Thursday, February 28, 2013

Throwback Thursday - February 28th

This last week, I took a little trip down memory lane and was reminiscing about the rock that I grew up on. Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Cold, Creed, Disturbed, and others just to name a few. For this week's throwback, I decided to choose the song "Suffocate" by Cold, off their 2003 album Year Of The Spider. This song is one of my favorites off of the album, which is also one of my favorite albums to listen to. Besides the childhood memories it brings back, it is a fantastic rock record, with varying types of songs and emotions throughout. Suffocate is a song that's on the more angry end of the spectrum, but it is also tinged with sounds of regret and sadness. The vocalist, Scooter Ward, sings of a lover or friend who is condescending, judgmental, and not understanding in the slightest. The instrumental helps reinforce these themes, with a gritty tone that is not too distorted. It's angry, but in a way that allows you to hear the story and not be turned off by the song being overly aggressive. I listened to this song many times when I was angry as a kid growing up, and still use it today if I'm mad about something going on. It's a well done song, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes rock from the early 00's.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Song Friday - February 22nd

Yet another Friday is here, and another installment of Five Song Friday! This week was a more pop oriented week, thanks to listening to the radio one day during the week. Listen to what I've been hooked on this week, and see if any of the songs tickle your fancy.

  1. Scream & Shout (feat. Britney Spears) -
    I first heard this song last Friday on the radio, I was somewhat skeptical  It seemed a little odd to me. However, by the end of the song, I noticed myself singing along with the chorus. It's catchy. I had noticed the song floating around the top 10 on iTunes for the last few weeks, but had never bothered to listen, mainly because it featured Britney Spears. I made a judgement call, and found myself in error after buying the song and listening to it many times this last week. The song is a great dance song, with a driving beat and sweet synth lines. I can imagine it's a hit in clubs, and probably will be for a while. 5/5
  2. Where Have You Been - Rihanna
    I liked this song when I first heard it, specifically for the chorus and the instrumental right after each one. The sound used for the synth line is unique, and was what hooked my on the song from the beginning. The rest of the song is fairly catchy, but I mainly just like listening for that one synth line. It's another great dance song, and I'm sure it's also popular in clubs currently. 4/5
  3. Started From The Bottom - Drake
    Some of Drake's songs are good; some aren't so great. This song falls in the first category. Now, if you listen, don't expect anything profound or incredibly creative. It's a modern hip-hop song; it's got a repeating piano line, a beat with a deep bass drum, and rapping. Nothing genre breaking, but it's got a sense of swagger to it. It also has a fair amount of swearing, so I wouldn't recommend it to those of you who don't enjoy that. Drake did a good job on this song though. I like his raps, and specifically like the "bridge" where he does his half singing/half rapping thing. Overall, a good rap song, recommended for fans of Lil Wayne, Tyga, and Wiz Khalifa. 4/5
  4. Rebel Beat - The Goo Goo Dolls
    I have to give credit to my girlfriend, Lauren, for getting me into The Goo Goo Dolls. She knew that this song was coming out before I did, and told me to look it up. I thoroughly enjoy it, with it's upbeat and appealing nature. It has a positive feel to it, and fits in the vein of what The Goo Goo Dolls have done in their career. It has a pop sound, but it has an organic, natural feel; not stuffed full of synthesizers and electronic beats. That's one of the reasons that their songs are considered pop, yet are still popular years after their release, which is not what the current formula for most pop songs is today. They put out quality songs with thought out lyrics and well built instrumentals. Definitely a song I'll be listening to for a while. I'd recommend it to fans of The Goo Goo Dolls, along with those of you who like Lifehouse and Train. 5/5
  5. If I Lose Myself - OneRepublic
    OneRepublic has captured my attention since they appeared on the scene thanks to Timbaland's influence. Their sound has been a great one to watch the progression, going from a more acoustic/alternative sound to a heavily pop influenced sound. I don't think that is a bad thing; a band's sound will naturally change and adapt to what they're listening to and what direction they want to take their music. This song in particular is an indicator of the pop influence, with a presence of synth lines, electronic beats, and a bit of autotune evident in the vocals. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for it fits the vibe of the song. My favorite part of the song is the bridge, where they use gang vocals and an acoustic guitar to bring the song down for a few seconds and create contrasting aspects of the song. It's another solid hit from OneRepublic, and I look forward to the new album, Native, expected to release March 26th of this year. I'd recommend it to fans of The Fray, Maroon 5, and The Script. 5/5

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday - February 21st

For this week's throwback, I decided to choose "Johnny Be Goode" by Chuck Berry. I made this decision because I watched "Back To The Future" a few nights ago and remembered how great the song is. It's a classic rock & roll tune, released back in March of 1958. Since it's release, it has received many praises and honors, including being named by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that have helped shape rock and roll, as well as being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. This song is a timeless classic. It has a groove that will make you want to dance, no matter what age. And by dancing, I mean real dancing, not the movement that is considered to be "dancing" at school dances today. Dancing that had class, style, and a sensuality that inspired romance. This song brings a different era to the mind, one that I think would have been exciting to live through. I absolutely love this song, and recommend it to those who are wondering where rock and roll began. Go check it out!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five Song Friday - February 15th

Here it is, the latest installment of Five Song Friday! New music has grabbed my attention, and I hope you enjoy it!

  1. Shiver Shiver - Walk The Moon
    Walk The Moon has captivated my attention for the last month or so. They have such a refreshing sound, with new and unusual ideas within their music. This song in particular has been one of my favorites of their debut self-titled album. The groove of the song makes you want to dance along and sing loudly. The bass line is fantastic, as well as the guitar and the vocals, which all help to contribute to the dance-vibe of the song. The chorus is simple, but infectiously catchy. An awesome song, great for fans of Passion Pit, Young The Giant, & Neon Trees 5/5
  2. White Walls (feat. ScHoolboy Q & Hollis) - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
    Macklemore has also been in my sights for the last few months since I was introduced to him. His beats are spectacular, and his raps and flow are insane. This song is a great song for driving around to, with the kick drum being particularly loud and resounding. The song has swagger to it as well, adding to its appeal for playing while driving. An excellent track off his album, The Heist. 4/5
  3. Infinity Guitars - Sleigh Bells
    Sleigh Bells have such a unique and distinct sound. This song combines a 70's distortion style guitar with banging Hip-Hop beats to create an addictive sound. My personal favorite part is the last chorus, where the sound EXPLODES into a wall of distorted noise. It's fantastic and will catch you off guard if you're not paying attention. Go listen to it! Now! 5/5
  4. Mirrors - Justin Timberlake
    J.T.'s comeback has been spectacular, and this single is a contributing factor. It's a solid pop song with hip-hop influences, which is right up J.T.'s alley. The outro is a sweet, chilled out section that brings down the energy and vibe of the song to a more sensual place. Definitely great for fans of his older material. 5/5
  5. 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) - Matt Redman
    I didn't listen to this song as much this week, but it was special in this week specifically. One, it won a Grammy, which is spectacular for Matt Redman and well deserved. Two, it was played at Rockharbor, the church I go to. The way the worship band played it and the congregation's response was so awe inspiring. I was constantly getting chills down my back from the raw emotion and praising occurring. It was so amazing, and something I can't get out of my head. 5/5

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday - February 14th

Being Valentines Day, I thought that for this week's throwback, I'd pick a more romantic song for all the lovers and romantics out there. This week I'm bringing it way back, with Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)" from 1964. There's no denying the timelessness of Frank's voice; it continues to stay with us, wether in romantic songs such as this one, or Christmas/Holiday classics. This song in particular is one of his more famous, along with "Come Fly With Me" and "The Way You Look Tonight", both of which are great romantic songs as well. The song has a swing feel to it, and makes you want to sway to the beat with that someone special. I personally did not start to listen to as much of Sinatra's material until the past few years, but I very much enjoy what I hear. His voice brings to mind a time past, a different era of this nation and it's people. It would be a great song for dinner on this special day, or for something soothing and relaxing to set "the mood", whatever that may mean to each of you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

"Mirrors", the second single from J.T.'s newest album, The 20/20 Experience, is much more in the same vein of FutureSex/LoveSounds than the first single, "Suit & Tie (feat. Jay-Z). The signature beat-box percussion sound is featured, along with a more pop/hip-hop style instrumental. J.T.'s vocals are as fantastic as always, and are also much more along the lines of his previous pop work. The backing string section is well done also, adding emphasis to certain beats and the overall pop tone. Now, while the song has the same sound as his previous albums, it also reveals a maturity that has occurred over the last 7 years since his last album, which is expected. It is a more grown up love song, and is filled with lots of lines that make me smile. I'm a romantic at heart, so this may not ring true for everyone.
Another aspect that is similar to FutureSex/LoveSounds is the outro, which almost all the songs on that album had either an outro or an intro. It features a stripped down hip-hop beat with a great bass drum, and J.T. serenading the listener while his backing vocals repeat "You are, you are, the love, of my life".

Overall, this is a spectacular song, and a perfect choice as another single for his upcoming album. I am even more excited for the release, which is expected on March 19th. Great job Justin! 5/5

Friday, February 8, 2013

Number Five - My Chemical Romance

This is it, the last single in the Conventional Weapons series. I believe that My Chemical Romance made a very smart decision in releasing these songs, because they are all fantastic songs, some of them being my favorite done by MCR. It makes me sad to be wrapping up my reviews of Conventional Weapons, but I look forward to new material from MCR in the future!

  1. Surrender the Night - This song starts with a more melancholy tone, but staying edgy with a faster tempo and a slick guitar lead intro. Gerard Way's vocals never fail to fit the mood of the song, starting off low and soft to build into the chorus. The chorus is where the song shines, with Way reaching into the higher ends of his vocal range as the drums crash and the guitar repeats a line. The vocals of the chorus are my favorite parts, with Way reaching out for someone to "surrender your heart" with such passion and conviction that you want them to do as he says. It's one of those songs that pulls the listener in. I also very much enjoyed the bridge, where MCR brought the song back down again only to build it back up into the fantastic chorus. Another solid record from the boys in MCR. 5/5
  2. Burn Bright - The intro of this song begins with a sweet drum intro on the toms, and Way coming in with a rasp to his voice. It's another darker song, but not in an emo way. The build into the chorus reminisces of The Black Parade and the more edgy sound that surrounded the album. The drums are standout in the song, leading the intensity of the song along with Way's vocals. This song, as well as Surrender the Night, display a more emotional aspect of MCR. When in interviews about the Conventional Weapons, the band members stated that the songs from this release would be much darker and edgier than Danger Days. After hearing all of the songs, I definitely understand what they meant. While some of the songs are more upbeat, the overall energy and emotion leans to a more gritty tone. 5/5

Five Song Friday - February 8th

Yet another week has gone by, and I have discovered more music (what a surprise). Check out the songs and enjoy!
  1. My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark - Fall Out Boy
    This song is addictive. I've already listened to it 15 times in the span of a few days. I absolutely love the intro, with it's hip-hop feel. The song itself is intense and dark, with Patrick Stump's vocals filled with energy and rage/angst. I recommend it for fans of FOB, as well as Panic! At The Disco and Paramore. 5/5
  2. Surrender The Night - My Chemical Romance
    Another solid release in the conclusion of the Conventional Weapons series. The chorus is my favorite part by far, combining the energy and emotion fans have come to expect from MCR. It is upbeat, yet has a melancholy tone to it. A truly moving song of love and surrender. Great for fans of My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds To Mars, and Jimmy Eat World. 5/5
  3. Thin Line (feat. Buffalo Madonna) - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
    I finally bought all of Macklemore's album The Heist, and was thoroughly impressed with most of the tracks. This was one of the songs that stuck out to me in particular. It's a much more chill song, with a fairly simple instrumental that rides a slower tempo. Macklemore talks about living the life of an artist and dealing with relationships and the struggles that ensue. In so many of his songs, Macklemore continually touches on very real and down to earth subjects, which is one of the reasons I love his work; it's different. 5/5 
  4. Crown On The Ground - Sleigh Bells
    I discovered this band over Christmas Break, and was enthralled by their sound. It's unique and energizing. This song in particular becomes an explosion of sound, with all of the electronic noises blasting from the speaker in a wall of noise. It is catchy, yet comprised of only a few simple parts. I would recommend this song to those of you who enjoy Metric, or electro-pop artists. It is hard to pick other bands like them because of their uniqueness. 5/5 
  5. When I Was Young - Blink-182
    This song might possibly be my favorite by Blink. There's something about it that makes me smile every time. Not only is it catchy, some of the lyrics really hit home. It embodies the best of Blink's old sound, yet shows a maturity that should be expected. They have been at this for 20 years now; they aren't the same people they were then, nor are their fans the same. 5/5

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Somewhere I Belong - Linkin Park

So I wanted to do another weekly post, and thought that talking about a throwback song would be a fun idea. The term "throwback" is vague, but I will try to keep it to 5+ years ago and beyond. For the first week, I decided to take a song from my favorite band, Linkin Park (surprise surprise). Seeing that their second album, Meteora, was released 10 years, I thought it would be an appropriate to talk about a song from it. I choose "Somewhere I Belong", which was one of my favorite songs during most of my childhood. There were times that I felt like I lacked a purpose, and didn't know what I was doing with my life. This song channeled not only that, but my sense of loneliness I would also feel. Beyond that though, it's a truly great song. The back and forth between Mike's raps and Chester belting out the chorus is one of the many factors that I love about Linkin Park's style. The song contains such emotionality and intensity, still speaking to people around the world today; I know it still speaks to me. I have every word memorized from the song, and probably from the whole album. I used to play this on repeat with my portable disc player in my room as a kid. I would get lost in the music and the sound, soaking it up and enjoying it simply because I loved it. I know that when I am older, and maybe have children, I will play this album, (along with the rest of Linkin Park's discography), and tell my kids about what it meant to me and how it got me through so much of my childhood.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) - Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy is back. And back with a bang. Monday morning was an explosion of news, with a tour and album announcement, along with releasing a new single. Excitement from fans was off the charts, and even though I wasn't a huge fan, I shared in the excitement. I very much enjoyed some of their material, especially From Under The Cork Tree and Infinity On High. I found the new single as soon as I could, and began to listen. I was surprised by what I heard, but not at the same time. After listening to the progression in their previous albums, it was only natural to arrive at this point. Keeping in the tradition of long and odd song titles, "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark" begins with a Kanye West style hip-hop swagger. It took me off guard at first, but I very quickly started nodding my head with the beat and grinned. When Patrick Stump comes in, his vocals have an intensity that I feel has never really shown in any of FOB's previous songs. It felt raw, and added to the energy of the song. The lyrics themselves were angry as well, directed maybe at an old lover or a dear friend who had committed a betrayal  The chorus is the most catchy part of the song, in my opinion, and keeps it simple but great. I especially love the part where the vocals scream "I'm on fire!", helping to fuel the emotions of the song. The drums are fantastic, really creating the hip-hop/tribal feel of the song. This song was a perfect comeback piece for FOB, and it makes me very excited to hear the rest of the album. It's dark, it's edgy, yet it's driving and makes you want to sing along. 5/5

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pentatonix - Live Review, House Of Blues Anaheim

This previous Wednesday, January 30th, I was able to see the fantastic Pentatonix live in concert at the House Of Blues in Downtown Disney. The show was sold out, and packed with ecstatic fans, whose energy was tangible in the room. I was weary and tired in line, but couldn't help being excited because of the enthusiasm for Pentatonix. The opening band started soon after 8 o'clock, and was surprisingly good. Their name was "Speak", and they were a alternative band out of Austin, Texas. They played about 8 songs, which consisted of originals except for one cover of The Beegees' "Stayin' Alive". They had great energy and stage presence; their lead singer was very comfortable talking to everyone and led his fellow band to pump up the crowd for Pentatonix. It seems like they had an 80's influence, with guitars and synths reminiscent of big-hair bands from that era. Their back up vocals were spectacular, with no tone issues and contributing to the big sound of the group. A unique aspect of the band was that the bassist and the singer exchanged instruments a few times. The bassist played guitar on one song and the singer played his bass, and there was another song where the bassist just did back up vocals and the singer played the synth. Overall, I was very impressed by the band and their enthusiasm to perform.

However, the best was saved for last. The crowd went ballistic as the lights turned off and the curtain lifted. Pentatonix was standing in the darkness, waiting for the right moment to begin. Their beatboxer, Kevin, and their bassist, Avi, began and epic intro of resounding beats and dubstep-wobbles, filling the room with sound. The group then went right into their cover/mashup of "Save The World/Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia. The crowd was bouncing to the beat as Pentatonix proved why they had won The Sing Off and risen to the level of fame they were at. For the next hour and a half, they proceeded to amaze the crowd with 20 spectacular songs. They performed songs from their time on The Sing Off, covers they had uploaded to YouTube, and songs from the first CD release. Some of the highlights include Thrift Shop, Love Lockdown, As Long As You Love Me/Wide Awake, and Aha!. There were some moments during the show that were truly incredible. For example, Kevin originally started by posting videos of himself playing the cello while beat-boxing on YouTube, and so showed the skill he had. He did a solo performance, and then was rejoined by the group to do an awesome rendition of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. Another moment worth mentioning was when Avi and Kevin divided the crowd into sections and taught them various vocal lines to sing. The result was insane, for after the crowd got going, Avi and Kevin created a sick bass-line and beat over the melodies. It was the highlight of the show for me. Beyond their skill, however, Pentatonix also had great chemistry with the crowd, and many laughs and cheers resulted when they talked. While they performed, they intertwined choreography with the songs to emphasize lines and words, creating a spectacular show. It was definitely one of the best live shows I've ever seen, and I would recommend seeing them if the chance arises.

This is the setlist and order of the songs they performed:
Save The World/Don't You Worry Child (Swedish House Mafia Cover)
Thrift Shop (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Cover)*
Video Killed The Radio Star (The Buggles Cover)
OMG (Usher Cover)
Love Lockdown (Kanye West Cover)*
As Long As You Love Me/Wide Awake (Justin Bieber/Katy Perry Mashup Cover)
NSYNC Medley
Telephone (Lady Gaga Cover)
Kevin Olusola Cello Beatboxing*
Radioactive featuring Kevin on cello (Imagine Dragons Cover)*
Aha! (Imogen Heap Cover)*
The Baddest Girl (Original)*
Sweet Nothing (Calvin Harris Cover)
You Da One (Rihanna Cover)
Let's Get It On (Marvin Gaye)*
The Peaceful War (New Original)*
Starships (Nicki Minaj Cover)
Dog Days Are Over (Florence + The Machine Cover)
We Are Young (Fun. Cover)

Below are links to a few videos I took at the show that I've uploaded to YouTube. Just click on which ever you want to watch and it'll take you there. I have more videos as well, so if you want me to upload them then let me know!

Crowd Singalong
Thrift Shop
Love Lockdown

Friday, February 1, 2013

Five Song Friday - February 1st

Another week has gone by, and more music had made its way into my life! Here's some of the tunes I've been listening to this week.

  1. Swimming Pools (Drank) - Kendrick Lamar
    After being introduced to Kendrick Lamar by my uncle, I listened to a few of his songs. I decided to purchase this song because it's simple, yet catchy. I really enjoy the intro, and Kendrick Lamar's raps were highlighted with speed and clarity. The instrumental was solid as well, with great beats and a dark undertone. The bass was probably my favorite part because of it's low & intense feel. Recommended for fans of Kanye West, J. Cole, and Lupe Fiasco. 4/5
  2. Lion - Hollywood Undead
    A friend of mine let me have a copy of Hollywood Undead's latest CD this last week, and I gave it a listen since I had already previously purchased some of their music. I wasn't terribly impressed by most of the songs, but this one stood out to me. Something about the overall sound caught my ear. Whether it was the chorus or the general vibe, I thoroughly enjoyed the song. I also enjoyed that HU didn't swear in the song, which is not something I mind, but it's nice when an artist can make a great song without cursing. The instrumental of the song contributed to the darker ballad vibe of the song. It was a rock song to the core, with gritty guitars and crashing drums. Definitely a great song for those who like My Darkest Days, Saving Abel, and Saliva. 5/5
  3. In The Morning - J. Cole
    J. Cole made the list again this week, this time with a much different type of song. In The Morning is a more "romantic" song, if you will. The mood set by the instrumental is definitely one for couples, but the lyrics are a bit offsetting. Drake's appearance was a nice addition to the track,  although his line "things I can do with lotion" is a bit vague and discerning. Overall, however, the song is quite addicting and will get stuck in your head. Recommended to fans of Drake and Kendrick Lamar. 4/5
  4. Yolo (feat. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar) - The Lonely Island
    I just can't seem to get this song out of my head. The Lonely Island has done it again, creating an incredibly catchy song with hilarious raps and great guest stars. If you have heard any of their previous material and enjoyed it, then you will definitely like this one. 5/5
  5. Drunk In The Woods - Walk The Moon
    Walk The Moon is another group who made the list again, but this time with a B-side from their debut album. This song is absolutely fantastic; it begins with a sweet synth line that is backed by smashing drums and some slightly distorted guitar. The vocals are probably my favorite part; they  soar high and hover low, and fuel the energy of the song. It's one of those songs that makes you want to jump up and down or nod your head to the beat. Great for fans of Young The Giant, Passion Pit, and Imagine Dragons. 5/5