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  Funky Bohemia  
  Ellee Ven  
  Hot Sauce Records  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

I am sure that those of you who read EvilSponge think that we must have the greatest job in the world: music reviewer. We get paid to sit around, listen to music, and spout off. Well it's not all flowers and sunshine: there is actually a dark side to the job. First off, we don't get paid, unless you count getting promo CDs (most of which you can't ever sell anywhere because no one has ever heard of the band) a type of payment. Secondly, for every really fun promo that is right up the reviewer's alley, there are a few CDs that no one on our staff really seems to be into. And sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and review the disc anyway.

Which brings up to today's listening topic: the album Funky Bohemia by Ellee Ven. This isn't an awful album. It's just, well, it's not anything that the average indie rocker would enjoy, and average indie rockers make up both the EvilSponge staff and the EvilSponge reading public.

As to Ellee Ven, well, the best comparison i can come up with is Madonna. Ellee Ven is a female singer with a decent voice who sings over funky dance pop. I bet this album would go over well at Mary's in East Atlanta, but i listen to it and think, "I'm just not queer enough to get into this." (Nothing against those who are queer and/or do get into Madonna -- it's just not me.)

That said, let's examine a few things about the album. Firstly, Ms. Ven's voice is rather nice, and it is well recorded. She has a decent range, although she rarely cuts loose and sings. Instead, she prefers that semi-speaking type of vocal which seems so prevalent these days. I think she sounds her best on No Apologies, which is a piano ballad that also features a male voice singing counterpoint to Ms. Ven. She actually sings here, and the male voice and piano make a nice accompaniment to her voice. I wish that more of the album featured this type of singing.

Secondly, much of the album was produced by DJ Swamp, who i had heard of before i got this promo. I had thought that DJ Swamp was a turntable artist, but here he is just doing generic dance pop productions. Not that any of it is bad, it's just doesn't distinguish itself from any of the other stuff like this that i hear on the radio, or when i walk by dance clubs, or go into trendy clothing stores.

That said, there are a few musically noteworthy tracks on the CD. I like the chiming guitar part on Spiraling, but wish that the guitarist had more room in the production to do something truly spiraling. I also really like the bass synth in Close My Eyes, but it's more of an accent than a driving force.

Two tunes do actually seem to work better than the others, at least from my perspective. Mi Amor has a vaguely psychedelic guitar line that backs up Ms. Ven as she sings in a sultry, subdued manner that reminds me of Beth Gibbons of Portishead. This song really works, and fans of that style of music will find this to be a fine example of the female vocalled trip hop genre. I also really enjoy Under My Skin, which is still a dance tune. However, it is more drum n bass than disco, more Roni Size than Donna Summers. Here, DJ Swamp apparently cuts loose, and when he is given free reign with the beats he makes a fine tune.

But there are 51 minutes on the album, and i can only find 4 moments that really stand out to me. Now, the rest of the album isn't cringingly bad; on the contrary it's rather pleasant. Not my thing, but i don't hate it. I am sure that there are some readers here a little more into dance music than i am, and if you also happen to enjoy the music of Madonna, then i recommend that you give Ellee Ven a try. The average indie rockers around here will probably not really enjoy this.

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