Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"Silence was too deafening"
One of my all-time favourite ladies is releasing the first song from her forthcoming 5th album Acapella (out somewhere in Spring 2010). A kaleidoscopic bass-heavy techno song with a trancey flavour and just the right amount of synths (i.e., a shit-load of them). Welcome back Ms!
Kelis - Acapella (mp3)
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Ever wondered what Kanye West would sound like in 808s & Heartbreak, hadn't he been so mad and upset with the world when he recorded it? Probably something not far from this second album by British troubadour Mr. Hudson. There are some explanations for this, starting with the fact that Kanye does appear in some tracks, adding his midas touch as producer and also guest rapper, hum sorry, singer. The second explanation is that Mr Hudson is some sort of English old-school gentleman, with many literary references and a classy background, and is now immersing himself in a completely new and strange world for him, where West Coast R&B is the rule. And the third one is basically just one word: vocoder. Now, besides all this, if I tell you that sometimes he sounds a bit like Sting, don't you just want to hate him immediately? Well, don't throw the knives just yet. Ignoring the fact that the concept behind Straight No Chaser does sound a bit too cynical (basically,"hey let's make him a superstar"), there's actually a sense of genuine sincerity in it, something which is mostly visible in his song-writing. "I’m just a boy from Birmingham, another imposter on a major label roster, how did I get here?" - you have to respect that, right? Add to this the most luxurious beats and glossy hooks this side of, hum, Kanye West, and voilà, here's a solid pop record to enjoy with no preconceptions, and one coming from a somewhat surprising source. (7/10)
Mr Hudson - Supernova (feat. Kanye West)
Monday, November 23, 2009
It's funny that the main criticism pointed towards this album is also one of the main reasons why I love it. Yes, Julian does seem to aim in every direction possible, and there really are many disparate things going on in here - synths and drum-machines borrowed directly from the eighties, guitar riffs that seem to come from a lost Van Halen record, bizarre takes of country music as seen through the eyes of a cyborg... But in the end, it all sticks together really well, supported by his trademark blasé voice and a solid song-writing effort that has pulled all the stops in the creation of instantly memorable pop choruses. And then there's the extra kick we get out of hearing the voice behind some of the best music of the last decade in a totally new and intriguing context. Oh, and did I mention the brilliant art concept of the whole project? (9/10)
Julian Casablancas -Phrazes For The Young (Trailer)
Monday, November 16, 2009
My Gold Mask are Gretta Rochelle (sings and plays drums) and Jack Armondo (plays a nylon string electric guitar). Her voice is a combination of sweetness and rawness and their striped alternative rock sound attracted me a lot. Here's their own version of Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes, via Hard Candy Music. I'll get into the album soon. Have a great week!
My Gold Mask - Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes cover)
Monday, November 09, 2009
In last year's Street Horrrsing, Fuck Buttons made one of the most visceral albums of recent times, creating a very particular world of abstract noises, loud guitar drones full of reverb and, of course, those very own and quite-scary maniac growls. It was something intense and truly hypnotic, but not too dependent on any particular notion of high-technology and mechanical rhythms, a fact that made it sound more organic and, ultimately, unique. But then there was an exception to this, in the techno beats of Bright Tomorrow, which incidentally turned out to be the most visible (and best, IMO) track of that record. With their sophomore Tarot Sport, it's like they have grabbed the concept of that particular song, multiplied it by a hundred, and expanded it into a whole album. Recruiting Andrew Weatherall (one of the most respected dancefloor producers in the last 15 years) is probably to be blamed for this, but the fact is that it does work. Really well. Hallucinating doesn't even begin to describe the experience of hearing what's in here: layers of dynamic sounds, sometimes brutal, other times overwhelming, put together on top of very powerful beats, in 7 songs that flow with an unstoppable and euphoric force. True, sometimes it does get to such an extreme point that we end up feeling like we're having too much of a good thing. But the fact is that it never stops being a rewarding experience... at full speed, a continuous high, literally like there's no tomorrow. (8/10)
Fuck Buttons - Surf Solar (video)
Friday, November 06, 2009
Here it is, the brand new single from Róisín Murphy! My first impression? It's very good! Don't be fooled by the old Hollywood style of the artwork, this not a lush ballad or jazzy affair. It's a monster of a dance song and it's here to blow your brains out. It's far different from anything on her last record, a lot less electro and much more into late 80's house style (it kinda sounds like some of those vintage house remixes that would turn your favorite radio hit into an extended dance journey, full of dry beats and tape skips). Mad rhythms are going on all over the place but the melody of the chorus brings it all together. It could be messy but it isn't, it works really well. Bravo! Hey, there's even a guitar solo in the middle that could have been lifted out of a Prince record (good on my book). Jump to Róisín's MySpace page to stream it.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
The documentary on the preparations for the Michael Jackon's This It It tour has just premiered this week. I got to see it last Saturday and I must say the film is a pleasant surprise. Like almost anyone else, I was expecting to see a sharp edited documentary with MJ going through the motions, tired and frail. These are, after all, the weeks prior to his death, a period of time where he was said to be abusing on medication. But, surprisingly enough, not only the documentary is really low-key in the way it is constructed, but Michael was not in any way diminished in his talents and professionalism.
This is the document you need to see if you want to have the real perception of the talent of this man. What surprised me the most was to be able to see that he was not just an excellent singer and incredible dancer. He was also a musician, and a very rigorous one, very demanding with his band to the point of stopping rehearsals just because the bass line is not good enough (and he promptly beat-boxes with his voice to show the musician how it should sound). He was VERY hands on and it really shows in this film. Very strict yet humble and willing to teach everyone around him his art. Yes, he looked frail, thin. But his voice and dance steps were still dazzling and you wouldn't suspect what was about to unfold. The high moment for me was his rehearsal of Human Nature (a ballad from the Thriller album) where you can see clearly that he is feeling every line of that song and giving all his emotion to every word. I was moved by that, that's raw talent right there if front of you. And it really is such a shame that we lost that. Go see this film if you want to testify it one last time.
Monday, November 02, 2009
One of the latest blogosphere indie obsessions, this San Francisco duo of actually-not-girls Christopher Owens and Chet White stands in a place of their own. Joyous and sunny melodies on first listen, written under the influence of many pills, hide a sad and nostalgic feeling underneath, a feeling that is better understood when you know about Owens disturbing life story. And with not much else than a charming honesty and a refreshing balance between catchy pop hooks and subtle experimentalism, we end up with 12 low-key songs that have everything to become life-changing anthems. This if you consider that a change doesn't always have to operate on big and radical scales, as sometimes the most important ones can happen on a hardly-noticing more personal level. You may call this little power as heartbreaking candidness. (8/10)
Girls - Lust For Life (video)
(for the alternate and very-NSFW edit of this video, head over MBV music)