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Friday, November 12, 2010

Short Stack - Heartbreak Made Me A Killer

"Never was a fun boy"

Yes!! I have been waiting quite impatiently for this album for the past month or so and it's finally been released (and doesn't disappoint). Short Stack have transformed themselves from bratty emo threesome to something far more interesting. Their three singles already released from this album have been uniformly fantastic (and bound to feature on my top singles of the year list). They've got a sleazy disco-rock-punk hybrid going on that reminds me a little of Billy Idol's 80's music. While frontman Shaun Diviney may not always be the strongest of singers, he's got an undeniable charisma in his vocals that make these songs irresistible. Heartbreak Made Me A Killer is definitely a standout. The hook is Queen does disco, while the rest of the song alternates between spoken bits and a soaring melodic refrain. It's all very silly but ridiculously fun. And this is only one standout from an album full of them.

Short Stack - Heartbreak Made Me A Killer 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.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Take That - Happy Now

"I feel myself falling"

Whoa. This is not at all what I expected from Take That. Granted, I've never listened to an entire album of theirs before this new one, but I'm a fan of their string of "comeback" singles released these past few years. And having Robbie Williams back on board instantly peaked my interest. The current single, The Flood, is one of their best, but it really didn't prepare me for the shifts that were in store when it came to the album. Enlisting Stuart Price as the producer was the smartest thing the band has ever done. Instead of a bunch of dreary middle-aged boyband ballads, Progress is one of the most ambitiously experimental "boyband" (though aren't they really a "manband" now?) album I've ever heard. They flirt with disco, glam, electro and Bowie-esque ballads. It's really quite sweeping--a must hear if only for the shock factor alone. Luckily, it doesn't have to rely solely on shock. This is a brilliant collection of songs. Happy Now might not end up being my favorite track in the long run, but it was the one that appealed to me most instantly, so I chose it to share today. The verses are straight off of Robbie's Rudebox album, but the chorus is the real standout. Super catchy, super huge and super Scissor Sisters. I would have never expected to make that comparison!

Take That - Happy Now 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.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Track-by-Track: Mcfly - Above The Noise

I'm not sure I've ever given Mcfly the respect they deserve. They've never released a bad album and have one of my favorites from the last decade in 2006's Motion In The Ocean. Still, I doubted their recent shift in sound before I had even heard it. And I was wrong. It's the second best album of their career. (And that's saying something, since most bands burn out by the time they get to the fifth release)

1. End Of The World - Opens the album with the computer/techno conceit before segueing into an aggressive, electro-rock anthem. While it's not my favorite track, it's a fitting introduction to the new sound with some great guitar work towards the end. 8/10

2. Party Girl - I initially wrote this off as a bandwagon-jumping clone of Gaga-esque rock, but it's grown on me considerable. It's the beat... totally massive. 10/10

3. If U C Kate - A midtempo, funky pop track that blends their old sound with their new in such an effective way. The gimmicky title sells this song short. It's such a bundle of hooks, yet still manages subtlety with a timeless appeal. 10/10

4. Shine A Light - This is the album's classic. The version here doesn't feature Taio Cruz (I actually like the one with Taio better), but it's still an absolute highlight in their career. Like all the best songs, it's incredibly simple. You will not find a better song to represent the 2010 pop trend than this. 10/10

5. I'll Be Your Man - I don't really think of Mcfly as a boyband, but this is definitely their big boyband ballad. It's cheesy and to the point, but utterly successful. This could have been an enormous Nsync/Backstreet Boys/etc hit back when they were big. This should be the next single. 9/10

6. Nowhere To Run - This brings back the huge, electro-inspired sound of tracks like Party Girl. It starts out with some restrained strumming before transforming into a dancefloor monster. Very smart move. 9/10

7. I Need A Woman - And now we've got a slower, Motown-inspired sound. I should hate this, but the melody wins me over. It's amazing how much their songwriting has grown. The chorus is a total cathartic release. Wonderful vocals. 9/10

8. That's The Truth - A string section opens the song, which quickly turns into something a little more straightforward. It's a middle-of-the-road type pop song. Very pleasant with a great chorus, but not one of the more memorable tracks. 7/10

9. Take Me There - Now we're back to something a little more anthemic. This song's in a constant state of building up to something. That's a good thing because the building up is the fun part. The production on this is stunning, especially the guitars. Pretty epic. 10/10

10. This Song - Probably my least favorite song on the album. The melody's pleasant enough, but the lyrics feel a little simplistic and juvenile. That being said, it's still not something I'd skip. 7/10

11. Foolish - More strings open this one -- a build-up that doesn't completely pay off. I love the melody in the verses but wanted more from the chorus. 7/10

Album Grade: 8.7/10

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mcfly - If U C Kate

"Everywhere she went, Kate drew a crowd"

I'm really enjoying Mcfly's new album (and I'll have a track-by-track tomorrow to tell you what exactly I'm enjoying about it). They're the kind of young band that, upon bursting onto the scene seven years ago, were easy to dismiss as a flash in the pan. Yet they've managed to stay relevant for almost a decade now (that's a lifetime in popstar years). It's down to likable personalities and a real gift for a great pop melody. Best of all, they're maturing with the times. Their new sound is a real progression, even though it seemed like a Gaga-bandwagon-jumping stage at the outset. Thankfully, the overall shift is more subtle and less trendy. This is especially apparent in songs like If U C Kate, the funkiest track the foursome have ever recorded. The synth after the chorus (and at the very beginning of the song) is just irresistible. I'm not sure if, as a whole, the album quite lives up to Motion In The Ocean (their pinnacle, in my opinion), but it's a very pleasant surprise.

Mcfly - If U C Kate 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.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Kids Of 88 - Feed The Birds

"He's the greatest that's ever been"

Kids Of 88 (what a great name, right? tells you exactly what the music's gonna sound like) have been on my radar for awhile now, though I missed their debut album when it came out in August/September. Here's for catching up. The New Zealand duo specialize in retro electro-pop with a focus on great, quirky songwriting. The singles are universally strong, but it was this late-album track that really caught my attention. It's so dramatically sweeping that it almost feels more like a piece of cinema than a pop song. There's this huge build-up until the song finally crescendos with its "chorus" (which really only appears once) nearly two minutes in. And when it gets there? Boy, that's some synth bombast if I've ever heard it. I can't stop listening to this. I'd imagine it'd sound earth-shattering with the volume pumped up. These guys know how to tell a story, both lyrically and aurally. It's not something you find often with electropop.

Kids Of 88 - Feed The Birds 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.