Jake Bugg released his second album earlier this month, and I have one word to describe it: fantastic. While there was a taste of rock in his debut album, Shangri La shows more of his punkier style. Maybe it’s just because this album was collaboration between him and Rick Rubin, or maybe this is what he’s leaning towards career wise. Either way, he nailed it. He still managed to maintain his roots with Bob Dylan and Oasis, and he pulled off a different kind of album from his previous one. The first three tracks are more rock, complete with heavy guitar riffs. “Me and You” is something straight out of a country album and shows his innocence. It more or less reminds you of the fact that he is only a 19 year-old, a pretty crazy talented 19 year-old at that. “Messed up Kids” changes back into his rockier style, while the next two songs are an exact follow-up from his debut album. “Kingpin” and “Kitchen Table” contain an unfamiliar twang that fans will surely enjoy. “Pine Trees”, a kind of contemplation song, truly shows a deeper side, especially with these lines:
"I try not to visualize other people's eyes
and they're compromising ways
And as I leave them far behind
I try to hide the route of my escape
You can sit in the pine tress
You can sit at home,
You can breath a sigh of silence in the woods".
The song is almost comparable to the unforgettable track “Broken”, on his debut album. “Simple Pleasures” and “Storm Passes Away” give off some country vibes that only Bugg could pull off. Shangri La may not have the same amount of slow songs that his previous album had, but it delves deeper into his sound. After listening to his first album and seeing him in concert two months ago, I couldn’t believe someone his age was performing and writing the music that I had heard. This album just confirmed how great of a musician he is (there’s a reason that I’m seeing him again in January). Take a listen to his new album, it’s worth it!
“I want to sound like 50 Cent’s In Da Club”, and that’s exactly where the Arctic Monkeys’ fifth studio album, AM, is heading. Long gone are the days of their classic british style and Beatles’ inspired haircuts. Here comes the newer, bolder Arctic Monkeys, led by frontman Alex Turner. According to him, the band was trying to distance themselves from their original sound and create a more R & B record, something with a heavy influence of 90’s hip hop. However, it was still to be a mix of hip hop and 70’s rock. The first five songs on the album all represent their goal; “Arabella” even mentions “helter skelter”. “No.1 Party Anthem” may sound like a pop song but it actually jumps back to their previous work. Fans familiar with their other albums will recognize the sound. It’s almost a combination between some of Alex Turner’s solo work (the soundtrack for the movie Submarine, which is AMAZING, as is the movie), and earlier collaboration with Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets, there’s a review for them on this page from last year). “Mad Sounds” is similar to this as well. “Fireside” and “Why You Only Call Me When You’re H*gh” skip back to the first half of the album, with the edgier, more Dr. Dre inspired tracks. The final three songs, “Snap Out Of It”, “Knee Socks” and “I Wanna Be Yours” are part of the smoother, newer style. All in all, if you are a fan of their older, rockier music, you may not be a fan of this album. However, it's still an awesome album, so you should check it out!
The cutest smile you’ll ever see, a killer voice, and an infinite amount of love for dedicated fans is the secret recipe for the rising star of 2013; Ariana Grande. One would be quick to assume her stardom originates from that fact that she has the same manager as Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, but frankly, I think Scooter Braun is the one that got lucky here. She performed on Broadway at the age of 15, was part the mega-popular teen TV show ‘Victorious’, and now has a debut album that flew straight to the top of the charts practically the moment it was released. This 20 year old actress/singer said she was largely inspired by the ultimate divas like Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston for her record, Yours Truly. The album is a collection of romantic pop/R&B songs that’ll throw you right back into the 60’s, where everyone’s favorite pastime was snapping and harmonizing their doo-wops. The sky high vocals and lovey-dovey lyrics perfectly embody Ariana’s classy vintage persona, and her strong live performances never fail to exceed my expectations. The album features collaborations from classic faces of the pop music industry like Mac Miller, Nathan Sykes, Mika and Big Sean, and her hit single ‘Baby I’ was originally written for none other than everybody’s queen - Beyonce. It’s shocking how such a bold voice can come from such a tiny lady (she towers at 5’1”), and if any of you think she lip-sings or uses autotune, please go and submerge yourself in the disgustingly large amount of evidence I have gathered below to prove you wrong; whether it’s the covers she recorded in her own bedroom or singles performed on national television, she nails every song and I cannot praise her talent enough.
LONG STORY SHORT: Perfection takes on the human form that is Ariana Grande.
- ONE OF MY FAVOURITES OFF THE ALBUM; 'TATTOOED HEART'
- THERE'S A REASON PEOPLE CALL HER THE NEXT MARIAH CAREY
- A LITTLE LADY MARMALADE
- DON'T LIKE JUSTIN BIEBER? THAT'S OK, YOU CAN LIKE ARIANA GRANDE
- JUST 40 MILLION VIEWS ON A CASUAL COVER, IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL
- GO TO 2:26, YEAH I CAN DO THAT, TOO
- THIS IS PROBABLY ILLEGAL BUT IT'S ON YOUTUBE SO I'M GOING TO TAKE THE LIBERTY OF TELLING YOU TO CLICK HERE AND THEN BUY THE ALBUM AFTERWARDS
So after reviewing Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' song & video combo a while back, I couldn't not review Lily Allen's 'Hard Out Here,' which includes many a satirical reference pointing out the problems with his song. But she's not just going after Thicke, the song (& video) for 'Hard Out Here' points out issues with the music industry and society's treatment of women in general. There's also been a good few people comparing 'Hard Out Here' to P!nk's 'Stupid Girls,' so if you're not bored of my feminist critiques yet, watch out for my analysis of that problematic comparison in the next few days!
Lily's comeback into the music industry after having two children definitely makes a whole lot of valid points, and the song's actual lyrics have very few problems. From the perspective of the male consumer Lily sings:
"If you’re not a size 6, then you’re not good looking
In fact the only real problem I found with the lyrics was right at the beginning with "Don’t need to shake my arse for you ‘cuz I got a brain." This line gives off the impression that the women who do choose to shake their asses don't 'have a brain,' having less value than her? Not a fan. But considering Allen goes on to try out 'shaking her arse' with a group of her backup dancers and a statement older white male for effect at 1:49 in the video, maybe we can put this one down to she doesn't need to dance like this for anyone but she can if she wants to? Not sure about this one - what do you think?
The main potentially problematic elements show up in the video itself with many people critiquing her use of black women as backup dancers - wearing significantly less clothing than her and spending the majority of the video surrounding Lily and twerking. Valid points have been made about how this can be seen as objectifying and demeaning/dehumanizing black female bodies while simultaneously glorifying her white female body. You can also quite clearly take the fact that she's wearing a lot more clothing than them as an assertion of her dominance, and combined with the fact that she goes on to slap their gyrating rear ends later in the video it's definitely hard to overlook this as a problematic element with a big possibility to offend. Saying that, I do think this was put into the video with the intention of being 'from the perspective of the male gaze' and Lily has stated that she simply hired the best dancers out of those who auditioned, race was not a factor. In fact the video's dancers also include a Caucasian woman and an Asian woman as well - BUT these two women were wearing jackets at the beginning vs. the black women in only leotards and bikinis. Hmm. Opinions from both sides here make really interesting points, head to Google for more info if you're as interested as I was! Allen defends her video in this tweet with quotes you can read below.
"If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too... me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day."
All in all, there are definitely some problems with the video itself that I'd love to see Lily address more, and that we can't and shouldn't ignore, but I think this catchy song does serve a purpose in bringing awareness to a lot of important issues and that shouldn't be overlooked either. Aaaand I can't say I didn't love the well-deserved pokes at Robin Thicke at 3:08 with a few certain silver balloons and the lyrics at 2:09 questioning some of T.I.'s lyrics in Blurred Lines.
Watch the video (with parental advisory...) and form your own opinion! I don't think I can post it here though- wouldn't want to endorse booty shakin at SDSS.
This time of the year has been, and is continuing to be, huge for mainstream artists. Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Eminem, 1D, and Justin Timberlake have all released (or will release) albums in the recent weeks or months. But another band, famous in their own right, are releasing their first Greatest Hits album to celebrate the 10 years that have passed since their first UK show many moons ago. Now I am a HUGE fan of this Las Vegas based band - The Killers. They garnered much mainstream success following their first two - very well-received - albums: 2004's Hot Fuss and 2006's Sam's Town. Their sound has tones of 80's rock, electronica, pop, and indie just to name a few. The Killers have something for everyone. Now they might not have created the headlines like Miley, the international epidemic like One Direction, or changed the face of Hip-Hop like Eminem, but that being said, the opening bars to 'Mr. Brightside' are instantly recognizable - arguably iconic. We've all heard about that '...Boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year." And what about the repetitive "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier"? Yes, The Killers, led by frontman Brandon Flowers, have created some critically acclaimed and celebrated anthems of their own.
After a hiatus following 2008's Day & Age, the four boys from Nevada took some time to focus on their solo careers and families. They then came back with a bang last year with Battle Born. Today they have just released a Greatest Hits album titled Direct Hits, containing an arsenal of their most celebrated tunes, along with a couple new ones to tide the fans over until they release their next new album. Of course I bought it, despite owning nearly all the songs on its track listing already. Now how did they do with their choices? Were some of their bigger hits snubbed? How did some lackluster songs make the cut? As long as their earlier anthems made it on, I knew I would be a happy girl. So am I? You betcha. (Even if Jenny Was a Friend of Mine was rudely left off the album). Are their two new songs any good? Yessiree. And a little 'something special' for those who should feel so inclined as to purchase the deluxe edition of the album is the original demo of the band's signature track Mr. Brightside. It's a little rough around the edges, missing some of that studio refinement, but it's got a great rock vibe to it that definitely makes it worth a listen. Overall, it's a fun album for fans who have been waiting for something more from their beloved band, providing a nice collection of tracks to listen to on repeat until the boys from the desert give us more insta-classics.
The Killers - who have even earned comparisons to the likes of Coldplay and U2 and have been deemed our generations great rock band - are proving that they are still relevant in today's British Boy band, forgettable bubblegum pop dominated music scene. Don't lose hope music fans, The Killers matter. Give 'em a listen, you just might be impressed.
I've been sick for nearly 3 weeks. I'm - dare I say it - tired of wearing PJs. My room is littered with tissues and empty mugs of tea. So naturally I'm laying in bed doing the one productive thing I have the strength to do: write articles.
So last night, in my lessened state, I watched the CMAs (Country Music Association Awards for those of you not in the know), something I quite enjoy. I know, I know. Country music is quite a polarizing genre. Who would've known how dividing honky-tonks and heartbreak could be? But nevertheless, that's just the impact they have had.
I myself grew up on these folksy tunes. My dad was always either watching the Weather Network, TSN, or CMT. Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, and Brad Paisley, to name a few, were household names in mine.
My point is, in watching this Award show, I knew what to expect: Country's of-the-moment heartthrobs belting out songs written for their wives, girlfriends or ones that got away. And for the most part, that's exactly what I got. And I loved every minute of it. It was all good and dandy, and then something marvelous happened. A new singing sensation by the name of Kacey Musgraves stepped to the stage in a neon dress with a guitar around her neck. I had low expectations for Nashville's newest, but boy was I wrong.
In a day and age where Taylor Swift is the genre's biggest female star, and with each new song is becoming more Pop than Country, this girl was bona fide Nashville material.
She belted her latest single Follow Your Arrow off of new album Same Trailer Different Park, and count me impressed. Unlike the rest of Music City, who tend to conservatism and cliches about whiskey and heartbreak, this song tackled individuality, even touching upon same-sex relationships, all while keeping true to Country's familiar sound. It was catchy, refreshing, and inspiring. Despite early fears that Nashville 'wasn't ready for a song tackling such topics', she wasn't booed off the stage - people even applauded. Perhaps Nashville is a little more in the 21st century than it's given credit for. Kacey Musgraves certainly is.
For those of you Country-haters who avoid the genre based on lyrical content, I urge you to check this girl out; her soul lives and breathes within each song and gives new spirit to the genre as a whole. Now for those of you who detest the genre for the banjo and harmonica-laden melodies, well, I can't help you there. But for both parties, know that Country music has gotten the message that society is evolving, and Ms. Musgraves is offering an eloquent response.
There’s no denying the fact that when One Direction’s biggest hit ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ comes on the radio, it is impossible not to sing along (don’t you dare try to convince me that you don’t). This renowned 5 member boyband from the UK are said to have become bigger than the Beatles - yes, you heard me, THE BEATLES. The group of guys with a 2 second long climb up the ladder of fame consists of Zayn Malik (the pretty one), Harry Styles (the curly haired one), Liam Payne (the muscular one), Niall Horan (the compulsory Irish one), and Louis Tomlinson (the short one). They have released two studio albums that consisted of nothing but the expected cookie-cutter pop music; not to say it wasn’t good - it was just everything you’d presume would come from a fresh faced young boyband. However, on October 28th, a song was released that made everyone cock their head and wonder if they had accidentally clicked on the wrong Youtube link. This new single from their upcoming album Midnight Memories is titled ‘Story Of My Life’. It’s a smooth, guitar-driven song that seems to have been largely influenced by folk and alternative music, and thankfully the lyrics are a wee bit more insightful than we’ve seen in the past (ie. “We’re like na na na, then we’re like yeah yeah yeah”… Repeat 20 times). Perhaps they thought it was about time to record a song that was more fit to their personal tastes in music, rather than the typical, crowd-pleasing, bubblegum pop. The song starts soft and transitions into a fuller chorus, which remains true to the boys’ strong harmonies with the drum and acoustic guitar keeping an enticing beat. Does this foreshadow that the one direction they're heading in will be touring their new album in underground pubs and selling it only on vinyl in smelly old record stores?
LONG STORY SHORT: Filled with emotional lyrics and solos that could cause a nation-wide swooning epidemic, this song is a definite success in my books. It’s the type of song that just makes me want to ride a horse bareback through a stark desert, or something deep and intense like that, you know? The songs that just make you think of a galloping horse? Yeah, it’s one of those.
Jimi Hendrix is the most known, talented, celebrated and influential guitarists of all time. As if his rumored 400-guitar-strums-per-minute fingers weren't enough to bewitch an audience, he is also know for his wild stage acts, and he once set his guitar on fire during a performance. He quotes "The time I set my guitar on fire was a sacrifice. You sacrifice things you love. I love my guitar.". After experimenting with several bands during the early 60's, in 1966 he created his own band; "The Jimi Hendrix Experience". Keith Richards, a member of the Rolling Stones, wanted to help him with his musical career and recommended his name to several record label companies. Famous singer-songwriter Eric Clapton comment on one of his shows "He walked off the stage... And my life was never the same again."; an emotion clearly share with many others, based on his success. Even as a child Hendrix clearly demonstrated his unusual musical talent and by the time he was 19, he could play guitar at such an advanced level he taught himself to play with his teeth, later to become a trick commonly shown at his performances. His most famous songs are "Purple Haze" and "Foxy Lady", and "Purple Haze" is often considered to be the greatest song of all time. Even though I never got to experience Jimi Hendrix performing live on stage, YouTube videos were as close as I got and the moment I first saw Jimi playing guitar the way he did, my life was, like Eric Clapton's, changed forever.
Chances are you’re thinking “what on earth is “KC and the Sunshine Band?” Well, they’re a very popular American disco band who started out in the early seventies. And trust me, you do know them, you probably just don’t recognize the name. KC and the Sunshine band consists of the lead singer whose stage name is “KC” and the “Sunshine Band”, named after their home state Florida, the “Sunshine State”. Their jam is disco, and if you’re thinking “disco sucks”, you’re not fooling ANYONE. Some people think they’re too much of a “badass” to listen to “that kind of music”, or that disco is too “sissy”. Disco kicks ass. People are fooled that if you like pop, or blues, rock and roll or any other genre of music you have to be one dimensional in just like that specific genre. Totally not true. KC and the Sunshine Band was one of the most progressive bands of the seventies and is still just as wildly popular as they were when they started back in ‘73. As they have had over 100 millions record sales, this puts them at the same level of sales as Bob Dylan and the Who. With 40 years of experience behind them, they've still managed to get people out of their seats and dancing to their upbeat feel-good melodies. Some of their greatest hits are “Keep it Coming Love”, “Shake Your Booty”, and “That’s the Way (I Like It)”. I guarantee you've heard at least one of these hits as they are still incredibly popular and are included in many soundtracks of popular films. Check 'em out!