Tag Archives: review

Album Review: Cold War Kids: Mine Is Yours

Cold War Kids
Image via Wikipedia

Today the Cold War Kids have a new album out, Mine Is Yours, that I’m very excited about. A band that I thought was becoming a one hit wonder with their song from 2006 “Hang Me Out To Dry”, are no longer in that category and I couldn’t be happier for them.

A few months ago I got to hear a song off this new album called “Royal Blue” and that is when I knew this band was no longer a one hit wonder on my charts! Nathan Willet, the lead singer, has this amazing voice which has a high range but yet can also have a dark side to it not heard on many guys with high vocal ranges. That was the hook to “Hang Me Out to Dry”, it was raw vocally and with that great bass line, the darkness was always present.

Before I wrote my review and heard the entire record, it seems the consensus is that they are going “soft” and being compared to Toad the Wet Sprocket??? Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some 90’s Toad, but I wouldn’t put them in the “Adult Contemporary Category” just yet!

This album is big on the sound scale. At times it seems as if it was recorded live in a bar. Nathan’s vocals soar throughout the album. The band is cohesive and there was a vision in this album and they met it and surpassed it! I would love to turn off the vocals for a few tracks (not because they are bad or annoying) but so I can hear every detail that is going on in the background.  There is no wasted space musically on this album.  They accomplish mixing genres a bit too (punk, pop, alternative, soul; heck there is still a “garage band”/lo fi effect on the track “Cold Toes on the Cold Floor”).  There is still the “alternative” Cold War Kids (like on “Sensitive Kid”, “Bulldozer”) but there is a nice soul/pop sound too but doesn’t seem contrived or “planned”. In other words, the Cold War Kids are growing up but they are not becoming boring.  They can still be minimalists as well as full on in your face musically.  Every track grabs you and never lets you down.

Below are some of the tracks from this album! Enjoy and buy it now!

(Excuse the friggin’ advertisement before the song on this first video from YouTube..sorry..but its a great live performance!!)

Louder Than Ever -Live

Royal Blue – Album Version

Skip the Charades – Live


Single Review: “Hold It Against Me” – Britney Spears

Image by shandopics via Flickr

If you are of above a certain age, you may remember a tune called “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold Against Me”  by the Bellamy Brothers (yes, the title was that long).  I believe that is where the writers of this song came up with the idea of Britney’s new single “Hold It Against Me”.
Production credits for this song are Max Martin and Dr. Luke, who recently teamed up with Ke$ha and Katy Perry.  In my research on Max Martin, he was born in 1971 so this would make sense that HE remembers the Bellamy Brothers song.  He has done a string of earlier Britney music including “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops…I Did It Again”.  He is also credited with recent hits by P!nk (“Raise Your Glass”) and Katy Perry (“California Gurls”).

Dr. Luke, born in 1973, worked with Britney on “Circus” as well as Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” and the unfortunate Miley Cyrus hit “Party in the U.S.A.”

As for Britney’s “Hold It Against Me”, the line that makes me think of the Bellamy Brothers’ song is “If I said I want your body/ would you hold it against me”.  Pretty similar huh?  But at least the songs do not sound the same given that the Bellamy Brothers are a 70’s country duo.  Brit’s version is the usual club pumping, typical sounding Brit we have come to love and expect.  This song is catchy and will bring her back into a positive spotlight.  I am looking forward to the dance remixes as I always am when it comes to today’s “divas”.
Can Britney sing? Yes but in a constrained, sing from her throat kind of way.  But I never expect Britney to be hitting Mariah notes.  She has found her niche which is an ex-smoker club singer with heavy production.  I LIKE the song but don’t LOVE the song.  This song is very heavy on the club effects, lots of echoing and harmonies.  It has a euro-trance feel to me at times so I’m sure there will be a million remixes working out all these themes.

I have listened to this song multiple times for the “can I hack this more than 5 times” feeling and I can handle it beyond 5 listening sessions.  So gay men and 14 to 17 year olds, get ready cause your Britney is back!

Britney’s album is expected to drop this coming March and I am looking forward to other songs beyond this first song.

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Review of the week: The Decemberists: The King Is Dead

The Decemberists
Cover of The Decemberists

Recently I have been reminiscing about R.E.M and their early days.  Well lo and behold, The Decemberists give me a good reason to keep R.E.M. in mind in literal fashion.  “The King Is Dead” is set to be released on January 18th, 2011.

This album is a great, enjoyable record taking you down country roads and open fields.  It was recorded in a barn near Portland, Oregon.  The music is deeply influenced by where it was recorded.  There are many enjoyable harmonies on most of the songs which are provided by the lead singer, Colin Meloy and the wonderfully talented Gillian Welch.  (Do some research on this talented woman, begin at her website: http://gillianwelch.com/ .

Another guest on this record is Peter Buck, the lead guitarist of R.E.M.  His influence is great indeed and adds a wonderful texture to the three songs he contributes to which are: “Don’t Carry It All”, “Calamity Song”, and “Down by the Water”.  Instead of this album “sounding like” its influences, it really is an homage to the roots of country/folk music.  There is the jangle pop sound fans of The Decemberists are used to but there is a new direction they are taking and I hope they keep down this path of country/folk/jangle pop because it is magical to the ears.

Some favorite songs of mine off the album are:

“Don’t Carry It All”: Bright beginning to the record.  The harmonies between Meloy and Welch are just simply wonderful and perfect.  Favorite lyric: “a neighbors blessed burden within reason/ becomes a burden born of all and one”

“Calamity Song”: This has the most recognizable Peter Buck influence on the entire record.  Upon first listen you will hear a direct R.E.M. guitar lick which I believe is from “7 Chinese Brothers”.  This song is another bright, country affair.

“January Hymn”: an ode to the month of January and actually makes winter seem bearable. (I happen to loath winter which is one of the reasons I moved to San Francisco!) This is Meloy on his own. Favorite lyric: “Hail the winter days after dark/ wandering the gray memorial park/ a fleeting beating of hearts”

“Down By The Water”: This is the first single off the record and is full of good old fashioned teen angst.  There is the obvious influence of Bruce Springsteen (especially in the harmonica playing).  This confirms all the feeling and frustrations of a bored teenager.

The last two songs on the album, “This Is Why We Fight” and “Dear Avery” are darker in tone and feel than the rest of the album.  “This is Why..” is about war and its repetitive nature thus the repetitive nature of the lyrics.  At the end of this song, there is a wonderful moment with Gillian Welch singing into one mic and you can hear the rain in the background.  This moment leads directly into the last song, “Dear Avery”.  Is this a song about the passing of Avery or his absence?  The very end of the record is just music that gives the listener hope but with the lingering of a “ghost” of loss.

You can listen to this album in its entirety or song by song on NPR’s website: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/03/132436422/first-listen-the-decemberists-the-king-is-dead#playlist

A definite must have for lovers of good old fashioned country/folk/rock music.

The Decemberists main website: http://www.decemberists.com/

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