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Friday, March 26, 2010

The Ark - Superstar

"It doesn't matter who you see if you are the queen bee"

The time has finally come for a new Ark single. This event is like Christmas for me, eclipsed only by a new Ark album (ahem... April 26th) and I've gotta say, ever since hearing this early in the morning it's been stuck in my head. It's certainly classic Ark, blending the dynamic guitar riffs of past singles like Clamour For Glamour with the rockier sound of their In Lust We Trust album (hopefully this album's even half as good as that one). Expectedly, Ola flubs one of the English words, pronouncing "repertoire" as "reptu-are." It's not the first time the band have added their own pronunciation (intentional or not). It's kind of endearing, though you'd think one of the band's handlers would have alerted them to this since the word appears quite often. Still, it's a great song with an uplifting, anthemic message and the kind of bombast you'd expect from an Ark single. I bet it's not the best on the album, but it'll be big in Sweden, as it should be. And I will be playing it on a pretty much constant loop, as I should be.

Superstar by theark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy their albums here (as if you don't already have them). Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Track-by-Track: Gabriella Cilmi - Ten

I love a good pop album, even though (more often than not) they're known for being pretty uneven. Working with a hoard of producers almost guarantees a somewhat disjointed album, but luckily on Gabriella Cilmi's second release the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses.

1. On A Mission - One of the best singles released so far this year, this is a heady brew of 80's synths, girl-power rock and "Oh Mickey" style chants. The album version's even better than the single. Pure cheese, but flawlessly done. 10/10

2. Hearts Don't Lie - The one Xenomania track on the album, and hyped because of it. It's got a funky sound let down just a tiny bit by the chorus. It's still completely single-worthy. 9/10

3. What If You Knew - Floating on a bed of dramatic, swooping synths, this simple melody becomes quite addicting. It's at this point that it's clear that Cilmi has fully committed to her new pop sound. Her gritty voice fits this perfectly. 9/10

4. Love Me Cos You Want To - Another epic pop song. The verses, especially have a classic melancholy disco sound to them. It's the type of single Kylie would die for, and she'd be lucky to have it. The production is stunning. 10/10

5. Defender - The first dip in album quality. It's a sleepy ballad enhanced a bit by some nice military-sounding drums. The melody's too repetitive without much payoff. 6/10

6. Robots - Back to the fun pop sound of the earlier tracks. The chorus here is especially nice, both melodically and lyrically. There are parts when she's using falsetto that sound eerily like a young Janet Jackson. 9/10

7. Superhot - Here's where everything comes together. The frantic, funky verses, the theatrical bridge, and the pop-til-you-drop chorus. It's the album's centerpiece, and rightfully so. 10/10

8. Boys - A slightly more subdued dance track with a great chorus where Cilmi comes close to yodeling. Not one of the best tracks, but certainly an interesting and catchy departure. 8/10

9. Invisible Girl - A little noisy without a real memorable melody, this has a more urban feel to it that suits Cilmi's voice but isn't as successful as it should be. 7/10

10. Glue - The second track on the album that could be considered more of a ballad, this is heaps better than Defender. Still not the strongest song, but it at least has a sense of urgency to it. 8/10

11. Let Me Know - A funky singalong that feels too old-fashioned beside the rest of the tracks. It's indicative of how the last portion of the album plays it a little safe and is less interesting because of it. 7/10

12. Superman - Hearkens back to the sound of the first album. It's pleasant, but not particularly memorable. I do like the laid-back sound of her voice, though. 7/10

13. Sweet About Me (Twenty Ten Version) - Back to the pop sound of the first half, as this hit single (from her first album) is electro-ized. It works surprisingly well, though I feel like this song could work well in any genre. 9/10

Album Grade: 8.4/10

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Johan Krafman - In The Twilight

"Tonight we're all so beautiful"

You may remember Johan Krafman for his BRILLIANT pop single Disarmed (aka: what could have been Ola Svensson's lost hit single). Well, he's back with a new track, written with the legendary Tony Nilsson. In The Twilight is a blast of uptempo hooks with the bubblegum/power-pop melody you'd expect. There's also some very Kings Of Leon-esque "whooing" going on, which adds a certain amount of grandeur to the track. Personally, I'm just thrilled to see Krafman back after he'd all but disappeared from the music scene. He's still working on songs, which is excellent news for anyone who likes huge, emotional pop music. Hopefully an album's not too far off. If not, he's got my early vote for participation in next year's Melodifestivalen. He's the breakout star who's yet to break out.

Johan Krafman - In The Twilight  by  alienhits

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


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

5th Sonic Brigade - The Whooo Song

"Take a look at yourself"

5th Sonic Brigade is a (what else?) Swedish rock band currently riding high with a Swedish version of this single. They're a little serious/gloomy looking, but this song is pure, fist-pumping energy. It's built on a constant guitar riff that takes prominence during the verses and has a real glam swagger to it. The chorus is very Song 2 by Blur. Lots of "whoooing" and not much else. Even with the lack of lyrics, it still manages to possess one of my favorite lines of 2010 ("she'll strap you to a wheelchair and roll you away"). Pretty strong visual, yes? The rest of the album reminds me of a more uptempo, catchier HIM. Perhaps a little darker than I usually post, but I quite like it.

5th Sonic Brigade - The Whooo Song  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, March 22, 2010

Laakso - Västerbron

"You make me think that I could fly if I tried"

One of the most gut-wrenching rock songs of the past few years, but I'll get to that in a moment. The reason why I'm all into Laakso again is that I (somewhat spontaneously) just booked a trip to the UK for Spring break, which means I'll also have a chance to get back to Sweden. Yes, I'll be in Stockholm in just over two weeks! Because of this, I've been listening lately to the album that soundtracked my life in the UK when I worked there three years ago. I've mentioned Laakso's Mother, Am I Good Looking? a million times before, but never given this song a full post. And boy does it deserve it. Västerbron's a masterpiece of storytelling and tone. The song centers around the titular bridge (a huge arch bridge in Stockholm) and the narrator's feelings when being confronted by it again after a past filled with homelessness and drug abuse. What this track succeeds at more than anything is picking little moments and details that add up to an unrelentingly bleak tone. But it's not a depressing song. There are moments of humor and wit and a sense of having beaten a dark past, even though the emotional scars are totally fresh. To compare it to another "bridge" song, it's every bit as epic as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Under The Bridge. In fact, Laakso's choir of gutter angels at the end of this song is a hell of a lot more believable.

Laakso - Västerbron  by  alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the essential album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.