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Friday, May 28, 2010

Kaka - Below This Sun

"This funky little planet's no fun"

Kaka (aka: Ricky Karlsson, formerly of the Mo) is back! It's quite a welcome return, as his solo debut was a brilliant collection of slightly off-kilter synth pop. The new single, Below This Sun, is more of the same. This time around, though, there's a funky marching band beat underpinning the track. Production wise, it reminds me a little of Madonna's hit 4 Minutes. His trademark tropical synths are there as well, joining a dramatic synth swoop that bubbles up near the end, when the tempo explodes into something faster and stranger. It's a wonderful comeback, and gets me really excited for the upcoming album. Karlsson's the rare indie artist that writes as if he's aiming for the top of the charts. There's more than a little Mo left in him, which is huge for me, as the Mo were one of my favorite bands ever.

Kaka - Below This Sun by alienhits

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

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Track-by-Track: Eric Saade - Masquerade

Welcome back, teen pop of the late 90's/early 00's. If you're missing a little Bye Bye Bye in your life, seek this album out right away. It won't appeal to everyone, and certainly carries a little more than its fair share of cheese, but as far as dance pop records go, this is well-worth checking out.

1. Masquerade - Kicking off with hard video-game style beats, this is a fantastic opening to the overall in-your-face pop sound of the album. The persistent strings, especially, add the drama that ups this from an average pop song to something more special. 10/10

2. Upgrade - More strings open this upbeat, aggressive dance track. This is so 'Nsync circa 1999 that it borders on being a tribute. The thing is, enough time's passed that this feels really fresh. And Saade pulls it off. 9/10

3. Break Of Dawn - The album's first ballad, and my favorite slowie, which is fortunate because it's the next single. That being said, it's nothing overwhelmingly special, and definitely caves to the current Tedder-style ballad trends. 8/10

4. It's Gonna Rain - The album's most accomplished track. It's a huge, disco-fied club track that takes Saade out of the teen-pop arena and into the realm of more mature, pulsing electro. 10/10

5. Manboy - When I first heard this song I couldn't believe that anything that was so strange and campy could ever be a hit. I guess the chorus is just too catchy to ignore. Even I've succumbed to its charms. 10/10

6. Say It - Here, Saade slides into the weaker portion of male teen pop music. It's a pleasant, midtempo song with acoustic leanings. It comes and goes, offering little to remember it by. 6/10

7. Sleepless - His first single, and one of his best. The chorus is so incredibly massive. I can't see anybody resisting it. Best of all, it fits perfectly with the rest of the album. No fluke, here. 10/10

8. I'll Be Alright - Another acoustic-sounding track, slightly more uptempo than Say It. And, slightly better. It's still not a highlight, but I like the strings in the chorus. 7/10

9. Radioactive - Back to the harder-edged dance music. There are things I love about this song (Saade's vocals in the choruses), but the song overall falls just short of a perfect score. Really, I think it just suffers from comparisons to some of the album's stronger tracks in the same genre. 8/10

10. Why Do We Need Fashion? - The late-album highlight. This aggressive dance track plays around with song structure and tempo, with winning results. It's also criminally catchy. One listen and you'll be singing along. 10/10

11. It's Like That With You - The obligatory, cheesy piano ballad. It does very little for me, though these songs rarely do. I suppose it's nice enough, but it could certainly use a stronger melodic hook (especially in the verses). 6/10

Album Grade: 8.5/10

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Andrew W.K. - Gundam Rock

I have made a discovery, and like many of the best discoveries, it comes from the most unlikely of places. Remember Andrew W.K., the hard-rocking, synth-playing artist behind 2001's ferocious one-off Party Hard? Well, it turns out he's pretty big in Japan, which led him to release an album of Japanese covers (in English) as part of the 30th anniversary of the popular Gundam anime series. I know, we're getting into hardcore fanboy territory here, but some of the music is absolutely epic. So epic, in fact, that I couldn't choose between three songs. So I'm posting them all today:

Amuro Forever:
A rollicking powerhouse performance that sounds like Bowie singing in some huge rock musical. Don't be put off by the timid opening. This goes all out when it reaches the hook.

Andrew W.K. - Amuro Forever by alienhits

Star Children:
Turns up the synths for an electro/rock/glam hybrid with some truly ridiculous lyrics. My favorite? "Bless me with your powerful rays!". So cheesy. So fantastic. It sounds a little like Billy Idol, actually.

Andrew W.K. - Star Children by alienhits

Soldiers Of Sorrow:
The big one -- more Broadway than Anime. It sounds a little like how Green Day's recent stuff would sound if they went full out rock opera. The chorus is HUGE.

Andrew W.K. - Soldiers of Sorrow 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.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bjorn Johan Muri - Circles

Okay, so like an idiot I totally pasted over my Bjorn Johan Muri post from yesterday. Never made that particular error before! It was bound to happen eventually, I guess.
I may try to type up a new post on it later, but for now here's the song again. It probably speaks for itself, anyways...

Bjørn Johan Muri - Circles by alienhits


Monday, May 24, 2010

Robert Svensson - Unpredictable

"You're so predictable"

I have DSTP to thank for introducing me to Robert Svensson's recent change in sound. His new three-song EP is freely available on his website (yay for that!), and is a selection of indie-electronic-pop tunes that definitely holds great potential for the future. His sound's shifted from the indie-pop of his last album (sort of Laakso-lite) and become much more electronic. Unpredictable, in particular, is all about the galloping house beat. It's a glitchy, aggressive sound perched somewhere between Wiley/Example type club music and more classical Swedish electro. It's got the sound of a DIY artist, which isn't always my thing but works wonders here. It doesn't hurt that the song is essentially about a junkie in a dirty bathroom.

Robert Svensson - Unpredictable by alienhits

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