We get sent a lot of CDs here at City Pages, way more than we could possibly review for the paper. A lot of these end up just sitting around on shelves, on top of the fridge, or tucked under a dusty stack of vacation request forms. Given such a wealth of material, we figured it'd be a worthy endeavor to pick an arbitrary album or two each week for review, in a recurring feature called Clutter Control.
I'll choose anything that strikes my fancy, be it a three-song bar-rock EP from four years ago, or something new and whorishly corporate, like this week's selection: All Wrapped Up!, a Christmas compilation from Hollywood Records. The Gist
The album's pretty much what you'd expect: short and overpoweringly sweet; none of the seven songs break 3:40. They each feature determinedly poppy, overwrought-as-all-hell production. Every tune is ridiculously pleasant and harmonized. The nice thing about appealing to folks with the inner life of lobotomized snails (that is to say, pre-teens--we've all been there, we all know how dumb we were) is that all you really have to do is put together some synthy major chords, bright vocals, and a big scoop of Jesus, and bingo: successful compilation album.
If you need an album to play when the relatives are over for dinner, you could do worse. There are, however, way too many bells. We know, we know, it's Christmas. That's why the lyrics contain the word "Christmas" once every 2.5 seconds. You don't need to reinforce it with dinging little bells throughout the whole album.
I know everyone else has been sneering at The Jonas Brothers for a while now. But goddamn, Nick doesn't sound like he sings through his nose, he sounds like he sings through a garden hose attached to the end of his nose.
In what little I've heard of Miley Cyrus, she sounds like a cookie-cutter clear-voiced pop singer. But on her song for this album, "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," she sounds like a 60-year old, asthmatic, pack-a-day smoker. It really works.