Wednesday, 18 December 2013

2013: The Good, The Bad & The POP!

As the unlucky 13 was developing we were living more and more key moments that will make this year memorable. From David Bowie album comeback to Miley Cyrus singing with a lipsyncing giant kitten or Beyonce's surprise date album, the year was full of surprises, some were a lot better than others but what an exciting year for music!. 2013 was a great year for woman, even if Robin Thicke tried to defend the domestication of them -all blurred lines- , girls took the lead in the charts specially Miley Cyrus who came as a Wrecking Ball to make us forget about Hannah Montana and scored the two most watched videos of the year. Everything went Pop! the bands, solo artists and even goats went for a pop direction to be a hit and be more radio friendly, probably influenced by Lady Gaga and her so awaited album Artpop ,which weirdly, lacks of this, but if you weren't into that there was an alternative: Folk or Electronic, which also got massive attention this year and if you were a fan of Mumford & Sons folk/rock style and dance beats why not mix it and listen to Avicci or Ellie Goulding ,even Britney has a slip to that. 2013 had variety, that's for sure, but almost everyone aimed for the same:to be on everyone's lips some made it, some fail.

As for the news for 2013: Meteor and opinions on homosexuality crashing in Russia while they keep Pussy Riot bounded luckily many artists showed they support to the band and the human rights, sadly the new Pope and his 'open mind' couldn't help, in other news Prince William passed from changing THE royal baby nappies to perform Livin' On A Prayer with Bon Jovi And Taylor Swift and suggesting that we could see a Royal Twerk soon,The Hives apologized for singing a song about 'stuff blowing up” in Boston, and U2 honoring Nelson Mandela by releasing a song just a few days before he passed away; Events and music were once again hand in hand through 2013, can almost relate any event in the year to a song, but there wasn't an official song for Andy Murray winning Wimbledon or for NSA hacking phones and USA Government Shutdown, or probably Arctic Monkey's 'Do I Wanna Know?' is?. Probably we will never know what a fox says but now there's a song for that and also one that reminds us we'll never be royals (royals) what we do know is Katy Perry's roar sounds like and it was a powerful hit. Psy demonstrated he's not a one hit wonder and we tried to learn the moves but probably ended up more like a 'dancing' in Harlem Shake video,but most important we listened to 'The Best Song Ever',it was impossible not to. In the end 2013 wasn't about bad luck, at all, because we got lucky with Daft Punk's funky comeback,we hear the coming of Yeezus and album names were like AM,BE,MBV,MGMT & 180, easy to remember or lack of creativity? the thing is that '13  all about pop culture.

But aside Pop , the music was also affected by a trend that keeps growing the 90's vibe and new artists like Icona Pop showed that the Eurodance is stronger again and probably will strike hard again. So my lists of the best and worst of the year will be focused on who did a congruent and bold move to survive in a year that expectations were high and many were pursuing the same goal.

 Albums Of The Year 

13.Crimes Of Passion by Crocodiles 
12.The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae
11.This is... by Icona Pop /The Terror by The Flaming Lips
10.The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES
9. Forever by Holograms / 180 Palma Violets 
8.The Weight of Your Love by Editors
7.NEW by Paul McCartney 
6.Mosquito by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

5.Every Weekend by Hadouken!
4.Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
3.The Next Day by David Bowie
2.Overgrown by James Blake 
1.Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action by Franz Ferdinand 

 Singles Of The Year 

13.2013 by Primal Scream /Mirrors by Justin Timberlake
12.Black Skinhead by Kanye West 
11. Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys / Do What U Want by Lady Gaga ft. R. Kelly 
10. I Sat by the Ocean by Queens Of The Stone Age
9.Right Action by Franz Ferdinand
8.Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey / My Number by Foals
7.Diane Young by Vampire Weekend 
6.First Time Caller by White Lies
5.Sacrilege by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4.Roar by Katy Perry
3.Get Lucky by Daft Punk ft. Pharell /Evil Eye by Franz Ferdinand 
2. Love Illumination by Franz Ferdinand 
1.Levitate by Hadouken!

 Worst Songs 

5.Saturday by Rebecca Black / Chinese Food by Alison Gold 
4.#Twerkit by Busta Rhymes 
3.Started From The Bottom by Drake
2.Let's Get Ridiculous by Redfoo
1. Scream & Shout (REMIX ) by Will.I.Am ft. Britney Spears, Diddy, Hit-Boy, Lil Wayne, and Waka Flocka Flame

 Worst Albums 


4.In a World Like This by Backstreet Boys

3..Paramore by Paramore

2.Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! by Panic! At The Disco
1.Avril Lavigne by Avril Lavigne

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Black Panties by R. Kelly

Rated: (I can't get no) Satisfaction

Musically this album is delightful, is everything you expect from R. Kelly, there are many details, multiple layers and all work fine together but is on the lyric side where all gets a bit disconcerting because is too cliché and pointless dirty talk. It has a sexual theme, fine, but why do it so amateur,like seeking for attention and we know R Kelly could do it so much better, it sound like these new wave of singers that want to have a 'catchy' hit with say load of boring/mindless words. Also, at  some point it gets boring and there are far too much songs and  could sound very similar but a few surprises will save the album and revive a style that has been slagged. Feels like the album didn't got all the attention require to make it unique, amazing or modern.

Thankfully the album has a magnificent old school vibe and flows brilliantly, although there are some moments where it sounds more like is another artist featuring R. Kelly the record stands out for the enjoyable melodies .Is nothing new, in fact,it does sound old (like from 10 years ago) but who cares if it is this good. An ideal harmony in soft/pop and aggressive/urban sounds, is the sound to which we are used but a little improved and more elegant but not arrogant, is almost perfect. In conclusion it is a very elaborated album that sounds wonderful and in unique R Kelly style but  maybe another direction and more edition it would have been better. I blamed on Lady Gaga and wanting to be so pop.

Recommended: Cookie, . All the Way,  Spend That ,  Shut Up

Africa Express Presents: Maison Des Jeunes

Rated:Lucy in the Sky

This is a great album to escape from reality that is not astonishing but is entertaining and alternative to what we listen or is more popular from this producers, which in lays the mayor attention. This kind of albums are (almost) always magical probably because in appearance they don't sound complicated so is not surprising but for the target market (introduces westerns to musicians they may not otherwise have listened to) it has something that will make it special. The fun, the melancholic chords,the eclecticism of sound and the endeavour putted on the album make it very special.

The producers style doesn't mix really well, is too 'pronounced' and very easy to recognize who did what, which is kind of good-sometimes-, but the direction the album has is what puts all together and makes it work. The songs are very elaborated but sound simple and transmit feelings even you don't understand what it's saying you sort of connect with every song which is always great. There are many variations, highs and lows in the record all with a chill out vibe that will make you embark in an delightful musical adventure that is enjoyable from start to end. No matter what genre the songs highlight the most, hip  hop, R&B, soul etc. because all leads to the same end with a pop twist. Notes and effortless voices  blend into beautiful tracks that if you had heard previous works from this people you will hear that is not far from what they do but is not a repetition is more something like an collective evolution. Hopefully it will persuade people to have more choices and a bigger ear to "new" stuff.

Recommended: Songhoy Blues, Bijou, Gambari

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Britney Jean by Britney Spears

Rated:(I can't get no) Satisfaction

Britney Spears promised that 'Britney Jean' was going to be her most personal album but is not as deep and thoughtful as you can imagine ,if that. There are a few songs that can be personal but not as touching as her previous works like 'Every time' or 'Someday',  'Britney' (album) is more personal in some way but probably what Britney meant on this album is that it will have more or her essence and not just songs that were written and then made it fit to a moment in her life, because 'Blackout' could also be on the same Britney's Personal Records line. So mostly the album is a follow up to 2011's 'Femme Fatale' but with a little more connection to the person and not the image Britney Spears is.

The music is nice but it gets boring as it is not new and very similar to last over-electronic Britney works. As -of Black Eyed Peas- is the executive producer the(my) expectations were not really high but at least it could have been so much better, and not just another pop album and there are like another million producers on the record not making enough for Brit. On the bright side the album is a mix of modern pop and electronic with tiny pieces of  Britney's first album so is and interesting combination, with sometimes eclectic sounds, that fans will like. Another good thing is that her voice sound more real creates closer bond to her and with little elements of Folktronica it brings her style up to date, unfortunately there are a few songs that didn't got the memo and sound like Ke$ha back in 2008. The "power ballads" are also confusing  as they don't know what to be: a dance track or a shivering song but after all the album is good not the album of the year not her best album but with a little December luck it will be the album of the month.

Recommended: Alien,Work Bitch,Perfume,Passenger,Don’t Cry


Rated: Music is my Radar 

The debut solo album of  'bEEdEEgEE' (AKA Brian DeGraw from Gang Gang Dance) is a party to your mind. Modern disco sounds with great pieces of hip hop make this album be so enjoyable because although is not something new it has a little something that can make this album stands out from this year similar music. Electrodance ,with variations, is what is most distinguish about sound and very explosive moments.

The album is not far from Gang Gang Dance style, which is good but not brilliant, probably the only difference is somehow more relaxed and less energizer/'aggressive' but it still being powerful and experimental. There are so many different sounds mixed really good ,flowing gorgeously, that will keep you entertained and interested. The hyper and the calm moments mixed with plenty nature-like sounds remind a little to the early 2000's music a mix of electronic and trance with bits of world music and very dance-able but it has tiny bits of new rave that means have loads of fun. Also the record is modern and friendly, recalls to video games music, a great combination of tunes to young people and a new old-way to re-explore.

Recommended:  Like Rain Man, Empty Vases,  Flowers

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Midnight Memories by One Direction

Rated:(I can't get no) Satisfaction 

The quintet has to release as many merchandise as they can before they get too 'old' and this is their finest but dull record to date. A bit more than a year ago the boys released an album that was supposed to be the step or the introduction to a more mature sound and this new one is really it,perhaps,far too mature. The band is once again trying to move away from the silliness and the doll-like commercial pop which is part of the youth and it worked for them well so there is no much fun tracks on this album and sounds so demure, they are young and they're supposed to have fun and fail, this album is like what you expect from a boyband in their 40's after they split 4 times in the past 12 years. It does sound better but for being One Direction album you expect/wish for more cheerful and memorable songs that will stuck in your head even though you don't like them.

The sound is as well trying to get rid of bubblegum-pop and gets more rocky, which is good because it improves their style and is less annoying, probably to a bigger audience.Surprisingly this 'new' sound doesn't sound forced but the voices sound a little young to what they are trying to create though. And there's still a voice that doesn't merge with the others and still causing horrible crashes like in the past album. For its style the album could fit in the rock-pop section alongside with Metro Station,The Script,Hellogobye ,(Latest Cage The Elephant)  etc. is like a Mcfly record without the craziness (or letting loose). Mainly the album turns around the song 'Story of My Life', {which is a song for a man that has lived 30 years ,at least} and all the other 13 tracks are basically the same in different shades/tones [which works for nowadays] and has nothing surprising or at least different from what we listen this days and is inspired by the 80's . Not a bad album, their most concrete to date but lacks of their youthfulness spirit.

Recommended: Best Song Ever,Story of My Life,Right Now

Fellow Travelers by Shearwater

Rated:Lucy in the Sky 

The band are giving a new life to this compilation of covers,from bands they had tour with, by adding some magic to them to turn into something more charming and relaxing.This album has a lot of the band's style and the songs are fit for them so well that you the only thing that reminds you that is a cover is the lyrics that you have heard before but with in a different composition. The music is fantastic and how instruments blend together is magnificent and almost mesmerizing. All songs are in the same range but doesn't mean that is boring or plain there are many powerful and animated moments as tranquil ones so there's a nice balance. There is variety in music but all on the same line and is not anything new but very well done compositions and twists.

The band stay true to their style in every song. Although most of the tracks are not originally their property they own it by reinterpreting them.The original songs could be eclectic and hard to integrate on the album -maybe- but Shearwater manage to join them with their soft old fashioned rock style ,that has been around over 10 years, and their ability to mix a repertoire of instruments that add an epic ('theatrical') fact but without being over-dramatic or to seek for attention. Is not an album that will change their history or music history but is a great material to enjoy from start to end.

Recommended: I Luv the Valley Oh!!,Hurts Like Heaven, Natural One, Ambiguity, Mary Is Mary