Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lea Michele Gets Louder On Debut Album

Glee star Lea Michele released her debut album this month and it's a great record. Louder is a pure pop album, with a more theatrical delivery. The singer got her start on Broadway and that shows on this record.
The album's music mixes in pop, dance, rock and even moments of dubstep on it's 11 songs. The album deals lyrically with her relationship with her late Glee co-star Cory Monteith, who was dating Michele during the recording of this record up until his death last July.
The best song on the album is actually a tie between two songs. "On My Way" is a song that is just on the brink of dubstep and deals with going back to somebody who is bad for you. This song deals with a theme that appears constantly on this record. The other best song on the record is "Battlefield." This song is just Michele and the piano and it's a somber emotional song about the end of a relationship. Michele's voice is gorgeous and haunting on this song. It clearly deals with her relationship with Monteith.
Other highlights include the single "Cannonball" which deals with standing up after getting knocked down and "Burn With You" "Louder" is a dance number that would make Britney Spears jealous. It deals with overcoming obstacles and having fun.
"Empty Handed" is a soft-rock song that sounds like a good version of Christina Perri, who co-wrote the song. Another highlight is the closing song, the ballad "If You Say So." This song, written by Michele about Monteith's death. This song is by far the most emotional and real song on this record. It deals with the pain and heartbreak of losing a lover to drugs.
"It's been seven whole days/ Without your embrace/ I want to see your face/ I got some things to say/ Was just a week ago/ You said, "I love you girl."/ I said, "I love you more"/Then a breath, a pause, you said,/ If you say so," Michele sings during the chorus.
While all of the songs are good, some aren't as good as others. "You're Mine" is a strange Broadway show inspired track that could be done without. "Thousand Needles" is far too dramatic and comes off as annoying. "Cue the Rain" is also a tad overdramatic but not as bad as some of the other songs. "Don't Let Go" is a fun dance number, but it isn't done as well as "Louder" or "On My Way." It isn't bad, but it isn't as memorable as the others.
Lea Michele isn't likely to have huge success with this record. That being said the good out ways the bad and Louder is one of the best album's of the year so far.

Ashanti Releases Decent Album

Ashanti has never been the best R&B singer. Her first two albums were full of filler, her third record was great and then her fourth had a lot of filler again. BraveHeart was finally released after three years of being pushed back. While the record is decent, it's not worth the three year wait.
The original first single "The Woman You Love" featured Busta Rhymes and was a fantastic R&B song. However that single isn't featured here and it's better than any of the songs. The new first single "Never Should Have" is a soulful, emotional ride that had traditional R&B instrumentation. The second single "I Got It" features Rick Ross and is a hip hop influenced track that is a catchy way to introduce the record.
The best song on this record is "First Real Love" featuring reggae singer Beenie Man. This song is a great reggae inspired track that could have been huge in 2003. The song likely won't go anywhere but it's experimental and Ashanti's vocals sound great.
Other highlights include "Count" which was inspired by hip hop, "She Can't" which is classic Ashanti and "Don't Tell Me No."
"Early in the Morning" features Future and is a waste of four minutes. "Scars" is a decent song but it's far too long. "Love Games" which features Jeremih of "Birthday Sex" fame and is stupid.
Ashanti's vocals got a lot better with this album. For her earlier music she didn't sing that great but now her voice is better. You can really hear the soul in her vocals and she makes you feel what she's feeling.
Ashanti has had a great career with some great songs, but her albums were never that great. This record is more cohesive than her previous albums. That isn't hard though. This does show however that Ashanti has still got it.

Issues Release Weird Debut Album

Metalcore band Issues released their self-titled debut album last month and it's pretty odd. The album mixes in metalcore with R&B, hip hop, pop and nu-metal. While this is a tad strange it does work in most cases.
The album opens with two of the most soulful songs. "Sad Ghost" and "Mad at Myself." The latter features a chorus that could have been left off of an old Backstreet Boys record. The soulful clean vocals sung by Tyler Carter are the highlight of the album.
The album's best song is the second single "Never Lose Your Flame." The song is a mostly sung by Carter and features little harsh vocals from Michael Bohn. This is the best idea the band could have. Carter's vocals are so perfect they don't even need an unclean vocalist.
The lyrics are also what make this song so great.
"I hope you make peace with your pain/ And never lose your flames," the duo sing/scream during the chorus. The song is uplifting and touching.
However some of these song are stupid and unnecessary. "Life of a Nine" is a hip hop mistake with silly rapping. "Late" is a dance-laced number that could have been left off the record.
However there's some great songs on the record as well. First single "Stingray Affliction" is a catchy hip hop anthem that tackles haters. "Tears on the Runway, Pt. 2" which features Nylo, a dance singer whose female vocals are great on the song. Issues would do well to feature women on future songs. However, there is no part one so the song title makes no sense.
Issues is a decent debut album to introduce the band. This record for all it's faults is still experimental and does more forward thinking than most metalcore bands.

The Dollyrots Release Catchy New Album

Pop-punk band The Dollyrots rose to fame  in 2007 with their sophomore album Because I'm Awesome. The band, with the backing of Joan Jett's Blackheart Records got lots of exposure with their music used in television shows such as The Simple Life, Ugly Betty and Greek. This is largely due to front woman Kelly Ogden's kick ass personality. Part Gwen Stefani, part Joan Jett, Ogden is a mix of punk and pop.
The title track which served as their first single and is the band's best song serves as the template for the band's current sound. Catchy music mixed with tongue-in-cheek lyricism. This sound is present on their fifth record Barefoot and Pregnant.
The best song on the album and a close second as their best song is the catchy and adorable "Stupidly in Love." The song is a soundtrack of the love affair with Luis Cabezas with whom Ogden just had a child with last year.
While some of the songs on the album are silly and sound too similar, there are some great songs on this album. From the frenemy bashing "Worstie" to the punk-as-fuck title track to "Angel in Snow" some of the songs are great.
Other highlights include "Under the Same Sky," "Come and Get It" and "Puppy Dog Eyes." "First World Anarchist" is a silly ode to rebellion that is both great and ridiculous at the same. The lyrics get a little stupid. "No shirt, no shoes/ Give me service" just take the cake. Ogden also discusses wearing white after Labor Day and washing her face with body wash.
Some songs just don't hold up next to the others. "Get Weird" and "Homecoming" aren't the best but they aren't bad either.
The Dollyrots prove with this record that after a few albums of boring material, they can come back and bring the spunk back into their career.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

We Are the In Crowd Release Hit and Miss Sophomore Album

Pop-punk band We Are the in Crowd have always made great catchy music. Their dual vocal approach shows both sides of the story. The band released their sophomore record Weird Kids last month. The album doesn't hold a candle to their best release, 2010's Guaranteed to Disagree EP. Their debut full length Best Intentions followed the next year and while it wasn't as good as their EP almost every song on it was good and a few great numbers were mixed in.
Weird Kids starts off on a strong note with two of the albums best songs, "Long Live the Kids" and the albums second single and their best song ever "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)." Both these songs are energetic and well written.
Then the band has two songs that aren't that great. "Manners" and "Come Back Home" are forgettable and lack the same spark that the band usually shows. The band return to greatness with their first single "Attention."
"We're all just weird kids in the end," singers Tay Jardine and Jordan Eckes sing during the chorus.
The album continues on the track of greatness with the next two tracks "Dreaming Out Loud" and "Remember ( To Forget You)." 
The album gets emotional on the next two tracks. "Don't You Worry" is a song written for Jardine's teenage sister and "Windows in Heaven" is written in tribute to Jardine's late father.
The album closes on a high note with "Reflections." This fast-paced pop-punk closer recalls "Better Luck Next Time" off their last record.
While Weird Kids isn't the band's best release, it is pretty close to being as good as their EP and their debut album. Hopefully We Are the In Crowd keep making catchy and fun pop-punk for a long time to come.

Abandon All Ships Stay the Same on New Album

Abandon All Ships released their third album Malocchio last month and it's sound is identical to their previous records. That being said the band have improved upon their songs and this record is better than their sophomore record Infamous.
The band have been known to mix metalcore with trance, house, dubstep and other EDM styles in addition to hip hop. The band's vocalists Martin Broda who does cleans and Angelo Aita who does unclean vocals bring the songs to life with the help of the rest of the band.
The band mix in dance influences well on songs like first single "Reefer Madness," Alive" which features dance outfit Astrokrat and "Paradise" which closes the album in a song that is part aggression, part emotion.
The album's two best songs are the second single "Cowboys" and the title track. "Cowboys" starts off aggressive with Aita screaming and then mixes in a great clean chorus. The title track is an aggressive song that has melodic moments. Malocchio means evil eye in Italian.
"I look around and all I see are evil eyes surrounding me," Broda sings during the chorus.
These songs are what makes Abandon All Ships great. This album reminds us that the band write great songs.
While Malocchio isn't better than their debut album Geeving, it does come close. Here's to hoping that Abandon All Ships just get better.