Sunday, September 25, 2011

LIGHTS - Everybody Breaks A Glass

Canadian electro-popper LIGHTS is due to release her sophomore album, Siberia, next month.  As the follow-up to her debut The Listening, Siberia features contributions from Shad and Holy F**k.  "Everybody Breaks A Glass" has been out since July, and while the official first single is "Toes", "Everybody Breaks A Glass" is LIGHTS' heaviest track yet.  Plus, it's insanely addictive.

LIGHTS' first album was full of potential pop hits.  They were airy, uplifting, and contained enough mesmerizing melodies to satisfy your average pop junkie.  From the very beginning of "Everybody Breaks A Glass", the music is different.  There's more edge in the production.  Holy F**k could take some of the credit in that department.  The electronica group worked on the instrumental with LIGHTS.  Clean beats have been replaced by thick crunching distortion.  Vocally, LIGHTS switches up between a her signature sweet and innocent style and a more demanding voice in the verses.

After a dubstep influenced breakdown, there's a verse from Shad.  For the most part, the entire "featured rapper" method is horribly overused in Top 40 music.  If you take a look at the Hot 100 charts, an overwhelming amount of the singles feature another artist.  Some artists such as Katy Perry have even abused the idea simply to bump record sales with rushed remixes.  However, Shad's presence on "Everybody Breaks A Glass" is a great parallel to LIGHTS' vocals.

Siberia is out worldwide on October fourth.  You can pre-order a variety of editions, including an autographed package, here.  A standard edition pre-order can also be found here.

Watch the lyric video for "Everybody Breaks A Glass" below...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lady Gaga - Yoü And I: The Remixes

Years from now, "Yoü And I" may be remembered by many as "that one Lady Gaga song where she dressed like a guy".  The pop single with a southern rock twist is the fourth single from Gaga's Born This Way.  It's currently in the Top 10 of the Hot 100 and to give it a little promotional push, an album of remixes has been released.  The seven track set includes mixes by names such as Metronomy, Wild Beasts, and Mark Taylor.

Unfortunately, a few of the remixes are forgettable.  The Wild Beasts remix, which is the first track, is a mellow humming trance.  There are piano chords and melodies on top of Gaga's chopped vocal runs.  The song clocks in at under four minutes, but it feels much longer.  Danny Verde and Hector Fonseca's remixes are extended club pieces.  They have bass focused beats with assorted and heavily repeated vocal motifs.  While tracks such as these are generally what remix albums contain, many of Gaga's previous remix compilations have held amazing mixes that almost surpass the original single.

The remaining remixes are by Mark Taylor, ATB, Metronomy, and 10 Kings.  Mark Taylor's remix is close to what I would imagine "Yoü And I" to sound like if Gaga chose the synthesizer over the piano and guitar.  A line-dancing beat is there along with a radio friendly production style.  ATB's remix switches back and forth between a soft dance instrumental and hard pounding synth bleeps.  The variation is great and there's plenty of vocal work.  It's one of the album's highlights.

Metronomy went with a concept that probably wouldn't sound like a success on paper.  They've completely stripped the music, leaving only lush dragging synth chords and piano over an almost soothing beat.  The entire vocal track is intact with a slight filter.  It's minimal in the best way possible.

The real gem on this record is the 10 Kings remix.  This song makes up for every other mix that failed to impress.  It's incredible what a new chord progression can do to a song.  The "We Will Rock You" stomp-stomp-clap beat has been replaced by soaring and dramatic synths.  The 10 Kings re-work is one of my favorite remixes from the Born This Way era.  There's an incredibly emotional climax and the balance of every element is stunning.  If you were to download one track from this album, choose the 10 Kings remix.

As a whole, this batch of remixes has a few weak spots, but when it gets going, this album really shines.  You can download any and all of the remixes here.  If you haven't seen it yet, check out the "Yoü And I" music video below...

Friday, September 16, 2011

CSS - La Liberación

Although the release of CSS' debut album Cansei de Ser Sexy initially failed to make much impact in 2005, one year and an Apple commercial later, CSS would be the band that everyone is talking about.  Their wild and danceable album contained tracks such as "Alala", "Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above", and the breakout single "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex".  They has created an electro-rock album with punk attitude.  CSS' second album Donkey switched gears with less dancing and more rocking.  Now the band is back with La Liberación.  This record is Cansei de Ser Sexy revisited.  The old sound has been updated with some new surprises.

CSS' name is an abbreviation of the phrase Cansei de Ser Sexy, which translates to "tired of being sexy".  That ridiculous attitude, the same sense of humor that brought you "Meeting Paris Hilton", is one of the shining features of CSS.  The Brazilian band is lead by Lovefoxxx, who breezes through live performances with capes and black lipstick, the latter of which earns a cameo on La Liberación.

La Liberación kicks of with the synthesized "I Love You", which features a call and response "I love you - I love you, too".  The opening track flows into "Hits Me Like A Rock", the lead single with Primal Scream's frontman.  Bobby Gillespie is the first of many guest artists on this album.  Ssion, Ratatat, and Mike Garson all make appearances.  "City Grrrl" is a club anthem waiting to happen, while "Partners In Crime" channels Aladdin Sane.  The album is a bit spastic in genres at times.  At one minute you'll have a Spanish punk piece and then a half spoken mellow rap track lies near the end of the record.

CSS still manages to save "F**k Everything" for last.  The finale is guitar driven with shouts of angst.  After a break of silence, Lovefoxxx returns to exclaim her love of "going to the pub with the gays" and "cookies", among other things.  It's bizarre and hilarious, a pretty good description of CSS.

La Liberación is out now on Cooperative Music.  You can buy a physical copy here.  If you prefer the digital way, then go here.

Joe Brooks - A Reason To Swim

Joe Brooks is an artist of the singer/songwriter variety.  He plays acoustic pop music with big arrangements and comes from the UK.  He recently made two major changes in his musical journey.  First, he's now in America.  Second, he decided to release his newest album A Reason To Swim the old fashioned way, without a record label.  Joe is independent in the US.  What's even more impressive is the dedication of his audience.  They made this album possible by funding the recording process.  With six stripped down songs, A Reason To Swim is similar to Jason Mraz and Ingrid Michaelson in that "coffee shop crooner" way.  "For You" sounds like a broken heart and "Someday (OK)" has a laid back groove.  Altogether, the album has a very complete theme and sound.

You can check out A Reason To Swim and Joe's previous records here.  If you want to see Joe live, he'll be playing at venues on the east coast, which you can find here.

Download: "A Reason To Swim"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lana Del Rey - Video Games/Blue Jeans

Lana Del Rey is the newest artist that you need to know.  Her music ranges from an elegant breeze in "Video Games" to the out of control danger of "Kinda Outta Luck".  Her image is part Hollywood trendy and part retro glam.  After posting a series of videos made up of, among other things, old film clips, dolled-up webcam footage, and American scenery, she's set to release the double A-side single of "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans".

Lana Del Rey used to go by Lizzy Grant.  After an image and name change, she has a fresh slate to work with.  "Video Games" is comparable to contemporaries such as Sia or Florence + The Machine.  The song has a blown up sound with harp and strings twisted around it.  Lana's voice is rich with a classic melody.

"Blue Jeans" shows us a different side of Lana Del Rey's voice.  The extra space tightens up as she pushes through an almost smokey hum.  The song also has a chorus to die for.  "I will love you 'til the end of time", she howls.  Each track is worthy of equal praise and addictive to the point of a broken repeat button.

You can pre-order the limited edition 7" picture disc of "Video Games/Blue Jeans" here.  The vinyl is due to be released on October 17th and if you hurry, you may still be able to get a signed copy.  Keep reading for the accompanying "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans" videos...