"Publisher's Corner"

by Geoff Wilbur
Sponsored In Part By
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Backstreet Boys ē Black & Blue

Jive Records
This is a fine disc. There are lots of great songs with trademark Backstreet Boys harmonies, and Iím sure it will delight radio listening Backstreet Boys fans. But it just seems to be a little heavy on the ballads. Itís more of an impression than reality, though. The real problem is that none of the faster songs are. how can I say this? Well, they arenít "larger than life." And thatís what you expect from a Backstreet Boys dance track. Nice job, guys, but, for now at least, Iíll stick to playing Millennium when I want my B-Boys fix.

Esteban Ramirez ē Welcome Home

Descanso Music
Those of you whoíve checked out my classical music MP3 station (http://www.mp3.com/stations/gwrnclassical) know I have a soft spot for piano music. Estebanís skillful pianowork provides a steady, enjoyable, intricately relaxing atmosphere. Great music for any occasion where steady, dependable, pleasingly mellow piano is the order of the day.

Halley DeVestern ē Live at the Towpath Inn

Bagel & Rat Recording Co., Inc., 328 Flatbush Ave., PMB 287, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Iíve listened to this disc several times, and Iím not sure I can write a review thatíll do it justice, but here goes. Halleyís powerful vocals are reminiscent of great coffeehouse folk-rockers, while the music is a sort of insistent country-folk.  Itís a powerful, emotional disc throughout. My personal favorite track is "Superhero Killer."

Loaded Dice ē Back in the Alley

P.O. Box 7003, Huntsville, AL 35807
Loaded Dice's Back in the Alley opens with "Infatuation," which could've been a bonus track on Motley Crue's Girls Girls Girls disc. Oooh, yeah! There's some stellar axework, too ("Preacherman"). The third standout track is the often-mellower, bluesy "Ashamed," while rest of the disc is still more good ol', blues-based, down 'n dirty, melodic hard rock.

Darci Monet

2011 Richard Jones Rd. N-4, Nashville, TN 37215
Darci Monet blends the vocal honesty of Melissa Etheridge with the power, range, and crispness of... well, the closest I can come is a feminine version of Joshua Kadison. Disc-opener "Alan's Tears" is more Etheridgey, while "My Own Road" hints more at Kadison. And, though there's not even a hint of country on this disc, Darci's voice on the bluesy, booming "Satisfied" has shades of Shania Twain or Patricia Conroy. Stylistically, other comparisons can be drawn to bands like Journey or Kansas. This CD is a joy to listen to; Darci Monet is one heckuva singer with style, pizzazz, and a great voice.

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