Tag Archives: pop

5 songs I can’t get enough of: April 7, 2014

1. Beat Up Car by Taking Back Sunday

I know I’m totally bias since this band is my favorite band in all the lands, but this song makes me feel things deep inside. Not only do the escapist lyrics appeal to me (So if you’re interested, I’ll take you anywhere. I’ll buy some beat up car, we could get out of here. I’ll take you anywhere that you wanna go), but the vocals are stronger than ever and when the chorus hits, I feel the tunes in my soul. This is the most perfect song for this time of year as it’s beginning to warm up to spring – roll those windows down and blast this song and feel like you’re flying.

 

2. Yellow Paper by Royal Teeth

Since Spotify recommended this band to me a few days ago, I haven’t been able to get enough of them. I’m obsessed with their entire debut full length Glow (listen to this album now before you do anything else), but this song gets me every time. It’s slower than most of its surrounding counterparts, but it’s so sweet and mellow. The two sets of vocals are so smooth in this song that they almost melt completely together. It’s beautiful.

 

3. Haunt On by The Stationary Set

This is the title track from an album that I’ve listened to way too many times to count. Even when I was first jamming to this song, I wanted to sing along so badly that I’d throw in the words I knew and just ad-lib sounds for the rest. I can feel the passion in this song and that is something to take notice of. This song slowly builds on itself and about three minutes in, if you’re not feeling this song on a personal level, I’m worried about you. I love how the build up takes most of the song, then the band goes all out for a bit and then after some heartbeat-ish drumming, it’s over. Just, ah. So good.

 

4. The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn from The Broken Circle Breakdown Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

I just want to go ahead and say that this is not my normal style of music. I know I live in a small town in Southwest Virginia, and I know my area is ripe with bluegrass, but I’ve never really gotten into it. If you’ve seen this film, this will make sense to you. I guess that’s what does it for me – having seen the film and knowing the emotional impact this is going to give you in the film, this song is just perfect. The male vocals start it out, with some light banjo picking and after a bit, female vocals work in until everything picks up and you have a howling good time. But for real, all the instruments come together in such a beautiful arc that it’s hard not to at least appreciate it. (Also, I know I’m a music blog and not a movie blog, but this movie is one of the best movies I have ever seen – check it out)

 

5. Memoria by Fairweather

I just discovered this band a couple of days ago and if you’re in need of some new rock tunes, check out this self-titled album that just came out last week. This song in particular is my personal favorite from the album – probably because of the pulsing drums and insanity of the guitar workings. This band isn’t all prim and proper polished kind of rock, so turn away if that’s something you look for. I love the sounds that make me feel like I’m at a rock show – as if I could close my eyes and envision it surrounding me.

 

What are you all listening to right now?

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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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State Champs: The Finer Things

I was doing some browsing on Twitter today in search of some interesting bands to catch my eye. I’ve fallen into a comfortable nest of listening to rock bands of various sub-genres over the last few weeks, so I’m in a mood for something heavier. Luckily, I stumbled upon a lot of tweets about State Champs. I had never heard of this five-piece New York pop punk band, but I’m glad there’s some Twitter buzz going about them. The Finer Things is their debut CD on Pure Noise Records out officially on Tuesday (10/8).statechamps

Elevated kicks off the album in high fashion with the perfect marinade of pop punk and punk rock; the guitars are full of energy and the drums are bouncing on a trampoline in the background. The vocals are some of the best I’ve heard in a new-to-me pop punk band in a long time. I started listening to this album out of curiosity, not really out to write a blog post, but then thirty seconds into this first jam, I realized I had stopped everything I was doing and it had every ounce of my attention. I knew at that time I had to open up a blog post and write out a reaction to this one. This may go down in history – or at least in the best-albums-of-the-year history.

I love a song that’s slow in the beginning and then punches you in the face (Chiodos are pure royalty at this). Deadly Conversation gets in a good fist to your nose before you know it. The guitar work in this jam is mesmerizing. Unless something is really great or I’m specifically listening for it, I don’t pick out certain instruments to listen to in particular (sorry, I don’t play, I’m just here to listen and write) but the guitars in this song had my specific attention more than once for their dedication to the craft.

I can tell pretty instantly that Over The Line will be one of my favorite songs on the album. This song takes pop punk and spins it like a top. There’s a certain frantic, impatient nature to this song that I’m immediately drawn to. Every single instrument is played out almost like someone has pushed the fast-forward button, but the band remains in control and turns it around in their favor and works it the entire way through.

Mind Bottled begins so perfectly, giving vocals a couple of seconds alone before adding in drums and guitars slowly in layers. This song is almost like a roller coaster – it speeds up, slows down, goes for a loop, and sometimes stops you at full halt. It’s really close to perfect. Was it all worth it? I built the highest bridge only to burn it. Was it all worth it? All you love you gave when I returned it.

Easy Enough wraps up the album on cruise control. I feel like the majority of the song was taken down a few notches except for the guitar work during the verses, lending the song a certain imbalance in places that the rest of the instruments have to work to keep things level (hint: they succeed). This is a great note to take out the album on – I would’ve felt weird about the lineup had this song been in the middle of frantic songs. They also do me a great favor and end the album on one note instead of fading out. Thanks, guys. It’s the little things.

This will go down on my favorite albums of 2013 list for sure. I almost feel empty thinking I had no idea this band existed until today. Please do yourself a favor and take a listen to this album. This is what pop punk is all about.

 

Key Tracks
Prepare to Be Noticed (track 4)
Over the Line (track 5)
Mind Bottled (track 9)

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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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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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