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Seeing Sounds - N.E.R.D

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Genre: Rock - Pop Rock / Artist: N.E.R.D / Explicit Lyrics / Audio CD released 2008-06-09 at Polydor Group

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      30.06.2009 12:35
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      One or two slightly above average tracks but largely poor

      Next album up on my Glastonbury album trail is Seeing Sounds by N.E.R.D, their 3rd album release and a band I've had no problems avoiding until now, initialised band names rarely get played by me for some reason, I'm not that keen to listen to a band called P.L.O.N.K.E.R etc.

      A mixture of pop, funk and very light rock with souly vocals, it's the kind of music that really doesn't appeal to me, however Pharrell Williams' vocals are pretty decent for the genre and if you like high pitch Prince like noises combined with a bit of spoken word, you'll be happy with this.

      I quite enjoy the funkiness of the guitar playing but think that a few more solos could be in order as it never really gets very funky, I also appreciate the drum beat on most tracks too as well as the experimental electronic sounds.

      Overall, I don't think I've been missing much by giving this band a wide-berth and this album failed to impress me, some tracks sound like the type to make it on to computer games (in particular football or skating games) "the drum n bass heavy Spaz" for instance. Whilst other numbers "Everyone Nose" comes across as typical chart fodder and despite a catchy chorus and a reasonable reggaeish section, has little desirable going for it other than lending itself to being remixed by DJ's across the world. Window is one of the better songs.

      Varied styles are used but none of them are outstanding.

      1 Intro / Time For Some Action
      2 Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)
      3 Windows
      4 Anti Matter
      5 Spaz
      6 Yeah You
      7 Sooner or Later
      8 Happy
      9 Kill Joy
      10 Love Bomb
      11 You Know What
      12 Laugh About It
      13 Lazer Gun

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      24.07.2008 16:24

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      A nice 3rd album from NERD

      I like Nerd, and I liked this album albot but Ive got to say I feel like NERD are sounding more and more like the Neptunes,they are morphing into each other.
      This album though - seeing sounds is very good,its a cool sounding album,that is instantly recognisible and fun to listen to. All the tracks this album has to offer are catchy and just that little bit different to others currently floating around in the charts.
      On this album I enjoyed listening to tracks such as Everyone nose and Spaz,theseare definately commercial and definately hits in the making,but nevertheless they are still catchy,fun to listen to and try and sing along to!
      This NERD album doesnt disappoint,its everything you have waite for and a bite more on top.
      I do feel though that this whole album is just about Pharrell Williams,his presence,style,sound and vibe just make each and every track,and that is clear and easy to hear as you are listening to every track on this album. All in all NERD totally delivered with this album,it does not and will not disappoint both NERD and NEPTUNEs fans alike. Definately a track I would recommend buying

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      18.06.2008 19:58
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      Just buy the first 5 tracks off iTunes!

      N.E.R.D - Seeing Sound

      --- Background: ---
      N.E.R.D is an acronym for the band's basic belief that "No-one Ever Really Dies". Having reformed this year, the band has come back with a massive mix of different musical styles and influences ranging from jazz to hip-hop, rap, soul and rock. Evidently lead singer Pharell Williams has noticed this, saying "We didn't care about genres; we're not doing this for the money." According to drummer Shay Haley, the album is named after the neurological phenomenon that is synesthesia. This is something that I myself actually have, and is when a person sees music, letters or words as colours. Pharell opens the album with the spoken lyrics:

      "I'll never forget I was like 7 years old, I closed my eyes and that's when it started; I started seeing sounds...whoah"

      Admittedly, the first time I heard this album it sounded like complete and utter nonsense - merely a lot of noise all happening at once. Yet, having listened to the album in its entirety a few more times, it really grew on me as I uncovered different layers to it.

      --- Band Members: ---

      Pharell Williams - Vocals, Piano, Guitar
      Chad Hugo - Lead Guitar, Piano, Backing Vocals, Bass, Saxophone
      Shay Haley - Drums, Backing Vocals

      --- Track-By-Track ---

      1. Time for Some Action - 3:43
      As mentioned in the Background section, this song opens with Pharell recounting his childhood memories of seeing sounds. He is accompanied by a xylophone and plucked strings - reminiscent of the Desperate Housewives soundtrack! The song then evolves in to a much darker sound, with a thinly layered blues-bassline and drums. Then, completely out of the blue comes a synthesizer for the chorus; only to be followed by the aforementioned blues bassline. At this point, first-time listeners like myself will be utterly baffled by the way N.E.R.D have just broken so many musical norms. Some people will just take the CD back, and some will carry on listening with anticipation and curiosity. I give this song 4/5

      2. Everyone Nose - 3:27
      This song was the first single off the album; and rightly so. It starts with a smooth, jazzy double-bass that is soon followed by Pharrel's rapping. I have to say I was amused by the fact that the hook, "at you, at you" sounds like "atchoo", presumably the reason the track is titled the way it is. It's quite refreshing to see musicians include an element of comedy in their songs - and it was the first time I'd ever found myself dancing and laughing at the same time! This track has a massive range of influences, from the jazzy double bass to the resonating drum 'n' bass basslines to the muted trumpets. There's even a piano-and-vocal solo in the middle! This song completely sums up what N.E.R.D is all about, so without a doubt this is 5/5

      3. Windows - 2:59
      This is another hilarious song about a boy spying on his neighbour through his window. It begins with an extremely catchy guitar riff that plays throughout most of the song. This song reminds me of Gym Class Heroes' song "Girlfriend", mainly because of the ridiculously catchy vocals. There isn't as much musical variety in this song as in Everyone Nose, but it is still a great song in its own right. 4/5

      "The best time to watch is like 1 or 2 o'clock
      In a perfect world, she could come over & rock
      I wonder if she would be fumbling a lot
      She's taking off her clothes and 'bout to close the win-dow.


      She slipped the bill through my gate that was entitled "Windows"
      Win-do-do-do-do-do-dow
      She said don't go Micro-soft you like it when I bend low..
      Win-do-do-do-do-do-dow
      She said, I see what you mean 'cause that's my twin, Yo
      Win-do-do-do-do-do-dow
      and umm.. We see you starring in our windows..."

      4. Anti-Matter - 4:02
      This track kicks off with a huge distorted guitar riff that will remind everyone of the White Stripes' massive "Blue Orchid". It is followed by a female voice and a heavy drum beat. Pharell then begins to rap as the drums develop into an unmistakeable drum 'n' bass rhythm. About half way through the song drops into a completely vocal section, layered with a brilliant beat and piano. The lyrics are completely contagious, making this another 4/5:

      "Motherf***er are you A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D.?
      You jump around like you A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D.?
      You kiss the steel like you A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D.?
      You f*** around like you A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D. A.D.H.D."

      5. Spaz - 3:51
      Spaz is the second single off the album; and was used as the soundtrack in the Microsoft Zune adverts. This is one of the most up-beat songs on the record, with tantalizing drum 'n' bass beats that will remind you of Aphex twin - as well as the heavy guitars reminiscent of some of Korn's earlier releases. These instrumental layers are coupled with Pharell's ingenious lyrics; encouraging the listener to "Spay if you want to". This is definitely one of the biggest tracks off the album and definitely worth a listen. Undoubtedly a 5/5

      6. Yeah You - 4:07
      At this point, there is a definite divide in the album. The previous five songs have been much more lively and danceable. Yet the rest of the album is in my opinion a bit of a let-down, with less variety of genres and more generic beats and vocals. That said, some of them still make for extremely catchy songs. Take "Yea You" for example. This is the kind of laid-back R&B/Blues that one would play on a Saturday night as background music. There is still the both jazzy and syncopated double-bass throughout this whole song that will remind you of the brilliant acoustic basslines used by the Gotan Project. The inclusion of the smooth saxophone melody furthers this relaxed style. Unfortunately this track is a bit soppy for my liking - especially after the brilliant previous 5 songs. Nevertheless, it still merits a 3/5

      7. Sooner or Later - 6:43
      Unfortunately, this is the song on the album where we learn that Pharell should never ever sing in falsetto again. The music for the track is all too similar to the previous song; with cheesy piano and depressing lyrics "Sooner or later it all comes crashing down.." It's not unfortunate that N.E.R.D managed to see sound, yet could not see sense enough to delete this song. 1/5

      8. Happy - 4:36
      Again, this song should never have been put on the album. N.E.R.D seem to be completely ripping off The Police here. Sadly, I wouldn't be able to tell this song from a B-Side by a failed Latvian '90s tribute band. Pharell's vocals are again irritatingly whiney. What possessed him to think he could sing instead of rap? 1/5

      9. Kill Joy - 4:10
      Fortunately this song has spared us of Pharell's falsetto. That said, it doesn't mean that the track is anywhere near as good as any of the first handful from the album. The rhythms are a decent combination of percussion and standard drums. But I was put off by the vocals because it wasn't singing, rapping, or even screaming. It was just a lot of shouting. Give this song a miss and make yourself a cuppa. 2/5

      10. Love Bomb - 4:36
      Thankfully this isn't as bad as some of the previous tracks on the album. The musical part of the track is actually very laid-back, yet it works surprisingly well. It reminded me of the Groove Armada song "At the River", which you may have heard as the theme song for the Marks & Spencer adverts. Unfortunately, it is ruined by Pharell's vocals. Again. Admittedly they aren't as terrible here as they were in the previous songs. But still, N.E.R.D could just as easily hired a more soulful female vocalist and kept Pharell on the triangle for this track. 3/5

      11. You Know What - 4:31
      What do N.E.R.D think they know? Evidently they know how to spoil the makings of a brilliant album. This is just another mediocre song that really disappoints following the cluster of anthems we heard towards the beginning of the record. Still, it's not dire - just a little tasteless and repetitive. On the other hand, I have to admit that I found myself tapping my feet to the chorus of this song, which can't be a bad sign! 2/5

      --- Overview ---
      As you can tell, I was completely shocked by the complete slump in the music's quality half way through the album. N.E.R.D is all about being different, experimenting, and breaking musical boundaries. Sadly, they only did this for 5 tracks. In fact, I would have paid full price for the first 5 tracks alone; at least it would have been one of the most revolutionary EPs of the year - or even decade. But by including the bland and tasteless tracks on this album, this album will disappoint most of us. These tracks actually hinder the content of the album.

      In conclusion, I don't recommend you buy this album. Instead, buy the first five tracks off iTunes for a cheaper price. Sure, the album cover is great and looks good - but its not worth the money you pay for it. Just download five songs for £3.95 and save yourself some money as well as saving your ears.

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      • More +
        18.06.2008 16:21
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        N*E*R*D's third album

        "Seeing Sounds" is the third album by N*E*R*D (Noone Ever Really Dies), who were said to have broken up a couple of years ago. Obviously, the rumours were not true, so Chad Hugo, Shay Haley and Pharrell Williams return with their Hip Hop-influenced Funk Rock music, but they are not concerned about rigidly sticking to any genre.

        Hugo and Pharrell make up The Neptunes, one of the biggest names in music production in any genre. Their beat making has been hear across the board from Hip Hop, to Pop, to R&B, and towards the end of the ninties and start of the '00s they managed to dominate airwaves with their distinctive spacey beats being heard everywhere. From here with the addition of the drummer Shay Haley, they take on all of their success and use it to make music for which they have more passion in creating.

        Generally the genre which they choose to go on aren't my thing, but their lead single "Everyone Nose", and it's remix (featured as a bonus track) had such and impact on me with the use of more hip hop than in the past that I had to see what elese they were capable of.

        1. Time For Some Action (Intro)

        2. Everyone Nose

        I cannot fully categorize the musical genre for this track, and this is how I feel N*E*R*D like it, because they don't want to be tied down to anything too specific, because this would force them into making music with little variation to fit expectations.

        Initially when you hear this, you will probably think it's a nice upbeat dance number, but if you listen cloesly to the lyrics, it's about women taking cocaine to have a good time. The composition of the track is very effective as it goes through the various mind-sets of someone taking a sustance like this, going from a near-stop, suddenly into a fast tempo as it becomes party time.

        **Five Stars**

        3. Windows

        Followin all of the excitement of the leading single, the mood is completely dropped as they opt for an Indie Rock track. I know that they don't like to be seen as one particular thing, but when they did this it just threw me as i didn't expect it, and they couldn't really execute with it as they hadn't really got the experience of this genre, opposed to others.

        The whole thing was just annoying, in terms of how they attempted something differnt and failed, and also tried so hard to make you want to enjoy this by going all out on the way that Indie rockers ted to make up a horus based upon noises rather than actaul words, but these only work on the odd occassion, and this wasn't one of those times.

        **Two Stars**

        4. Anti Matter

        Although I haven't got a clue what was meant by the lyrics, sang by Pharrell, I could really get into this track as it used a very nice blend of Hip Hop and Rock to come out with some great results. The rock was going to be in there from the start, so I shouldn't have to explain this, but the effective utilisation of DJ cuts made for an amazing hook, as part of the encorporation some Hip Hop to this track.

        There is a heavy and deep bassline throughout this and it echoes a rocked-out version of the main Hip Hop variation in Houston (strangely). This gave the overall impression of a hard, no nonsense band which are capable of doing anything (in terms of experimentation) to come up with something which peple are going to enjoy. However they don't stick to one slow tempo throughout as they speed it up too to challenge the listener.

        **Four Stars**

        5. Spaz

        This is an up-tempo number, which can be classified much more easily that a few of the other tracks on here as it is clearly a Funk Rock track, and at times you need to be able to categorise the music so you can stick on certain songs when you are in a specific mood. The drums seem to just rooll for this one, and creates a great dancing atmosphere.

        Something which I don't really get is the mood which we are meant to be in though as we are told by Pharrell to "Spaz if [we] want to", and I haven't got a clue what he means by this, but if he means it like people in the Frisco Bay, then he probably means just go crazy and dance, and from the music, I'd say it's quite likely.

        **Three Stars**

        6. Yeah You

        Oddly after all of the fast tempo and exciting tunes, the momentum which was generated is then simply dropped as we get into some lounge music with Pharrell singing softly along to the calm rhythm from Hugo and Haley behind the scenes. I felt that it showed some originality and diversity for the album

        **Three Stars**

        7. Sooner or Later

        I really couldn't be doing with any of this type depressive track as it just isn't what you wan from artists who are most famous for their more up-beat tunes. I understand that the wouldn't have liked to make it seem that they do all of the saem stuff all the time, bt we are aware that they change thngs up from the porduction which The Neptunes do, so I felt that they didn't have to assert themselves in this manner in a song which didn't work as Pharrelll's voice doesn't really suit this type of thing.

        **One Star**

        8. Happy

        This was the first proper Rock track on the album, and I cannot complain about it, because it is what they do, but regardless of this it isn't the type of music that I listen to (apart from odd tunes), and so I was never going to be able to get into it. However as a Rock song, I felt that it was decent and those who will appreciate this side of them will enjoy it more than I did.

        **Two Stars**

        9. Kill Joy

        I really liked the hook, which you hear most clearly ast the beginning as you have Pharrell make up a kind out scat, beatboxing type of rhythm from his exhalations, and from here the drums kick in to build upon these foundations in order to make it suitable for a Funk Rock tune.

        This would have to be one of the only times in the album where you can clearly call this Funk Rock as it uses such a fun melody and adds some smooth lyrics to take it to another level. Pharrell takes on his Skateboard P persona as he turns away from the falsetto singing, and instead, from the influence of the fast tempo he comes with some Rap Rock vocals (oddly starting with a story about Little Red Riding Hood)

        **Four Stars**

        10. Love Bomb

        As we have seen throughout the record, N*E*R*D have come with some very inventive tracks which seem to come out of nowhere, and the originality doesn't end herre as the opening words "Sittin' here in this white padded room..." sets you up for another strange song which has the group come out with something extremely unconventional.

        Pharrell has us follow his amazing imaginaion, which is obviously lead to him being placed in this facility, and it's quite extraordinary that he coulds get into the mind of someone like this and come out with a dreamy story. All of this is backed up by thee other pair who add the spacey beats to increase this feeling of floating around in the mind of such a person.

        **Two Stars**

        11. You Know What

        This is quite similar to the feel of "Yeah You" from earlier on in the album, and it once agin calms you down after so much of the more fiery and unpredictbale tunes which challenge you when you listen to them as they switch in the middle of them by removing certain elements of the track in order to put the emphasis on alternate part of the song.

        I felt that this kind of track wasn't needed as a transition stage to further parts of the lbum, and it allowed the artists to shw what they can all do together as Pharrell does his usaully falsetto singing, Haley has the Rock style of drumming down, and Hugo adds some Electronica to give it a spaced-out sound, and all of these effectively come together.

        **Three Stars**

        12. Laugh About It

        If you wanted to hear more songs like "Everyone Nose" which have a club feel to them, then this just will be pleased to have as it has the same sort of feel to it , but without the darker under-current to it, so you don't have to feel as though you are being deceived by the beat when the lyrics paint a more disturbing picture, because this one is a lot more honest.

        **Three Stars**

        I was surprised that the inventive ambiguous language used in "Everyone Nose" wasn't used anywhere else, and I was quite disappointed by this, because the remainder of it had lyrics which simply didn't make sense. Lots of ideas were brought up, however none of them were explored to any depth as in that song, so I was left without explanation for a lot of the LP.

        Overall, I was impressed with what I heard, and I was aware that I wasn't going to get exactly what I wanted, because they don't really go into my type of music that much, and because of this, I feel that I couldn't be harsh on it, because it did what was expected (although you can't exactly predict Experimental Rock), and the album was a good listen, which is bound to grow on me with time.

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      • Product Details

        Disc #1 Tracklisting
        1 Intro / Time For Some Action
        2 Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)
        3 Windows
        4 Anti Matter
        5 Spaz
        6 Yeah You
        7 Sooner or Later
        8 Happy
        9 Kill Joy
        10 Love Bomb
        11 You Know What
        12 Laugh About It
        13 Lazer Gun