Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Song: Undercover
Artist: The Chain Gang of 1974
Album: Wayward Fire

Back in November I highlighted a Colorado-based "band" The Chain Gang of 1974, which is mainly comprised of singer/multi-instrumentalist Kamtin Mohager and their self-released first album proper "White Guts."  Well it seems that Mohager has been picked up by a label, Modern Art, and has re-jiggered "White Guts" with some new tracks, lost a couple, saved the good ones, and re-named it "Wayward Fire."

It's funny, because I was just re-listening to "Guts" and thinking how it had a bunch of great tracks on it, with a couple, like "Stop," "Hold On," "Matter of Time," and "Don't Walk Away" that really deserved a bigger audience.  It seems that "Wayward Fire" may be the push.

I heard a little of Beck, Simple Kid, and LCD Soundsystem in The Chain Gang of 1974 initially, but there is also a HUGE 80's influence in the music, from Tears for Fears to Echo and the Bunnyman.  The new tracks really up those influences as well.  New track and first single "Undercover" grooves with a new wave meets Sisters of Mercy industrial crunch.  It's a touch dark but also very pop and immediate. I also really like new track "Taste of Heaven" as well... very very good.

All-in-all only five tracks made it from "White Guts" and they are by far the best.  The new additions give the album a more cohesive feel, and sway his sound away from his more experimental tendencies.  But the album closes, once again, with the lost 80's gem that never way, "Don't Walk Away," a song that seems to be begging to be taken back in time to heighten an emotional scene in a John Hughes movie.  It's just so fantastic.

I went back to check out the tracks left off, and honestly... despite being more experimental and less immediate, there are still some great tracks off "White Guts" as well.  I miss the messy-yet-propulsive "F'n Head," and the kicking "Visually Appealing."  Oh well, they still exist... and if you flip for "Wayward Fire" they would make nice companion b-sides to expand the albums length. Dig.

Just when I was thinking it might be time to re-visit the band and really put on the heavy recommendation, here they come with the album all shinny and new.  Perfect.  I was going back and forth as "Don't Walk Away" is honestly an unsung classic in the wings, but it's a bit slow... and new single "Undercover" is pretty great.  I'm going with the new single... but PLEASE take a listen to "Don't Walk Away" below... it's so amazing.  You can also listen to a couple other tracks on my pos from last November linked at the top of the post.  This is a great album... get it!!!


Hold On
Don't Walk Away

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Song: Crystalline
Artist: Bjork
Album: Biophilia

Wow, it's been a LONG time since we've gotten a new album proper from Bjork.  Since the release of 2007's "Volta," she's released a song here and a song there, worked on different music projects but not a full-blown Bjork release.  I've been a fan since "Debut" and while I haven't loved every single record, including her last two, "Volta" and even '04's "Medulla," (though they obviously had many many gems on them) you can count on Bjork to keep it interesting for sure... but I was excited to hear new music, and that she has a new album on the way entitled "Biophilia."

"Biophilia" is being described as the first "app album."  It was partially recorded on an iPad, and is a collaboration with Apple.  The project is being directed by longtime collaborator Michel Gondry, and will encompass apps, music, internet, installations, and live shows.  The first app in the series was called "Solar System," and included music, an eBook, 3D diagrams, movies, along with animations from NASA, The European Space Agency, and the Japan Aerospace exploration Agency.  Starting this month, every single song on the album will be released as an app for the iPad twice a month.  Interesting... to say the least.

"Crystalline" has just been released as the first single, and I suppose an app though I don't have an iPad to let you know what that's al about.  Though there is some crazy space-theme happening on her official site where you can see pictures of crazy looking rocks.

But what is "Crystalline" like?

Well, it starts with a toy piano and Bjork ever-striking voice, talking about crystals and space, and then a minimal beat comes in.  The song then grows and grows, isn't particularly catchy... but does have her typically interesting soundscape.  Just when you think that the song needs something, and actually needs her to like, create a brand new sound or type of beat it... turns into a drum and bass track circa the mid-90's.  (???) Well, it's only toward the end and doesn't overpower the track but... drum and bass?  At least she isn't making a bloody dubstep album.

Bjork has made some of my favorite albums of all times so I will follow her on any album journey.  Not sure what to make of "Crystalline" or the concept of "Biophilia," which given that I don't have an iPad I can't fully enjoy, but I'll check out the music... and as always report back.  ;)



Michel Gondry Bjork Music Videos:

Army of Me

Friday, June 24, 2011

Moves Like Jagger

Song: Moves Like Jagger
Artist: Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera
Album: Moves Like Jagger

So remember how immediate "This Love" and "Makes Me Wonder" were?  And remember how kind of amazing "It Won't Be Soon Before Long" turned out to be?  Well... I do, but I also unfortunately remember just how ho-hum Maroon 5's third album, "Hands All Over" was.  "Misery" was okay... and I honestly didn't connect with one other track on that record.  Disappointing.  But but but... I am happy to report that Maroon 5's latest single "Moves Like Jagger" featuring Christina Aguilera is a wham-bam super single that is a new out-of-nowhere song of the summer contender.

I had started watching "The Voice," the new singing competition show starring both Maroon's Adam Levine & Aguilera (hence the track) as well as Ceee-Lo and Blake Shelton.  I sort of lost my interest recently, but both Levine, and to a certain extent Aguilera, come off really well on the show.  In the case of Levine, it seemed that this was going to be a new direction of his career... if we are to read anything into his statement from the "Hands" promotion that their next album might be their last.  But I'm sorry, a song as groove-tastic as "Moves Like Jagger" seems to come so effortless (regardless of "Hands All Over") to the band, that the thought of them throwing in the towel seems like pop sacrilege.

Is it the killer guitar lick?  The infectious whistling?  The uncharacteristic (for Maroon 5) electro beat?  Levine's soul funk butter voice?  Or that crazy catchy chorus?  It's all of these things... and Aguilera doesn't even ruin it when she comes in at 2:15... we've already fell in love.  And well, admittedly the girl does work this track . (Never been a fan.)

Maroon 5 was always a little guilty pleasure to me.  Especially since there were a couple insipid slow tracks form their first record that I literally couldn't listen to.  But "Before Long" really changed my opinion, proving themselves to be pretty gifted pop songwriters.  The last record may have been ho-hum, but maybe it's taught them a lesson.  Despite the kinda-goofy title...  this one is a real winner.

Well, Martin Solveig's "Hello" has been my current placeholder for song of the summer.  I'm also digging Britney's "I Wanna Go," but I can't FULLY give it to Ms. Perry this year.  She's had it I don't know how many summer's in a row... and given "Last Friday Night" is the fifth single off the impressive but long-in-the-tooth "Teenage Dream," she would have needed to come out with the new, no-doubt random tack-on mega single for the "Teenage Dream Extended Version" to get it this time.  But here is a brand new contender in the ring, just like "the Voice," which has become a semi-surprise early summer hit.

Sing it.


Moves Like Jagger
Moves Like Jagger (Live on the Voice)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What About Us

Song: What About Us
Artist: Handsome Furs
Album: Sound Kapital

I've been really enjoying the third album by Montreal-based electro-rock act Handsome Furs, a side project for Wolf Parade's singer, songwriter, and guitarist Dan Boeckner and his wife Alexei Perry.  I never followed Wolf Parade, and actually was a bit confused when I read that name as I thought it was this band, but no... regardless, it's always a bit of a surprise when you connect with a new album only to realize that the band have several more they've done prior.  Though apparently, "Sound Kapital" is the first the duo wrote solely on keyboards and was inspired by electronic and industrial music of Eastern Europe from the 80's. (which is, as you know readers, totally my bag.)

I realize that I've begun to sound like quite a broken record when I say "here's another new indie band obviously inspired by the 80's..."  While this is undoubtably true, it also has to do with that's just the new music that's grabbing my ear lately.  Handsome Furs are an interesting hybrid as, at least given just "Sound Kapital," they mix that dark 80's heavy beat style, I am also hearing a little Bruce Springsteen and a little Arcade Fire to their sound.  I've been pretty obsessed with Lady Gaga's new album, and most recently the amazing current single "Edge of Glory," which leans heavy on The Boss, and adds those 4/4 dance beats she's so fond of.  This style is also found in the track "Hair," which also uses the late great E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemmons.  Obviously, she didn't create a new genre, but now that it seems the world has tried everything musically, the only place left to go is back... and use what may have been considered dated sounds to write brand new songs.  The key is the simplicity.  And in a way... they sound classic.

"Sound Kapital" is a wildly consistant listen, a mix of heavy synths, dark vocals, and tough beats.  I really like opener "When I Get Back," as well as the hard-driving second track "Damage."  I also really like the percolating "Memories of the Future," and the catchy "What About Us," which really exemplifies the albums dark yet pop sound.  I really like this record, give it a listen.


What About Us

Memories of the Future
When I Get Back

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On a Train

Song: On a Train
Artist: Yuksek
Album: Living on the Edge of Time

French-born music producer, remixer, and DJ Yuksek's hard hitting club track "Tonight" was one of my favorites from 2009, when he released his debut album "Away From the Sea."  It was by far my favorite track on the record, which I couldn't really get in to.  But it makes his new album, "Living on the Edge of Time" all the more amazing because it has a different more new wave-rock sound than the Daft Punk-esque house of "Sea," and it is also... all good from start to finish.

Things start with the piano-based opener "Always on the Run," which again took me off guard because aside from a backbeat, it's very different in sound than his previous material.  But upon a couple listens, and wrapping my head around the album, it's really grown on me and the perfect start to such a great album.  I'm hearing, like everywhere else, an 80's influence.  But there are some odd touchstones within "Time," from Roxy Music to O.M.D.and then beyond.

"White Keys" is pretty anthemic, with it's child chorus and killer synth riff.  "Off the Wall" marries a bouncing beat with a deep dark bass line and even has a 50's doo-wop thing going on.  Crazy.  "On a Train," the first single, didn't grab me much at first, possibly because I was expecting another "Tonight," but in the context of the record I see it as a perfect choice for initial single, and one of the albums punchiest.  It reminds me of The Cars a bit in its sound and attitude.

"To See You Smile," the albums mid-point is a bit of a snooze, which makes it a bit of a surprise.  Maybe it's there just for things to come back for "The Edge," which returns the album to mid-tempo territory with a loop of a chorus and a nice new wave melody.  The banging piano from "Always on the Run" returns for the opening of "Fireworks," which then is cut with a killer guitar riff and a propulsive beat.  It's the most "Tonight" of the new tracks.

Again the rest of the album is really decent.  This is a surprise record as it has just as many, if not more, elements of English pop-rock than club music.  I even hear a little Kaiser Chief's vibe in a track like "Miracle," which works just as good pub-drinking as it would zooming in the car.  Once I got over the now-for-something-different sound of the record, it's settled in as quite a good collection of songs.  I think it elevates Yuksek from just another French DJ, to album-oriented musician.

Check this out.


On a Train

Thursday, June 16, 2011

World of Doubt

Song: World of Doubt
Artist: Tom Vek
Album: Leisure Seizure

I've been listening to self-taught multi-instrumentalist Tom Vek's second album, "Leisure Seizure" which was just released earlier this month and haven't been able to wrap my head around it.  I wasn't familiar with Vek before, and yet there was a familiarity to his sound that I just couldn't place.  His music is a mix of rock with elements of electronic used more experimentally vs. hook-driven.  I hear a bit of Beck, a little Paul Westerberg, and a little Yeasayer.  But this AM it hit me... it was his voice that was familiar, and his interesting off-kilter cadence reminded me of... Kid Cudi.  It's a little bit of a stretch, and the familiarities end there... but regardless, "Leisure Seizure" is worthy of a listen.

Apparently Vek signed to Tummy Touch Records in 2001, with eight years of recorded material he wrote in his parents garage.  Despite the deluge, his debut album "We Have Sound" was released in 2004, so it's been a bit of a wait for new material.

A full listen of the album proved that Vek is a bit of oddball, certainly marching to the beat of his own drum.  And yet, he at one time appeared as an actor on The O.C., where he performed one of his songs.

On one hand the album seems pretty concise, and on the other a little musically all over the place.  Lead single "A Chore" has a rolling propulsion of crashing instrumentation and buzzed out guitar, lead track "Hold Your Hand" has a touch of Talking Heads at their most manic, and swirling dark beats that only sort of go with his bored/yearning vocals, and "World of Doubt" sounds like Cake doing experimental junk-yard pop.  Quite a trip.

I'm still warming up to the album as it's not a warm and fuzzy record.  At times it almost seems Vek is a little bored with what he's doing, but that quickly turns toward something manic, odd, and kind of amazing.  I'm going to seek out that first record to hear his progression over the past couple years.  I get the feeling, just by this album, that he's sort of trying to work himself out a bit still.  It's fascinating, and he may be one guy to watch indeed.


World of Doubt

A Chore

CC (You Set the Fire in Me)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In Your Eyes

Song: In Your Eyes
Artist: Edwyn Collins
Album: Losing Sleep

Edwyn Collins is probably best known for his out of left field hit "A Girl Like You," his 60's Go-go-esque single from his third solo album, "Gorgeous George."  It was placed on the "Empire Records" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" soundtracks and got a ton of play on alternative, and then pop radio back in the 90's.  I used to really love the song, but never got the album, nor paid attention to anything the man has done before or since, until the release of his recently released eighth album, "Losing Sleep," which happened to be his highest charting album in the UK since '94's "Gorgeous George."

Collins is a Scottish singer-songwriter specializing in guitar-driven pop songs.  He was a founding member of the late 70's post-punk/new wave band Orange Juice, who were best know for the single "Rip it Up." (see below)  That band was a huge influence on the arty dance-punk of Franz Ferdinand, and Collins has maintained his knack for writing catchy guitar pop.  But I feel his most powerful weapon is his sexy semi-bored voice.  Though, from my limited knowledge of his work, still has never been worked to better use than the groovy "A Girl Like You."

"Losing Sleep" isn't a remarkable album, but coming from nowhere for me as I haven't followed him, it was all a pleasant surprise.  First and title track is punchy and sets the tone for the album.  I also like the rocking "What is My Role," and "In Your Eyes," a collaboration with Brooklyn-based indie rockers The Drums.  Again, not a necessarily important rock record, but one that really is well-written and unassuming.  Give a listen.


In Your Eyes
Losing Sleep
Rip it Up - Orange Juice

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mind Your Own Business

Song: Mind Your Own Business
Artist: Delta 5
Album: Mind Your Own Business

I can't say that I was ever HUGE into post-punk, but did get into bands like Gang of Four and Television when I was in college and obsessed with the history of alternative rock.  In retrospect, it's the disco influence that probably grabs me, mixed with the DIY punk energy.  It feels alive, fresh, and fun.

So my very good friend John told me about Delta's 5's "Mind Your Own Business," a favorite track he use to hear at a dirty East Village hot spot toward the end of the night years ago when the insanity was at a fever pitch.  It is so immediate, goofy yet edgy... and by the end you're pretty much saying to everyone in your head; "mind your own business."  Love it.

Delta 5 were an English band from Leeds (also the home of Gang of Four) that included members Julz Sale, Ross Allen, Bethan Peters, Kelvin Knight, and Alan Riggs.  "Mind Your Own Business" was their debut single in 1979, they released only one album, "See the Whirl," which was a flop due to its too clean production.  After it flopped, the band called it quits.  But they gave us "Mind Your Own Business," which has been covered by Chicks on Speed, Le Shok, and Pigface. (???)

Hearing this, I realize that there has got to be a good post-punk compilation out there to find more hidden gems like this.  I know nothing more of the band, but like a lot of "periods" in music, usually there are a lot of bands with one or two songs that exemplify the genre, vs. entire albums.  BUT, if you do have an interest in post-punk I HIGHLY recommend Television's "Marquee Moon" or Gang of Four's "Entertainment."  Probably the two best undisputed post-punk classics.

This is a killer track, add it to your library!


Mind Your Own Business

Monday, June 13, 2011


Song: Hello
Artist: Martin Solveig
Album: Smash

Well here is my new, out-of-nowhere, go-to party starter!  A song I discovered just last weekend using the, at least up to this point, pretty useless Shazam.  Are you familiar with Shazam?  Shazam is a phone application that will "listen" to any song that is playing using your phone's microphone, makes an "acoustic fingerprint," and then matches it within a database.  So basically if you are somewhere and hear a song that you want to know what it is... you use Shazam and if it matches up, it tells you the song, shows you the album cover, gives you links to either buy the track or watch it on YouTube... pretty cool.  But I've had the app for probably over two years, and would say it has about a 10% success rate.  So I rarely use it, and hadn't in ages... but last week was at a bar, heard this song, and HAD to know what it is.  What did we do without technology?

Martin Solveig is a Paris-based French DJ and Producer.  Born Martin Picandet, he chose the stage name Solveig as a homage to French actress Solveig Donmartin... who happens to star in one of my favorite movies, German filmmaker Wim Wenders' globe trotting road movie-meets apocalyptic science fiction epic "Until the End of the World."  (Which happens to have an incredible soundtrack.)

But I digress...

Solveig has been releasing albums since 2002 with "Smash," his fifth and most recent, which just came out earlier this month.  "Hello" is the first single, was released in September of last year (where have I been?) and contains vocals by Dragonette.  "Hello" is a song that grabs you immediately, is very cute and fun, and has a rather funny video starring a self-deprecating Solveig and fellow superstar French DJ Bob Sinclar.  It's cute.  But this song is dance-around-in-your-house-by-yourself material, completely infectious.

The rest of "Smash" is actually pretty good to.  Nothing that blew me away per-say, just a good collection of catchy Euro-disco tracks with vocals by Kele, Sunday Girl, Dev, and the aforementioned Dragonette, with another Solveig collab single, "Boys & Girls" is also included.  I really like the Kele-assisted "Ready 2 Go," and the dumb-fun upbeat silliness of "We Like to Smash" and "Big in Japan."  Fun record.

But if you haven't yet heard the elation and joy that is the four minutes and forty-two seconds of "Hello," well you are in for a treat on this Monday morning.

Let's kill it this week.


Ready 2 Go
Boys and Girls

Friday, June 10, 2011


Song: 1+1
Artist: Beyonce
Album: 4

I'm not a huge Beyonce fan.  I like a lot of her singles, think she is an electrifying performer, and has established herself as a true superstar, no question.  But musically, she's never made an album that I would listen from start to finish.  But, if there was one thing you could always count on her for... was a FIERCE single.  From "Crazy in Love" to "Irreplaceable," to of course... "Single Ladies," every single record contained at least one killer track.  So I think it's come as a surprise to everyone just how "meh" her new single "Run the World" is.  Sure, "Deja Vu" was kind of just okay when that came out... but then she killed it with a slew of tracks from "Irreplaceable" to "Get Me Bodied" to "Green Light" to "Ring the Alarm..." "B'Day" turned out to be one of her most hit packed records.  So was "Run the World" a lackluster misnomer from her new album "4" with the really off the wall stuff just waiting?  Well, it is a misnomer... but the surprising thing is that it is actually the most upbeat track on the record.  What happened to Beyonce?

Well, this is a new Beyonce.

I've been listening to "4" and for the first time, I find myself really trying to wrap my head around a Beyonce record.  Her output, while of unquestionable quality, was pretty straight forward.  But nothing quite prepared me for "4," and the first track "1+1" which is by far one of the most mesmerizing things she's ever laid down.  It's starts with a light strummed electric guitar, and then B's voice comes in... deep soulful, emotional... it's a song that commands attention not by being noisy or brash... just stark and sweeping emotion.  In a way it's the first time I've felt Beyonce wasn't singing at me... but to me.  This song envelops you, and then this 80's Prince electric guitar kicks in and you're sure you've left the earth... let alone a Beyonce record.  What the what is this?  Put your hands up!

Next is "I Care," a stark electro track that builds from her amazing, measured vocals, until the chorus kicks in... and while it's anthemic, it's restrained, and totally mesmerizing.  "I Miss You" slows things down once again for another stark, vocally strong, and emotional churner.  Second single "Best Thing I Ever Had" is a pretty, straight-forward Beyonce ballad that does have a nice chorus... it doesn't thrill me.  Kanye West and Andre 3000 pop up in "Party," which makes it seem that we're back to a regular get-the-party-started Beyonce album, but it's pretty mid-tempo, and goes for an 80's R&B sound that does NOT scream club-banger.  I hear a little Pointer Sisters, though that's not quite right.  "Rather Die Young" is another ballad and admittedly... she started to lose me here.  And mid-way point "Start Over" seems like more of the same, though it has a nice build, and lush synths that are odd married with Beyonce's voice.  "Let's start over" she says...

The end of "4" is a little maddening... from another 80's throwback ("Love on Top") to the trumpet call/Caribbean strut of "Countdown," then the koo-koo-carazee "End of Time" which mixes marching band strut, army of Beyonce vocals, and a "Dancing in the Streets" elation that's hard to deny.  There's another odd ballad, "I Was Here" that left me a little cold, and then "Run the World" which ends the album and feels WAY different capping off "4" than it does as a single.  It feels much more like the call-to-arms anthem it seemed it wanted to be when following such an emotional tour-de-force of an album.  It could be a precursor to what's next for her.  (And not for nothing, the video below is beyond-thunderdome crazy... not to mention her performance of it for Oprah AND the one from the Billboard Music Awards.  Shit girl can work.)

"4" is not the Beyonce of old.  Sure there are elements of her old style in here but this is something new. This album is bold in its indifference to writing catchy radio and/or club bangers.  It's by far her most adult statement and could be the most "classic" sounding of anything she's done.  I've never had this much to say about anything she's done, but it sounds like a rebirth of sorts... and I am so happy the girl has written a true album and not just another collection of ringtone-ready radio singles.  It might not sell like her previous output, and fans of her fun singles may be scratching their heads, but I'm happy she's done this album.  it's often quite captivating, in a disarming way.  She runs this mother.


I Care

Run the World

Thursday, June 09, 2011

My Ridiculous

Song: My Ridiculous
Artist: Jackie Tohn, Brian Judah, Jes Hudak
Album: Platinum Hit - Dance Floor Royalty

Bravo has this new show Platinum Hit that uses the Project Runway/Top Chef format for aspiring songwriters.  The channel had huge hits with the aforementioned titans of the genre, but for every Chef, there's a Fashion Show, Work of Art, and Make Me a Supermodel. (which okay... did have a pretty good first season.)  I'm embarrassed to say about 70% of my TV watching is Bravo, but even for me... I may get into a Kell on Earth, but then I skip a Pregnant in Heels, which I keep hearing raves about.

Platinum Hit stars singer-songwriter Jewel and songwriter Kara DioGuardi as hosts/judges and has twelve singer-songwriters who get eliminated based on songwriting challenges that start, thus far, with a write-a-chorus mini-challenge, and then a group complete-that-song main challenge based on that episodes theme.  The songwriters do seem genuinely talented, though are cast in the typical reality way of outrageous characters (and of course attractiveness.)  There's the crazy cocky but kinda really talented guy, the droll hipster, the loudmouth chick, the kooky outsider, the I'm-not-like-any-of-the-others innocent chick who may surprise people... you get the drill.  The pilot didn't really hook me on the show, as I'm just not sure how I feel about the format working for songwriting.

While I don't cook and have sort of a complete indifference to food in general... I find Top Chef riveting.  Same for Project Runway... I have zero interest in fashion and even less in dresses for ladies and yet... LOVE(d) that show.  Now as much as I like music, you'd think that I'd be down for a songwriting show... but it just didn't gel given the first episode.  But I did want to give it a second chance, and I'm glad I did.  Episode two was right up my alley... club songs, and featured a guest judge appearance by none other than the legendary Donna Summer.  This impressed me, and say what you will about the cheapening of an art through reality competition (which is totally valid) Bravo does get serious heavyweights from whatever line of business the show calls for.

The contestants first each wrote a chorus to a provided track intended for the club, and then the three "best" as chosen by the judges picked their teams from the remaining songwriters to complete the track.  Those songs were played for a "club audience," the winner was chosen based on their reaction, and then someone from the losing team went home.  Pretty standard.  I think there are some inherent issues with getting a wide variety of different types of musicians (from country, hip hop, folk, rock, you name it) and forcing them to write for a particular genre.  But according to Platinum Hit, they should be able to "get out of their comfort zone" and prove what fierce songwriters they are no matter the genre.  Take that for what you will... but could you see Bob Dylan trying to write a hip hop anthem?

Well, given I have an affinity for the genre, and the presence of Ms. Summer, I actually really liked episode 2.  And the songs that they ultimately produced are actually pretty good.  They are available on iTunes after the show for download (very smart) and therefore, I share with you my favorite of the night...

SPOILER ALERT, don't read unless you've seen the show or don't care....

So the winning team's song "Paint This Club" was certainly catchy, but upon a couple of listens... it grows a little annoying.  The song the judges panned, forcing the team to lose a member, "Make it Easy" is a little generic in the verses, but that simple chorus with not much more than a vocal hook is as Donna said, pretty anthemic.  It's been rolling through my head the last couple of days.  I like it.  But my favorite ended up being "My Ridiculous" which is cute, catchy, and a little dirty all at the same time.  It's chorus, as written by Johnny Marnell, was the winner of that first challenge, but got dissed in the end because the team decided to have the girls sing the hook, vs. Johnny which was what Ms. Summer thought made it unique and original.  I don't see this as a debt, but oh well... I'm not a judge.

Are you watching Platinum Hit?  What do you think?  Does it cheapen the art of songwriting... or give you new insight to how a song is built?


My Ridiculous
Paint This Club

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Live Those Days Tonight

Song: Live Those Days Tonight
Artist: Friendly Fires
Album: Pala

Friendly Fires are a British dance punk/alternative dance act who formed in 2006.  Their self-titled debut album came out in 2008 and their follow up "Pala," named from the Aldous Huxley's novel Island, came out last month.  The album didn't grab me initially, but I've grown to really like it over some time.

I'm a big dance rock fan, love the arty goofiness of Franz Ferdinand and the sleazy cock rock of Electric Six (EARLY Electric Six.)  Friendly Fires sound nothing like those two.  The band has a little Shy Child, a little Empire of the Sun, and a little Miami Horror going on.  I guess it's a lot less punk and a little more straight up pop-rock with some upbeat drums and minor electronic flourishes.

Lead track and first single "Live Those Days Tonight" is a stunner, a bit of a dramatic opener that's catchy, dark, and fun.  I'm not sure why Coldplay came to mind while listening to it as it doesn't really sound like them, but it's got their flair for "grand."  I might be losing my touch but going through "Pala" I am reminded of another band that I just can't place.  There's something very familiar about their sound... hmm, it will probably come to me later.

"Pala" is less concerned with grab-ya hooks and more with atmospheric yet punchy rhythms.  I also liked second single "Hawaiian Air" and the broken-beat mild funk of "Hurting" which gives me a little George Michael, a very little.

"Pala" is, if nothing else, very consistent.  A good collection of songs without filler.  Check it out.


Live Those Days Tonight
Hawaiian Air

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What I Heard

Song: What I Heard
Artist: Blondie
Album: Panic of Girls

While certainly not prolific, even since their "return" after splitting for some fifteen years, Blondie is still at it, making reggae-lite dance-punk with a dancy edge and in many ways not only re-proving why they hold a place in rock'n'roll history, but why they remain a large influence on today's indie rock and dance bands.  "Panic of Girls" is the bands ninth album, released late last month.

It's hard not to split the bands output between heir heyday, and their new material post their return, 1999's "No Exit."  So in terms of their new material, save for killer single "Maria," "No Exit" was kind of a mess and left me disappointed upon its release.  But their last album, "The Curse of Blondie" from 2003 was pretty great in my book.  Filled with a renewed vigor that seemed missing on "Exit."  You can read more about my thoughts on that record here.

Funny, I sat down to write a little about "Panic of Girls" this AM and tell you that unfortunately, it also was a little lackluster, and not worth the eight years wait.  BUT, upon giving the album its fourth spin this AM, a couple tracks started to really take hold for me.  Giving me a little; "oh right I like this one," and "wow this one is good too."  Again it amazes me when people can make up their mind about a piece of music or song in a limited amount of time.  (a footnote that should accompany every WeCast post as there is a very good chance I'll denounce what I've said, though truthfully, it's usually a negative reaction turned positive.)

While there isn't an immediate balls-out killer single the likes of "Maria" or "Curse's" "Good Boys," as I am hearing this AM, there are certainly some growers.  Second track "What I Heard" is a nicely melodic slice of New Wave that sounds like classic Blondie.  First single "Mother" brings on the modern electronic flourishes but the chorus is full-tilt Blondie and very reminiscent of "Maria."  You'll hear the island vibe they've always leaned on a bit (think "Tide is High") on "The End The End," Sunday Smile," and my favorite, the sunny and a touch goofy "Girlie Girlie."

I may still be forming my opinion on "Panic of Girls," but if you're a fan... I think it's obviously a must listen.  If you haven't really gotten into their post reunion music I might suggest "Curse" over this, with an added "Maria" for download as a must.  And if you don't know who Blondie is... by goodness pick up a Greatest Hits compilation, preferably this one (as it includes "Maria" and "Union City Blue" which was missing from the comp I got in my youth.)  Though if you're a bit of an album purest, run, do not walk, to "Parallel Lines."  It's possibly their best testament to their greatness.

And they've still got it.


What I Heard
Girlie Girlie

Monday, June 06, 2011

Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

Song: Every Teardrop is a Waterfall
Artist: Coldplay
Album: Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

After capturing the world's attention with their excellent sophomore album "A Rush of Blood to the Head," Coldplay wrote "X & Y," an album designed to bring the band up to U2 status, taking everything the band had done before and do a bigger, better, even more... Coldplay than the Coldplay they had done before.  And it did just that, and while I do like that album... there was something about it that was a little soulless to me, a little too calculated.  And that's what made their last album, "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends" so surprising as the band went in a much more experimental direction.  (for them) And as classic as the first, and ultimately huge single "Viva la Vida" turned out to be, initially it sounded way out of left field for the band.  But thankfully, it meant the band wouldn't just rest at "being Coldplay."

The band has just finished their as-yet-to-be-titled fifth album, and have just released the first single, the soaring, vaguely electro-pop "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall."  I really like the song, which seems to be a bit of a grower, not as grandly sweeping as "Vida," but cut from the same cloth.  They get a little Edge-style U2 guitar in there, and a killer hook that won't let you go.  But does it sound familiar?

You'll remember the controversy surrounding "Vida la Vida," where an indie band named Creaky Boards claimed the song ripped their song, the ironically titled "The Songs I Didn't Write," and then Joe Satriani sued the band as he said it ripped off his track "Is Their Love in Space?"  (You can read all about it here.)  This time, the hook of "Every Teardrop" is taken from the 1976 song "I Go to Rio" by Peter Allen and Adrienne Anderson, whom this time... get a writing credit.  (Satriani setted out of court.)  Though it's actually already been used before... the 90's club track "Ritmo de la Noche."

I don't know... this doesn't bother me, and I like the song.  Maybe it has all been done...

What do you think?


Every Teardrop is a Waterfall