Allison Iraheta: Just Like You


RIYL: Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Fergie

If you follow “American Idol” at all, you know that Season 8 (2009) was all about Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, and maybe some of you know current country act Danny Gokey, who finished third. But usually the other finalists are less memorable or fade into oblivion over time. Not so with fourth place finisher Allison Iraheta, who turned 17 during Season 8 but never showed signs of being that young. This young woman is so full of spunk and charisma, and has rocker pipes that should keep her financially set for a long time. Iraheta’s debut on Simon Fuller’s 19 Recordings/Jive, Just Like You, is one of those formula fests as pop/rock albums go – in other words, guys like Mitch Allan and David Hodges (Evanescence) were brought in to write with Allison, who winds up sounding more like Pink than anyone else. And if you’re into Pink, there is nothing wrong with that at all. Of course, some of this stuff is borderline annoying, like the Fergie-ish first two tracks, “Friday I’ll Be Over You” and “Robot Love.” But it gets better from there, starting with the powerful anthem of a title track, and later on with two of the best songs that somehow got buried here, piano ballad “Trouble Is,” and “No One Else,” (ironically co-written by Pink and “Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi), which is reminiscent of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” Come to think of it, Iraheta certainly has Turner elements in her voice, and that’s really saying something. No fading into oblivion here, just a really bright future. (19 Recordings/Jive 2009)

Allison Iraheta website

  

Butch Walker and the Black Widows: I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart


RIYL: Candy Butchers, Fountains of Wayne, Bryan Adams

Before he became as ubiquitous in the pop/rock music world as Kara DioGuardi and Diane Warren, Butch Walker was so totally cool. He fronted an indie modern rock band called Marvelous 3, a group that put out a few blistering albums of awesome power pop. Then Walker went out on his own and delivered one of the best rock albums of all time in Left of Self-Centered. Naturally, he started to get phone calls from other artists and labels and managers, wanting him to write with, produce and guide artists such as Pink, Bowling For Soup and Avril Lavigne. He also released a few more solo albums along the way. And while nothing measured up to Left of Self-Centered or the Marvelous 3 stuff, Walker has clearly taken two steps backward with his latest, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart. Maybe it’s because this one comes a little over a year after his latest, Sycamore Meadows, because being that prolific has a tendency to water down the material. In addition, part of the problem here is that while some of the songs seem catchy while you’re listening, you won’t be singing any of them afterward, because they’re not memorable, at least not based on the very high bar Butch has set for himself. There are a few exceptions, like “Stripped Down Version,” which has some slick guitar work and pretty harmonies, or “She Likes Hair Bands,” featuring lyrical snark reminiscent of the Marvelous 3 days. But on the likes of “Trash Day” and “House of Cards,” some of you die-hard Butch fans will be hitting “skip.” And while the closer, “Be Good Til Then,” carries a beautiful sentiment and was written for his very young son, the repetitive melody is more tired than anything Walker has ever delivered. I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, will, sadly, have Butch fans saying that they liked it better when his songs had heart. (One Haven 2010)

Butch Walker website

  

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