Album review overview: Alien Ant Farm, Roni Kaspi, Better than Ezra and more

Photo (c) Jorge Fakhouri Filho

Dozens of new albums arrive at Maxazine’s editorial staff every week. There are way too many to listen to them all, let alone review them. It ensures that too many albums are left behind. And that’s a shame. That is why today we post an overview of albums that arrive at the editors in short reviews.

Alien Ant Farm – ~mAntras~

Remember them? Alien Ant Farm is the band that had a big hit in the early 2000s with their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. The band has returned with new material almost ten years after their last studio album. The recently released album is called “~mAntras~”. Get it? The Ant gets highlighted again. Just like in three song titles. Cleverly done, but if it doesn’t quite fit like in “Last dAntz”, you better not do it. Feels a bit forced. The music is pleasant to the ear, but whether this album will be considered among their best albums in twenty years, seems unlikely to me. Nice to hear something from the band again, because it’s been quiet for a while. Not outstanding, just fine. (Rik Moors) (6/10) (Alien Ant Farm)

Roni Kaspi – Poni

Step into the world of 23-year-old drum sensation Roni Kaspi and experience her unique sound – a genre-defying vision for 2023 and beyond that will shake your senses and keep you dancing. This drummer and singer-songwriter’s innovative music is progressive yet accessible and funky, making her a must-see for all music lovers. Explore Roni Kaspi’s creative journey and be enchanted by her captivating sound. Roni Kaspi is certainly known to jazz enthusiasts for her long-standing collaboration with bassist Avishai Cohen. However, with “Poni”, she takes a completely new direction and shows that she can produce modern, danceable, and extremely musical, sometimes sensational music. (Jan Vranken) (8/10) (RoniPoni)

Hans Zimmer & Kara Talve – The Tattooist from Auschwitz (Original Series Soundtrack)

Hans Zimmer has been one of the foremost composers of film music for years. This time, he collaborates with Kara Talve, a young and promising composer from New York, and an alumnus of Berklee College. Together they created the music for this television series telling the life story of Lale Sokolov, a Jewish prisoner of concentration camp Auschwitz who the Nazis forced to tattoo the registration numbers of the prisoners in their barracks. Truly no light subject and that is reflected in the music. The music is dramatic, solemn, and, as we can expect from Hans Zimmer, immensely cinematic and evocative. It’s beautiful music for a very heavy subject. Not music you just put on. Classical and heavy. Let’s hope that Zimmer can give Talve a boost towards more recognition as a composer because she certainly deserves it. This is beautiful music. (Jan Vranken) (8/10) (Sony Music Entertainment)

Better than Ezra – Super Magick

The latest album from Better Than Ezra, “Super Magick”, leaves a disappointing impression with its 12 new tracks. The band, originally formed in 1988, was one of the pioneers of the 1990s alternative pop-rock scene but now seems stuck in the past. Despite a solid history of hits, such as the iconic “Good” from their platinum-certified debut album “Deluxe” from 1993, “Super Magick” seems to struggle to maintain the magic that characterized their earlier work. The opening track, “Mystified”, makes a promising attempt to captivate the listener but ultimately gets stuck in familiar territory. The title track, “Super Magick”, falls flat and fails to hold attention, despite attempting to add Coldplay-like piano elements. It seems like the band, despite their long career and experience, struggles to remain relevant in an ever-changing musical landscape. With a background of various label changes and an ongoing struggle to achieve commercial success after their early heyday, it’s understandable that “Super Magick” doesn’t seem to offer the fresh impetus the band needs. The album feels more like a rehash than an innovative statement. All in all, while the band’s effort to remain relevant is commendable, “Super Magick” unfortunately falls short of truly convincing. A rating of 6 out of 10 seems even too generous for this mediocre effort. (Elodie Renard) (6/10) (Round Hill Records LLC)

Will Kimbrough – For the Life of Me

Will Kimbrough has a long history in the music industry, known as the frontman of Will & the Bushmen and later as a solo artist. His latest album, “For the Life of Me”, offers 11 tracks where he continues on his familiar path of average-quality country-rock songs. Although there is a hint of old 1990s REM on “The Other Side”, this is a one-time recognition in an otherwise conventional album. “Isolation” starts promisingly but quickly falls into clichés. For this album, there is little new under the sun. Country rock is familiar territory, and “For the Life of Me” adds no new chapters to it. Despite this lack of innovation, the album is well-crafted, which is certainly worth something. Overall, “For The Life Of Me” offers a solid collection of songs that fans of Kimbrough’s previous work will appreciate. However, for newcomers, it offers little surprises. With a rating of 7 out of 10, we acknowledge Kimbrough’s craftsmanship but continue to hope for more experimentation and innovation in his future releases. (Jan Vranken) (7/10) (Daphne Records/Soundly Music)

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