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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jett Rebel - That Place

"I got the only light in the streets still burning"

The world has a new pop personality, and his name is Jett Rebel. Hailing from the Netherlands, Rebel isn't what you'd expect. His music and image hearkens back to the dirty glam rock of the 70's, yet his music is just as informed by funk and r&b. He's a bundle of charisma--the type we don't see enough of in current male singers. He's released some pretty great singles so far (Do You Love Me At All is a pretty powerful opening shot and I love his new Spider-Man soundtrack entry), but I feel like his best music is still in front of him. Despite being a fan of glam myself, I like it even more when Jett goes a little synthier. That Place is a super catchy 80's flavored confection. It opens his second EP and really should have been its single as far as I'm concerned. I can't wait to see where he goes from here, as I feel like this is only the very beginning for a very exciting new star.

That Place by Jett Rebel on Grooveshark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy his music here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Darin - Mamma Mia

"My body is losing control"

Another comeback from an artist that I adore today. After less than a year since the last single from his most recent album, Darin is back with brand new material. First off, I'll get it off my chest that this is not the musical direction I was hoping he'd take. After Nobody Knows, which I think will always be his best song, I realized that with his voice, pure euphoric pop is the perfect match. However, he seems intent to follow something more urban and trendy. BUT... with that said, Mamma Mia (which is definitely not a trendy title, by the way) is an excellent representation of his preferred sound. The Latin elements are just enough to give it its own flavor without making it feel gimmicky. And the vocals... the best male vocals in pop right now... are just as polished and perfect as ever. It's good to have him back (even though I still want another Nobody Knows).

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Nowhere to buy the single yet. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Short Stack - Television

"Let's pretend there's nothing good on television"

So I had a nice surprise over the weekend. Not only did formerly broken-up Short Stack release a new single out of nowhere, but I learned that they'd also released their previously cancelled third album as a treat for the fans late last year. So, as a fan who thought the band was totally finished, I was suddenly flooded with new Short Stack music. Luckily, it all seems to be a continuation of their excellent second album rather than a falling back to the teen punk of their earlier stuff. Television is a refreshing piece of radio rock and also the lead single for another upcoming album, titled Homecoming. It's all very exciting suddenly!

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Sheppard - Geronimo

"Can you feel my love?"

Mark my words: in a couple of months, this song is going to be everywhere. Sibling/friend band Sheppard has taken their native Australia by storm and it's just a matter of time before the rest of the world discovers them. They straddle the line between Mumford & Sons-esque folk elements (not my favorite thing) and sunny pop harmonies (much better). It's basically jolly, happy music that makes you feel good. Up until this new single, they were a promising act with a couple of decent tunes. Geronimo, though, blows everything out of the water. It is simply one of the catchiest songs I've heard in some time, screaming for ubiquity in advertisements and movie trailers. Hopefully that doesn't happen, since it tends to make me dislike even a great song, but if the band and their management play their cards right, global domination is theirs. For now, it's an immensely enjoyable, rousing pop single perfect for the upcoming summer season.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Fooo - Lose Our Lungs

"Every day is another party"

This is such a stupid song, but therein lies its insane brilliance. I mean, the lyrics here are not only ridiculous, but they're completely cliche-ridden. Yet, they're delivered with sincerity and almost unbelievable energy. Unlike so many others in the Fooo's same genre, these guys are 200% committed to the art of trendy pop music. That's why their debut album is so great. Yeah, the melody and the production are there, but what really shines through is the personality. In anybody else's hands, a track like this, filled with its inane braggadocio, would be an absolute joke. With the Fooo, you get the sense that the band is laughing along with the listener. Of course, it helps that the deceptively simple chorus is quite the earworm.

Lose Our Lungs by The Fooo on Grooveshark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Akdong Musician - 200%

In addition to being a huge K-Pop fan, I've been obsessed with K-Pop Star (Korea's answer to American Idol or X-Factor) throughout its three seasons. Akdong Musician were the winners of last year's season two, which also happened to be the best season. The sibling duo hail from Mongolia but have signed with huge Korean agency YG (home to G-Dragon, Bigbang and 2NE1, amongst others) and have just released their first album. They specialize in hyper-clever, cute acoustic pop... which is normally the kind of thing I absolutely detest. But, there's just something about these two. It's hard not to love them and their music, and this track is no exception. 200% is a bubbly, summery single that brings a smile to my face. It's a near-perfect hybrid of pure pop, indie and hip-hop. It didn't click fully the first time I heard it, but after a couple of listens I found myself totally smitten.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Donkeyboy - Crazy Something Normal

"We don't need advice"

I'm a little behind on this one, but I'm so happy that the best band with the worst name is back for another excellent single. Their last album, Silver Moon, was surprisingly amazing, so I am eagerly awaiting the follow-up (which better be released soon). Their new single Crazy Something Normal presents everything I love about this band. Their music has such a wistful, almost alien sound to it, but at its core lives a beating heart of pure pop. Much of this has to do with frontman Cato Sundberg's androgynous, hypnotic vocals. Simply put, his inimitable tone is an incredibly unique, gorgeous instrument. This track layers on a children's choir in the chorus, which just puts it over the top. Fantastic.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Friday, April 04, 2014

Foxy Shazam's "Gonzo" - A Fan's Lament

Cincinnati-based band Foxy Shazam have been a huge part of my musical life over the past four years. They've released my favorite albums of 2010 and 2012 and my favorite single of 2010. I've seen them live twice and truly adored their larger than life sound and image. So, I was obviously stoked when they surprise-released their new album (for free!) a couple of days ago.

The problem is, Gonzo is not the Foxy Shazam I've grown to love. It's one of the things I hate most when it comes to rock and pop music... it's lo-fi. I realize this is completely a matter of opinion, but I like my rock music big and world-conquering. Now, the band have self-released this album and it's obviously meant to be a smaller, more "live" sounding record. I get that. But I can't bear hearing Eric's vocals produced this way. It just feels so drained out. The frustrating thing is that a handful of these songs (Brutal Truth, in particular) would sound absolutely immense in the hands of past collaborators Rob Cavallo or Justin Hawkins.

It's unfortunately a very difficult time for rock music in America, so much so that a band of this caliber has a hard time breaking into the mainstream. Money, I'm sure, is a concern.  Still, this album is reminding me of The Ark's last release times a million. It's just not my thing at all. Fortunately, I just discovered a new b-side from the last album that I never knew existed. I'll be listening to that instead, I think.

If you're curious, you can download Gonzo here. I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Crayon Pop - Uh-ee

I've gotta stop posting every single these ladies release, but it's so hard when they keep punching us in the gut with ridiculously catchy, bubblegum-infused pop. Uh-ee is a very weird little concoction. It is probably unlike anything you've heard before. What it does is marry electro-k-pop with traditional Korean trot (or "teuroteu"), which is sort of a foxtrot with quick two-beats and a unique vocal style. The track's got one foot in the past and one in the present. You could call it a novelty (and really, you could call everything Crayon Pop do a novelty), but that takes away from the sheer pleasure gleaned from listening to it. The band is opening for Lady Gaga this summer. Can you imagine hearing this track in that context? It's just crazy.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Le Youth - Dance With Me

"I'm talking to you"

I'm not always a fan of reinterpreting old songs for new dance tracks. Sometimes it can feel a little generic. But, what American DJ/producer Le Youth has managed to do with TLC's 90's classic No Scrubs is astonishingly good. It's like he's taken the track, thrown it in a blender and sliced those little bits up even further. Pieces of the melody are there, and still completely recognizable, but they're formed into a collage that sounds wholly different than the original. Add to that an excellent guest vocalist and a funky-as-hell beat and you have something really original and addictive.

Dance With Me by Le Youth on Grooveshark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Ken Bauer & Monkeyman - Magic Word

"You can make me come to life"

Do you remember that weird, campy disco band Dschinghis Khan? If you don't, then you've got some youtube research to do. They were a German concoction that blended Abba-style dance pop with something altogether stranger. Folk elements and chants and just a general sense of craziness. I bring them up because I feel like this new dance track by Ken Bauer and Monkeyman is sort of the modern equivalent of that band. Let's face it, this song is ALL about the repeated chant that makes up the hook. So cheesy, yet so, so right. The rest of the melody is just as off-kilter, with what sounds (to me) sort of like Count Dracula singing a pop song. Somehow it all comes together and works, even though it shouldn't. Certainly one of the more unique tracks to come out in awhile.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Orange Caramel - Catallena

Orange Caramel are one of my favorite female k-pop groups. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for silly, campy over the top pop music. This trio of goofballs are always up for a laugh, as evidenced by their surreal, wink-wink-nod-nod music videos. But even though they're funny, they never rest solely on that quality. Their music is bright, expertly produced, and almost unfathomably catchy. Catallena didn't hit me as strongly as past singles had when I first heard it, but my god, those weird little "oy oy oy's" that constantly pop up in the background made me laugh so hard and kept drawing me back in. It's a good time. Embrace your inner Korean dancing queen for this one and don't worry about looking cool.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the EP here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mando Diao - Black Saturday

"It's better than losing"

I'm very familiar with Mando Diao's singles run through listening to Swedish radio and some excellent remixes, but beyond those remixes, I've never really been able to connect with their music. I liked some of it, but overall it just wasn't my thing. However, this single completely changes that. I gave this one listen and my jaw dropped. They've really flipped their sound, which is pretty ballsy given the enormous success they've found in Sweden with their previous releases. They've gone from garage-influenced rock to total Billy Idol-inspired 80's new wave. I live for this stuff. To me, this single is a revelation. It sounds like nothing else on the radio at the moment, and if their upcoming album follows this sound, I'm going to be over the moon. Sweden does it again!

Black Saturday by Mando Diao on Grooveshark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shakira - La La La (Brazil 2014)

"The entire world soars like an eagle"

More and more, I've found myself straying from pop music by big American superstars (or global superstars that are incredibly popular in America). As my pop music palate has grown, I'm finding myself much more interested in these smaller, sometimes weirder, pockets of music from around the world. K-Pop. Finnish teen pop. Scandinavian schalger. You get the point. But there are some global superstars that still capture my full attention, and Shakira is one of those. To me, there's something very refreshing about her mix of pop, rock, Latin and dance. Yes, it's calibrated for global success, but it always feels true and unique to her. La La La, which also happens to be the theme for this year's World Cup, is the kind of song that, even after one listen, I knew was destined to be a huge hit. Some songs just stick out. This is absolutely massive. And, I love that she seems to call out my favorite building toy throughout! (Yes, I know "lego" probably means something else in this context...)

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Hardkiss - Hurricane

"I can't pretend I will love you until the end"

I'm not sure that I've ever posted a song from the Ukraine before, and it's interesting (and honestly not intentional) that today's post happens to come just as that part of the world is all over the news. Politics and geography aside, I'm really happy that I discovered this group. I must admit that I have a certain stereotype about what Eastern, particularly Southeastern, European music sounds like. It's not a bad stereotype, but it's definitely limiting. The Hardkiss has blown that wide open with their glammed up, artistic image and synth-drenched dance rock sound. I must admit, their earlier tracks are missing that extra melodic hook that would really cause me to obsess over them, but luckily their past two singles have upped the ante and represent what I think is their best work. Hurricane is the new single, and it has arguably their biggest (and simplest) hook. Beyond the music, you really need to check out their videos because this is a visual band if I've ever seen one. And while you're on their youtube page, check out Shadows Of Time, which I'm pretty sure is my favorite song by them.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy their singles here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Voxxclub - Rock Mi

And here's something you never knew you wanted. It's a very strange, yet very irresistible, hybrid of Oktoberfest Bavarian Oompah and Queen's We Will Rock You stadium beats. Yes, this is a thing, and it's actually been quite popular in places like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Voxxclub (or "voXXclub," as they prefer it to be written) are an acapella group that have added folk instrumentation for their debut album. It's highly catchy stuff, and really demands a giant mug of beer to swing around in the air. And a pretzel.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ace Wilder - Deadly

"When I'm dressed to kill, I know I'm deadly like that"

In the Ace Wilder vs. Sanna Nielsen battle of this year's Melodifestivalen finale, I was a staunch supporter of Sanna, even though I knew Ace had what would become the breakout single of the entire competition. I just didn't think it was right for Eurovision, and more than that, I didn't (and still don't) think it's one of Ace's strongest tracks in general. However, I am so happy that she's found so much success and that it's shining a light on her excellent debut EP, re-released to coincide with the competition. Of the songs on that EP that haven't been released as singles yet, I really want to spotlight Deadly. It's just good old fashioned 80's pop/synth/rock, very reminiscent of the kinds of songs I was able to post daily when this blog was first launched. This is the road that I hope she continues to go down. She's a great pop star, and could easily find global success.

Deadly by Ace Wilder on Grooveshark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the EP here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fooo - POPing It

"We gonna make you feel like you roll it"

In the ramp-up to their album release on April 2nd, Swedish pop band The Fooo has been previewing a number of songs. Unsurprisingly, they've all been stellar. These guys clearly have a great team behind them and the charisma necessary to really sell this type of pop music. POPing It might just be their best track yet. The deliberately misspelled title is a little eye-rolly, but any doubts disappear the first time you hear that chorus. These guys are dancers, so it makes sense that most of their uptempos are incredibly beat driven. This has a real old-school, breakbeat feel, coupled with a hook that's just impossibly catchy. Imagine a mixture of Robyn and One Direction. Sweden yet again reaffirms its place at the very top of the pop music world.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Markus Schulz - Revolution (with Venom One and Chris Madin)

"We are the revolution coming"

When I listen to music, on of the biggest things I want it to do is galvanize me in some way. Music is like a call to arms for me. That's why I love anthems so much. Because of this, any song with a title like "Revolution" instantly gets my attention. Markus Schulz is a well-known trance producer/DJ that has a strong ear for pop music. With this song, he's taken a rock vocal and matched it with a surging, 80's power melody and standard EDM production. All together, it results in something pretty massive... the kind of track I wanna play full blast while driving around in the Summer. It reminds me A LOT of the Swedish dance duo The Attic. Unfortunately, most of Schulz's newest album isn't as rock-influenced when it comes to the vocals. It's still good, though!

Revolution by Markus Schulz - on Grooveshark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Magic Box - Scream My Name

"If you really love me, let me hear my name again"

From Korea to Finland and now to Italy... this week has been quite the pop odyssey so far! I don't recall posting many songs from Italy, but when something this irresistibly catchy knocks on my door, I sit up and listen. On the surface, Scream My Name is a pretty standard EDM track, with the standard instrumental build and incessant beat. But this one has a dynamo of a hook and I really like the singer's voice. It feels more like a pop band going dance than the other way around. As EDM becomes more popular, I think it also becomes more important that the genre doesn't rely solely on production tricks. Underneath all of that gloss, it's still the song that counts.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.