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Friday, January 27, 2012

Mikey Jukebox - Hello Dreamer

"You should take a look at who you are"

Sometimes artists and albums fall undeservedly through the cracks. It's a shame. And I'm actually almost embarrassed that I didn't know about Mikey Jukebox until this week. After all, the first version of his album was released way back in 2010. And he is AWESOME. I'm talking "top 10 album of the year" awesome. As a one-man band, he specializes in a mix of glam rock, retro rock and roll, and a touch of disco. his vocals are eerily reminiscent of Kristofer's from Melody Club. This is, of course, an incredibly amazing thing. In fact, it's so amazing that I had to post more than one track today. Hello Dreamer opens the album with a kaleidoscopic, stomping beat recalling ELO at their most euphoric. It's simply massive when played loud. Come On Along, on the other hand, is a straightforward 80's power-pop rocker with some deliriously singalong verses. It might just be my favorite track on the album. Seriously, you've gotta have a listen. I feel like this is buried gold just waiting for bloggers to strike.

(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.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pop Blitz 1/26/12

Santigold - Big Mouth
This definitely has some bonkers M.I.A. influence to it. I like the production (especially that frenetic hook), but I wish there was a little more focus on melody. Still, a promising return. B

Alexandra Burke - Elephant
I would have never expected such a lush, electronic sound from Burke. It's a pleasant diversion from the more straightforward pop of her debut. In fact, it doesn't sound anything like her. She's following trends, but this totally works. A-

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
Lana's not the easiest artist to love, and the verdict's out on her album, but I really enjoy her singles. This has an epic atmosphere, though it's really pretty subdued. I love the hip-hop elements of the production and the melody's quite haunting and memorable in its simplicity. A

Chris Brown - Turn Up The Music
It's no surprise that he's continued to explore the clubby side of his music after his success in that genre, but unfortunately this isn't quite as strong melodically as past singles. Not bad, but not particularly memorable either. B-

Emeli Sande - Next To Me
Emeli's certainly going for the more serious side of pop music. This isn't particularly fun or innovative, but the melody's nice enough. Still, I can't say that this track would warrant my undivided attention if it came on the radio. It's pleasant. B-

Kelly Clarkson - What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)
To me, this is Clarkson-by-numbers. I like Kelly's music, but I have trouble picking this one out of the crowd. It's anthemic, yeah, but the melody feels recycled. It sounds like the commercial to some reality show. C+

Jason Derulo - Breathing
Shania Twain recorded a song a few years back with almost the same lyrics in the chorus. That's the thing about Derulo. Nothing ever feels new. He samples in nearly every single and the sample here (is it a sample?) is by far the best part. In other words, the parts where he's not singing are awesome. The rest... not so much. C+

Your Choice: What's your favorite Pop Blitz song this week?

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Niki & The Dove - The Drummer

"It is what makes me human"

I haven't gotten a chance to throw my two cents in about Sweden's Niki & The Dove yet. They're one of the BBC's Sounds of 2012 selections, which usually means very little to me (their choices tend to be on the more boring and overpraised side). But Niki & The Dove are very interesting. Like fellow Swedes The Knife, their music fuses electronic elements with alien-like, challenging pop soundscapes. They're a little more mainstream than the Knife or Fever Ray, but still delightfully weird. While I think their excellent single DJ, Ease My Mind will be the one to break them through to a more mainstream audience, I prefer The Drummer by just a hair. I love its chaotic, frantic energy. My favorite part? The creepy guy's voice chanting "human" after the chorus. I really can't get enough of it!

The Drummer by Niki & The Dove

(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, January 24, 2012

Track-by-Track: Foxy Shazam - The Church Of Rock & Roll

Hallelujah! Seriously, there isn't a better band in America than Foxy Shazam, and this album proves it. Their self-titled 2010 release was my favorite of that year. I can see this making it to the top for 2012, and it's only January. The band have often stated that they want to be the biggest group in the world. They certainly sound like it. While not as thundering and boisterous as their older stuff, the guys have tightened their ear for melody and infused this album with a different kind of bombast. Layered, Queen-like vocals battle with tight arrangements that keep Church speeding along, even in its slower moments. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that my favorite band in the world is The Ark. Now that they've called it quits, I might just have some new rock and roll heroes...
I apologize in advance for my rambling in this review. I'm so excited about this album, and it's difficult for me to put that in words. If there's any bad thing I could say about it, it would be that it's too short. One thing's for sure... BUY. THIS. ALBUM. The guys need it. They need to be a huge as their music deserves.

1. Welcome To The Church Of Rock & Roll - A deliriously over-the-top, epic album opener. At just over two minutes, it doesn't stick around for long, but it fills every second with more hooks and craziness than most entire albums. 10/10

2. I Like It - Before hearing the album, I probably would have given this buzz single a nine. Now, I'm just obsessed with it. The gargantuan riffs and hilariously in your face lyrics fit perfectly alongside the rest of the tracks. It's definitely one of the rawer songs, especially when it comes to the production. 10/10

3. Holy Touch - This is the moment when I realized that the album was going to be very special. It's the perfect meld of pop and rock, like The Darkness and The Ark and Queen all thrown together in a blender. Yet it's still undeniably Foxy Shazam. The high note is unearthly, and the spoken bit at the end is actually very charming (unlike Cher Lloyd's irritating "ad-lib" at the end of her track Want You Back last year). 10/10

4. Last Chance At Love - Brilliant. This is power pop the way it used to be written before melody took a back seat to beat and production. It's remeniscent of The Darkness's I Believe In A Thing Called Love, but it takes itself more seriously and is much better for it. Should be a single. 10/10

5. Forever Together - The first ballad on the album, and it's an utter charmer. Eric's vocals and lyrics are simple but incredibly effective. It's more stripped down than I've ever heard the band, but becomes a nice singalong as the song moves forward. 10/10

6. (It's) Too Late Baby - And the amazing songs keep coming! This is a definite standout, alternating between quietly churning verses and a huge, massive, almighty chorus. Seriously, you won't believe it. It sounds like all the best 80's rock groups thrown together. Just a wall-of-sound... an army of vocals that make this one of their finest anthems. 10/10

7. I Wanna Be Yours - It's hard to live up to the last track, which is probably why this suffers in comparison. It's great (every song on this album is great), but of everything, it feels the most like filler. It's got a rootsy, stomping glam sound to it. 9/10

8. Wasted Feelings - The verses are sung completely in falsetto, which is a first for the band (I think). But it's the chorus that makes this truly amazing. It's a rousing, rollicking sing-along. The bits at the end are hilariously cool. You'll have to listen to see what I mean. 10/10

9. The Temple - Easily the heaviest track on the album. It's also probably my least favorite, but that's down more to my personal taste than the actual quality of the song. I love the melody and the guitars, but there's just something about it that doesn't quite live up to the (very high) standard of the rest of the album (for me). 8/10

10. The Streets - Awesome, anthemic chorus. The verses are a little crazy, but once it hits that chorus -- especially the ad-libbed end bit -- it's pure bliss. 10/10

11. Freedom - This is the best ballad I've ever heard from the band. It's incredibly simple and very powerful because of that. To me, this sounds like a long lost classic hit single from the 70's. Much of the album could be described this way, but this is one of the biggest highlights. 10/10

Album Grade: 9.7/10

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Neo - Let Go

"I'm trying to break free"

It's been a weekend full of Scandinavian pop (don't even get me started on Jesper's song not winning on Denmarks's MGP Saturday), which has put me in the mood for instantly catchy, explosive bubblegum tunes. And when I'm looking for that sort of thing, I instantly go to artists like Neo. Let Go is taken from his just-released second album, Reborn. The sound is just a little more mature than his first release (aka: more ballads, but better ballads), but doesn't sacrifice any of the big choruses. If you're looking for a jolt of pop energy this is the album you need to grab. So many people put down simple, get-to-the-chorus music like this, but they underestimate just how difficult it is to craft an effective pop track. From the production to the hook, this just works. And it's only the tip of a schalger-fied pop iceberg.

Neo - Let Go by nohfap

(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.