Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mr. Dream - Scarred For Life

At only two minutes and fifteen seconds long, "Scarred For Life" continues Mr. Dream's trend of short punk rock songs.  When I talked about their No Girls Allowed album, I mentioned that the length of the songs doesn't hold back their potential.  Instead, the song gives you a short burst of energy.  The vocals in this single seem more tight and precise, yet not over produced, just as Mr. Dream's previous work.  The beginning verse almost sounds like something you'd hear from The Bravery, only with more raw power.  They've also kept the infectious bass lines that really act as much more than support.  Everything that I loved about No Girls Allowed has received and upgrade for the better in "Scarred For Life".

I would love to hear a full length release from this band.  Until that time comes, you should definitely check out "Scarred For Life".  It may not be the most complicated of songs, but that's what makes it stand out.  It's simple, fun, and has a great guitar riff during the chorus.  Who wouldn't love a song like that?  Check out Mr. Dream's Myspace to give this song a listen, and also check out their previous work.  Mr. Dream is a band that's worth your time.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Semi Precious Weapons - You Love You

Earlier this year, I wrote about a band named Semi Precious Weapons.  I was amazed by their style.  They have the hooks and melodies for pop music, but they don't play pop music.  They perform rock music.  Not just any kind of rock, but the kind with insane fashion and guitar riffs.  It's glam rock.  They're fronted by Justin Tranter, one unique vocalist.  Add in a drummer, Dan Crean.  Then a bassist and guitarist, Cole Whittle and Stevy Pyne, and you have the Semi Precious Weapons.

The album opener is the first single and eponymous track, "Semi Precious Weapons".  The rock 'n' roll riff that starts the song is a good taste of what's to come.  To go side by side with the riff is the opening line, the lyrics that tell you what the band's about.  "I can't pay my rent, but I'm f****** gorgeous."  This is what Semi Precious Weapons is about.  On "Put A Diamond In It", Tranter sings of violence and glamour.  Unlike most other vocalists who would attempt such lyrical themes, Tranter can get away with it.  His wardrobe, which consists mostly of fishnets, heels and leather, adds to the "in your face" glam style of their music.  The epic, "Rock N Roll Never Looked So Beautiful",  explains it all.

Besides the wild glam rock, the album contains some down-tempo tracks.  "Leave Your Pretty To Me" is truly the highlight of the entire record.  Once you reach this song on the nine track album, you wonder if it can get any better.  The soft vulnerable tone of Tranter's voice is completely unexpected.  It sounds like a classic rock ballad and the album isn't even released in the US yet.  You must hear this song.

You Love You is out in the US on June 29th.  The band will continue touring with their friend and fellow performer, Lady Gaga, at the Monster Ball this summer.  I would pick up the record if you enjoy crazy glam rock songs that will leave you wondering what you just listened to.  It's catchy, it's outrageous, it's dirty... it's Semi Precious Weapons.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pretty Reckless - EP

I wrote about The Pretty Reckless when they released their debut single, "Make Me Wanna Die".  This new rock band is led by the young Taylor Momsen.  Their self titled EP, which was released today, contains the band's lead single along with three new tracks that give The Pretty Reckless an even more promising future.

The first track, "Make Me Wanna Die", is the obvious choice for a single.  It's very radio friendly for modern rock stations.  For a more in depth review of the song, check out my post about it, here.  The second song is "My Medicine".  This song shows off Momsen's vocals and presence much better than the lead single.  The attitude in the vocal performance is enough to make it my favorite song on the EP.

The third song is "Goin' Down".  It's much heavier than the previous two.  Being very similar of 90's hard rock and grunge, the band, specifically the drummer, really shines through on this track.  With the lyrics, "Hey there father I don't wanna bother you, but I've got a sin to confess. I'm just sixteen if you know what I mean, do you mind if I take off my dress?", you can really see the young, rebellious, and more dangerous side of Momsen.

The final song, "Zombie", can only be found on the physical version of the EP.  It's definitely worth skipping iTunes for this song.  It's similar to "Make Me Wanna Die" in terms of theme.  "Zombie" is dark and heavy.

The Pretty Reckless will release their debut full length album, Light Me Up, later this year.  I would, without a doubt, give this EP a listen.  The physical disc containing "Zombie" is available only on the Warped Tour and at Hot Topic, but the extra song is a good incentive to pick it up.  The Pretty Reckless have quickly become one of my favorite new bands.  If they can match the power of this EP on Light Me Up, then you're in for a great album.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

M.I.A. - Steppin Up

The first sound you hear upon listening to M.I.A.'s new single, "Steppin Up", is a grinding chain saw and blasting drill.  The buzzing and squealing, which could have been an amazing sample, actually becomes quite irritating through out the song.  The songs beat is capable of holding it's own without the sample.  Besides the looping saw and the pounding beat, the music is kept at a minimum.  You can still hear a faint electronic synth line and guitar that keeps a chord progression under the lyrics.  This element keeps a slight sense of structure to the music.

The lyrical content is very out of the ordinary and very lacking.  With strange lines such as, "Rub a dub a dub dub, rub a dub a dub a dub." this song isn't poetry.  It really isn't even unique in an entertaining way.  This would be more acceptable if the instrumental for the song was outstanding, but the music doesn't save the track.  Overall, there's just too much "noise".

M.I.A.'s album, /\/\/\Y/\, will be released on July 13.  If this song fits into the context of the full record, then the lacking power could be excused.  However, on it's own, "Steppin Up" is nothing to get excited about.  Her other singles for this upcoming album are much stronger than tis one.  For all of the feuding and controversy that M.I.A. gets herself into, "Steppin Up" isn't up to par.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Devo - Fresh

Devo.  The band that made the "energy dome" what it is today.  The pyramid like hat became the symbol of Devo at the peak of their career.  Soon after their 1990 album Smooth Noodle Maps was released, they stopped making music. Following an extensive twenty year hiatus, the band is back with an album.  Can their single, "Fresh" revive their career and satisfy their massive following?  I think it can, and will.

Devo has managed to keep the charm of their classic music and apply modern production techniques to give it an updated feel.  The echoing drums are here, as are the waving synths.  One of their major hits, "Whip It", had a massive guitar riff, so does "Fresh".  It's impressive that after a twenty year break, the band still has a strong sense of who they are.

"Fresh" can be found on their album, Something For Everybody, which came out this week.  If you want a record full of poppy music that sounds like it belongs in the 80's, then this album is for you.  While it has that retro sound, it doesn't sound too cheesy or overdone.  It's a perfectly done transition into today's music scene that strives on electro-pop.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1

Robyn is a Swedish pop singer with a plan.  She's going to release, not one, but three albums this year.  In a series titled Body Talk, Robyn hopes to break from the traditional album cycle and create some great pop music at the same time.  Pt. 1 of the trilogy is being released this week.  At eight tracks long, the album contains a wide variety of genres.  While it's mostly pop focused, the album does hold its surprises.

The album starts off with "Don't F****** Tell Me What To Do".  The monotone repetition of Robyn stating waves of habits, objects, feelings, and people that are "killing her" is strangely effective as lyrical content.  The vocals are spoken over a dance-pop beat that sounds like a "Thriller" tribute during the title line finale.  After this intriguing intro, the promo single "Fembot" interrupts with its distinctive hook.  While the attraction of, "I've got some news for you, Fembots have feelings too.", you can't forget this song.  It''s a solid electro-pop tune that calls back to her previous hit, "Konichiwa B******".

The album continues into the first official single, "Dancing On My Own".  This single has already had decent success because of its moving chorus.  The song is definitely one highlight of the album.  The deep constant synth is a great driving beat for the song.  Robyn's music is always full of attitude, but it's usually aggressive and playful.  "Dancing On My Own" is deep and honest.  The next song, "Cry When You Get Older", continues the vibe of "Dancing On My Own".  It's less feisty and keeps the flowing ballad-like tempo.

The feeling changes completely with, "Dancehall Queen".  It has a reggae beat with pop synths.  An interesting combination, to say the least.  The song is very mellow, not much stands out.  It manages to keep your attention, but it is lacking.  The album picks back up with "None Of Dem".  This song features R√∂yksopp, and has an eerie melody.  The song is much more atmospheric than Robyn's usual hi-hat and snare filled anthems.

With the albums end closing in, "Hang With Me", an acoustic ballad, catches the listener off guard.  The soft song is made up of a piano, string section, and Robyn.  It's a beautiful song that really adds a needed element to the record.  The final song on the record is "Jag Vet en Dejlig Rosa".  The almost a cappella folk song is sung completely in Swedish.  It's extremely soothing and mysterious.  The lullaby closes the album amazingly.

To have an album that starts with a dance-pop song and ends with a traditional folk song is very peculiar.  To make it work out is even more peculiar.  Robyn has created a solid introduction to her Body Talk trilogy.  The album not only satisfies lovers of pop music, but it also sparks their interest in Robyn's unique album release plan.  I would check out Body Talk Pt. 1 if you enjoy pop music that is playful, with a mature side... when needed.  Robyn has a strong record with Body Talk Pt. 1.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Careful" & "Alejandro" Music Videos

Earlier this week, two music videos were released.  Both were by some of my favorite musicians.  The first was "Careful", by Paramore.  The video confirms that "Careful" is indeed the upcoming fourth single from Brand New Eyes.  The video features behind the scenes footage of the band, along with live concert clips.  While it isn't one of their best videos, the sudden release was a pleasant surprise.  Check out the video, here.

The second video was Lady Gaga's "Alejandro".  After weeks of anticipation, she finally revealed the sexual militaristic themed video.  At almost nine minutes long, the video isn't something you see everyday.  Since its release, the video has received criticism, being accused of inappropriate symbolism.  You can watch the video below.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Mix: Fever Ray, La Roux, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, & The Like

Every once in a while, I like to post playlists of songs that I'm loving at the moment.  They can vary in length and content, and genres are not limited.  This mix is made up of four songs and is approximately eighteen minutes long.  It contains a wide variety of musical styles from current artists and bands.  Hopefully, after reading the post, you'll be intrigued to check out some of the songs.

"Zero (RAC Remix)" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

"Zero" was the first single from their newest album, It's Blitz!.  Although the album has been out since 2009, I recently discovered this remix.  It clocks in at just under five minutes.  What I like about it is that it varies enough to give the track a new sounds, yet you can still recognize the hit single.

"He's Not A Boy" - The Like

I wrote a review on this band's song, "Fair Game" last month.  "He's Not A Boy" is an even better single.  It has an outstanding retro vibe.  The bridge adds a slightly psychedelic element to the track.  Overall, very upbeat and refreshing.  The Like is a new band that I'm definitely watching.

"Keep The Street Empty For Me" - Fever Ray

Fever Ray is Karin Dreijer Andersson.  This song off of her album, Fever Ray, is ambient and haunting.  I can't think of another vocalist her sounds anything like Karin.  Her voice goes from very harsh to soft instantly.  The pulse-like beat is a great spine to the dark sweeping echoes.

"In For The Kill (Skream's Let's Get Ravey Remix)" - La Roux

"In For The Kill" is the opening track to their self-titled album.  This particular remix gives a new life to the song.  It starts with just a synth behind the vocal track.  The beat then stacks up until the song turns into a dubstep ending.  I prefer it over the original recording.

If you give the playlist a listen, leave a comment and let me know how you feel about the tracks.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

MTV Movie Awards: Katy & Christina

Tonight was the evening of the MTV Movie Awards.  While the show focuses on film, Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera also performed.  They each performed new singles from their upcoming albums.  Katy's "Teenage Dream" is out on August 24th, and Christina's "Bionic" is out on June 8th.  Here's a summary of how the performances turned out...

Katy Perry's performance came first with her new single, "California Gurls".  The song started with Katy standing on a flying surf board while wearing a blue wig.  There were giant monitors with rays of sun and backup dancers in roller skates.  The song, which is "TiK ToK" version two, really isn't groundbreaking.  Sure, the stage was sunny and matched the vibe, but her vocals weren't spot on.  Snoop Dogg was there to rap his verse.  He stood up from a golden throne and joined Katy at center stage.  While the pairing of the two artists is odd, his verse sounded just like the recording.  Overall, it just didn't amaze me.  At this point I was hoping Christina's performance would be much more entertaining.

Christina came on after a few more awards were given out.  Her new image is very... "Lady Gaga".  With every album, comes a new look.  Her most recent style is synth covered club pop music.  She performed a medley of songs as opposed to Katy's single tune.  The first song was "Bionic".  It was very dark with plenty of smoke and shadows.  She then moved on to her semi-big single, "Not Myself Tonight".  The vocals were so good that it made me suspect her of using a backing track or lip syncing.  Finally, Xtina performed "Whoohoo".  The song started with several censored lines, that's not a great start or finish to any song.  The medley seemed very strange.  It's like Christina doesn't know what to do with her music.  The biggest surprise was when the camera zoomed in on a flashing light-up heart located on Christina's crotch.  Very strange.

The entire show was poorly done.  The comedy was entirely based around swearing.  The censoring was unbelievably heavy, and off. Several times the swearing was left uncensored.  If you missed the show, don't worry.  It was nothing special.  If you really wanted to see the performances or awards, I'm sure they'll either replay it or you can find it on MTV's website.  I usually really enjoy these award shows, but this year MTV couldn't get anything right.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Song Of The Summer?

Recently, MTV held a poll to decide what the song of this summer is.  Every summer there's that one song that really blows up.  That song is labeled, "Song Of The Summer".  Thinking back, I can't seem to remember many definite choices for this honor.  Rihanna's hit, "Umbrella", is widely considered 2007's summer song.  I can't really argue with that choice.  The winner of this year's MTV poll was none other than Lady Gaga.  Her newest single, "Alejandro", is now given the pressure of becoming the song of the summer.  The single has already gained a massive amount of airplay over the last couple weeks. It's also climbing the Hot 100 and Pop charts.  Given Lady Gaga's track record, I wouldn't be surprised if "Alejandro" shoots to #1.

Here's how the MTV poll looked:

  • "California Gurls" - Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg
  • "Airplanes" - B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams
  • "OMG" - Usher featuring will.i.am
  • "Alejandro" - Lady Gaga
  • "My First Kiss" - 3OH!3 featuring Ke$ha
I can understand all of those choices except for "My First Kiss".  That song just doesn't have the same power as the others.  I still haven't heard it on the radio even just once.  By just looking at the list, you can see that features are extremely popular.  "Alejandro" is the only song on the list without another featured artist.

I voted for "Alejandro".  If you voted, which song did you choose?  If you missed the poll, which song would you have chosen?  Do you think the voters chose the right song of the summer?  Leave a comment with your choice, maybe the poll forgot the real song of the summer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reader Request Playlist: Hot Chelle Rae & The White Tie Affair

"Bleed" from the album "Lovesick Electric" - Hot Chelle Rae
Requested by Andy

Previous to this request, I had heard Hot Chelle Rae's single, "I Like To Dance".  The song, like most of their music, is a synth-filled dance pop party.  The second single from their debut album is completely different from the rest of the record.  It's a ballad that starts off with no more than an acoustic guitar.  It transforms into a full on power ballad towards the end.  "Bleed" reminds me of a Boys Like Girls song, but much better.  I prefer Hot Chelle Rae's vocalist, Ryan Follese, to Boys Like Girls singer, Martin Johnson.  The song's really quite good.  I suggest it if you like young heartfelt ballads that have soaring choruses.  After listening to it, several times mind you, I found the chorus to be stuck in my head.  Any song that has accomplished this achievement has a good melody.  A good melody is what every pop artist strives for, and Hot Chelle Rae has one in "Bleed".

"You Look Better When I'm Drunk" - The White Tie Affair
Requested by Andy

The White Tie Affair is probably known best for their single, "Candle (Sick And Tired)".  The song from their debut album, Walk This Way, received a decent mount of radio play in 2008.  Their new single, which was just released in April, has the perfect beat for radio.  There have been a decent amount of "drunk party" songs lately, with Cobra Starship and Boys Like Girls.  This song is actually very similar to Cobra Starship's style.  If you like The White Tie Affair, then you should check out Cobra.  The hook of the song is a bit repetitive and gets tiring after a while, but in the genre, that's quite common.  While The White Tie Affair have never really been my favorite band, I prefer their previous singles compared to this new release.  Long time fans, however, won't be disappointed.

Thanks to Andy for this weeks requests. Don't forget to submit your choices for a chance in next weeks playlist.