Thu, Dec 01, 2005 - Page 14 News List

CD Reviews

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

S.H.E.

Once Upon a Time(不想長大)

HiM


Having spent the past several months making their acting debuts in the hugely popular ETTV (東森) drama series Reaching for the Stars (真命天女), one of Taiwan's most talked about all girl combos, S.H.E returned to record store shelves this week with a new album entitled Once Upon a Time (不想長大).

Since the trio made its musical debut in 2001 with Girl Friend, Girl Dormitory (女朋友-女生宿舍), the girls have proven to be one Taiwan's most industrious musical acts. Once upon a Time is the trio's eighth album of original tunes in four years and once again fans get to hear Selina (S), Hebe (H) and Ella (E) warble their way through a collection of tunes of varying genres. Like the trio's previous releases Once Upon a Time offers listeners a mixed bag of tunes ranging from mushy Mando-pop standards to conventional orchestrated ballads and the odd piece of Mando-rap.

Much of the material is predictable and mundane and unless you happen to be a long time fan of S.H.E. then the album could make you uncomfortable. It should be pointed out, however, that unlike some other well known local female acts, S.H.E can hold a tune.

The highlight of the album is the tune Sharpshooter (神槍手). By mixing basic Mando-pop with traces of nakashi and throwing in an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western-like theme in for good measure, S.H.E has managed to come up with a genuinely unique sound that is comical and entertaining.

Jeff and Machi (黃立成 & 麻吉)

Superman (超人)

Warner

Ex-LA Boy Jeff Huang (黃立成) is brother of Golden Melody award winning crooner Stanley Huang (黃立行). Since the archetypical all boy rap/hip-hop group split up Jeff has been busy carving out his own musical career along with his new sidekicks, Machi (麻吉).

The group has become one of Taiwan's hottest hip-hop acts and its third album, Superman (超人), once again sees Jeff leading the way and giving voice to a mixed bag of mainstream hip-hop numbers that range from the mundane to the innovative.

If you not a fan of hip-hop then this album is best avoided as, unlike previous releases, where the combo kept it fresh by mixing it up with differing styles, Superman is unadulterated, in-your-face hip-hop. It could be one of the best locally produced Mando-hip-hop albums of the year.

In addition to the Jeff and Machi material, local turntable guru DJ Tommy also gets in on the act with the brilliant Super Machi Remix, which sees the popular DJ getting creative with a whole bunch of Machi material.

With the exception of the DJ Tommy remix the album's other highlight comes when Jeff and Machi veer away from generic North American-like hip-hop and get creative with a more localized sound. While I Love Chou Hsing Hsing (我愛周星星) is certainly not the best "East meets West" musical coupling of all times it does have a catchy tune.

Gou Wei (茍偉)

The Further You Fall the Deeper You Get (越陷越深)

Univresal


OK, so Gou Wei (苟偉) is from China and as such his recent debut isn't technically a local release, but it is worth a mention as The Further You Fall the Deeper You Get (越陷越深) is a good album.

The album kicks in with a funky piece of hip-hop that gradually morphs into Mando-pop and then transforms itself into a guitar driven piece of Mando-rock entitled My Style My Show (我型我Show). What follows are a mish-mash of tunes that vary in tempo from slow ballads to guitar-driven hardcore. Some of the album's best numbers include the U2-like The Dream Continues (夢延續的瞬間), the orchestrated folksy ballad One Way Ticket (單程車票) and Real World (真的世界), which sees Gou Wei mixing it up with nu-metal-like guitar licks.

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