legend Vincent Price? This is one of the greatest songs of all time, by ANY musical artist in ANY genre.
Beat It - Another Jackson classic. Here, the theme is dealing with conflicts. An interesting note - The guitar solo is done by Eddie Van Halen! When you combine his guitar mastery with Jackson's vocals, you know you've got a winner.
Billie Jean - Wow, three Jackson classics in a row! This is one of the greatest love songs of all time, because it's not one of those slow-paced wimpy ones.
Human Nature - A slower-paced, but still excellent track. I'm not a huge fan of ballads, but if anyone knows how to do them right, it's Michael Jackson.
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) - Another slower-paced track. This is one of the album's many examples of a track that never became a hit - but it should have.
Lady in My Life - The album closer is yet another slow song. Normally, having three songs of a similar style in a row on an album is a bad move, but Jackson is able to keep the songs unique enough that they don't seem the least bit redundant.
Someone in the Dark - This is Michael Jackson's contribution to the E.T. Storybook album. It's probably the slowest and softest track Jackson has EVER done, but it's by no means bad.
Billie Jean (Demo) - This is Jackson's home demo of the track from 1981. Surprisingly, this isn't too far off from the final version of the track.
Thriller (Voice-Over Session) - In this voice-over session, Vincent Price reads his lines from the now-familiar version of Thriller, as well as the second verse to his rap which never made it into the final version of the song.
Carousel - This is a love song that was left off the final version of the album because the producers felt it "didn't fit in well with the rest of the album." I admit, it's different than the rest of the album, but it's still an excellent track, and I'm glad to see it be released. The other bonus tracks are interview clips.
This is an excellent Special Edition for one of the greatest albums of all time, but I have a few complaints with how it was done. First of all, the slipcase looks nice, but it's a pain having to take it off every time I want to listen to the album. Second, they should have had all the "song" bonus tracks come right after the album ends, and put all the interview clips together as a single track. Having the interview clips scattered between the tracks is kind of annoying. But despite these complaints, this is an excellent reissue.
Overall Thriller is an album that is, no doubt, worthy of its good reputation. If you're a fan of Jackson or just of eighties pop in general, this is an album I strongly recommend purchasing. Just be sure you get the special edition, so you don't miss out on the bonus tracks!

Product: Audio CD
Title: Labyrinth: From The Original Soundtrack Of The Jim Henson Film
Label: Capitol
Artist: David Bowie, Trevor Jones
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Good times for sure

I'm an avid David Bowie fan, and this is what introduced me to his work. When I first saw this movie, I was so taken with Bowie that I really wanted to get into the rest of his stuff. Oddly enough, this album is pretty different from the rest of Bowie's material, but that's because Bowie can do anything. I personally like the entire soundtrack and usually listen to it all the way through, but fan favorites include Magic Dance, As the World Falls Down, and Underground. This is a great way to get an introduction to David Bowie, it's probably his most "normal" album around. (Then again, most people love him because he is so different. That's why I think this album is a great intro to him) And if you just love the movie, it's all here to listen to over and over again.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Mozart - Idomeneo / Rolfe Johnson · von Otter · Martinpelto · McNair · N. Robson · Winslade · EBS · Gardiner
Label: Archiv Produktion
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Sensational recording of a great Masterpiece.

If Mozart had composed nothing but Idomeneo, he would still be one of the greatest composers of all time. This gorgeous score was composed for the Mannheim Orchestra, probably the greatest orchestra of the XVIII Century, so it demands superb musicians, and that is what Sir John has at his disposal. The English Baroque Soloists are terrific and the woodwind players deserve a special mention. Of the singers, it is Anne Sophie von Otter as Idamante and Anthony Rolfe-Johnson as Idomeneo who take the vocal honours, but in general everyone is just fine. Needless to say this is the finest recording of Idomeneo available, and the sound is rather excellent. Yes, this is a live recording and so much the better.