Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Johnny Lazer

I'm always searching for exciting new music from upcoming artists.  When I stumbled upon a single from Johnny Lazer, I was instantly surprised that I had never heard of this pop act before.  Johnny Lazer is made up of Antony Cherrie and Laura Fares.  Antony is the face of the duo, taking the name of Johnny Lazer with his wild stage presence and signature mohawk, while Laura supplies the beats.  Together, they make insanely catchy electro-pop music.  The first thing I noticed about Johnny Lazer was how tight the production of the music is.  These songs sound like they should be at the top of pop music charts everywhere.

Their track "Bad Boyfriend", which is released on March 28, is all sorts of fun.  During the verses Johnny half-raps over a speeding synth-covered beat.  The song is packed with energy and gives listeners a nice taste of Johnny Lazer's style.  It's nice to hear a male vocalist in a style of music that is dominated by mainstream female singers.

"New High" takes a different approach to the genre with a soaring and melodic dance piece.  Listeners who may not be fond of the playful, yet dangerous, mood of "Bad Boyfriend" will probably prefer this single.  There's no denying that Johnny Lazer has an amazing voice for pop music and you can hear it in this song.  The layered vocals add some depth to the chorus.  It sounds like a bittersweet pop party.

While the official release of "Bad Boyfriend" isn't until next month, you can listen to it along with "New High" below...

  Bad Boyfriend by JohnnyLazer

  New High by JohnnyLazer

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Let me start off with a warning.  This is a biased review.  I'm a "Little Monster".  I adore everything that Lady Gaga does and follow her every move.  I could try my best to be an "objective journalist", but why should I hold back how I really feel?  Now that you know this little bit of info, you should also know that "Born This Way" is the pop song that this generation, an era burdened by prejudice, needed.

Think back to MTV's 2010 Video Music Awards.  Lady Gaga stole the show by sweeping the awards and donning her now famous meat dress, but she also started the five month wait for this single by singing the first line of the chorus.  "I'm beautiful in my way, 'cause God makes no mistakes.  I'm on the right track, baby.  I was born this way."  These lyrics appropriately summarize the theme of this single.  Over the past year, Top 40 stations everywhere have seen a large amount of uplifting songs, but none of them were as straightforward and in-your-face as "Born This Way".

"Born This Way" is a pop track, in the same light as "Dance In The Dark" to the point of sharing Fernando Garibay's brilliant production.  The lyrics could have easily taken the form of a piano ballad, which may happen during Sunday night's Grammy Awards, but instead Gaga kept her danceable style of music.  This is the first time I've ever heard a mainstream pop song directly address racial prejudice.  This is also the first time I've heard the words gay, straight, bi, lesbian, and transgender used in a mainstream pop song.  Many writers labeled the song as a "gay anthem", but it's really an equality anthem.  Every issue, from race, sexual orientation, disabilities, poverty, and bullying is included in the lyrics.  Gaga has a massive platform, and she's using it correctly.

Many people claim to enjoy pop music because it's "catchy" and not for the lyrical content.  "Born This Way" soars in both categories.  It's uplifting, inspirational, and has a hypnotizing beat.  In an age where degrading and meaningless songwriting is often seen at the foreground of the music industry,"Born This Way" is the pop song that people should sing along to as loud as they can.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mr. Dream - Trash Hit

Mr. Dream is a band that refuses to be classified into one genre.  Every time you think you have them pinned down, they release another song filled with a new set of sounds and influences.  In 2010, the band released a handful of singles that reached from post-punk, to grunge, and back around to pop.  However, it doesn't stop there.  On March 1, the three-piece from Brooklyn will finally have a full length album.  Trash Hit, is a collection of raw, aggressive, and terribly catchy songs.  Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, this record packs a punch.

Trash Hit starts off with the title track.  This is where you'll hear Mr. Dream's signature guitars, grinding and crying.  Although the band just recently fell under the spotlight, they've already created their own sound.  Many bands have one, and every band strives for one.  After listening to this album once, you'll forever know when Mr. Dream is played on your stereo.

While every song contains the same traditional rock band ingredients of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, the spectrum of songs never reach the point of being dreary.  "Shotgun Tricks" is a prime example of how the album ranges in sound.  The verses are suave and bass heavy, while the chorus explodes.  Mr. Dream has a knack for exploding choruses.  "Holy Name" sounds like the Nirvana single that never was, while "Winners" channels Rage Against The Machine.  "King Klutz" is simply fun.

Not long after the release of Trash Hit, Mr. Dream will be touring with 2010's favorite noise band, Sleigh Bells, and CSS.  If their live shows are anything like the record, then you should start looking for tickets now.

By combining sing-along melodies with the wild energy of a punk concert, Mr. Dream has created one of 2011's most interesting albums so far.  No, it isn't polished to perfection, but that's what makes it so special.  Trash Hitis fresh lo-fi music at its finest.