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 CrossesMusic.com 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 last.fm, 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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