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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pop Blitz 4/23/10 (U.K. Edition!)

Today marks my last full day in the UK, nearly a week after I anticipated staying here (yes, I'm an "ash traveler"), so I thought I'd celebrate what's hot right now in the country. It's mostly very good, actually.

Diana Vickers - Once
Hated her on X-Factor, but this is a cracking pop song. I guess I've been won over. It's shaping up to be quite the hit, as well. B+

Professor Green - Need You Tonight
This could have been very cool. The INXS sample works really well with a hip-hop song, but the tone of Prof Green's whiny vocals destroys it. They should've given it to Tinchy Stryder instead. C+

Scouting For Girls - This Ain't A Love Song
The video (with people hanging around an airport terminal) has certainly been apt this past week. I don't like everything this band does, but I like this. It's nice in that radio-soft-rock sorta way. B+

Plan B - She Said
Great video to this. The song's a little iffier, with a strong chorus but forgettable verses. I'm glad he does more singing than rapping, though. B-

Chiddy Bang - Opposite Of Adults
Another rap song built on a noticeable sample, but this one works. Using MGMT's Kids as a backbone, it's got a strong hook that's been lodged in my brain for days now. B

Florence + The Machine - Dog Days Are Over
Marvelous. It took a trip to the UK for me to fall in love with her, but I'm completely enchanted. The drums alone on this song are stunning. It's certainly an anthem-in-waiting. A

Tinie Tempah - Pass Out
A huge track over here, and the worst of the bunch. It's a case of unimaginative American-type rap, all about passing out because you drank too much. Charming. C-

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Groove Armada - I Won't Kneel (ft. SaintSaviour)

"I came to ask for a second chance"

I heard this for the first time in an HMV a few days ago and was instantly taken. I admit I'm behind the curb, as this has been out since late last year, but Groove Armada aren't really one of my go-to bands. Producer/DJ acts in general don't usually do it for me. There's always something a little distant about their music. In this case, it's down to the lush vocals of SaintSaviour and the gorgeous 80's melody of I Won't Kneel to convert me. There was a band a couple years ago that I absolutely adored, but they never went anywhere. They were called Hotel Motel, and this reminds me what they'd sound like given expensive production and a thrust into the mainstream. The chorus here is sublimely beautiful... the kind of thing that conjures summer nights on the beach, lying in the retreating sun. It's got a shimmering, almost dreamlike quality to it that sounds about as far from a "dance act" as you could get. It's definitely a keeper.

Groove Armada - I Won't Kneel (ft. SaintSaviour) by milproj2

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meat Loaf - California Isn't Big Enough (Hey There Girl)

"I know you're a queen... I'm just a pawn"

This has one of the most audacious, did-he-just-say-that hooks that I've ever heard in a mainstream rock track. I won't spoil it for you. You'll just have to listen. It was also written by the Darkness' Justin Hawkins and (coincidentally) Foxy Shazam's Eric Nally. This explains not only the line but also the fact that it's the best song on Meat Loaf's new album. I mean, is there a bigger dream team than those three? They were made to be together, basically. Meat Loaf's pretty much a rock god to me, though album-wise he's far past his prime. The new one's better than the last, but I prefer to return to his prime period of the 70's to early 90's. Still, it's always nice to hear something new. More importantly, this track has an amazing hook. It probably fits a band like the Darkness more than Meat Loaf (mostly because I don't want to hear him going on about what he goes on about here), but it's a punch of adrenaline either way. And, unlike some of the album's clunkers, it's restrained to under five minutes.

Meat Loaf - California Isn't Big Enough (Hey There Girl) by milproj2

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Music Video: The Bang Bang Club - Chemistry

Hands down one of the best singles of the year. And now it has a video! Not sure what all the paint means, but it's cool nonetheless. Watch out for these guys. They're set to take off.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hurts - Better Than Love

"You let your body burn like never before"

I feel like I've got a special connection to Hurts. I've been following them for several years now, ever since they were Daggers. And I couldn't be happier that they've chosen this, an uptempo Daggers song, for their official debut single. I wrote a few months ago about how worried I was that the Hurts album would be filled with downtempo tracks. It's not that I don't like their slower stuff (I do!), but the uptempo, energetic pop found in their work with Daggers qualifies as some of the most epic music released in the past few years. As far as I'm concerned, they could just release an album of that and I'd be beyond happy. They've augmented this particular track a bit from its Daggers days, but thankfully they haven't screwed it up. In fact, the subtle changes actually make it more dramatic. I've always loved how the verses surge into that powerful chorus. Theo really is a dynamic vocalist. I hope radio programmers pick up on this, prompting a go-ahead for uptempo Hurts music. It may not be particularly "moody" or "cool," but it's heaps more fun. I wonder if they'll be allowed to put Money on the album? (My guess is "yes," since Sony BMG have removed all the clips of it from youtube)

Hurts - Better Than Love by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Track-by-Track: Foxy Shazam

Perched somewhere between Queen, Meat Loaf, the Ark and the Darkness, Cincinatti's outrageous Foxy Shazam may have just released the best album of the year so far. By going poppier with their sound this time around, they've uncovered a gift for melody that suits the searing vocals perfectly. It's easy to get lost in huge production like this, but thankfully the songs are there. Amazing songs. Anthems.

1. Intro/Bombs Away - One of the strangest opening lines ever (There sure are a lot of dogs out there this evening. Perhaps they could assist me... in a song!) lets you know exactly what kind of bizarre album you're in for, then launches into a blistering opener assisted by Eric's powerful, wailing vocals. You're either gonna love it or hate it. I love it. 10/10

2. Wanna-be Angel - Mixing the orchestral pomp of Sparks with the fury of Freddie Mercury's vocals, this is the first "hit" of the album. Totally over the top, totally catchy. The cheeky verses are the best. 10/10

3. Count Me Out - Of all the songs, the chorus of this one reminds me most of the Darkness (in the best of ways). It's definitely a strong, fiery chorus... one of the strongest on the album. It continues the perfect stream of songs that open the album 10/10

4. Bye Bye Symphony - Slowing things down a bit, though it becomes pretty aggressive towards the end. I love the lyrics here and especially Eric's oh-so-serious delivery of them. Very soulful, too. Like everything on the album, it's on a grand scale. 10/10

5. Unstoppable - This sounds like a lost glam hit from the 70's. It's got that "We Are The Champions" vibe to it, though it's a massive uptempo number. Suitable for stadiums, for sure. The chorus hits the stratosphere. Few people could hit notes like this. 10/10

6. Second Floor - Another total anthem with a sky-high chorus. I just can't get over the vocals. It's practically inhuman. The lyrics are nice here, too, and seem to reinforce what the band's all about. All about wanting to exist outside of needless record label control. 10/10

7. Oh Lord - My favorite track on the album, and the first one I heard. In fact, it may be the best song I've heard all year. It's huge, majestic, epic... what other words can I use? Perfection. 10/10

8. Connect - A poppier track with an excellent gospel-infused chorus. Gospel and beat-boxing shouldn't mix so well, but the band's natural swagger makes it work. 10/10

9. The Only Way To My Heart... - The only song where the band succumb to artiness at the expense of melody. It just doesn't compare to the other tracks. That being said, the other tracks are very strong. Easily the weakest link, though, and preferably replaced by one of the bonus tracks. 7/10

10. Killin' It - And we're back to brilliance. The chorus is huge, the verses are great, and I love the background whispers. 9/10

11. Evil Thoughts - The one true ballad of the album, and a very soulful one at that. I think the band have even better ballads in them in the future, but this is still quite nice and a great closer to a brilliant album. 9/10

Album Grade: 9.5/10

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Johnny Lazer - Runaway

"You and me are catchier than velcro"

Johnny Lazer is an AMAZING new popstar out of London. He's been described as sort of an electro Billy Idol, and I can frankly think of little that's better than that. He's the exact type of force we need in the music industry right now... someone with the style, tunes and ambition to really leave a mark. It's rare for an unsigned act without even an official single release to his name to be so incredibly polished. I had a hard time deciding which song to highlight today because they're all so good, but I ended up settling on the pulsing, slightly odd Runaway. It expertly segues from indie-pop to club and back again with a huge, soaring chorus. And I urge you to check out his other tracks as well because he's certainly not a one-song wonder. There's some really dynamic stuff going on here that's definitely put him on my radar. The eventual album cover alone is bound to be fantastic!

Runaway by JohnnyLazer

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Listen to more here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Foxy Shazam - Oh Lord

"There is always a wrong to your right"

One hell of a tune for you today! I've got Paul to thank for this one, who recommended the band to me. He knows my tastes well, because this is a slam dunk. Foxy Shazam are epic with a capital "E". Imagine Freddie Mercury reincarnated and fronting an anthemic rock/punk/glam/pop/soul hybrid with energy to spare. It's like the sun exploding... I can't think of any better way to describe the fire in the vocals. Lead singer Eric Sean Nally has one of the most astonishing voices I've heard in quite some time. One listen to the brilliant Oh Lord and I was hooked. Foxy Shazam are certainly different, and that's increasingly harder to find these days. Their music is stuffed to the brim with a melding of genres and sounds, but unlike many "arty" bands, they haven't forgotten the hooks. Choruses are uniformly gigantic throughout the album, and this track is a perfect example of that. You'll be singing it for days. The part where the guitar chugs in after the end of the first chorus is perfection. Expect a full album review soon, because it's a winner. And check out the brilliant, campy video here. I want this band to be huge.

Foxy Shazam - Oh Lord by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.