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Friday, April 15, 2011

Track-by-Track: Erik Hassle - Mariefred Sessions

It seems as if EPs have enjoyed a sort of resurgence in the last few years. Many up-and-coming artists are opting to release a string of them rather than a full album. It allows for more music more often and caters to today's ADD culture. Luckily for Erik Hassle, whatever he releases is going to be worth hearing.. EP or album. And this is a particularly interesting release because it's a collaboration between Hassle and two members of HUGE Swedish rock band Kent.

1. Are You Leaving - The single. An atmospheric, mature electro pop number that just gets better and better the more you hear it. Hassle's vocals are some of the most evocative in the pop landscape right now, both in tone and phrasing. This is like a male version of one of Robyn's excellent singles. 10/10

2. Sometimes When It Rains - Continuing with the electro influence, this begins with a spare, squiggly synth arpeggio that runs throughout the entire song to excellent effect. It's got one of those slow-burning melodies that builds to a big chorus. 9/10

3. I Am Not An Island - More downtempo than the previous tracks, this has a melody that's a little more distant. It's not one of my favorites, but it's no slouch either. I'd give it a solid B. 8/10

4. Stay Away - This is the second single, and a good choice. It actually sounds a lot like something I could imagine Kings Of Leon singing--an earthy, powerful ballad with a cathartic chorus. I didn't initially love this, but it has really stuck with me more than anything on the EP. 10/10

5. Stains - The big ballad on the album. It has a very dramatic feel to it, especially in the first verse where it's just Hassle's vocals and an organ (or keyboards that sound like an organ). It's a beautiful piece, but I think it would be even more powerful if it was a little shorter. 8/10

6. Arrows - A constant build-up, but that's the problem I have with this track. It never really explodes into something memorable. Sure, the music takes a favorable shift around the three minute mark but the chant that ends the EP just feels a little lacking. It's probably my least favorite track on the album. 7/10

Album Grade: 8.7/10

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tyson - Ran For Love

"I tried and I tried"

Ooh, I love this! Mix one part italo disco, one part Prince at his 80's best and a hefty amount of Cee-Lo type vocals and you've got Tyson's music. Ran For Love is one of a handful of tracks he's got up on his soundcloud page and was the one that captured me the quickest on first listen. The chorus, with its layers of choir-like vocals, gives me goosebumps. Tyson has come up with a unique mix of so many of my favorite things, yet comes out sounding like nothing else on the radio right now. He's also got a single out (the also amazing Out Of My Mind), and I hope there will be a full album soon. Best of all (and I wanted to save this for the very end of the post in case you hadn't been sold already), Tyson was a member of criminally underrated UK band Unklejam. Remember them? They had an AMAZING single called What Am I Fighting For that was a nice-sized hit in the summer of 2007. I love it when excellent bands (or band members) are reincarnated like this!

Ran For Love by TYSON

(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.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rich Aucoin - Brian Wilson Is A.L.i.V.E.

"We're holdin' on"

This song is going to start off a little slow and Beach Boys-esque (big surprise with the title, right?), but stick with it. As soon as the 23 second mark kicks in, the track reveals itself as a punchy disco number halfway between Justice's D.A.N.C.E. and something you'd expect from artists like Tommy Sparks and MGMT. Rich Aucoin is a Canadian musician specializing in a sort of retro pop that includes elements of many legendary bands (Beach Boys certainly being one). This track is from his recent EP, which features a 3D cover and music video. But beyond the gimmicks, this song is a catchy, euphoric piece of pop perfect for the summer. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the A.L.i.V.E. does stand for something. All Living Instantly Vanquish Everything. Make of that what you will.

Rich Aucoin - Brian Wilson is A.L.i.V.E by Sonic Entertainment Group

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


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Hoosiers - Unlikely Hero (Futurmatic Fade Mix)

"My love's not an island, it's the tip of a volcano"

So, thanks to fab music blog This Must Be Pop, I discovered this article about the Hoosiers. I'm not going to go into it here except to say that it covers their breaking with their label and that it's a very interesting read. What it means for us fans, though, is that the band is now running things themselves. They've decided to re-release their excellent 2010 album with a new title and four bonus tracks. I'm psyched about this because (although not being a fan of their earlier work) I'm still obsessed with The Illusion Of Safety. After two singles --only one with any major label support-- they've just released the video for their third, which just happens to be the title of the re-release as well. Bumpy Ride is one of many amazing pop songs on the album. The four new tracks sound just as promising. In addition to all this, the band have released a new remix of stellar second single Unlikely Hero. I'm sad that the record label was willing to let them go so easily, but I hope that this means the band continues to evolve the sound they developed for the second album. 80's synth-pop really suits them.

Unlikely Hero (Futurmatic Fade Mix) by The Hoosiers

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


Monday, April 11, 2011

Erik Hassle - Stay Away

"We know we ain't never gonna happen"

This is Erik Hassle's next single. Is it just me, or does this sound like something that could hit really big in the UK indie circle? Not so sure about America (it doesn't have a guest rapper, after all), but this sounds kind of similar to Noah & The Whale's new album, which seems to be doing quite well in the UK. Stay Away is far less electronic than Are You Leaving, but just as dark and propulsive. That chorus (and the haunting background vocals) is just stirring. The EP as a whole is pretty strong, too. And combined with his Taken EP from last year, you can compile an awesome "2nd album." I'm pleased to see that this release has really cemented Hassle's star power in his native Sweden. Next stop is the UK. Once he can get an in there, he could go worldwide.

Stay Away by erikhassle

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