Archive for September, 2012
Does anyone remember how awesome music was in the early thousands? I’m not necessarily saying it was a time for classics but a lo
t of the
biggest radio jams of the period rate pretty high on the nostalgia meter. TLC pumped out “Waterfalls,” Destiny’s Child was still together begging for us to say their name, and if you’re willing to admit it, you used to sing along with J.Lo.
One of my favorite mostly forgotten but irresistibly fun songs was Mario’s “Let Me Love You.” While Mario isn’t much of mainstay these days, his personal classic is one of the latest to be pulled into the modern electronic era. The United Kingdom’s Lapalux has spun a deliciously perfect remix that you won’t have any need to feel guilty about blasting through your speakers.
Fortunately, Lapalux offers more than just blissful remixes. Riding on the seemingly never ending wave of emerging electronic artists, Lapalux is a breath of fresh air blending in hip-hop with perfect balance. Check out the EP “When Your Gone” and be prepared for “Some Other Time” on October 15th.
The 1960’s was a conflicted decade in music. There were s
o many new genres being pioneered and new bands were popping up like fleas on a cat. The 1960’s saw the rock and roll of such artists as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Barry, Gene Vincent and Little Richard, the rhythm and blues of Ruth Brown, Johnny Otis, Ray Charles and Lloyd Price, the country/rockabilly sounds of Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves give way to pop rock, psychedelia, beat music, heavy metal, prog rock, baroque pop, bubblegum pop, folk and folk rock and, of course, sunshine pop.
In the forefront of sunshine pop was The Beach Boys. Their music was fun and reflected a life on the beach in California. Other bands such as The Buckinghams, The Mamas and the Papas, and The Turtles each brought their own unique harmonies to the table. Typically, in contrast to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Country Joe and the Fish, sunshine music was light and airy, pure escapism. You could sit and listen to The 5th Dimension sing Up, Up and Away and not worry about what was happening in Vietnam, the Cold War, civil unrest or the building of the Berlin Wall. Sunshine pop was just feel good music with no political or deep philosophical message.
So, in keeping with this tradition, Alan States, aka Cruiser, has crafted an EP that would fit right in with the best of the sunshine pop of the ’60s. With a sound that’s a cross between The Tams (Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy) and Cliff Richards (Young Ones), these six songs had me sitting in a lounge chair in my parents backyard listening to the bumblebees idly buzzing around the garden once again. I loved the Brit Pop vibe in songs such as Don’t Go Alone and Home Turf. Both these songs brought up favourable comparisons to Peter and Gordon.
Cruiser is a solo project by States and the EP was produced by Jeremy Park (Youth Lagoon’s Year of Hibernation). This EP is filled with catchy melodies and singalong choruses. It’s impossible to feel down listening to this. The Cruiser EP is a nice change from listening to what passes as pop music nowadays, one is pure escapism and the other you can’t escape from . The production is clean and even with no one element dominating to the detriment of others. The vocals and guitars aren’t fighting each other and the drums nicely drive the songs along.
You can find more information on Cruiser on the bands website, Twitter and Facebook. You can listen to the EP on Bandcamp and Soundcloud and if you like what you hear the EP is available on iTunes. And stay tuned for the release of a limited edition (just 300 copies) 7″ record featuring The Fritz and Moving to Neptune. Check the record labels website Company Ink Records for details.
If you like catchy melodies, well-written truthful lyrics and balls-to-the-wall rock then the Mip
Power Trios new album, Haggard and Bedraggled is for you. It is a trip through punk, rock, folk/rock, country/rock and a few other things. The strength of these nine songs is, as always, Mips considerable way with words. The lyrics, just as on her album, Caught In Between, are witty, cutting, astute and quirky enough to keep you interested and the melodies are so dynamic and insanely catchy that your toes will ache from tapping them. And then there’s the head-banging. To say this is an eclectic mix is an understatement.
Grand Marquis is as punk as early Green Day with vocals Joan Jett would be jealous of. This song hits you like a ton of bricks as it follows the countryish, Hometown with it’s light-hearted melody and lilting chorus. Grand Marquis is a frantic dash down the street, tires squealing and the radio blasting Rancids Larry’s Dead. Whiskey Ain’t Cheap has probably the best line I’ve heard in a long time, “sipping on whiskey is too much of a luxury but in these times they want it even more”. The song itself follows Jack from college to real life and the hard times he encounters trying to balance a factory job with repaying loans. It is very tempting to “drink the bottle hollow” when facing tough times, I admit.
Greg Kowalczyk (bass) and Shane Macpherson (drums) know how to keep these songs moving and add dynamics without overpowering Mips muscular guitars. The three have great chemistry and it shows particularly on Beowulf; the aforementioned Grand Marquis; Sweaters (a personal favourite that was also on Caught In Between), and Stone Wall. It is easy to overlook Mips prowess on the guitar when listening to her voice but she is no slouch when it comes to attacking a song. She isn’t afraid to get dirty. Kowalczyk is also quite a pleasant surprise on guitars providing a wonderful rockabilly sensibility to Stone Wall and taking the lead in Grand Marquis. But my favourite song, and it’s really hard to pick one, has to be Northern Lights. It’s a return to the folk side and is astonishingly pretty. A great tune to finish a high-energy album with.
The album was recorded live-off-the-floor (always a better sound in my opinion) by Mike Pedro at Cosmic Audio. I like this style of recording because it always sounds warmer and more immediate than when things are recorded separately and then brought together in the mix. Be forewarned that there is some foul language so if you have kids and you don’t want them to hear it then turn down Ranger Danger and Stone Wall when they come on.
Tanlines is the perfect blend of dreamy vocals and electro synth, give this a listen and see if you agree.
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Flying lotus is one of my favourite producers of all times, no surprise then he took one of the best tracks from Frank Ocean’s a
mazing Channel Orange and made it even better.