Saturday, March 30, 2013

GL1TCH3S - Beatastic

I am very excited to do this review, seeing that it is another pre-release review. I was contacted by Nico, the man behind Beatastic, to review his new album, GL1TCH3S, set to release April 30th. I had never heard of Beatastic before, but was stoked for the opportunity to listen and give my thoughts about it. GL1TCH3S is Beatastic's 4th album, and Beatastic has been around since 2008

So, the album. The biggest thing I noticed was the wide variety of sounds. He uses a range of different instruments and genre types throughout the album, which creates unique listening experiences for each song. Every track takes the listener on a musical journey, and always in different and exciting directions. For example, "Dreamcatcher" begins with a tight drum beat, but then has a classical guitar line coming over it to create an unexpected sound, especially when combined with the vocals, which echo and have a "dream-like" quality. This is a contrast to the next track on the album, "Together Forever", which has an electronic beat to begin with and roaring guitar chords ripping into the track. It creates a different feel, but at the same time adds to the continuity maintained throughout the album. There are many more examples of his use of contrasting ideas, from "Bedtime" beginning with a mellow synth line and a slow-groovin' beat and having a gritty and distorted come erupting in, to "Hightide" and its shift from upbeat drums and a synth line to a horn propelled ending. The album is full of surprises like this, which makes it an exciting listen. One of my favorites from the album is "Let's Make Today About Today", which has a very classical sounding intro thanks to the piano and strings working together quite beautifully. However, it switches immediately when the drum beat comes in hard and hip-hop heavy. Nico then changes it up again by adding an electric guitar line, further distorting lines between genres. It's got the feel of a rap song, but the swagger and intensity of a rock song. Definitely one of the best from this record. Another favorite is Glitchy, which has the same kind of vibe as Sleigh Bells, who utilize big distorted guitar lines over driving electronic beats. It's fast, catchy, and rockin'. Also throughout the album, you can definitely feel the influence of bands like Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkin, with the heavy electronic sounds and roaring guitar riffs scattered in various tracks like "Lctr".

Overall, I was impressed by the album. Labeling it as "Electronica" does not do it justice; this album crosses genre lines all over the place. While there weren't as many stand out songs for me, they were all well done. It's upbeat, it's groovin', and it's good music. 4/5

Glitchy - 4:44 (5/5)
Lctr - 3:56 (5/5)
Give Up (feat. Ayla) - 4:16 (4/5)
Dreamcatcher - 4:02 (5/5)
Together Forever - 6:05 (4/5)
26 Years - 5:54 (4/5)
Addiction - 3:22 (4/5)
How Fast The Fog Comes In - 4:48 (4/5)
Every Monday Is Fine - 3:59 (4/5)
If You Want To Be Mine (feat. Brook Gulliver) - 2:41 (5/5)
Let's Make Today About Today (feat Global Graffiti) - 4:34 (5/5)
Bedtime - 5:09 (4/5)
Hightide (feat. Jenny Thompson) - 5:20 (4/5)
Comets And Nebulas - 8:28 (4/5)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Five Song Friday - March 29th

A very eventful week in music has passed. New music has come, bands have passed on. Despite it all, I always enjoy the music I already know, and the music I've discovered, and the music I have yet to discover. Here's what I've been listening to this week.

  1. The Phoenix - Fall Out Boy
    Dramatic. Edgy. In-your-face. Those words describe this song perfectly. It's an anthem, powered by high strings, huge beats, and Patrick Stump's voice roaring in your ear. It's driving, and such an excellent comeback song for the boys in FOB. Completely worth $1.29 to buy so you can blast it wherever you go. 5/5
  2. Can't Stop - OneRepublic
    This is a darker sound for OneRepublic, and it's probably my favorite off their new album, Native (for my full review of it, click here). It still has the same big, epic sound found in the rest of the album, but does it in a more moody tone. The huge bass and beat reflect the hip-hop influences Ryan Tedder brought to this album. It's almost hauntingly beautiful, the way all the aspects come together to create this song. 5/5 
  3. House Of Wolves - My Chemical Romance
    After learning that My Chemical Romance were calling it quits, I began to go through all their music again and listen in memory. This song has always been one of my favorites off of The Black Parade, which was the first album I ever heard by them. I've always imagined that this would be a fantastic song to swing dance to, which I've always wanted to do. You can't help but nod your head along with the groove. This song, and many others by MCR, will always remain in my heart. 5/5
  4. Warning (feat. Patricia Lynn) - Air Dubai
    I bought this song a few weeks ago, but it keeps popping up in my mind, thus prompting me to play it. I thoroughly enjoy it, for it is catchy and different. It's a good cruising song, with the windows down at night. Air Dubai doesn't have many songs out currently, but they are supposed to be releasing an album soon, which I am anticipating thanks to this song. 5/5
  5. Life In Color - OneRepublic
    This song surprised me. Not in it's sound, but in the fact that I enjoyed it so much. The introduction sounds almost too happy; it's just so bright and cheery that it makes you want to frown, if that makes any sense. However, the more I listened to the song, the more I began to discover how it is impossible to be unhappy and listen to this song. It makes you want to run around on a grassy field and be a kid again. I absolutely love the upbeat nature and positivity of the song. Definitely worth downloading. 5/5

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Native - OneRepublic

I have been listening to OneRepublic since the Timberland version of "Apologize" released in 2007, and have followed them with interest, watching their sound change and evolve. I've been anticipating Natives for while now, seeing that it has been 4 years since their last release. From what I've heard though, it was definitely worth the wait. The lead singles have been extremely promising, and some of my favorites by the band to this day. "If I Lose Myself" and "What You Wanted" are pop anthems that could fill a stadium perfectly, and "Feel Again" is a positive, radio-friendly hit.

Overall, this album is much more pop oriented, which should be no surprise if you've been listening to the progression of their music. Songs like "Good Life" and "Secrets" from their previous album, Waking Up, were distinctly pop oriented. Now, while they may be more pop oriented, they also include elements from their first album,  Dreaming Out Loud, such as in songs like "Light It Up", with it's use of drums from an actual drumkit and sweet little guitar line. Ryan Tedder's falsetto is also present, which is a beautiful sound. At the same time, the song uses some synths in the background to give the song an even bigger sound than before. The epic theme runs throughout the whole album, especially on tracks like "Can't Stop", which might be one of my favorites off the album. Tedder's falsetto combined with some echoing-electronic beats and a simple ascending piano line creates a sound I absolutely love. I can tell I'll be playing this one constantly for a while. 

So, even though they may be including these huge anthems on the album, they haven't forgotten about their roots in mellow, acoustic driven sounds, exemplified on "Au Revoir" with its chilled tone and use of strings and acoustic piano, much like they did on Dreaming Out Loud. This song is beautiful, moving, and a very well placed contrast to the high soaring sounds of the other tracks. The next track, "Burning Bridges", is another great example of the epic theme. A driving drum beat, combined with filling synths and Tedder's rising vocals create a song worthy of blasting with the windows down. Another cool motif present in the album is the gospel style vocals featured on a few of the tracks, like "Something I Need" and "Preacher". It gives the songs a Southern vibe, and shows the variety of influences the band takes into account. In a video the band posted on their YouTube account, they actually went to New Orleans in Louisiana to record a few of the tracks as so to truly capture the essence of the city and the people. They talked about how traveling and touring had introduced them to so many different places and cultures that influenced them. It was really cool to see how the band has matured and taken in what they've learned and seen in the world around them. A nice close to the album is "Don't Look Down", which is an electronic heavy masterpiece featuring a choir that's pushing the epic feel as well as the strings are. It's a grand finish to a grand album.

Also, if you purchase the Deluxe Version of the album, it comes with two bonus tracks and three acoustic versions of some of the tracks. These are definitely worth the extra money. "Something's Gotta Give" is a percussion heavy song with great synth add-ins. A bit of a Hip-Hop influence is present, which is not a surprise knowing Tedder's tastes in music. "Life In Color" is a fast and up-beat song that makes you want to run around and dance. It's so vibrant, and filled with life. Definitely a great song. And the three "acoustic" songs, "If I Lose Myself", "What You Wanted", and "Burning Bridges" are less acoustic and more stripped down. It shows that there is true talent there. These boys aren't just using electronics and auto-tuning like a lot of artists out there to get radio play. OneRepublic makes music because they love it and they can actually do what they record. It's encouraging and heartwarming to know there's still bands out there that are like that.

In conclusion, go buy it. Right now. It's beyond fantastic. It's epic. Epic isn't a big enough word to describe it. This band is insanely talented, and I'm so glad they are getting recognition for the hard work they've put in. There isn't a single song on the album I didn't like, and so many that I love. 5/5

Counting Stars - 4:17 (5/5)*
If I Lose Myself - 4:02 (5/5)
Feel Again - 3:06 (4/5)
What You Wanted - 4:01 (5/5)
I Lived - 3:55 (4/5)
Light It Up - 4:10 (5/5)
Can’t Stop - 4:10 (5/5)
Au Revoir - 4:50 (5/5)
Burning Bridges - 4:18 (5/5)
Something I Need - 4:01 (4/5)
Preacher - 4:08 (4/5)
Don’t Look Down - 1:39 (5/5)
Something’s Gotta Give - 4:52 (5/5)
Life in Color - 3:23 (5/5)
If I Lose Myself (Acoustic) - 3:50 (5/5)
What You Wanted (Acoustic) - 3:24 (5/5)
Burning Bridges (Acoustic) - 4:36 (5/5)

*(Edit 4/6/13: Originally rated 4/5, changed to 5/5)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Phoenix - Fall Out Boy

When Fall Out Boy announced that they were back, I never imagined they would come back with such in-your-face music. It began with "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light It Up))", but is even more prevalent in "The Phoenix".  This song sounds like something you would hear in a movie trailer (and you probably will). The strings going throughout the song give it this epic feel, layered over thumping beats and gritty guitars. It's got a pop influence, but is rock n' roll through and through. People may argue with that statement (and they have the right to, it's their opinion), but I stand by it because rock was supposed to be something that was rebellious and unafraid to try new things. Fall Out Boy knows that times have changed since they were last in the game; they're not afraid to take their old sound and revamp it, give it a little edge. I personally love this new direction that they've taken, and I know more people besides me do. I can't get over Patrick Stump's newfound vocal sound; he sounds like he has a serious vendetta against whoever these songs are about. His voice has this intensity that I have never heard on any of FOB's previous work. It's refreshing; a break from the smooth sounding vocals that everyone in the pop scene has been putting out (not to say I don't love a beautiful sounding voice). The punch of the electronic sounds with their guitars and drums is a great contrast to the synth-heavy music all over the radios. Props to FOB for coming back with a fire and not being afraid to do things differently. 5/5

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Chemical Romance: A Tribute

March 22nd, 2013. A day that will be remembered in the hearts of the fans of My Chemical Romance. A day that will live on in infamy, as the day that MCR ended. So unexpected; so surprising. I discovered the news at 2 am Saturday morning, and wondered if I had already fallen asleep and was dreaming. Or having a nightmare. I thought, "It can't possibly be. They just finished releasing Conventional Weapons. They have so much ahead of them. Why?". Why. A question I believe is repeated in the minds and on the lips of man of the fans. I am confused as to the reasons why, and so are all of the other people who listen to this talented group. Even though I didn't really discover them till   the release of The Black Parade, I consider myself a fan and consider them one of my favorites. Songs like "The Ghost of You", "Welcome To The Black Parade", "Sleep", "The Light Behind Your Eyes", and many others will stay with me for a long, long time. They showed us songs that make you want to scream and shove your fist in the air, but also made songs for those times when you didn't want to do anything but curl up in a ball and cry. They created such a variety of songs to fit a variety of times in life. I know I've danced around my room to some of their songs, but I've also laid in my bed and stared at the ceiling, contemplating life and its difficulties while listening to their music. They made quite an impact in only 12 years, and it is a testament to the power of music. I sadly did not get the chance to ever see them perform live, and now I really wish I had been able to. This band has helped so many people. They have saved so many who were close to ending things. Their music reached out and gave people something to hold onto. That is exactly what music is for. These boys decided to do something with their lives and talents, and that's just what they did.

On the car ride to home for spring break, my girlfriend, Lauren, asked me what bands I would show my children when I have some. My first few answers were bands like Linkin Park and Blink-182, (because they're my favorites), but I also included My Chemical Romance, because they made quality music that will last in the hearts of many, and had an impact on me. So don't be so down Killjoys. They may be gone for now, but that doesn't mean this is permanent. And this doesn't mean that they'll leave your hearts and lives. If they've made that much of an impression on you, then you will never forget.

"So long, and goodnight"

Friday, March 22, 2013

Five Song Friday - March 22nd

This week has been a busy week for music, and I have lots of new music to talk about! Some are expected (if you've read my reviews), and some may surprise you....

  1. Up In The Air - 30 Seconds To Mars
    This is definitely a great first single from the boys of 30 Seconds To Mars (for more of my thoughts about the song, click here). It shows the potential for a new direction, has an insane amount of energy, and is incredibly catchy. I can see this song getting some radio time, which would be great to have some more rock oriented music make its way back into the spotlight. Recommended for fans of Anberlin, Linkin Park, and My Chemical Romance. 4/5
  2. Pusher Love Girl - Justin Timberlake
    This is my current favorite off JT's new album, The 20/20 Experience (see my full review of the album here). It starts a little slowly, but has such a sexy groove once the song kicks in. Justin never fails on the vocals, and the chorus keeps getting stuck in my head. I also very much enjoy the outro and it's Hip-Hop influenced beat. Definitely worth checking out for any previous fans of his, plus anyone who is interested in hearing some quality pop music. 5/5
  3. Deceiver (one) - Dear Misguided
    I got the privelage of hearing this album early, and was extremely glad I got the chance to. It's a solid effort put out from some good friends. The contrast from the first half to the second half of the song is fantastic, going from banjo plucking and mellow vocals to gritty guitars and cymbal crashes. If you have the chance to pick up the album when it releases, I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity. 5/5
  4. Crossfire - Brandon Flowers
    I found this song through one of my friends and hall-mates, Garrett. I didn't realize it was the lead singer of The Killers until I listened and looked it up. I had forgotten that he had released his own solo album. This song definitely sounds like something The Killers would do, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. My favorite part of the song has to be at the end of the chorus, where Flowers sings "Lie your body down" repeatedly; there's something so haunting yet drawing about it. It makes for a great song to listen to. Good for people who enjoy The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie, and Bon Iver. 5/5
  5. Adrenalin - Eisbrecher
    This is the song that might catch some of you off guard. It's a German rock band, very similar to Rammstein. My friend Garrett also showed me this song, and I've been listening to it a lot this week. It's a solid rock song, and sounds even grittier thanks to the German vocals. I have no clue what they're saying, but I love the way German sounds in rock music and can't get enough of it. If you like Shinedown, Rammstein, or Five Finger Death, then check out these guys. 4/5

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hold This Against Me - Dear Misguided

This is my very first pre-release album review! I'm so incredibly excited to have this opportunity, especially for a talented group of friends of mine. They go by the name Dear Misguided, (formerly known as 12Tone Row),  and they have been playing shows and writing music together since late 2010. I got the privilege of seeing them perform at The DNA Lounge in SF in January of last year. It was an awesome show, where they played with energy and vigor. David Hollenbeck, their lead vocalist and guitarist, cut his hand during the first song and continued to play even while he bled all over his guitar. That's perseverance right there.

Now, the album.

Dear Misguided begins the record with a pretty sweet 27 second intro, titled "Fine", consisting of just vocals. The harmonies are done very well, and having this sort of haunting sound to them. It then immediately kicks into "So Don't Wait", a grooving piece of indie rock. It's fun, and will definitely be a crowd favorite with the energy and upbeat feel. The bridge changes up the vibe, slowly rebuilding the energy but in a different manner. Another track that shares the energetic feel is "A Heart Attack in Black and White", which showcases some good old rock n' roll, which I think is great. Throughout the album, I very much enjoy the gang vocals used, especially on "It's a Slip, Not a Fall", which has a feel similar to The Killers in their early days. The band receives bonus points for using a banjo to open up "Deceiver", which unfolds into a huge, epic sound 3 minutes in. It's definitely one of the best tracks on the album. "Living to Impress" is a song I saw them perform, and is a song they've had for a while. It's always cool to see the changes and progressions songs experience as a band grows and matures. It is similar, but has a very different intro and vibe to it; much edgier, but at the same time a song I can envision myself driving down the road blasting on a summer day. It also contains their famous line, "we are billboards", which rings so true today here in America. Personally, I think my favorite track from the album is "Hope You're Happy", a moody rock tune that is catchy, but aggressive. This is another song that utilizes some gang harmonies during the chorus. I also like the back and forth vocals between David and my good friend, Austin Smith, it's reminiscent of bands like Linkin Park and Blink-182. Both "Sorry I Started A Fight With Your Boyfriend...Again" and "Always" are much more mellow, and act as great contrasts to the enthusiasm and fast-pace found throughout the album. "Always" is a romantic song, and one that I see being popular with the fans, waving their cellphones back in forth and swaying with the beat. Austin Smith sings lead vocals on this song, which I think is a great way to create diversity among songs. It has a fantastic build; even though the sound does not get terribly big, it works to further expand the emotional feel of the song. "Say What You Mean" has a sort of swagger about it in the beginning, but is becomes another well-done edgy tune incorporating those gang vocals at the end. It's another favorite from the album, at least for me. And last but certainly not least, "The Last Eleven Years" wraps up the album. I like the use of the organ sound at the beginning; it's not something present in a lot of popular music today. The song overall has a Death Cab For Cutie feel, with the length and the more chilled out sound. David's vocals on this track are probably his best on the album; he gets so emotionally involved that you can feel it through the speakers. It's a fantastic way to end the album.

Now, another fun point to note is the numbers that are next to certain tracks. "Deceiver", A Heart Attack in Black and White", "Hope You're Happy", and "Say What You Mean" have the numbers one-four next to their titles in that order. I asked David about this, who informed me that it was meant to show that they were all about the same person; it was a story about a relationship. I thought this was really neat, and shows creativity on the band's part.

Overall, I thought this was an absolutely spectacular debut. It shows so much potential, and how much progress has already been made in their time as a band. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. Even though it's not of the highest quality, that's okay. It's expected from a band who is working out of their living room. Definitely worth checking out, for fans of Death Cab For Cutie, The Killers, and The Format.

If you want more information about the band, new music, and show dates, click here.

Congrats David, Austin, Nolan, and Jonathan! Keep up the great work!

Fine - 0:27 (5/5)
So Don't Wait - 4:04 (5/5)
It's a Slip, Not a Fall - 3:56 (4/5)
Deceiver (one) - 4:27 (5/5)
A Heart Attack in Black and White (two) - 3:23 (4/5)
Living to Impress - 4:48 (4/5)
Sorry I Started a Fight With Your Boyfriend...Again - 3:28 (4/5)
Hope You're Happy (three) - 3:06 (5/5)
Always - 4:27 (5/5)
Say What You Mean (four) - 2:59 (4/5)
The Last Eleven Years - 6:09 (5/5)

The 20/20 Experience - Justin Timberlake

The day has finally arrived; Justin Timberlake's first album in 7 years is here. My expectations were high, thanks to "Suit & Tie" and "Mirrors", and they were most definitely not disappointed. The album is a pop dream, something that the music scene has been missing since the release of FutureSex/LoveSounds with songs like "Sexyback" and "My Love". JT has slowly been expanding his sound since his days in 'N Sync, from simply pop to incorporating multiple genres like R&B and Electronic. He is also not afraid to push boundaries and norms, like his tendency to have outros and intros on all of his tracks that seamlessly flow with awesome transitions and constant use of beat boxing percussion. For The 20/20 Experience, he also wanted to challenge the restrictions put on the time length of pop songs today, with the shortest song on the album clocking in at 4:48. He clearly did this album because he wants to, and not to meet any demands of anyone. He simply did it because of his love for music, which is something I really appreciate, and I believe is something that should be more widespread in the music industry today.

Anyways, the album; it's awesome. It deserves to be blasted on loud speakers and listened through all the way. It flows, with the songs feeding each other through every transition. It kicks off with "Pusher Love Girl", which is probably my favorite from the album. The strings in the beginning bring to mind a different era, with a classical feel. This soon changes, however, when the bass kicks in and the synth line floats through. From there, JT starts you on a musical journey that tastes so many types of flavors. "Suit & Tie" brings the 70's to mind, with an R&B feel that's melded with some Hip-Hop led by Jay-Z. This is another fantastic track on the album; one picks up the tempo and leads into the jungle/tribal-sounding "Don't Hold The Wall". Timbaland can be heard in the background, reinforcing that we should "dance, don't hold the wall", a subtle reminder of the partnership that has spawned so many hits.  This is another one of my favorites from the record, with the drums giving the song a unique twist not heard too often nowadays in pop music. This leads into the somewhat odd intro of "Strawberry Bubblegum", although when the songs really kicks off, it has JT written all over it. I really love the vocals in this song, especially during the chorus where he sings faster and in a lower tone. He really does have a sexy voice, (which I think is a perfectly acceptable way to describe his voice), and this is one of the songs where that description fits well. "Tunnel Vision" begins with a Kanye West vibe, and is driven by a tight drum beat. JT's vocals on this song are spot on, especially when he is doing climbs and harmonizing with himself; it's a really fresh sound. While it begins with a small sound, "Spaceship Coupe" erupts with an electronic bass line and echoing drums. This definitely sounds like a song that could have appeared on FutureSex/LoveSounds. He brings it back down during the second half of the song, keeping elements of the song and removing the big drum sounds to be replaced by subtle cymbal sounds that he croons over. Then, it transitions into "That Girl", which features the Tennessee Kids, a big band who has been supporting JT on his many TV appearances lately. This is another song with some 70's sounds incorporated  revealing JT's desire to appeal to a wide variety of crowds, weither they're younger or older. The vibe of the album picks up yet again with the introduction of "Let The Groove Get In", a piece with Latin written all over it. It'll be a popular dancing tune for sure. The chorus is incredibly catchy, and you can't help but nodding along and shifting side to side with the beat. If I knew how to salsa dance, I believe this song would be perfect for dancing to. It has a party vibe, especially with the extended outro that keeps the groove going. "Mirrors" is another favorite of mine, heavily featuring the beat boxing JT loves to utilize and with a great guitar line (which is something else I believe pop music has forgotten and should bring back). The outro is much more mellow and laid back, leading into the final song of the album "Blue Ocean Floor". It begins with a interesting reversed line and the use of some sound effects, like a typewriter and a seagull. This song is much more emotionally driven than the rest of the album, with a melancholy tone fueled by JT singing so sweetly about his loss. This is definitely one of the best songs from the record, being so distinctly different than the rest. It maintains a mellow vibe, never building up heavily, but that's okay. I think JT did this purposely because it defies what current expectations exist for pop music. The CD ends in the same way it began, with a beautiful string sections signing out for JT. 

Overall, this is an astounding album. I'm very pleased to have purchased it, and excited to be able to write about it. It will definitely be a wake up call to the pop music world, and set some higher standards for what can be done. It's more mature lyrically and musically than any of his previous work. Go buy it! It's fantastic. 5/5

Pusher Love Girl - 8:02 (5/5)
Suit & Tie (feat. Jay-Z) - 5:28 (4/5)
Don't Hold The Wall - 7:11 (5/5)
Strawberry Bubblegum - 8:00 (4/5)
Tunnel Vision - 6:47 (5/5)
Spaceship Coupe - 7:17 (4/5)
That Girl - 4:48 (4/5)
Let The Groove Get In - 7:12 (5/5)
Mirrors - 8:04 (5/5)
Blue Ocean Floor - 7:23 (5/5)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Up In The Air - 30 Seconds To Mars

It looks like 30 Seconds To Mars is back on the map, with their new album, LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS, dropping May 21st. The lead single off the record is called "Up In The Air", which just released today. It's interesting, yet not too surprising direction in terms of sound for 30 Seconds To Mars. There is a heavy influence of electronic sounds, which should not come as a surprise to anyone who listened to their previous album, This Is War, in which the electronic element had slowly crept in. It was even present in their first two albums, 30 Seconds To Mars and A Beautiful Lie. However, there is still the element of rock and roll that 30 Seconds To Mars began with, that I fell in love with. The nature of the song follows along with the intensity and drive that 30 Seconds To Mars has mastered over the years. Jared Leto's voice is as fantastic as it has been, going from those low almost whispers to the gritty howls that echo through the song. The band also uses a gang vocal style that is reminiscent of the choir they used in just about every song of This Is War, which I thought was a great element to continue using. The bridge reminded me of the feel of the lead single from their last album, Kings and Queens, with a slowed down, epic sort of feel. This is definitely a worthy addition to any music collection, so check it out! 4/5

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Playlist - St. Patrick's Day

So with St. Patrick's Day coming up, I've been listening to more Celtic/Irish music in preparation. As I've been listening, I've wanted to share these great songs with all you guys, my readers. So I decided to make a playlist for you all to rock out to as you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in whatever fashion you choose.

  1. Lessons From The Empty Glass - The Killigans
  2. Drunken Lullabies - Flogging Molly
  3. Scalliwag - Gaelic Storm
  4. The Foggy Dew - The Young Dubliners
  5. Heartland - Celtic Thunder
  6. Whiskey In the Jar - The Dubliners
  7. Rose Tattoo - Dropkick Murphys
  8. What's Left Of The Flag - Flogging Molly
  9. Follow Me Up To Carlow - The Young Dubliners
  10. I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys
So these songs, in this order, follow a sort of mood line. It starts off fast and upbeat, with "Lesons From The Empty Glass" and "Drunken Lullabies" roaring in with some Irish punk to kick off the party. "Scalliwag" and "The Foggy Dew" continue this vibe, but in a manner that doesn't seem quite so in your face and instead invites you to sing along and dance around. With "Heartland" and a few of the following songs, I'm trying to slow down the feel of the music to create some contrast from the previously upbeat songs. These songs, like "Rose Tattoo", are of a more sentimental nature and should allow for a break in the crazy dancing/partying that might occur. However, with "What's Left Of The Flag", the beginning of the song lulls the listener into a false sense of laid back music, for not too far into the song it kicks off and the punk comes banging through. This vibe is maintained by the last two songs, with "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" having the perfect nonsensical nature to end a St. Patrick's Day party. I hope you all enjoy the music, and celebrate this wonderful holiday!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Five Song Friday - March 15th

The weeks keep rolling by, and more music keeps catching my ear. Here's some of what I've been listening to this past week. Enjoy!

  1. The Glass - The Story So Far
    I discovered this group through Alternative Press' "100 Bands to Know In 2013". The group has energy, and a punch to their punk-rock style. I also took interest after learning that The Story So Far hails from Walnut Creek, which is right near where I grew up. This song in particular is catchy and full of energy, making you want to rock out and sing along. Vocalist Parker Cannon's remind me of Brandon Roundtree of Conditions. The song is on the shorter side, being under 3 minutes, but I enjoy every second of the ride from start to finish. Great for fans of Conditions, There For Tomorrow, and Tonight Alive. 5/5
  2. Sharewithme - Dayshell
    This is another song I found from AP's article this past week. Dayshell leans towards a heavier, Deftones-style sound than The Story So Far. I also just discovered after doing a bit of research that the band was formed by Shayley Bourget after he left Of Mice & Men, which increases my interest in the group. The chorus is awesome, in my opinion, with this epic, grand sort of sound. Their vocals throughout are great, with fantastic resolutions and excellent chord choices. The edginess makes it a very appealing group, and one that I look forward to hearing more of. The band only has this one song out, so I recommend checking it out. For people who enjoy Of Mice & Men, Deftones, and Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows. 5/5
  3. Let The Flames Begin - Paramore
    In anticipation of their new album, I have been listening to some of Paramore's older material. I remember buying this song, because I purchased it the day before I had the opportunity to see them open for No Doubt, and this was one of the songs they performed. It is by far one of my favorites by them, due to it's intensity and edgy nature. I prefer this harder side of Paramore. I've also been listening to this song more because I've read in interviews with Hayley Williams that there is a sequel to "Let The Flames Begin", which I'm hoping will contain the same vibe of the original. 5/5 
  4. Disaster - Blink-182
    This song has been playing since I purchased the EP, Dogs Eating Dogs. It's Blink, but it has heavy influences from Angels & Airwaves, which is expected. The chorus is my favorite part, with Tom Delong's vocals are so haunting and infectious. The intro is also awesome, with a sweet bass line and some epic synth sounds. Its definitely one of the better songs off the EP, and revealing of the maturity and growth in the band as people and musicians. 5/5 
  5. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room - John Mayer
    John Mayer isn't normally my cup o' tea. It's not that I dislike his music, it's just not something I listen to on a regular basis. However, my roommate Josh is very much into Mayer and plays his stuff quite often, so it's been growing on me; this song in particular. I just love the chill, yet sexy vibe Mayer gets with this song. I'm not an expert on Blues, but I'm pretty sure this is a quality Blues song. His voice is one of the best in this generation  which is something I think many people would agree with. Definitely a song I'll keep listing to. 5/5

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday - March 14th

For this week's throwback, I decided on a song that has stuck with me for 10 years now. It's "Always" by Blink-182 from their self-titled album. Since I'm a romantic, this song speaks to me in many different ways. It can be cute and heartwarming, but can also be saddening.  The song brings me back to memories of middle and high school; those days when I felt alone and hurt. This song was one that I would listen to during my pity parties. Nowadays, however, I listen to it and smile, because it makes me think of my girlfriend, Lauren. It makes me miss her. The chorus is my favorite part of the songs, mainly for the lyrics; "Come on let me hold you, touch you, feel you, always, kiss you, taste you, all night, always". This is the kind of music I want to write; not generic, hallow pop songs, but meaningful and moving songs. This will always be one of my favorites by Blink, and Blink will always be one of my favorite bands. I grew up on them, and they grew up with me.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five Song Friday - March 8th

Here we are again, at yet another Friday. This week has been exciting in terms of my musical discoveries, with AP (Alternative Press) magazine releasing their list of "100 Bands To Listen To In 2013". It's a great article, and there are a lot of fantastic bands I've already discovered thanks to this year's edition.

  1. Back To Life - 3OH!3
    This song is for sure going to be one of my favorites from the group. Not just because of the song, but because of the video as well. It's hilarious, and extremely random (at least it seems like that to me). The song is sure to get good time on radio, and reassuring as to the direction of the rest of the album, Omens. (For my full review of the song, go here). 5/5
  2. Cardboard Houses - Hrvrd
    This is one of the bands I discovered thanks to AP. This song has such contrasting moments, from the verses to the chorus'. The verses have a more chilled out feel, with some mellow lead guitar playing over a southern sounding drum beat. When the chorus hits, however, the whole song expands, as the guitar comes roaring in incredibly fast over breakdown style drumming. The vocal style of Jesse Clasen also contributes to these contrasting sounds, for he sings much softer and with almost a sensuality through the verses, but then howls during the chorus. The listening experience is quite fantastic thanks to all of this, and I thoroughly enjoy it. 5/5
  3. Warning (feat Patricia Lynn) - Air Dubai
    Another band I discovered from the list by AP, Air Dubai is a hip-hop/pop oriented group. They want to combine not only hip-hop, but elements of R&B and jazz to create an unconventional sound. This song in particular is energetic, making the listener want to nod their head along and blast the song in the car (which I plan on doing soon). It has the vibe of being a particularly great fit with movie scenes involving parties, but it would be a song that people would look up after the movie cause it's so catchy. It's unconventionalism adds to its appeal, with the distinction between the rap oriented verses and the pop driven chorus. I'd recommend it for fans of Gym Class Heroes, and Cobra Starship. 5/5
  4. Hearts Go Crazy (Single Mix) - Parachute
    I was extremely excited when I discovered that Parachute had released a new song. When I first listened, however, I was honestly disappointed  It's a much more pop and electronic sound than I expected from Parachute. They have talent, and this is not quite a testament to it. After listening to the song a few times, I began to like it more and more, for the lyrics and vocals are crafted with skill and are fantastic. I still have hope too, because this version is the "Single Mix", and so I'm optimistic that there will be a much more organic version on their new album.  4/5
  5. Sweet Nothing (feat. Florence Welch) - Calvin Harris
    I actually first heard this song being covered by Pentatonix at their live show (for my review, go here). I didn't realize it until I heard the original version a few nights ago from somewhere else in my hall. I pulled out my phone and used Soundhound to identify the song, which I then proceeded to download it and listen a few things. Its meant as more of a dance song, but I was hooked by Florence Welch's vocals. Her voice is one of the greats of our generation, and it is masterfully displayed throughout this song. The chorus gets me every time, drawing me in for another listen like the sip of a cool drink. Compared to her normal work with Florence + The Machine, it may seem like a stretch for her to work with Calvin Harris; however, the man has a good sense of music, for the match is great. His instrumental helps build with the emotions pouring out of Florence's voice, keeping the song upbeat but raw. I haven't listened to much of his work, but I'm thoroughly impressed by this song. 5/5  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday - March 7th

This week's throwback is actually two songs, both by a band that I discovered in middle school, The Killers. Why am I picking both? Because I don't want to pick just one. I love them both for differing reasons, and believe they're two of the best songs written by the band, and two of my favorite songs period. They are "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine" and "Mr. Brightside:, the first two tracks off their first album Hot Fuss, which was released in 2004.

"Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine" is a fantastic start to the album, kicking it off with an odd collection of noises leading into the song itself. The bass-line is one of my favorites, being fairly simple and not distorted, but popping out and being catchy. The synths are also great; distinctive, yet not distracting from the vocals, which are in my opinion the best part of the song. Brandon Flowers has one of the most distinctive voices I've ever heard, and it is wonderful to listen to. He has such passion in his vocals on this song; they're blistering with raw emotion. He screams, but not in a hardcore sense; he screams to be real, to show he feels what he is singing. This song is 9 years old, and I still love it as much, if not more than the first time I heard it.

"Mr. Brightside" was the song that put The Killers on the map; it was their rise to fame, and rightly so. The song is fantastically catchy, with the vocals and guitar line burning their way into the memories of millions of fans worldwide. The minute the song starts up and I hear the guitar intro, I immediately get excited and can't help singing along. The chorus is probably the best part, finishing with the iconic line "Open up my eager eyes, cause I'm mr. brightside". Even though the lyrical content should evoke more sadness, the upbeat nature of the instrumental side of the song masks that fact from the listener. Even after years of listening, there are still different things that I'll notice about the song each time I listen. This is a song I know I will show to my children, when I tell them about all the music I used to listen to when I was younger.

Even though I just talked about these two songs, the rest of the album is a spectacular work of music, and I would recommend it to any who have not given it a listen. Some of my other favorites from the album include "Smile Like You Mean It", "Somebody Told Me", and "All These Things I've Done".

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Back To Life - 3OH!3

So Omens, the latest album from 3OH!3, was supposed to have been released back in early December of 2012. However, it was shelved for reasons unknown and not much was said until this week. The band announced that the record was to be released June 18th of this year.

Now that that is all settled, I'll talk about their latest single they just released, "Back To Life". It's got a sort of melancholy feel to it, especially in the verse and pre-chorus. The chorus also contains this darker tone, but incorporates a lot more electronic synths and bigger drums to give it a huge sound. It's a pop song at it's root, which is not bad and not far off for 3OH!3. This song is also indicative of the larger use of synths and electronic noises and moving farther away from the agressive hip-hop sound found on their debut album, WANT. I very much enjoy this song, more than some of the other singles that have been released. I love the piano line that starts off the song and is found sampled throughout the song. It sets up the melancholy sound that the song broadcasts. I also love the vocal part where they just sing, without any words, as the chorus instrumental plays. The harmonies sound great and it adds to that darker tone of the song. The lyrics are typical of 3OH!3's subject matter, talking about never wanting the party to end and bringing it "back to life", hence the title. It may not be groundbreaking, but it's catchy, and will definitely get some air time on the radios. Definitely a solid hit off the new album; lets just hope it releases when it's supposed to this time. 5/5

P.S. Already found myself singing the chorus while walking to get lunch. It's definitely catchy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Five Song Friday - March 1st

It's that time again; the lastest installment of Five Song Friday is here! This week's listening has been different, with a wide variety of genres and styles. I hope you enjoy, and discover something you like!

  1. What You Wanted - OneRepublic *
    I purchased this song at the same time as "If I Lose Myself", another song by OneRepublic which was included in last week's Five Song Friday. I've been listening to it these last few weeks, and I'm really impressed with it. It has an epic sound to it with the drums and the echoing vocals, but the lyrical content is meaningful and touching. Ryan Tedder sings sweetly about the many things he would do for the one he loves. Lines like "I'll be the dawn on your worst night", and "I'll put your poison in my veins" reveal a passion and caring for someone, but only if it's what they, (the lover or friend), want. Besides the lyrics, however, it's an epic and catchy chorus that brings the listener in. The drums are the driving point, continually pushing the energy of the song. Definitely makes me excited for the rest of the album, Natives, to be released on March 26th. 5/5
  2. KABOOM! - I Fight Dragons
    I Fight Dragons is one of the most unique bands I've had the privilege of seeing live. They opened for the Too Fast For Love tour that featured 3OH!3, Cobra Starship, and Travie McCoy. They did a fantastic job, and I was honored to be able to meet them and get a signed CD. They are an alternative/rock band, but are different in the fact that they incorporate NES and SNES sounds into their music. It creates a twist to the the normal formula for a modern rock band, and makes them stand out. I just recently discovered that their debut CD is available for FREE to download on their website, and was eager to hear it all. I think it's a spectacular debut album. This song in particular was one that stuck out to me, because it's a little more gritty than their songs usually get. It's very catchy though, and I thoroughly enjoy it. The harmonies in this song, (and in most of their songs in general), are top notch. It's another reason the band sticks out to me. So if you like alternative/rock and video games, this game is a perfect match. 5/5
  3. Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore - The Young Dubliners
    With St. Patrick's Day coming up, I have started to incorporate my Irish tunes into my listening material again. I discovered this song by The Young Dubliners, one of my favorite Irish rock groups. This song is one that is more laid back for them, but is a great song nonetheless. The instrumentation is simple, with just acoustic guitar, violin, and vocals carrying the song. Singer Keith Roberts's voice is one of my favorite to listen to, especially because of his accent. It makes everything sound awesome. If you like Celtic Rock, such as Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, then these guys are worth your time. 5/5
  4. Now - Paramore
    This song is back on the list; I just can't get enough of it. I absolutely love the edgy and darker sound Paramore went for, and can't wait to hear more of the album. They took elements of their last record, Brand New Eyes, and combined it with their previous work. The band has gone through a lot in the last few years, and I am proud of the way they have handled everything and come out stronger. This is a fantastic song for anyone who likes Paramore. Or good music in general. 5/5
  5. Born To Reign - Will Smith
    Now, this song is a bit of a throwback, considering the CD came out in 2002. Will Smith hasn't done anything musically since 2005, but I grew up on his albums and always love throwing his songs on. He may not have the "coolest" sounds going on or "thumping" bass on his songs, but what he writes is real and truthful. He directs a lot of raps at the current stars of Hip-Hop, and talks about how they've made a choice to rap about meaningless objects and degrading women. One line from this song in particular that I love is "Your hand is a sword and the blade has been forged, young minds gettin gorged, States have been altered by liquor, by weed and then hate gets exalted as art falls to greed". These words ring true in today's culture, and I believe this is something that we need to be reminded of. Will Smith is one of my favorite artists for the messages that he sends and the realism in his music. 5/5

*I could not find a YouTube video link for this song, my apologies