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Pop/Rock - Released February 10, 2010 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop - Released March 16, 2009 | Epic - Daylight

Bearing a name only a pop ingénue could claim as her own, Cheyenne Kimball has long been positioned to be a pop star. She first surfaced as a winner on NBC's largely forgotten 2003 series America's Most Talented Kid, arriving just at the end of the teen pop boom and in the thick of American Idol mania, and she never has lost sight of her roots: when she got a little bit older, officially in her teens, she launched her career as a serious recording artist/entertainer by the only way she knew how -- she got her own MTV reality show documenting her struggle in launching a career as a teenage singer/songwriter. This was no small show for the network: it was given the prime slot of following the Laguna Beach spinoff The Hills. The show spent a great deal of time on the trials and tribulations of Cheyenne and her family as they left their home and settled in California in hopes of turning their kid star into a real star. Of course, the great unspoken thing in Cheyenne's show is that she already had the label deal in place, already had the system to promote her debut, already was set as an MTV star before her show started airing -- her album even had an insert promoting the fall release of the first season DVD of her show! -- making her the envy of pretty much any aspiring musician with dreams of stardom. And, of course, she got the show because she's cute as a button and writes commercial music, kind of like Jewel's younger sister or a baby Sheryl Crow who has a voice a little bit like an Ashlee Simpson who can sing. Based on that, it seems like Cheyenne could be a little bit insufferable, but the remarkable thing about the show is that her family comes across as desperate fame-crazed loons and Cheyenne is the little girl who likes to write and sing and shows a lot of promise, too (she also can be a brat on occasion, but what teen wouldn't on national TV?). That's how she comes across on her debut album, The Day Has Come, too: she's earnest, green, and likeable, a better writer and singer than she initially seems. Part of the initial surprise comes from Cheyenne seeming so young and so cute -- based on her looks, it seems like she's just a pretty face that is easy to package and sell. But The Day Has Come showcases a singer and songwriter with considerable potential, and who is already making quite appealing music from the start. Some of this is due to an excellent choice of collaborators -- on this record she co-writes with such names as Kara DioGuardi, Chantal Kreviazuk, John Rich, and the adult pop specialist of 2006, Billy Mann -- who help shape her music into bright, shiny, hooky pieces of professional pop, equal parts frothy bubblegum, sassy punk-pop, introspective folk, and swaggering rootsy rock. It's an appealing sound on the surface, but the key to the album's success is that Cheyenne is an engaging performer. She certainly sounds her age, but unlike other teen singers, she can control her voice, giving it shading and texture, and she has a stronger musical foundation than such teen tarts as Ashlee, which helps give the album a backbone and depth. Upon the first play, it's easy to be taken in by its high-gloss production, which is admittedly quite fetching, but repeated spins reveal the sturdiness of Cheyenne's writing -- she had a hand in penning all the songs here -- as well as her ease at delivering the material. Sure, she still sounds like a teen, but that's the good thing about The Day Has Come: it has the musical scope of somebody in their early twenties, but the freshness and spunk of a teenager, which is quite remarkable. So maybe she did get an unfair advantage by being plastered all over MTV prior to the release of her debut, but this record is good enough to provide a compelling reason why Epic and MTV have staked so much on Cheyenne Kimball: based on this very good debut, she certainly does seem like the star she's positioned to be. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 20, 2008 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released October 25, 2007 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released April 4, 2006 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released November 18, 2005 | Epic - Daylight

Cyndi Lauper looks back at her hits on The Body Acoustic, with a number of guests including Adam Lazzara, Shaggy, Sarah McLachlan, Vivian Green, Ani DiFranco, and Jeff Beck. Conceptually, this looks like a disaster. Alanis Morissette did it as well and the results were mixed at best. But Lauper has always possessed a talent that goes beyond the material she has sung -- and she can sing anything. The album is produced by Lauper with Rick Chertoff and William Wittman -- who recorded and mixed the disc. Lauper's band is a wide and varied assortment that includes contemporary jazz bassist Mark Egan. "Money Changes Everything," with Lazzara, is a down-home calypso and country ramble. "All Through the Night," with Shaggy, begins as an Appalachian folk tune until Shaggy begins toasting and Lauper shifts it into ballad gear. It's a conflicting set of styles that's held together in the genuine ache of her voice. "Time After Time" would be a beautiful song in anybody's hands. Here, with McLachlan, she goes down into the tune's lyrics and abandons the drama of the original for the intimacy of its words. The human heart becomes the interlocutor of memory and loss. Lauper and McLachlan trade verses as 12-strings, muted drums, and space define the place where lost love becomes the center of the question of devotion across time and space. "She Bop" is almost a blues song, and as a result it reveals deep eroticism as the pleasures and sweet release of masturbation fall from the singer's voice like raw honey. And so it goes with "Above the Clouds," as Beck's trademark biting tone is juxtaposed against piano and space. This is a ballad that actually hurts. Its drama is realized in Lauper's phrasing and Beck's playing bites harder accentuating it -- relaxed, slow, and deeply emotive. "Sisters of Avalon" features soul chanteuse Green and DiFranco. It's funky as hell. Deep roiling bass pops and drones with acoustic guitars, fiddles, and a dulcimer moving through and around it. The drums fall just behind the beat as the singer goes for the crack in the lyrical spine of the track. The chorus-like refrain punches up its drama. Green takes her verse before an instrumental slide guitar interlude, and her wailing voice makes it among the album's best. Lauper sings without friends on a number of cuts as well, such as the beautiful "Colors" and the stunning "Fearless." This may be a slanted look at a greatest-hits package, but it comes off as an entirely new album full of adventure, grit, polish, and soul. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 3, 2005 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop - Released October 25, 2005 | Epic - Daylight

Anastacia, the sassy lady with one of the biggest voices in pop, had released three albums since 2000, and with the most recent self-titled CD being her most successful (and only number one to date), the time was right to sum up her career so far with a greatest-hits package called Pieces of a Dream, released for the 2005 Christmas market. The selection of tracks was hardly a difficult job, as the first 12 songs were the hit singles in strict chronological order, from the debut hit that announced her arrival on the pop scene, "I'm Outta Love," through to her most recent hit, "Heavy on My Heart." In fact, the symmetry of these first 12 tracks was complete, as there were four from each of the albums to date, Not That Kind, Freak of Nature, and Anastacia. Having never relied on chart positions of the singles to sell albums -- in fact, none of the releases from album number two reached the Top Ten -- it made sense to stick to such a rigid formula, for no matter how many singles were actually sold, the airplay of each was almost guaranteed, and as either an introduction to Anastacia for people who had not bought an album to date, or as a summing up of the most famous tracks, it was an ideal formula. That's not to say she didn't sell singles, because "I'm Outta Love," "Left Outside Alone," and "Sick and Tired" all hit the Top Ten, and "Not That Kind" and "One Day in Your Life" were not far outside. So that accounted for 47 minutes of music, and then four new tracks were added for another 16 minutes -- and if that weren't enough, a 12-minute "Club Megamix" completed the album, over 75 minutes in total stretching the limits of a single CD. The four new tracks included two duets: "Everything Burns," a ballad with Ben Moody from Evanescence, and "I Belong to You," another ballad with Eros Ramazzotti. The title track, "Pieces of a Dream," was more midtempo but suffered from a lack of a discernible melody, and the final track, "In Your Eyes," lacked the trademark Anastacia power. The megamix featured excerpts from "Left Outside Alone," "Paid My Dues," "Not That Kind," "One Day in Your Life," and "I'm Outta Love," all with a dance beat prominent. The album did not perform as well as anticipated, giving rise to the comments that it was too early in her career for a hits collection and choosing the best tracks from previous albums was not such a good idea after all. After her health scare, however, this hardly seemed to matter -- Anastacia was still with us and looking absolutely gorgeous on the cover, like a supine Celine Dion in black lingerie. © Sharon Mawer /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released August 8, 2005 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released November 16, 2004 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released October 26, 2004 | Epic - Daylight

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2004 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released September 7, 2004 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released August 8, 2004 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released November 18, 2003 | Epic - Daylight

As the girl who just wants to have fun, Cyndi Lauper became an '80s music icon with her flamboyant style, powerful baby-doll voice, and quirky songs, but as time and tastes moved on, her playful persona wore thin and attempts at becoming a more serious artist failed to regain her dwindling audience. With At Last, Lauper steps even further away from that playful image to become the girl who just wants to sing as she tackles a set of pop standards that showcase her underrated voice. Although occasionally shrill and reckless, Lauper's forceful tones can be quite moving and awe-inspiring when corralled into the proper setting, as with her bluesy take on Etta James' "At Last." With its lazy tempo and minimal arrangement, Lauper is able to relax and convey the lyrics in one of her most mature and affecting performances. Even more low-key is the whisper quiet of "Walk on By," in which she turns Dionne Warwick's midtempo gem into a dark tale of mourning by sadly singing the lyrics over a crawling tempo. Getting a Tori Amos-style ballad treatment is the Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," which lets Lauper's rock roots rise to the surface with her edgy performance. While some of her song choices work, others fall flat, like "La Vie en Rose," in which her slightly ragged reading is too rough for the delicate song. Also misfiring is her corny duet with Tony Bennett, "Makin' Whoopee," where the voices of these two New Yorkers clash like stripes and plaids. Lauper also has a little too much fun with Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs' "Stay," as she reverts back to her boisterous voice of yesteryear and disrupts the mature tone of the disc. Although the results are mixed, At Last does focus on Cyndi Lauper's best asset -- her voice -- and may help to rejuvenate a career in which the personality unfortunately overshadowed the talent. © Aaron Latham /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released October 21, 2003 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released October 4, 2002 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop/Rock - Released February 26, 2001 | Epic - Daylight

While an increasing number of up-and-coming artists are making a name for themselves by blurring the lines between rock, metal, rap, soul, dance, country, and about any other musical style you can think of, Phantom Planet is sticking with rock & roll. Pop/rock, if you want to split hairs, but isn't that basically redundant? Ironically, with the defection of so many artists to hybrid genres, The Guest comes off sounding incredibly fresh. It's hard to think of too many contemporary bands that are making such unapologetically sunny, pop-tinged rock & roll. Take the punk out of Weezer, the kitsch out of Fountains of Wayne, or the Strokes out of the garage, and you come pretty close. The album opens strong with four infectiously upbeat tracks that are singalongs waiting to happen. The songs are well-crafted and impressively mature for a band whose members are scarcely legal drinking age. The only misstep is the schmaltzy "Anthem," in which lead singer Alex Greenwald muses about writing a song that the entire planet falls in love with. The rest of the album flirts with some electronic touches, but never deviates too far from the original course. Greenwald's vocals remain heartfelt and confident throughout, although he seems to be channeling Thom Yorke in his quieter moments, such as "Turn Smile Shift Repeat." Phantom Planet distinguishes themselves by not being afraid to make a lush, textured album that avoids sounding glossy or overproduced. The use of strings and keyboards is subtle but effective. Indeed, the first single and opening track "California" employs a vital piano hook to hold the song together. What holds the entire record together, however, is Phantom Planet's knack for feel-good tunes with melodies that bounce into your head and stay there. © Mark Vanderhoff /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 14, 2001 | Epic - Daylight

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Pop - Released January 1, 1990 | Epic - Daylight