Thursday, July 25, 2013

Secrets Release Polished Sophomore Album

Post-hardcore band Secrets have released their sophomore album Fragile Figures this week. Unlike their debut, last year's The Ascent, the album production is a little more polished and the songs are more cohesive.
That being said, the songs on the album just aren't as memorable as some of the songs off of their debut. While the songs "How We Survive," "Maybe Next May" and the single "Ready For Repair" are all great, they lack the spark of songs like "Somewhere In Hiding" or "The Heartless Part" off their last record.
"Artist Vs. Who?," "Wasted Youth (Part 1)" and "The Architect (Part 2)" all blend together, making the middle portion of the record sound repetitive.
"Live Together, Die Alone" and "Forever and Never" are album highlights, having a different swagger about them.
The best thing about this band and this album is the clean vocals by Richard Rogers. His clean choruses are what makes the songs great. On songs like the title track and "Maybe Next May," Rogers' cleans are emotional and powerfully sung.
Rogers sings with such passion that is only met by new unclean vocalist Aaron Melzer. Melzer isn't as good of a screamer as their former unclean vocalist Xander Bourgeois. Many of the songs seem to have more unclean vocals than usual to show off Melzer.
The album closes on a high note with the acoustic ballad "Sleep Well, Darling." The song is a sad breakup ballad with Rogers showing off his passionate vocals. The band could use more songs like this on future albums.
Fragile Figures is a great album, but Secrets could use more clean vocals from Rogers.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Selena Gomez Goes Solo

Former Disney princess Selena Gomez released her debut solo album yesterday after three albums with her band. Selena Gomez and the Scene. Stars Dance is an album that is full of faceless dance-pop with elements of dubstep and other electronic music. The album does have moments of vulnerability and personality. Whenever Gomez brings up her recently ended romance with a certain pop star is a great moment. The bridge of first single "Come & Get It" sums it all up.
"This love will be the death of me/ But I know I'll die happily," Gomez sings.
"Forget Forever," ""Write Your Name" and of course the ballad "Love Will Remember" all bring out the pain of Gomez's heartbreak.
Highlights on the album include "B.E.A.T.," a Dev-styled party anthem, "Stars Dance" which recalls Britney Spears and "Love Will Remember" which is an achingly personal breakup ballad written by Gomez.
The best song on the album is the opener "Birthday" which is a dance-pop song with hip-hop influences that starts the album off in a fun way.
The bonus tracks are more personal than the songs on the album. "Nobody Does It Like You" is a song on which Gomez sings about a love that's run it's course. "I can't go back to the way it was," she sings achingly.
"Music Feels Better" is a song about how music sounds better when with your lover. "Lover In Me" is about a lover bringing out Gomez's inner lover. "I Like It Like That" is a song about loving somebody despite their faults.
While most of the songs are good, some aren't as great as others. "Like A Champion" is like a bad Rihanna impression and "Undercover" is just there.
This album isn't as amazing as Gomez's last album with The Scene, but it's a pretty good record. It's fun and personal and while it sometimes lacks character, it more than makes up for that with it's emotional lyrics.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sara Bareilles Stays Constant On New Album

Sara Bareilles has never had a bad album. Each of her four records have been great, but they never cover new ground.
Her fourth record, The Blessed Unrest is no different. The album has the same blend of pop-rock and soul filled with piano and tons of melancholy lyrics to boot. While most of the songs stick to that theme some songs like "Little Black Dress" and the lead single "Brave" Bareilles steps up the tempo and makes fast, upbeat and inspirational songs.
Other songs like the quirky "Cassiopeia" or the piano-rock "Chasing the Sun" Bareilles gets back to her usual sound.
While most of the songs are good, some like the awkward "Satellite Call" or the boring "1000 Times" don't hold up next to the other great songs.
Some album highlights include the adorable love song "I Choose You," "Eden" and the closing ballads "Islands" and "December." The best song on the album is "Manhattan," a breakup ballad that is heartbreakingly honest.
Bareilles has proved with this record that she is capable of branching out, now if only she would do it more often. How many times can people buy the same record with no evolution?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ciara Releases Her Best Album

Last week Ciara dropped her self-titled fifth album. The album is a bumping, sexy R&B album with lyrics that exude confidence and sex appeal.
From the album's opening, the breakup anthem "I'm Out" which features killer raps from Nicki Minaj to the closer "Body Party Remix" which features Future and B.O.B.
The album's sexy side is shown on cuts like the banger "Sophomore" and the album's best song "Read My Lips" and the first single "Body Party" and it's remix. The lyrics show speak of the singer's sexual prowess and brag about how hot her body is.
"Keep On Lookin'" is an answer to all of the haters out there trying to keep Ciara down. After two failed albums the press tore Ciara apart when she didn't match the success of her first two albums.
"I done told you haters to fuck off/ But I’m still such a lady," Ciara sings during the second verse.
"Where You Go" is a duet with Ciara's real life boyfriend Future. One of the few slower songs on the album, the song features lyrics about the two being there for each other and going wherever the other goes.
"Super Turnt Up" is a thumping, electro song with lyrics about being in love with somebody. The song "features" Ciara, meaning that she raps on the song. "DUI" is about getting freaky while driving. "I might have to pull over," Ciara sings.
"Livin' It Up" features another appearance by Nicki Minaj and is one of the album's best songs. The 80s inspired, synth-filled song is an ode to feeling good and getting through the bad times. The song is an ode to confidence and Minaj's rap only adds to the message. "Overdose" is another synthpop song about a great lover, we clearly know who Ciara is talking about. The disc then ends with the remix to the single "Body Party." The new version has a faster beat and raps from Future and B.O.B which only improve on the original.
Ciara is definitely a great album and it's Ciara's opus. It gets her back to the greatness of her debut and it shows the world that Ciara isn't done just yet.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Skylar Grey Finally Finds Identity On New Album

Skylar Grey, formerly known as Holly Brook has had a rough time getting her career on track. When Brook released her first album, 2006's Like Blood Like Honey on the heels of being featured on Fort Minor's only hit "Where'd You Go." Her album went nowhere and Brook was largely forgotten.
Then in 2010 she was featured on "Coming Home" a single by Diddy's then group Diddy – Dirty Money and "I Need A Doctor," the underrated Dr. Dre comeback single. After being featured on songs by Lupe Fiasco and Kascade and writing Eminem's best song "Love The Way You Lie" which features Rihanna and Part II of the song which was on Rihanna's album Loud, Grey released her first singles "Dance Without You" and "Invisible." Both were dark and moody and gained her no attention and are not featured on her debut as Skylar Grey, Don't Look Down.
The album shows many sides of Grey. There's the Alanis Morissette side ("Religion" and "Pulse"), the P!nk side (first single "C'mon Let Me Ride") and then the Skylar Grey side.
Some of the album's best songs are second single "Final Warning" which is a violent breakup song and the first single, the Queen-sampling, Eminem-Featuring "C'mon Let Me Ride." The pop-rap song is one of the disc's few fun moments. Another highlight is the "You Oughta Know-lite" "Pulse." The song is about Grey's lover moving on to another girl.
One of the album's best moments is the Big Sean and Travis Barker assisted "Back From the Dead." The song is a hip hop and rock inspired ditty about an ex being dead to Grey. She also shines on her slow jams. "Tower (Don't Look Down)" starts out with pianos and leads into a rock inspired beat and the closer "White Suburban" is a sparse piano ballad.
While there are mostly good songs on the album, several of the cuts are neither here nor there. There is "Sunshine" which never goes anywhere and the awkward "Shit, Man!" which features Angel Haze and is about unplanned pregnancy.
Don't Look Down is a great album and it shows that Grey is a force to be reckoned with. While it probably won't be a success, it is a great record and shows Grey is really going places.

Jay-Z Finds "Holy Grail" On Twelfth Album

Jay-Z announced his twelfth album a few weeks ago and with no single released it in an exclusive deal with Samsung to release the album a few days before the actual release.
While his last album The Blueprint 3 was his best album, Magna Carta... Holy Grail isn't anywhere near as great.
The album doesn't have any bad songs, but some songs are better than others. The best songs on the album are "Holy Grail" which features Justin Timberlake, "Ocean" which features Frank Ocean and "FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt" which features Rick Ross.
Jay-Z's wife Beyoncé is featured on several songs including "Tom Ford," "BBC" and "Part II (On The Run)" which is meant to be a continuation of the song that started their love "'03 Bonnie & Clyde."
The album could use more guest appearances as Jay's solo songs tend to blend together. "Picasso Baby," "Somewhere in America" and "Heaven" are all great tracks and could very well be singles.
"BBC" and "Holy Grail." "BBC" features vocals by Nas, Swizz Beatz, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland and a funky beat. "Holy Grail" is an epic rap song. Timberlake's verse and choruses are about a backstabbing lover while Jay's verses are usual hip hop fare. The song, which features a sample of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana.
"Can't even take my daughter for a walk/ See em by the corner store, I feel like I'm cornered off/ Enough is enough,, I'm calling this off," Jay raps during the second verse. He's talking about the paparazzi and the stresses of fame. It's moments like this where we are let into the personal life of Jay-Z that work on this album.
The strange Mommie Dearest sample in "Jay Z Blue," a song about his daughter. While the sample at first seems weird and creepy, upon further listens it's clear that the sample is about irony. He won't let his daughter go down the route of abuse. He would never hurt her and he wants to be a good father. It's all about his insecurities as a new father.
All in all, Magna Carta... Holy Grail is a great album. It isn't the most groundbreaking album or the best rap album, but it shows that Jay-Z is a legend and isn't going anywhere.

Falling In Reverse Get Good

Falling In Reverse released their debut album The Drug in Me Is You in 2011. While those of you who read this blog know my feelings on that album, I'll make it short. There was only one good song ("Goodbye Graceful") and the rest were shitty and sing songy messes with self-centered lyrics and a similar sound to the entire disc.
Then in May the band announced their sophomore album Fashionably Late. It was preceded by the single "Alone" which at first I didn't like. The single grew on me and the second single and title track blew me away.
The album, out last month is far from perfect but it is a thousand times better than their debut. From the electro/rap/rock/metal of "Alone" to the catchy and heavy "Rolling Stone," the album is fun and catchy. Whether channeling Andrew W.K. ("Fuck The Rest") or Katy Perry ("Bad Girls Club") frontman Ronnie Radke can do it all. He gets heavy on tracks like "Champion" and "Self-Destruct Personality," Radke steps outside the box a lot on this record. From the hip-hop inspired "It's Over When It's Over" to the video game sampling "Game Over" Radke and co. have really stepped up their game. 
The album's best song is the poppy "Bad Girls Club" which sounds is part Katy Perry, party Avril Lavigne and part amazing. The song has heavy synths and a cheerleader breakdown. This song could get the band a huge hit. Radke even uses the song to speak out about his legal troubles.
"She called the cops and made it seem like I was mean/ She's not your average lady, She is fucking crazy/ Spelled C U N T," Radke sings before the chorus.
The album ends on a bad note however. The closing ballads are wishy washy. The piano-filled soft rock "Keep Holding On" and the country inspired "Drifter" are stupid. However the rest of the album is actually good. This album shows that Radke has come a long way after parting ways with Escape The Fate. This album may not be the best album of the year, but it is the album that shows the most improvement and straight up balls.

3Oh!3 Redeem Themselves On New Album

3Oh!3 released their sophomore album Want in 2008. The album gained them mainstream popularity and had some hit singles including "Don't Trust Me" and "Starstrukk" which features Katy Perry. While some of the songs on that record weren't the best, it was a great album that still sounds good now.
Then in 2010 the crunkcore duo released their third album Streets of Gold. This album featured the hit "My First Kiss" which features Ke$ha and is one of the album's best songs. While there were other good songs on the album, most of them were silly and not good.
Last month the duo released their fourth record Omens. While the songs aren't as bad as the songs on their last album, they are nowhere near as good as their sophomore release. Songs like "Black Hole" and "Eyes Closed" are fun rap songs, yet they lack the original spark of earlier songs like "Punkbitch" and "Photo Finish."
While there is some fun to be had on Omens, the truly great moments come on the disc's slower songs. "While "Make it Easy" isn't a ballad it starts out slow and features lyrics about making life easier. "Back to Life" which serves as the album's fourth single is a nice electrorock ballad that is about partying and a connection to music. "Youngblood" could be a song off of Ke$ha's latest record and that isn't a bad thing.
While the slow songs are great, the house influenced first single "You're Gonna Love This" and the rock number 'Two Girlfriends" are two of the best songs. Not every song is as good as the others. "Live for the Weekend" is a silly ode to partying.
"When I was little kid/ Dirt on the sneakers/ Used to blow out all my parents new speakers./ Never went to bed/ Never took a nap/I still do that, I still do that.," the duo sing before the chorus.
But that song is forgotten about when listening to the dubstep-as-fuck "Hungover" and third single "Do or Die."
This album is nowhere near as good as their earlier work, but it is still a great album and is sure to get the duo new fans. Omens may not be perfect, bit it definitely is a step up from their last record.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kelly Rowland Airs "Dirty Laundry" On Fourth Album

Former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland's first three albums were great. From the soul-rock of Simply Deep to the urban sounds of Ms. Kelly and the R&B and dance jams on Here I Am, Rowland ha always made great albums. The only issue with the albums in the past was Rowland's lack of writing on each record. While she wrote a few songs on each album, she rarely opened up and got personal.
On Talk a Good Game, Rowland's fourth disc she wrote every song with the exception of the first track, "Freak." Every song is personal and a piece of Rowland, the second single "Dirty Laundry" is more packed with emotional lyrics from personal experience than all three of her past albums. On that single Rowland opens up about an abusive relationship she was in and her relationship with bandmate and "sister" Beyoncé. The lyrics of the song are packed with passion and go along with a laundry theme.
"I was battered/ He hittin' the window like it was me, until it shattered/ He pulled me out, he said/ 'Don’t nobody love you but me/ Not your mama, not your daddy and especially not Bey'/ He turned me against my sister/ I missed ya," Rowland sings passionately during the third verse. That part of the song is particularly hard to listen to. A song with this much passion and honesty takes courage to write and release. This shows huge strength from Rowland and while there are no other songs as raw as "Dirty Laundry" although "Down on Love" and "I Remember" come close.
One of the standout tracks on the album is a collaboration with Beyoncé and Michelle Williams, Rowland's former bandmates, called "You Changed" The song has a great R&B rhythm and a verse each from Beyoncé and Williams.
Other highlights include "Freak" and "Kisses Down Low" which both pack a sexual punch. Another great track is the "Big Yellow Taxi" sampling "Gone" which features a guest appearance by Wiz Khalifa. The song is a breakup anthem that is sure to be a huge hit with the ladies.
While the album all but abandons the dance sounds featured on her last album, "I Remember" comes kind of close. Another highlight is the Pusha T assisted "Street Life" which showcases lyrics about the recession and gets a tad bit political.
While most of the songs are good some aren't up to par with the rest. "Red Wine" really doesn't go anywhere. It isn't a bad song, but it isn't as good as the rest of the songs on the record.
The album towards the end gets a tad bit repetitive and all of the songs sound the same, especially on the deluxe version. The songs are good, but the songs on the actual album are better.
The album is a great record and shows true growth for Rowland. This album will go down as her best record.