Entertainment » Music

Aliens & Rainbows

by Padraic Maroney
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Saturday Apr 5, 2008
Aliens & Rainbows

"American Idol" has given us superstars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. But the power of "AI" extends well beyond just the winners of the actual competition. In fact any artist who appears on the show sees a bump in sales following their appearance.
T
he last two years have seen Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" make him an inevitable one-hit wonder while Daughtry soared to be the best selling album of last year. This year an unknown artist named Ferras (pronounced Fer-AHSS) was featured prominently as kids were kicked off during Hollywood week. Now the question becomes, will Ferras go the way of Powter or Daughtry?

Being known solely as the singer of the weepy goodbye ballad on everyone's favorite karaoke contest can be a double edged sword. "Hollywood's Not America" serves as a sufficient introductory single for the 25 year-old musician, but once you get into the meat of the album it's easy to see there is much more to him than just a comfortingly smooth voice.

The young singer-songwriter draws from personal experiences of feeling alienated to populate his debut Aliens and Rainbows. While just a child he was kidnapped and taken to Jordan before being rescued by his mother and returned to his home in Illinois. Even once he returned, he felt he didn't belong and it was through song that he channeled his emotional lack of belong.

His insecurities make for a cornucopia of emotional tracks that will no doubt be optioned for shows on The CW or whichever teen comedies are coming out this year. The collection of songs definitely have a sense of youthful wandering, they are able to be related no matter what age or mood. Despite his age, the album never veers into a whiny toned opus.

Most of the album is uptempo and sounds reminiscent to a less spastic, more rock infused version of British artist Mika. However, unlike most albums that try to frontload their album so that most of the best material is in the beginning of the album Ferras actually has some of the weakest serving as openers. "Liberation Day" is an alright song, but doesn't really reflect what the rest of the album sounds like whereas title track "Aliens and Rainbows" takes a couple of listens before being able to fully enjoy the track.

While the opening tracks aren't the best opening to album, they are quickly followed up by "Something About You" - which will surely end up in some romantic comedy by the end of the year. By the midpoint of the album Ferras truly hits his stride. With the one two punch of "Hollywood" and "Everybody Bleeds the Same." But it's not until the end when the highlight of the collection comes with the retro sounding "Don't Give Up."

With the help of The Matrix, who have previously helped make hits for Avril Lavigne among other big artists, Ferras is able to make further hone his skills to make catchy pop songs to rival any on Top 40 radio station. But since he is pulling from true life feelings, his songs have a much deeper sense of emotion than you typically found any of the other tracks played.

Along with an additional depth, the singer plays around with different sounds so that the album doesn't become repetitive over the course of dozen songs. While pulling from 70s inspirations like David Bowie or Elton John for "Liberation Day" and "Hollywood," respectively, he also uses synthesizers to grand effect on "Don't Give Up."

"Aliens and Rainbows" is one of those albums that you don't get sick of easily. It can be played in its entirety. Even the less solid tracks are able to be listened to while going through the whole collection because you never know when the mood will strike you to listen to it.

Even without the help of "AI" Ferras would be able to make a mark on the music industry solely by releasing such an honest album overtly displaying his emotions to the world. And if for some reason, America doesn't embrace him just yet Ferras can always go in Daniel Powter's footsteps and get one of his songs in the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" sequel.

Virgin Records
Available April 1.

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