Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Semi Precious Weapons - Semi Precious Weapons

Glam rock isn't a popular genre nowadays.  In the seventies, glam rock was at it's peak.  David Bowie was leading the way in this new genre.  Along with bands like Queen and T. Rex, this style of music saw it's rise and fall.  Semi Precious Weapons is taking the elements of glam rock, and updating it to today's standards.  The flashy clothes, androgyny, and wild rock is all still here, but can they continue the trend with as much power as before?

The single, "Semi Precious Weapons", is all out rock.  With a riff that seems almost too memorable, the song kicks off.  Vocalist, Justin Tranter, starts the song with, "I can't pay my rent, but I'm ******* gorgeous.".  His over the top vocals fit the song perfectly.  The song not only borrows from the glam genre, but it also has some punk rock influences.  It's a great song to start a party.

The band will be releasing an album later this year. Until then , you can check out their self titled EP.  They're currently on the Monster Ball tour with Lady Gaga. If that isn't a big enough stage, I don't know what is.  Semi Precious Weapons' wild and bold attitude, along with their crazy fashion, might staple them into the upcoming music scene.  I would definitely look out for their upcoming full length album this spring.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anjulie - Boom

Much of today's radio-friendly pop music has major R&B and hip-hop influences.  The problem is, these songs don't use the elements of these genres to their advantage.  What ends up happening, is the creation of several songs that song exactly same.  Anjulie is a Canadian pop singer.  Her debut self titled album was released in the summer of  last year.  On that album was "Boom".  This song is made for pop success. It blends different musical styles and cultures to create something new and fresh.

"Boom" starts slow and minimal.  When the chorus comes, so do the horns.  Along with chimes and an organ, the song starts to pick up.  The second verse brings in the beat.  The pattern and instrumentation of the song is very unique and haunting.  The simple hook of, "Boom, shalaka", is genius.  That hook is what makes the song so memorable.

I would definitely check out this song if you want something that's catchy and unique.  If you like Amy Winehouse then you might enjoy Anjulie.  The bass focused horns and R&B influences are present in both artist's music.  The song also has a slight Middle Eastern or Indian tinge too it.  This flare adds even more to the song.  After you hear this single, you'll be singing "Boom" for hours.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

La Bella Charade - Self Titled EP

Pop-punk music is usually made up of big sing-along choruses and overly emotional vocalists.  The songs are short and fast, little bits of uncontrollable energy.  Not often do you find an album of the genre that flows together as one piece.  La Bella Charade's debut self titled EP does just that.  From the beginning to the end, the EP sounds, and feels, like a complete album.

The five song EP is a great intro for the St. Louis based quartet.  They establish themselves in a crowd among well known names such as Fall Out Boy and Paramore.  The album is actually very reminiscent of Fall Out Boy's debut, Take This To Your Grave.  It's exciting and raw.  If they keep this style instead of transitioning into a pop-rock band, then they could gain a following of listeners who are striving for this musical style.

In many of the songs, harmonizing is key.  This technique is something the band has utilized to it's potential.  While the vocals could use some fine tuning, they're strong enough to stand out among other similar bands.

I would check out La Bella Charade if you enjoy bands such as Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, and Paramore.  Pop-punk fans should be prepared for this band.  They have the potential to rise above the masses.  To find more info on this band, check out their website, here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bad Veins - Gold And Warm

When executed properly, duos can be amazing.  Duos such as The Kills, The Raveonettes, She & Him, and The White Stripes all make unique music. Bad Veins is another pair that manages to succeed at the duo game.  They released their self-titled album last summer.  It consists of solid alternative rock tunes, with a dance rock twist.

"Gold And Warm" starts off with a mystical intro filled with harps and strings, but this doesn't last long.  The drum beat kicks in, and then the fuzzy guitars.  While the song gets distorted, the harp and strings can still be heard along the track.  They give the song a gentle sweeping feeling.  A great chorus is always welcome. Apparently, Bad Veins got the memo, because this chorus is no exception, it's great.  It's the type of chorus that will have you humming for quite a while after you hear it.

The band definitely has alternative rock radio material with "Gold And Warm".  If you like The Killers, The Bravery, and similar alternative bands with dance-synth elements, then you'll probably love this song.  The song is very similar to the big named bands of the genre, yet it isn't quite as polished.  Bad Veins will have a great future ahead of them if they keep this up.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Janelle Monáe - Cold War

Janelle Monae has a unique style. Her debut album, Metropolis: The Chase Suite, had an intergalactic theme.  Monae created an alter ego for her EP.  Cindi Mayweather, as she was known as, sings a strange concept in the set of songs.  Her android image only added to her amazing sense of musicianship  On her sophomore album, the Grammy nominated artist is back with even more energy than before.

"Cold War" is one of the singles from the upcoming album.  The song is fresh, upbeat, and the vocals are great.  This track is definitely radio hit material.  Monae has such a distinctive tone to her voice.  Add this to the energy and passion she puts into the lyrics, and you have a standout track.  Towards the end out the track, there's an impressive guitar solo.  The instrumental matches Janelle's vibe perfectly.

Her album, The ArchAndroid, will be released May 18th.  Until then, you can check out "Cold War" and the other pre-release single, "Tightrope", which features Big Boi.  I prefer "Cold War" over "Tightrope".  The song has much more star power.  If the album is as unique as the two singles, then listeners are in for a treat.  I see Janelle Monae as an artist on the verge of major success.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Train - Hey, Soul Sister

All the way back in 2001, Train released their biggest hit, "Drops Of Jupiter".  This song was the band's breakthrough single.  The track was everywhere at the time, it even won two Grammy awards.  After the success of "Drops Of Jupiter", the band never returned to their position at the top of the charts.  With "Hey, Soul Sister", the band has updated their sound, and it paid off.

While the song has been incredibly successful, it seems a bit generic.  Not long ago, Jason Mraz's song, "I'm Yours" was a happy and fun hit.  I feel that Train is trying to copy this move.  They've created a song with cute lyrics and a bouncy ukelele.  It sounds like it's been done before.  Recycled songs generally aren't something you enjoy.

If you do enjoy the song, it can be found on Train's fifth studio album, Save Me San Francisco.  "Hey, Soul Sister" isn't a milestone in pop music.  It's very "sing-along" sounding, a novelty.  The band may have struck gold with the single, but if they want to stay around, they'll need something more original.

Leave a comment, do you think "Hey, Soul Sister" is too similar to other acoustic pop songs. Maybe you love the song. Let me know.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

She & Him - In The Sun

Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward are the indie pop duo, She & Him.  The two create jingly pop songs in a style that you don't find nowadays.  Most of their songs are happy and cute.  Deschanel plays the piano while Ward primarily plays the guitar.  Although "She" takes on the position of lead vocalist, you can still hear some backup vocals from "Him".  The duo's unique style of music came to the attention of music critics everywhere when they released their debut effort, Volume One.  From the sound of this single, Volume Two will be just as enjoyable.

"In The Sun" is driven by a classic sounding piano riff.  Underneath the riff is the sound of a muted guitar.  The combination of the two, together, creates a great pace for the track.  The steady verses then lead into the chorus.  The chorus is so much bigger than the verses.  Deschanel soothes, "It's alright, it's okay...", to create the uplifting energy of the song.  The single is short and sweet, at just under three minutes.  The length adds to the peppy aroma that the song has captured.

If you need a "pick-me-up" song, then download "In The Sun".  It's especially fitting for the spring into summer time of the year.  The full album, Volume Two, is released on March 23.  I would look forward to it if you enjoy pop music, but not along the lines of Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift.  She & Him is pop music that the young and old alike can enjoy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flobots - White Flag Warrior

The Beastie Boys have done it before, but not quite in the same way. Flobots is a band that mixes alternative rock and rap to make something a little different from your usual rap-rock. Along with the Beastie Boys... Linkin Park and Rage Against The Machine could be seen as influences.  All of these bands have, in some way, brought some hip-hop to the distorted rock genre.

I first heard of Flobots when they released their most successful single, "Handlebars".  "Handlebars" received plenty of airplay on both hip-hop and rock radio stations, I hope "White Flag Warrior" is given the same attention.  The band's music is very unique.  The presence of their violist, Mackenzie Roberts, is definitely a strong point.  To have a viola in rock or rap music is unusual.

The track features Tim McIlrath, of the punk band, Rise Against.  His vocals come in during the song's chorus.  As a fan of Rise Against, his vocals on the record are great.  The chorus is very fitting to the rest of "White Flag Warrior".  It's one of the standout moments.

Flobots' sophomore album, Survival Story, just came out this week.  If you liked the band's previous work, then you should definitely check out the album.  The band is bringing something new to the table by breaking the standard genre molds.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Neon Trees - Animal

Lately, I've had a bit of a pop obsession.  Just about a year ago, pop was kind of bland and boring.  I didn't buy any of the new pop albums.  I lost interest in the bubbly genre and looked towards alternative rock.  The last few months have been completely different.  The pop genre got a boost of energy from new acts, and I became interested.  I started picking up pop records and now I'm constantly looking for more.

Neon Trees is an American band who just released their debut full length album, Habits.  Their music has what I love about the pop genre.  Catchy melodies, upbeat music, and solid vocals.  It's all very polished.  While they aren't a full blown radio pop group of their own, they get awfully close to it.  They effectively appeal to that general audience.

The song's instrumental is very produced.  It's alternative music you can dance to.  Maybe something along the lines of The Ting Tings, in that matter.  "Animal" isn't a song that you need to study.  It's just there to be enjoyed.  Feel good music, if you please.

The song is currently available as the Single Of The Week on iTunes, for free.  You can download the song during this offer until the 23rd of March.  I would definitely check it out, what's to lose?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eolune - Canvas

Alternative rock and electronic are two completely different genres.  Not often are they compared or used together.  Bands such as Nine Inch Nails combine metal and electronic styles, but not entirely alternative.  What would happen if they were combined?  Eolune has merged elements of the two genres to create the Canvas EP.  Does this experiment truly work?  It their case, it does.

The main elements that are taken from the electronic style are the synths and beats.  The majority of the synthesizers that are used are in the bass range.  While an acoustic drum kit is used, the beat patterns are very reminiscent of a more digitally contrived production.  Similar vibes can be felt from the guitar work on tracks such as "Tangled".

At six tracks long, the EP gives a good taste for the band's sound.  They definitely have something different going on.  When I first heard the vocals on "Billboard", I thought of Isaac Brock, of Modest Mouse.  There is a similar tone between the well known alternative singer and Eolune's Corey Wade.

Because of the merge of two genres, Eolune's music appeals to more than one crowd.  Fans of alternative band's such as Silversun Pickups, Metric, and as previously mentioned Modest Mouse will find something here.  Also, listeners of acts like Imogen Heap, Ratatat, and Nine Inch Nails might enjoy the album.

To find more info on Eolune and download the Canvas EP (pay as you wish), visit the band's website, here.  This is an impressive debut album that could put the band on the map.  I see Eolune as a future alternative band to look out for.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dragonette - Pick Up The Phone

Electro-pop seems to be an increasingly popular genre lately.  Filled with infectious bouncy beats and synths, acts such as Owl City and Lady Gaga have boosted the style's popularity.  Dragonette is a Canadian band that plays this very same type of pop music.  Although they learn towards the style of Gaga rather than Adam Young's bubbly project, Dragonette has a very bright and distinct sound.

"Pick Up The Phone" is from the groups second album, Fixin To Thrill.  Released last year, the song is very upbeat.  Vocalist, Martina Sorbara has an incredibly radio friendly voice.  I could see the song getting some airplay  on some alternative and pop stations.  The only reason it hasn't received this attention is because it seems to be lacking that "hook".  The song doesn't include a short and simple ring that will get stuck in your head.  A hook is what most radio stations will look for.

In the end, the song is great.  I love the chorus.  It vaguely reminds me of an 80's pop song.  I would check out this song if you like electronic and pop music.  Artists such as Cascada, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, and Little Boots are very similar.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Karen Elson - The Ghost Who Walks

If you're a follower of Jack White, from The White Stripes, The Dead Weather, and The Raconteurs, then you probably already know who Karen Elson is.  If not, then you will soon.  Karen Elson is a model turned musician, and Jack White's wife.  She will be releasing her debut album later this year.  But before she releases her album, listeners can get a feel for her style in "The Ghost Who Walks".  The song is just her and an acoustic guitar.  It's almost folk.  Wether or not a full band version of the song will be released is unknown at this point, but the acoustic track is great.

Upon first listen, I was surprised by Elson's voice.  I figured that if she was always around music she would've started her music career sooner, especially when she can sing so well.  I think that the lack of instrumentation in the song truly showcases her abilities.

In terms of the song's composition, it's very original.  It has a very memorable melody, it's simple yet effective.  Because the track is produced by Jack White, it has a very similar production style to her husband's various works.  At the same time, the song doesn't sound like something that could have been performed by one of his bands.

For more info on the song, and to download the song for free, you can check out Elson's website, here.  "The Ghost Who Walks" has sparked my curiosity for the upcoming debut album from Karen Elson.  Will the entire record by acoustic based like this song, or will she follow the style of White and get distorted?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MGMT - Flash Delirium

MGMT, the electro-psychedelic duo, will be releasing their sophomore album, Congratulations, next month.  The first song to be revealed from the record is "Flash Delirium".  I'm not sure if you would call this the lead single, because the band has declared that no singles would be released.  They wanted the listeners to enjoy the album without the isolation of one track.  Their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, contained several hit singles, so this marketing move is bold.

I loved "Kids" and "Electric Feel" from their first effort.  This song is nothing like those tracks.  "Flash Delirium" is a new direction for the group.  They abandoned much of their electro-dance roots for a more classic rock sound.  That's right, the song has classic rock influences.  It sounds as if they might have listened to The Beatles during the recording process.  You can hear harmonies and severe rhythm changes.  It's interesting.

After hearing "Flash Delirium", I'm curious.  Will the rest of Congratulations sound like this song, or more towards the singles they're known for.  While I really enjoyed "Electric Feel", this new work is just as intriguing.  You can download the track for free on the band's website, here.  I would definitely download it, the track is great.  If you like it, then buy Congratulations on April 13.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Major Lazer - Hold The Line

Major Lazer is a duo of DJ's.  The pair of Diplo and Switch are behind the strange image of this group.  "Hold The Line" features Santigold and Mr. Lexx.  You can find the track on their album, Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do.  The truth about the song is... it's catchy.  The guitar work is what carries the song, along with Santigold.  The song starts off sounding almost like an old western showdown, with the sound of a clopping horse.  Then you hear it, "Major Lazer!".  Yes, the groups name is shouted at the beginning of the song.  Finding a correct genre for this unique song would be incredibly difficult.  It mixes reggae, electronic, hip-hop, and dance elements.  The result of this fusion is nothing else, but Major Lazer.  I would checkout this track if you need some... odd music.  You won't find too much that's similar to this act.  I didn't think I would like this song, but I do.  You should give it a try.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mr. Dream - No Girls Allowed

Mr. Dream has created an EP full of raw punk rock music.  From the opening song, "Knuckle Sandwich", to the closing track, "Unlovable Loser", the album is wild and fun.  With just five songs that rarely clock in at over three and a half minutes, the collection is short and sweet.  That's how punk music should be.  The Brooklyn based band definitely has a successful future ahead of them.

"Knuckle Sandwich" is the major standout track.  By starting the album with this song, it's almost impossible to stop listening further.  The bass line in the verse, along with the beat, is contagious.  Even if you don't care for the rest of the songs, this one's a keeper.  Odds are... you'll enjoy the entire EP.

One thing that stood out the most, was the large amount of catchy bass riffs.  In every song, there's something great creeping along the bottom of the instruments.  The musical element that is mostly ignored in many songs is used to its advantage here.

I would check out the No Girls Allowed EP if you love energetic and rough punk music.  You could definitely call this album "noisy".  Mr. Dream reminds me of the fundamentals of this genre.  Distorted guitars, pounding drums, and crazy vocals... what else do you need?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hole - Skinny Little B***h

What will Courtney Love do next?  Apparently she's singing, once again.  Just when you thought she was occupied with the Guitar Hero lawsuit, Love is back with her old band.  When I say old band, I don't mean her original band.  Sure, it's still called "Hole", but the band lineup is completely different.  This song sounds like it belongs in the nineties.  If you heard the music without the front-woman's hoarse yells, you'd think it was a Nirvana song.  I feel that the band has completely eliminated any chance at radio play because of the obscene lyrics.  Let's just say that extreme censoring would be necessary.

Former Hole Lineup
I've never been a fan of Courtney Love in the past, and this remains unchanged.  She sounds incredibly tired and rough, maybe even a little... old.  It's really hard to get past her, personally.  Even when you do, the song is still bland.  I don't criticize music for no reason, this song deserves the complaints.  I would pass on "Skinny Little B***h", especially if you aren't comfortable with excess profanity.  It sounds like grunge music that would've been overshadowed by Nirvana if released in its appropriate era.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Raveonettes - Last Dance

"Last Dance" starts with the sound of twinkling chimes.  A lonely synth bleep is added.  Then, the chorus blasts in with, "If this is the last dance - Then save it for me baby".  This chorus will be implanted into your brain for the rest of the day.  Once you hear it, the melody refuses to leave.  The Raveonettes are a Danish alternative rock band.  This single is on their latest record, In And Out Of Control.  The album was released last fall.  The duo, consisting of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, have created a great pop song.  The verses are quiet and the hook is loud, really loud.  The synth solo after the bridge only makes it better.  I would check out "Last Dance", or the entire album, if you like alternative and pop music such as The Big Pink, The Duke Spirit, and maybe even Yeah Yeah Yeahs circa It's Blitz!.  You'll remember this song for its jingle-like melody and catchy chorus.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Appreciation Post - Work/Sleep

Sometimes you just want to listen to some fun poppy music, right?  You're not in the mood for anything to heavy or serious.  If you're feeling like this, then you should hear The Appreciation Post.  This band from Boston makes fun synth filled rock music with a pop twist.  You might even want to call it power-pop.  Earlier this year, they released their EP, Work/Sleep.  From the start to the end, this album is packed with so much energy, you won't know what to do with it.

The album, which contains seven tracks, kicks off with "The Beating Of A Lifetime".  The synth laden song is a good start for the EP.  It correctly sets the sound for the following songs.  The album continues at a good pace.  Each song is a chunk of adrenaline pumped pop-punk.  This continues until "Better My Future", a short interlude.  I actually think that this track is one of the album's most memorable moments.

The band has definitely established a signature sound.  On every song you'll hear a quirky synth keyboard. They mix the pop-punk genre with a synth-pop, or electro feeling.  I like the sound.  They don't take the keyboards to an extreme, which is great.

I would check out The Appreciation Post if you like Weezer, Anarbor, The Academy Is..., or maybe even Hellogoodbye.  Their style is comparable to so many other bands.  You should definitely give the Work/Sleep EP a chance.  You can download the entire album from the band, for free, here.