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The best (and worst) of the "10-in-10 Reviews"



A lot of CDs land on my desk. A lot. When I first took the job as music editor three years ago, I made a commitment to myself and all the bands who send stuff to me that I would give every single CD a listen -- whether it be 10 songs or 10 seconds. The majority of those CDs are tossed aside and never see the light of day again. In January of 2009, I decided to share my impressions of all those quick-listen CDs, and just like the listens themselves, the reviews would be short and to the point. Thus debuted the "10-in-10 CD Reviews" feature on the Vibes blog. Each Friday, I review 10 recently released CDs in 10 words each. I listened to Lady Gaga before her first hit song was released, and I wasn't too keen on The Dexateens or Zac Brown Band until I saw them live -- so going back and looking at the reviews now can be humorous. Most have been mediocre, some have been outstanding and yet others have been along the lines of musical excrement. You can see them all at, but here are some of the highlights, and lowlights, from the last year or so. (And yes, new ones are posted each Friday.)

• The Gourds -- Haymaker!: Decent rock-tinged country music with a splash of quirkiness.

• Trapt -- Only Through the Pain: Generic hard rock that's tailor-made for radio-friendly hits.

• Kate Campbell -- Save the Day: Folkie's short-story style is sometimes inspired by literary notables.

• Nancy Cassidy -- Runaway Train: Deep vocals first thing noticed on album of country folk.

• Seth Walker -- Leap of Faith: Roots rocker gets a fun, sometimes old-school, groove going.

• Miley Cyrus -- Breakout: Overrated teen sensation doesn't get any less annoying with age.

• The Game -- LAX: Lots of guest appearances -- rap albums are all sounding similar.

• Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials -- Full Tilt: Chicago blues band has a Southern-fried, quick-hit style.

• Xavier Rudd -- Dark Shades of Blue: Australian activist mixes indigenous instruments with rock for psychedelic groove.

• Zac Brown Band -- The Foundation: Country-fried album finds inspiration in bluegrass, rock and reggae.

• Caesars -- Strawberry Weed: Swedish rockers have '60s influence with rough-around-edges style.

• Harry Connick Jr. -- What a Night! A Christmas Album: Third holiday disc from pianist mixes traditional songs with originals.

• Dion -- Heroes: Tearing through classics, you'd never guess he's 70 years old.

• Semi-Precious Weapons -- We Love You: Garage-style glam rock with androgynous singer is campy fun.

• Hoots and Hellmouth -- Hoots and Hellmouth: Gospel-fused roots rock is sure to get feet moving.

• Hillary Duff -- Best of Hillary Duff: It's an oxymoron to say "Best of" and "Hillary Duff."

• Laura Reed & Deep Pocket -- Live at Tree Sound Studios: Soulful singer brings the funk with a hint of blues.

• Portugal. The Man -- Censored Colors: A bit of mellowed-out Mars Volta-style psychedelic rock.

• Solange -- Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams: Beyonce's sister tries her best to separate herself ... poorly accomplished.

• Il Divo -- The Promise: No matter how hard I try to listen ... it's opera.

• Plain White T's -- Big Bad World: Generic pop rock from the quintet that brought you "Delilah."

• Randy Rogers Band -- Randy Rogers Band: Most-downloaded country band doesn't stand out from the pack.

• Amy Ray -- Didn't It Feel Kinder: Half of Indigo Girls releases third, less-acoustic solo album.

• Celtic Woman -- The Greatest Journey: Irish sensations may get you to dance like Michael Flatley.

• Beyonce -- I am... Sasha Fierce: Two CDs, six songs each. "I am ... not environmentally conscious."

• Otis Gibbs -- Grandpa Walked a Picketline: There's a bit of grit in them thar folk vocals.

• Jolie Holland -- The Living and the Dead: Weak vocals detract from songwriting. Sorry, but I'm not impressed.

• Lordi -- Deadache: Cheesy metal is more entertaining when seeing them in costume.

• Kevin Rudolf -- In the City: Cash Money backs rocker -- even Lil Wayne can't improve it.

• Robin Thicke -- Something Else: Something about that falsetto just doesn't sound natural to me.

• Norma Jean -- vs The Anti Mother: What in the bloody hell are these guys screaming about?

• Sarah White -- Sweetheart: Charlottesville singer's folk EP left me wanting to hear more.

• I Am Ghost -- Those We Leave Behind: Lump this one in there with other Warped Tour crap.

• Gina Sicilia -- Hey Sugar: Only 23, but she creates some old-school-feeling blues.

• Snow Patrol -- A Hundred Million Suns: Radio-friendly pop-rock just doesn't do anything for me.

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