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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Release Date: February 26, 2007 (UK)
Label: B-Unique

The Kaiser Chiefs' quick rise to fame in the UK (and, to a much lesser extent, the US) can be attributed to their natural embrace of pop music as it relates to the current indie scene. Few bands of this era have been able to plug so much giddiness into their rock and roll… and sound so convincing doing it. So, it's no surprise that the band's follow-up offers primarily the same kinds of sounds.

There is nothing as inescapable as past hits I Predict A Riot or Oh My God on Yours Truly, Angry Mob. Nor does the band play around with genre as much as they did before. Instead, they've clearly spent time building upon their craft, and the effort shows on ambitious cuts like the singalong The Angry Mob and wannabe-epic My Kind Of Guy, which falls just short of ultimate success. The band has definitely matured a bit, which presents possibilities as well as problems. Angry Mob is far less interesting and instant as the band's debut. There are amazing set pieces like the piano pounding High Royds and the insanely catchy Heat Dies Down, both surely destined for single released. But, the last third of the record muddles things up a bit. Apart from the unexpected, sparse ballad Boxing Champ and the punchy Learnt My Lesson Well, many of the tracks towards the end of the album end up sounding too much the same.

However, even if Angry Mob doesn't wow you out of your seat, it is insistently upbeat and intermittently clever, which should be enough to satisfy most Kaiser Chiefs fans and see the band easily navigate its way through the legendary "sophomore slump." And, most promisingly, the catchy lead single Ruby is far from the best material to be found here, hinting at the sustainability of the record In the future, though, the band could do with a bit more variation and some of the savvy genre-hopping they displayed on their debut. B

Key Tracks: High Royds, The Angry Mob, Heat Dies Down

Friday, March 02, 2007

For the first ever Alienhits interview, I’ve got Norwegian synth/pop/rock band Don Juan Dracula, one of the coolest bands out there right now. Best known in Scandinavia (and amongst readers of this blog) for their amazing hits Take Me Home and Run Away With You, the band has just gotten back together after taking some time apart. Read on to find out about their new album, their influences, and “pathetic” battle cries….

Alienhits: Now, I was very upset when I heard that Don Juan Dracula was breaking up awhile ago. Then, I recently read that you guys are back together. What happened?

Don Juan Dracula: Well, after several years just discussing music, women and beer we forgot to talk about deeper issues regarding DJD. We reached a point where we needed to do some serious talking. Well, the result was not very good for DJD, but after a short break we realized that we had to sit down and talk things through and look forward instead of digging in old dirt. Anyway, the whole process taught us more about each other and ourselves. We're now stronger and more inspired than ever. 2007 will be a great year for DJD.

A: Is there a special meaning behind your band name that us fans should know about?

DJD: The bands name is brought to life by coincidence. It is good to have some mystery to the origins of our name. So that is all you will get for now.

A: What DJD song is each band member's favorite and why? (My pick is definitely Run Away With You)

Henrik: Run Away With You
Henning: Run Away With You
Ola: Take Me Home
Thomas: Fashion Girl (It's a fun song to play live)

A: What are some of the band's influences? Who did you grow up listening to?

DJD: We grew up in the 80s. Back then we spent a lot of time listening to bands like The Cure, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, OMD and Erasure.

A: Speaking of influences, are there any current bands or artists that you follow? Any albums that you're looking forward to this year?

DJD: We listen to all kinds of music including country, rock, metal, pop, not just synth music. But we are all looking forward to the new album from Arcade Fire.

A: Are there any good luck rituals you go through before shows?

DJD: Henning must wear his red shoes
We need to share a bottle of champagne
Our pathetic battle-cry must fail before going onstage.

A: Is there a main message or feeling that you try to portray through your music?

DJD: Very short: about life, spinning around with strong emotions, love, happiness and loss.

A: I love the matching white suits in your press photos. Is visual style an important part of the band?

DJD: Yes, it's important to have a visual expression identifying the band. We don't spend much time on our image, but when we're on stage we put a lot of effort into giving the audience something special. The white suits combined with an active live show including tons of lights, smoke and pyro results in a perfect DJD gig.

A: Lastly, I've got to ask you if there's going to be a new album anytime soon. If so, will it continue with the glamorous synth-pop sounds of Young Debutantes II or be something different?

DJD: Yes indeed! We're currently working on our next album. We have lots of great new songs and we're ready to start recording. The next album will sound different from YD2, but it's hard to tell which direction it will finally take. You'll just have to wait and see.... All we know is that we have over 20 strong demos and we can't wait to have the next album out.

Buy Don Juan Dracula's music here .... and you better!

Vera Mesmer - Purpose

“I'm not in love with you, but I'll make room for you"

With a stomping rock beat, Vera Mesmer's Purpose announces itself quite royally. The man himself falls halway between the alt rock of artists like Scott Weiland of Velvet Revolver and more mainstream pop/rockers like Adam Levine of Maroon 5. In fact, his music almost seems tailor made for radio in this country. Given that, I am suprised how much I like it. Purpose is definitely the catchiest of his songs that I've heard, and twists itself into your brain quite nicely.

mp3: Vera Mesmer - Purpose

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Listen and download more songs here)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Protocol - Beautiful Girlfriend (Studio version)

“You're a beautiful girl, you need a beautiful boyfriend"

UK band Protocol were on my list of most depressing break-ups of 2006, and what makes their demise even more depressing is the fact that their debut album, Rules Of Engagement, was never even released during their brief career. While I'm still waiting to hear the album in full, Beautiful Girlfriend (newly made available in HQ from the band) only heightens my desire (ooh!). Hearing this track in its acoustic version originally, I'm loving the studio version even more. This band combined so much of what I love in music (hooks, keyboards, fashion, etc) and, although they may have been shortlived, they gave us some great stuff to remember them by.

mp3: Protocol - Beautiful Girlfriend
zshare: Protocol - Beautiful Girlfriend

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! No album to buy ):

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Flare - Brotherlover

“I'm your lover tonight"

The title may sound like some weird incestuous fantasy, but it's actually not. Sorry to those who are now disappointed. In fact, this song by Flare is actually a breezy pop track that sounds a bit like Suede meeting the Delays. It's also quite catchy and joyous, and will be perfect on a Spring time soundtrack. Flare are from Norway, where many other fantastic bands are from, but they sound very much like they could hail from the UK. It's the sound of pop meets indie, which apparently has also been described as "the missing link between the Darkness and Keane." Not so sure about that, but it's brilliant nonetheless.

mp3: Flare - Brotherlover
zshare: Flare - Brotherlover

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pleasure - Pleasure 2
Release Date: February 12, 2007
Label: EMI Norway

Fred Ball, the Norwegian producer behind both Pleasure albums, clearly is in love with the eighties. Listening to Pleasure 2, his recently released electro/pop/rock/other release, is like jetting back to the coolest clubs of the decade… all neon lights, androgynous voices and cooing comedowns.

If you enjoyed the first Pleasure album, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t adore the sequel. It offers the same mix of pop, electronica, ballads and instrumentals, yet strengthens the quality of each. The electro numbers are catchier (see the fabulous Out Of Love and Uptown, both sweetly delivered by fellow Norwegian Heidrun Bjornsdottir), the ballads are more epic (the Bowie-esque Back To You, sung by ex-Suede frontman Brett Anderson, and the pretty Finest Thing) and there are even some surprises thrown in the mix. The soulful Silk Dream, especially, is an unexpected treat. A sort of electro/r&b number, it may be one of the shortest tracks on the album, but it definitely leaves its mark.

Throughout Pleasure 2, you’ll hear shades of the aforementioned Bowie, along with Prince, early Michael Jackson, girl pop and soft rock, blended together to form Ball’s unique dancefloor vision. More than most producer-helmed projects, Pleasure 2 is most definitely a pop album. Listening to it feels like you’re tuning into the coolest radio station around, one that both hipsters and casual pop fans can enjoy. A-

Key Tracks: Out Of Love, Uptown, Back To You
Overnight Lows - My Oh My

“Open your eyes, my oh my"

Like alienhits fave Lucky Soul, Overnight Lows plays a classic blend of pop and rock fronted by a charismatic blonde. My Oh My, my (oh my!) favorite track that I've heard from the band, has got beautiful, almost electronic verses which give way to a singalong, radio-friendly chorus. It is an amazing pop song, and exhibit A as to why this Californian foursome should be ruling the charts. In a way their music sounds like the kind of thing that was popular in the mid to late nineties... straightforward pop/rock delivered with a timeless punch. Warning: one listen and it will be glued to your brain.

mp3: Overnight Lows - My Oh My
zshare: Overnight Lows - My Oh My

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the album here.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Boulevard - Only For You

“To turn our backs on suburban dreams"

Today I'm kicking off two weeks of some of the most consistently great pop music alienhits has presented you with in a while. And most of it, I can guarantee, you've never heard before. American band Boulevard starts us off today. The band's a dynamic mix of new wave and glam. Think alienhits favorites Bobby, Melody Club, Elkland and you'll have a bit of an idea of what you're going to hear. Mark my words on this one... these guys are going to be huge. This is a demo off their upcoming second album, and one of the better releases I've heard in awhile. Everything's here: the great melody, the amazing fashion and the percolating synths. It always amazes me when bands like this come from the States, because they seem to be so rare over here.

mp3: Boulevard - Only For You

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists! Buy the debut album here.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Glam Rock Dance Fads That Never Were

Today's EP is full of irresistable glam rock songs from the 70's and early 80's that could have spawned bizarre dance fads in another dimension. Some of them actually intended to do this (the insanely ridiculous Motor Boat -who wants to dance like a boat?- and Interplanetary Twist), while others would have done well with some inane move (I'll let you use your imaginations) attached to them. Plus, I've got my favorite glam dance song on here (Sweet's amazingly fun cover of Peppermint Twist) and a song off of my favorite camp classic musical, The Apple. For those that have seen the movie, put on your BIM marks for this one!!

1. Sweet - Pepperment Twist
2. Jimmy Jukebox - Motor Boat
3. Abba - The King Kong Song
4. Screemer - Interplanetary Twist
5. Tim Curry - Charge It
6. The Apple Soundtrack - BIM