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Friday, September 09, 2011

When a stupid song finally wears you down: Alexandra Stan - Mr. Saxobeat

"Make me move like a freak"

Even though it's just hitting American radio now, this song has been out in Europe for months. I gave it a C+ back in April, and in the months directly following that review, this track was driving me crazy. I just found it so unbelievably irritating. Make no mistake, it is stupid with a capital "s". I mean, the catchiest bit basically consists of an "oh yeah, ooh yeah, ooh yeah, ooh yeah" repeated like the guy's constipated and/or in the throes of passion. It's hardly Shakespeare. And yet, fo some reason, it's finally stuck. Over four months later, I can't stop playing this stupid thing. It's partly because, after so many times hearing it, it actually makes me laugh. And it's partly because... it's kind of fun? Gah. Just shoot me now. I think this is how these novelty dance songs are designed to function, though. They're like secret little weapons. They work themselves so far into your consciousness that it's just easier to give in rather than try to shut it out.

03 Alexandra Stan - Mr Saxobeat by Mouad Meftah

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

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Skyship Academy is out now!!

Today is the big day! After years of writing and pursuing publication, my very first book, SKYSHIP ACADEMY: THE PEARL WARS, is released today! Whew! It still doesn't seem like it's really happening. Given that it's the book's b-day, let me indulge in one major post...

Here's the blurb from the back cover, as well as some snippets of pre-release reviews already received!

A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers--political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere--and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable--and dangerous--abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.

Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

"Skyship Academy is one of those books you'll read straight through if at all possible. I absolutely devoured it from page one. And even though the story itself kept me captivated, I think the characters became the part I Ioved the most. A definite must read!"
--James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER and The 13th Reality series

"Skyship Academy is the perfect book for teens that like science fiction."
-- sljteen

" adventure... delivers solid action sequences throughout..."
--Publisher's Weekly

"The Pearl Wars is a rare gem of a book that will keep readers on the edge of their seat and blow their minds with the startling conclusion."
-- Wicked Awesome Books

With its original premise and fantastic cast of characters, The Pearl Wars will be a book you will not want to miss."
-- The Book Cellar

And all the important links:
Facebook Fan Page
Goodreads Page
Buy at: Amazon (us/ca/uk/kindle), Barnes & Noble, Flux, Indiebound

And then there's this. If you're free during this time, come watch me in what is sure to be an awkward answering of webcam questions! Just kidding. Hopefully. (click here for the link)

Finally, as if that wasn't enough, I've been doing a blog tour the past week that has been delving deeper into the world of the book, my writing process and cool stuff like that. Here are the posts:


Day One
Death Books and Tea — 10 Things You Didn't Know About SKYSHIP ACADEMY
Laura’s Review Bookshelf — On the Fringes: The Fringes

Day Two
Frenzy Of Noise — Character Interview: Jesse Fisher
Books, Sweets and Other Treats — On the Fringes: Meet Jesse

Day Three
Books Complete Me — Guest Post: World-building

Day Four
Emily’s Reading Room — Book Review

Day Five
Poisoned Rationality — Author interview
Overflowing Shelf—On the Fringes: The Skyship Community

Day Six
Reading Fever — Character Interview: Cassius Stevenson
The Book Cellar — On the Fringes: Meet Cassius

Day Seven
Into the Morning — Guest Post: Revision
Wicked Awesome Books — On the Fringes: The Unified Party

Day Eight
The Book Smugglers — Book Review
Modge Podge Bookshelf — On the Fringes: Do you have what it takes?

Day Nine
Frenzy of Noise — Video Wrap-up (forthcoming)


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Example - Skies Don't Lie

"Just hold my hand, don't let go"

So for me, Example's new album has turned out pretty much just like his last one. A handful of really, really excellent songs, and some that I just don't care for. I would say that the quality is a lot higher on this new one and there are six huge standouts rather than the four on the last album, but I was really hoping for something that hit me hard from beginning to end. With that being said, what works does so very well, and melding these six tracks (Changed The Way You Kissed Me, Midnight Run, Skies Don't Lie, Stay Awake, Microphone & Lying To Yourself -- if you were curious) with the older four make an epic ten-track album. Skies Don't Lie opens the new album with a grand, dramatic flourish. It's got an interesting structure, building to--rather than jumping off with--a dynamic, anthemic chorus that carries on until the end of the track. It's the kind of massive sound Example does better than any other popular artist right now. An album of this would be amazing! Maybe next time...

Example - Skies Don't Lie by foofaika

(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, September 06, 2011

What I'd Like to See in Music Today

After a bit of a summer lull, I have high hopes for the next few months of music. Still, as someone obsessed with the industry and the history of music, there are so many things that I'd like to see happen in the next few years. Here, in no particular order, are a few. What are some of your ideas?

A pop dynasty (Jaden and Willow Smith don’t count)
I'm talking Michael and Janet Jackson level. Two (or more) siblings/relatives with similar style, enormous talent and huge pop culture impact. Can you imagine if one of our biggest pop stars today had a sibling that also sang?

Meat loaf meets dance
Wouldn't this be cool? In fact, I'd like to see rock and club music coming together a lot more, as I think it will, but no whiny, wimpy rock. I want full-on Meat Loaf-style grandeur. Remixed.

Good straightforward radio rock (a la Robbie Williams)
There seems only to be one or two actual rock hits on mainstream radio these days. We need funny, melodic stuff in the Britpop mold to make a resurgence.

Pop stars working with one writer/producer only
No more of this "seven people writing a song" or "twelve producers on an album." Albums are always best when they're created under one vision. I love to see an artist/songwriter/producer that click and stay together for multiple albums.

An American, male pop star not going down the r&b route (and not afraid to costume it up)
We are hurting for male popstars in this country. We need someone who will mix genres and not go straight for the easy r&b/hip-hop route. We also need someone not afraid to bring a sense of glamour/majesty. A male Lady Gaga? Maybe less crazy, though. Artists like this exist in Europe. Why can't one break through here?

A new Adam Ant
Similar to my last thought, I'd like an alternative, solo male popstar with a theatrical sense and a sound that's completely new.

Stadium bands (bands who write big)
Enough of this subtle, Starbucks-style rock. I want bands that throw it all out there and write anthems. Something like a modern U2, but less annoying and far less serious.

A mainstream band incorporating story, concept album and music
I want a decent concept album that actually spawns hits and tells a story. I want visuals and media to be incorporated, and I want the singers to adopt personas or characters. In other words, put some imagination in it.

A good soundtrack
In these days of itunes and singles vs. albums, this is going to be a toughie. But it could happen. We need a soundtrack so carefully compiled and tied so extensively to a blockbuster film that it demands to be heard in full. I'm thinking back to the 80's, when soundtracks were all the rage.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Kyla La Grange - Heavy Stone

"Hide me safe away"

I'm really taken with this song. It's not necessarily the type of thing I usually post, but like Florence + The Machine, Kyla melds her folk sensibilities with an epic scope and pop production. Her vocals are very reminiscent of Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks (with whom she's garnered a lot of comparisons). It's weird. I've never been much of a fan of Fleetwood Mac, but Stevie Nicks-esque vocals are probably my favorite "female sound" in pop. Add that to a lush, hypnotic song that builds and builds in grandeur, and you've got something very special (stay until the end... it gets massive). This is the type of track that sounds like it could've been floating around in the ether for hundreds of years. It's got that timeless, folk quality to it. I also think it's the type of song that would appeal to anybody. Pop fans will like it, folk fans will like it, country fans will like it. Hip hop fans? Maybe not. But then again, maybe that's why it's so refreshing. Best of all, she's got it up for free download through her soundcloud page!

Heavy Stone by Kyla La Grange

(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.