Category Archives: pop

The Elephant in the Room: The Collective and The Individual

Remember a while ago when I made that post about supporting bands that you love and believe in? Tonight’s review is a direct result of that KickStarter that I supported – and proof that it counts for something!

Through a KickStarter program,cover The Elephant In The Room were successfully able to fund the manifestation of their debut album, produced by Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter. The result of a lot of hard work is an eleven-track disc that will leave you reeling when when you realize this is their debut CD.

The Collective and The Individual  begins with Left In The Dark, a song that instantly reminded me of The Mars Volta. The guitar work is so on point in this song, it will blow your mind.  Besides the beginning that left me with chill bumps, there’s a great breakdown with about a minute left in the song that deserves a cheer on its own.

Monsters follows this powerful first track with plenty of steam. The rhythm of this song reminds me of early AFI mixed with with The Mars Volta and that’s a mix I’ve never considered before this song. The vocals and the guitar heavily play off each other in this jam, each growing more and more frantic with energy until the chorus hits and breaks the spell.

Ghosts stands as my favorite song on the record. The guitar work has such a bouncy feel to it until the chorus comes down and then it’s time for everyone to jam together. I’ll walk through walls and I’ll talk to you in your sleep. I’ll keep you cold when the sun’s beating on your face. I’ll make you believe when I’m a ghost. The breakdown and subsequent group sing-along near the end practically makes me giddy. This is a jam you’re not going to be able to listen to on low volume. Trust me and go ahead and turn it up before it even comes on.

What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You is a close second for favorite song on the album. This one stays at a faster tempo the whole way through, differing from the songs directly encasing it and keeping things interesting. The bass guitar is the real spotlight of this song, coming on strong, keeping everything glued together and allowing itself some time to shine.

The beginning fifteen seconds of Never Believe What You’re Told is some of the best musical work I’ve heard from any album this year. Don’t get me wrong – the song itself is strong, but those first fifteen seconds. Unbelievable.

I’m particularly interested in the last track on the album. We Will Meet Again closes the album out in more than one way. It begins very slow, almost muted and hushed, almost like it’s hiding behind a curtain, with a barely-there pick up. The vocals are almost chant-like in nature which is almost thrown off balance by the obvious rock music tones in the background. Almost.

Self-professed progressive rock meets enjoyable pop, The Elephant in the Room comes out strong on their debut album. When I donated to their KickStarter campaign after a chance Tweet they sent me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was so blown away with what they were producing before, I knew they deserved a chance to show what they really are made of. I eagerly awaited the KickStarter progress reports, and a few days ago when I received the album download link, I felt like Christmas had come early. This album truly is a great one, and one I will be listening to for a while. Do yourself a favor and take a peek.

Keep up with the band as they celebrate the release of the record and see what they’ll be up to in the months to come on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to hear this record (and believe me, you do) you can stream the album here and buy the album when it’s officially released tomorrow (October 29, 2013)! and stay tuned for an interview with the band.

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Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2)

Well. Justin Timberlake, you go years and years without any new music and then you open the flood gates on me.Justin Timberlake - The 20-20 Experience 2 Of 2 Album Download

The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) begins with the funky beats of Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want). I’m on the fence about this song already and it’s only the first listen. There’s a lot of jungle, animal, etc references and an exuberant amount of Timbaland-style beats going on. It may be too much. Or this may just be my first listen response. I can say the actual animal sounds are taking it a bit too far – I’m here to listen to JT, not monkeys and lions, I mean really.

The first song on the album I actually like is TKO, the second single to be released from this half of the 20/20 Experience. This song tones down the experimental sounds a bit (just a bit, though) and does have an interesting beat. I would still be a-okay with a few less weird sounds going on in the background. Is this Justin’s Yeezus? Could be.

Murder has a great beat that I’m really digging and a great cameo from Jay Z. And if the lyrics are about Jessica Biel, well, congratulations, honey.

Drink You Away is so far away from the level of the six songs before it that I actually checked my iTunes to make sure I was still on the right album. This song has a definite bluesy country feel…and it doesn’t fit in at all.

Amnesia is a song I can fully get on board with. Vocals and background music are strong enough in this song that neither is overpowering. The emphasis is on Justin’s voice for once on this album and that was a much needed transition. The beat on this song is to die for and I’d say this song will end up being my favorite on the record.

I almost can’t handle how much I love Not A Bad Thing. The lyrics almost made me throw up they’re so cute, but I love it a little more every second.

So. It seems like the album picked up after Murder and stayed strong all the way through the end (including the seemingly random, so far unnamed Pair-of-Wings acoustic song that’s tacked onto the end of Not A Bad Thing). Do I like it better than Part 1? No. It may grow on me, though, cause it did take me a few listens to accept Part 1. It just doesn’t seem like the cohesive unit that Part 1 manages to be. I love Justin, and I always will, I’m just side eyeing him a little bit on this half.

 

Key Tracks
Amnesia (track 9)
Not A Bad Thing (track 11)
Murder (track 6)

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5 Songs I Can’t Get Enough Of

1. Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood

This song has been on repeat since I discovered it. I literally cannot play this enough. At home, in the car, at work, in the shower. I love all versions of this song. It’s a slow, seductive beat with just a slight bounce in its step. It’s soft enough to jam to if you’re feeling mellow, but there’s enough to the song that you can sing it at the top of your lungs if you’re feeling it (which I usually am). I love the whole album (I Love You), but this track has stuck out to me since day one.

2. Chocolate by the 1975

Upbeat and poppy, this song brings some beautiful English blokes to the forefront. I’m going to be honest – most of the time I have no idea what the lyrics actually are (even after Googling them),  but you better believe I still sing along in a slurred, lisp-ish kind of way. This jam reminds me of what Oasis would be if they were thrown into a blender with some obnoxious bubble gum pop and what resulted was the best smoothie you’ve ever tasted. I’m anxiously awaiting their newest album.

3. Explode by Patrick Stump

When FOB went on their hiatus, I was angry and resentful, so I mostly ignored all of the members for a good time. That included the time period when Patrick Stump went solo. Spotify recommended the album to me a few days ago after I’d been listening to some questionable tunes and some Fall Out Boy and I gave the album a listen and this song nearly made me fall out of my chair I was dancing so much. The rest of the album is all right (Patrick, you’re better with the band) but dude, this song blows the roof off of the building.

4. The Mother We Share by CHVRCHES

I know this is total hipster stuff, but really, this jam is hard to shy away from. There are some sick beats happening and then this slightly Ellie Goulding-ish vocal comes in and all hope is lost for you resisting this jam. I usually don’t like music like this, but something about this song is too catchy for its own good.

5. Electric Feel by MGMT

I always freak out when this song comes on Pandora when I’m in the shower and I never actually listened to MGMT in excess until a few days ago. This is the one song I keep coming back to, though. When I’m not listening to it, I’m thinking about it. When I’m not thinking about it, I’m listening to it. This is a perfect song to turn on at 4:56 when you need that little extra boost to get through your work day. You’ll be lost in the solar beats and and soothed by the gentle rocking motion until you’re ready to walk out that door in peace after a long day. Seriously, I love this band.

I have these songs on a playlist to themselves on Spotify and I just listen to them over and over again at work. You’d think I would get sick of em, but they’re just that good.

What song(s) can you not get enough of right now?

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Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience

Ladies and gentlemen, Justin Timberlake is back – and so am I.

It’s no secret that I’m an absolute sucker for some good pop music. I loved the boy bands and bubblegum pop of the 90s – and I still do, if we’re being really honest. Even though I was first and foremost a Backstreet fan, I enjoyed me some *NSYNC. When Justin Timberlake broke out and started doing solo records, I didn’t know whether I should be offended or excited (Lance Bass was always my favorite). Eventually, I gave in to the sweet chords of Cry Me a River. You know when the last JT record was out? I was a junior in high school. Now I’m nearly two years out of college. Thanks, JT. Thanks a lot.jt

The album starts out with the smooth crooning of Pusher Love Girl – a song I was initially very skeptical of when I saw it performed live in Jimmy Fallon (anyone else watch Timberweek?). Now that I’ve listened to the album, I am absolutely hooked on this song. Nothing is better than Justin’s sweet vocals slipping like caramel over a slow jazz-oriented beat. This song is liquid gold and you won’t be able to resist it.

I can’t seem to resist the sweet talking Strawberry Bubblegum. I know, I know. The song is titled Strawberry Bubblegum and there’s mention of blueberry lollipops and flavors and all. But Justin Timberlake is singing so beautifully and this song rocks almost like something you’d hear in the ballroom of a sea-themed party in the mid 70s. Something about it reminds me of waves and I would love if Justin wrote a song like this about me.

My favorite song off the album has to be Tunnel Vision. This song has more of a classic JT style to it. The music is pop tinted with some R&B/urban style courtesy of Timbaland. This song really just makes me want to dance.

A close second in the my favorite song on the album race has to be Let the Groove Get In. This song just doesn’t stop from the very first second all the way until the end, coming in at an impressive 7 minutes and 11 seconds. This one almost sounds like something to the likes of Senorita from JT’s first album – just updated to 2013 with an extra splash or two of funk.

When Justin first announced he was about to put out new music, I was ecstatic. When Suit & Tie came out, I was skeptical – it took forever for the song to grow on me. But when I heard Mirrors, I knew it was okay to be excited for the album again. If I had to pinpoint one song on this entire album that was quintessential Justin Timberlake, I would seat you right next to this song and bring you a candle for the table. This song has enough of a funky beat to keep your head nodding, but is slow enough to allow JT to do his thang. Most of the songs on this album are either really slow or really fast – this is such a happy medium that I want to give it a standing ovation.

The album wraps up in the slow variety with Blue Ocean Floor, a ballad with barely any instrumentation behind JT showing off his exceptional vocal chords. Make fun of him for the Ramen noodle hair all you want – this man can sing (and he can produce it live). This is a beautiful song, but if I hadn’t read that there was a Part 2 of this album coming, I wouldn’t like it for a wrap-up of the album.

Welcome back to the music scene, Mr. Timberlake! This is a great album – well worth the wait of seven years – and I can’t wait until he throws out Volume 2. Though the songs are on the incredibly long side (the shortest song clocks in at 4 minutes and 49 seconds), they keep my attention with the differentiation of tempos and beats. This is going to be on repeat for a long time.

 

Key Tracks
Mirrors (track 9)
Tunnel Vision (track 5)
Pusher Love Girl (track 1)

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Christina Aguilera: Lotus (Guest Blog)

I was asked to do a Guest Blog review on Christina’s new album Lotus! Here’s a sneak preview, but you can check the full review out over on Drunk On Pop at this link!

I still remember the first time I heard Christina Aguilera. I was walking around a mall with my cousin (dangerously without our parents behind us) and all of a sudden my cousin started singing along with the radio that was playing in the background. “Haven’t you heard this song?!” she said when she realized I wasn’t dancing to the beat along with her. That evening, at our sleepover, she put the Genie in a Bottle single in her cassette player. I was sold.

That album was one of the first CDs I purchased (right after Michael Jackson, BSB, and Britney Spears). Though Britney has always been my queen, I never disliked Christina. Many of the songs on her first two albums would go on the soundtrack to my adolescence if I had to make one. I’ve been rooting for her in the past couple of years when things have been going so terribly wrong. I’m really hoping Lotus will be that jumping point that she needs.

Click here to finish reading.

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Taylor Swift: Red

I freaking love Taylor Swift. There are no and, ifs, or buts about the thing. I love her. I used to scoff at her when she first broke it big, but then I listened to the masterpiece that is Speak Now and I was done for. I’ve been excited for Red to come out since it was said in Rolling Stone that she was recording for a new album. This album has been a long time coming. And it absolutely makes up for the long wait.

The album starts off with the quaint State of Grace which is just a slight departure for Taylor. There are less acoustic guitars and more of a bouncy, carefree feel to this one. I was pretty iffy about this track until a few listens. This song is kind of like a hazy, slow summer day – it’s almost sloggish to get through until you take a listen to the lyrics. I can never get over Taylor’s lyrics. Cheesy? Sure. But I sure do love em.

Of all the songs that came out before the album completely leaked, I was the most weary about I Knew You Were Trouble. This song is very unlike what Taylor has done in the past – or really even most songs on this record. This one is one hundred percent pop – maybe even straddling the electronic pop  line. There’s auto-tuning and funky effects. I listened to it and I snarled my nose. I wasn’t pleased until I realized this was just her growing as an artist. Where would the fun be if every artist we enjoyed stayed exactly the same? We’d live in a dull world. While this song still isn’t my favorite on the album, I enjoy listening to it – especially in the car. I knew you were trouble when you walked in, so shame on me now. Blew me to places I’ve never been, now I’m lying on the cold hard ground. Typical Taylor lyrics, atypical Taylor sound.

All Too Well is one of the reasons I adore Taylor’s music – this song at its simplest tells a story. Yes, it is a love story – or perhaps a story of love lost – but it goes through the meeting, the relationship, the break up and reflection. I know her penchant for writing songs about love is what is made fun of the most – but let’s be real: you can relate to it. Love is a shared human emotion and the variety that she uses in her songs are astounding. I guarantee you can find one that you relate to.

There are two really great duets on this album – The Last Time featuring Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and my personal favorite track of the entire album Everything Has Changed featuring Ed Sheeran.  Both songs are light and beautiful and both men sound graceful with Taylor’s voice. Everything Has Changed just has such an intoxicatingly beautiful melody behind some really wonderful lyrics. There’s light music behind the vocals – a rapping of drums and strumming of a guitar – until the chorus hits when the instruments come in as loud as the song will get. Taylor’s voice sounds full, confident and bursting at the seams with beauty in this track. I just want to know you better, know you better now. Cause all I know is we said hello and your eyes looked like coming home. All I know is a simple name and everything has changed. All I know is you held the door – you’ll be mine and I’ll be yours. All I know is since yesterday is everything has changed. This is one of the best tracks Taylor has ever worked on.

My other favorite song on the album is Starlight which is supposedly about Bobby and Ethel Kennedy – the grandparents of Taylor’s current boyfriend. I love anything and everything to do with the Kennedy song, so when I heard this song was about Bobby and Ethel, I was mush. I’m with Bobby on the boardwalk, summer of ’45. Picked me up late one night out the window he was 17 and crazy, running wild. Can’t remember what song he was playing when we walked in the night we snuck into a yacht club party pretending to be a duchess and a prince. And I said oh my, what a marvelous tune. It was the best night, never would forget how he moved. This is so sweet.

This album is really, really great. Even though I’ve listened to it countless times through, I can’t decide if it rivals Speak Now or not. I suppose I need to let them lead separate lives – they’re both wonderful albums and I should leave it at that. No matter how many people scoff at Taylor for being who she is, the girl is making some great music. She’s writing her stuff and even though it may be primarily about love, that’s okay. Keep laughing, cause she’s still selling records like hot cakes.

I can’t wait to get the deluxe version of this at Target tomorrow since it has three extra tracks. Don’t forget – Red will be released on iTunes tonight at midnight!

 

Key Tracks
Everything Has Changed (track 14)
Starlight (track 15)
Red (track 2)

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Ellie Goulding: Halcyon

After watching the Vice Presidential debates, I need some good music to mellow me out before I settle down for sleep. I’ve enjoyed the tracks by Ellie Goulding that I’ve heard from the radio, but I’ve never taken the chance to sit down and listen to her music extensively. Sometimes I’m not sure what to make of this genre of music. It’s such a strange mix of things – pop, techno, dance – and it’s so popular right now. I also don’t know how to take the performances. Ellie performed last night on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and while I enjoyed the song, I was so confused. Tangent aside, we’re going to have a listen to her new album Halcyon.

Don’t Say A Word starts the album off slowly, swelling until Ellie’s perfectly shaken and stirred vocals start in with perfect symmetry. This song is the right song to start off an album by easing your audience into the pool. The song really takes flight by the end and I’m drawn in and excited for the rest of the album.

I love My Blood. What a beautiful track! The sing-song, back-and-forth notion of the piano and the vocals is just enough to move the song along and make you feel like you’re floating. This is one I’ll be coming back to.

Only You really brings Ellie’s voice to the foreground. I realized while listening intently to this one that her voice reminds me of a strange mix of Baby Spice and Macy Gray. Can you all hear that?

Lyrically, Figure 8 is a great track. Not to mention, there is a great drop of the bass – or beat? – in this song that left me on pins and needles. I chased your love around a figure eight, I need you more than I can take. You promise forever and a day, and then you take it all away. The music behind these lyrics swirls you around and almost leaves you feeling like you just got off a fair ride that takes you around and around in continuous circles. It’s brilliant.

Dead in the Water wraps up this album, leaving you alone as quietly as you were brought into this world of Halcyon. The track has the strange echoing effect as though you’re listening to this actually underwater. It’s a neat effect, especially with the dainty vocals that are present in this one. Ellie’s voice is wonderfully gruff in this song, really coming through strong.

I really enjoyed this album – a lot more than I expected. I enjoy the single Lights, but I never figured Ellie Goulding would pump out an album like this. Maybe I underestimated her and didn’t see her for what she really is before going into this. But the reality is this: she’s making music that doesn’t sound like every other pop track out there today. Between her seductive voice and the psychedelic beats that some of these songs offer, this album is a really fun listen. This is definitely going into my CD player in my car.

 

Key Tracks
Figure 8 (track 6)
My Blood (track 2)
Only You (track 4)

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