Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Soundtrack Of My Life's Top 25 Albums Of 2013

Oh, what a wonderful time 2013 has been!  As another year comes to an end, we look back and realize just how many fantastic albums were released.  Along with the arrival of a new year comes the treacherously amusing task of creating a "best of" list.  This year I've even included clickable album titles, so you can grab each one if you feel the urge.  So without further delay, here are The Soundtrack Of My Life's top twenty-five albums of 2013.

24. Hunx And His Punx - Street Punk
23. Bastille - Bad Blood
22. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time
21. Devendra Banhart - Mala
20. Arctic Monkeys - AM
19. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety
18. Ra Ra Riot - Beta Love
17. Tegan And Sara - Heartthrob
16. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito
15. Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals
14. Small Black - Limits Of Desire
13. Pet Shop Boys - Electric
12. Icona Pop - This Is...
11. CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ayer - Young

For their second single, Ayer slowed things down a bit.  The duo, consisting of a classic singer/producer pairing, are building up quite the campaign for their debut EP.  The follow-up to "Circle Down" is "Young", and it's tragically redeeming.  The track reminds me of some gem of a deep cut that the Scissor Sisters would've tackled on their last album.

There's also an alternate version that was reinvented by Mickey Valen.  It takes away some of the spiraling into pleasure feeling that drives "Young" and switches the mood around, making it uplifting in a more direct sense.

Listen to both versions of "Young" below...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Doldrums & Friends - A Very Doldrums Christmas

If you're in need of a nice mixtape to help you through some last minute Christmas shopping or an electro-Canadian themed holiday party and managed to miss it when Doldrums posted this a while ago, then check out A Very Doldrums Christmas.  It's a small collection of music by Doldrums and a variety of collaborators, and just as most gifts tend to be, it's free!

Here's what Airick had to say about it, straight from tumblr...
"it’s that special time of year again, my droogs 
gather round the christmas bong and bask in the soothing sounds of ‘Doldrums & Friends; A Very Doldrums Christmas’. it might even make the perfect gift for that special you-know-who."
You can stream A Very Doldrums Christmas below or download the full mixtape here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Peter Thomas - All Of You (Feat. Betty Who)

Future production superstar Peter Thomas has released his debut single and it features the vocal work of Betty Who.  The pair have already worked together on Betty Who's The Movement EP and after being addicted to that album for months on repeat, this collaboration is the most amazing treat.

"All Of You" definitely takes a more dance-oriented approach, as opposed to the generally poppy sounds of The Movement, and you can really hear Peter's tight production skills shining through during the instrumental breakdowns.  Having Betty Who on the track is like the perfect cherry on top.  I wouldn't be surprised one bit if these two manage to score a few top ten singles in 2014.  They really are a match made in musical heaven.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Trust Announces Joyland

Canadian electronic sensation Trust has announced the follow-up to last year's dark and mysterious TRST, which was quite the debut.  Joyland, arriving on March 4, is teased in a brief yet intriguing promo video.  There's not much to it besides blurred out of focus carnival lights and a short instrumental, but it sure is exciting.  Apparently, Joyland will be "an eruption of guts, eels, and joy".  I can't wait.

Joyland is out March 4, via Arts & Crafts

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ayer - Circle Down

Forged from the depths of electronic beats and smoky soul vocals, Ayer is a Brooklyn based duo comprised of singer Danny Schmittler and producer Mickey Valen.  Their debut single "Circle Down" is a light and airy breeze of a track that'll surely leave you wanting more.  Fronted by a distinctively borderline falsetto, it's similar to the type of pop music that Kylie knows best. A fantastic melody, soft synths, and a sensual mood.

A full EP is due soon, most likely early next year, with another single coming before then.  You can stream and download "Circle Down" along with the Keljet remix below.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Antony And The Johnsons - Angel On Fire

Catching Fire, the middle book in the Hunger Games trilogy and follow-up to last year's film, hits theatres in the US tonight.  The first movie featured a soundtrack with contributions from a variety of big name artists, including Taylor Swift and Arcade Fire.  The entire soundtrack aesthetic matched the film almost perfectly and also turned out to be quite the money maker, so they're doing it again.  Catching Fire's soundtrack is getting plenty of buzz, thanks to names like Sia and Lorde, but the final track on the album is by Antony And The Johnsons and we need to talk about it.

First of all, Antony being associated with a young adult book sensation is an unexpected image.  I can't stop myself from imagining all of the young teens who will be introduced to his music through their love of Katniss.  With that said, the song is beautifully understated.  It starts out with sweeping strings that sound like both a Hunger Games score and a signature Antony track.  It has that hopeless yet hopeful sound.  Some of the music behind the song comes from an old 4-track recording that Antony used with his previous performances in New York City clubs.  Maybe "Angel On Fire" will manage to get a slot during the closing credits.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lady Gaga - ARTPOP

I've listened to Lady Gaga's ARTPOP countless times, already reaching to the extent of learning each lyric backwards and forward.  From the twisted cell phone quality intro of "Aura" to the final A-R-T-P-O-P of "Applause", there's so much to talk about.  It's overwhelming, really.  There are so many ideas and embellishments packed into this record and some of them are amazing and fantastic, while others are much less fortunate.  Have it be known that I love each of Gaga's three previous records and consider The Fame Monster to be her best.  The upcoming criticisms don't come from an unwarranted "hater" and the praise isn't from a "little monster" who harasses non-fans through social media.  It comes from expecting the best and receiving something less.

Let's start with the good news.  There are some real winning moments on ARTPOP.  Moments where you forget about the disappointing tracks and think, "Now this is Gaga".  "Venus" is her return to weird, something we've all come to know.  It's intergalactic and suggestive - what does Venus really sound like?  She pairs "Uranus" with "Don't you know my ass is famous!" and it's really a classic single for the Gaga vaults.  It also happens to be the first track produced solely by Gaga, quite the success.  "Fashion!" sounds like Madonna and David Bowie mind-melded "Holiday" and "Let's Dance". It's a definite highlight that begs for repeat plays and is insanely refreshing after hearing heavy tracks such as "G.U.Y." and "Swine".  I would've never guessed that will.i.am and David Guetta took on the production duties.

The absolute centerpiece of ARTPOP is "Gypsy".  Everything about it signals the coming of Gaga's next signature tune.  "I don't wanna be alone forever, but I can be tonight" is the new "I'm on the edge of glory".  The lyrics are insightful and powerful, while the production and songwriting are prime. Other standout singles are "Aura" and "Do What U Want", sans R. Kelly.

Each of Gaga's past albums have focused on a precise and cohesive theme.  The Fame was about the rich glamourous life, The Fame Monster was the dark companion piece, and Born This Way was through and through a self-empowerment album.  ARTPOP is confusing.  Sure, she clearly states on the title track that "ARTPOP could mean anything", but the songs randomly touch on sex, drugs, fashion, love, and even pure unrestrained anger, which sounds completely startling after the extended anti-bullying message of Born This Way.  The chorus of "Swine", one of her most extreme ventures into straight up electronic dance music, actually includes a screeching "you're just a pig inside a human body... you're so disgusting".  Maybe the title of ARTPOP was really just a scapegoat to do whatever she pleases thematically.

Production credits on ARTPOP include DJ White Shadow, Zedd, Madeon, David Guetta, Rick Rubin, will.i.am, and Gaga herself.  That's a pretty noticeable difference from her former crew that often recruited RedOne and Fernando Garibay.  It's obvious on the album, as well.  "Jewels N' Drugs", a rap song featuring T.I., Twista, and Too $hort, would not be missed if the master tape had been horribly lost after the recording studio caught fire. That song is a prime example of the questionable decisions on the album. Some of it ends up being hilarious, such as the synth on "Swine" that literally sounds like an oinking pig and her spastic tone during the "paint your face and, paint his face and, catch the beat" bridge.  There's also the sarcastic and artificial Versace ode, "Donatella", where she opens with an exaggerated "I'm so fab".

But then things start to get inconsistent again.  The sudden and horribly drastic differences in vocal production make ARTPOP sound like a singles collection rather than a complete piece of work.  When "Dope" flows into "Gypsy", you're lifted out of a pure untouched vocal take and placed into heavy reverb within the span of seconds.  The reasoning behind this is a transition from Rick Rubin to Madeon, and a lack of attention to detail.

It really sounds like she's desperately trying to appeal to the general public, something she doesn't need to do.  For the first time, she seems visibly concerned about record sales.  I mean, she asked fans to buy multiple copies of "Applause" on iTunes.  Why would she ever need or want to do that?  It's baffling because she's Lady Gaga.  She a label executive's dream come true, a sales monster.  Not because she begs for false number one singles, but because she creates music like "Bad Romance" and "Born This Way".  She writes music with progressive ideas and pushes the mainstream boundaries.  She brought politics and social issues to the VMA's and started a non-profit organization because she cared about the cause. ARTPOP doesn't match up with that track record.

Maybe she's been placed on a pedestal of higher judgement.  Would I even be writing something like this against Rihanna or Katy Perry?  Probably not, but that's why she's Gaga and that's why she hangs out with the likes of Elton John, Cher, and Yoko Ono.  She's projected herself out of the pop singer realm and into something higher, but somewhere in there the music still needs to meet that same quality standard.  She's always written lyrics about sex, but it's so blatantly straight forward on songs like "Sexxx Dreams" that it sounds lazy instead of clever or metaphorical.  The overflow of drug references is also a tacky sign of the lyrical slump.

I really feel like Gaga needs to take a step back and reconsider everything. Some of the songs sound like any other pop star could tackle it and do just as well.  Why do we need R. Kelly and a song where a trio of random rappers overshadow the star?  ARTPOP could've almost served a better purpose as a condensed eight track LP, since only parts of the album truly shine.  She said that Born This Way was created for her fans and those same fans might end up listening to that album again instead of ARTPOP. Born This Way was simply better.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lily Allen - Hard Out Here

In case you haven't heard, Lily Allen is back.  She just released her first new single since 2009's It's Not Me, It's You, and that was quite the album. Well, technically she was featured on that ear bleeder T-Pain track and then credited as Lily Rose Cooper on P!nk's "True Love", but those didn't exactly showcase the Lily "Fuck You" Allen that we all know.  Remember when she momentarily dropped the Allen?  Good times.

"Hard Out Here", a proper comeback single about the woes of image and sexism in the music industry, is overflowing with Lily's snarky attitude.  It obviously had to be released alongside a video that contains just as much commentary.  To sum it all up in one line from the single, "If you can't detect the sarcasm, you've misunderstood."

Now the music itself is interesting in multiple ways.  Lyrically, and based on the general public's reaction, she hit the target and succeeded at exactly what she intended to do.  But the production and actual song as a whole is riddled with "satire" auto-tune, the type of stuff that belongs on the previously mentioned T-Pain ear bleeders.  Not to mention the post-chorus consisting of "a bitch, a bitch, a bitch, bitch bitch".  It all works in context, but I wonder how it'll sound once it's on the tracklisting of her upcoming album.  It's not exactly a sing-along.  Check it out and see for yourself...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mr. Dream - Loud Tools

It's been a minute or two since Mr. Dream's last release, which arrived in the form of 2012's Fatherland EP.  Brooklyn's favorite post-punk, grunge trash rock, whatever you want to call them trio have stepped back into the game with the announcement of a new record and a couple tracks as evidence. Their most recent single, freshly arrived via yesterday, is "Loud Tools".

While their past music could often be described as a fury of rampaging energy, "Loud Tools" plays like a steady, yet equally forcible, machine. Over at Stereogum they brought up a Franz Ferdinand comparison, which actually isn't crazy, but it sure does sound like a far-fetched idea in theory. Nevertheless, hearing new material from the band has kickstarted anticipation levels for the upcoming album.

Mr. Dream's previously mentioned new album is titled The Ultimate In Luxury and it's due in January on GODMODE.  If "Loud Tools" leaves you wanting more of the Dream, then check out another cut from the LP, "Fringy Slider".

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dum Dum Girls - Lost Boys And Girls Club

The video for the new Dum Dum Girls track is directed by Cody Critcheloe of SSION and brought to you by H&M.  That'll surely strike up your curiosity.  "Lost Boys And Girls Club" is the first single off of their upcoming album Too True, which you can see the artwork for above with Dee Dee front and center.

The single is a dark eighties tinged rock piece and it's instantly addictive. That guitar line is most definitely the main attraction, once you twist your way through the other hooks.  Cody Critcheloe's directorial work has one solid performance record, watch any SSION video for proof, and he meshes perfectly with the Dum Dum aesthetic.

Too True will be released on January 28 and if you pre-order on Sub Pop's store, then you get some nice bonus bits, like colored vinyl and a 7" single. Dum Dum Girls also have some live shows lined-up, the dates of which can be found here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

David Bowie - Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix Edit By James Murphy For The DFA)

At this point, I'm just at a loss for words when it comes to Bowie.  The Next Day's promotional cycle has been completely flawless.  There's a steady output of vinyl releases and every music video has been a spectacle.  On November 4, The Next Day Extra will be released, an expanded three disc set featuring the original album, a ten track bonus CD with new material, and a DVD containing all of Bowie's Next Day videos.  However, one video that won't be included on the DVD is the new clip for James Murphy's "Love Is Lost" remix.

Featuring super creepy Scary Monster and Thin White Duke puppets from the archives, the video was apparently created on a total budget of $12.99, with all of the funds going towards a thumb drive.  It was shot by a three person crew consisting of Jimmy King, Coco Schwab, and Bowie himself. The entire production was conceived and finished in about a week at his Manhattan office.  Brilliant.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Devendra Banhart - Für Hildegard von Bingen

Any music video that features avant-garde superstar Klaus Nomi deserves endless praise.  Devendra Banhart's new video for the Mala track "Für Hildegard von Bingen" does just that, even if it's more of a cameo type appearance.  Directed by Isaiah Seret, it follows the journey of a nun as she fulfills her dream of becoming a VJ.  Banhart is also featured in the video as the storytelling figure, contributing some straight faced dance moves.  Check it out...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cold Cave - Nausea, The Earth And Me

Following Wesley Eisold's somewhat recent trend of releasing Cold Cave material one single at a time, Nausea, The Earth And Me is his latest creation and serves as the final single of 2013.  The three track single begins with the title song and it's one pounding industrial madhouse of an opener with drowned out vocals, some driving synth, and a steady beat.  "Don't Blow Up The Moon" and "Beaten 1979" round out the single, with the latter being a frantic track that ends with a ticking explosion.

"Tell me how does strength make a difference
When all I ever strongly feel is indifference" 
- Nausea, The Earth And Me

What I love about Nausea, The Earth And Me, along with Cold Cave's other singles reaching back to A Little Death To Laugh, is that by releasing music in this single/EP format, each mini-album is a concise piece of music. There's a beginning and end with no timer, genres limitations, or lengthly recording session.

Nausea, The Earth And Me is available on iTunes

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 25/10/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature
It highlights what I loved over the past week
Week = Friday to Friday
May include things of a non-musical variety

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lady Gaga - Do What U Want (Feat. R. Kelly)

I feel like the big pop stars are struggling when it comes to the concept of featured artists.  Katy Perry tainted "Dark Horse" with Juicy J and Ke$ha is working with super creeper Pitbull.  It all feels like an attempt to cross market into other radio formats.  Oh, her new single features a rapper.  Let's send it over to the hip-hop stations and get double the audience impression. Very rarely do these collaborations feel like two artists working together to create something of a combined effort.

"Do What U Want" is Lady Gaga's new promo single.  It features R. Kelly, which completely confused me.  He's not exactly the most in demand name out there, so maybe it's not a call for record sales after all.  But then again, it's R. Kelly we're talking about.  Why would Lady Gaga, arguably the most powerful character in the business, select an R&B singer that drastically contradicts almost every style decision she's presented thus far?  Why is she also showcasing her thong wearing rear? Because she's Lady Gaga.

In the end result, R. Kelly only weighs down a nice pop song.  This is almost completely personal taste speaking, since my own knowledge and liking to his music extends from "I Believe I Can Fly" to the Céline Dion holiday duet, "I'm Your Angel".  That's not much to talk about.  Maybe Gaga's just a fan of his music and it's nothing more complicated.

The "Do What U Want" instrumental is fantastic, though.  It's crushing with a jagged synth and then the bouncing climax only elevates everything. Gaga's vocals are also a feature to talk about.  She's a bit more showy than usual, with added runs and throaty belting.  But all of the recent tracks from Gaga just seem a bit strange after Born This Way.  She went from an extremely heavy album filled with morals and feel-good messages to something that's, I don't know... not quite as powerful?  All shall be revealed when ARTPOP arrives.

Listen to "Do What U Want" below and remember to check out ARTPOP on November 11.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 18/10/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature
It highlights what I loved over the past week
Week = Friday to Friday
May include things of a non-musical variety

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 11/10/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature
It highlights what I loved over the past week
Week = Friday to Friday
May include things of a non-musical variety

Kate Nash - Fri-end? (Alternate Video)

As if one fantastic music video wasn't enough, Kate Nash has just released a second video for her single "Fri-end?".  Instead of vampires and monster mashing, this version looks more like a technicolor film from the 60's. Multiple Kate's are all color blocked in classic mod inspired fashion. Directed by Ryan Baxley, it's really just super awesome.  Check it out...

Kate's new "Fri-end?" EP is out in the US at this very moment.  It includes the radio edit, acoustic version, instrumental, and two remixes of the song. Also in the bundle is "Pink Limo Ride", a song written about her friend who was attacked in a hate crime, which you can read about on Kate's blog.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 4/10/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
It highlights what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Charli XCX - SuperLove

I must admit that I didn't quite see the appeal of Charli XCX at first.  With that said, my first exposure to Charli's music was "Cloud Aura" from her Super Ultra mixtape, which features Brooke Candy.  Anything involving Brooke Candy can take a little while to warm up to.  After stumbling upon "Take My Hand", I truly started to appreciate Charli's debut True Romance as a whole and now it's a bit of a staple whenever some solid electro-pop is needed.

Charli XCX's latest song is a taste from her upcoming second album.  While details on the sophomore release are almost non-exsistant, the first single has already received a video treatment.  "SuperLove" is a bubblegum crossover track and the video adds robots, harajuku stylings, and plenty of attitude to the mix.  If you haven't already heard the song, then please do yourself a favor and watch the video first.  It's a colorful blast of pop and possibly too much fun.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 27/9/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
It highlights what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 20/9/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
It highlights what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Katy Perry - Dark Horse (Feat. Juicy J)

I've been addicted to "Roar" for a while now.  It's just so difficult to resist screeching along to that chorus.  Even though that song is still a newborn in terms of your average radio hit's lifetime, Katy Perry went ahead and released a new promo single.  "Dark Horse" was chosen for release by her fans in a little poll she held a while ago.  It managed to beat out "Walking On Air", another song from her upcoming album.  But don't worry, both songs will see an early iTunes premiere anyways.  "Walking On Air" will be out on September 30.

"Dark Horse" is a complete and total new direction for the California Gurl.  It's what the industry people like to call "urban", as it's generally less pop sounding and unfortunately features Juicy J.  That's by far the rotten spot in an otherwise exciting single.  Juicy J adds no more personality than your usual rent-a-rapper feature.  Push that aside, or create a "no rap" version, and you have a great follow up to "Roar".  Katy's vocals are nice and sleek compared to her usual belting and the tone reminds me of Jessie J and Becky G's recent track, "Excuse My Rude".  Prism is shaping up to be something quite interesting.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Killers - Shot At The Night

I guess The Killers have reached that stage in a band's lifetime where greatest hits compilations make sense.  It's strange to think that they've been around for ten years, but at the same time, The Killers are a staple name among today's alternative rock crowd.  Plus, Hot Fuss will forever be a modern new wave classic in my eyes.

To celebrate this timely achievement, The Killers are releasing Direct Hits, their first greatest hits compilation.  Arriving on November 11, the album will feature thirteen of their signature tracks and two new songs.  The first new song of the pair has already been released as a promo single.  "Shot At The Night" was produced by Anthony Gonzalez of M83 fame.  It actually sounds more like "M83 (Feat. Brandon Flowers)" rather than a Killers single.  I'm not complaining though, since the end result is fantastic either way.

A deluxe edition of Direct Hits is also on the way, including extra tracks such as the original "Mr. Brightside" demo, a Calvin Harris remix of "When You Were Young", and "Be Still" from Battle Born.  It'll also come with a DVD and five 10" records.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lorde - Team

Lorde's debut album is due later this month, but there's just enough time for one more single before that day arrives.  "Team" is the follow-up single to "Tennis Court", or perhaps "Royals" according to current radio trends.  This track shares numerous qualities with "Tennis Court", most prominently a low buzzing synth during the chorus that drives the entire song.  It's in the same vein of sound as Lorde's previous body of work, both lyrically and musically, but that's not to imply she's anything repetitive or stale.  It's actually quite an exciting taste of the already anticipated record, which just keeps building momentum as each day passes.

The full album, Pure Heroine, is out in the US on September 30 and in other regions a day or so earlier.  You can pre-order a copy here and then stream "Team" below.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 13/9/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
Highlights of what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Goldfrapp - Annabel

Following the release of "Drew', Goldfrapp's latest video is another stunning and intimate collaboration with filmmaker Lisa Gunning.  "Annabel" was inspired by Kathleen Winter's novel, also called Annabel.  It tells the story of an intersex child raised as a boy, only to feel otherwise.  The video, or rather short film, explores the ideas of gender identity and what it means to be boy, girl, or even both.

Goldfrapp's new record, Tales Of Us, is out now. The album dabbles in character study, as each song is focused on a different name and persona. You can grab a copy of the album at Goldfrapp's store or here.  It's absolutely beautiful and if you loved Felt Mountain, then this record is for you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 6/9/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
Highlights of what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals

After a week of speculation, Sleigh Bells delivered the goods.  Not only did they announce a new single and album, the latter of which is set for a release date of October 8, but a spectacular music video is already up and so are the tour dates.  Bitter Rivals is the title of the duo's third record and its title track is leading the pack.  Everything about the song screams "Slay Bells".  The vocals have that slight R&B/pop taste that Alexis Krauss talked about and the music is a bit more Treats than Reign Of Terror.  I'm loving every moment of it.

The full album is available for pre-order on clear vinyl right now, so you can grab that here, and then check out the tour dates listed below.  They'll be playing with Doldrums (!!!) this time around, except for the odd Danny Brown New York finale.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 30/8/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
Highlights of what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 23/8/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
Highlights of what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 16/8/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
Highlights of what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Pet Shop Boys - Electric

When this album came out last month, it sat on my "to listen" list for quite a while until I eventually forgot about it.  I must admit that this is partially due to their last album, Elysium.  It wasn't a bad release, but something about it failed to thrill me.  Still, whenever I say "you're a winner", it must be in that Neil Tennant "winnah" voice.  So that's something.

Earlier this week, a promo copy of Electric arrived in the mail and you can imagine my surprise after giving it a spin.  This record is amazing in more than one way.  First, the energy that Elysium seemed to lack is in full power this time around.  Secondly, those Pet Shop Boys have been experimenting. The album's production, thanks to the wonderful Stuart Price, gives the heaviest and most trendy electronic artists a run for their money.  You have tracks like "Love Is A Bourgeois Construct", which is practically a tribute to the classic PSB sound, and then "Thursday" with Example or "Shouting In The Evening", a massive electro club hit if I ever did hear one.

The Pet Shop Boys have still got it and Electric will surely stand the test of time against their legendary catalog.  Definitely check it out if you need some fantastic electronic music.  I know it'll be on my rotation for a long time to come.  You can buy a copy of the record here and listen to a few songs below.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Betty Who - The Movement

Over the past few weeks, one album in particular has been glued to my brain. This album, or EP to be more specific, contains some of the most exciting pop music I've heard in quite some time.  I know I'm always ranting about the big names like Robyn or Gaga, but this record is something to be recognized.

Betty Who's The Movement actually came out earlier this year, but I've recently found it.  It consists of four spectacular and infectious pop singles.  I say "singles" instead of "songs", because every track on the debut could be a hit on some level.  The opening single, "Somebody Loves You", is an eighties tinged dance piece and probably packs the most power upon first listen.  Actually, the entire album sounds eighties inspired to a certain extent, whether immediately obvious or not.  "You're In Love" falls into the mid-tempo range and reminds me of something Katy Perry would pounce on if given the chance.

My current favorite song on The Movement is "Right Here".  It's more reserved, approaching with a method of simplicity by placing the focus on a powerful vocal.  The instrumental is also mellowed out when compared to the rest of the album, but it's true that less can really be more.  The album's closer is "High Society".  I find myself singing this one throughout the day without notice.  A line like "We'll drink Chardonnay through the day cause we say so..." has never been more contagious.

Another great detail about The Movement is the fact that it's completely free. That's right.  Betty Who has all four songs posted on her website free of charge to download as you please.  You can also use the Soundcloud player below to grab the songs.  Check out the music video for "Somebody Loves You" while you're at it.  If you're really enjoying the music, then head this way to buy a Betty Who shirt perfect for wearing while dancing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lady Gaga - Applause

Lady Gaga just rush released her new single "Applause" a full week early "due to hackers" and "an abundance of low/high quality leaks".  You can read her entire caps locked announcement as she tweeted about this pop emergency about an hour ago, here.  It's being sent out to radio at this very moment and we can only assume iTunes is to follow.

The song is definitely not Born This Way, both musically and lyrically.  It starts with a jagged synth, until a heavy dance beat comes in with the vocals.  Gaga's vocals in the verses are a new method and sound like pretty much nothing that she's done before. It's somewhat reminiscent of a deep 80's dance howl.  Before the chorus even hits, there's already a hook, "I live for the applause applause...".  As far as production goes, I'm not quite sure who's on this track, but I wouldn't necessarily guess that it's Zedd.  So that leaves either Madeon or DJ White Shadow.  (Update: DJ White Shadow was confirmed as the producer, along with Gaga)

"Applause" has a 99.9 percent chance of being a radio success and through the next week we'll get to see whether Katy Perry's "Roar" or Gaga will take the top spot on the charts.  The two pop stars recently denounced fanbase rivalries deeming them wrong, which is great, but come on.  When you release two massively anticipated lead singles on basically the same day, a competition is bound to happen.  You can stream Lady Gaga's new single "Applause" below and look for her fourth record, ARTPOP, on November 11.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday I'm In Love - 9/8/13

Friday I'm In Love is a weekly feature.
Includes highlights of what I loved over the past week.
Week = Friday to Friday.
May include things of a non-musical variety.

Astralwerks "Music In 20/20" Box Set

To celebrate their 20th anniversary as a record label, Astralwerks released a limited edition box set for Record Store Day back in April.  After searching numerous record stores, I unfortunately couldn't manage to find a single one of the 1,250 sets for myself.  But the musical Gods believe in second chances.  Twenty years after the exact date of Astralwerks formation, the label collaborated with Insound to offer the remaining few copies to the public. I jumped on that opportunity like you wouldn't believe.  My copy just arrived in the mail a few days ago (#465!!!) and it's an amazing anthology of Astralwerks massive catalog.

There are twenty flexi discs printed on a rainbow of colors.  Each one is a song by a different artist and includes the original artwork.  Some are hit singles, while others are unreleased rarities.  The artists range from veterans such as The Chemical Brothers to the recent big names like Diamond Rings and David Guetta.

Hopefully some of you were able to snatch a copy, either on RSD or through Insound.  As far as box sets go, Music In 20/20 is visually and sonically fantastic.  Check out some more pics of the box set below.