Archive for the Pop Category

VV Brown – Travelling Like the Light

Posted in Pop on June 23, 2011 by evilpacman18

Indie Pop; 2009

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Don’t have too much to say about this album. She’s a British newcomer who only sounds like it once you’re told she’s British. She’s a she. Which is rare for my reviews. Only other album with a female vocalist I can think of reviewing on here would be Alexis Krauss from Sleigh Bells, (who released the second best album of last year) which is better than this but VV Brown here is certainly the more talented singer. She’s got a good voie. Every song on the album is about love. Amazing love or failing love or broken hearts. Most of the songs, apparently, are about a single relationship she was in. It’s a solo singer’s Pop album so this should come as now surprise. However she’s not without talent musically. She wrote every song (a few are credited to other writers along with her) and played most of the instruments. The sounds on this album cover more than just Indie Pop. Perhaps the biggest contrast is between two juxtaposed tracks, I Love You, which is a soulful piano ballad, and L.O.V.E. which is an upbeat, driving song with a Rock & Roll inspired drum beat. Back in Time is my favorite on the album; it’s inspired by a much older era in music. I can’t find the word to label the sound with but one exists. Shark in the Water is a fun song and there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular songs on the album. Great pick for a single. It was the song that got me interested in her, it came up on my best friend’s shuffle and I was like “what is this, I wanna download it immediately.” If you’re into lyrics you’re gonna hear her whining about this one bad relationship through the whole thing and it will get tiring quickly. Just enjoy her voice. Her range is limited but within it she has a styles she covers. Perhaps this album got labeled Indie because there wasn’t anything better to name it and cover each track. It’s a multifarious mix that I think expresses her love of music from all around and all different times and a desire to share it with the masses by giving it her own twist (making it more accessible). The album doesn’t cross the line into GREATNESS, persay, but I’m picky and I do have something against most female vocalists that aren’t Alexis Krauss or Janis Joplin, unfortunately. There’s a good chance you’ll like this quite a bit more than I do, which says a lot since I liked it enough to post it.

1. Quick Fix
2. Game Over
3. Shark in the Water
4. Leave!
5. Bottles
6. Crying Blood
7. Back in Time
8. I Love You
9. L.O.V.E.
10. Everybody
11. Crazy Amazing
12. Travelling Like the Light

Stand-out tracks:
Back in Time
Shark in the Water
Everybody

-Jerry

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Posted in Pop on June 6, 2011 by evilpacman18

 Dream Pop; 2002

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Another supposed concept album (although I can’t seem to remember reviewing any other concept albums where this is the case, I feel like I have) with no concept except for in the 2nd – 4th tracks (one of which is an instrumental). It involves a bunch of evil robots, except for one who actually learns to love and I’m fairly certain he’s the speaker in the next song, which talks about Yoshimi’s training processes to prepare for defeating the evil robots. According to a post on songmeanings.net (which claims some other site as its source) the robot in love with Yoshimi is a gladiator that’s supposed to fight her in an arena and the instrumental track, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 2 is that actual fight taking place, with Yoshimi coming out as the victor, perhaps because the robot in love with her refused to fight her.

Musically this is very much Alternative Rock in very many ways but with a lot more guitar distortion, and a drum machine, plus a dreamy synthesizer, hence Dream Pop. The guy’s voice (didn’t bother learning the band members’ names) is high and light but not falsetto. I like his vowels, to be honest. His vowels are never forced. Little stuff like that really does make music so much better. A couple of interesting bass lines on here. Particular One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21 and It’s Summertime. This is something I’m usually not a fan of in Rock genres just because I like instruments to be the main focus in my music, not a background to a voice, but most of these songs are very chordal, and the melody is provided by the singer. Basically, if you try to hum one of these songs, you’ll be humming along with what the singer is singing, not any of the instruments. Again, this is what makes it Pop as well I guess. It’s a really sweet album. The 3 songs that actually go along with the album’s concept are real gems and there’s not a bad song on it.

1. Fight Test
2. One More Robot / Sympathy 3000-21
3. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
4. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 2
5. In the Morning of the Magicians
6. Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
7. Are You a Hypnotist??
8. It’s Summertime
9. Do You Realize??
10. All We Have Is Now
11. Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)

Stand-out tracks:
One More Robot
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (both parts)
Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon

-Jerry

The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?

Posted in Pop on April 16, 2011 by evilpacman18

Indie Pop; 2003

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In 41 minutes, this short-lived Canadian group managed to combine just about every prevalent form of hipster Pop (pun intended), including Indie Pop, Psychedelic Pop, Baroque Pop, Synthpop, Pop Punk, and (of course) Afropop, and do a rather fine job of it. I haven’t been so infatuated with an album since I couldn’t stop listening to Dogs by Beware of Safety, which was at least 6 months ago.

Not every song combines all of those Pop genres, and some are more used than others. Baroque Pop influences are noticeable on just about every track while you’ll only hear their Pop Punk influence on The Clap and Inoculate the Innocuous. There’s a real effort here to make as many references possible to every decade that’s not the 2000’s. You can hear the 60’s in just about every song with synthy organ chords owning the rhythm section. The 70’s in Sea Ghost or Child Star or Jellybones. The 80’s in Tuff Luff and Les OS. And the 90’s in just about every song I didn’t already name and a couple I did.

Still, this is more than nostalgia. There’s a lot here I’ve never heard before, I think that’s partially why I’m so intrigued by it. I was played Ghost Mountain as an introduction to the band. It starts off with a drum synthesizer beat and as soon as the first melody came in I tried labeling it as chiptune, but that was dismissed within 25 seconds as it went into the unobtrusive Baroque/Indie main theme and the first verse that tells a creepy ghost story as the music implies a lullaby begins. It’s irony, but it seems too correct to be paradoxical. The vocal harmonies are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard on anything. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Pop Punk lately (mostly against my will) so that’s saying something. To use Ghost Mountain as an example again, I’m the type of guy who likes melodies to be played by an instrument. If the only melody is what the singer is singing, I’m less likely to enjoy the song. But on this track, the whole melody is done by the two singers, “Neil Diamonds” and “Ginger,” and it’s just ok. There’s enough musicality in the rhythm section to keep me happy but it never overtakes the focus on vocals this song has. It’s helpful that they both have great voices, and they really do harmonize like God wishes he could. And that’s just one song. Multiply that awesomeness by 13. There isn’t a bad song anywhere on this album, nor is the gap between best and worst song on the album very big. This is near flawless music.

Note: If you listen to this, tell me if Tuff Ghost reminds you of Scooby Doo at all.

1. I Don’t Wanna Die
2. Tuff Ghost
3. Ghost Mountain
4. Sea Ghost
5. Jellybones
6. The Clap
7. Child Star
8. Let’s Get Known
9. I Was Born (a Unicorn)
10. Tuff Luff
11. Inoculate the Innocuous
12. Les OS
13. Ready to Die

Stand-out tracks:
Ghost Mountain
I Was Born (a Unicorn)
Tuff Ghost

-Jerry

Sleigh Bells – Treats

Posted in Pop on December 21, 2010 by evilpacman18

Noise Pop; 2010

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EDIT: They took my mediafire upload down within 24 hours. I’m not gonna reupload it just so that my mediafire account doesn’t get suspended. The new link is to a torrent but if you don’t use torrents you’ll have to find a way to get it yourself. If you’re interested in learning how to use torrents (by far the best way to download music) then contact me or something.

The website where I downloaded that album cover from says about this album “Disclaimer: There is no point in listening to Treats on anything but max volume.” The band consists of Derek Miller who handles all the songwriting, plays the guitar, and does all the production. Alexis Krauss just sings and looks pretty. Each song on this album has a HARD-hitting drum beat, with Miller’s guitar lines played over it, and possibly the most impressive female vocals I’ve ever heard. Not just because she’s talented but because she’s actually fun to listen to, which unfortunately isn’t something I can say for a lot of the female singers I’ve heard in the past. Her voice almost makes some of the songs sound sarcastic because of how much you’d expect her singing to not be so perfect for the instrumentals. Her lyrics are frequently drowned out in the fully intentional low-fi onslaught of Miller’s guitar-playing. Some of the experimental sounds on the album are clearly influenced by MIA’s rare excursions into the avant-garde. Her and Miller have worked together in the past. There’s really not much more to say about this album. Ideally, listen to this on something that has a big subwoofer. It’ll shake up the room.

One more interesting note, the instrumentals during Sleigh Bell shows are all played off of Miller’s iPod. That should give you an idea of just how intentional the bad production quality is.

1. Tell ‘Em
2. Kids
3. Riot Rhythm
4. Infinity Guitars
5. Run the Heart
6. Rachel
7. Rill Rill
8. Crown on the Ground
9. Straight A’s
10. A/B Machines
11. Treats

Stand-out tracks:
Tell ‘Em
Infinity Guitars
Rill Rill

-Jerry

The Drums – The Drums

Posted in Pop on November 8, 2010 by evilpacman18

Indie Pop; 2010

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I was on Yahoo Answers and I saw that Morbid (Logan) had asked a question. “What albums feel optimistic on the surface but are very pessimistic in depth?” It was asked in the Rap/Hip-Hop section so I named an album by Busdriver, but I really wanted to say this album, one of my favorites to be released so far this year.

Listening to the instrumentals on this album, you’d expect any lyrics that were added to be specifically for the purpose of making you feel good. Surf Rock-esque songs with quick tempos, plucked guitar melodies, lots of whistling, synth lines that sound like shiny twinkles, etc. And yet, the first line on the album is “You were my best friend but then you died, when I was 23 and you were 25, and how will I survive, survive, survive?” And it continues from there. Some of the songs are a little happier. Let’s Go Surfing, for instance, but it’s a bit of an odd man out.

I hear they sound like The Smiths. Don’t kill me, but I’ve never listened to The Smiths. They must be good.

I think this album sticks out because of the singer. He’s really great, very emotional, even though he’s no Corey Glover, he does have a good voice.

1. Best Friend
2. Me and the Moon
3. Let’s Go Surfing
4. Book of Stories
5. Skippin’ Town
6. Forever and Ever, Amen
7. Down by the Water
8. It Will All End in Tears
9. We Tried
10. I Need Fun in My Life
11. I’ll Never Drop My Sword
12. The Future

Stand-out tracks:
Down by the Water
Best Friend
Me and the Moon

-Jerry

Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

Posted in Pop on October 16, 2010 by evilpacman18

Pop; 2010

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Other person: WHAT?! POP?!?!?! I’M NEVER COMING BACK TO THIS BLOG AGAIN!!
Me: No wait! It’s Prog-Pop!
Other person: What is that even possible?
Me: No, but you’re interested now aren’t you?
-At this point, other person begins to read the review-

This is an 18 song concept album. It’s actually part of a… quadlogy? It’s a 4-suite story in 3 releases. Suite 1 is her debut EP, Metropolis, suites 2 and 3 are this album, and suite 4 will be another EP IIRC. This isn’t your average Pop music, I’m really surprised she’s been getting radio play. Since I’m too lazy to type up an original summary, here’s it copied from Wikipedia. “…the series involves the fictional tale of Cindi Mayweather, a messianic android sent back in time to free the citizens of Metropolis from The Great Divide, a secret society that uses time-travel to suppress freedom and love.”

This album has… wait for it… LIVE INSTRUMENTATION! Where’s your argument now, metalheads? The album has its fair share of produced beat but for the most part it’s live instrumentation. There’s some really awesome bass lines in some of the songs, especially Come Alive, which also has a good-sounding guitar solo, and Dance or Die. I’m generally not a fan of female singers but Ms. Monáe’s voice is so perfect. She can REALLY sing. You can hear her best singing on Tightrope and Oh, Maker.

There’s two singles, Tightrope feat. Big Boi and Cold War. They’re not dumbed down nor do they try to appeal to the general public any more than any of the other tracks on the album. I’m very surprised she’s getting radio play, I wouldn’t call this very accessible. I’m glad though. I think she’s a sort of “ray of hope” for mainstream Pop music. It’s not all crap like people will have you think.

1. Suite II Overture
2. Dance or Die
3. Faster
4. Locked Inside
5. Sir Greendown
6. Cold War
7. Tightrope feat. Big Boi
8. Neon Gumbo
9. Oh, Maker
10. Come Alive (War of the Roses)
11. Mushrooms & Roses
12. Suite III Overture
13. Neon Valley Street
14. Make the Bus feat. Of Montreal
15. Wondaland
16. 57821 feat. Deep Cotton
17. Say You’ll Go
18. BabopbyeYa

Stand-out tracks:
Dance or Die/Faster (must be listened to together)
BabopbyeYa
Come Alive

-Jerry

Francis and the Lights – It’ll Be Better

Posted in Pop on August 16, 2010 by evilpacman18

Indie Pop/Electrofunk; 2010

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I actually heard about this band from a Vampire Weekend (my favorite band) interview where Rostam Batmanglij, the keyboard player, rhythm guitarist, and back-up vocalist, was talking about new music with potential. I decided to look them up because of how he described Francis’ outfit for every live show. Look at the album cover. Francis has on a black turtleneck, under a white shirt, under a black suitjacket. He looks that formal at every show. The music itself, is an interesting blend of Pop, Funk, and Indie Rock. The songs are short and nice. You won’t find much that’s technically impressive with the songwriting or instrument-playing skills of The Lights, but it’s Pop. What do you want from it? It’s definitely enjoyable, and that’s all that music has to be.

If you want a taste of this band, get on Youtube, search their song Darling, It’s Alright, and watch the music video for that. At 1:52, Francis starts busting out some epic dance moves. You may or may not like the music but nobody can deny his dancing. It’s just too good.

1. It’ll Be Better
2. In a Limousine
3. For Days
4. Knees to the Floor
5. Darling, It’s Alright
6. Going Out
7. Tap the Phone
8. Get in the Car

Stand-out tracks:
Darling, It’s Alright
For Days
Knees to the Floor

-Jerry