Friday, July 27, 2012

Little Mix - Wings (Official Video)

Little Mix has released their official video for Wings in the international market and it's super!!  This song has the power to be so inspirational for young women around the world on top of being just sheer genius when it comes to pop music.  It's big and it's loud and it's just pop at it's finest.  I think if the Spice Girls were around today, this would be one of their songs.  There is just so much to like in Perrie, Jesy, Leigh-Anne and Jade. The video is super fun and just makes you feel good. I look for amazing things from these girls. You should too!!

Little Mix on the Web
Twitter: @LittleMixOffic

Martika - Flow With The Go

I love Martika. I have since I was a child watching her on Kids Inc. I remember having her cassettes for both albums in the 90s and I have purchased them both on CD as an adult. I think she is an amazing talent that should be a superstar on the same level as Madonna or other 80s icons.  I think there is so much more to her than "Toy Soldiers" because she isn't a one hit wonder.  She is an actual pop star with a ton of great material under her belt.  So you don't know how happy I am to hear a new song from her. I've now found her on Facebook and Twitter and followed her and I have listened to the new song, "Flow With The Go".

I want more from her.  The song is bubbly and poppy.  It's a bit bilingual which is very cool.  It's super fast and I think will sound amazing in clubs. I think we are going to get more and I know that the quality of the music is going to get better. I think this track is showing that she is still relevant. And the video shows that she is more than relevant. She is still sexy after all these years and can do anything she damn well pleases. I can't wait for more music from her and I hope that she has outstanding success because she deserves it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Meet Twitch The Ripper

By now, you know I have an unwavering love for all things Synth Pop.  I can't get enough of the stuff.  I like it from all countries around the world and I especially love it when it's grown in the good old U S of A.  Not that I am uber patriotic but I want American artists to be as inspired to make kick ass music as the rest of the world.  So imagine my surprise when I come across a new act from Connecticut known as Twitch The Ripper.  Not only are they awesome Americanos, but the guys (like a few of my other favorite groups - Zelliack, Gravitonas) come from totally different backgrounds than that of a synth pop duo.

So I'm cruising on Facebook and I get an advert telling me to go to their page.  I surf around for a bit then start looking for the goods.  The music.  The hotness.  I stream their first single, "Strange Behavior" off their Soundcloud and immediately start following them on all the social media.  If they had a Friendster account, I'd be all about it too.  I get done being all stalkery and run over to their record label's website to snatch up a preorder of their debut album, Colorblind that will be released on August 18.

People have said they sound like a lot of different artists, I can hear some Depeche Mode/Information Society in the track.  I hear some Erasure/Squeeze/Pet Shop Boys with a dash of Morrisey in the vocals.  I hope the rest of the debut album is this good because I am super excited to hear it...but not in the restraining order type of way.  Local, small groups are the way to go in most cases because they support the fans as much as we support them.

Great job guys and I can't wait to hear more.

Twitch The Ripper on the Web
Twitter: @TwitchTheRipper

Diviney - You're So Cool

I was too little too late  to the game to be a big Short Stack fan but I grabbed at what I could before they disbanded and have followed Sean Diviney on FB since then and I am honesty very happy with his first solo track.  I would love to hear it get American radio play but it won't so I am thankful for the internet.  Nick @ #1 Hits From Another Planet says he is a little INXS in this track and I can hear it with some of the vocal spacing and phrasing he does.  It's a good solid piece of pop music and I can't wait to hear more from him in the very near future.

Foxy Shazam - Holy Touch (Official Video)

I've talked about Foxy Shazam before. I've talked about how I felt they were the saviors of the Rock and Roll genre. If you need any proof, this song and video should shatter any doubt you had in your mind. Eric Nally is one of the most magnetic front men of any band ever. This song is less than 3 minutes and they are able to cram so much amazing into 180 seconds is ridiculous. I've had the pleasure to see them in concert and I can't wait to see them again. They are Rock and Rollers and this is music at its finest. Anything else I type here is just going to be me gushing about how great the video is or how happy I am to see this as a video, so I'll let you judge.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kendall - Don't Even Know You're A Vampire

When I saw Kendall teasing at the title of this track, I found myself making a bit of an audible groan because I didn't want his creativity and talent wasted on a bandwagon.  What I should have done instead was just trust in the fact that he wouldn't let me down.  What I am going to say about this track to begin with is, "Holy shit!"  This track is fantastic.  I love how it's a departure from a lot of the other tracks we have become accustomed to lately and is a full on darkwave track.  I think that we all have experienced a night where no matter what we did, it felt like it would never end.  Be it for the good or bad, those nights are the ones that are the most vivid in our memories.  Something has changed so subtly and you aren't sure what it is but it causes enough stress to disrupt your life.  You try to get back to who you were but you continue losing sleep over it.  I love the delivery of the message in this track.  The video showcases Kendall beautifully and is quickly becoming one of my favoites.  (Hip Hop Dykes will always be my favorite though)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Justin Utley Live (Camp Pride)

In 2010, I lost my boyfriend of 11 years to pneumonia. I was lost and hurt and all alone. I turned to my friends for support but in the wee hours of the night when I had talked too long or when I had imposed one step too far, I found solace in music. A medium shared by multitudes that made me part of something larger than myself gave me purpose. It allowed someone to express what I was thinking or feeling in a manner that I was incapable and in a lot of cases they did it more eloquently and at times, succently. I started grabbing anything new to help keep myself busy and to give my overactive brain a rest. One of these new artists that would come to mean more than I would ever know was Justin Utley. His music, in part has been the soundtrack to my life the past couple of years. There have been other artists that have added their voices but Justin's has been prevalent throughout.

His manner of delivery, his ability to express feelings that I didn't even have names for and in many cases; his talent for making a bad situation look not as grim were the qualities that I quickly became engrossed with. I purchaed his 2005 debut album, Runaway and listened to it more times than I could count. The songs became friends that would do all the taking so that I didn't have to talk anymore. So you couldn't understand how estatic I was to find out that he was releasing another album. I spent hours writing letters (to no avail) to the Pride Committee in Nashville for 2 years trying to get him booked as an entertainer at Nashville Pride. I followed his career. I watched the rare live performance he would post on Youtube and he became a tremendous part of my life.

When Nothing This Real was released I was estatic over the prospect of hearing more about where he was in his life, musically as it were. I again, spent hours getting to know each and every song on the album like it was an old friend, the only difference now was that I was an aspiring music blogger and I had stopped being miserable on a daily basis. I took to the keyboard to write about this album and to my surprise, the words came out quckly and decisively.  I have become a fan of not only his music but his message as well.  His story is one of hardship and triumph over adversity at all costs.  I've written about it (Here) so I won't rehash  it again.  Listening to this album is so personal because Justin doesn't hide anything.  If you actually listen to the songs, he shares so much of himself that you feel like you've been with him as he's taken each step of his journey.

There was no way in the world that I was going to miss seeing him perform in Nashville when he came to be an entertainer/mentor/advocate/guest speaker for Camp Pride so I grabbed up my best friend, Charles, and we traveled the 2 hours south to be part of what could have been a once in a lifetime event.  What is Camp Pride?  It is a week long summer camp for GLBT Undergraduate students to come together and learn how to become leaders in their community and be able to take new tools and resources back to their campus to aid in the formation of student groups and to help ensure continued equality for GLBT students.  This year there were approximately 60 universities represented from across the country.  For more information click here.

We got to Vanderbilt a bit early because we wanted to find the Sarratt Cinema and once we found it we just hung out until the show was going to start.  Justin walked in with one of the faculty members, Shane, from Camp Pride and noticed where we were sitting.  Charles tells me that something amazing happened at this moment but I think I was swept up to appreciate it the way he did.  When Justin saw us, he immediately recognized me and stopped to talk to us.  This is the part that amazed Charles, a nationally known singer/songwriter knew who I was on sight.  We talked for just a minute and he went in to start getting ready.  After a little while, we went into the theater and watched him sound check.  We talked to other faculty from Camp Pride and get a better understanding of what they were working to accomplish and I felt truly inspired and wished that my college had an organization that I could have taken pride in.

Justin took the stage and what you learn extremely early is that he is the most genuinely humble and down to earth human being you will ever meet.  There is nothing about him that comes off as pompous or arrogant or phony.  Between each and every song, he stopped to talk about his experiences and gave background on each song.  His stage presence is so huge that even though it was just him a guitar and a piano the stage never felt empty.  His stories are so personal and he shares them with such unabashed honesty you are immediately brought in and made to feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself.  He has a smile that happens so easily and frequently the room just lights up with the sheer joy of it.  Watching him tell the stories or play the songs, you can see every ounce of heart and soul that he has put into them.  They aren't just songs, they are a living, breathing part of who he is, who he was and in some cases who you want to be.

He played 8 of his own songs and a Tears for Fears cover ("Everybody Wants to Rule the World") and interacted with the audience like he'd been doing it for years.  I've always thought that if you go to a live show and the artist sounds like they do in a recording, it's the sign of a true artist. No studio magic, no trickery just art.  He not only sounded like his recordings, he was better live.  You can hear subtle nuances in his voice where there is more emotion in different parts of the songs.  Every song was awesome and there wasn't a moment that I didn't enjoy.

After the show, he went over to the Rec Building where he hung out with the students and talked some more and was just happy to be there.  Never once in the entire evening did he make anyone feel put out or insignificant (even though he had a horrible travel day).  Everyone he met was important and deserving of his time.  We talked about some of his songs and he shared more stories about them which gave me a whole new understanding of who he was/is and where he came from.  Those are his stories to tell and I'll let him do that.  I think the thing that stood out the most to me about the entire event was that I went into it being a Justin Utley fan but when I left, I felt like family.

Thank you to Justin for one of the most amazing nights I have had in my life and for being a continuing source of inspiration.  Thank you Campus Pride for the amazing things you're doing with the future leaders of our community.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Madonna - Turn Up The Radio

This should have been the lead single off MDNA. There's no pretense, she isn't trying to be anything other than Madonna. It's a light, breezy track that just feels right. It feels like it could have been released on Music or Bedtime Stories. I think so far, this is my favorite track on the album because she isn't trying to play catch up.  The video is easy, it's exactly what you think you should hear when you listen to the song.  Welcome back, Madge...I missed you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

No Doubt - Settle Down

No Doubt will always be one of those bands that I support no matter what and I think that's because I fell in love with them when they were a ska band. Are they still a ska band, to some extent but I think more than anything they are an incredible pop group.  They were able to grow and change as the industry changed which extended their longevity tremendously.  That being said, I am really vibing on their new single. "Settle Down" is this super funky reggae inspired track (Ska was founded in Jamaica) that has Gwen killing the vocals. Has it really been 10 years since their last single? It certainly doesn't sound like it. This album is going to be HUGE and I can't wait for it.

Andreas Ohrn - A Pop, Rinse, Repeat Exclusive Interview

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Andreas Öhrn, the charismatic lead singer of the amazing Swedish group, Gravitonas and we had a brilliant conversation.  He is man of many words and all of them impeccably chosen.

PRR: I hope all is going well.  First off I want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule for this interview.   I have been a fan since I first heard “Kites” and have eagerly waited for each new release.  I think that you and Alexander are one of the most dynamic duos in music today.  You always are incredibly creative and cause your fans to actually think and hear your music.  I love being pushed to new levels by artists and thank you for that.  Is that something you set out to do initially or is it just a byproduct of the immense music you create?

AÖ: We always wanna push it to new levels both musically and visually. Me and Alexander had pretty much the same ideas when we started Gravitonas. Predictability is boring. When people watch our videos and listen to our songs they realize that we never repeat ourselves and that we always experiment with different looks, styles and sounds. You'll always recognize it's Gravitonas but you'll never get bored.

PRR: Many of my readers may not know about Gravitonas. If you had only one sentence to explain who Gravitonas was, what would it be?

AÖ: A dramatic, dangerous and danceable mixture of guitars, beats and electronica.

PRR: Your music has such depth of character and range, is it your overall intention to craft music that is not only thought provoking but emotionally challenging as well?

AÖ: We are indeed suckers for drama and I think the whole thing about songwriting is to touch and move the listener in some way. It's the coolest thing when you can communicate a feeling through a song and let someone into your brain for a while. Even cooler when you manage to intensify that feeling with your video, pictures and so on. A song that that leaves you completely untouched is just waste of time.

PRR: You both have an amazing visual presence.  You've cited The KLF (among others) as an influence in your style.  Do you think that it's important to also challenge people through visual means as well?

AÖ:Hell yes. It's important to connect the music with the visual presence. Otherwise it would be like drinking an alcohol free drink or smoking a joint underwater. And that sucks.

PRR: What drives you to create the art that you do.  The songs seem to have a tremendous amount of emotion channeled into them.  I would think that creation of this level would be exhausting.  Do you ever finish a song and just need to take a nap? (Lol)

AÖ: When I was a kid my mom took me to a Motley Crue concert and from that day I knew what I wanted to do. I love this job. I don't need a shrink. I just jump on a stage or go to one of our studios here in Stockholm and spew it all out. All the members of Gravitonas are producers and songwriters so if it's not a Gravitonas track it's a track for another artist or maybe a movie or a computer game. Pure fun. Exhausting sometimes, yes. But if you think of it, all funny things leaves you exhausted.

PRR: With Alexander having such a rich past with Army Of Lovers, Vacuum, Alcazar, and BWO I would imagine his experience to be invaluable.  How is it to work with someone who has been in the industry for so long?

AÖ: We come from different backgrounds. I was in a Punk band with 8 members and Alexander was the king of gay disco. Haha. But it didn't take long until we discovered that we had the same ideas about many things, especially melodies and music. Two hours after our first meeting we were in the studio recording our first song. I have learned incredibly much from Alexander and I hope he has learned one or two things from me as well.

PRR: You guys have amazing chemistry together.  It seems like you've been making music for longer than 2 years.  What do you credit for your success so far?

To be honest I was a bit skeptic before our first meeting and the record company had some trouble to convince me before I decided to go (being a snot nosed punk rocker and all). But when we started to talk I changed my mind right away and in the studio everything just clicked. I don't know what the secret formula is. Put a punk rocker and a disco man in the same room and magic happens?

PRR: From my perspective, Sweden has an amazing music scene and does pop music better than most artists in the US.  But at the same time, I have heard that it can be very difficult to get into the mainstream scene in Sweden.  Do you feel that it is a difficult market to crack? What were your experiences like?

AÖ: There's a lot of great music coming from Sweden but the mainstream radio in Sweden is pretty damn boring. They play the same 10 songs over and over again for a year and when they wanna be a little bit wild and crazy they throw in Nickleback's latest single. But I think that's about to change now when streaming services like Spotify is growing bigger. People share their own playlists and don't have to listen to the radio stations same old playlist over and over again. Then the radio stations loose listeners and hopefully realize they have to do something about it.

PRR: What would you like to leave as your musical legacy?

AÖ: The national anthem for planet Mars.

PRR: If you could collaborate with any other Swedish artist right now, who would it be?

AÖ: Right now we're focusing on collaborations with Swedish song writers, dj's and producers so the artist collaborations will have to wait.

PRR: What about internationally?

AÖ: There's this guru guy in India who can whistle with his eyes. I happen to have that very same skill so a collaboration with him would be nice. An eye whistle duet.

PRR: Who are you listening to right now?  If you pressed shuffle on your media library what would be the next song to come up?

AÖ: Probably something Japanese or Korean. Me and Ben Smith (Gravitonas guitarist) are writing a lot of music for K-pop and J-pop artists right now.

PRR: You have a tremendous fan base in Eastern Europe.  How important is building a fanbase in the US? Would you ever do a US tour?

AÖ: I'd love to do a US tour and hopefully we will soon. They're launching the US club campaign for our latest single "Call Your Name" any day now!

PRR: I am a huge fan of music from around the world.  The internet has made it where I can expand my interests much further than ever before.  Do you think about being a member of a global music community and does that influence you at all?

AÖ: I'd say we already are since we write songs with people from all over the world and also do collaborations with different artists and DJ's around the globe. Our latest collaboration was made entirely on Skype!

PRR: Because you are so connected with your fans, have you run into any situations where fans had difficult respecting boundaries between your personal life and Gravitonas?

AÖ: No not really. We chose to play this game. We love our fans and our boundaries are very stretchable.

PRR: In an interview with Pro Motion, Alexander said that you are very interactive with your fans and very keen on interactivity over the internet.  How has being so close with the fans affected your process for making music?

AÖ: It's cool in every way! Our first 1000 Facebook fans were from 40 different countries. There are a lot of great things about being close to your fans. One thing is that it definitely gives you a fast feedback on your work. Just a couple minutes after a release you get your first reviews. And they're brutally honest too!

PRR: Gravitonas is one of the growing number of bands that have made their material for people in the United States available for purchase.  It can sometimes be very frustrating to support artists that have not embraced this.  Was it a simple decision to do this or is it more difficult than it appears?

AÖ: We decided from the start that every release should be available for everyone at the same time. It's not a complicated thing to do and I think it's fair to the fans.

PRR: Has music piracy touched you?  I read an article with a British artist who didn't necessarily justify piracy but he did understand how it could be beneficial to expand his fan base.  How do you feel about this type of sentiment?

AÖ: Music piracy is dying now when the streaming services are growing. There's no use in downloading stuff and fill up your hard drive when you can have it streamed into your phone for a fair amount of money. And think about it, if don't pay for your music you'll probably have to pay a whole lot more to see the live show or it won't even be a live show at all, maybe not even a video or even an artist. Just a bunch of crappy low budget homemade YouTube videos. And that's just fun for 10 minutes.

PRR: Are you guys working on a new EP?  I read where you were fans of the EP format much more than just releasing an album a year.  Do you think the move from physical media (CDs, LPs, cassettes) to digital downloads has encouraged artists to make similar moves?

AÖ: We love the EP format, it's like a mini album and you can release like 4 EP's a year which is a lot more fun than the traditional album release once a year. People don't buy albums anymore anyway. They pick out the songs they like and make their own playlist. We have tons of new stuff coming up and probably a new EP. I can't tell you any details yet but if you join our Facebook group and tune into you'll get the news first.

PRR: You've been amazing, Andreas.  Thank you for your time, it's been incredible.  I can't wait to see what's next for Gravitonas and can't wait to attend a show in the US.

Levi Kreis - So Much Better (Official Video)

Just when I thought I didn't have anymore to say about a song, the official video comes along and makes me realize I'm wrong.  Levi has done a phenomenal job with this video just creating a super fun atomsphere while keeping things minimal.  I think it shows a lot of restraint to just create a "club recording" video instead of cluttering up the frame with a ton of unnecessary stuff.  This way the focus is on the song and the performance and not on a lot of flashy effects or scene changes.  That white suit was perfect for him and the video and I am super proud to see the video take form.  It's a great song that's incredibly uplifting and will make you happy while listening to it.  I can't wait to hear more from this album because we get to be there every step of the way as it's being created.  Congrats, Mr. Kreis!  It's another amazing video that has a gigantic heart and soul to it.  Well done, sir!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

DJ Bill Bennett - Upside Down

Not only should you be calling her Ms. Ross but you better call him Mr. Bennett as well because this track will make you respect every bit of his talent. Bill Bennett is one of the few DJ's in the game that have a genuinely successful career in the music industry. This mix is fantastic. The low end will thump and throb where you need them to and the sample of "Upside Down" is flawless. After one listen, I feel the need to hit replay again so that I can be more prepared to move my ass like a mad man. I need to hear this in a club so I can watch everyone just lose their shit because this track has the power to do that. Congrats on another phenomenal piece of work, Mr. Bennett.

Lauren Ray - I'd Lie

Lauren Ray has gone country! This girl can do anything at all. Her voice is so strong and sultry malleable quality to it. She has seamlessly and flawlessly transitioned from darkwave to country and she sells it without any issue. You'd think she'd been singing this genre for years but from what I understand, this is her very first foray into country. I think that makes this song so much more incredible because this is such a new experience and you would never know otherwise. The production is brilliant thanks to Stormby's deft hands behind the boards. You really need to get on board with this girl so that when she is a mega star, you can say you knew her when. If she continues in country, there is no way that she couldn't easily stand up beside Miranda, Carrie or Taylor because she's that good.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meet Lectrolips

Tonight has been a really cool night.  I have found some amazing new music from the UK that I want to support because it's totally independent and it's got some pretty amazing production for something that has no backing from a label.  I think that's what's incredible about the music industry right now, the software to create music has become so accessible that people that would have never had the opportunity before can now make music and express themselves and what's even cooler is that there are people out there that will listen to their stuff and totally dig it.

So I'd like to introduce you to Lectrolips, a pretty cool new synthpop duo who have created quite a large library of pretty great stuff on their own.  I think what I like about their version of synth is there is more of a computer based vibe that makes me want to break out my old Kraftwerk albums.  It has more of a digital sound that separates them from quite a few of the other artists that can tend to run together.  I think if they were to go on tour, I'd like them to go out with Simon Curtis.  I think their overall production value and vibe would work great together.  I think they would also work well with Desire or College.

The tracks I've showcased here are a pretty great sampling of their brand.  It's funky with a dance beat that makes you bob your head and tap your feet without trying.  There is a little autotune/vocoder on the tracks but with the overall digital production, it actually works and plays into the feeling.  It makes me think of "Computer Blue" by Prince.  I can't pick one specific song out of these that I like better than any of the others because they are all great in their own way.  I love the bass line and spoken lyrics in "Voyeur".  It's a top track, I think actually.  The piano in "Glimmer" absolutely seals the deal.  It's so moody and atmospheric.  "The Record Sound" is just a really fun song with a killer beat.  "Resurrection" is this driving track that will knock you down with it's power.  It's not overdone either.  It's a great piece of work that just throbs all over my sound system.  That leaves, "Love Has Lied" and it is far from the least impressive song.  I think that if I had to pick a song out of this pack to show off their overall talents, this would be it.  The production is great, the lyrics are choice and it's a pretty rad track.

Needless to say, I want to support these guys and I want you to as well.  They are pretty incredible and I've only been a fan for a few hours.  I think I am going to find more and more about these guys that is great.  As I do, you know I'll post it for you to see.

Lectrolips on the Web

Twitter: @lectrolips

Tell It Slant - My Heart Is Not Heart-Shaped

In what could easily be a lost track from the New Romantic era, British artists, Tell It Slant are taking no prisoners on this emotion fueled track.  If Echo and the Bunnymen, Roxy Music or The Smiths are your cup of tea, this is going to be incredibly exciting for you because this track harkens back to those melancholic ballads but has an updated synth undertow that pulls you along every easily as the track progresses. I'm not sure if Leo or Owen is the vocalist but I am mesmerized by his vocals.  I think that if you are a fan of melodic pop with a bit of gloom interwoven, you are not going to be disappointed.  I am a fan of this and have just found them tonight.  I am going to see what information I can dig up on these guys because I want to know more.  I may even poke around and see if I can ask them some questions.

Tell It Slant on the Web

Monday, July 9, 2012

Daniel Bedingfield - O.V.E.R. U. (Live at Blue Microphones)

This song is one of my favorite off Stop the Traffik/Secret Fear and you would think the rapid fire delivery may be the cause of some studio magic on the post production end of the song but listening to Daniel destroy the vocals on this live take proves that he has talent.  It's a very cool "getting over you" song and I think that it has a ton of potential for being a huge hit.  We just have to support him and make it happen.  Take a listen and let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Little Mix - Wings

As ususal the American version of a British show falls short. X-Factor in Britain is brilliant and has a knack for producing pop acts that are hands down, incredible. Little Mix is the winner of the 2011 season of X-Factor and they have released their first single, "Wings". If you are a fan of over the top pop or girl power or girl bands or just great pop music in general, you are in for a treat. There is so much about this that is just so saccharine-ly sweet, you will get a cavity. And it is the sweetest of them all. I am an immediate fan and hope these girls destroy the charts.

Little Mix on the Web
Twitter: @LittleMixOffic

Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, ULTRA

Someone had played "Novacane" for me and I thought it was a pretty cool song.   I didn't really pursue it much after that more than just the casual listen every now and then.  Frank Ocean wasn't necessarily on my radar because I'm not the biggest R&B fan.  There are artists that I really enjoy and there are those that I know by reputation but I don't actively pursue the scene.  So it wasn't until I read that Frank had come out that I wanted to know more.  The article that he wrote to express his coming out was expertly written as if he agonized over each word he chose.  Making sure the pictures that were painted were evocative and just filled with the sincerest amount of emotion.  It was one of the most incredible things I've read in a long time and my heart went out for him because of the pride I felt for him and because I know the road he is facing is going to be daunting at best.  The Hip Hop/R&B community is not necessarily welcoming when it comes to homosexuality and he has stepped up and drawn a line in the sand.
"I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, know I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same."
My main reason for downloading the album was because he had come out. I wanted to know more about this man and what he stood for. Was the reason I downloaded it the right one? I don't know but I have listened to Nostalgia, ULTRA many times now and I can honestly say, sexuality aside; it was one of the best things that I have done in a while.  It is so clean and well put together.  I love how he has crafted the album, using tape recorder sounds to make it sound more authentic.  He has pulled dialog from Eyes Wide Shut and named the interludes after video games (Street Fighter, Goldeneye, Soul Calibur).  The actual songs on the mix tape are brilliantly written.  The nostalgic take on "Strawberry Swing" immediately transports me back to when I was a child playing with my brothers on a hot summer day.  "Lovecrimes" is incredible.  The way it slows down toward the end just creates this sense of drama and draws a picture of an ending.  The juxtoposition of the heartfelt lyrics against the bounce beat of "There Will Be Tears" takes that song to a whole new level.  Probably one of the coolest thing he's done is pull the track from "Hotel California" and dances all over it like he's been doing it all his life in "American Wedding".  That song is incredible.  On "Nature Feels", he pulls from MGMT's, "Electric Feel" and does a damn fine job killing it.

"I believe that marriage isn't
Between a man and woman but between love and love".

It's quite clear that I'm a bit smitten with this album.  I hope the hip-hop community embraces this change and allows him the room to fly.  He has the potential to do amazing things for a community that is rife with homophobia and gay bashing.  Support him when his album comes out on July 17th and let him know that it doesn't matter who he sleeps with, his music is important and he is important.

Top 5...

Love Songs (with a Twist)

Sometimes love isn't pretty. It's not neat and it's not text book. Sometimes, it's downright dirty and a bit creepy. That being said, here are my Top 5 Love Songs (with a Twist).

5.  Sarah Mclachlan - Possession
What could be more dangerous than stalking?  This song was actually based off letters Sarah received from a deranged stalker who sued her for intellectual copyright infringement and then committed suicide.

4.  The Pet Shop Boys - You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk
So many relationships are built on this type of jilted logic.  It's just so easy to get wrapped up in this type of thing.

3.  Nick Cave and  Kylie Minogue - Where The Wild Roses Grow
Two of the most incredible voices/performers ever and they are together.  Love is deadly in this not so typical love song.

2.  The Smiths - Girlfriend In A Coma
I don't feel there's a need to justify the magnificence that is Morrissey.

1.  Scissor Sisters - She's My Man
I dare you to find another song that represents a codependent/crazy in love/totally not good for you love song.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rupaul - Peanut Butter (ft. Big Freedia)

First off, I need to give a little lesson as to what the New Orleans Bounce is.
"Bounce music is an energetic style of New Orleans hip hop music which is said to have originated as early as the late 1980s, but is typically believed to have begun with the 1991 single "Where Dey At" by MC T.Tucker and DJ Irv."
Ok if you need a visual... which some of you do, here you are:

Now that's out of the way... If you take Bounce and let one of the preeminent practitioners of the genre, Big Freedia do her thing with one of the most glamtastic divas of all time, what do you have? "Peanut Butter" by RuPaul.  I remember hearing the rhyme in this song a million years ago.  I think it was on the Supermodel of the World or Foxy Lady album but I can't remember.  I will find out. (EDIT: It's from "R.U. Nasty" on Foxy Lady) But it was trapped in my head and hearing it again in this track just unlocked a ton of memories.  So anyway, this track is super high energy and may not be for everyone but I think it's incredible.  It takes me back to the mid-nineties when things were not so complicated as they tend to be when you're aspiring to be a responsible adult.  Back when Miss Thing was singing for her supper not sitting behind a judges bench making bitches lip synch for their lives.  It's dirty and grimy and lets you see behind the curtain for a minute.  I am living for it actually.  I think it is an incredible piece of work and makes me give Ms. Charles mad props!

Give it a shot and see what you think.


Mixtapes are an incredible thing.  They give an artist the ability to show people what they are about in a small amount of space.  They allow the artist to do new and crazy stuff that showcases their talent.  This 21 minute, 8 track mix tape has some original work interspersed with remixes, movie dialog, covers and conceptualizations of new songs.  Using The Craft, Kill Bill, Cruel Intentions and American Beauty - she has managed to set the stage for an angst filled rebellion against conformity and the institution.  Her vocals are amazing against the beats she has chosen from Blood Orange, Blood Diamonds and even Drake.

One of the most amazing things about this record is the low end.  Her bass is so heavy it will rattle your bones without even trying too hard.  I love listening this in my truck because it hits pretty hard.  Its such an easy listen that when it's done you want to start it again.  I have quickly become a huge fan becasue what she's crafted is new.  It's inventive and doesn't necessarily follow the same rules and procedures that other pop music does.  It's a free mix tape that you can download from her website so I don't know what's stopping you.  Here is it is if you want to stream it and the download link is way down there under the track list.  Go get it and show her some love.  She's brilliant and has an amazing career ahead of her.


Beyond the Black Rainbow
1) Champagne Coast - Charli XCX / Blood Orange
2) How Can I – Charli XCX
3) Grins - Charli XCX / Blood Diamonds
The Craft
4) So Far Away - Charli XCX / Paul White
Kill Bill
5) Dreams Money Can Buy - Charli XCX / Drake / Jai Paul
Cruel Intentions
6) Lock You Up – Charli XCX
7) Spoons – Charli XCX / Rudimental
American Beauty
8) You're The One (Odd Future's The Internet remix feat. Mike G) - Charli XCX

Charli on the Web <-----Download the Mixtape here!
Twitter: @charli_xcx

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Florence and the Machine - Breaking Down (Official Video)

In what appears to be amazing home movies, Florence shows that it doesn't matter what the treatment for a video is, she can take it and own it. This is one of my most favorite songs off Ceremonials. I'm not going to do a whole lot of talking because she doesn't need me to sell it, it does it all by itself. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Charli XCX - You're The One

You know how I feel about music that pushes boundaries and music that takes a new approach on an existing idea. This is unexpected. I've heard rumblings about Charli XCX (Kiss Charli Kiss) for a day or so and I've seen the V cover shoot she did with Grimes and Sky Ferreira (who are both amazing and you should check them out) so I was curious about her. On first glance you may think she is going to fall into the TweePop category with Cher Lloyd or Lily Allen (again, there's nothing wrong with that particular brand of pop) but quickly you hear there is another level to her music. It's a mix of lo-fi meets darkwave with some choice synth thrown in. I think that if you were to make a mix tape for someone, you would have to put Grimes and Sky on there with Charli.  She has a maturity to her that makes her more accessible to audiences.  She is going to appeal to people of all ages.

This video is all kinds of crazy in the best way.  I think that she does an incredible job of being glam when she needs to be and she can pull off camp with no issues.  She is a very pretty young woman with a boat load of charisma.  There is so much going on in the video but it's not over crowded or too over the top.

I am exited about her and can't wait to hear more. She has another track and a mix tape on her Soundcloud and they are brilliant. "Nuclear Season" is this really cool funky track that just has you bobbing along without a care.  She has a bit of Marina in her voice but I think there is a definite difference to where she lets her music take you.  Given the right circumstances, she has the potential to be huge because there's a quality about her that will make you want to spend your money and buy her tracks.  I also love the fact that she appears to be doing as much as she can to release material for those of us in the States as well as people in the UK.  That alone makes me a fan.

Will keep you informed as I learn more about her.

Charli on the Web
Twitter: @charli_xcx

Jane Badler - Yesterdays Tomorrows (Official Video)

The wait is over! We've gone from EP release to remixes and now...the video! And what a video it is. The production is so high on this. The imagery is beautiful, the visuals are crisp and above all else; Jane is gorgeous. It's easy to realize that Jane epitomizes timeless beauty and this video does amazing work to prove that. There is a melancholy vibe that quickly shifts to determined resolve as Jane expertly delivers the vocals. She has this ability to channel so much power through her expressions and you absolutely know where you stand with her in this piece. She is flawless as ever and that black dress seem effortless as she makes her way across the beach.

You already know she can do no wrong in my eyes because she is an amazing talent and I have the utmost respect and admiration for her. As long as she continues making music like this she will have a fan in me for the entirety of her career.

Monday, July 2, 2012

David Gray and Yuna (LIVE)

Last Friday night I had the distinct pleasure of seeing yet another amazing concert.  The best friend and I took off Friday around mid morning to drive to Louisville, KY in 106 degree weather to brave an outdoor event.  It's one of those things that you have to do when a British artist is touring the States and you want to see them  (Read my posts about the four and five hour trips I've made in the past 2 years to see concerts).  There are just things that you do in order to see amazing live shows, that's all I'm saying.  So back to the story.  I am a fan of David Gray.  There is no doubt about that but I am not the biggest fan.  I am familiar with about 6 of his songs and I know them really well.  The venue we were attending the concert at was an outdoor amphitheater and by the middle of David's set, there wasn't an empty seat in the 2500 seat capacity.    (By the way... with general admission, we were able to get seats on the second row - we were approximately 40 feet away from the stage) More incredibly, the tickets said the show started at 8 and at 8 o'clock exactly, Yuna took the stage.  This was something that impressed me a great deal and proved they were on their game as far as being professional and following through as they should.

The first time I think I heard him was in the movie, All Over The Guy when "Please Forgive Me" is playing as Tom rushes across town to make amends Eli.  It's one of those moments in cinema that is forever cemented in my mind and I will always make the correlation between that song and that visual.  On top of that, Sean and I watched that movie many times and it became a favorite of both of ours, for completely different reasons (of course) but nonetheless, we both dug the song.  There's another reason this concert meant as much as it did to me.  There was a ton of memory and emotion wrapped up in that one song that I wanted to make sure that the actual experience lived up to this ideal in my head and when I tell you it didn't come close,  you have to understand that it's because of how much of an amazement this man is in concert.

His opening act was a young singer called Yuna.  She hails from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and sings some of the coolest, most funky pop music you'll ever hear.  She has this little voice that just shoots up through the rafters and has this calm power to it that you don't expect at all.  She did 5 songs and commented on how hot Kentucky was and we laughed because if it was hot to her... that means it's hella hot.

After her set, there was some last minute sound checking and instrument testing and an hour later, David took the stage.  Never have I seen an artist so enraptured with their own music.  Every song he played was a memory wrapped up into the song.  You could see on his face, in his body and hear in his voice how each and every song was a personal piece of art that he still loved singing and sharing with people.  We stood for the next two hours and song after song he gave to us with out any reservation.  The live versions of his songs just let him go to where he needed to go and the path was so well drawn, we were able to easily go with him.  Taking a three minute song and turning it into a massive six minute (or 13 minute) ode to the love of the art was done so effortlessly.  I can tell you that without a shadow of a doubt, I quickly became a huge fan of his after the show.

Here's his 13 minute version of Nightblindness. Pay attention toward the 5 1/2 minute mark where he turns it into "Purple Rain" by Prince.  Watching this video we were probably 25 feet to the person's right who was recording this.  He is an incredible, incredible performer. I am so happy that I got the opportunity to experience this show with the Best Friend. He was super giddy and it made me very happy to be with him.

Diamond Rings - I'm Just Me

There are times when I need to remember this. "I'm Just Me" has an anthemic quality that touts the virtues of just being yourself. It doesn't matter what else you are or what you do, none of that matters as long as you are who you are. You don't have to be anything for anyone, just be yourself. The video is bright and shiny and full of synth-style visuals. Think "Shock The Monkey" by Peter Gabriel and you are on the right path for the foundation

This track is the upcoming single off the Diamond Rings new album and since it's just been released there isn't a lot in the way of detail for the album.  As soon as I hear something, you know you'll be the first to know.  If this is going to be the direction he is going, then I certainly want to go to there with him. I am a fan of the big chorus and the over the top vocal stylings but then again, I was already a fan. It's a great song with an even better message and I hope that he is able to start expanding his fan base with this track.

Sergey Lazarev - Take It Off

I am a gigantic fan of Sergey Lazarev. There has never been a doubt about that. I appreciate his music. I dig his message and I think that he is a constant reminder that the world, yes the entire world, is a global music community. For whatever reason (I am going to blame stereotypes), it's hard for me to look at Russia and see a bustling mecca or a country that is capable of standing side-by-side with other countries when it comes to their musical exports. But then I hear Sergey and those misconceptions are cleared up. I think he is just as strong as most of the artists that get mainstream airplay in America and in a lot of cases he is stronger.

His brand of pop music elevates him to a level that not many male artists attempt to attain. He appears to never take himself too seriously and that shows in his music. He is an artist that simply enjoys what they do and it comes through in everything they do. This song, "Take It Off", is just a super sexy example of what can be done when you just let things happen. It's a bit dance, a bit pop, some sex appeal and just enough dubstep to not throw it over the edge. It's a great summer song and I think that if he were able to get airplay around the world this song would be huge. Take a listen and subscribe to his Youtube Channel and his Facebook page because you'll never know when your own notions may be challenged.

Sergey on the Web
Twitter: @sergeylazarev

City Rain - I'm Gone

One of my most favorite past times is traveling the world that is Youtube because you never know what the most amazing thing you are going to find will be and inevitably, there are always amazing things right around the corner. And no I'm not talking about awesome honey badgers or cats with bread on their head, I am talking about the next thing in music. I've talked about DreamPop before in the form of M83 or The Fuse and now I am adding another group to that already dynamic list. I want to introduce City Rain. City Rain is made up of Ben Runyan and Jarrett Zerrer, who hail from Philadelphia and have already taken the music scene by storm and have started working their way across the map.

Even though this video was released a year ago, I think that it's was ahead of its time and the musical landscape of the US is ready for them now. The vocals are super dreamy, the vibe is awesomely mellow and laid back. It's totally a song you just throw on and drive... much like the video. Songs like this don't need videos with huge production and staging. This video does everything that it needs to do for the song. It showcases off the guys, it sets an mood and runs with it. That's all you need. A great song doesn't need a ton of embellishment. It's just got this atmosphere to it that allows it this incredible amount of space to grow and become this incredible song in 3 minutes and some change. I love how their vocals blend so well together and how they both have this incredible stage presence.

Much like other incredible acts; Zelliack, Little Jackie, Mike and Cody and others, they have taken their musical destiny in their own hands by hooking up with BandCamp. It's this super amazing project that allows artists to sell their music directly to the fans and cut out the middle men. I love this and anytime an artist does it, I am all about it and buy up evertyhing I can from them.

As soon as I know more about this super cool duo, I will post it so everyone can see. until then, go buy their goods and support them. You know it's the small acts that are the backbone of the music industry and it's incredibly important that we support them.

City Rain on the Web
Twitter: @cityraintunes