Friday, January 28, 2011

Big Problem

Song: Big Problem
Artist: ANR
Album: Stay Kids

ANR are a Miami-based duo that merge elements of psychedelia, funk, and modern electro into a trippy yet immediate stew.   Very reminiscent of MGMT.

ANR are comprised of  Michael John Hancock (vocals) and Brian Robertson (keyboards, drum machines) changing their name slightly from when they were a four-piece and known as Awesome New Republic. (ANR is much better)  They have been garnering support by themselves supporting some indie heavy hitters on the road. (Animal Collective, Neon Indian, No Age, and Yeasayer.)  Their debut album, "Stay Kids," will be released this Spring.

Listening to "Stay Kids," the MGMT comparison is pretty overwhelming, and if I hadn't been so disappointed in that bands sophomore-slump album "Congratulations," I might be calling ANR a simple re-tread... but "Stay Kids" has all the elements I was hoping for from a follow-up to "Oracular Spectacular" but didn't get with "Congratulations."  But MGMT aside, "Stay Kids" is a pretty fantastic debut that should give them some buzz all of their own.

Title-track and opener "Stay Kids" builds upon itself with swelling atmospherics until it launches into some trippy Brian Wilson-esque wackiness.  Videogame bleeps and soaring vocals culminate into a pretty dramatic opener.  Things pick up tempo with the excellent second track "Big Problem," my current favorite.  A New Wave inspired rave-up with crunching guitars and hard-driving synths, and vocals that remind me of Miike Snow a bit.  I love it.

The album is pretty diverse in sound, from the stuttered crunk of "It's Around You," Depeche Mode-sounding "Holes," to the psychedelic pop of "The Endless Field of Mercury."  There is a lot going on here, and grows on you with repeated listens.

Check this one out.


Big Problem

The Endless Field of Mercury

ANR - "The Endless Field of Mercury" from Jamie Harley on Vimeo.

Stay Kids

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Freak the Freak Out

Song: Freak the Freak Out
Artist: Victoria Justice
Album: Freak the Freak Out (single)

Okay... anyone that knows me personally will find this one a little funny...

There's a good chance you've never heard of Victoria Justice.  She's the current teen star of the hit Nickelodeon show "Victorious."  Though in true Nick fashion, she has starred in or made guest appearances on many of the channel's shows.  First on the Jamie Lynn Spears show "Zoey 101," and then made-for-Nick movies including "Spectacular," (a musical) and "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf."

"Victorious" was created by actor (Head of the Class) turned creator producer Dan Schneider, who has been involved with many of Nick's live action shows, with "Zoey 101," "Drake & Josh," and their biggest live action hit "iCarly."  Like "iCarly," "Victorious" is a teen comedy that uses a lot of slapstick and is character driven.  The show revolves around a group of kids at a performance arts high school.

So why am I talking about a kids show?

Well... "Victorious" had their first "movie" (an hour long episode) back in November entitled "Freak the Freak Out" which highlighted the song of the same title at the end performed by Victoria.  I happened to be with my four-year-old nephew when the show debuted and heard him singing the song for days after.  For the holidays, a bought the song and put it on a CD for him and have heard from my brother-in-law that the nephew and a friend repeatedly reenact the end of the episode where the song is sung, and sing their little hearts out to it.  Very cute.

So again... why am I talking about this song on my music blog?  Well I've been listening to it since and... I kind of love it.  (blush)  Now I'm no stranger to pop music... but have pretty successfully drawn the line at tween pop of the Jonas/Miley/Disney variety and also haven't gotten into the pop songs of Bieber or iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove.  It's just not music made for a man in his 30's.  I don't hate it... I just don't really care... it's not made for me.  But "Freak the Freak Out," has been put into my rotation as of late and think the song is actually very fun in the pop-rock vein of Pink and Kelly Clarkson.  Actually, aside from lyrically being a little juvenile, I could hear Kelly doing this song.  She'd need a bit more edge, but the song has a "Since You've Been My Life Would Suck I don't Hook Up" vibe.

And the MORE I listen to it I realize how impeccably produced it is.  The light electronic beats sound a little "Empire of the Sun," the guitar work is light but effective... it's modern pop that's about ten times more melodic/catchy than anything on the last Aguilera record.  Fun.  The song was written by Michael Corcoran, Chris Abraham, Nick Hexum, Zack Hexum, and creator Dan Schneider.

I may lose some cool points (or readers) with this entry, but the four-year-old nephew, who's favorite songs include "Poker Face" and "Telephone," is his own little taste-maker.  And that's good enough for me.


Freak the Freak Out

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Song: One
Artist: Sky Ferreira
Album: One

Sky Ferreira is an American singer, model,  and actress that has had the "next big thing" tag stamped on her by a couple magazines and entertainment outlets as one to watch in 2011.

Ferreira got her start in her hometown of Los Angeles singing in church, and at fifteen, started her own MySpace page where she uploaded songs and built a small following.  As a fan, she reached out to production duo Bloodshy and Avant (Who are responsible for some of Britney's biggest hits; "Toxic," "Piece of Me," & "Radar" as well as make up indie-pop act Miike Snow) and they decided to work with her.  They have produced several tracks from her debut album which is scheduled for release sometime this year, including first European single, "One."  Here in the states, the first single will be "Obsession," which is a little more straight-forward pop-rock in the Pink/Kelly Clarkson vein.

"One" has been growing on me quite a bit, a mid-tempo eletcropop track with a swirling beat and stuttered vocals.  As a singer Ferreira doesn't offer anything quite that different, but she's either lucked out with Bloodshy & Avant, or there is more to discover with this girl.  I'm usually weary of model/singers... but this girl is a little interesting.  She's going to be the face of the new Diesel campaign, so we'll just have to wait and see which, modeling or music, makes her name.

Keep an eye out for this one.




Animal (Miike Snow Cover)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Shakin' All Over

Song: Shakin' All Over
Artist: Wanda Jackson
Album: The Party Ain't Over

Wanda Jackson is a rockabilly/country singer and guitarist whom gained popularity in the mid 50's and early 60's.  She was at the forefront of the rock & roll movement at the time, and is often referred to as "The First Lady (or Queen) of Rockabilly."  At the age of 73, she's about to release an album of new material, "The Party Ain't Over," at the end of the month.

As he did with Loretta Lynn back in 2004 on her excellent album "Van Lear Rose," Mr. Jack White of the White Stripes has teamed with Jackson to record a hard-rocking album that takes the sound from the past and modernizes it.

The duo teamed up to initially record a cover of Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" as a single for White's Third Man Records.  Based on the success of the single, they decided to record a full album.  "The Party Ain't Over" is a series of covers that range in release from the early 1900's to 2007.  Including Dylan's "Thunder on the Mountain," and "Shakin' All Over" by The Guess Who.

Jackson is noted as being the first woman to record a rock & roll song, 1958's "Let's Have a Party," which happens to be the only song I knew of hers and one I often play at parties.  She was linked romantically to Elvis Presley for a bit, whom encouraged her to sing rockabilly when she shared a bill with him.  The early 60's found her rockabilly the most popular, but as the genre lost favor she turned to country music around 1965.  After a having a number one record in Japan with "Fujiyama Mama," she recorded a song in German, "Santo Domingo" which also went to number 1.  The success of that record spawned eight more German singles.

In the late 60's Jackson's material took a bit of a violent turn including the hit "My Big Iron Skillet," which promised murder and/or a beat down to a cheating spouse.  In the early 70's, at her children's request, she began attending church, discovered Christianity, and began recording gospel.  Jackson released one album in the 80's and then another in 2003, and now "The Party Ain't Over" eight years later.

Even at 73, Jackson has a healthy amount of fire, and White brings a killer band to assist her, consisting of Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather/Raconteurs,) Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket,) Patrick Keeler (Raconteurs,) Ashley Monroe, Jackson Smith, & Karen Elson.  The music is crackling, and while Jackson's voice is weathered, there is a raw realness to it that completely works.  As it's an album of covers it fails to pack the punch of "Van Lear Rose," but it's a solid rock & roll record and an amazing achievement for a woman of her stature, and age.

You can find out more about Wanda on her official site.

I'm not sure how many more female legends White plans to re-ignite... but the results are certainly worth the listen.  I've got my fingers crossed for a Dolly Parton collaboration.


Shakin' All Over

You Know I'm No Good

Fujiyama Mama

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who's That Chick?

Song: Who's That Chick
Artist: David Guetta (Feat. Rihanna)
Album: One More Love

When "Only Girl (in the World)" came out as Rihanna's first single from her latest album "Loud," it was clear that she was going for a more club sound on this new record vs. the hard R&B of "Rated R."  This was further proven when this track, "Who's That Chick?" leaked shortly after.  I immediately loved the infectious beat and groove of the song and began to think that "Loud" might be right up my alley.

As with the new age of internet song leaks, much confusion over the track was discussed online.  It was reported that it wasn't for "Loud," (despite how well it fit with "Only Girl") and that it was for a Dorito's ad (wha?) and then that it wasn't a "Rihanna" track at all... that it was a David Guetta song, and she was just singing.

As it turns out, the track wasn't on "Loud," and that album turned more pop-R&B than the club-ness that "Only Girl" and "Chick?" promised.  It was released as a single by Guetta for his like fourth re-release of his album "One Love" to be titled "One More Love" and would be the lead single from that re-release.  But it also WAS used to promote Dorito's "Late Night" brand of chips (which I never saw or heard but personally would like to recommend their "Taco's at Midnight" flavor from that series.  Delicious, really.)

"One More Love's" bonus disc used it as its lead track and included other post-"One Love" collaborations such as Madonna's "Revolver," Kelly Rowland's "Commander," and Kelis' "Acapella."  And actually, if you have not yet gotten Guetta's album but like his brand of infectious pop-club tracks... this is a great version to get as the bonus tracks are pretty stellar, and fit with the rest of the album.

Rihanna apparently was looking for more "substance" for "Loud," and while lyrically "Chick?" is admittedly just a dumb "she's sexy on the dancefloor" song... there isn't anything else, save for "Only Girl," that got me moving like "Who's That Chick?" does from her record.  I think it has enormous hit potential, but is getting lost without official promotion from her.  Well, I've been loving it for months now, so here is my shout out... this one will get ya movin'.


Who's That Chick

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Song: Schizophrenia
Artist: Jukebox the Ghost
Album: Everything Under the Sun

I've been really digging this song the past few weeks and just have to share...

Jukebox the Ghost are a Washington DC-born, Philladelphia-based three-piece whom formed in 2003.  The band consists of Ben Thornewell (vocals & Piano,) Tommy Siegal (vocals & guitar,) and Jesse Kristin (drums.)  Their sound can best be described as off-beat piano-based pop in the vein of Ben Folds (whom they have opened for.)  "Everything Under the Sun" is their second album released last September after their debut, "Let Live and Let Ghosts" came out in 2008.

First track and standout "Schizophrenia" is an infectious slice of pop bliss that reminds me of 80's bands like Prefab Sprout and (slightly) Tears for Fears.  The song has off-beat hit written all over it... but it somehow has not caught on at alternative radio.

"Everything Under the Sun" is filled with catchy little ditties that, if "Schizophrenia" floats your boat... you'll totally dig.  "Half Crazy" is a guitar-based Barenaked Ladies-esque rocker, "Empire" sounds quite a bit like Ben Folds, and "Mistletoe" seems to turn part of the melody from "Jack U Off" and turns it into a piano-based love ballad.  Am I wrong there?

Jukebox the Ghost are the type of band I haven' listened to in a number of years, but there is a strong sense of songwriting and just pure joy in making music from their work.  I'm happy to have stumbled upon them.



Half Crazy


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Song: Cliche
Artist: Casey Spooner
Album: Adult Contemporary

Casey Spooner is one-half of NYC-based electroclash duo Fischerspooner who last released their third album "Entertainment" back in 2009.  I was really let down by "Entertainment" after their pretty excellent sophomore album, "Odyssey," from 2005.  Upon beginning to write a follow-up, it turned into a solo project, and a different sound.  "Adult Contemporary" is scheduled for release on the 24th of this month.

Once again teaming up with producer Jeff Saltzman whom worked on "Entertainment," Spooner leaves behind the electronics of Fiscerspooner and focuses on a more guitar-driven new wave sound.  He made album preview track "Faye Dunaway" available for free via his website.  It marks the departure in sound, incorporating a lightly crunching guitar, horns, and Spooners talk-like vocals.  I like this odd little song, and start to hear producer Salzman's work with the Killers a bit.

Getting past your Fischerspooner expectations is part one of "Adult Contemporary," part two being getting used to the "kitchen-sink" attitude to the album.  Jumping from the chugging, dark, rock of "Exquisite Corpse," to the goofy why-wasn't-this-left-off-the-album "Cinnamon Toast," and then the quite pretty mellow surf-rock of "Cliche."  Three tracks in and you're already confused on what this album is.

This is an odd record that I none-the-less have been listening to quite a bit.  It's a bit of a mess, but it does have a lot going for it.  There is a lot of 80's references, but I'm also hearing a little 90's alternative rock in there as well.  Again, odd odd odd record that is worth checking out.  "Cliche" is a strange choice to highlight from the record but it's probably my favorite.  You can check out fist single "Spanish Teenager" below.  I don't know what I would have picked for initial single if given the choice but pretty sure it wouldn't have been that.  I dunno... check this out.


Spanish Teenager

Faye Dunaway

Friday, January 14, 2011

Do You Need Someone

Song: Do You Need Someone
Artist: Beth Ditto
Album: Beth Ditto EP

Beth Ditto of the Gossip had done a song, "Cruel Intentions" with English duo Simian Mobile Disco on their last album "Temporary Pleasure."  A mid-tempo Nu Disco track that was moody and sold, as she does, by Ditto's amazing, strong voice.  She's teamed up once again with the guys of S.M.D. for a four-track E.P. that basically picks up where "Cruel Intentions" left off.

I was a huge fan of the Gossip's last album "Music for Men" which I thought should have brought them into the national spotlight, as Ditto really shined as a new voice for her generation.  The Beth Ditto E.P. goes for a more cool electro than the rock of the Gossip but it's undeniable that it is Ditto, her voice, and her melodies that remain the backbone of her work.

First track "Someone to Talk To" is a shimmering slick track that, like "Cruel Intentions" is mid-tempo and relies on a sexy atmosphere over catchy hooks.  It's quite beautiful.  "Goodnight Good Morning" is in the same vein and swims in this cool icy blue electro for a solid seven minutes.  "I Wrote the Book" has a touch of 90's house and is a bit more upbeat than its predecessors.  And "Open Heart Surgery" is a great self-empowerment anthem that again goes for more atmosphere than hooks.

It's unclear if Ditto plans to do a full album solo or not, but I certainly am eating up whatever she's serving.  This is really good, check it out.


Do You Need Someone

I Wrote the Book

Open Heart Surgery

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Song: Take Me Over
Artist: Cut/Copy
Album: Zonoscope

How did three years go by?  It was way back in 2008 that Australian electropop band Cut/Copy released their excellent alterna-rock infused electro album "In Ghost Colours" that included the amazing "Lights & Music," "Feel the Love," and "Hearts on Fire."  I really loved that album, and didn't realize that the band had recorded a follow-up, "Zonoscope," which is set for release at the beginning of next month.

The album was recorded in Melbourne last year and will be released on Modular just like the album prior.  I haven't heard the album in its entirety yet, just two very interesting tracks:

Back in July of 2010 the band released a preview track from the album, "Where I'm Going," which had a psychedelic rock vibe.  It was a departure from the more dance-oriented music from "Colours."  In particular the end of the track works some layered vocals and Doors-esque organ to create a trippy rock sound.  Is this a new direction?

I missed it at the time but last November the band released what seems to be the first single from the album, "Take Me Over."  This song is liberally dipped in 80's, from the Men at Work/"Land Down Under"-like opening to the synth-heavy (and yes a bit goofy) chorus.  There's some island sounds in there as well, some steel drum, some bird sound effects... there's a lot going on.  I must say I was taken aback initially, but it's grown on me a lot.  The cheese factor of that synth-heavy chorus reminded me of Goldfrapp's recent "Rocket" which sounded incredibly dated upon first couple listens but actually grew more modern and current with each listen.

I'm excited about this record and interested what the band has got up their sleeve.  It seems to be a departure from their early work... a little more organic and "band-like" which was a direction they toed the line with their previous record.  The last track on "Zonoscope" is even rumoured to be a sixteen-minute epic.  Oh boy.  From "Lights and Music" to "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida..." interesting.  My ears are open.

Love that album cover too.


Take Me Over

Where I'm Going

Blink And You'll Miss the Revolution (Live)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Second Chance

Song: Second Chance
Artist: Peter, Bjorn, and John
Album: Gimme Some

It's hard to imagine hearing a song like "Young Folks" for the first time and not being completely swept away initially by its catchiness, then by it's pure joy as a song.  The track that put Peter, Bjorn, and John on the map also may have been it's biggest crutch... how do you follow up something like that?

It helped that the album it was on, "Writer's Block" was a pretty solid collection of catchy indie-pop that while may not have included another gem as mind-blowingly great as "Young Folks," it was consistently enjoyable and put the band center stage for a "what will they do next?" guessing game.  Well, a song like "Young Folks" maybe only come along once a career, so it's no surprise that the band followed up "Writer's" with the "experimental" "Seaside Rock" in 2008.  By putting out something so left field... the pressure is off right?  Well I would describe "Seaside Rock" as less "experimental" and more straight-up "unlistenable."  Just a year later they truly followed up "Writer's" with another pop album, the unfortunately disappointing "Living Thing" which contained a desperate-to-be-catchy single "Nothing to Worry About" (which I liked okay) and then a lot of okay filer that didn't leave much of an impression.  I just couldn't get into that record.

So it is with much joy that I report that Sweden's Peter, Bjorn, and John's latest album, "Gimme Some" set to be released in March is a return to form.  From the beat-heavy call-to-arms opener "Tomorrow Has to Wait" to the moody rock of "May Seem Macabre," the album crackles from track to track, jumping genre's, and brings the band back to center stage.

My initial favorite is the cow-bell lovin' "Second Chance," a punchy number that might just be a request from the band to give them another shot.  I'm sold, it's a layered rocker with some 80's strut, a great groove, and most importantly... that sense of joy that's been missing a bit from their recent work.  "Eyes" is giving me a Go-Go's-meets-Vampire Weekend after they meet Jimmy Buffett vibe, and "Breaker, Breaker" flies by at a (ahem) break-neck speed that despite its length, doesn't feel like an interlude.

By third listen it was clear that the band has taken some time with this record and really wanted to reclaim the magic of "Writer's Block."  And yet this isn't as sunny of a record.  This is much more a "rock" album while still containing the pop elements we fell in love with.  Great stuff.

"You can't can't can't count on a second chance..." the band sings on this new stellar album, but I'm certainly glad they've gotten one.


Second Chance


I Know You Don't Love Me

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hold it Against Me

Song: Hold it Against Me
Artist: Britney Spears
Album: Hold it Against Me (single)

In the very early months of 2011 two huge pop acts were promising huge new singles from their forthcoming albums, America's Train wreck Britney Spears (who admittedly has had very little crazy over the last two years) and Lady Gaga, and artist that has taken the pop world by storm like no other we've seen in a number of years.  Gaga has been touting her new album as "the greatest of the decade" and it's title-track first single as an "anthem."  Britney's new work has been more of a mystery, with her producers just promising something hard and "edgy."

First out the gate is Britney's new single "Hold it Against Me," to be released on January 11th, with the as-yet untitled album due in March.  The song is the most "club-ish" she's ever done as a single, with a hard beat, yearning chorus, and... more hard beats.  It's pretty intense, and maybe not exactly what I was expecting.  It's very Euro-disco, with a surprising breakdown (for a pop single) just two minutes in.  While it may be "hard and edgy" for the States, this is the sound of European club music.

What do you think readers?


Hold it Against Me

Friday, January 07, 2011

Living for the Weekend

Song: Living For the Weekend
Artist: Jill Jones
Album: Living for the Weekend

This song is a brand new discovery thanks to my friend Katharine and is all kinds of apropos. First, I was in the mood for a big gay anthem as I headed into the weekend, and here is a big gay anthem ABOUT the weekend.  Perfect. :)

This song is a little extra fitting because Jill Jones was a former back-up singer for the former Teena Marie who just passed away just a week ago.  Jones was Marie's cousin, and became part of Prince's crew back in the 80's.  She became his back-up vocalist when he heard her sing for Marie whom was opening for him on the "Dirty Mind" tour.  She was featured in the videos for "Little Red Corvette" and "1999" as well as having small parts in both "Purple Rain" and "Graffiti Bridge."  Prince ended up producing her self-titled debut in 1987 which was released on Prince's label Paisley Park.

The song "She's Always in My Hair," a b-side to "Raspberry Beret" was written about her and she became Prince's on-again, off-again girlfriend.

It wasn't until 2001 when she released her sophomore album, "Two" and "Living for the Weekend" is from 2009, released on Peace Bisquit.

I immediately loved this song, it just really reminded me of... the weekend!  And here we are kids, enjoy it!

Living for the Weekend

Violet Blue

Mia Bocca

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I Can't Afford It

Song: I Can't Afford It
Artist: Wendy Ho
Album: Yes, I'm a Ho!

Back in early August last year I highlighted a comedian/singer named Wendy Ho I'd seen here in New York a couple years ago as I'd come across her again and a bit of a controversy in which the TV show "nip/tuck" stole (or heavily borrowed from) her persona.  Her one single "Bitch, I Stole Your Purse" was a cute, if vulgar comedy track that despite being one-joke was actually pretty listenable.  At the time I also found a video touting her new album, "Yes, I'm a Ho."  The video was so funny... I questioned if it could possibly be real.

Take a look...

So wouldn't you know... it was real, and the album is out.  "Yes, I'm a Ho!" is vulgar, puerile, hysterical, and rather catchy.  I'd complained that she seemed to be a one-joke act, and that her songs followed suit. But listening to the album something else becomes very clear... this girl can really really sing.  Joke slow jams such as "Gurl, Putcho Tampon In" and "Lucky Man" sound pretty authentic, if not for what she's singing about.

"I Can't Afford It" is honestly one of her tamer songs and yet... totally offensive.  But very very funny, and again... well sung.  Her album goes more for 70's style disco than the faux-hip-hop/dance of "Purse," but it certainly doesn't sound dated.  Listening to her, and how good she sounds, one could almost feel bad she's "waisting" a pretty great talent as a vocalist.  But then again, what she is doing certainly hasn't been done before.

Check out her official site here.  You can buy "Yes, I'm a Ho!" for $10 directly from her site here. As well as preview all the tracks in full.  But you can also get her "mixtape" "Number 2" completely for free right here.  "Number 2" features the album preview above as well as skits and re-worked songs that she Ho-afies.  Most notable is "Poop Noodle," which takes Alicia Bridges' disco smash hit "I Love the Nightlife" and... well... I can't even type it.  You're just going to have to watch it:

Poop Noodle

Obviously, Wendy Ho is a love-her or hate-her kind of artist.   I completely understand if you watched the above video and shut it down after twenty seconds of pure horror.  But there is also a chance that you're trying to read this sentence through gut-busting induced tears.

If that's the case, you're welcome... if not, my apologies.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Buy Nothing Today

Song: Buy Nothing Today
Artist: The Go! Team
Album: Rolling Blackouts

I was a huge fan of English, Brighton-based sextet The Go! Team's debut album "Thunder, Lightening, Strike" from 2004.  A mix of garage rock, b-boy culture and old school hip-hop, Marching band brass, guitars, and schoolyard chanting, the band's sound was immediate and exciting.  I flipped for their initial singles "Ladyflash" and "Bottle Rocket."  The band is releasing their third album, "Rolling Blackouts" this year.

Despite loving "Thunder, Lightening, Strike" so much, I couldn't get that into their follow-up, 2007's "Proof of Youth."  I gave it a listen or two but it just didn't grab me.  I've gotten to listen to "Rolling Blackouts" a handful of times and it seems to be an improvement, but I'm still just getting into it.  (I also think I need to give "Proof of Youth" a better chance.)

The album starts with a bang; the immediate, whizz-bang "T.O.R.N.A.D.O." which instantly gets you back into The Go! Team's aesthetic.  Marching horns, stuttered beats, vinyl scratching... The Go! Team are back!

I also like "Secretary Song," a colab with Satomi Matzusaki of Deerhoof that highlights their affinity for 60's girl-group sounds.  Also similar is the sunny "Ready to Go Steady," which is cute and fun.  Much of the album is very charming.  Repeated listens are making me grow even fonder.

First single "Buy Nothing Today" features vocals by Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino, check it out.


Buy Nothing Today


Rolling Blackouts Trailer

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Song: Safe
Artist: Duran Duran
Album: All You Need is Now

A look at the history of 80's music is not complete without British Pop/Rock band Duran Duran whom ruled the charts during the Me Decade with super hits "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Notorious," and "Girls on Film" just to name a few.  They've pretty much been making music since with small gaps here and there, band member shifting, and lapses in artistic judgement.  (!!) They haven't had a solid hit since the 90's when they had a slew of hits from their self-titled ("The Wedding Album") back in 1993, but their thirteenth effort, the recently released "All You Need is Now" is a return to form and their most well-known sound.

Despite that similar marketing catch ("a return to form") being used on the band before, just a couple listens to the new material and you realize that this isn't the lack-luster New Wave of "Astronaut" nor the hip-hop beats of 2007's (disastrous) Timbaland/Timberlake assisted "Red Carpet Massacre."  Opener and title-track "All You Need is Now" sounds very Garbage-esque until the chorus kicks in and the Duran Duran-ness of the song seeps in.  Lead Simon Le Bon's voice sounds as good, and unmistakable, as ever.  It's an exciting beginning to a very fun record.

The band teamed up with Mark Ronson around the "Red Carpet Massacre" era for an invitation-only performance where they performed songs from that album, Le Bon supplied vocals for songs from Ronson's "Version" project, as well as re-worked versions of Duran Duran classics.  The project must have been a successful collaboration as Ronson has returned to produce "All You Ned is Now" with winning results.  They haven't sounded this immediate for years.

"Blame the Machines" sounds just like the Duran Duran of old, "Leave a Light On" is a grow-on-you ballad that reminds you that the band does have the ability to write a moving slow jam ("Ordinary World") and "Being Followed" gives them a Giorgio Moroder beat and a Scissor Sisters-like vibe.  That continues a bit with "Safe" which features the Scissor's Ana Matronic, though sounds more like she's from Lucsious Jackson.  Fun track.

I've been listening to "All You Need is Now" for a couple weeks now and it's really grown on me.  I am a big fan of their 80's singles, and also had been enjoying a recent re-issue of "Notorious."  If you like their older stuff you'll dig this.


Safe (Feat. Ana Matronic)

All You Need is Now

Blame the Machines

Monday, January 03, 2011

It Happened Today

Song: It Happened Today
Artist: R.E.M.
Album: Collapse into Now

After two very mediocre and one truly terrible album in a row, the days of waiting with baited breathe for the new R.E.M. album are sadly gone.  And while it's difficult for such a former hardcore fan to say, let alone write down, it's now been well over ten years since the band put out a truly amazing album. (In my opinion; 1996's "New Adventures in Hi-Fi.")

Although the band did turn the car around after the disaster that was "Around the Sun" and released the raw and "R.E.M.-is-exciting-again "Accelerator" in 2008.  I did really like that record, and yet... I didn't listen to it all that much.  It was a return to form for sure, but didn't grab me and shake me to the core like the R.E.M. of the past. Like Weezer, maybe it's just time to forget what's come before  and try to get as much out of the new material as you can. (And ten years ago I would have seriously scoffed at placing those bands anywhere close to each other.)

But grumpy expectations aside, R.E.M. are releasing their fifteen album in March, "Collapse into Now."  It is once again produced by "Accelerate's" Jacknife Lee, recorded in Berlin, Nashville, and New Orleans, the band has called the album "expansive" and not tied into a particular sound or direction.

I've heard two tracks thus far; opener "Discoverer" which sounds like it could have been pulled from "Accelerate," a bristling guitar rocker layered with Michael Stipe's talk-singing and a chorus that simply repeats the title.  It's very R.E.M.-ish and upon repeated listens, I must say that I'm digging it.  Track 5 from the album, "It Happened Today" featuring Eddie Vedder and Joel Gibb sounds a bit like it was written from the "Up" period though isn't electronic in sound.  Actually, it sounds like it was from "Up" played live. (Despite that album being a disappointment, I saw that tour and they never sounded better... with the new songs sounding great live despite being a bit limp recorded.)

These are two good songs, which points me to believe that we don't have another "Around the Sun" on our hands, and though they may not have the bite of say "Drive," "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" or even recent singles "The Great Beyond" or "Imitation of Life." (Not to mention their earlier material,)   with collaborations from Patti Smith, Peaches, and Lenny Kaye, "Collapse Into Now" will certainly be worth the time to check out.

You can get "Discoverer" for free if you go to the band's official website.


It Happened Today


Supernatural Superserious (forgot how much I liked this single from "Accelerator")