Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Sounds - Crossing The Rubicon

The Sounds are a Swedish New Wave band that are making an impact on the US.  At first listen, you might recognize, singer, Maja Ivarsson's voice.  She was featured in Cobra Starship's song "Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)".  Aside from that single, they recently toured with No Doubt and Paramore.  As you might have noticed, they're becoming a name to notice.  They released their third album, Crossing The Rubicon, in June of 2009 and have released two singles from it.

I'm a little late in discovering them.  Crossing The Rubicon is actually the bands third album, and my first.  The song "Dorchester Hotel" (featured on this album) was my first exposure to them.  Their music is filled with enough keyboards and synths to make the leading New Wave acts of the eighties jealous.  Almost every song has a solid synth line.

After a couple listens, there are definitely some stand-out tracks.  The first single "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake" is one of them.  The title track is also one of the best songs.  It starts with a very haunting piano which then evolves into a full blown epic, and then creeps back down again.  Although the song is short, that doesn't hold it back at all.  All together, some of the songs can be forgettable.  The second single, Beatbox, is actually one of my least favorite songs on the album.  It's just not as solid as it could be, they have great potential.

My favorite tracks at the moment include:

No One Sleeps When I'm Awake
Dorchester Hotel
Crossing The Rubicon
My Lover

You should check out The Sounds if you like No Doubt or Paramore.  I can definitely see why they teamed up for the tour.  Also listen if you want a throw-back to the New Wave genre.  Artists such as Blondie, Talking Heads, Cyndi Lauper, Berlin, and a-ha can be seen as influences.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Miracle Of iTunes Home Sharing

If you're like me, you love your music library.  I organize every single song down to its genre, date of release, track listing, etc.  Example: "That song isn't rock, it's alternative.  This one isn't punk, it's ska."  I freak out if a song doesn't have its correct album artwork.  Some people say I have "Music OCD", maybe I do.  Either way, when I got my new MacBook, one of my biggest worries was transferring my iTunes library.

First I tried connecting an ethernet cable between the two computers.  That didn't work.  The computers said it worked, but it didn't.  What the heck.  Next, I tried external hard drive.  Here's a little hint, if you have over 1GB of music, don't transfer it with a 1GB hard drive.  That would have taken several more hours than I had already spent on this seemingly impossible task.  I was fuming by this point because I followed several step-by-step tutorials on this task, they failed.  I started getting mad at people and it all went downhill.

Finally, I discovered my savior, iTunes Home Sharing.  I was able to use Home Sharing to copy every single song from one computer to another over a wireless network.  This practically saved my life.  If you ever get a new computer, you need this.  If I had known about this before, well let's just say I wish I had.  Anyways, follow these words of wisdom if you ever need to transfer a lot of music.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


It's the day after Christmas and everyone has opened their presents.  Everybody had that one thing they really wanted.  Wether it be a Christmas sweater or something, well, better.  What did you get?  Me?  Lots of music...and a MacBook.  First post from a Mac, time to celebrate!  Anyways, there will be a lot of new music being played around the house.  Here's a list of it all.  Take note that it's not all mine, some my brother's and some my sister's. But still, you know I'll hear all of it in the end.

Muse - Absolution
Weezer - Raditude
Norah Jones - The Fall
Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted
The Black Keys - Attack & Release
Lady GaGa - The Fame Monster

So far I've listened to Muse, Weezer, Lady GaGa, and part of Kelly Clarkson.  I have to say, they're all really good.  I already had the two most recent Muse albums.  This one is a little more piano based.  I think I prefer that.  The Weezer album is interesting.  I really like older Weezer music (Hash Pipe, Buddy Holly).  This album is kind of random.  None of the songs really flow into each other.  They're still good separately, though.  Lady GaGa's album was solid dance-pop.  Extremely catchy.  What surprised me the most was that there was zero filler.  Every song was strong on its own.

I still need to hear the rest of the albums to make my final assumptions.  I hope everyone got whatever music they wanted.  I still have plenty of gift cards to spend on what else... but music.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Best Of '09"

Okay, so I've been looking at several "Best Of '09" lists that are posted on various websites, everyone makes one.  They're the popular thing to do at the end of any year, you know that.  It's very strange because, after seeing them, I've determined that I either...

A. Don't listen to any "good" music
B. Noticed that every list focuses on unknown hip "indie" stuff
C. Read bad "Best Of '09" lists
D. Need to expand my musical horizons
E. Am obviously the one who listens to good music, they just don't know it

...or a mix of several of those answers.  I read over these lists with a confused look on my face.  What is this stuff?  Some of the lists I've read are Amazon, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone.  I'll show you some of my thoughts on each list.


Out of all the albums I've heard 5 of them in their entirety.

Muse - The Resistance
Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You
Silversun Pickups - Swoon
Imogen Heap - Ellipse
Yeah Yeah Yeah's  - It's Blitz!
Not too impressive.  I've also heard bits and pieces from plenty of the others.

Song list score: 23 out of 100...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Playlist - Alicia Keys, Band Of Skulls

Alicia Keys - The Element Of Freedom

Alicia Keys' fourth album was released this week.  I've been a listener since The Diary Of Alicia Keys, and this album is just as good.  The album includes a duet with Beyoncé and an alternate version of Jay-Z's song Empire State Of Mind, which already featured Keys.  The single, Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart, is one of the standout tracks along with Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down.  The version that I purchased included two bonus tracks (Through It All, Pray For Forgiveness) and a bonus DVD.

Band Of Skulls - Baby Darling Doll Face Honey

This is the debut album from Band Of Skulls, an upcoming alt-rock band.  It's been out since April of this year, but I'm just now getting around to listening to it.  I already had the songs I Know What I Am and Blood, and now have the complete album.  They're sound is quite similar to The White Stripes, yet it doesn't sound like they're copying them.  Overall, a great album.

Plus a few singles...

Vampire Weekend - Horchata
Paramore - Where The Lines Overlap
Flyleaf - Swept Away

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2000 - 2009: Part 3


If you ask anyone you run into on the street if they have an iPod, chances are they will. Even if they don't own one, they'll know what it is. The iPod was introduced in late 2001, and since then has become the most popular portable media device. Sure, others have competed, but none of them stand a chance against the iPod. The machine, which started as a basic white mp3 player, now comes in a rainbow of colors and even includes a video camera. The iPod line also expanded with the iPhone in 2007, taking the sensation to an entirely different level.

Examples: iPod, iPhone, Apple's Business Empire


Oh, T-Pain, what have you done. This last decade, one of the biggest and probably worst trends of music started. Auto-Tune became "The Sound" for mainstream pop and hip-hop music. The once minimized and shameful tool is now in almost every current radio hit, and it's noticeable too. Once Auto-Tune is used, the singer can screech and moan all they want. They'll still sound either good or like a robot. But, this is perfectly acceptable apparently. Using devices to manipulate or duplicate your voice can be extremely creative and suitable. For example, Imogen Heap's "Hide And Seek" is great. It's just become overused and abused recently.

Examples: T-Pain, Ke$ha, Kanye West, Lil' Wayne

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2000 - 2009: Part 2

American Idol

This. Is. American Idol. These words are announced at the beginning of Americas' favorite TV show. The phenomenon started in 2002, and since then has become the No. 1 television show in the US. The reality singing competition has jump started the careers of countless artists. The most successful would be Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Recent artists such as Adam Lambert were first seen on this show. Next year the program will return with its ninth season. The show is best known its grumpy judge, Simon Cowell, who started as a judge on Pop Idol. Pop Idol then became The X Factor, and currently Cowell still appears on both shows. Will this show ever end? Who knows...

Example: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert.

Indie Music

This is mostly about the music labeled "indie rock" or "indie pop". This word, which actually means being signed to an independent record label, became commonly used in this decade. When you think of indie you might think "underground"or "not mainstream". In this decade indie bands were exposed to the world through various media outlets. Websites such as "" focused on this genre. Along with "emo", this genre is extremely hard to define. Really, just as "emo" has, "indie" has become a term to describe a bands overall style, image, or sound.

Examples: Arcade Fire, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Feist, Passion Pit

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2000 - 2009: Part 1

It's less than three weeks until 2010. It may seem weird, but it's coming. Once we enter this new decade, how will we look back upon the last decade? Music has changed so much since 1999. The nineties were the peak of "boy-bands" and grunge. Both of these trends disappeared in the next decade, or they were disguised as something new. In a series of posts, I'm going to recap the best and worst trends in music of 2000-2009.


Before I start, I want to say that these are actually two different genres. I put them together because during this decade they were commonly used together and almost became one. These genres can have various meanings, so I'll focus on "emo". There is a common definition that this genre is made up of angry, or mostly depressing, lyrics set to punk-like music. Some music in the genre is often merged with "screamo" style vocals. Although that's what the genre is today, the technical definition is "melodic music with deep emotional lyrics"; or emotional-hardcore. This genre is one of the hardest to define, and will probably never have a "true" definition. Often, the term is just used to describe the style or "look" of the band. Many acts labeled "emo" and "pop-punk" became immensely popular in this decade.

Examples: Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional, Paramore, My Chemical Romance

Disney Pop Stars

If you haven't noticed this trend, then you've been living under a rock. In the last decade, the Disney Channel has created numerous artists who took over the entire tween population. This probably started with Miley Cyrus, or "Hannah Montana". The "still child star" became a hit off of her Disney Channel television series. She has had several hits on the radio, including her most recent, "Party In The USA". This caused a chain reaction and many more followed her. Some of them even became nominated for Grammys.

Examples: Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, High School Musical

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Music

That time of the year is here once again. It's time to break out the music filled with sleigh bells and cheer. Usually, when choosing Christmas music, you can pick the classics or the "contemporary artists singing these strange new songs that don't have anywhere near the lasting appeal of the classics". I choose the classics. Some of my favorites include:

Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

Bobby Helms - Jingle Bell Rock

Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song

Along with these, there are numerous Andy Williams songs that are great. I also love any version of "Carol Of The Bells". Some songs by newer artists have becomes "classics" of their own. For example, Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and Wham!'s "Last Christmas". Awesome songs. So gather 'round the Christmas tree, bake some cookies, and put on your favorite holiday songs.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Playlist - Flyleaf, Phoenix, and more

It's been a long time since I've done one of these. If I remember correctly, the last one was all the way back in September. As I promised, another Grammy post is coming, just a little later.

Flyleaf - Memento Mori

I picked up this album on its release day, so I've had some time to listen to it. I bought the deluxe edition which came with a second CD of songs. Definitely get the two-disc version. A very good album, and very different from their debut. The stand out song for me is "Swept Away". It's completely different from anything they've ever done. The intro has full on screaming and the verses are half spoken half sung.

La Roux - Bulletproof

I wrote a post about La Roux here. Catchy dance-pop music pretty much sums it up. I predict they'll be a hit in the States as well as the UK, in which they are already popular.

Phoenix - 1901

Ever since the commercial with this song started coming on, I've been listening to this over and over. This is my first song from them. I felt that they should have been nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy. Oh well...

Tegan and Sara - Hell

If you look at the column to the right of this post, you'll see that I'm playing this on my guitar. I find that every time I play, I play this song first. It's awesomely catchy and upbeat. It should be a hit on Alternative Rock radio.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

52nd Annual Grammy Awards Nominees

The Grammy nominees were announced tonight, and I'm confused. Some of the categories make perfect sense. Take Record Of The Year for example. All of these songs were huge hits within the last year. The same goes for Album Of The Year. On the other hand, some of the choices are unbelievably... bad. In the Best New Artist category, the Silversun Pickups are nominated. I know that their latest album, "Swoon", was very popular, but they already had an established fan base of great size. The definition of the category is...

"For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist."

They had two singles break into the top ten of the Billboard Modern Rock charts, both from their debut album. I'm not saying I dislike the band, I think it's cool that they're being recognized by the Academy, but still. Also, Keri Hilson's first major recognition came from the 2007 single "The Way I Are", featuring Timbaland. It seems to me that the Academy is very loose on eligibility rules.

I just think that a lot of the choices feel like they are the same as last year's nominees. Almost as if they had trouble finding more current music, but plenty of fitting music was released. I'll write another post about the topic later this week.