Friday, June 29, 2012

Interview for Interrogating the Interesting

Recently I was interviewed about music and Austin by a great blog called Interrogating the Interesting. Check out the interview here!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Electric Guest: Introducing “Mondo”

Electric Guest are a kind of funky, soully, poppy duo that hail from LA. The band consists of Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton. Off the back of a really successful EP last year called “This Head I Hold”, they’ve put together their first album proper “Mondo”, which is gonna be officially released on 12th May on the “Because” Record label.

It’s already up for pre-order from the band’s website which you can access here and also from the regular places like iTunes and Amazon. There’s been a huge amount of press interest and hype surrounding these guys and it’s really easy to see and hear why. They’re providing a sound that is really lacking at the moment within music, a sort of easy to listen to vibe that isn’t lyrically challenging or taxing but complex enough with a few of the tracks to need more than one listen to fully understand and appreciate what it is they’re doing that’s so infectious.

What do they sound like?

So laid back they’re horizontal. For this album they’ve taken on board hip producer Danger Mouse and his touch and style shows through in heaps and tons and gallons. This is probably the sort of music that’s slightly cliquey - would gain critical acclaim, that fans would rave about but might not shift many units in terms of sales. Though that said, the band is marketed by Monotone Inc who look after Jack White, so it’s not beyond the realms of impossibility for them to do really well. If they didn’t sell well, it truly would be a bit of a shame really, because they do hipster cool really really well and they have a certain swagger about their sound which is hard to find anything to compare with. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the tracks from the album, called “Awake”

It’s got a really good vibe to it, almost in a way harking back to that really cool Bacarach-y type stuff of the 1970s, and the sort of sounds that uber hip French bands like Stereolab were churning out in the 1990s. It’s coming out at the right time of year too as it sounds so Summery and is probably the kind of thing you’d want to have on with all the windows open in your apartment on a warm day. Here’s a second sneak track, called “Troubleman”

It has a softer vibe to it, and is a much longer track than “Awake”, it seems darker and more soulful by comparison and demands more than one listen to get the full benefit of its musicality and rhythms.

As a final preview, here’s the official video for another one of the tracks from the album “American Dream”. Singer Asa Taccone has such a distinctive vocal style – sometimes just for split second you see him in the videos and think he has similar mannerisms to someone like Prince, a little something in the eyes maybe. There is something quite unique about what he does to the sound of the songs that draws you in.

A few critics have wondered whether Electric Guest are in fact a pastiche band, whether what they are doing is gently sending up the styles of music they are playing. Asa’s brother Jorma is a comedy performer and has been part of a US troupe called “The Lonely Island”. He also helped to co-write some songs that appeared on Saturday Night Live. Maybe this has led some writers to assume that if his brother is doing it parody and pastiche must be in the blood. It’s up to you as a listener to decide at the end of the day. It’s truly hard to decipher who they may be sending up in all honesty, which leads to the thought that it’s just an idle rumour brought to fruition by someone with maybe too much time on their hands!

Can I see them Live?

You sure can. They’re playing dates in Washington DC, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Austin and Houston at the beginning of May. They’re hopping over to the UK and Europe for a mixture of gigs there, and then back over to the US by the end of the month for more dates in Portland, George, San Diego and Pasadena. For a full list and where to but tickets look no further than here. If you want to liven up your listening over the Summer and pick something truly hipster and designed to get you in a good mood then you really need to look no further than Electric Guest. It’s your duty to give them a go. You know you want to.


Imogen is a freelance writer from England who writes for a number of finance journals covering topics as diverse as saving money on car insurance, buy to let insurance and investing in the stock market. Music is one of her passions and she is rarely seen writing at a coffee shop without her enormous headphones!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Friends: Friend Crush

Causing a quiet stir since they formed in September 2010, Brooklyn-based Friends are proof that indie, pop and sparkling vocals go together stunningly. The band consists of lead singer Samantha Urbani, Lesley Hann on bass, percussion and backing vocals, Nikki Shapiro who plays guitar, keyboards and some percussion, Matthew Molnar on keyboards, percussion and bass and last but not least Oliver Duncan is the band’s drummer. The band is tentatively signed to the indie outfit “Lucky Number” records and have already had two successful and critically acclaimed singles.

Last week saw the release of the band’s third single “Mind Control” which has been really well received and showcases the bands inspiring, poppy, upbeat sound and a full length album looks set to follow later in the year (with, as yet, no major label take up – note to record labels out there: take it up!)

Tell us What They Sound Like?

Kind of poppy, funky, electronic-y, trippy and really infectious. They seem to take all the best nits of pop and mix them with indie cool to come up with this awesomely danceable music. It’s sort of punky too, there’s a real DIY feel to this – not overproduced or overblown.

The band started out named as “Perpetual Crush”, again almost aiming themselves as a sweet disco type outfit – in reality there’s so much more to them than that. Lead singer Samantha Urbani was an artist for a while but always knew she wanted to do something relating to music, as she’d been writing songs for a lot of her life. She then took the fruits of her labor and played them to her friend Matthew Molnar (who is now the bands keyboard player) and the rest is history. They eventually settled on the name “Friends” for the band after hearing and loving the Beach Boy’s album of the same name (incidentally it also happened to be Brian Wilson of the said band’s favourite album that they did).

If you wanted a comparison – a band to say “they sound like this” maybe think about an outfit like The Waitresses or something similar. They’ve got that really strong feminine, punchy, harmonised vocal that goes so well with the bubblegummy keyboards and strong drum sound. Here’s their first single “Friend Crush”, a perfect example of what we’re talking about!

There’s also some kind of ghostly ethereal sound to their music – in the background to the tracks you can hear echoy sighs and breathy sounds, which give a lightness of touch to the music – softening tracks which otherwise might sound a bit harder edged. Overall it’s a really special thing, they could just be another crossover outfit, trying to be all things to every genre, but they’re not. It’s like they’re managing to take the best of all elements of music and put them together.

There’s something so infectious about their basslines, something that makes you want to if nothing else drum on the desk in time. Their videos just seem to have a gloriously arty feel to them, “I’m His Girl” is everything that encapsulates what was great about 1980s pop music – kind of has an MTV cool feel to it, but brought right up to date for a modern audience.

Are They Playing Live?

They love live. They’re playing across Europe over the next two months and have just earlier this month played SXSW in Texas. 17th April has them playing a live date at the Eco Plex in Los Angeles. However, after their escapades in Europe they’re coming back stateside to play some dates throughout June, starting on the 16th of the month at the Schubas Tavern in Chicago, followed by dates in Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Austin and Houston, finishing their stint is a gig at the Bowery Ballroom in New York on 7th July before they hotfoot it back for the Europe festival season. Full details and venues can be found here: Friendzone. If you want a break from the norm, you want something poppy, uplifting and inspiring – Friends should be your go-to band, full of energy, enthusiasm and pizzazz you can’t fail to warm to them!

Imogen is a freelance writer from England who writes for a number of finance journals covering topics as diverse as saving money on car insurance and investing in the stock market. Music is one of her passions and she is rarely seen writing at a coffee shop without her enormous headphones!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SXSW Day 3 - Saturday, March 17th

Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds at Waterloo Records
First up for Saturday were garage rock and punk band Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds. The band is fronted by guitarist Kid Congo Powers aka Brian Tristan, who used to be part of The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Gun Club. I thoroughly enjoyed their slightly quirky but fun set of songs, including a song called "History of French Cuisine" and a cover of "I'm Cramped" by, you guessed it, The Cramps.

Built to Spill at Cedar Street Courtyard

Oberhofer at Cedar Street Courtyard
From there I headed over to Cedar Street Courtyard again to catch Brooklyn indie rock band Oberhofer's performance. Their music is undeniably catchy, best exemplified by the single, "Away Frm U." While it's great to see bands that can perform live as well as they do on an album, it's also nice to singers with charismatic stage presences, essentially elevating them to performers. Brad Oberhofer was just that guy. His youthful enthusiasm for his guitar playing and willingness to entertain the crowd was a sight to see. At one point he ran up the stairs by the stage to the balcony and swung down it like a monkey. I have to say, after seeing the band live, the studio versions of their songs don't do them as much justice. Idaho rockers Built to Spill put on an amazing set, with the sheer loudness of their three layered guitars. I was impressed with how in time they kept with each other, and no one was overpowered instrument-wise. Unfortunately, the vocals were soft to inaudible the whole time. They have just the right mix of alternative rock and jam band tendencies (yes, this makes their songs quite long). Although their last release was in 2009, their laid back nineties rock was much appreciated by the crowd, and makes me wonder why I haven't checked them out all these years. One of my favorite songs was "Traces, " which you can watch here. They closed out a great set with crowd pleaser "Carry the Zero."

Shiny Toy Guns at Auditorium Shores (courtesy of Baylor Lariat)
226/365:  The Cult featuring Matthew McConaughey
The Cult featuring Matthew McConaughey at Auditorium Shores
Shiny Toy Guns, an electronic rock band from LA, played a set at Auditorium Shores in the late afternoon. They used to be one of my favorite bands when We Are Pilots came out, but after the lineup change I wasn't so keen on them anymore (although there were a few songs I liked off of Season of Poison). Now that they have Carah back, I was excited to see them come back together as a band. It was like she had never left. Her and Chad have great vocal chemistry. The band performed some songs from their upcoming album III, as well as older songs "You Are The One," "Don't Cry Out,"

two highlights, "Starts With One" and "Le Disko" They also did "Ricochet," (one of the songs I liked off of SoP) which sounded great with Carah singing it, and their cover of Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)." Austin rock band The Bright Light Social Hour played after that, and like some local bands, are pretty overhyped. They played a diverse set of songs, but nothing really sunk in for me. The vocals didn't do anything for me either. The Cult headlined a much larger audience than the one at Waterloo, which was obviously a more scaled down version of what they're capable of. I was excited to see them again. Ian Astbury is a great frontman, and guitarist Billy Duffy has a great sound. The set was stronger than the day before, and new songs as well as old were played. As an added treat, the band brought Matthew McConaughey to play the bongos on "Spiritwalker" (which you can watch here) and new song "Lucifer." Towards the end of the set Astbury demanded that the crowd let loose, and they did for the last song "Love Removal Machine." It was a great way to bring an end to my SXSW.

Here is my last playlist. I hope you enjoyed my SXSW recap!

Monday, March 26, 2012

SXSW Day 2 - Friday, March 16th

Of Montreal at Waterloo Records (courtesy of their Facebook)
Gary Clark Jr. at Waterloo Records
Psychedelic Indie pop rock band Of Montreal were the first act I saw on Friday. I've heard some songs of theirs here and there, so I was somewhat looking forward to their set which included songs from the newly released Paralytic Stalks. I was pretty disappointed with them. The set was very disjointed, and while there were a couple of better moments, it never found a good groove. Howlin Rain was our segway act for Gary Clark Jr. Briefly looking them up before their set, I had a feeling that they would be pretty good. I was right. The band has a cool seventies vibe to them, and they played a very energetic and great set of songs from their new album The Russian Wilds. Austinite blues rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr., referred by some as the next Jimi Hendrix, was next. I obviously had high expectations for him, and was not let down. I'm just not sure of his relation to Hendrix except for the color of his skin. His skills on the guitar are impressive though, and he has a great voice to match- almost a dead ringer for Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Clark chose to adopt a serious stance throughout his set, letting his guitar skills shine through. The songs "Please Come Home" and "Bright Lights" from his most recent EP were highlights. The final act at Waterloo were The Cult, a British post-punk and hard rock band from the eighties. With an overwhelming amount of photographers present, they performed an intense set of songs from their new album to come out in May. They also played their biggest hit, "She Sells Sanctuary." The band was very well received, which you could tell they were pleased with.
The Cult at Waterloo Records (courtesy of Facebook)
Counting Crows at Auditorium Shores (courtesy of 5342 Studios)
Counting Crows played a lengthy free show to a crowd of thousands at Auditorium Shores, which is the perfect setting for such a group, overlooking the city of Austin on such a lukewarm night. I chose the word "lukewarm," because I'm not such a fan of this group. Yes, I've only heard their singles, but I've never been impressed enough to check them out beyond that. I couldn't get into most of their set, except oddly enough a couple of country covers they played and the song "Color Blind" is nice. I won't deny that singer Adam Duritz has a great voice and some of the lyrics of their songs were good- it's just musically I wasn't very moved by it. The band performed old songs as well as new ones from their new album "Underwater Sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation)," to be released in April.

Day two had its ups and downs, but it was still a fun time. Here is a second playlist for these artist. Are you ready for day three?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

SXSW Day 1 - Thursday, March 15th

I apologize for not updating for so long, and also for taking so long to post this.

For the first time since living in Austin, I attended SXSW. I know, crazy right? Now, a lot of people think you have to have a wristband or a badge to see any music down there, but that's not true. Every single one of the 20 bands I saw were for free (the key is to RSVP to every party and look up all the shows of course)! Next year I'd probably be willing to fork over some money to see some more known artists (especially since there were quite a few acts that I've mentioned in here that I didn't get to see), but it was great experience to get turned onto so much great music.

This will be in three parts since I went three days, so here is Thursday, day one.

The Little Willies at Waterloo Records
The day started in the early afternoon at Waterloo records parking lot. Blitzen Trapper is a folk/country band with some experimental tendencies from Portland, Oregon. This band is not really my kind of music, but they're good for what they are. "Might Find it Cheap" is a pretty good song. The Little Willies were up next and are one of Norah Jones' side projects founded in 2003. The band mostly performs country cover songs. Despite Jones' assertion that she just woke up, she and the group sounded great and you could tell that they were enjoying themselves. They played a few songs from their new album For The Good Times, including Loretta Lynn's "Fist City," the bluegrass fun of Ralph Stanley's "I Worship You" and a beautiful rendition of Dolly Parton's "Jolene."

SXSW - Kimbra @ La Zona Rosa
Kimbra at La Zona Rosa (photo by Kirk Stauffer)

From there I headed to La Zona Rosa's Warner Music showcase to check out The Staves, a folk trio of sisters from the UK. Their music makes for some hauntingly beautiful voices and melodies. I wouldn't say I was blown away, but I enjoyed what I heard. Things changed gears completely with Crystal Fighters, a British/Spanish electronic band from the UK. Their music draws from many influences such as basque, Spanish punk and dance. They got the crowd hyped and were a lot of fun to dance to. It was pretty cool how they performed live band dubstep in the track "Swallow." You can view some of that song's goodness as well as "I Love London" here. Headliner Kimbra is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand. You might have heard her voice on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." She's definitely a good enough artist on her own. She played a stripped down set at the Warner Sound show at La Zona Rosa. What can I say? The girl can sing her ass off, perform extremely well, and write some great lyrics. Check out Kimbra performing "Two Way Street." Her album Vows will be out in the US in early May.

Keane at Cedar Street Courtyard (photo by
Surely you've heard of British rock band Keane? Or at least know one of their songs "Somewhere Only We Know" or "Is It Any Wonder?" They were one of the bigger bands I saw at SXSW who I just happened to stumble upon. Their set at Cedar Street Courtyard, which included the aforementioned hits, was amazing. The band sounded clean, and the singer's vocals were on point the whole time. The band performed a new single called "Silenced by the Night," which you can check out here, as well as "Somewhere Only We Know" here. Their new album Strangeland comes out May 7th.

Cairo Knife Fight at New Zealand showcase

Electric Wire Hustle were part of the New Zealand party showcase that I attended. Their music is electronic based with hip hop/r&b influences- very chill sounding. It was also a perfect setting and atmosphere to be sipping on the free wine the party provided. They definitely have an interesting thing going on. Cairo Knife Fight, a hard rock duo, were the next New Zealand band. For just two guys, they make a lot of noise ala Death From Above 1979 and put on quite a show- musically and energetically. After quite a long wait, folk group Avalanche City played, but were boring and not very impressive so I left after two songs. The sound was also very off for their performance, so I give them the benefit of the doubt since the studio versions are better.

So my first day of SXSW was a great success. I never thought I would get a chance to see so many bands in one day. Lastly, here is a playlist I made of all the artists I saw. Enjoy, and stay tuned for SXSW days two and three!

Monday, February 13, 2012

54th Grammy Awards in Review

Sunday night marked the 54th Grammy Award ceremony. The show had a tinge of sadness cast upon it as Whitney Houston's passing on Saturday affected the mood. LL Cool J, who hosted the event, started the show with a prayer and a short clip of Houston singing one of her greatest hits, "I Will Always Love You." The song was later performed by Jennifer Hudson, who offered a restrained and respectful take on it. Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt also paid tribute to the late Etta James with a performance of "Sunday Kind of Love."

Performance-wise, the night kicked off with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing "We Take Care of Our Own." Although no horn section was included, I'm sure that the band felt the missing presence of late saxophonist Clarence Clemons. Bruno Mars performed a fun and rousing rendition of "Runaway Baby," in which he urged the crowd to "get off [their] rich asses and have some fun."

The first televised award went to Adele, as did many of the other awards, including "Record of the Year" and "Album of the Year" for "Rolling in the Deep" and 21, respectively. The night truly belonged to her as she also gave a wonderful performance of "Rolling in the Deep" and received a standing ovation. The singer recently had surgery on her vocal cords, but they sounded in top shape. She easily had the best performance of the night. An award went to Bon Iver for Best New Artist. Despite frontman Justin Vernon's apprehension about attending and accepting his award, he assured the crowd that he was honored. Best Rap Performance was won by "Otis" by Jay-Z and Kanye West who were both absent from the ceremony.

Rock music was also brought to the ceremony in the form of the Foo Fighters who performed twice, the first being the hit "Walk" and a the second being a performance and remix of "Rope" during a dance portion, which was strangely dedicated to the late Don Cornelius (Soul Train). The band also won Best Rock Performance and singer/guitarist Dave Grohl made an inspiring speech about the "human element" of music and not sounding perfect, but "singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft." Sure, he sounded a little pretentious and he went on to perform with Deadmau5, but his sentiment was still nice.

Also receiving two performances were Paul McCartney and Chris Brown, which marked the latter's return to the ceremony since the Rihanna incident in 2009. Brown danced on a box set to his hit "Beautiful People." His performances remain consistently good if you're a fan, but his lip-syncing cannot be overlooked. The singer also won the award for Best R&B album for F.A.M.E. The second included a performance of "I Can Only Imagine" with dance DJ David Guetta and Lil Wayne. The whole dance portion of the show that also included Deadmau5 seemed like an attempt to appeal to the younger crowd, but it was a somewhat enjoyable change of pace. Stevie Wonder introduced McCartney who performed a new song called "My Valentine." He also closed out the show with some lesser known Beatles songs from Abbey Road, including "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End," which included Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl. The six guitarists present on stage by the end proved to be a fun and high energy ending to the show.

It was nice to see an up and coming band like The Civil Wars do a short performance and showcase their talents before introducing Taylor Swift. The country starlet sang her hit bully-bashing song "Mean" atop of a hillbilly set.

As has been Grammy tradition, there were a couple of duets between artists. Rihanna performed an impressive vocal and dance-heavy version of "We Found Love," and then took the stage with Coldplay for a short acoustic rendition of their song "Princess of China." Both Chris Martin and Rihanna's vocals were shaky, which carried through to Coldplay's performance of their hit "Paradise." Also, to celebrate the Beach Boys reuniting, rather than just bringing them on the stage, Maroon 5 and Foster the People performed "Surfer Girl" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" respectively. Then The Beach Boys came out showed us how vocal harmonies are done and did their seminal classic "Good Vibrations." Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean performed "Don't You Wanna Stay." Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood got together and sang a nice version of "It Had to Be You."

The night's most bizarre performance did not come from Lady Gaga, whose presence was mostly absent from the ceremony. Nicki Minaj tried her best to fill that void, with an over-the-top performance of "Roman's Revenge" and new song "Roman Holiday." The theme of the performance was the exorcism of Roman Zolanski, Minaj's alter ego. The performance was messy and disjointed, but it was surely one of the more memorable ones. Katy Perry also tried to make an interesting performance, but ultimately fell very flat. She started out with "ET" before going into a first-time performance of break-up anthem "Part of Me," which sounds like a reject P!nk song. Both artists' stage presence left something to be desired.

Overall, the show was pretty enjoyable and tried to include something for almost everyone.

For a full list of winners, head to the Grammy website. For the performances, go to the Idolator.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston: 1963-2012

Like many others, I was shocked and saddened to hear about Whitney Houston's passing yesterday afternoon. Usually the death of a celebrity doesn't affect me as much, but for some reason my heart completely sank when I heard about this. I'm not going to pretend I was the biggest fan of Whitney, but every time I heard one of her songs it brought a smile to my face and touched my heart. She undoubtedly had some of the greatest songs of the 90's and especially the 80's, which are my favorites. Her voice was so smooth, one of a kind and full of genuine emotion with every word she sang. She is a legend and will be dearly remembered and missed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Music Video + MP3 + Performance: St. Vincent - Cheerleader

I was late getting into St. Vincent's (otherwise known as singer/guitarist Annie Clark) music, specifically last year's terrific third album Strange Mercy, which should have made my Best of 2011 list. Following "Cruel," "Cheerleader" is the second single from the album. It will officially be released on Valentines Day, but the video premiered on Youtube today. The video was directed by Hiro Murai and features a giant version of Annie on display in the center of a gallery, looking every bit the porcelain doll.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Music Monday + Nostalgia: Brandy feat. Monica - It All Belongs to Me

After 1998's epic Brandy and Monica duet "The Boy is Mine", the duo reunite to bring us an anthem for the 21st century...ok only not really. The new track, "It All Belongs to Me" is nothing to get too excited about. Yes, vocally it's great to hear the two together again, but it's nothing memorable and the subject matter has been done too many times before and better. It's basically just another kiss-off song with awkward lyrics ("That Macbook belongs to me," "Log off your Facebook" Ok?) You can listen to the song below, and watch "The Boy is Mine" for old times sake. I also felt like including "What About Us?" by Brandy under the cut.

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Music Video: M.I.A. - Bad Girls

M.I.A.'s newly released song, the Danja-produced "Bad Girls" now has a music video. Directed by Romain Gavras ("Born Free"), the video makes the song even more badass, and features Arabs doing crazy car stunts (yes, they're actually real). M.I.A. shines in the video, as always bringing her understated dopeness to every scene. Watch the video below.

M.I.A.'s fourth album is set for a summer release. "Bad Girls" can be purchased on iTunes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Lana Del Rey - Born To Die (Deluxe Version)

If you frequent any other music blogs or the internet in general, you know that New York singer Lizzy Grant aka. Lana Del Rey's presence has been unavoidable. A fair amount of that hype is thankfully due to her music. She first came to prominence with the touching ballad "Video Games," which I first heard in the tv show Ringer. The vocals and melody give it an older, almost 1960's presence which I liked. "Blue Jeans" is another song with a very haunting melody, and Del Rey's signature "gangster Nancy Sinatra" lyrics. Her other popular single and title track, "Born To Die" is a mesmerizing song with a gorgeous chorus. The video only enhanced the drama, with Lana as the lonely queen on her throne beside two tigers, ending in her death. "Off to the Races" didn't get as much hype as the other singles, probably because the vibe is different from those. It almost has a faster, hip-hop vibe to it but remains somewhat spastic throughout. Born To Die was released yesterday in the UK and today here in the states. My first reaction to the album was that it is just as immaculately and meticulously produced as the singles suggest. It manages to pull off mixing ballad arrangements with trip hop beats, similar to Portishead. It's all very film soundtrack. Another plus would be Del Rey's melodies- she really has an ear for choruses that are engaging. Almost every single one has gotten stuck in my head at one point or another. "Dark Paradise" is an example of her voice and melody at its best. It's the most melodramatic song on the album, and makes the best use of the sweeping orchestral arrangement. "Radio" features a peppy chorus of Lana declaring that her life is now "sweet like cinnamon." "Million Dollar Man" starts as a slow burner, but then catches on during the 1950's jazz sounding chorus. "This Is What Makes Us Girls" has a great chorus as well. The only song that didn't stick at all, even after repeated listens, is "Carmen." The whole mood is too drab, the melody goes nowhere for four minutes and is definitely a track to skip.

Del Rey's voice shifts from a higher pitched girly voice to a drunken drawl throughout most of the songs. Sometimes she gives off a detached feeling in her singing, but there are also plenty of moments when she really shines as a vocalist. What she lacks in range she can make up for in emotion. Her voice comes off as bittersweet in "Summertime Sadness" as Lana proclaims that she'll "die happy tonight" with her "bad baby by [her] heavenly side." My favorite part of "Video Games" is when she sings, "I know that you like the bad girls, honey, is that true?" It's so perfect. And you can clearly hear her melancholy when she sings, "Then why is my heart broke?" in "Million Dollar Man."

Lyrically, Del Rey never gets too ambitious, staying in the shallow end covering themes of love, lost love, fame and the "dark side of the American Dream" in all of the songs. She really doesn't need to be, though as that fits perfectly with her image (say of it what you will) and steers away from sounding too generic.

There have been a few songs that were previously floating around the web as demos that appear here. The new version of "National Anthem" takes out all of the fun the demo had and ruins any potential for a summer hit with a lifeless orchestral arrangement. It's only catchy on the strength of the melody. "Diet Mountain Dew"'s reworking with a hip-hop beat is poorly mixed and just doesn't work. However, the new version of "This Is What Makes Us Girls" is overall better than the demo (especially vocally), although I like the old chorus better with the band backing it up. And bonus track "Lolita" is another more upbeat tune like "Off to the Races" and is more of a fun poppy side of Lana.

As the trend seems to be, the other bonus tracks are also great. "Without You" is another song that stands out. Del Rey delicately and aptly sings a chorus of "Hello, hello, c-can you hear me? I can be your china doll if you wanna see me fall." The last track, "Lucky Ones" is a beautiful ending and changes the production up a bit favoring bells in the chorus.

One of the downfalls of the album would also be the production. It can really get a bit too similar at times. Almost all of the songs have the same elements in them- orchestral arrangements, plucky guitars, and heavy drumbeats. You would think that would make it sound cohesive, but it doesn't. Some of the songs also sound too produced. The second half of the album really starts to drag, but I don't think it's because the songs toward the end are weaker. If you only listen to the second half you would actually find that the songs are just as strong as the first. It does feel as though the two halves should actually be split.

On the strength of its singles and original material, Born To Die gets high marks from me. I'm not sure how much longevity she'll have if any, but this is a really good album.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended tracks (besides the singles): "Radio," "Dark Paradise," "Summertime Sadness," "This is What Makes Us Girls," bonus tracks "Without You," & "Lolita"

Check out the video for "Born To Die" after the cut.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Artist Spotlight & Album Review: Graffiti6 - Colours

As my time working at Hollister comes to an end, I have at least a few things to thank them for besides money. I discovered a few bands from their playlists, like Graffiti6. They're a UK pop-rock soul collaboration between singer-songwriter Jamie Scott and producer and songwriter Tommy D (who has produced for Jay-Z, Kanye West and Kylie Minogue). They have a sound similar to Maroon 5 (I want to call it soul pop?), and have some of the super catchy sensibilities of Foster The People as well. The first song I heard was "Stone In My Heart." I was first struck by the duo's unique sound. The melody of the song is a bit off kilter for pop, but still remains catchy. It has a certain dense atmosphere with a strong emphasis on drum machines. Scott's vocals are layered in the verses which oddly has a muffling effect, but you can still tell that he can sing. "Annie You Save Me" has a similar sound to that track, is just as catchy and the vocals sound a bit clearer. The feel-good song "Stare Into the Sun" was the first track the duo wrote two years ago and was featured on the FIFA 2012 soundtrack. This kickstarted their career together. Their debut album Colours was released in the UK in 2010 and in America on January 24th. Their current single in America is "Free," which is a slower soul song with great lyrics that makes great use of Scott's falsetto. The duo have been making waves for a while, as their songs have been used in many tv shows such as "MTV's Teen Wolf," "Grey's Anatomy" and "One Tree Hill."

Aside from the singles, the album doesn't have many upbeat tracks on it. Fortunately, the album still has many other standout track. "This Man" is a slow rock jam that highlights Scott's vocals at their best. "Calm the Storm," while simplistic lyrically, turns out to be a beautifully melancholic and engaging song. "Never Look Back" is a fun track with a catchy chorus. The track "Stop Mary" has an upbeat funky sound which makes it impossible to ignore. "Lay Me Down" takes a more folk turn musically and lyrically and has a great bassline. The final track "Over You" is a nice and simple ballad that reminds me of Justin Timberlake. A few of the tracks could have used better lyrics and melodies, like "Colours" and "Goodbye Geoffrey Drake," but the production and Jamie's vocals makes up for that fact. Overall, it's a very solid album that can be played all the way through.

Rating: 4/5

Colours can be listened to on Spotify and purchased on iTunes US here. Check out the video for "Free" below.

Although I really like the production of their songs, sometimes I feel like Jamie's voice isn't highlighted enough on some tracks. Graffiti6 have released some beautiful stripped down acoustic versions of songs Colours songs on the Free EP, available on iTunes and Spotify, which Jamie sounds amazing on. The single also includes two other great songs, like Fleet Foxes cover "Blue Ridge Mountains" and "Foxes." It's a must listen if you want to get more into the band. As another added bonus, there is an amazing cover of "No Diggity" on the Annie You Save Me single on Spotify.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: Crosses - EP ††

EP †† by Crosses (†††) has finally arrived after many teasers late last year and a song leaked stem by stem a couple of weeks ago. If you're still unfamiliar with Crosses, they are an electronic rock trio that consists of Deftones singer Chino Moreno, producer/guitarist Shaun Lopez of Far, and more elusive member Chuck Doom. Contrary to popular belief, their music has little to do with the 2010 witch house movement, although they seem like fans of the imagery. This project expands on some of the more mellow aesthetics of Moreno's influences (which include Björk, Sade, and The Cure) also found in his other side project Team Sleep. The band put out EP † last August. It blended dark electronic and rock music and contained uplifting melodies and lyrical themes of fantasy and lust.

EP †† has those elements in common and begins where the old one left off at "†." The beginning of "Fron†iers" sounds like something that would score in a movie. Another thing I noticed are the more present live drums as well as the electronic ones that are also evident on "Prurien†," which make for a fuller sound. The chorus reminds me a bit of "Op†ion" from the first EP.

"Prurien†" is the first released song which I've already mentioned here. It fits in nicely as a lighter sounding song with a pop influence in melody, but I feel like it's missing something to make it go oomph.

The standout track has to be "†elepa†hy." It starts out with funky bass, and only gets better from there. It kind of has a Michael Jackson feel in the sound, with modern elements. The way the chorus hits is amazing- it instantly makes you want to dance. The vocal effects and layering in the bridge are also great, with Chino singing and simultaneously whispering "Come play my game...I'll let you win." Very sexy song.

"†rophy" is another light and mellow song and the vocals are probably the most tender I've ever heard Chino sound. The lyrical direction here is more somber, as Chino says goodbye to a lover. "You bring me to a stare as you wave your heart into the air. I walk away and play it safe- it's strange how it works." There's also a bit of shoegaze in it. It's a very beautiful song.

"1987" starts out like it may be an instrumental track, but it does include a few lyrics in it. To be honest, I don't know that the vocals make too much of a difference in this case. I did read somewhere that it was originally going to be instrumental. It may have worked better that way.

While "†elepa†hy" is probably one of my favorite Crosses songs thus far, I liked EP † better. "†his is a †rick"'s pulsing beat with driving guitars and sexy vocals, "Op†ion" and "†heholyghs†"'s euphoric choruses, "Bermuda Locke†"'s simple sensuality and "†"'s Nine Inch Nails-eque instrumentation were all in perfect harmony. I feel like as a whole it was a little more grand. Still, I highly recommend this EP. It's definitely music to experience with headphones on to get lost in. I look forward to future Crosses releases.

Rating: 3.5/5

To get EPs † (this one is free) and ††, go to or iTunes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Music Video: Sleigh Bells' "Comeback Kid"

I can't get enough of this song, so I thought I'd post about the video too because it's just as cool. It features the duo Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller in a fun video that involves a gun, a bed, and mustard.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Music Monday: Hear Ladyhawke's New Single "Black White & Blue"

Thank god I have something to update about on this boring Monday! After releasing a stellar album in 2008, electropop artist Ladyhawke is finally gracing us with brand new music. "Black, White, & Blue" is the first single from her new album, Anxiety. I missed her voice. The track starts with some nifty percussion before synths and keyboards take over in catchy chorus. The chill song sounds like it would be the perfect cure for a hangover. Hear the track after the cut.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On My Radar: SolarSolar

Here's a great duo I happened to stumble upon the other day called SolarSolar. As their name implies, their music consists of chilled yet sunny dreampop and trip-hop and has solar references in lyrics and sound. The songs have a minimalist vibe that make great use of synths and beats with hushed vocals by Angela Drysdale. SolarSolar's debut album Pilot has been in the works for over a year and will be released on February 21st. The title track was recently posted to the band's souncloud. From there, you can find other songs on the album, such as "Walking Like Children" and "I Can't Find You." There is also a great EP on there called Secrets and Orchids. I really like their stuff. What do you think?

SolarSolar - Pilot by SolarSolar

Album of the Week: Yuck - Yuck

Now here's a band I strangely didn't get into last year- Yuck (yes, that's their name). Their self-titled debut album came out almost a year ago. It's definitely in my vein of music (that whole alternative/noise rock/shoegaze sound of the 90's that I've been obsessed with), but it didn't click the first time around and I hadn't been prompted to listen to it again...until now. It feels like the first time. The whole album has a dreamy feel, yet maintains catchy melodies, nice choruses and an upbeat vibe. Critics have likened them to Dinosaur Jr., but there are definitely other influences at work here, including My Bloody Valentine. The track "Suck" has a Radiohead/The Smashing Pumpkins vibe going on. Other standout tracks include "Get Away," "Shook Down," fuzzy jam "Holing Out," and "Suicide Policeman" which reminds me of Elliott Smith's work. The final track "Rubber" was one of the only songs that stuck out to me the first time around, and still has the same impact. It's a great album closer, although clocking in at seven minutes it could be a little long for some people's tastes. Consider it seven minutes in heaven (hah). It's a great album to chill out to. It's available for purchase here.

Once again, UK bands rule.

Get Away by Yuck

By the way, SPIN Magazine is offering an awesome playlist full of the best songs of 2011, including "Shook Down" by Yuck. You can download the playlist from iTunes here.

Upcoming Album News: Featuring Santigold, The Mars Volta, Lana Del Rey, Miike Snow and School of Seven Bells

It's been almost four years since Santigold released her debut album (although she hasn't been completely absent all that time), but she's finally gearing up for her sophomore release, titled Master of My Make Believe. The first single, "Big Mouth" surfaced online Wednesday. Several people have noticed that it has a more MIA vibe to it, especially coupled with the video released for it. The album will also feature "Go" with Karen O, which debuted last year. Expect her album on April 23rd.

You can also download a free MP3 of the track here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Music Monday: Featuring Sleigh Bells, Crosses, and Good Old War

It's time for some more new music! The theme of this post seems to be artists of different genres that incorporate pop sensibilities in their music.

Noise pop duo Sleigh Bells have released their first official single from the upcoming sophomore album Reign of Terror, due out February 21st. They released the buzz single "Born To Lose" late last year, which was a grower and seemed to be a continuation of the first album's sound. This song seems to have a bit different to offer. This time, the guitars are more subdued in favor of Alexis' vocals which are stronger and more in the forefront. The track does include the familiar pop melodies that they specialize in, but kicked up a notch. It's also a lot less distorted than their previous work. It's definitely a good choice as a first single. Listen to "Comeback Kid" below.

Comeback Kid by Sleigh Bells

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Artist to Watch: Charli XCX

There have been so many good female artists/female-led bands that I've been listening to lately. Florence + The Machine, Kate Bush, St. Vincent, School of Seven Bells, The Joy Formidable, Lana Del Rey and Le Butcherettes. Nineteen-year-old British singer Charli XCX (real name Charlotte Aitchison) is the latest in that line of talent. She has been in bands since she was seven years old, and released her first album at the age of fourteen. Her current music is best described as dark pop in the vein of Natalia Kills with some of The Knife's weirdness and Marina and the Diamonds-esque vocals thrown in. I've only been able to find three original songs (by that I mean not remixes) to her name, but let me say that I'm seriously impressed with them and they've been on repeat. The first song I heard by her was "Nuclear Seasons," an otherworldly pop song with chilling synths and a bubblegum beat that includes a chorus of "oh, ah, oh, oh, ah, oh"s. "Wires" is a cover of an Athlete song that re-imagines it with a hip-hop beat before turning sinister, and showcases some haunting vocals. Then there's the captivating "Stay Away," which further pushes the eighties throwback sound with wonderfully emotive vocals and lyrics. Recently, her official Youtube channel posted this video of Charli singing a stripped-down version of "Stay Away." I'm in love with it. This is what proved to me that she could really sing without the effects on her voice. She gets the chance to show off her tender vocals with just a keyboard and drum machine backing her up. The ambiance of the performance is also great, with Charli singing in a dimly lit club with casette tape scattered across the floor.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Music News: Le Butcherettes to Start Recording New Album; Crosses Releasing Stems for second EP

Garage rock trio Le Butcherettes (starring lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Teri Gender Bender) are set to start recording material for a second full-length album. Last night, a message was posted to the band's twitter account stating the news. They will once again be recording with producer/musician Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (known for his work with The Mars Volta as well as his solo project), who produced last year's debut Sin Sin Sin. Le Butcherettes' current lineup also includes Rodriguez-Lopez on bass as well as Lia Braswell on drums. The group just announced that they would be playing Coachella on both of the Sundays in April. In the meantime, you can watch a short set that the band recorded for MTV's Iggy sessions here. Below is the stunning performance for single "Henry Don't Got Love."

Also, Teri recorded an amazing acoustic session for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert which you can view here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Music: The Shins' Simple Song

I'm finally updating about a 2012 song! Alternative rock band The Shins are due to release their fourth album, called Port of Morrow, on March 20th. I have to say I don't know any of their other songs besides the inclusion of both "New Slang" and "Caring Is Creepy" on the Garden State soundtrack, but both of those songs were wonderful. I guess I can make the excuse that this is their first album in 5 years, so they haven't been on the radar much (although I was a fan of James Mercer's side project Broken Bells). "Simple Song," the first taste of the new album, is a pretty good song with a nice beat and vocals. I'll be sure that they stay on my radar this time.

Simple Song by theshins

EP Review: Seasick by Silversun Pickups

At the end of last year, Silversun Pickups released a vinyl single titled Seasick in honor of November's Record Store Day. It was later released in digital form on iTunes, Spotify, and the like. The EP contains three songs leftover from the recording sessions for 2009's Swoon. Seeing as how Silversun Pickups has come to be one of my favorite bands since that album, this review might sound a little biased. However, I'll try not to be.

As the tracks were previously unreleased, I thought for sure that they wouldn't match the quality of any of the band's songs on Swoon, their 2006 release Carnavas, or even 2005's EP Pikul. It turns out I was wrong. The title track starts out with mellow reverb-heavy synths which depict a feeling of being lost at sea (as does their always awesome cover artwork). The track is sprinkled with guitar that sounds like it's drifting with the waves, and the drums give the song a nice pace. In the chorus main vocalist Brian Aubert sings "Don't make a sound, it throws me off. My center of gravity is lost," in one of my favorite performances from him to date. For some reason it reminds me a bit of TV on the Radio's melodies. The song then builds up into a the wall of fuzzy guitar that is commonplace in SSPU songs, as Brian's vocals become more desperate in an attempt to "keep my head high, remain upright." To me, this is the best track on the EP (it also made #7 on my top songs of 2011 list).

The fast-paced "Broken Bottles" sends things into a tailspin of fury. I have to admit that this song really had to grow on me, but lyrically I think it's great and it is catchy. I could see it being a radio hit, although I don't really think there's an identifiable chorus. Brian pleas, "Dear God, can I cut in line? Dear God, am I wasting my time?"At the song's bridge he sounds more frantic than ever, with the climax of "I. don't. want. to. relive. this. I. don't. want. to. relive. it."

"Ribbons & Detours" mellows things out again with bassist Nikki Monninger on lead vocals. I love the atmosphere that the song creates. It's kind of like the dark, after-the-breakup counterpart to Pikul's "Creation Lake," also sung by Monninger. Her voice is pleasant enough, but I feel that she doesn't convey much in terms of emotion. It does work for this song, though.

Each song has it's own place on the EP, and can be compared to any three of Silversun Pickup's previous releases. It does well holding over fans for their next release set for sometime this year, but hopefully there will be a bit more growth shown on album #3.

Rating: 4/5

Silversun Pickups, Seasick by Danceyrselfcleaner

Unfortunately, there are no more Vinyl copies of Seasick left, but digital copies are available for purchase here as well as on iTunes.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Festivals: Coachella 2012 Lineup Released

Coachella, an annual music and arts extravaganza in Indio California that usually spans three days, will be expanding to a six day event over two weekends in April. They have released this year's lineup via their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Blues rockers The Black Keys, festival favorites Radiohead, and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg will be headlining the event. Other acts include Florence + The Machine, grammy-nominated Bon Iver, electronic act M83, 90's alt rockers Mazzy Star, garage rockers Le Butcherettes and Austin post-rock band Explosions in the Sky. It should also be no surprise to some that At The Drive-In will be performing at the festival, given today's announcement. To view the full lineup, go here. All three days seem to have great lineups. Thoughts? 

Tickets for Coachella go on sale at 10am on January 13th.

At The Drive-In: This Station is Now Operational!

After searching the internet for legitimacy, it seems as though El Pasoan post-hardcore band At The Drive-In will be reuniting after eleven years. They were known for their high-energy stage shows and complex guitar rhythms. The band went their separate ways after breaking up in 2001, in the forms of current bands The Mars Volta and Sparta. Although there are plenty of fans of those bands (I love the former), there has always been a nagging for At The Drive-In to reunite. According to the band's website, "At The Drive-In will be breaking their 11 year silence. THIS STATION IS... NOW... OPERATIONAL." The same message was also posted to the band's twitter account.

Edit: Cedric Bixler Zavala of the Mars Volta also confirmed the news on his official Youtube account. Additionally, The Mars Volta will be putting out new material later this year.

Check out One Armed Scissor, one of the band's biggest hits, below.

At the drive in - One Armed Scissor by Yuri Scocuglia

Playlist: January 2012

Here's a playlist that I've compiled for the month of January. My hope is to do this monthly, or seasonally. I'm a little new to making playlists (like I said, I usually listen to albums or songs in whatever order I feel like on the given day), but I actually think this one flows pretty well. I thought I'd share it with you all. Not sure if there is a theme per se, but most of the songs seem to have a bit of a winter feel to them. Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Albums Revisited: Utada Hikaru's Ultra Blue

If you haven't been able to gather by now, I am an album person. I love strong albums where you can pretty much listen to every song on it, and it's cohesive. But even albums that are a bit more unpredictable can be fun too. This is a series I will call albums revisited, which is pretty much exactly what the name implies.

Since mid-2008, I've been slowly testing the waters of j-pop (Japanese pop) and k-pop (Korean pop). Now, a lot of people may wonder why others listen to music in a language you can't understand. For me, it's because I believe music is universal. Many of the themes in music such as love, heartbreak, happiness, anger, desperation, and sadness are emotions we all experience. Melodies, and the way lyrics are sung can be felt beyond the barrier of language. You can get a general feel of a song just with those things.

This brings me to Japanese-American artist Utada Hikaru. She does have a couple of English-language albums, but her primary (and best) music is in Japanese. Today I'm revisiting her 2006 release Ultra Blue, which is a gorgeous ballad-based j-pop album. I love listening to Utada's voice- it's very soft and beautiful while remaining expressive. The album intertwines many different genre influences such as electronic, rock, and r&b. This makes the compositions of the songs interesting, and some even feel unexpected to me. It might have something to do with the way Japanese pop music is crafted. While many complain that it takes too many elements from American music, I think they also give their songs special touches like the chord changes. The album starts out with This Is Love, an upbeat song that Utada says is about how "love is like a mix of extremes: anxiety and peace." The song Blue starts out like a typical ballad that calmly deals with feelings of depression before erupting into a more desperate but gorgeous chorus. 日曜の朝 (Sunday Morning) is a relaxing and carefree r&b-ish song. Three songs on the album, 誰かの願いが叶うころ (When Someone's Wish Comes True), 海路 (Sea Route) and Be My Last drop most of the electronic instrumentation in favor of orchestral, piano, and acoustic arrangements. Be My Last also has one of my favorite vocal performances from Utada, with her emotion at a delicate peak in the song. Wings and Colors make me think of walking through a forest in the Fall and the latter's experimental nature also reminds me of a video game soundtrack (particularly Tekken) in parts. Speaking of video games, if you've played Kingdom Hearts (which I haven't) you've probably heard the wonderfully atmospheric Passion (or the English version Sanctuary below) since it's one of the game's theme songs. It's an amazing album from start to finish, but I think my favorite song is Keep Tryin', which may also be one of my all-time favorite songs. This song features the most unique structure and the melody is just divine, especially in the pre-chorus. I've looked up a few translations (this one seems to make the most sense) and from the few English words (and title) in the song and from the music video I can gather that it is about trying to be better in life, but not trying too hard and not worrying too much. I'll post the music video below since it's really cute to watch and fits well with the song's lighthearted theme.

Utada hikaru-sanctuary by Raid081

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sailin' On: Music For a Good Cause

Yesterday I was on Facebook and saw that Ringo Deathstarr had posted about the tragic murder of Esme Barrera, who was a well-known participant in the Austin music scene. She volunteered at Girls Rock Austin music camp, and worked at the awesome local indie music store Waterloo Records. I never had the chance to meet her, but from reading comments from others and seeing the outpouring of love she seemed to have been a lovely girl who loved and supported music with all her heart. Knowing someone like that must have been priceless. I want to support her and her family as well. If you would like to donate and help with funeral expenses, then go here. Below is a cover of Bad Brains' Sailin' On done by Ringo Deathstarr. If you like what you've heard you can also email them your donation receipt in order to receive a high quality copy of the track.

If you happen to be from Austin, here are some other tributes and benefits going on for Esme.

 Sailin' On by ElliottFrazier

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Look

It's a new year, and I was feeling a bit inspired so there's also a new layout on the blog. It features Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes. I just love the picture. The edits are nothing special (my graphic design skills have gone null), but I think now the layout has the look and feel of a real blog. I also somewhat decided on a name for the blog- Soul&Solace. It's a lyric from a Shiny Toy Guns song, but I'm not quite sure why I thought it would be a good name. I'm terrible at coming up with names, so this will probably end up changing if I ever come up with something better. Things are still getting off the ground, but hopefully I can keep the posts and ideas coming at a consistant rate. One of my resolutions is to listen to even more music, new (let's see if I can beat the 38 releases from last year!) and old. If you decide to keep reading, I hope you'll enjoy it. I'm excited to see how this all goes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oldies But Goodies: Album Rewind

If you were to look at my top albums of the past year on, you'd find some quite old albums on there. All of it is 80's and 90's music, but I couldn't call it nostalgia because 1. I'm only 21 and 2. This was my first time hearing them. I'd call it more looking back on musicians and albums that inspired some of my current favorite artists. Here are some old, but good albums to check out if you haven't already.

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991): A lovely shoegaze classic that certainly inspired Ringo Deathstarr. Fav track: Only Shallow
Hum - You'd Prefer an Astronaut (1995): Chino Moreno of Deftones himself said that his band was inspired by this extremely underrated, space-themed alternative rock album. Fav track: The Pod
Babes In Toyland - Fontanelle (1992): Some awesome early 90's hard rock made by angry chicks who are not to be confused with riot grrls. Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes can surely relate to it. Fav track: Handsome & Gretel
Nirvana - Bleach (1989): What rock band hasn't been inspired by seminal grunge band Nirvana? Early Muse is one of them. This was Nirvana's first album before they got huge, but I think it's got some great rawness and intensity to it. Fav track: About A Girl
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (1985): This British songstress always had a flair for the quirky and dramatic, but she also had an innocence here that is heard in Florence + the Machine's Lungs album. Fav track: Cloudbusting
Bad Brains - Bad Brains (1982): Classic 80's punk (with a side of reggae) album that also helped shape Chino Moreno's singing and screaming style. Fav track: Sailin' On
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses (1989): A critically acclaimed alternative rock album with beautiful and catchy melodies throughout. Although they only came out with one more album, their sound can be heard in Oasis' music. Fav track: Made of Stone
The Jesus And Mary Chain - Psychocandy (1985): The Stone Roses were also influenced by this band. Some distortion-heavy punk music with some pop sensibilities that helped create Ringo Deathstarr. Fav track: Just Like Honey
Elliott Smith - XO (1998): A brilliant musician who left us far too soon made this bittersweet and achingly beautiful album. Silversun Pickups are said to be inspired by him. Fav track: Bottle Up & Explode!
Lush - Gala (1990): A dream pop album with a sunny side that Ringo Deathstarr are sure to love. Fav track: Hey Hey Helen
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