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Friday, October 16, 2009

"Do you wanna do me?"

I mostly wanted to post this so that I'd have a chance to write about the brilliant new series Modern Family. For those of you who haven't seen it, it is (in addition to Glee) the best new comedy on the air. Shot in the documentary style of the Office, but utilizing it better--like Summer Heights, High did--it's the rare 30-minute series that manages to juggle an enormous amount of characters and find time to develop them all. This song comes from Wednesday's episode, and if you saw the show you'll surely remember why it was so funny in the situation. Subtle, it's not. Then ABC decided to take the snippet heard in the episode and produce a full song for download (and a music video!). The best part is, as stupid as it's meant to be, the track's pretty damn catchy. Sort of reminds me of Interpol? Maybe not quite, but it's freaking stuck in my head, for sure.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the song here. Follow me on twitter at nickajames)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Being an icon is tough"

I wrote about Kitty & The K ages ago. They're one of those obscure Swedish electro groups that seem to disappear forever and then come back out of nowhere with a new single. It seems that their long-awaited debut album will finally be released next year. If I'm being honest, this track isn't nearly as good as their last single, but it's still nice to have them back. It's a very simple song, with a straightforward electro beat and melody. I think with the right producer these guys could be huge, and I'm excited to see what they do next. They also released a video for this track, which goes a long way in demonstrating their visual charm.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Listen to more here. Follow me on twitter at nickajames)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Track-by-Track: Shakira - She Wolf

Shakira hasn't disappointed me yet, and her winning streak continues with her new album, out this month. It's not the electro-dance masterpiece it could have been, but there's still plenty to love.

1. She Wolf - What to say about this song that hasn't been said already? It was a ballsy choice for a single, high on quirkiness and riding a disco beat that sounds like nothing else on American radio right now. I'm glad to see that the gamble paid off. This will be remembered as one of her signature moments. 10/10

2. Did It Again - At times this is more a series of grunts than an actual song, but the disparate elements do come together quite nicely. On first listen I didn't like it so much, and it's not nearly as strong or memorable as She Wolf, but I like it now. Very catchy. 8/10

3. Long Time - This is back to the Hips Don't Lie sound, and it's not really anything special or different, but it is fun, uptempo Shakira. 7/10

4. Why Wait - This one mixes sounds from tracks one and three, covering all of the bases. It's a strong album track, but definitely not single potential. It sounds more like the dance album Shakira had professed interest in making. 8/10

5. Good Stuff - A slower track with a strong melody in the chorus and more of a chanting verse. The middle eight is especially cool, here, and I love the instrumentation in the chorus. 9/10

6. Men In This Town - Along with the title track, this is definitely the pinnacle of the album. Pure electropop cheese with a brilliant melody and hooks upon hooks. This should definitely be a single. It feels very different than what people might expect from Shakira. 10/10

7. Gypsy - Another strong midtempo track. The lyrics and melody fit her perfectly. This song does a 180 from the last one, which makes it stand out in the context of the album. 9/10

8. Spy (ft. Wyclef Jean) - I don't know what to think about this one. Parts are very annoying, but the beat is quite good and the melody's pretty strong, too. It's an interesting experiment, but gets kind of old as it chugs along. 7/10

9. Mon Amour - This feels very much like it doesn't fit with the rest of the album. It's way rockier than anything else, though in a decidedly new wave/80's way. I feel like the production could be stronger, but the chorus is very nice and I love the hand claps. 8/10

10-12. Spanish versions of album tracks, so I won't review.

Album Grade: 8.4/10

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"She says I'm not romantic"

Some things you can count on as fact: the Earth is round, the sun will come up tomorrow, and Chromeo will never disappoint. You know what you're going to get with these guys--a retro, uptempo, funky pop song framed as "electronic" music. Their new single, Night By Night, is no different. All their stuff basically sounds the same, after all. But why mess with a winning formula? No one out there now does this sound as much justice as these guys do. Their last album was brilliant and I'm definitely looking forward to the next one, though as far as I know no release date has been set yet. At least we've got the single already, a super-danceable track with a great synth riff that runs throughout. Actually, the synths in general are pretty fantastic this time around. I'm a big fan of the guitar solo, too. This is certainly up there with their best work.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the last album here. Follow me on twitter at nickajames)

Monday, October 12, 2009

"What's a girl supposed to do?"

I've always liked Shakira. I don't think that there's anybody else out there like her and I'm delighted that she's a werewolf now (just in time for Halloween!). Her new album is quite good, though most songs don't live up to the brilliant She-Wolf. The definite exception to this is Men In This Town, which her people need to release as a single pronto. She said she wanted a more electronic, dance feel to this album and it's not always evident on other tracks but this is definitely for the clubs. If you're still standing still by the time the uber-catchy breakdown after the chorus comes around, you really shouldn't be listening to this kind of music. The lyrics are a bit lame, yes (as Shakira's English lyrics often are), but the music more than makes up for it. It's just massive.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter at nickajames)