MUSIC REVIEW- CD roundup: From hilarious to forgettable

The desk is beginning to pile up. CDs are everywhere: in cases, out of cases, on the floor, in drawers, on the windowsill. As I stare at this mountain of bottled-up creative energy, I can't help but think of all the hard individual work that went into making each and every one. Although the total materials to make a CD probably cost less than a dollar, no price tag can be put on someone's passion.

This CD roundup includes an eclectic group of very passionate artists. This may be the most diverse mix of disks to grace this page in some time. Let's take a look...

Artist: Ronnie Johnson

Album: Addicted To You

Type of music: Southern rockin' blues by the confederate Lou Rawls

The Good: Ronnie Johnson and his band have the boogie-woogie in their veins. The group jams together with a southern rock/blues swing that would have most dive bars in a frenzy. Ronnie himself has an incredibly powerful voice that can carry a tune for miles. You gotta love a guy who can do a song about God ("Deity") and follow it with an ode to giving women oral sex ("Lovin Oven").

The Bad: Where do I begin? For starters, much of the songwriting is simple and contrived. That wouldn't be so bad if the words were expressed with deeper emotion and soul. Soul, however, is something Ronnie Johnson lacks. His words are dry and his delivery mechanical. His drummer slips into sloppy moments, and the sax player could benefit from learning a few more licks.

Artist: The Falsies

Album: The Real Fake Things

Type of music: Hilariously lewd and seductive garage rock

The Good: This record is pure fun. The songs are absolutely hilarious. Reading the lyrics while listening to the disk made me chuckle out loud at least 12.5 times. Well-endowed "John Lonely" will screw anything, including you. "Irate Sally" shot off her boyfriend's Johnson. "Ten Ton Cheese" is about a block of 10-ton cheese and all things that could/would pertain to it. The music accompanying the words is equally outlandish and ludicrous. Such tongue-in-cheek performances by musicians who don't take themselves too seriously is admirable.

The Bad: What is bad about this record also helps make it good. Nothing here is meant to conform to highbrow recording standards– or even performance standards, for that matter. The musicianship is sloppy but not unbearable. The bonus tracks are a waste of space, but, then again, who cares when your last song has 33 instances of the word "f**k"? (And that doesn't include the title or repeat choruses.)

Artist: C-ZAR Wisemen

Album: Tha New Testament

Type of music: Self-reflective street-hop for writers

The Good: It's great to hear homegrown hip-hop with a positive intellectual slant. C-zar and his crew, The Philosophers, put together an album of heartfelt and honest material that looks into the problems and questions of urban youth. Charlottesville hip hop vet J-Gifted lends his production skills for a nice touch. Gospel songstress Christina Lyons chimes in on "Change" for a nice mood shift. C-zar pours his heart out on every track as if every bar he spits could be his last.

The Bad: It seems that C-zar wrote many of his verses prior to hearing the beats for the record. His spoken rhythm collides with the beat instead of working in unison. It's hard to listen through the entire disk without being overwhelmed by that battle. Although well thought-out, the choruses of the songs aren't that memorable, and the listener has nothing to take away when the album's finished.