Your Ad Here

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Video Premiere: Lil' Chris - We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off

He's released one of my favorite albums of the year and it looks like the second one is already on its way with his new single, a cover of the 80's classic. Gym Class Heroes recently butchered this track (and I mean, that crap is unlistenable), so it's great to hear it be given all of the energy it needs. Plus, the video is fantastic in an extremely literal sort of way... nearly as good as the already-classic Gettin' Enough.

Darren Hayes - This Delicate Thing We’ve Made
Release Date: August 21, 2007
Label: Powdered Sugar

So it's finally here: the much anticipated double album release by Darren Hayes. I may show my youth here, but Savage Garden’s (the duo Darren once provided vocals for, as if you didn’t know) debut album was the first cd that I ever bought. In the decade since that purchase, the band’s two albums have continued to hold a very special place in my heart. Hayes’ solo albums? Less so. Spin was alright, if too wannabe-popstar, while The Tension & The Spark was a major step up, yet a bit sonically distant for my tastes. Pleasantly, This Delicate Thing We’ve Made is the best post SG record Hayes has produced. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

Falling victim to the same curse that all double albums (with very few exceptions) succumb to, the record could use some trimming. My biggest complaint is that the album doesn’t stay focused as completely as I wish it would on the elaborate and potentially provocative concept of time travel that Hayes sets up brilliantly in the early highlight How To Build A Time Machine. It’s a concept album that too often strays from the concept. Remove the stale commentary of Bombs Up In My Face and The Great Big Disconnect and you’ve already got a stronger album. All they serve to do is distract from the larger story, seemingly tacked on to give Hayes a chance to embrace his inner Prince (the former) and Lennon (the latter). Still, enough complaining, because there is a whole lot in this sprawling work to love. The opening suite of songs (the ferocious Fear Of Falling Under bleeding seamlessly into the jubilant Who Would Have Thought) is dead-on. I wish Hayes would have worked with Guy Chambers (his songwriting partner on Who Would Have Thought) more, for their collaboration hints at unlimited potential. The much lauded Casey lives up to the hype, a soaring epic of a pop song and probably the best work Hayes has created since Savage Garden broke up. Similarly, first single On The Verge Of Something Wonderful and the pounding Future Holds A Lion’s Heart that precedes it are both easily stronger than anything on the past two records. And, I haven’t even mentioned the slower stuff. The stately acapella Walk Away, the towering Maybe, and the very Savage Garden-esque Sing To Me are all highlights, and even if the record goes on too long, these kind of tracks tent pole the release and keep up the momentum.

As double albums go, This Delicate Thing We’ve Made is pretty high up there. At twenty-five tracks, it could easily be pruned into something even greater (I’d say about twenty tracks oughtta do it) and it’s to Hayes’ immense credit that he was able to create such an expansive work with so very few clunkers. In a perfect world, it would be his great comeback… no time machines required. A-

Key Tracks: Casey, How To Build A Time Machine, Who Would Have Thought?
The Cops - Drop It In Their Laps
Release Date: May 7, 2007
Label: Inertia

You could fill a museum with all of the 80’s revivalist bands out there right now. And, really, since a lot of them sound pretty much the same, it all comes down to the strength of their songs. Luckily, the full-length debut from Australia’s The Cops is brimming with great tunes.

The group comes across as a modernized version of The Cars throughout much of Drop It In Their Laps. Even their name is similar. I say this in the best possible way, though, as the album is all about brief, fun pop songs with great, splashy hooks. Out Of The Fridge/Into The Fire starts things off nicely, with a surprisingly funky beat, while Call Me Anytime, The Message and Starve On My Love are the obvious single choices. Worth a mention as well is Hot Weapon, a goofy ode to a car that should serve as this year’s Greased Lighting. In fact, there really isn’t a weak track on the album. Nothing completely stands out from the pack either (though Le Chic is very fun), but you won’t really care as these songs are designed for maximum instant singalong status. In this regard, The Cops could easily be the Australia version of Maroon 5. Kudos go as well to an excellent album cover, truly giving the whole project a retro vibe.

Like a lot of bands out at the moment, The Cops don’t yet have a totally distinctive sound. But, what they do they do very well and it’s hard to imagine anybody that wouldn’t enjoy Drop It In Their Laps, even if it is only at face-value. B+

Key Tracks: Hot Weapon, Call Me Anytime, The Message
Just In Case You Missed It Two Weeks Ago:
The Mo - Where Are They Now?

The first song ever featured on Alienhits was The Mo’s The Right World. To this day it remains one of my favorite songs of all time, and the album it comes from (Night At The Zoo) is undoubtedly one of the best pop/rock albums every released, even though the vast majority of people probably don’t even know of its existence. A few years ago, the band announced that they were breaking up and I was absolutely devastated that such a promising group would disband after two genius releases. They seemed to be gaining so much momentum, at least in Sweden (their ballad Nostalgia Locomotive, with Kris Le Mans, is still played quite a lot on Swedish radio today). But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Ever since the date that I learned of their implosion, I have been waiting with an almost unreasonable anticipation for the solo releases that individual members had promised. None of those albums have been released yet, but three of the four members now have myspace pages up where you can hear some new stuff. And, let me tell you right now… The Mo was just the beginning. This new stuff is AMAZING. If you’re lucky, I’ll be hosting some of the songs on Alienhits. For today, I’ll link to each member’s myspace so you can hear the brilliance for yourself. I can’t wait to see these solo careers blossom.

Niklas “Nicko” Stenemo

The primary voice and songwriter for The Mo, this guy was number two (under The Ark) of my most anticipated albums of 2007. It still remains to be seen if his solo album will actually be released this year, but judging from the three perfect pop tracks he’s released to fans so far, it’s going to be a masterpiece when it finally does show up in stores. This Summer, I’m convinced, could become a late summer smash. It’s so incredibly catchy and bright with about a million different hooks. Perfect Day is very eighties and sounds a lot like The Mo, while The Child is a more contemplative with some gorgeous background vocals. From the sound of the three tracks, it seems like Nicko has taken the sound of All The Time (What’s That About) - the last track off of Night At The Zoo - and ran with it, as the songs have a very organic sound to them, despite the bright, 80’s inspired production. Three of the best songs I’ve heard all year. Myspace

Ricky Karlsson

The keyboardist for The Mo, Ricky also added to the band’s distinct sound with his instantly recognizable vocals. Given this, it shouldn’t be too surprising that his stuff sounds a lot like The Mo as well, even if it is more electronic. What A Frame (which has since been removed from the myspace page) has a big synthesizer riff that’s not too unlike The Right World, while It’s A Longshot and Burn The Bridges slow down the tempo a bit but are just as catchy. The best, by far, though, is The Hotspurs, a dance throw down that sounds better than anything Timbaland has done in the past few years. Myspace

Dixa Magnusson

Dixa was the bassist for The Mo and his solo sound probably strays from the group’s the most out of the three. Adopting a darker electronic mood, he’s created some very mature sounding stuff. Best of the three available for sample is Done With The Dark Boys, which coasts on an almost-industrial beat with detached vocals and a surprising lack of guitars. I Don’t Wanna Dance follows suit, with some great lyrics. Myspace

Friday, August 24, 2007

Moneybrother - Guess Who's Gonna Get Some Tonight

"I got out and now I'm back here again"

2005 was one of those musical turning point years for me. I discovered Melody Club, The Mo, Bodies Without Organs, The Sounds, Surferosa, Don Juan Dracula, The Callahan, Moneybrother, the new and improved Robyn.... basically every amazing Scandinavian band other than The Ark (I knew about them earlier). It was an unparalleled year, though 2007 seems to be giving it a run for its money. The best thing about the past 12 months is that it's given us new albums from almost all of these musical saviors. We had Melody Club, The Ark and a Robyn rerelease, and I'm looking forward to the new BWO, solo stuff from the Mo guys, and, just this past week, a new one from Moneybrother. Moneybrother's disco-fied They're Building Walls Around Us was one of my favorite singles from 2005 and I'm happy to say he's back with some brilliant tunes this year. Guess Who's Gonna Get Some Tonight opens up his new album Mount Pleasure (sexual enough for you yet?) with an undeniable "bang." It's every bit as catchy as one of those High School Musical songs, yet given the Moneybrother treatment, both vocally and lyrically. A full review will likely be coming soon.

Moneybrother - Guess Who's Gonna Get Some Tonight (mp3) (zshare)

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

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pacific! - Disappear

"Wouldn't it be very special with a little taste of magic?"

One fifth of fab Swedish power pop band The Whyte Seeds, along with a like minded collaborator, form the brilliant new duo called Pacific!. Their sound is breezy and light, inspired as much by sun-dappled Californian surf music as it is by icy electronica. All the tracks I've heard so far hace a subdued sort of grandeur: gentle hooks that ease themselves into your consciousness rather than hit you over the head with a sledgehammer. Disappear is an absolutely gorgeous track, and if you like it, I implore you to head over to their myspace and listen to the slightly-more-uptempo Hot Lips, which shows that the duo are capable of adding a little funk to their sound.

Pacific! - Disappear (mp3) (zshare)

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Hampdens - Generation Y (Teenager Remix)

"Another stolen glance on a Friday night"

Australia's been giving us a lot of good music lately. I'm waiting for a resurgance of Aussie rock like back in the 80's. It's really time for the States to renew their fascination with the land down under. The Hampdens (ironically named for a famous community in the States) should be one of the groups to hang that fascination on. Their a bit more subtle than most stuff I post and they're also very 80's. Generation Y (presented here in the beautiful Teenager remix) reminds me a bit of 'Til Tuesday. Along with the similarly retro Hotel Motel, The Hampdens could lead to a rebirth of female fronted 80's pop/rock. With vocals this beautiful, it wouldn't be a bad thing either.

The Hampdens - Generation Y (Teenager Remix) (mp3) (zshare)

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wax Mannequin - Animals Jump

"Your favorite song is on the radio"

I heard this strange track on Canadian radio a few days ago and was instantly captivated. Wax Mannequin is the work of one man (Chris Adeney), who dabbles in the same sort of genre-smashing rock music as Of Montreal, though his music sounds a lot different than Montreal's. Animals Jump is a perfect example of this. It's very strange, yet manages to be catchy enough that you can sing along on the first listen. The beat is even sort of glam, which of course totally appeals to me. I could imagine this song developing an anthematic quality when performed live. It's just got that epic, operatic quality to it.

Wax Mannequin - Animals Jump (mp3) (zshare)

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

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blaqk Audio - On A Friday

"So let's cut clean to the sex scene"

At first I really wasn't interested in this band. For starters, it's a side project from some of the members of rock band AFI, and I'm considerably over with all these annoying U.S. "rock" bands. Secondly, the group name is terrible. I can't say I understand the "q" or how it makes the word black look cooler. But, regardless, the music's actually really good. Instead of cookie-cutter rock the band focuses on dramatic synth pop, sort of like The Lovemakers or Shiny Toy Guns. On A Friday comes midway through the album and is one of the more instant tracks. To my surprise, this is one American band I wouldn't mind seeing become successful.

Blaqk Audio - On A Friday (mp3) (zshare)

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