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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Sounds - Dance With The Devil

"We conquer our planet with dance"

Yes! This is exactly what I'd hoped for in new Sounds music. I've been enjoying their new album for awhile now, but this remains the definite standout. The last album was too rocky and generic for me, but this new one ups the pop and dance and is that much better for it. After an extended intro, Dance With The Devil opens the album with a thunderous synth attack. The verses have all the grandeur of a modern Final Countdown pushed onto the dancefloor. It's the kind of track that is instantly impressive and catchy from the first chorus. It's also a fists-in-the-air rallying cry -- something I've missed from the band recently. The album's self-produced, and it turns out that that decision has led to a creative resurgence. I'll have an album review up soon, but will probably end up skipping a post tomorrow since I'll be driving down to Seattle after work. See you next week!

The Sounds - Dance With The Devil by alienhits

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


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mohombi - Love In America

"I've been flying all around the world"

I've always had a huge soft spot for afro-inspired pop music. I think it's some combination of listening to Paul Simon's Graceland as a toddler/small child and being obsessed with the Lion King several years later. Whatever the reason, I gravitate towards the stuff like crazy. It's the reason I loved Tinashe's Zambezi so much last year and why a few of the afro-inspired tracks from the Mo's second album (and Nicko's subsequent solo material) sent me into shudders of excitement. So now, along comes Mohombi, friend and protégé to famed producer Red One. Yes, the album has the synth-heavy dance sound we're used to from Red One, but it's tempered with elements from Africa to the Caribbean. It all adds up to something ridiculously catchy. There are multiple highlights (including first two singles Bumpy Ride and Dirty Situation), but this track stood out immediately because of its huge chorus. The general sound--triumphant synths colliding with thunderous vocals--is just fantastic. I'm gonna put out a plea right now: if anyone has any recommendations for music that is similar to this, send it my way! Songs like this (and the aforementioned Zambezi) seem to be rare in the pop world. Or maybe I'm just not looking in the right place?

(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, March 22, 2011

Track-by-Track: Britney Spears - Femme Fatale

It's pretty useless to review a Britney Spears album for its artistic merits. Like so many pop singers before and after her, Spears is better looked upon as a muse for some of the best commercial songwriters and producers of her time. Lucky for me, many of those behind-the-scenes folks are working in Sweden. And from that standpoint, the album's best tracks all sound like standouts from four different Swedish bands/artists (namely Alcazar, Robyn, the Tough Alliance and Tove Styrke). This alone makes the album a pleasant surprise.

1. Till The World Ends - I really blasted this song a couple weeks ago, but I've gotta admit that somehow it's grown on me. Some tracks just take longer. Still nowhere near the best songs on here, but it's a nice opener. The chants remain the standout. 8/10

2. Hold It Against Me - It's the exact opposite with this one. The more I hear it, the more I tire of it, which ends up bringing it about level with the first track, rating-wise. It doesn't have quite enough melody to give it staying power. 8/10

3. Inside Out - This one just isn't hitting me. I appreciate the sound that they're going for, but the melody's completely underwhelming and the production plodding. 6/10

4. I Wanna Go - Now THIS is more like it. This is hands down, no question, the album highlight and could be a monster single for her. Like Madonna's Hung Up a few years ago, it harnesses a flawless, swirling dance beat. (for those keeping track, it's also the "Alcazar" song of the four standouts) 10/10

5. How I Roll - Stupid title, but another standout. It's got the kind of quirky electro attitude that you'd expect from an artist like Robyn. And although Robyn does this kind of stuff so much better, this is quite enjoyable in its own right. 9/10

6. (Drop Dead) Beautiful (ft. Sabi) - This is very much a filler track. Everything, from the heavily processed vocals to the dull production/melody is pretty shallow and forgettable. Not horrible by any means, but it doesn't leave any impression. 6/10

7. Seal It With A Kiss - And we're back to interesting territory. There are parts of the chorus (the background vocals) that sound like the Tough Alliance (a Swedish indie-electro band). It gives this song a really cool vibe. Couple that with a great melody and hook and you've got something very special. 10/10

8. Big Fat Bass (ft. - Ugh. Every time features on/produces a track for another artist it's guaranteed to be one of the weaker/trendier/more derivative songs on the album. This is actually more interesting than I expected, but too repetitive and obnoxious to warrant too many repeat listens. 6/10

9. Trouble For Me - I can't begin to describe how much I'm sick of the David Guetta-esque beats that open this track. It's so overdone and ruins what could be a decent song. It's not a very pleasant listen. 6/10

10. Trip To Your Heart - This shows off the potential of what this album could have been. It's lush, mature and endlessly melodic. It reminds of of the experimental tracks that Spears recorded with BT for her third album (though they never actually made it onto the cd). By far the prettiest song on the album. I wish she'd record more like this instead of chasing trends. This is something I'd imagine Tove Styrke singing. 9/10

11. Gasoline - This is probably the poppiest song on here and the most like her previous work. Luckily, it's a great example of that classic Spears sound that so many people grew up with. This would have fit perfectly on her second or third album. 8/10

12. Criminal - An odd flute-assisted track with a slower tempo, bubblegum melody and rebellious lyrics. It's one of the standouts, though it doesn't necessarily fit with the tracks that come before it. 9/10

Album Grade: 7.9/10

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Monday, March 21, 2011

A Brand - The Mud

"Slide your foot in the water"

If Kaiser Chiefs were to come back into the pop scene, this is exactly how I would hope they would sound. A Brand is a Belgian band that has crafted one of the catchiest glam/rock/pop singles of the year so far. The Mud takes you back to the glitter rock of the mid-seventies, augmenting it with huge guitars and a veritable wall of vocals. It's all extremely silly, but you can't deny the sheer force of this song. It's like a punch in the face. Rock music this big and boisterous doesn't come along that often, and it would be a shame if its success was limited only to Belgium. I can see something like this having international appeal, easily.

A Brand - The Mud by alienhits

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