As the late 90s pop boom that brought forth ‘Nsync and Britney Spears crested, an enterprising A&R person in England thought a band with the same kind of pop appeal who could play their own instruments might turn a quick buck or two.
BBMak fit that bill, and as snobish as I was about the bubblegum pop ilk, I was willing to give them a shake. My review of the band’s first album, Sooner or Later, dripped with damning praise, but I did go as far as compare them to Duran Duran. The second album, Into Your Head, didn’t fare as well.
Back then, I still wanted my rock music to be dark and evil, or at least melancholy. A number of tracks on Sooner or Later fulfilled the latter requirement, but Into Your Head was a different beast altogether.
After 16 years, enough time has passed to evaluate Into Your Head on its own terms, and honestly, it’s quite refreshing. Maybe I’m just more mellow in my dotage, but the sunniness of the album is more of an asset than an annoyance.
The band lays pretty heavy on the guitars, probably acknowledging that Linkin Park was becoming a thing. At the same time, they double down on the smooth harmonies and earnest lyrics.
My original reaction was to call it “generic”. I question that assessment now, or rather, I don’t remember the context which made me arrive at that conclusion. BBMak’s contemporaries were so forgettable, it’s tough to draw a meaningful comparison.
Listening to both albums after nearly 20 years, BBMak flexed more muscle on Into Your Head by going for a bigger, anthemic sound, and it works.
But the target market was moving on. The teens who buoyed the pop groups were starting college, and file sharing had decimated the mass market. In 2002, labels didn’t have the marketing leverage to bring BBMak to ‘Nsync levels. Heck, ‘Nsync itself had all but broken up by 2005.
BBMak announced it reunited in 2018, and I learned about it, oddly enough, from a retweet by Duran Duran’s official Twitter account. I must admit I’m looking forward to what the band produces next.
Rewind takes a look at past Musicwhore.org reviews to see how they hold up today. The albums featured on Rewind were part of my collection, then sold for cash only to be reacquired later.
So many gay male artists are releasing new music this summer, it makes me wonder why they all didn’t put everything out in June. But muses can’t be rushed. Nor marketing plans.
Steve Grand, Not the End of Me, July 6
I listen to a lot of really serious music. I need Steve Grand to stop me from being too melancholy.
Luciano Berio, Sinfonia (Roomful of Teeth, Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot), July 20
I went to the Saturday performance of this piece on the recommendation of my music theory professor.
Jake Shears, Jake Shears, Aug. 10
I’ve never really cottoned to Scissor Sisters, even though they seem to be in my wheelhouse.
Death Cab for Cutie, Thank You for Today, Aug. 17
The first two albums of Death Cab’s major label of phase made me wonder if they would follow R.E.M.’s downward creative trajectory in a similar fashion, but Codes and Keys and Kintsugi actually stemmed that tide. I’m not encouraged by the band’s comparison of this new album to Narrow Stairs, however.
Julee Cruise, Three Demos, Aug. 17
I loved Floating Into the Night, so I’m curious to hear these early drafts. A reissue of The Voice of Love also arrives the same day.
Troye Sivan, Bloom, Aug. 31
I was nowhere near the target market for Blue Neighborhood, but I liked it anyway.
Craig Armstrong, Sun on You, Sept. 7
Craig Armstrong is known more for his film scores, mostly because few of his studio albums get US releases. Here’s hoping a streaming release makes up for that drought.
Renée Fleming, Broadway, Sept. 7
A Broadway album? With Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Tell Me on a Sunday”? And a song from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music that isn’t “Send in the Clowns”? OK, Renée Fleming, I’ll bite.
Prince, Piano and a Microphone 1983, Sept. 14
Sure, I’m curious enough to check out this set of demos, but what I’d like to know is when the vinyl reissue campaign will get to the Love Symbol album.
U2, Achtung Baby, July 27
U2, Zooropa, July 27
Zooropa is an odd album in the U2 canon, recorded in a spontaneous rush with experiments that work (“Numb”) and some that fail (“Lemon”). Despite a lavish repackaging, Achtung Baby had not yet been reissued in stand-alone black vinyl.
I started a new job on May 21, and I’m still getting adjusted to a new routine. I’m not ready to say the hiatus has ended just yet, but I can say new entries should resume before the end of summer. Till then, here’s a preview of upcoming releases.
Emmylou Harris, Ballad of Sally Rose (Deluxe Edition), June 1
I have listened to a lot of Emmylou Harris, and I can say this album is my least favorite. But its underdog status makes me curious about what didn’t make the album. Also, the current CD pressings sound awful, and I hope the remastering rectifies that.
Clannad, Turas 1980, June 8
This live album contains songs never recorded in the studio by the band.
Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi, June 27
In retrospect, Fantôme was something of a downer. The singles preceding the release of Hatsukoi indicate a bouncier direction. Utada comes full circle title-wise — hatsukoi is the Japanese translation of “first love”.
Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (Deluxe Edition), June 29
This album hadn’t already received a deluxe edition treatment? I’m not shelling out for anything more than the 2-disc edition.
Leo IMAI, V L P, July 11
I really enjoyed Film Scum, and it’s too bad the full album was only available at his live shows. I look forward to this album nonetheless.
Anne Dudley, Anne Dudley Plays the Art of Noise, June 22
This album receives a physical release in the UK and a digital release in the US. I was impatient and got the Japanese release last year, and Dudley employs some real studio wizardry to interpret the Art of Noise acoustically.
Fishbone, The Reality of My Surroundings, July 13
Trips to Goodwill have allowed me to rediscover this band.