Friday, November 9, 2007

Cartel - Cartel

Band: Cartel
Album: Cartel
Release Date: August 21, 2007
Label: Epic

Three Word Review: Homogeneous, Cliché, Commercialized

Favorite Track: “Wasted” Feat. Wyclef Jean (Remix)
Why? “Wasted” by itself is pretty good song, but this crossover remix with Wyclef makes it. Some of the kick from the song suffers from the new beat, but the beat is good and the raggae-esque sound is great.

Least Favorite Track: “The Fortunate”
Why? I actually do kind of like this song, but to me at times it seems like a blatant lift of “Living on a Prayer” from Bon Jovi. It’s mainly just the intro and chorus, but come on.

My Thoughts:
First of all, if you didn’t know, this album was recorded over a period of 20 days for an MTV special “Band in a Bubble.” While it was clearly thrown together it doesn’t really have that vibe. I didn’t watch any of the coverage of this experiment, but from what I can tell it was fairly successful. “Cartel” is proof that a decent sounding album can be written fairly quickly. The only problem is that the album lacks depth and is riddled with lots of shallow and uninventive lines. I don’t listen to the radio or watch MTV much, but I would imagine the stunt provided the band with some serious publicity.

The sound doesn’t deviate much from the sound of “Chroma,” but it is a good release. However, the album is largely homogenous. The songs do differ, but largely share a similar sound, but it’s the patented Cartel sound, and I’m complaining. This time around they seem to be packing a bit more of a kick, and it’s well received. “Cartel” is a very solid sounding release although there isn’t much different from “Chroma.” If you’re a fan of theirs already this is more you’ll probably end up liking. My main problem is that it is incredibly superficial. However, if you just don’t concentrate too too hard on the lyrics you will probably enjoy this. There is plenty of energy here and it makes for a good listening experience.

Why You Might Not Like It:
While this album has lots of potential to bring new sheep into the fold (probably the 11-14 year-old girl demographic), it does nothing to win over those who have already sided against Cartel. Like I said, the sound is largely unchanged from their previous efforts. So, if you never liked them, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a poignant musical experience this isn’t for you either. They’re pop rock and now, largely commercialized, so if that’s not your bag, don’t bother.

Final Say:
A worthwhile listen for fans new and old. I can’t say it enough, if you liked their older stuff you’ll probably like this. However, if you’re getting tired of their sound, you might want to steer clear. The premise on which this album was created is very interesting, albeit flat-out product promotion, and I’m sure MTV will be milking the idea far into the future. So, you might also want to keep an eye out to see if your favorite band will sellout, enter the bubble, and create an album in 20 days sometime in the future. I like the idea, just not the commercialization. I’d like to see some honest bands do this, maybe on their own. It’s quite common for bands to hunker down and lock themselves in a house to record, so why not broadcast it? Maybe via the internet à la ‘lifecasting’ style?

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