Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pet Lions - Soft Right

Pet Lions is and indie rock band from Chicago.  Their EP, Soft Right, is full of fun upbeat music.  Their sound is extremely similar to The Strokes.  The only difference is that the EP is a little more on the pop side.  Although they sound heavily influenced by the band, they don't sound like they're copying them.  Upon first listen, I loved the opening song, "Roman History".  The synth bleeps in the chorus add so much to the song, very catchy.  The next song, "Propeller Plane", is a bit slower.  The vocals of Karl Østby are much more versatile in this song.  The entire album is very consistent.  "I Will Track You Down" is a standout song, and quite interesting, along with the opening track.  The songs vary from each other and keep your attention, something every album should do.  I would check out this EP if you love indie pop and rock, especially The Strokes, as I mentioned before.  The EP is really impressive.  The entire five song album is available to download, for free, on Pet Lions' website here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Portugal. The Man - The Dead Dog

On March 2nd 2010, Portugal, The Man will release their fifth studio album, American Ghetto.  The opening song of this alternative rock album is "The Dead Dog".  I have to say, this is my first time listening to the band.  The song's a great first impression for me.  It has a solid beat with great guitar work on top of it.  The vocals of John Baldwin Gourley are also unique and grab your attention.  I believe the chorus has a descending chord progression, which separates it from the verses.  This pattern prevents the song from running on without any variety.  "The Dead Dog" is very refreshing in its genre.  I feel that the drum beat makes it sound bold and new.  Without it, the song would be completely different, and probably not as intriguing.  I would check out the song if you like Beck, The Bravery, and other similar alternative rock bands.  You can download the song, for free, on the band's website here.  I would definitely try it out.  What's to lose?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Common Year - Between Cities

Every once in a while, in a sea of music, you stumble across a band that stands out from the others.  This band has something that's a little different or unique.  A Common Year is a rock band from Indianapolis that just recently released their debut full length album, Between Cities.  I have to say, for a fresh name in the music industry, the album is really good.  Upon first listen, I heard several possible influences.  I feel that their sound is similar to Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate, and maybe even Taking Back Sunday.

The album starts off with "Distance".  It's a great track to get the album going, one of the strongest of the group.  One great thing about the record is that the songs don't just blend together.  Each track is its own and keeps the listeners attention.  Towards the end of the album there are a few acoustic songs.  These bring the speed down and add a new mood to the set.  "Solstice" really stands out.

One reason why Taking Back Sunday is a good comparison for the band is because of the dual vocals.  The back and forth lines of the multi-tasking guitarists, Casey Baksa and Coleman Bright, add a twist that not too many bands have.  This is a great element that the band should use often.

In the end, Between Cities sounds very complete.  There really isn't a missing piece that the package is lacking.  If you like rock music with some emo roots, along the lines of Jimmy Eat World, then check out the album.  You can download the entire album for free, no strings attached courtesy of the band, here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Butch Walker - Trash Day

Whether you know it or not, you've probably heard some of Butch Walker's music.  Butch Walker is not only a musician but also a producer.  He's produced albums by names as big as P!nk, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Weezer, and more.  While he produced records by these artists, his music is a bit different.  "Trash Day" is the opening song on his fifth album, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart.  I would consider the song pop-rock.  It has a constant use of an acoustic guitar and, what I believe to be, an organ.  The song's pretty solid, but it isn't spectacular.  I've definitely heard better from him, such as the material from his previous album, Sycamore Meadows, which I really enjoyed.  I would check out his new album, which just came out this week, if you liked his previous releases.  Don't expect a straight up pop record, because his production and recording careers are miles apart.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ty Segall - Standing At The Station

Just as a warning, this song is the complete opposite of today mainstream radio playlists.  It has zero polish, no editing.  "Standing At The Station" is almost as rough as you can get.  The garage rocker's song is crazy.  I must say, it's a little too raw for my usual taste.  It sounds like it was recorded live, in one take.  The vocal levels are very low, so it gives off an unbalanced sound.  Besides garage rock, I would also say the track has some punk sounds to it.  It also has similarities to the punk genre because of its short length.  If you are interested, the song is on Ty Segall's album, Lemons, which was released last year.  If you aren't used to this type of music, you might just consider it to be "noise".  On the other hand, if you like the raw energy of garage rock and punk music, then this song just might be for you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lady Gaga - The Fame

About a year before she released The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga showed the world her debut album.  The Fame is packed with so many catchy pop hooks, you won't know what to do with them.  Every song, from the ballad (Brown Eyes) to the radio hits (Poker Face) has a clear melody that you won't soon forget.  The concept for this album is very different than her sophomore effort.  The Fame is about fame.  It may sound like a shallow idea, but some songs dig deeper into the life of someone with fame and fortune.

The opening song is Lady Gaga's debut single, "Just Dance".  The song really sets the feeling for most of the album.  It's about having fun, and partying.  The first four songs on The Fame are coincidentally the four #1 hits that the album had.  With this song order, you may think that the other ten songs are filler.  This thought is completely wrong.  Although the front half contains the singles, the album keeps the listeners attention throughout its entirety.

The main element that brought Lady Gaga to her stardom is her ability to be unique.  The production and vocals on the songs are extremely unique to todays mainstream pop.  From her unique pronunciation on songs like "Starstruck" and "Brown Eyes" to the faint yells and synth warping on "Paparazzi", it's there.  She definitely has her own style, and signature producer (RedOne).

As for inspirations from other artists, there are some clear candidates.  Gaga claims that she looks up to several glam rock musicians, such as Freddie Mercury and David Bowie.  This influence is certainly noticeable.  Several of the songs are very theatrical.  I can also hear some similarities to '80's pop music (Madonna... maybe even Cyndi Lauper).

Overall, the album is a solid piece of pop.  There are several songs, besides the singles, that could have been chart-toppers (The Fame, Boys Boys Boys), if not for the release of The Fame Monster.  I suggest you put this CD in your stereo, push play, and have fun.  That's really what The Fame is about.

"Pop Music Will Never Be Low Brow" - Lady Gaga

Saturday, February 20, 2010

TAT - Pessimist

TAT is a rock band from London, England.  They released their debut album, Soho Lights, in fall of 2008.  To support the album they went on a tour that you might be familiar with, The Vans Warped Tour.  They've also toured with many other well known punk bands, such as The Offspring and NOFX. The song "Pessimist" is a fast paced punk rock piece of goodness.  Vocalist, Tatiana DeMaria, is one of the most aggressive female lead singers I've heard in a while.  The energy in the song is great, it's very angry.  It really packs a punch and left me wanting more.  The trio could make it big if they continue the streak that they're on.  Right now, they're preparing material for their sophomore effort, so look out.  I would listen to TAT if you like punk rock music that's somewhere between Civet and Rise Against.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ida Maria - I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked

Yes, that's the actual title of the song.  With a name like that, you really can't take a song seriously.  Ida Maria is a rock musician from Norway.  Her album, Fortress Round My Heart, was released in the US last year.  The single, "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" is upbeat and fun.  The song's lyrics are so ridiculous that it's funny.  The chorus is literally "I like you so much better when you're naked - I like me so much better when you're naked".  It's definitely a song to be taken lightly.  Don't discard this song just because of the less than genius, and quite suggestive, lyrical content.  It's still a decent song.  It has a great beat and Ida's vocal are nice and rough.  I would listen to this song if you like rock music with some punk roots to it.  She re-recorded one of her songs with Iggy Pop ("Oh My God"), so she obviously has some punk influences.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jon Hopkins - Light Through The Veins

At first listen, you might think you're listening to Coldplay's latest album.  That's because this song is actually part of Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends' opening track, "Life In Technicolor".  Just a warning, if you don't like atmospheric electronic music, then this song isn't for you.  It's quite a long track, clocking in at over nine minutes.  Even though it's a lengthy song, it doesn't seem to drag on, at least not for me.  The song doesn't differ much until the end, where it strips down to a basic synth with arpeggios.  I feel that this is the best part of the song.  Because it's an instrumental, "Light Through The Veins" is a great song to have on in the background while doing other tasks.  It's very upbeat and happy sounding, just overall cheerful.  I would check it out if you like electronic music, especially Imogen Heap, or if you want a long, ambient, relaxing song.  If you decide to get the entire album, Insides, you'll notice that it doesn't consist only of electronic instruments, that's a pleasant surprise.

Monday, February 15, 2010

St. Vincent - The Strangers

St. Vincent, actual name Annie Clark, is an American musician.  She was once a member of The Polyphonic Spree.  Her sophomore album, Actor, was released in May of 2009.  It debuted at #90 on the Billboard 200.  St. Vincent's style of music is very unique.  At first look, the album artwork is also unique.  The intro music of this song reminds me of a classic film, maybe even a Walt Disney cartoon.  This makes sense, since Clark herself stated that the classic animations inspired her during the recording process.  It's incredibly hard to classify this song into a specific genre.  On the other hand, there's no denying that Clark has a smooth voice.  It's very classic.  At times she reminds me of Natasha Khan, also know as Bat For Lashes.  I would listen to this song if you need something that's a little... different.  "The Strangers" really isn't like any other song that's out there right now.  It's fun and slightly eerie at the same time.  Although this song might not be for everyone, I suggest you give it a try.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

fun. - All The Pretty Girls

Their band name is so fitting that it's humorous.  fun. (Yes, that's really how it's written), the pop band from New York, released their debut album, Aim And Ignite, in August of 2009.  There aren't many bands that create fun, no pun intended, pop music.  Most of this genre's music comes from solo artists.  The song, All The Pretty Girls, is theatrical and memorable.  From the start of the song, I heard Queen influences.  Once you hear the chorus, you'll really know what I'm talking about.  The music is also similar to the British pop singer, Mika.  The main difference is that fun.'s vocalist, Nate Ruess, is much more interesting.  His falsetto is enjoyable and not as overwhelming as Mika's.  The song is over-the-top and melodramatic, but in a good way, very peppy.  I would listen to this song or check out the album if you like carefree pop music.  All The Pretty Girls is the perfect choice if you need a bright song to sing along to.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anarbor - Let The Games Begin

Pop-punk is an overwhelming genre.  There are so many bands that sound alike.  It's really easy to forget who you're listening to.  Anarbor is a band from Phoenix, Arizona.  They're a part of the "Once It Hits Your Lips Tour" with The Friday Night Boys, The Bigger Lights, and The Ready Set.  Their EP, Free Your Mind, was released in spring of 2009.  "Let The Games Begin" is featured on this album.  This song, which I listed in one of my first playlists here, manages to be unique in a genre that grows every seconds.  The song, which I first discovered from the Vans Warped Tour, starts with an insanely catchy guitar riff.  Many vocalists in this genre tend to get annoying after a coupe of songs.  Anarbor's vocalist, Slade Echeverria, has just the right tone to his voice to avoid this trap.  The ascending final note and his in-and-out falsetto adds variety to the song.  Plus, the "bang bang" backup vocals are interesting on their own.  I would check out this song if you're a fan of the genre.  I would also give it a listen if you like There For Tomorrow, Every Avenue, This Providence, and similar bands.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Playlist - Lady Gaga, Imogen Heap, & more

Here's a playlist of some albums I listened to lately.  I've kind of had an overflow of music lately, so I'm getting around to listening to all of it.  They were all released within the last few years, some older than others.  Also, you should check out this remix of "Steady As She Goes" by The Raconteurs and "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga.  It's really cool...

Lady Gaga - The Fame

I just bought this album.  I know, I'm a little late.  Anyways, this album is great.  It's filled with catchy synth-pop songs with the exception of track twelve, Brown Eyes, a piano ballad.  It has all of the radio hits that you already know.  Other highlights include Beautiful, Dirty, Rich, The Fame, Brown Eyes, and Boys Boys Boys.  There really isn't a filler song.

Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself

This is Imogen's second album.  It contains the unique song, Hide And Seek.  It's a very solid electronic album, but I think I prefer her newest album, Ellipse.  If you're a fan, then you've probably heard this album by now.  If you're new to her music, don't overlook this album.  Highlights include Headlock, Goodnight And Go, Just For Now, and Hide And Seek.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - Don't You Fake It

I've only listened to this album once or twice so far.  It's pretty good, solid pop-punk.  There's a lot more screaming than I expected.  I'm not sure if that's good or not, it depends on your personal taste.  Highlights include False Pretense, Damn Regret, Your Guardian Angel, Face Down, and Grim Goodbye.

Gwen Stefani - Love. Angel. Music. Baby

Very strange.  That's how I feel about a lot of the songs.  It's a very bubbly album.  Songs such as Bubble Pop Electric and Harajuku Girls are... unique.  I really like some of the other songs, though.  It's a hit or miss album in the end.  Highlights include What You Waiting For? and Cool.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rihanna feat. Young Jeezy - Hard

Rihanna released her fourth album, Rated R, last year.  Hard is the second single from the darker themed album.  The one positive thing about the song is the beat.  If you blast this song in your car or at a club, the beat and the bass is great.  The problem is, that's really the only good thing about the single.  The lyrics are pretty much just Rihanna showing off her bragging rights.  She talks about, "The money, the fame, the cars, the clothes...".  Young Jeezy's rap ins't spectacular either.  He doesn't bring anything special to the table, besides what every other featured rapper already has.  Rihanna's image has changed completely ever since the Chris Brown incident.  Her music is much darker than her previous cheery hits (Umbrella, Pon De Replay).  I dislike this change of direction.  I would only download this song if you need a song with a booming beat.  Still, there are hundreds of other songs with this element that are better than Hard (Boom Boom Pow, Bad Romance, For Your Entertainment).  Actually, just skip this one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Adam Lambert - Whataya Want From Me

I wrote about the first single from Adam Lambert's debut album last month.  "For Your Entertainment" was a risky club song that gave him negative, yet somewhat good, publicity.  This time around he's taking a different approach.  "Whataya Want From Me" is a power ballad of some sort, and it's exactly what Adam needed.  The lyrics are incredibly suitable for his current situation.  During American Idol, everyone wanted to know more about his personal life.  After Idol, people thought he was sharing too much.  In the song, he asks exactly, "Whataya want from me?"  The single was originally written by, and for, P!nk.  In the end, it didn't make the final cut for her album, Funhouse.  I have to say, she wrote a really good song.  The chord progression is unique to today's radio, and the delivery of the lyrics is great.  It doesn't matter if you liked his previous single.  I would give this song a chance either way.  If you need a pop song with meaningful lyrics, here it is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Avril Lavigne - Alice

After a three year break from the music scene, Avril Lavigne is back.  She recorded the song "Alice" for the soundtrack to the Tim Burton film, "Alice In Wonderland".  This is the second song she has contributed for a major motion picture soundtrack, the first being "Keep Holding On".  This time around, she didn't strike theatrical gold.  "Alice" isn't nearly as interesting as the former pop hit for the film adaption of "Eragon".  The problem with "Alice" is the melody.  It's very monotone at times.  Lavigne sounds as if she is shouting throughout the entire song.  It can get tiring.  If the melody was re-worked and the chorus was lowed, the song would be much better.  One upside to the song is that it does have a cinematic sound to it.  Depending on "Alice In Wonderland's" opening or closing credits, the song could be suitable.  Personally, I would skip this song and wait for a new album from Avril, unless you're a huge fan.  This one doesn't exactly impress me...

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Ettes - No Home

The Ettes are a rock band that formed in Los Angeles.  Their song, "No Home" has a garage rock feel to it, but with just the right amount of polish.  You can find this song on the band's album, Do You Want Power.  Singer, Lindsay "Coco" Hames has a very "in your face" voice.  She sounds kind of like someone from a different era slapped onto a rock song.  That may be a strange description, but it's pretty accurate in a bizarre way.  You might like this song if you liked "I Could Rob You" by Plastiscines from my previous post.  The two bands have a similar sound.  Plastiscines is just a little more touched-up and has more dance-pop elements to them.  You can compare the two songs if you'd like to, leave a comment and tell me which one you like more.  I think I like "I Could Rob You" more, just barely though.  Don't let that scare you away, you should definitely still check out this song...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Plastiscines - I Could Rob You

The all-girl rock band from France, Plastiscines, released their sophomore album About Love in the summer of 2009.  On that album, was the song "I Could Rob You".  This song is great.  The opening guitar/bass riff is what the song is built off of.  Without it, the song would seem so much more dull, like something's missing.  The riff strangely reminds me of the riff in "Pot Kettle Black" by Tilly And The Wall.  One unique element to the song is that you can hear a slight French accent in vocalist, Katty Besnard's, voice.  It adds a tone that most American female vocalists don't have.  The song also has a dance rock feeling to it, courtesy of the steady drum beat.  You should check out this song if you like The Bravery, Franz Ferdinand, or The Raveonettes.  "I Could Rob You" is a fun song that you'll definitely remember.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Biffy Clyro - Mountains

A couple of weeks ago, a reader recommended that I review some of Biffy Clyro's music.  Initially I thought, "Biffy Clyro, who?".  I had never heard of them.  So I did some research.  Biffy Clyro is an alternative rock band from Scotland.  They've been around since 1995 (under a different name) and released their debut as Biffy Clyro in 2002.  The song "Mountains" was released in August of 2008.  The song wasn't intended to be included on their fifth album, Only Revolutions, but it was.  I quite like the song.  I like the "big" sound to it.  The chorus has the driving guitars behind, vocalist, Simon Neil, while piano chords and arpeggios add a more legato feeling to the song.  When I heard, "Cause you tear us apart...", I knew the song was good.  For some reason, I love that part of the song.  Mountains, for me, was a great introduction to the band.  I found myself listening to it several times after the first listen.  It makes me wonder why they aren't more prominent in the US.  It's kind of disappointing, because this song sounds like a hit for the US's alternative rock radio.  I highly recommend listening to the song if you haven't heard it already, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sia - Under The Milky Way

Under The Milky Way is a song performed originally by the Australian band, The Church.  Other artists such as Kill Hannah, and even Rick Springfield, have covered the song.  The most recent to do so is the, also Australian, pop singer, Sia.  You may have already heard this version of the song on the Lincoln car commercial, if not, then give it a listen.  I hold been hearing it as background noise whenever the commercial would come on.  It wasn't until recently that I discovered it was Sia who sang it.  I knew about Sia from her song, Soon We'll Be Found.  Her voice is very unique.  It's very rough and smokey, not polished at all.  She kind of sounds like she's mumbling at times, but it isn't distracting from the song.  You can download the song for free, courtesy of Lincoln, here.  I would definitely check it out.  The song is very laid back and relaxing.  If you like it, then give some of Sia's other music a listen.  This is starting to sound like a Lincoln car advertisement...

Monday, February 1, 2010

52nd Grammy Awards Recap

Last night the stars came out for the Grammy Awards.  Awards were given, performances were seen, and Taylor Swift continued her reign on the music industry.  The night started with a performance by Lady GaGa and Elton John.  GaGa started by singing "Poker Face" and later met with Elton John for a "Speechless-Your Song" medley.  The act was very impressive and one of the best moments of the night.  The show continued with several other performances including Beyonce, who sang "If I Were A Boy" and "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette.  The song choice for this performance was odd.  The songs kind of clashed with each other.  Other highlights include P!nk's performance.  She sang "Glitter In The Air" while dangling from a rope.  It was very similar to her VMA act.

Taylor Swift won the biggest award of the evening, Album Of The Year, along with many more.  Her album, Fearless, has won her countless awards, but this might be the best of them all.  She accepted the award overwhelmed, as always.  She seems to still be in a state of shock.  At least this time, Kanye wasn't there to steal her glory.  Although Swift won several Grammy Awards, Beyonce set a record for the most Grammys won in one night by a female artist.

The 3D Michael Jackson tribute was great.  3D glasses may have seemed strange at first, but it worked.  After the performance, his children accepted his honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for him.

My favorite moments of the night were:
  • Lady GaGa's duet with Elton John
  • Michael Jackson Tribute
  • P!nk's Performance
  • Les Paul Tribute
Leave a comment with your favorite moments from last nights show.  Did you like Taylor Swift's duet with Stevie Nicks?  What about the Black Eyed Peas?  Let me know...