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Friday, November 11, 2011

Natalia Kills - Kill My Boyfriend

"He's only nice when there's somebody there"

I've slowly come around to Natalia Kills. At first I thought she was the poor man's Lady Gaga (but the British version, which should technically be much cooler). I'm all for more theatricality in pop music, but nobody wants a copycat. Luckily, with every single she releases, Natalia is carving out an identity all her own. Wonderland was excellent (but still very Gaga), Free was, for me, the turning point. It's an excellent pop song in its own right. And now, with Kill My Boyfriend, she's ready for her first big hit. If everything goes well, this should be the song that introduces her to a bigger audience. It's cheeky without being annoying, but more importantly it has an undeniably catchy melody that hits you on the first listen. I love the mix of tones here... playful at one moment and then sleazy the next. Of course, with the title of this song and her stage name, people are gonna get the wrong idea about this girl!

Natalia Kills - Kill My Boyfriend by Marco_g2

(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 10, 2011

Track-by-Track: The Sound Of Arrows - Voyage

It's difficult to review this album on a track-by-track basis, because more than any other recent release that I can remember, this is a collection of songs meant to be experienced together. As the album's title expresses, this is a voyage... and one hell of a fantastic one at that. Expectations were high after a string of amazing singles, but these guys have done the increasingly impossible task of creating a perfect, modern pop album. I can't stop listening to it.

1. Into The Clouds - What more can be said about this? Amazing. One of the best pop songs of the last few years. I love the new, dramatic synth opening. It's absolutely majestic. This track alone will get you hooked on the band. 10/10

2. Wonders - This was a "9" until I heard it in the context of the album. A few days ago, I really had my "moment" with the song. It's a massive dance track and one of the more uptempo songs on here. It flows perfectly from the last one. The drums are especially huge. 10/10

3. My Shadow - Compared to some other tracks, this is pretty straightforward and radio friendly. It's very reminiscent of 80's era Pet Shop Boys. This is a very good thing... even better than I would have thought. The instrumental alone is gorgeous. 10/10

4. Magic - An irresistibly feel-good single. The music video made me fall in love with it, but after several months with the new single mix, I haven't gotten tired of it. I love the use of the children's choir. 10/10

5. Ruins Of Rome - A natural progression from the last track, this also utilizes the children's choir... but to very different effect. This has a darker, more plodding feel to it. It's by no means a bad thing. It's got a real cinematic grandeur to it. While not as instant as the past four tracks, I'm now thoroughly addicted. So, yes, it's another 10/10

6. Longest Ever Dream - I think I like the instrumental portion of this better than the vocals. It's still extremely strong (and I love the operatic bits), but I wish they would have reserved the female vocal parts for background only. That would've made it perfect. As it is, the verses fall just a little short. 9/10

7. Hurting All The Way - My least favorite track, but that's not saying a lot because the entire album is brilliant. It's more of a short palate cleanser than a full song. In that regard, it totally works. It's just quite slow and doesn't really go anywhere. 8/10

8. Conquest - Back to straightforward pop. Of course, nothing's quite straightforward with these guys. This has a slight island flavor (which strangely works), and a funky beat with one of the album's catchiest choruses. 9/10

9. Nova - The second single, and probably the most aggressive sounding track on the album. I've loved this song from the beginning, and it's no different here. Once that beat kicks in, it's pretty epic. 10/10

10. There Is Still Hope - Speaking of epic... oh my god. This is the longest track on the album, but it earns every single minute. Starting with a dramatic synth intro before bursting into an anthemic, triumphant melody, this is rousing, life-affirming stuff. Essential. 10/10

11. Lost City - In a lot of ways, this acts as the ending credits to a great journey. I'm not usually a big fan of instrumentals, but this is flawless. The vocals at the end are just icing on the cake. 10/10

* Though I won't count them in the album's grade, some versions come with two bonus tracks. It's worth highlighting "Disappear," which is a wonderfully uptempo pop track that's actually one of their stronger recordings.

Album Grade: 9.6/10


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Cher Lloyd - Want U Back

"Remember all the things that you and I did first?"

Cher Lloyd's released a great little pop album this week with her debut, Sticks & Stones. I loved her during her run on X-factor, went a bit off with the first single, but am totally a fan again now. I must be crazy, because even Swagger Jagger's alright with me. Cher's love-it-or-hate-it attitude is totally present on many of the album's tracks, and this is one of the best examples. I love the grunting parts (I never thought I'd write that in a track review), but beyond that, this is a modern pop song that just works. Even the stupid helicopter bit at the end doesn't ruin it (why do artists insist on these unfunny little joke bits after songs?). Though they're spoiled for choice when it comes to singles, they'd be crazy not to send this to radio. It's concise, energetic and melodic with just enough attitude to make it unpredictable.

(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.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Sound Of Arrows - There Is Still Hope

"In the darkest hour, there is still hope"

Absolutely euphoric. That's about all I can say when it comes to The Sound Of Arrows' debut album. it may sound like hyperbole, but with the release of Voyage, these guys may have just saved the modern pop album. This track comprises the album's conclusion, so I almost feel wrong offering it for sample out of context. It works best as an earned climax to the journey that the album takes you on, but it's just so damn good that I need people to hear it. If this doesn't make you want to get the album, I don't know what will. At nearly eight minutes, it's the longest, most epic track on the album. Though believe me, it speeds by and almost (in a strange way) seems too short. The grandiose opening will grab your attention, but once those drums usher in that anthemic melody of the verses, you'll be pumping your fist along. In some ways, it's the closest these guys get to a "Don't Stop Believing" moment, though this is not nearly as straightforward. Ugh. It's brilliant. You've gotta play this album loud. Believe me.

The Sound Of Arrows - There Is Still Hope 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.


Monday, November 07, 2011

The Wanted - I'll Be Your Strength

"We can make it through the stormy weather"

Today is a great day for new pop albums, so expect to hear about them this week. First up is the Wanted. I never considered myself much of a boy band fan, yet two of this month's most anticipated albums for me are by boy bands (The Wanted & One Direction). But the thing is, despite a few songs, these two groups aren't stuck in the formula that you'd expect. Sure, they've got their own formula, but that's a different matter. I was a big fan of the Wanted's first album and their new one--while not quite as exciting--is full of great UK pop. Rather than boast any huge standouts, the album is consistently good. My taste, as usual, sides with the melodic, so my favorite tracks are the ones that hit hardest in that regard. But more than melody, I love how this track segues from delicate ballad to smashing dance anthem. I do wish the dance portion would last just a little longer, but it's a minor quibble. It's no surprise that Xenomania had a hand in this track. Their work is always fantastic. Side note: while I'm really enjoying it, the album as a whole has some of the clumsiest lyrics I've heard all year.

I'll Be Your Strength - The Wanted by 7Lacerda

(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.