Monday, October 29, 2012
I was hanging out with my friend, Jeff (aka The New Jan Brady), yesterday and some '90s alternative ballad came on Muzak while we were eating lunch. We both groaned when we recognized the song but then admitted that there were, in fact, songs like that on our iPods. They're not bad songs; they just don't have that special quality that makes them timeless or even likeable outside of anywhere but your dentist's office waiting room or an infomercial for Time-Life's Best Love Songs of All Time CD collection.
I told him I just heard a song that reminded me of such. Yet somehow the song has already crept into my Top 100 most played on iTunes. Le sigh. Kingsfoil is from Pennsylvania and their tune "Grapevine Valentine" is definitely easy on the ears. Will I be singing it next year and remember it fondly? Or groan the second it comes on? That's hard to say, but one thing's for certain: Malcolm from "Malcom In the Middle" is now in a band.
Now this is what I call disco! If you're going to throwback to any genre at least do it right and do it well. Vinnie Who (aka Niels Bagge from Copenhagen) does both. Also check out this great remix by Mitch D.
Vinnie Who - How Can I Be Sure
Earlier this year British scientists claimed they found the most relaxing song ever. In fact they found the top 10 most relaxing songs ever. The top spot was by Manchester band Marconi Union for their song "Weightless." They used specific rhythms, tones and frequencies to cause "the brainwaves and heart rate to synchronise with the rhythm: a process known as ‘entrainment’." Other acts on the list seemed obvious -- Enya, Mozart -- but some were downright head scratchers: Coldplay? All Saints? WTF? It's an interesting mix.
I'm not sure if "Wings," the debut song from mysterious band (and bad spellers) HAERTS, was a song they listened to. I doubt it since it's brand new but I would argue that it would have a sporting chance of making the list. (Trust me, I'm a doctor.) "Wings" is appropriately titled because is absolutely soars. It's an exquisite piece of music making. There's definitely a touch of All Saints throughout the song, but also a bit of Moby, Susanna Hoffs, and Goldie Hawn on "Laugh-In."
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The stalwart UK publication The Guardian recently mentioned VIMES in their article on the current German music scene, which is a pretty big deal considering the duo is currently recording their debut album and their first single isn't officially released until November 2. But it's not hard to know when you've got something special, and VIMES represents Germany in October's Music Alliance Pact with the aforementioned gorgeous debut single "UpStairs." It's all kinds of electronic-pop goodness, with just a touch of sadness. You can listen to it, and even download it for free, below:
Sunday, October 21, 2012
When my bestie Daniel and I first saw Diamond Rings in San Francisco a couple years ago, he looked straight out of a gay pride-themed American Apparel ad. He stood alone on stage in front of a moderately sized crowd dressed in gold lamé pants, a florescent windbreaker, and makeup galore. Just before he started playing he unrolled a bed sheet attached to the keyboard stand to reveal a unicorn surrounded by a rainbow. In that moment we understood exactly what this guy was all about and, needless to say, the concert was amazing. Since then we've tried to see him every time he breezes through town. (He's headlining a show at Popscene on November 8.) Everything from his '80s-inspired new wave sounds to his awkward yet endearing on-stage dance moves makes Diamond Rings an obvious candidate for Coolest Artist of the 2010s. His new album Free Dimensional is out October 22 and it's sensational. Check out "Put Me On" below.
tags: diamond rings
Friday, October 19, 2012
Have you been acquainted with The Zolas yet? Well, let me introduce you. They're a pair of guys -- Zach Gray and Tom Dobrzanski -- from Canada. They used to be part of the band Lotus Chil and released their debut album, Tic Toc Tic, as The Zolas in 2010. You got that? Good. Now they're on to their second album called Ancient Mars from which "Knot in My Heart" is taken. It almost cracked the Top 40 of the Canadian Alternative charts but clearly it should have been #1.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
It's clear from the opening song of Sky Ferreira's new EP Ghost that she's trying to go a different route. Though a full-length album has yet to materialize, Sky has released a handful of singles and three EPs in the last two years. Her wonderful debut single, "One," produced by Bloodshy & Avant, garnered critical praise but failed to burn up the charts. Now on Ghost she's showing another side and aiming to reinvent herself from a edgy pop star to a softer, well-rounded chanteuse. "Sad Dream" is much more twangy and, dare we say, country than anything she's released to date. As is the title song. That's not to say that the edgier sounds are lacking, as on the first single "Everything is Embarrassing" and "Lost in My Bedroom." But the surprising thing is it's "Sad Dream" and "Ghost" that work best. And on "Sad Dream," she knocks it out of the park.
Sky Ferreira - Sad Dream
Sunday, October 14, 2012
You have to give Solange Knowles credit. Her sister is a superstar but Solange has carved out a nice place for herself as a respected, alternative pop star. She's not out to duplicate or ride the coattails of Beyonce's success, nor is she as prolific as Beyonce. The last time Solange released an album was in 2008 -- the excellent Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams. She's back with a new single, "Losing You" b/w "Sleep in the Park," and signed to independent label Terrible Records. "Losing You," produced by Blood Orange, is garnering a lot of positive critical buzz. It's a subtle, understated vocal arrangement backed by a drum machine and a rather odd bird cackle-like sound. But it works. There's no release date set for Solange's third album.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Two days ago it was really gloomy and gray in San Francisco. Listening to MS MR's "Hurricane" was the perfect way to while away the day. Now that it's sunny again, and it's supposed to be 82 tomorrow, "Hurricane" is still the perfect way to while away the day. It's a stunning depiction of inner turmoil and self-pity. Maudlin, mawkish and Instantly relatable. Plus their seizure-inducing video with a blitz of pop culture references is amazing.
tags: MS MR
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Le Roi Crocodile is brand spankin' new. How new? Dude launched his Facebook page only a few weeks ago and it has only 12 likes. But his tune "Youth Decay," one of two songs on his Soundcloud, has racked up an impressive 1,200 plays in only a month. Hearing it once it's easy to understand why.
tags: le roi crocodile
Last year I had the opportunity to meet and hang with New Zealand duo Kids of 88 when they came through San Francisco. Their debut album Sugar Pills was filled to the brim with hard, yet easily accessible, dance beats, and melodies galore. I've been anxiously awaiting their sophomore album, Modern Love, which has just been released. These boys are not to be pigeonholed. While there's a smattering of dance beats the whole thing is a much more somber and subdued affair. On one hand I applaud Kids for taking risks. On the other, the melodies don't quite match those found on Sugar Pills. Take a listen to "Feel the Love" below.
tags: kids of 88
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
sometimes you don't know what you need until you got it. i thought i was in an indie rock mood today but none of the new music i loaded on my iPod was doing it for me. so i gave whigfield's new album a shot and bingo! just what i needed. who knew a little eurodance could go a long way? i first became acquainted with whigfield when many others did, in 1994, when she (sannie carlson) released her worldwide smash "saturday night." but she's been busy ever since. her newest release, W, features eight pop confectionery delights including "behind the sun." check it out below.
Friday, October 5, 2012
i was digging through music i had yet to listen to when i found will and the people. one look at the u.k. lads and you might be thinking: indie rock with punk influences. that might be true of some of the tunes on their eponymous debut album, but not so with "the game." it's alternative, yes, and indie, but it's a somber affair. if it were really a board game, it might be trouble. (pop-o-matic trouble, if you're nasty.)
tags: will and the people
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
sometimes dream pop is just way too ethereal for my taste. and pretentious. i'll see bands perform or hear their album and think: we get it, you're all delicate and shit. if you were a food (by-)product you'd be pinkberry yogurt: full of swirly goodness. now play something i can dance to. but there are always exception to the rules, especially when i'm writing the playbook. and in this case sun airway passes the test of exceptional dream pop. sun airway is actually one guy, i think, from philadelphia, and he just released his second album soft fall today. it's wonderful, even the instrumental tracks. check out the title track and another tune, "over my head," below.
Sun Airway - Soft Fall
tags: sun airway
Any song that opens with such a moody organ has got to be good. CALLmeKAT's "Dead of Winter," is chock-full (I almost wrote cock-full. Suck on that, Freud!) of haunting majesty. CALLmeKAT, as you probably guessed, is a stage name. The Copenhagen chick attached to that moniker is Katrine Ottosen. "Dead of Winter" comes from her first internationally released album, Where the River Turns Black, which is out now. Just don't call her Dog. (I'm here all week, folks!)
Monday, October 1, 2012
The end is nigh. I'm blogging about Ke$ha. This is truly a sad day for us all, especially for me. But alas, I cannot deny that I thoroughly enjoy her new single "Die Young." It's a great pop song with a really strong hook. That said, let me make it very clear that I am not blogging about Ke$ha simply because it's Ke$ha. I have much more respect for you, my readers, than to insult you with a Ke$ha song just because. And my opinion of her has not changed. She is still, in my estimation, one of the worst singers to grace Top 40 pop music in the last two decades. Her speak-singing is atrocious and she's auto-tuned to death. She's also thoroughly uninspired. I'd almost rather be a Republican. But damn it all to hell "Die Young" is addictive. Le sigh.