Sunday, January 31, 2010

52nd Grammy Awards Preview

Well, tonight's the night.  The famed Grammy Awards are taking place this evening.  With a slew of awards to give out and plenty of performances, it's sure to be an exciting event.  The one question that everyone's asking is, "Who will win Album Of The Year?".  This year, most of the major categories consist of the same artists.  Lady GaGa, Beyonce, and Taylor Swift are all nominated for the three biggies (Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year).  The major competition will be between those three artists.  Hopefully, there won't be a "Kanye" moment.

Who do you want to win an award?  Personally, I hope that Paramore, Imogen Heap, and The Ting Tings win where they're nominated.  As for the three main awards, I would like to see Lady GaGa win something, but Taylor Swift will probably win them all.  Leave a comment telling me who you would like to win...

I'll be tweeting throughout the entire show, commenting on whatever performances or upsets happen.  You can follow me here.  Also, look for a recap post tomorrow.  May the best music win...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Angels & Airwaves - Hallucinations

Angels & Airwaves is a band made of other bands.  To be clear, it consists of members who were formally in Blink-182, The Offspring, 30 Seconds To Mars, and more.  I wouldn't quite call them a "supergroup", but those are some very recognizable names.  The "almost supergroup" plan on releasing their next album, Love, completely free.  That's right, another band is releasing an album for exactly $0.00.  Hallucinations is the first single for the album.  You can download it right now, for no cost, here.  The song itself isn't amazing, but it isn't terrible either.  It's just a little too generic.  A decent alternative-rock song, that's all.  Vocalist, Tom DeLonge from Blink-182, sounds just as he did in his previous band.  The difference is the style of music.  Parts of the song sound strangely like Kings And Queens, from 30 Seconds To Mars.  Is it just a coincidence that a member of 30STM is also in this band?  Definitely download this song, I mean... it's free.  Also, download the full album when it's released on Valentines Day.  You just might learn to love "Love".

Friday, January 29, 2010

AM Taxi - The Mistake

Everybody loves rock music with a punk twist to it, right?  Well if you do, you should know about this song.  AM Taxi will be releasing their album We Don't Stand A Chance on June 8 of this year.  The Mistake is a fast paced song with one of the most memorable "non-pop" melodies I've heard in a while.  The song starts nice and mellow with the verse.  Then, the chorus hits you.  The chorus is so catchy you'll be singing it long after you hear it.  The chorus is very reminiscent of something Rise Against would do.  It's enough to consider the band a possible influence, yet subtle enough to not sound like they're copying them.  Very impressive.  I could hear this song on modern rock or alternative radio.  Vocalist, Adam Krier, has just the right tone to his voice to save this song from falling into the overwhelming pop-punk genre.  Give the song a listen if you like Rise Against, Billy Talent, or similar bands.  The Mistake is not quite as heavy, but it's still worth a listen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ke$ha - TiK ToK

I featured this song in a previous post but never wrote a full review on it.  I figured with all of the hype surrounding it and with all of the records it's breaking, I should write a complete review.  I have a different opinion of the song now.  I've kind of seen it for what it is.  Ke$ha (born Kesha Rose Sebert) found out what people what right now in pop music.  Fun.  It's plain and simple, this song is fun.  If you focus on the lyrics and song structure, you'll soon find out that Tik Tok is simple and shallow.  But if you sing along to it and party carefree, you'll have fun.  This is Ke$ha's key to success.  It's the kind of song that teenage girls will blast in their car with the windows rolled down.  They'll get excited when it comes on the radio.  I mean, when you spell your name with a dollar sign, you can't be serious.  Sure, the song is pumped full of auto-tune, but that doesn't really matter in the end... at least not for Ke$ha.  Download this song or pick up the album if you need a catchy party song.  Skip it if you can't tolerate songs about beer, swagger, and Mick Jagger.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

HIM - Heartkiller

From the title, Heartkiller may sound like an "exciting" song, but in reality it barely passes "memorable".  The Finnish band's seventh album Screamworks: Love In Theory and Practice is being released in the US on February 9.  Heartkiller is the lead single, but it fails to do what a lead single should, make you want more.  The single plays it safe in almost all ways.  The vocals aren't pushing any boundaries and the music is bland except for the opening guitar riff.  The bottom line is, if this is what the entire album is like, then you might not last the entire album.  Especially with the overload of rock bands that flood the industry, HIM needs something extra to set them apart from everyone else.  I would pass on this song.  If you're a long-time fan, either download the song or wait for the album and see how it sounds, it's up to you.  At least the album artwork stands out from the rest...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kill Hannah - New York City Speed

The hook for this song is a robotic voice saying, "New York City Speed".  That may seem strange at first, but it works.  Kill Hannah is an alternative rock band from Chicago.  New York City Speed is a single from their latest album, Wake Up The Sleepers.  The album was released in the late summer of 2009.  The song starts with a pulsing beat complete with computerized bleeps and bloops.  After this small intro, the guitars come in.  This is when the song really kicks off.  The verses are great with the chugging and squealing of the guitars, they really give the song an edge.  Vocalist, Matt Devine, has a strange, yet recognizable, voice.  It's really hard to describe, but it matches the song perfectly.  In the end, New York City Speed is a danceable alt-rock song.  The synths in the song give it a slight pop appeal that it might need.  I would give this song a listen if you're a fan of Aiden, or similar bands.  As a warning, you'll have the whispering of "New York City Speed" stuck in your head for a while.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lydia - I Woke Up Near The Sea

Lydia is a band, not a person.  From their name, you might think that Lydia is some female pop or R&B singer.  That would be incorrect.  The band plays alternative or indie rock.  I Woke Up Near The Sea is from their 2008 album Illuminate.  Another deceiving factor is that they don't have a female lead singer.  Strange how misleading a band's name can be.  Now to get back to the music, the song itself is very unique.  The instrumentation is unlike many songs of the same genre.  The element that stands out the most is, by a long shot, the vocals.  Their vocalist, Leighton Antelmen, has a very unique voice.  He has a great vocal range, especially during the chorus.  The chorus also happens to be the most exciting part of the song.  It blasts out of now where after the soft verses.  I would definitely check out this song if you like alternative rock that isn't too distorted.  I Woke Up Near The Sea is a song to remember.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Priestess - Lady Killer

Nowadays, straight up metal is hard to come by.  It seems that any new metal is from a band that has "screamo" vocals, or a band that is already established and have been making music for many years.  Lady Killer is a song from the Canadian metal band, Priestess.  The song is from their second album, Prior To The Fire.  This is new metal.  Not "nu-metal, but actual metal.  The song sounds like an updated version of something that Iron Maiden or Megadeth would do.  The drums, rhythm guitar, and solo are heavy.  The vocals, on the other hand, aren't anything spectacular.  It's easy to hear their influences in this song.  In the end, even though I compared Priestess to such legendary metal bands, they still have a long way to go before they can compete with those bands.  But with time, they may find success.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Orianthi - According To You

Orianthi is an upcoming guitarist and singer who released her album, Believe, late last year.  But before her solo career, She was Michael Jackson's guitarist during the rehearsals for his This Is It tour.  She has performed with huge names such as, Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Carrie Underwood, and Adam Lambert.  Although she has the guitar skills to play in the heaviest of bands, she chose to perform radio-friendly pop music.  According To You is all you could ask for in a fun pop song.  It has a solid chord structure, the "verse-chorus-verse" song format, and memorable, yet somewhat cheesy, lyrics.  The one element that makes it recognizable from other similar songs, is the guitar.  The song is filled with mini solo's and breakdowns.  These small bits lead to an incredible tapping solo.  The solo is reminiscent of a classic rock song.  If you take out the guitar track, the song becomes kind of generic.  After listening to the song, I wonder what would have happened if Orianthi had chosen a different musical route.  In the end, the "Pop Star" road isn't for everyone.

The xx - Basic Space

The xx is an indie rock band from London, England.  They released their debut album, xx, in the summer 2009.  They quickly caught the attention of many major music publications and critics.  Some sources (Pitchfork, NME) even put them towards the top of their "Best Of" lists.  All this attention must mean they're something special, right?  I listened to their song "Basic Space" to see for myself.

First of all, the song is very low key.  It's not distorted or heavy, very smooth.  The back and forth male-female vocals work very well.  The song definitely isn't my "usual playlist" kind of music, but that doesn't mean it's bad.  I actually like the song quite a bit.  It's very recognizable and stands out in it's genre.  I also like the guitar that plays along with the melody, it adds a lot to the song.  In my reviews I usually say, "Give it a listen if you like...", but honestly, I can't find a single artist to compare The xx to.  That's something every artist should strive for.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ludovico Einaudi - Andare

I believe this is my first blog post about a song of the classical genre.  I felt I was obligated to talk about this song in particular.  Andare is one of my favorite pieces from a contemporary composer.  The song is written and performed by Ludovico Einaudi, an Italian composer and pianist.  This song, which is from the album Divenire,  contains a sole piano and minimal strings.  It sounds as though there is a violin, viola, and a cello, maybe more.  It's a lengthy piece, clocking in at over seven minutes.  The piece isn't an overly complicated piano exercise with a full orchestra behind it.  I think that's what makes it good.  It's very modern in style, but it still has a lasting appeal.  The emotional tone of the song changes frequently.  At parts it sounds like anger, sorrow, and despair others motivation and maybe even relief.  It captivated me the first time I heard it.  After listening to it, you might be left in awe... or not.  It all depends on if you're really listening.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Playlist - 30 Seconds To Mars, Madina Lake & more

30 Seconds To Mars - 30 Seconds To Mars

This is the band's debut album, which is extremely different from their other albums.  I already knew a lot of their songs from the "A Beautiful Lie" album, but had never heard any of the songs from their debut.  I guess it's less, mainstream?  There's less screaming from, singer, Jared Leto.  Overall, it can get kind of repetitive, but it's still pretty good.

Madina Lake - Welcome to Oblivion

This is the only song I've heard from them, so comment if you know some other good tracks from them.  I really like this one.  The chorus is great.

Lady GaGa - Speechless

Amazing song.  It's tremendously different from her usual pop songs.  A full review of her newest album is here.  Speechless shows off her songwriting abilities and vocal talent.  It's also my current favorite song to play on the piano, really good melody.

Vampire Weekend - Contra

The entire album is amazing.  Check out my full review here.  I have a feeling I'll be listening to this album for a long time.

Here's a couple more songs that you should listen to...

The Raveonettes - Last Dance
Bat For Lashes - Seal Jubilee
Chiodos - Two Birds Stoned At Once
Billy Boy On Poison - On My Way
AFI - Medicate

As always, comments are more than welcome.  Tell me what you've been listening to...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Smashing Pumpkins - Teargarden By Kaleidyscope: Songs 1-2

With the state of the music industry, artists are constantly trying to find new ways to distribute music.  CD sales are down and digital downloads are up.  Bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have done the unthinkable.  Radiohead had a "pay what you want" type promotion for their album "In Rainbows", while Nine Inch Nails released "The Slip" absolutely free.  The Alt-Rock band, The Smashing Pumpkins, hope to evolve this technique to a new level with the release of "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope".

The Smashing Pumpkins will release their eighth studio album, which consists of 44 songs, one song at a time, all for free.  By releasing one song per month, over the next 44 months, the entire album will be completed.  The first two songs have already been released.  The first is, "A Song For A Son", and the second is, "Widow Wake My Mind".  Each one gives hope for an amazing album.

The first single, "A Song For A Son", was released in December of 2009.  The song has a very memorable riff that carries along with the melody of the song.  It actually has a slight "Classic Rock" sound to it.  The song starts very mellow, and busts into a guitar solo half way through.

The second song "Widow Wake My Mind", which was released this month, is extremely different from the previous single.  It starts with the hook of the song, a simple "Oh, oh, oh."  Simple, yet effective.  The song sounds very bright and happy.  I love the chord progression of the song.  I think I actually prefer this song over the first single.

After all of the songs are released digitally, the entire collection will be released physically, for those mega-fans out there.  I have a feeling this method will succeed.  You can download the first two songs on  The Smashing Pumpkin's website here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Big Pink - Dominos

The Big Pink are a British indie/electro rock duo.  Their debut album, A Brief History Of Love, was released in 2009.  On the album was the song Dominos.  This single has the soaring chorus of a pop song, along with a great beat.  It's what I would expect if MGMT were British.  The two bands sound very similar musically.  Both use synths and huge beats.  Once you hear the opening line "These girls fall like dominos, dominos." you know the song's going to be good.  It's one of those songs that makes you sing along at the top of your lungs.  Give it a listen if you like Passion Pit, Phoenix, Animal Collective, and the before mentioned MGMT.  I would also recommend it if you need a song with just an overall uplifting-feel to it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Creating a unique sound and image is hard to do today in today's music industry, but Vampire Weekend did just that.  In 2008, they released their self-titled debut album.  The LP was filled to the top with upbeat indie rock songs.  The bouncy staccato tinge that they added to their music became their key to success.  Contra continues that same sound, but adds new elements to many of the songs.

The album starts off immediately with "Horchata".  This song sets the tone for the entire album.  It's filled with xylophone and a steady bass beat.  This song also introduces the "new" elements I spoke of.  This time around, Vampire Weekend takes influences from the electronic genre.  Several of the songs contain synthesizers, while others have techno beats.  Surprisingly enough, this approach actually works.  It's noticeable, yet it isn't overwhelming.

On the track, "Diplomat's Son", they even go so far to include a sample from M.I.A.'s "Hussel".  This is another example of how the band has reached out farther musically, but still kept their unique style.  They have avoided the "sophomore slump" step by not taking the safe route.

Standout tracks include...

Giving Up The Gun

I would definitely check out Contra if you loved their first album.  If your a fan of catchy upbeat music, then this is for you.  Vampire Weekend have shown where they stand in music, and they did it flawlessly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Vampire Weekend - Cousins

Earlier this week, indie rock band, Vampire Weekend released their sophomore album, Contra.  The lead single for Contra is the fast-paced tune, "Cousins".  "Cousins" is Contra's equivalent to their hit song "A-Punk", which appeared on their debut disc.  The song relies heavily on its snare smashing drum beat.  The percussion drives the song as, singer, Ezra Koenig carries the melody.  After listening to the song, I can't seem to get the beat or the melody out of my head.  I'm left humming the single through out the entire day, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. While it still has that signature "Vampire Weekend" sounds, "Cousins" is a refreshing move for the band.  The song is both catchy and exciting.  Definitely check it out if you liked their self-titled debut album.

Look out for a full review of Contra over the weekend

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cascada - Evacuate The Dancefloor

If you go back a couple of years to 2006 and turn on the radio, you'll probably hear Cascada's hit single, "Everytime We Touch".  That was the song that kickstarted Cascada's career in the US.  Currently, Cascada is climbing the charts with "Evacuate The Dancefloor".  I find that this time around, Cascada's trying to grow off of Lady GaGa's success.  Everyone knows Lady GaGa's hit "Just Dance", right.  Well, "Evacuate The Dancefloor" sounds so similar that it's impossible not to notice.  The songs lyrics and structure imitate "Just Dance" all the way to the sound-alike bridge.  This may not ruin the song, but it sure is distracting.  If Lady GaGa hadn't of dropped the entire "Fame, Fortune, and Party" image, "Evacuate The Dancefloor" wouldn't be as successful.  The overall production of the song may be different, but the composition is the same.  Unless your a crazed Cascada fan, I would skip this song and download "Just Dance" instead.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Playlist: Weezer, Muse, Rise Against & more

Muse - Absolution

I know it's been out for several years now, about six or seven to be exact, but I just now got around to listening to this album.  This might be my favorite Muse album, out of those that I've heard.  Some of the songs are just genius.  They really flow into each other, in a good way.  Butterflies & Hurricanes is by far my favorite song on the album.  The piano solo is epic.  Actually, the entire album is epic.

Rise Against - Appeal To Reason

This is another album that I just bought even though it has been out for over a year.  I previously had Siren Song Of The Counter Culture, and Appeal To Reason is completely different.  It's more alternative than punk.  "Siren Song" was much heavier.  I'm not sure which one I like more...

Weezer - (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To

I've actually been listening to the entire Raditude album, but this song is my favorite.  It's pop at it's finest.  I know Weezer has been considered more alt-rock in the past, but this song is pretty poppy.  You can't stop yourself from singing along, or at least I can't.

Here are a few more songs that have been in my head...

The Sounds - No One Sleeps When I'm Awake
Lady GaGa - Monster
La Roux - Tigerlily
Norah Jones - Man Of The Hour
You Me At Six - Gossip
Alicia Keys - Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down

What songs have you been loving lately?  Leave a comment with your current favorite songs or albums.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment

Adam Lambert shocked the US with his debut live television performance.  He performed the title song from his album, "For Your Entertainment".  Many people thought the performance was too suggestive and not suitable for television.  All of this negative attention took away from the fact that he was actually promoting his lead single.  The song is very catchy and has great potential to be a mainstream radio hit.  The song was co-written by writer/producer Dr. Luke.  He's been known for working with the industry's top pop stars.  That's exactly what this song could make Adam Lambert, a pop star.  The songs chorus is comparable to those of many other popular dance and pop singers.  Combine this with the in-and-out pulsing beat, and you have your hit.  I would check out this song if you listen to artists such as Lady GaGa, Cascada, and the many other current dance/electro-pop artists.  Caution, this song is extremely different from his American Idol performances.  Don't expect a heartfelt ballad in "For Your Entertainment".

Friday, January 8, 2010

Norah Jones - Chasing Pirates

Norah Jones broke into the music industry with her 2001 single "Don't Know Why".  The single was an instant hit and even gave her several Grammy Awards.  She became known as a talented pianist and jazz vocalist.  In October of 2009, Jones released "Chasing Pirates", the lead single to her fourth album "The Fall".  This single was a major milestone in her career.  It marked her transition from piano based jazz, to a more indie rock direction.  While the song still has that signature calm and smooth "Norah Jones" feel to it, "Chasing Pirates" sounds more adventurous.  It contains a certain sense of excitement.  One new element for her music is the steady use of a drum beat.  While some previous tracks contained jazz brush drumming, the beat stands out on this track.  This new upbeat style is refreshing and renews her voice.  On "Chasing Pirates", Norah Jones proves that she can continue to create new music of unique styles.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lady GaGa - The Fame Monster

Many people have named her the best female artist of '09.  She caught everyones attention last year.  Her debut album, The Fame, spawned four top ten hits in the US.  When word of a sophomore album came up, you had to think to yourself, "How can she top The Fame?".  That's where The Fame Monster comes in.  Released in November of '09, The Fame Monster has followed the footprints of The Fame.

The album has a distinct sound to it.  Something between dance-pop and heavy industrial music.  Almost every song is centered on a pulsing beat.  On top of the beats are a variety of synths.  This formula makes the album perfect as a high-energy club soundtrack.  Upon first listen, I found that there wasn't a single song that was "filler".  Each track kept my attention and even more, each song had an extremely catchy melody.  Songs like "Bad Romance" and "Dance In The Dark" have very dark verses, but at the same time contain uplifting choruses.  But the lyrics aren't the uplifting part, it's the melodies.  That is the one thing that is true about all of Lady GaGa's songs, amazing melodies.

The album contains eight songs total.  In today's music industry, The Fame Monster may seem like more of an EP, but it doesn't sound like one.  The album feels very... complete.  I've heard the album several times and there are a few songs that stand out the most.  The lead single, "Bad Romance", is of course one of the strongest songs of the collection.  Another song, "Monster", has the potential to be a huge hit.  It might be my favorite, if not for "Speechless".  "Speechless" is the real deal.  GaGa drops the club beats and synthesizers for a piano.  The song has a very Queen or Elton John feel to it.

The Fame was about, well, fame.  Fame and fortune, that is.  The Fame Monster has darker elements to it.  Lady GaGa has said that it's about her "fears" or "monsters".  It brings together gothic elements and pop elements at the same time.  If you need a a solid pop album that you can also dance to, this is it.  I have a feeling Lady GaGa will continue making hits for years to come.

Monday, January 4, 2010

January's Albums

Here's a look at some of this month's major album releases, along with a couple thoughts of my own.  Leave a comment if I missed your favorite band's album.  Also, tell me which album you're waiting for.

Jan. 05

Ke$ha - Animal
You know her song Tik Tok by now.  This album will determine if she's here to stay, or a one hit wonder of the last decade.  For some strange reason she reminds me of Katy Perry, appearing out of nowhere and all.  Personally, I'll pass, but it does include a song featuring 3OH!3 for those who are interested.

Jan. 12

OK Go - Of The Blue Color Of The Sky
I haven't heard from them since their single Here It Goes Again.  Everyone remembers the music video, right?

Vampire Weekend - Contra
This is the follow-up to their self-titled debut.  The entire album is on their Myspace for listening, but I'll wait a week to hear it.  Build up a little suspense, if you know what I mean.  I already like Horchata and Cousins, so I hope for the best.

Jan. 19

Spoon - Transference
Need some indie rock?  Transference is Spoon's seventh studio album and follow-up to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life
The pop-punk band's fourth album.  It was produced by Blink-182's Mark Hoppus.

Jan. 26

Lady Antebellum - Need You Now
This is the Country group's second album.  I'm not a big fan of the genre, so I don't have much info on this album.  However, I do know that it's highly anticipated.  Just being honest here.  I really need to listen to more country music.

Never Shout Never - What Is Love?
The internet sensation's debut album is here.  Never Shout Never (formerly NeverShoutNever!) is a one man band who plays primarily the ukulele.  He recently won an mtvU Woodie Award.