I recently got a personal message from Diana asking to review her new single and video for her latest single, “Wake Up”. So I did just that, listened and watched.
First off, the video is very fun! She is dreaming, and in her dream she is facing off against classic 50s monster movie types. Aliens and UFOS make an appearance, huge ass spiders are threatening, and naturally she must turn into a huge ass rabbit to face the huge ass spider to defeat it. Cheesy effects and purposefully bad green screen add to the fun.
As for the song, lets just say that I’m not the target audience (at least I don’t think I am). It’s not bad by any means, just not something I would normally choose for myself. BUT, if I was a 14 - 20 year old girl who was going through the emotions and frustrations of growing up, I would like this. Here is what I pictured in my head…
I’m a 17 year old girl. I just left a party at a friend’s barn in the middle of nowhere America (kinda like Footloose). My crush was there, and he was excited to talk to me when I first got there, but as the night went on, he just wanted to hang out with his buddies, get drunk, be loud, and not pay any attention to me. So I leave the party, roll down my windows, drive down the country roads home, blasting this song and singing at the top of my lungs, playing all the instruments on my steering wheel. I come home exactly as the song ends, turn off the car, go inside to see my little sister has fallen asleep while watching TV. I take her to her room and lay her in her bed. While in my room, I open my laptop, play some music, and start playing Nintendo 64. Fall asleep. The End.
Teenage girls still play Nintendo 64 right?
Grade: In another universe, this would speak to me differently
I own and enjoy the album, “Ode to Sunshine.” I was discussing this band with a co-worker and decided to see what they’ve been up to.
Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for this album when I listened to it. It’s by no means bad. I think they are great musicians, and good song writers. But for me, I got bored. I like music that makes me think. Not necessarily about lyrics, but about rhythms, melodies, vocal inflections, arrangements, etc. Actually you know what? Let’s try something here.
This is how the album feels to me…
Beautiful and majestic in it’s own right.
Here’s what I personally like to hear historically…
Does that make sense?
The point is that when I would pay attention to the music, I could tell that it was well thought out, and good. But after listening to the whole album, I couldn’t tell you one lyric that stood out, couldn’t whistle one guitar lick, and couldn’t air drum one drum part.
Grade: I’m really proud of my picture analogy. That pretty much explains it
Stand Out Track: “Otherside” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5WKlsX6LhQ
Flashback: Matt is a teenager, thrift store youth soccer jerseys and Dickies fill his closet. Matt is a ska punk kid. Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish, and Catch 22 posters fill his room. And any Catch 22 fan knows that Streetlight Manifesto is Catch 22 from the album Keasby Nights (the best Catch 22 album if you ask me).
The point is, I love ska! …. That’s a little misleading. I loved ska (past tense). When looking for new bands, I don’t look for new Ska bands. I’m at the point in my life where I can only handle so many. Streetlight is the one and only ska band I get excited for materiel from.
“The Hands That Thieve” doesn’t disappoint. There’s enough progression in their sound to keep me interested, but enough classic sound to make me feel warm, fuzzy, and angsty all over again. Their music is multi faceted. If you are angry, they are fast enough, the vocals are scratchy enough, and the horns are violent enough to help you express the anger. On the flip side, the same song, except this time you’re happy. It’s upbeat enough, the vocals are very singable, and the horns bounce around like flubber. There is not too many times that you can’t listen to Streetlight, and their new album proves it even more.
This came as a suggestion from a friend on Facebook. See, I take requests! With that being said, I wasn’t 100% stoked to listen to this. I’m very skeptical by nature, and when Macklemore blew up so quickly, I didn’t trust the hype. I’m still reserved about him. Did anyone watch his performance of “Can’t Hold Us” on Letterman? It seemed a little much. Watch it and tell me if you think he can keep that energy up for an hour and a half live show. I highly doubt it. Regardless, I listened to the album… twice.
I enjoyed it. The weird thing is that I liked the message. Usually I hate when musicians have a message that they thrust in your face. He finds ways to side step this effect and re-assure you that he is speaking from his unique point of view, not trying to tell you what to think. He also seems very self aware. Evidently he used to be addicted to drugs and alcohol and stuff, you know, the usual. I think this sounds like someone who has moved past that point in his life, learned about it, and is able to laugh again. Rap too often is pissed off. Despite what he’s been through, and some of the subject matter he discusses, he remains cool headed, which makes it easy to listen to and digest. Long story short, I enjoyed this much more than I anticipated. Good message overall. Just be yourself, your problems are no greater than anyone else s, those same problems help define you in a very unique way (you know, snowflakes and shit).
On a quick creative note…I’m holding final judgement until he follows this up with another solid release.
Grade: FINE I’LL GO TO THE THRIFT STORE!! BUT, I don’t care what you say, i’m washing it before I wear it!
Stand Out Track: “Same Love” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3RbSuDANG4
Have you ever said, “This sounds like so and so had sex with so and so and had a baby, and this is the baby?” Well Bad Books is exactly that. Indie/Folk singer-songwriter Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra lead singer Andy Hull got together, had sex (I can’t confirm the sex, but at the very least it’s musical sex), and had a baby, and named it Bad Books.
To me this sounds like they got together and worked on songs that weren’t chosen for their other projects. One song will sound like a Manchester song, the next will sound like a Kevin Devine album. Overall the album isn’t ground breaking. It serves as a way for fans of both to get more materiel.
I must also mention that Spotify has this feature for certain albums where the artists sit down and do a commentary track about each song and it’s origins. It’s awesome to hear which songs are about personal issues, which are stories from other perspectives, or which are just cool lyrics that don’t really mean much of anything.
Grade: I like buying Shampoo+Conditioner (2 in 1) from time to time.
Does the album art look like a Koosh ball that was torn apart to anyone else?
Muse, Muse, Muse. I could make an argument that Muse is the best alternative/rock/whatever genre you want, band in the world. Their sound has been evolving from day one, and always sounding like them. No other band out there is doing what they are doing. Pushing their creativeness to the limit, yet staying on top 40 radio. Their songs sometimes feel “out there,” yet very organized at the same time.
This album was a lot of fun for me. One of the first notes I wrote down was the theatricality of the album. There is a larger than life aspect to the tunes, much like Queen (“Panic Station,” “Survival”), U2 (“Big Freeze”), and Led Zeppelin (“Supremacy”). The next note I had comes from the point of view of a drummer. I noticed that as they have progressed over the years they have embraced electronic drum sounds and loops. Which can be a bad thing because you lose the rhythmic signature the band used to have (ex. Maroon 5 and No Doubt). Muse on the other hand have crafted their drum parts, electronic or otherwise, to fit within the style of their drummer, Dominic Howard. Showing they put in multiple levels of thought when coming up with the rhythms for these tunes.
Love these guys and love this album. Since it is debate season here in America, I would love to debate anyone who says they are not at least in the top 5 rock ‘n’ roll acts on the planet. Bring it on!
Grade: A friends says, “I saw a pretty kick ass local band last night!” I reply with, “Really? How good were they on a scale of 1 to Muse?”
I was thinking today how the majority of my reviews have been positive overall. Then I listened to this album.
I have been a No Doubt fan from back in the MTV Spring Break days. I remember seeing Gwen for the first time at age 11 or 12 and falling in love instantly. Tragic Kingdom was real and inspiring. Return to Saturn took their “full band” sound to its limit. Rock Steady was ahead of it’s time. I didn’t like that album at the time, but as time went on, I understood it better and why it’s a good album.
This album? Uninspiring is the best word I can find. It sounds like a crappy Gwen Stefani album. Maybe I’m being hard on them because they were such an influence on my early music consuming life, but I can’t help it when at one point they write a song like “Spiderwebs” then to one day write a song like “Looking Hot.” Here is a sample of some lyrics from that particular song…
“I know you wanna stare
You can’t help it and I don’t care
So look at me
‘Cause that’s what I want
Do you think I’m looking hot?
Do you think this hits the spot?
How is this looking on me, looking on me?”
I must be missing the point, not reading between the lines or something. Anyway, I just felt like there wasn’t much substance to the album as a whole.
Grade: Wow, this milk expired in 2003!
Stand Out Track: “Sparkle” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I5f5G2CNFw
Finding this was a result of social networking, well, working. A friend posted this on another friend’s Facebook wall, both of whom I respect their musical tastes. Another friend also mentioned this to me the old fashioned way, word of mouth. Between the two, I had no choice but to check it out.
At first I thought it was your run of the mill indie, psychedelic, space rock. Then when you get three or four songs in you realize there is something special about this. Maybe it’s their old school, Beatles-esque vocal melodies and harmonies. Or maybe it’s the drum parts that feel like they were made up on the spot. I can’t quite put my finger on it but they definitely have something. Something that took me through the whole album again before writing this review.
Grade: The girl next door. More like Emma Stone, less like Kirsten Dunst.