Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lily Allen Wears Too Many Crowns On Sheezus

Lily Allen has always made great music that sticks out from the crowd of over-manufactured pop tarts. On 2006's Alright, Still Allen mixed pop in with ska, reggae and hip hop. On 2009's It's Not Me, It's You Allen had forsaken all things dancehall for a synthpop outing with elements of country and jazz thrown in. Both albums had lyrics dealing with social commentary and family and romantic relationships.
On Sheezus, out earlier this month, Allen mixes in all those things into one album and it's not always the best thing.
From social commentary on the dubstep-filled "URL Badman" or the funky "Insincerely Yours" or married life on "As Long as I've Got You," Allen does good on these songs. Other songs that Allen pulls off with ease are the electropop first single "Hard out Here" and "Take My Place." The latter is the most emotional songs on the record, dealing with the miscarriage Allen suffered in 2008.
Some songs aren't as memorable as others. "Close Your Eyes" is a slow R&B song that is meant to sexy but it doesn't turn out successful. "Life for Me" is a silly song that is about married life, however Allen has done this song better on this album and this song comes off as redundant and annoying.
The two best songs on the record are the title track and second single "Air Balloon." The title track is a sarcastic pop song that deals with the world's obsession with pop divas.
"Ri Ri isn't scared of Katy Perry's roaring/ Queen B's gone back to the drawing/ Lorde smells blood yeah she's about to slay you/ Kid ain't one to fuck with but she's only on her debut/ We're all watching Gaga/ Lol oh ha ha/ Dying for the art so really she's a martyr/ Second place will never cut it for the divas/ Gimmie that crown bitch/ I wanna be Sheezus," Allen sings during the chorus.
The song references Kanye West's 2013 album Yeezus. "Air Balloon" is another synthpop song that has bubblegum pop influences and social commentary in it's lyrics.
This album is good, it's just weighed down by the many styles of music Allen attempts to pull off. Hopefully on her next one she'll cut down on the many different hats and truly become Sheezus.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brody Dalle Goes Solo

Rocker Brody Dalle is no stranger to the music industry. She fronted punk band The Distillers from 1998 to 2006 and released three albums and an EP with them and rock band Spinnerette from 2007 to 2010 releasing one album and one EP with them.  While The Distillers in my eyes were very overrated, Spinnerette was amazing. Both band's sounds shaped the sound for her solo debut Diploid Love.
The album has it's hard rocking moments that are more influenced by The Distillers and more polished like Spinnerette. Rockers like "Rat Race," "Dressed in Dreams" and third single "Don't Mess With Me" recall The Distillers but have Distillers undertones.
"Parties for Prostitutes," "Blood In Gutters" and "I Don't Need Your Love" would fit in nicely in a Spinnerette release.
The album's best song though is the first single "Meet the Foetus/ Oh the Joy." The song starts out with a very Spinnerette first half "Meet the Foetus" and then a very Distillers inspired second half "Oh the Joy." The song features background vocals by Garbage singer Shirley Manson. This is Dalle's best song out of he solo work and on all of the albums of band's past.
Other highlights include the synthpop inspired "Carry On" and "Underworld." The album has no bad  songs and Dalle would do well to keep too this formula for her next album.

Iggy Azalea Is Classic on Debut Album

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea's debut album The New Classic was released last month and it really is a classic. The album mixes in hip hop with elements of dance, reggae and trap music.
The album's best songs have been released as singles. "Work" was the album's first single. This song is very personal and deals with Azalea's rise to fame. Azalea came to Miami at the age of 16 to try her hand at modeling. It deals with her struggle to make it as well as her work ethic.
"I been up all night/ Tryna get that rich/ I've been work work work work workin' on my shit," Azalea sings during the chorus.
Third and fourth singles "Change Your Life" which features T.I. and "Fancy" which features Charli XCX are the album's two best songs. "Change Your Life" is a dance inspired song that deals with living the high life. This theme is carried over into "Fancy." The Charli XCX assisted song is a sassy bad bitch anthem that is currently blowing up radio speakers around the world. These two songs are the best because they are so fun and are sure to get parties started for a long time coming.
"Black Widow" is the album's upcoming fifth single. The song was co-written by Katy Perry and features British pop singer Rita Ora on the chorus. The song is a breakup anthem that is similar to Perry's hit "Dark Horse."
While the album is great, there are some songs that don't quite hold up next to the rest. "100" which features Watch The Duck is a silly hip hop anthem about keeping it real. "New Bitch" is a boring song that is about a new relationship. These songs could easily have been cut.
However Azalea makes up for it on bangers like "Goddess," Impossible is Nothing" and "Walk the Line." Other highlights include "Fuck Love" and "Lady Patra" which features reggae singer Mavado.
In a world where new rappers suck, Iggy Azalea is a breath of fresh air. The New Classic may not be perfect but it's most likely going to be one of the best hip hop albums of the year, if not the best.

Kelis Finds New Sound On New Album

Kelis has always been experimental. From the Neptunes produced rock/R&B/dance/hip hop hybrid of her first three albums to the hip hop inspired fourth record, Kelis Was Here,  Kelis always was outside the box. Then in 2010 Kelis released Flesh Tone which was a dance album that while it was good, was a step back for the singer.
On her sixth album Food, out last month, Kelis has a more throwback soul sound that mixes in rock and electronic elements. Gone is the aggression of her debut single and first hit "Caught Out There." Gone is the sexuality of her biggest hit "Milkshake" and the attitude of "Bossy."
The album starts with three of the album's best songs. "Breakfast" is a joyous love song that starts the album off right.
"So much of who we are/ Is who first taught us how to love," Kelis sings.
First single "Jerk Ribs" is a great track that is soulful with great percussion and a killer saxophone melody. Next is the album's best track "Forever Be." The song is also the poppiest on the record. It's catchy and Kelis' label would be foolish if this wasn't the next single off of her album.
The next song is a boring ballad "Floyd." This song has good vocals from Kelis and a good chorus but the song isn't as great as the previous three tracks. Kelis keeps things midtempo on "Runnin.'" The song is better and has very honest.
"How can I forget you/ You're never late/ You're always right there to my rescue," Kelis sings.
"Hooch" picks things up with a faster tempo and more danceable melody. This song is a highlight of the album. "Cobbler" is very similar keeping the up-tempo part going.
Next is another highlight. "Bless the Telephone" is an acoustic cover of a song by Labi Siffre. It's a duet with Sal Masekela who is the album's only featured artist. The song is soft and vulnerable, something Kelis rarely is.
"Friday Fish Fry" is up next. This up-tempo track has Kelis' most soulful vocals on the album. The song has a Western vibe to the instrumentation. "Change" is another low point of the album. The song is decent but doesn't stick out compared to the other songs.
Second single "Rumble" is another highlight. The song discusses her divorce from rapper Nas. The album hits another snag with "Biscuits n' Gravy." This song is a piano based ballad that is boring and starts out too slow and never really picks up. The album closes on a high point with "Dreamer." This song is a very graceful ballad. It's one of the best songs on the record and it is a great idea to close the album with this.
Kelis keeps changing her sound up and Food is no exception. Hopefully on her next album she keeps up the experimentation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Neon Trees Keep Getting Better

Neon Trees released their third album Pop Psychology last month and it comes as a new era for the band. Singer Tyler Glenn came out of the closet and has been writing more honestly than he ever has.
This record has no bad songs and is proof that Neon Trees are a force to be reckoned with. They continue along the path of their sound which features new wave, pop rock and indie rock.
The album's best songs are "Love in the 21st Century," second single "I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)" and third single "Voices in the Halls." The latter being a touching ballad that deals with a breakup.
"Text Me in the Morning" and "Teenager in Love" deal with love and youth and are both energetic and catchy. "Unavoidable" is a duet with drummer and vocalist Elaine Bradley in the vein of "Mad Love" off their last record. These songs are more fun and have cheeky lyrics. That is what Neon Trees are best at. Sassy lyrics that also pack emotion.
"I drew my name in lipstick on a mirror at your sister's house/ She told me I was strange, I told her, 'Thanks,' and kissed her on the mouth/ But you don’t go that way/ I thought you had a thing for fancy boys/ Looks can be deceiving," Glenn sings in the first verse.
"Sleeping with a Friend" and "Living in Another World." both deal with Glenn's homosexuality. "Sleeping with a Friend" which serves as the album's first single is a fun new wave song that Glenn says he wrote about having sex with a straight male friend. "Living in Another World" is a fun rock inspired song about living a double life.
"I guess I've always been this way/ It's been hard for me to say/ Close my eyes take me away," Glenn sings in the second verse.
The album closes on a high note with the autobiographical "First Things Fist." This song serves as the fourth single and is a song that has influences of synthpop and gospel. The song deals with Glenn's trip to LA with guitarist Christopher Allen.
The only song that isn't as good as the others is "Foolish Behavior." This song is very boring and doesn't stick out like the rest do. Even with this minor hiccup this album is one of Neon Trees best albums and shows that they are great musicians.

Breathe Carolina Keep It Tame On New Album

Breathe Carolina released their fourth record Savages last month and it's pretty tame compared to past albums. The songs on their last album Hell Is What You Make It had a passion to them that made that their best record. That album yielded their one hit single "Blackout."
After losing founding member and unclean vocalist Kyle Even lesser bands would have called it quits. However the band didn't replace Even and this album is almost devoid of their previous post-hardcore influences on their first three albums.
The album starts out with the four best songs on the record. "Bury Me" is a dance pop song that is packed with attitude and meant to be sung with a middle finger in the air.
"Fuck repercussions/ They don't mean shit to me," singer David Schmitt sings during the pre chorus.
"Bang it Out" features Karmin and is a fun dance number that is sure to be a hit. "Sellouts" which features Asking Alexandria singer Danny Warsnop is the lone post-hardcore inspired song. It deals with success and how some fans have been hating and calling them sellouts. The band applaud their fans who have stuck by them.
"You're fascinated with the old me/ and how you hate it when we don't scream/ You're stuck in the past and I'm not looking back/ I didn't do it just to make you happy/ I do it for the ones still clapping/ You're stuck on the fence and I'm over it," Schmitt sings during the first verse.
"Shots Fired" is a straight up pop song that sounds like it could be off their previous album. It deals with the betrayal the band felt when Even left.
After that the rest of the record is hit or miss. The acoustic laced "Please Don't Say" to the excellent title track to the chill "Chasing Hearts" which features Tyler Carter of Issues are all great songs. However when mixed in with songs like "Shadows," "Collide" or "I Don't Know What I'm Doing" that aren't that great it makes the listener not stray past the beginning of the album. While these songs aren't bad, they just aren't as memorable. If they came on shuffle on an iPod you might listen to them but you wouldn't really go out in search of them to listen to.
Savages has it's great moments and it shows that Breathe Carolina aren't going anywhere and they can survive adversity and still make good music.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Betty Who Reaches for Greatness on New EP

Betty Who is pop's new it girl. The singer's first EP The Movement provided Betty Who with her best song "Somebody Loves You." This is her best song and of the best songs of the past year. The singer achieved success and got mainstream attention. Her music has been used in commercials and television shows and she's gotten a ton of press. Her music is 80's worshiping dance pop that brings to mind Katy Perry and especially Robyn.
Betty Who released her second EP last month, Slow Dancing.  The EP opens with the magical first single "Heartbreak Dream. The breakup ballad is a touching and fun song that is sure too have people dancing. This song is the best song on the EP and one of Who's best songs.
"In a moment/ You were everything to me/ In this moment/ We're living in a heartbreak dream," Who sings gorgeously during the chorus.
The EP's next song is "Alone Again." This song is a midtempo song that in which Who tells her lover that he'll never be alone again. The song's guitar solo is a nice touch that makes the song stand out form her other music.
"Giving Me Away." is the next track and it picks up the pace a little. The song is an honest look at a love affair and is packed with emotion. Who is good at having a dance inspired song, but making you feel something. This EP showcases her vulnerability and that's what so endearing about her .
"Lovin' Start" is a soulful song that is a nice change of pace from the other songs on the EP. It's good to see that Who can experiment with different genres and styles. While this isn't the strongest song on the EP, it's still enjoyable.
"Silas" the final song on the album is a delicate song that is just beautiful. The acoustic song is a gorgeous ballad that tells a story of love. The song is about taking a chance on love and waiting for a lover..
"I'm hopelessly romantic/ Hopefully he can stand it," Who sings.
The song is one of the best songs Who has written thus far. Hopefully she'll have more acoustic moments on her future releases.
This EP is better than her first and goes to show that Who is a force to be watched in the pop world.

Punk Goes 90's Volume 2 is Hit or Miss

Punk Goes 90's Vol. 2 is the second Punk Goes 90's album and the fifteenth album in the Punk Goes... album series. While most of the covers lately have been metalcore and post-hardcore in lieu of punk bands.
While there are some good songs on this album, a lot of them aren't good. Let's start with the good. Get Scared's take on Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" is one of the best songs on the record and is a great cover that is true to the original and Asking Alexandra's cover of Nine Inch Nail's "Closer" is very loyal to the original version. Both of these songs are great and their covers are almost as amazing. Another song that works well is the strangely good cover of Smash Mouth's "All Star" by Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!. A hardcore cover of this song shouldn't be as great as it is, but it is. Foo Fighters' amazing song "Everlong" is given new life by The Color Morale.
The album's best cover is Ice Nine Kills' cover of "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day. The band keep up the acoustic sound but incorporate a more upbeat pop-punk approach. Another album highlight is Hands Like Houses soulful cover of Natalie Imbruglia's cover of "Torn" by Ednaswap.
Now onto the bad songs. Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song" is given a boring cover by Memphis May Fire. The Ghost Inside's cover of "Southtown" by P.O.D. is just bad and a very big miss. Yellowcard perform a boring cover of "Today" by The Smashing Pumpkins and Motionless in White fuck up "Du hast" by Rammstein. Mayday Parade do nothing special to Bush's "Comedown."
Howeever by far the worst cover is Falling in Reverse covering Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise." This cover is so bad. There are no words to express how bad. The breakdowns are the most pointless part. They could easily have gotten rid of that and just kept it hip hop.
This compilation may have been the nail in the coffin of the Punk Goes... compilations. Each album gets worse and has more cheesy songs.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lacuna Coil Lose Their Steam On New Album

Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil's seventh album Broken Crown Halo was released last month and it starts out strong, but eventually the album ends on a rough patch.
The first 6 songs are the strongest on the disc. From the opening two tracks first single "Nothing Stands in Our Way" and "Zombie" this gothic metal band start off on the right foot. These songs are heavy and catchy and fun. They feature something that isn't usually found on Lacuna Coil songs as of late, harsh vocals. Male vocalist Andrea Ferro screams while female vocalist Cristina Scabbia sings gorgeously.
The album's next two songs "Hostage to the Light" and "Victims" keep the rocking vibe going and are solid Lacuna Coil songs. They are aggressive and catchy and melodic. They go greatly into the next two songs, second and third singles "Die & Rise" and "I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name)."
The latter is by far the best song on this record and lyrically deal with moving on from betrayal. "I forgive the ones who hurt me/ But I'll not forget your name," Scabbia sings with attitude during the chorus.
The next song "Cybersleep" is very boring and could be taken off the record. "Infection" steers the album back to being good. However next is "I Burn in You." This song is decent but it's forgettable. The only redeeming quality is the harsh vocals halfway through from Ferro. The next song is "In the End I Feel Alive." This song is a fun and aggressive song that is a good song, but not better than anything the band have done.
By the final song, the listener is bored by the album's second boring half. Even the good songs here aren't as good as the first 6. "One Cold Day" is a slow burning song that is a tribute to loved ones who have passed on. The song is touching but it's boring and cliché.
While this record is decent, it's not as good as the band's last and best record Dark Adrenaline. It would be much better for the band to have released an EP with the first 6 songs and not a whole record. It shows that Lacuna Coil can still write good songs though and that's a quality a band never wants to lose.

The Used Release Worst Album

Last month emo kings The Used released their worst album, Imaginary Enemy. While it's a good album, the rest of the previous records were great and this album is a let down.
The record shows little experimentation and growth. On the lead single "Cry" the band stick to their childish lyrics.
"I'm gonna make you bleed just a little bit/ I'm gonna make you pay just for making me cry," singer Bert McCracken sings on the chorus of this rocker. While it's a good song, it's not as good as the band's older music.
One thing that is a turn off is the band's political lyrics. On songs like "Revolution" and "El-Oh-Vee-Ee" the band successfully have a political undertone to their lyrics. Other songs like "Generation Throwaway" and the title track come off as too preachy. The last thing people want from the used is political music.
The most cheesy song on the record is also the most political, "Kenna Song." It's a cliché slow jam that is an attempted rallying cry for change.
When looked at compared to the band's best album Lies for the Liars this record looks worse than it is. But compared to Artwork or Vulnerable it isn't as bad. The Used would do better to stay away from political songs and just keep it the way they usually do.