Saturday, October 29, 2011

Win A Copy Of Feist's "Metals"

Feist's new album, "Metals", is out in stores at this very moment and The Soundtrack Of My Life has an opportunity for those of you who haven't picked it up yet.  I have one digital copy of the album to give to one lucky reader.  The download comes with the entire twelve track album, including the lead single "How Come You Never Go There".

There are TWO ways to enter the giveaway for a maximum number of TWO entries.  You can...

  • To increase your odds of winning, follow me on Twitter and send me a tweet with your favorite Feist song.  Make sure you include #MetalsContest as a hashtag.

This contest is now closed.

The winner will be announced on November 12th and I'll send the prize over right away.  Good luck!  Be sure to check out my review of the album if you're curious about the record.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Björk - Biophilia

Björk tends to reinvent herself with every album she creates.  You can flip through the Icelandic singer's discography and find that every record has a definite sound, style, and image.  Vespertine was the breezy snow flurry of 2001, with chimes and bells around every corner.  In 2004, Medúlla was her dark vocal centerpiece.  Each album created an easily recognizable era in her career, "Oh, that's Volta Björk!".  With that in mind, Biophilia continues the pattern.

Biophilia is very much a concept album.  The music has been infused with technology, the iPad in particular.  Every track on the album is connected to a corresponding app.  The apps take things one step further by introducing individual games and musical scores for each song.  It's definitely a sign of the times, but the technology aspect can be stripped away from Biophilia and there's still a piece of music that can hold its own.

One element of Biophilia, that is apparent from the first track, is the excess amount of empty space.  Every song has room to breathe.  It's very cosmic and alien-like at times. The production seems slightly skewed every so often, "Moon" being the biggest culprit, but overall it's fairly equal.  Musically, the album is somewhere between Vespertine and Volta.  There are harps and bells that make you think back to "Frosti", but there's also a few moments of in-your-face heavy hitting Björk.  You'll hear potential influences from the classical sounds of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" on "Cosmogony", while "Thunderbolt" is as eerie as a Charles Bernstein score.

While Biophilia is vastly innovative musically, melodically there seems to be a lack of structure.  Björk has always been abstract in at least one sense, but the melodies on this record are extremely loose and free flowing.  Those hoping to find easy sing-along tunes should look elsewhere.  On the other hand, the lack of a backbone in her melodies really captures the astrological theme of life that Biophilia was aiming for.

"Crystalline", the lead single, takes a different shape on the record.  The track has been remixed and altered quite heavily.  If you've heard the single version, then you may notice that something is off.  No more is the sudden explosion of percussion.  Instead, the drums gradually build into a climax.  The single edit packed more of a punch and really just felt cleaner.  I'm not sure what motivated the change, but it's an unsettling choice to anyone who grew to love the single as it used to be.

Whether you're on your first or tenth listen of the album, one song always stands out from the crowd.  "Mutual Core" starts with an organ and ends with a bang.  The pure energy during the final chorus is one of Biophilia's most refreshing surprises.  You may start to discover yourself returning to "Mutual Core" at an alarming rate, and that's perfectly understandable.

Like much of her work, Biophilia may be a hit or miss record for many.  If you loved the lyrical work of Post and Homogenic, then it's possible that you'll struggle with parts of this album.  Fans of Vespertine and Medúlla... rejoice.  Either way, you should definitely give the album at least one listen.  It's an interesting experience with many twists and turns.  One thing is certain, though.  Biophilia is, and can only be, Björk.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Feist - Metals

Remember that iPod Nano commercial from 2007 where a vividly dressed Feist danced around to her single "1234" in an empty warehouse all on the screen of Apple's handheld invention?  That ad spot pushed Feist into the US spotlight (it also convinced me to buy that pale green Nano).  The iPod has come a long way since then, and so has Feist.  Her third album, The Reminder, went on to receive critical and commercial success.  Last year, she released Look At What The Light Did Now, a docu-concert film and soundtrack.  The movie gave an inside look at Leslie Feist's recording process and tour.  Now that we know how she dislikes placing her face on album covers or that "The Park" was actually recorded at a park, Feist has released the follow-up record to The Reminder.

Her fourth album is Metals and she is on the album cover, although she's always been in the artwork one way or another.  With Metals, she's also crafted the ideal post-mainstream exposure record.  Feist hasn't compromised her signature sound that mixes pop, folk, and rock.  There isn't a desperate attempt to recreate the "1234" formula.  Metals is a complete piece of music that flows so smoothly from the first beat to the final note.

Feist's two previous albums were a bit scatterbrained at times.  They each had a basic concept and sound, but the occasional track would always stick out as something that was still special, but a reach in a different direction.  Metals avoids that method completely.  The album has taken a set of instruments and built a definite sound.  The songs feel like one recording session with bookends.

On average, the tracks within Metals are mellow and relaxed.  Even the lead single tends to fall into the lax category.  An appropriately sized handful of heavy hitting numbers are present.  "A Commotion" has a ricocheting Spoon-like piano line and shouting male vocalists while "Undiscovered First" builds into a massive electric sing-along ending.  The big moments know when and where to fall and achieve the right effect.

One of Feist's strong points, the folk ballads, really help seal together the ups and downs of Metals.  You'll hear some instances that are reminiscent of "The Water" and "The Park" while other songs have a campfire mood.  Feist may have taken the phrase "save the best for last" to heart.  The album's final track, "Get It Wrong, Get It Right", is melodically spectacular and ends Metals in the best way possible.

This album may not be brand new territory, but it confirms that Feist can do wonders when she finds her niche.  All she needs is an acoustic guitar and a sentimental melody.  Metals has that guitar and those beautiful melodies, but it also holds so much more.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Frank Alpine - Dark Places

Frank Alpine, which is the stage name of LA's Rich Moreno, is releasing his self-titled record on October 25th.  The album's lead single is "Dark Places".  The track sounds like a middle limbo between punk and eerie electronic music.  "Dark Places" is held together by an analog beat and a fuzzy bass synth.  Mix this with mad barking howls and you have a single that is entirely worthy of its title.

Wierd Records seems to be sold out of pre-orders for Frank Alpine's album at the moment.  Let's hope they get some more in stock soon.  While you wait, go ahead and stream or download "Dark Places" for free below.