United Brad Stands

BRAD
United We Stand
Razor & Tie
Release: 24 April 2012


Brad celebrates their 20th year as a band, and releases their 5th album this month. Brad began as the side project for members Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Regan Hagar (Satchel and formerly a member of Malfunkshun), Shawn Smith (also a member of Pigeonhed and Satchel), and Jeremy Toback. Brad is a Seattle band from the 90s which includes one of the founding members of Pearl Jam, the fathers of the grunge sound, yet their music is more chill and psychedelic. For someone who can very rarely relax, I have trouble understanding these jams. If I still hit the hash pipe, it may help. Though I have to admit that Shawn Smith’s lead vocals are beautiful on “Make the Pain go away” the rest of the tracks leave me confused.. I just don’t get it. Although by the sounds of the jam session album the boys are so chilled out, I don’t think they care if I’m grooovin or not, because they sure are regardless. If you already like Brad, or the guys other full time bands give it a listen, you should love it as the sound seems consistent with previous works. Regardless, give “Make the Pain go away” a spin, it will (cliche enough) take some pain away, for sure.

Jon McLaughlin Makes Promises

Jon McLaughlin
Promising Promises
Razor & Tie
Release: 22 May 2012

In September of last year Jon McLaughlin released his album Forever if Ever. On May 22nd he will release an updated and remixed/remastered version of that album along with new artwork and packagin. Jon has also included three new singles for his fans. One of the new singles can be heard below, the album’s first single, “Summer Is Over” featuring Sara Bareilles is on sale now –Buy HERE and Listen HERE.

* Look out for the title track “I’ll follow you”, it’s enough to make most tough guys well up, myself included.

Dar Williams, the Other Folk Meat!

Dar Williams
In The Time of Gods
Razor & Tie
Release: 17 April 2012

Dar Williams has always been a household name growing up on the East Coast. She’s notably a talented singer songwriter whom I… never paid a single ounce of mind to, for no justifiable reason. I guess when I wanted folk music, I went to Ani DiFranco and never looked any further. I think that “go to” has happened to many of us, but tonight I listened to a Dar Williams album in it’s entirely, a few times actually.

First off I will admit this isn’t my first choice in music anymore, yet I found myself in a somber place in life tonight and the album greeted me with open arms. Dar writes beautiful songs. She has a beautiful voice and writes beautiful lyrics. If you listen to her music, I can’t imagine this album would be anything but a satisfying add to your collection of her albums. For a non listener such as myself, I am going to take away this stand out track: “I will free myself”. Next Tuesday when this album drops I ask you to listen carefully to this aforementioned track. I have played it about 10 times so far. Each time as soon as I hear the opening notes, chords, and vocals they force me to pause: and listen. Maybe it’s my situation, or maybe Dar has just been this good all along and this is what you miss when you focus on that one artist that’s gets you by with what you already know. Makes me grateful to always expand my focus.

Monica, New Life, Same Sound.

Monica
New Life
RCA
April 10, 2012

I will give credit where it’s due. When I was in 8th grade Monica’s first singles “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” and “Before You Walk out of My Life” were my jams. Then when Monica did that duet with Brandy talking about “The Boy is Mine” by that point I was a junior in high school and we all thought we were bad ass playing that song on each other’s answering machine’s. (If you were really cool your pager had an answering machine.) Monica could sing, she was cute with her overalls, and we related to her music. We were teenagers. We grew up. Unfortunately, her music did not.

Monica released her seventh studio album today, also you can now purchase vanilla ice cream at your local grochery store. Doesn’t sound very exciting does it? Vanilla Ice Cream, that’s what Monica has become to me over the years. You see vanilla ice cream is fine, I mean who doesn’t like ice cream, it has all of the qualities there that should make it really good, hell it’s ice cream, and if you pair it with something like apple pie then it get’s better. Yet you would prefer something with Caramel running through it wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you prefer to listen to Mary J. Blidge? Doesn’t Monica sound better when you pair her with Brandy? Do you want to listen to another album of Monica’s where it’s all just FINE.If the answer is no, then you just go ahead and skip this album too.

Thanks to her first album and those songs I loved as a kid, Monica’s net worth is around the total of $15 Million US dollars. Tell me why she can’t buy a good song? The album is wonderfully produced, with all the production stars in today’s game that you know, or should, since they make all of today’s hits. Rico Love, Polow da Don,Salaam Remi, even damn Missy Elliott can’t save Monica from making 12 more filler tracks that you can easily live without. What’s the issue? Monica can sing her ass off, she is gorgeous as ever, the beats are decent, the production is good, yet the lyrics fail almost immediately being completely expected, or embarssing (“Log off your facebook it all belongs to me”). Most of the Album’s topics have been exhausted in pop music in the last ten years, even by Monica herself. If you are going to rehash topics of self empowerment, love, and growth you really have to have something bold to back it all up. What we needed was a drastic new sound that recreated Monica in a fresh new way, something with today’s sound vs. 1995. It feels like she keeps painstakingly trying to recreate her first few big hits, even going so far as to have another duet with Brandy, trying to force the magic to happen again. Those overalls, the mid 90’s, being 14 with two top 10 singles: Magic. Being 31 and not having a big hit since, 5 albums later? Time to call in the heavy hitters dear.. New Life? Next time you need a new sound.

What a comic should sound like?

Geoff Barrow has always made wonderful instrumental music for Beth Gibbons to swoon over. On his new venture alongside Ben Salisbury he has made 19 tracks sans Beth and the clan. Ben and Geoff get together on this album and created all of these tracks keeping instead a comic book in mind, the Judge Dredd comic in particular. The end result is Ben and Geoff’s vision of what “Mega City One” (depicted in the comics) may actually sound like, and I must say it’s a bit creepy. Having never read these particular comics the boys aural exudes suggest a ghost town teetering on the edge of something very peculiar happening very soon. Geoff was a pioneer and founding member in the beloved band Portishead, so unsurprisingly this album has fleeting moments of the same sounds where you can imagine Beth’s voice sweeping in, although for a PHead fan there aren’t nearly enough of these to keep you entertained.

Clearly this was a fun side project for Barrow during off time from Portishead, Anika, and other tinkering projects that keep him busy. Yet except for the track “End Them” none of the tracks feel as though they are full songs. The “songs” feel more like raw interludes for scenes in a horror film, or samples to use for films, none of it feels like when you sit down and listen to a Nine Inch Nails instrumental for example. It’s just a bit of anxiety inducing shuffle music that would work wonderfully in a slicer scene in your next summer slasher film. Yet somehow.. I think this was the exact sound they were going for, this may be exactly what Mega City One is supposed to sound like.

Liam, Who?

Noel Gallaher
High Flying Birds
Released: 8 November 2011
Label: Sour Mash

Oasis.
The word in the UK makes music folks get mushy and gather flags to wave. They are the official poster boys of Glastonbury Music Festival and whilst there, after a few ciders, you too against all your good restraints will be swinging with your mate sobbing “you’reeeeee my wondderwalllllll”.

The Gallaher brothers didn’t have the insane appeal here in the US as they did in their homeland. Yeah we like them, yeah we know some songs, but once you have seen the boys over there you realize they are to England what Kylie is as Britian’s Madonna. The Gallaher brothers more importantly have this effect on each other though that has notoriously shaped the face of the band and again they are, no more. In the last years they have sued each other, cracked guitars over each other and smacked each other with chairs. All while one brother insisted that his niece came to be born from his brother’s wife cheating on him. All of this sounds like an American family Thanksgiving – or the making of a great punk album, but instead again, it was the end, and for real this time.

Noel went solo. Noel has written all of the Oasis songs you know that get stuck in your head anyway. Now, he has now made a ten track solo album that people in the UK are loving, and people in the states are ignoring. At the first few listens of the album, I wasn’t impressed. I obviously felt something was missing, and I wasn’t a big Oasis fan to begin with but still, it wasn’t reaching me. Then just before I finally penned this review I came across this beautiful visual and I fell in love with the songs after they were delivered to me in their correct form.

I now almost hate to say how much I love the songs, which you can almost hear the entire album in the above visual link. Above all I am ashamed at how much I am in love with the following cheesy line from the song “If I had a gun”..

“..Excuse me if I spoke too soon, my eyes have always followed you around the room
cause you’re the only god that I will ever need..”

May Noel help you find your mush as well and prove to you that his brother may be the rock star, but he has always been the soul behind the band.

Common – The Dream Killer

Common
The Dreamer/The Believer
Released: December 20, 2011
Label: Warner Bros.
Stand Out Track: Ghetto Dreams

The follow up to Common’s 2008 record Universal Mind Control is here, released just before Christma$ for everyone’s stocking. While the album is lyrically better than Common’s latest works (Better than Finding Forever, Not better than 2005’s Be), it ultimately leaves me pissed off at Lonnie again.

Common is a racist. I’m a white chick who loves hip hop, and so things are not really working out for us. Common was one of the first brothers I had a lil’ crush on. Then I met him and he was a vile racist in person. He makes it really hard to love him and overlook these character flaws that make him the furthest thing from sexy..Why mention this? Because in 2012 this crap is still happening, by an open minded “conscious” rapper.

It’s nothing new, Common really came out the gate spitting this ignorant shit, it’s just gotten harder for me to swallow due to it’s consistency which overshadows his lyrical talents, and as a profoundly smart man, approaching 40 years old – it boggles my mind that he hasn’t grown out of this nasty circumstance. Afrocentric, cool, do you, but how you can tell me what is wrong, and what is and isn’t love?

1994
Resurrection Album – “In My Own World (Check the Method)”
It’s a Jungle out there but I’m never Fever-in for them white hoes
I love black thighs, you sisters better realize

2005
Be – “Real People”
This album is a complete gem, but then there is this:
“Black men walking wit white girls on they arms, I be mad at em as if I know they moms
Told to go beyond the surface, a person’s a person, When we lessen our women our condition seems to worsen.”

Common’s racist opposition to mixed race relations goes beyond a crude song lyric. He not only opposes the mixing of the races, he sees women outside his race as nothing more than objects of personal sexual gratification. From a 2005 interview:

COMMON: I don’t think there’s anything the matter with somebody loving somebody from another race but it’s almost like a stereotype that if you’ve got dreadlocks you go out with a white girl. just feel like, as black men, we do have to be aware that, yo, every time we step out with some woman it’s setting an example for our daughters and it’s also representing something for our mothers. If you can’t really love your own, how can you really love others?

TOUCH: So you don’t agree with mixed race relationships?
COMMON: I disagree with them. It’s a lack of self-love. It’s a problem.

TOUCH: Have you ever dated outside your race?
COMMON: Nah, not dated [giggles].

TOUCH: Have you slept with anybody outside your race?
COMMON: Yeah, I definitely have.

So white women are good enough to sleep with, only. Not to be seen in public with, not to procreate with, not to love. What karma is going to do to Common is this; His little pre-teen daughter is going to end up haphazardly loving a white boy and then he’s going to have to face this racism once and for all. True story, I know it because I live it as we speak. I am the better half of a wonderful 5 year and running interracial relationship. Common (the all judging father) would snear at me for this, and my racist family also drags their feet to accept it. Yet, while Common would judge me, and look down on my children, Common loves his Chicago brother Barack Obama – a man of mixed race himself. Common Sense, a living breathing contradiction.

Here we are in 2012.
What does Common have to say about it?
On the track “Gold”
“I write it and still get invited to white Christmases”

No Motherfucker. Not this cracker honkey’s Christmas. You are like, so, OMG uninvited.

The album is better then the radio hip hop trash, but still not Common’s best work. With each year that passes he get’s further and further away from the capability to reproduce classic hits like “I used to love H.E.R“, “Heat“, “The Light” etc etc. Personally I have grown tired of having to face disses about my race, and racial insults that hit home on every single Common album that at this point, I am officially retiring as a listener of his music, entirely. Music is an escape, and if you are providing as much tension and malcontent as a judgmental family member then you are obviously going to lose fans. LL Cool J talks about spending nights in “Trump Towers with a blue eyed blonde” and you don’t hear Jay-Z talking shit about anyone’s preferences, as much he calls people out, it’s still done in a mindful way not to step on people’s toes. This is called “how to achieve platinum status”.

A prime example:

From Jay-Z’s track “Moment of Clarity”
“Truthfully – I wanna rhyme like Common Sense, (But i did five Mil) I ain’t been rhymin like Common since. When your sense got that much in common And you been hustlin since, Your inception, Fuck perception, Go with what makes sense”

If you can read through the lines what Jay is saying, almost directly to our boy common is – you’re being too deep passing your “conscious” views onto the public, that shit doesn’t sell. Considering Jay is the cross culture accepted hip hop mogul and welcomed where no other rappers have gone before, Lonnie may want to take notes, give advice with less judging and preaching, or drink a can of STFU, once and for all.

Anika = Music is Art, Art is Music

Anika
Anika
Released: November 15, 2010
Stones Throw Records

This is the third degree of separation table to introduce you to Anika:
Portishead –>
Geoff Barrow –>
Beak –>
Anika.

Anika is a political journalist from Berlin and Bristol, England. Geoff Barrow is the musical mastermind behind all of the quirky Portishead sounds and the namesake of the band (his mum moved to the town in England). Beak was his post phead project. All of these things meshed together and in 12 days in one room, without any edits, this album came to be. The album is mostly covers including: Yoko Ono’s “Yang Yang”, “Terry” by Lynn Ripley, “End of the World” by Skeeter Davis, “Masters of War” by Bob Dylan, and “I Go to Sleep” by The Kinks. All of which are renewed by Anika’s sing/speak dark and unassuming politically injected voice. The cd released last year served as a new project for Geoff and Beak, and a new beginning for Anika as she dabbled outside of journalism. If you’re wondering if it sounds like PHead, it doesn’t. The smart quirky signature Geoff sounds are all over the record but this is more of a moody background record while intellectuals nosh on gouda cheese, rather than girl alone in bedroom with Beth delivering a message. Still, The album would impress any hipster with ears.

Although, a new chapter is evolving for Anika as she continues down this new musical chapter of her life. This year she released a 3 track EP which shows much evolution in self written lyrical content and an overall more cohesive musical package. It showcases music as art, which is something so rarely seen today. It sounds beautiful, therefore it looks beautiful, therefore it can be used in beautiful ways. It’s simplistic musical thing, come full circle, and how good music can be if we just don’t mess with it. Judge for yourself as Anika finishes up her tour at the following dates:

Sat 10/22/11 Los Angeles, CA EchoPlex
Tue 10/25/11 Austin, TX Emo’s
Wed 10/26/11 New Orleans, LA Siberia
Appearing at “Moogfest” (NC) / Moby Fri 10/28/11 Asheville, NC Downtown Asheville
Appearing at “Moogfest” (NC) Sat 10/29/11 Asheville, NC Downtown Asheville
Appearing at “St. Ghetto Festival” Sat 11/19/11 Bern, Switzerland Dampfzentrale

It’s Semi-Sweet for Gavin DeGraw

Gavin DeGraw
Sweeter
Released: September 13, 2011
RCA Records

Gavin DeGraw Sweeter Cover

I love Gavin DeGraw’s voice, I just don’t like the songs that he sings. Gavin sing’s these soft fluffy perfect pop songs that are so far from anything I would ever entertain listening to that I don’t feel I can properly review the album, just merely his voice. Which remains comforting and smooth. On his new album Sweeter his fans have remarked that he has returned to his earlier style of the album entitled Chariot, this apparently makes them happy. It seems that if you enjoy a good adult contemporary pop album than this record from Gavin DeGraw will also make you happy. Enjoy!

Gavin DeGraw’s “Not Over You” Music Video:

Woof! I’m Still Hungry.

Eve To Adam
Eve to Adam Banquet for a Starving Dog

Queens NY band Eve to Adam releases their national debut cd: Banquet for a Starving Dog and to be honest the band still needs to give the dog a bone. To be as nice as I can possibly be, the entire cd is no worse than anything else on the radio today, although that is the problem because it is also no better. The lyrics are straightforwardly delivered to you, without metaphor, and in a rhyming fashion. I listen to lyrics and so at this point the music has become nails down a chalkboard to me. If you don’t listen to lyrics and just like rock music, for rock music, then you will be satisfied along with the solid allegiance of ETA fans. I truly hate bashing an up and coming band but I have to be honest, I would have sat on releasing this album until the lyrical content showed more depth and perception, it killed it for me. Maybe the lead singer can focus less on his already impressive body and more on the words he’s delivering? Sometimes pretty just isn’t enough.

In Photos: Portishead in LA @ The Shrine

Portishead
Shrine Auditorium – Los Angeles, CA
10/19/2011

Portishead at Shine Auditorium

Click on thumbnails to enlarge images:

Where Are You?

Kelly Rowland
Here I am
Released: July 22, 2011
Universal Motown

Kelly Rowland Here I Am Cover

The other girl in Destiny’s Child put out another album. Not the rich one, not the religious one, the other one. The one that makes all the singles that you know and love, but have no idea who sings them? That’s right her, Kelly Rowland. Kelly is good for a hot single now and again but I don’t think she ever needs to make a full album. She’s alright jumping on a Ne-Yo track and doing a hook or doing an intro to a new Kells single and we’ll know she ‘s still alive and this will suffice on paying her rent. Truly homegirl needn’t 10 opportunities to hit the target, because 8 will miss the mark. Kelly has a problem repeating herself, repeating herself, repeating herself on the cd – when she runs out of creative lyrics and it’s annoying annoying annoying. If you have heard the two biggest singles “Commander” and “Motivation” you needn’t hear anymore. Especially the opening track where Kelly blatantly impersonates B. Kelly bites B so often on the CD that really the only difference in Kelly’s music is that Kelly drops the N word in almost every single and she’s not afraid to get dirty, tell you how and where she wants it and in which rooms. All of which could have been contained inside two dance singles, or an EP. The extra tracks just remind us that Kelly isn’t a Beyonce, sadly, she may not even know who she is.

Nightmare? I Ain’t Scared!

Alice Cooper
Welcome 2 My Nightmare
Released: September 13, 2011
Label: Bigger Picture

Alice Cooper Welcome 2 My Nightmare

At 63 years old Mr. Alice Cooper remains a theatrical fellow. His new Album Welcome 2 My Nightmare is just in time for Halloween, it provides the creepiest background music you could desire for your Halloween party and eerie haunted houses. Some of the tracks could seamlessly blend into a good horror movie, a sadistic Broadway thriller, or a suspenseful commercial, but beyond all of those options, I can’t picture anyone taking this music seriously.

When a senior aged man wears clown make up, an oversized top hat, and fake blood out in public and writes songs named: “”I’ll Bite Your Face Off”; He’s already down a few points on my taken seriously scale. On the opening track Alice gives auto tune a shot and he plummets to background music for D list films. This cd serves as the follow up to the first 1975 album by the same name, but this time I doubt there won’t be any #1 hits, unless you consider the hit it will be at Jimmy’s Halloween Ho-Down in East Overshoe….

In Photos: Dead Sara in LA

Dead Sara
Roxy, Los Angeles, CA
8/19/2011

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Emily Armstrong is “Not A Hater” Exclusive Interview.

Dead Sara Cover

It’s Tuesday afternoon in sunny Los Angeles. I just hung up the phone with Emily Armstrong, the uber talented, equally cool and polite lead singer of the band Dead Sara. Who was kind enough to speak to me while having a busy day off from making music.

You guys play the Sunset Strip Music Festival this Friday, Are you excited?

[EA] We’re playing the party… technically. The warm up..

Well better to play the party in the beginning then at the end when everyone’s so fucked up they won’t remember, right?

[EA] Sure! I mean.. yeah we didn’t expect to play at all until they invited us and it’s already sold out.

Will you catch any of the other shows?

[EA] maybe.. we’ll see bush, since we’re going on tour with them.

How long are you going out on tour with Bush?

10 days. (Dates Here)

Was Bush big for you growing up?

[EA] Oh yeah. The 90s. They were everywhere.

Yeah they were. I feel like we’re similar age, how old are you?

[EA] 25.

..I reveal my old age to Emily, and no I won’t tell you.. we share a laugh of love for 90’s music..

So how much touring has Dead Sara done?

[EA] Not that much touring.. We did SXSW a couple times.. in 2007 we went up the coast. We’ve just been playing LA for years now but with the new lineup, new band, and new album coming out it all makes sense. We are looking forward to it.

Are you prepared? Ready for next step.. or are you shitting your pants?

[EA] We’ve been preparing for it. It’s something we’ve looked forward to. most of all we’re fucking scared.

Can I write that?

[EA] Yeah. (laughs) We are totally excited.

What is the goal for you and the band for the next level?

[EA] The debut record is the next level, then tour with a bigger band… I mean this is already a bigger level for us. We look forward to things like this happening again next year, and our next record.

Are there any songs on the album that you wrote instantly?

[EA] Weatherman – It was the first song we wrote together. We wrote it instantly. It was magic. (Bands first single available here.)

Which song was the biggest bitch to write, lyrically?

[EA] “Lemon scent” we wrote in the studio, and we thought it was rad, lets keep this for record, but we didnt have much lyrically. When it was my time to do vocals, I was like “what?!” The pressure builds and it’s harder than it usually is (writing on the spot in the studio in the heat of the moment) But I enjoy the process very much. In that situation it was just a bit different.

Lemon Scent is actually my favorite track on the album. When can the fans expect the album in their paws?

[EA] October 11th.

Officially?

[EA] Officially.

So do all of your families and parents support you and your musical decisions?

[EA] Yes and no. You can’t expect parents to support an 11 year old little girl saying “I’m gonna do this” It’s like “Really, oh c’mon.” Eventually it was like “Emily you stuck with it.. you show no signs of letting go fucking do it..” Me being dedicated showed everyone.

Do you feel being successful now you can be like “Look, WHAT! I told you so?”

[EA] yeah (laughs) I’m no hater. I couldn’t be cocky and do that. That’s not me..

Any advice for kids or musicians trying to make it in today’s music scene?

[EA] Staying true to yourself. In the industry people have a vision FOR you, you have to go in with YOUR vision and from that you will have no problem personally.

(That was profound.)

When you felt crushed by the industry and people telling you who you should be or how to do things – did you ever create a back up career?

[EA] Anybody would do that, create a plan a or plan b but I just knew it had to work. It just had to..

We talk about the current state of affairs in the music industry..

You have a strong fan base, and I think streaming the album online helped that. People have mixed views today about giving music away for free to promote the better of the band – or busting your ass in the studio, paying for the studio, then you make .99 cents a track…How do you feel about all that?

[EA] I can go both ways on it. You put out your blood sweat and tears and it = debt. But at the end of the day fans and people are coming to shows and tours are happening more importantly..

Some bands say that they tour, do the albums, and get home and break even..

[EA] Absolutely..

…We debate if breaking even is shitty, or cool. In the end we agree that as long as people know Dead Sara’s music even if they “download and snatch it” the word is spreading about the life-full new band and none of that is bad.

We go on to talk about Los Angeles, where we both are currently living..

I just moved here (LA) from NYC about 9 months ago..I feel like in NYC people steal your ideas, so you can’t share too much. In LA people want to help you make you make it, but only to make a percentage off of you.. Do you have any experience with the East Coast side of business?

[EA] A few years ago we went out there for a label meeting, but that’s all. I feel like when a band comes up people say “this is good for LA.”

..You may have to live here to understand this but.. Los Angelenos, Miss Armstrong just spoke the truth. We talked for a while about when a band plays LA. Emily mentions that there is so much going on here besides music, and I can’t agree more. Moving here from the east coast I am mesmerized by nature alone. Things you call hills, I call mountains. I make childish sequels when a dolphin swims by, you’d think I just saw a unicorn, every other day I think I’ve found a pot of gold when a street is shut down for an ethnic festival and beach BBQs are part of our weekly itinerary. It is a lot of competition if you’re playing a friday night show..

[EA] When a show happens, People say, This is good for LA, This might make people get out..

Your band is so unique and energetic, “Lemon Scent” and “Timed Blues” are unlike anything I’ve heard in music and you can hear all of the various musical influences laced all throughout them..I would think that it would get people off their ass, and off the beach to a show?

[EA] You would think…

What are you listening to these days?

[EA] I’ve been singling out songs – I do the iPhone download. Joy formidable. Cheap trick. Eric Clapton. etc.

What aggravates you the most about music today?

[EA] The complete formula of how to make a star thing. Lets get this girl, lets go over some songs, dress this way. OK we get it! I want to see bands and singers who have paid their dues and written and felt songs for themselves – the formulated pop stars or formulated rock bands. (they aggravate me.)

Who is your dream band to tour with?
[EA] We as a band keep saying the foo fighters. Personally, Stevie Nicks. cockatoo twins, Elizabeth (Fraser), to write with her, I mean fuck.

What is your dream place or festival to play?
[EA] Coachella, that would be a magical place for us to play. As far as stadiums Madison Square Garden, Wembley, I’m thinking outside the box here

“Nah man, you’re in the box, It’s gonna happen..

I wasn’t just being nice, because I’m not a nice person, I’m just honest – I believe in this band and it’s always icing on the cake when the musicians are as nice as they sound. Thanks Emily!! Rock On. ….(& If you’re out of the loop, catch up on Dead Sara Here!) If you’re in the loop, and in LA, see them at the Sunset Strip Music Festival playing with BuckCherry at the Roxy this Friday! See u There!

Celabrasion Indeed

Sleeper Agent
Celabrasion
Sony Music
Released: OUT ON iTunes, physical release due September 27th, 2011.

Hipster Alert: GET THIS!

I sat by the pool in sunny southern California and I hit play. Most of the world is currently hanging onto the last days of summer. Summer.. Fun, lighthearted, simple, energetic, little did I know all of these things would soon describe Sleeper Agent’s debut album as well. From beginning to end I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this little beauty. Young kids from Kentucky jam out and make the most detail oriented – lyric obsessed music guru not ask any serious questions. There truly isn’t anything serious here, it’s just simple plain good fun music. Beautiful dual lead vocals will hold your hand as you squeeze tightly to the last days of sweet summer sweat, let this be your anthem, or you’ll be quite sorry.. As summer fades to fall I suspect you’ll hear their tunes already remixed and banging from cars still daring to have the windows down in cool temperatures. You have to go big when you need to split royalties six ways, yet in this instance I don’t think it will even mildly be an issue. Bravo KY, keep breeding rock stars.

Sleeper Agent celebrasion cover

Any Man in America Can Be a Tease

Blue October
Any Man In America
RED Distribution
Released: August 16th, 2011

Blue October Any Man in America

This Song, the first official one on the album is epic, thoughtful, beautiful, and the biggest tone setting tease I’ve ever heard from a record. The lead singer’s voice is the rusty love child of Glen Hansard of the frames and Peter Gabriel. The song titled “The feel again (stay)” is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard in long a time. Lead Vocalist and Lyricist Justin Furstenfeld really lays his balls out on the track expressing his loss in regards to his divorce and custody of his daughter.

I was prepared to adore this cd at this point…

The lyrics went on to be simple and could have been seen as cheesy (especially on track 4 entitled “For the love”) but the backing music is so beautiful it often saves the tracks from themselves. I start to think that there are super rarely albums that are good beginning to end anymore. I think it’s often because bands are trying to please so many people’s musical palates by crossing genres on one album. Also I think bands are trying to prove their roots, or create the music they listen to, opposed to what their talented in making and ultimately it’s all too much. At track two – if the album stayed that way I would have loved it beginning to end but by track 5 it has gone far too pop and then by track six it makes an embarrassing failure attempting glam rock. Now at track 7 we’re going to rap? Justin has the rock genre down, while he may have been raised on hip hop, we believe you, we don’t need to hear it unless you’re a rapper through and through otherwise this just feels..awkward. You’re not Eminem, and by track 8 I am sick of hearing this grown man cry about his daughter. I don’t feel for him anymore, it’s just turned bad. Fast.

Blue October has beautiful sounding instruments that range all over the board, violins (in very unique ways), drums, bass, mandolins etc etc and Justin Furstenfeld has a poetically beautiful voice. If he gave me 10 tracks similar to “The feel again” I would be singing the praises, unfortunately, instead I feel like I just saw a mirage.

The Truth Is..

Theory of a Deadman
The Truth is..
Release date: July 12, 2011
Label: Roadrunner Records

Theory of a Deadman The Truth is..

It’s really hard to write an album review for “it’s ok” music. It’s very easy to toot a great album’s horn, or to pan an abysmal release but when the music is “well it’s just ok”..What does one say besides that?

I guess you know where I stand now on Theory of a Deadman’s newest release “The Truth is…” and the truth is, “It’s OK.” If you are a person who actually listens to lyrics then you will appreciate the two bit humor laced into every sentence on the record. Musically, I caught myself toe tapping more than a couple of times, so the beats are there. Then curiously there are a few country-ish songs to close out the record? It’s as if the band is asking “Well what about this, then?” in case you didn’t like the soft rock, or the progressive rock, do you fancy country? At this point I am puzzled as to where this music fits. The track “Easy to Love You” screams adult contemporary pop charts, then you have “Love is Hell” which is straight alternative rock, Then the best song on the album, “Gentleman” is a punkish anthem..These guys are all over the place. Focus Bros. A lot of this is very right, the lyrics are hysterical, (See Here) the music is all fine, and although their fourth studio album is the highest charting yet it’s still just not.. enough.

I guess that’s what Canadian music is? 90% cool? Just OK? Poor Canada. We did get Alanis out of it though..

Dead Sara is Alive and Well.

Dead Sara
Dead Sara
To Be Released: 10/2011
Unsigned

I consider myself lucky to have gotten my hands on Dead Sara’s debut album early enough so that I can say “I told you all so!!” The rest of you will have to wait until October 2011 to purchase the album and hear it in it’s entirety. Until then you can attempt to get by with the bands first EP “The Airport Sessions” and what has sneaked onto youtube. I promise you though, the debut album is a whole other entity.

Dead Sara is a female fronted rock band from Los Angeles which indeed, rocks the fuck out. There is no other way to poetically put this besides saying that lead singer Emily Armstrong could read me her grocery list and I would be enthralled. Her voice is that captivating and so unique that I won’t even bother comparing it to any artist thus far. Friends and musical soulmates since their teens Emily and Siouxsie Medley (Also provides stunning vocals) front the band along with equally talented (and hotties) bassist Chris Null and drummer Sean Friday and come fall, they will all be stars.

The bands lyrics never show anything but honest depth and passion while being strung together almost effortlessly. Being a writer this makes me hate them for this, just slightly. The tracks “Lemon Scent” and “Face to Face” showcase these lyrical talents, and displays Emily’s unmatched signature growl. “Test My Patience” contains another lyical gem: “I’m in love, I’m in love, No I’m not, oh my god, I’m a liar I can taste it” belted out by Emily. You listen and think, what other female is doing this? Coming in at 11 tracks with more balls and diversity than anything I have heard in a while, with musical shifts from sweet folk and sad blues to screeching metal howls, to rock and roll and back again – This music can’t be classified in any way -other than GOOD.

I leave you with the youtube teaser provided by the band, and it’s no joke, they are THAT good.

Katla explodes again..

Ida Maria
Katla
Labels: Mercury Records
Released: June 07, 2011

katla ida maria

The opening track of Ida Maria’s new sophomore album Katla is entitled “Quiet, Nice People”. It’s a slow charmer reminiscent of a Kate Nash Track, and then you are bitch-slapped with the album’s lead single “Bad Karma”. It’s hard to believe this track wasn’t created in the late 80’s and Ida doesn’t owe Joan Jett some copyright royalties. By only the second track, I am sure of a few things: Ida has multiple personalities and she’s not afraid to show them, she’s the only artist dancing the line between punk and blues, and +5 points for name dropping hare krishna. (If you ever go too punk it’s good to have religion on your side.)

During the rest of the album Miss Maria shows no signs of musical consistency, she is all over the place in style. With all the cookie cutter pop out there it’s a nice safe change and as Wu-Tang Clan would say It’s something nice “for the children”. Save for the dark appropriately titled track “Devil” which makes me wish I was born in the 70’s and heard this track while rocking back and forth in an open field full of angst against some lost love fist pumping over woman empowerment and a cold beer.. Whew! Maybe if she ever tours again you can close your eyes and pretend while this track plays. It may be the most psychedelic rock tune I’ve heard created in this era and blissfully enforces her versatility at nearly ten minutes long. Not only is Ida a Norwegian punk bad ass, on Katla she proves can be a brazen bluesy rock hippy as well, all at the same time. Oh My God is right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG-8l9QSyrc

Crossfade Doesn’t Cross Genres

Crossfade
We All Bleed
Released: June 21, 2011
Label: Eleven Seven Music

crossfadeCrossfade is a band which lives under the genre specifications of “Alternative rock, Post-grunge, and Alternative metal”. They are holding true to these genres while most of today’s rock music has shifted towards “industrial” with electronic elements (Nine Inch Nails), or hip hop infused (Korn). That being said, it’s really not an easy task to make straight forward Alternative rock without sounding like scattered noise, and ultimately I may not be the best judge to say whether or not the guys pulled it off, or not, but I can tell you what’s good about it.

I should note that Radio Rock is not a genre I usually spend any time with, and I could easily pan the album simply because it is not my style, but that’s not giving it a fair chance. Keeping that in mind I would like to congratulate Crossfade on having a rock album where every song has it’s own legs and sounds unique from the previous track. I think if you like Nickleback, you will love this album. I think it’s really hard to look bad ass as a man while pouring your heart out about your struggles if you’re not James Hetfield or Jonathan Davis etc. The bands that master that fine line between sounding like a bitch in a radio rock song, and making a hit while crying their heart out, have the staying power and end up making the big bucks. In my opinion, I think Crossfade is almost there, and bringing it all full circle is a hard thing to do while staying true to Alternative Rock and Metal. Without the loud metal defining guitar solos, or the driving bass lines of hip hop infused rock you really need something else to drive your songs to the next level. Smart lyrics are a start, and it can be seen on the track “Dear Cocaine” that this band is on the brink of capturing the whole package without betraying their genre and selling out to today’s electronic infused standards of rock.

The album didn’t convert me from my preferences of music, but I can completely appreciate the songwriting of lead singer Ed Sloan, especially on the tracks “I think you should know”, “Prove you wrong” and “We All Bleed” which can hold their own against any Alternative Rock songs on the radio today. (Also, when covered you can see the true beauty of the lyrics.) Crossfade starts a cross country summer tour in two weeks, check them out at these venues and see for yourself how the boys are doing, and if this is your genre of choice, you can let me know if the guys pulled it off, or not.

Album Standout, and upcoming single: “Dear Cocaine”
(Vocals remind me of Rhett Miller – Nervous Heart)
Dear Cocaine

Don’t run from a sure vocal bet

Company Of Thieves
Running from A Gamble
Released: 5/17/11
Wind-up Records

Company of Thieves

Company of Thieves lead singer Genevieve Schatz has pipes, and she is not afraid to use them on the bands new album Running From a Gamble. From beginning to end, this is the Genevieve show. I’m alright with that considering she is a force to be reckoned with. Her vocal tones are a pleasant break from the norm, with shining glimmers of PJ Harvey and the spunk of Juliette Lewis. The third track “Modern Waste” showcases her vocal abilities, and the track “Look Both Ways” is a great example of the bands lyrical reach. My only critique is sadly an important note..the band. They certainly all play their instruments fine, but at times it felt like bland chicken broth. My ears kept waiting for anything quirky to happen. I yearned for any electronic sounds, at all. I love the bands story, and after reading it, it’s clear that they could give a shit less if they sound rock, or electronica, or even make anyone happy, as long as they get some treats for a gig and express themselves they will be content. This gives them five more points in my book. From a musical ear I personally just think Genevieve’s voice would go to the next level backed by synths and strong bass lines. As the album stands it is a solid rock album that plays well on a Sunday on your balcony with a glass of red and an overcast sky or in any atmosphere if you like easy building rock albums.

Catch the Company of Thieves at a venue near you this summer:

06/05/2011 Building24 – Wyomissing, PA
06/07/2011 Diesel – Pittsburgh, PA
06/09/2011 Mac’s Bar – Lansing, MI
06/10/2011 Otto’s – Dekalb, IL
06/11/2011 Harrison Center For The Arts – Indianapolis, IN
06/12/2011 Looney Tunes (Instore Performance & Signing) – West Babylon, NY
06/13/2011 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
06/14/2011 Northern Lights – Clifton Park, NY
06/15/2011 The Red Room @ Café 939 – Boston, MA
06/16/2011 Jammin’ Java – Vienna, VA
06/17/2011 Summit City Lounge – Whitesburg, KY
06/18/2011 Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA

Oh Land: can make the blue sky blush

Oh Land
Self Titled
Fake Diamond, Epic, RCA Records
Released: 3/15/11

oh land oh land

Usually artists become double and triple threats after they are good at one thing, and want to prove they might be good at another. In Oh Land’s case, she turned to creating music after one thing had ended for her. After an injury proved she would never dance again, she immediately began her healing musical path which is proving to be her second calling.

It’s synthpop, the new craze everyone is doing! Yet the genre is still a breath of fresh air to me each time I hear something from it simply because I am so sick of hearing the same. songs. over. and. over. about bottle service, making it rain, girls and cars. Granted synthpop (little boots, la roux, mgmt, etc etc) is borderline becoming overdone, overused, and overhipstered, we are still in the safe zone where we dare a new artist to top what’s already been done. We’re still open to be refreshed by a new artist, and so I am proud to give you: Oh Land, who is invigoratingly different than what’s preexisting. How can that be? Well, It doesn’t hurt anything that she looks like the Danish version of Ms. Heidi Klum. Then there is that voice of hers that is inspired by Bjork but sounds like Beth Gibbons. Interesting like Karin Dreijer Andersson but sexy and somehow still airy and at times even sounds a bit Nelly Furtado”ish” in the best way, (if there were a best way) all coupled with near perfect lyrics that say nothing and everything all at once solidifying her staying power. I remain inspired by Oh Land’s story and songs, taking her lesson that if you don’t succeed in your first path, move along to your middle name and carry on again.

Looking forward to seeing this beauty at Glasonbury Festival in two short months!
In the meantime I suggest you begin your Oh Land journey with the following videos, then BUY THE cd.

Props to Oh Land for playing an omnichord and not looking like a tool!

Foo Fighters waste more than light

Foo Fighters
Wasting Light
RCA Records
Released: 4/12/11

Foo Fighters wasting lightIf I lived my life by the old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” then this review would end, right here.. Since I don’t live my life that way, I regret to inform you that the Foo Fighters have deviated from radio friendly rock tunes to creating, well, .. racket. The cd contains eleven unharmonized chaotic noise clashes that you could easily torture foreign soldiers with for days. The track entitled “I Should have known” would serve efficiently on a D list movie soundtrack that some washed up star does only to avoid foreclosure. Beyond that, the cd holds minimal usage, and I politely advise you to skip it.

Sacrilege! This music doesn’t suck!!!!

The Naked And Famous
Passive Me, Agressive You
Universal Records
Released: March 14th, 2011

Sounds Like: The love child of Nine Inch Nails, Passion Pit, The Knife, MGMT, La Roux, & the best synths the 80s had to offer YET – still somehow still possessing a sound that is all their own due to the combo lead vocalists.

Feels like: The cool water you splash on your face after a long night of drinking bad combo liqueurs, and the perfect egg omelette that takes the sick away. Sweet salty summer cucumber freshness in a bag. Originality in it’s purest form.

Cool Because: They’re Kiwis from New Zealand, and everything from there is elusive and curious to non Kiwis, and because they remain Indie with only a P&D deal with Universal when they could have sold out. The cds plays well at a party, beginning to end, also for three days on end as I recently discovered..

Get on it now: Because you’re truly a couple years late, but can still say you’re ahead of the game and catch them at small venue shows as the tour starts TOMORROW.

Fri 8th Apr 2011 Echoplex Los Angeles, CA
Sat 9th Apr 2011 Echoplex Los Angeles, CA
Sun 10th Apr 2011 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC Canada
Mon 11th Apr 2011 Showbox at the Market Seattle, WA
Tue 12th Apr 2011 Wonder Ballroom Portland, OR
Thu 14th Apr 2011 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA
Fri 15th Apr 2011 House of Blues San Diego, CA
Tue 19th Apr 2011 Fitzgerald’s Houston, TX
Wed 20th Apr 2011 Granada Theatre Dallas, TX
Thu 21st Apr 2011 La Zona Rosa Austin, TX
Fri 22nd Apr 2011 The Beaumont Club Kansas City, MO
Sat 23rd Apr 2011 Firebird St Louis, MO United States
Mon 25th Apr 2011 Turner Hall Milwaukee, WI
Tue 26th Apr 2011 Metro Chicago, IL
Wed 27th Apr 2011 Outland Live Columbus, OH
Fri 29th Apr 2011 Beachland Ballroom Cleveland, OH
Sat 30th Apr 2011 Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, ON Canada
Sun 1st May 2011 Le National Montreal, QC Canada
Mon 2nd May 2011 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA
Wed 4th May 2011 Terminal 5 New York, NY
Thu 5th May 2011 Theater of the Living Arts Philadelphia, PA
Fri 6th May 2011 9:30 Club Washington, DC
Sat 7th May 2011 Ottobar Baltimore, MD
Sun 8th May 2011 The Met Providence, RI
Sat 14th May 2011 Great Escape Festival Brighton, Brighton United Kingdom
Thu 19th May 2011 O2 Academy 2 Oxford Oxford, Oxfordshire United Kingdom
Fri 20th May 2011 O2 Shepherds Bush Empire Shepherds Bush, London United Kingdom
Sat 28th May 2011 Dot To Dot Festival Bristol, Bristol United Kingdom
Sun 29th May 2011 Dot To Dot Festival Nottingham, Nottingham United Kingdom
Mon 30th May 2011 Dot To Dot Festival Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom
Fri 3rd Jun 2011 Rock am Ring Festival Nürburgring, Nürburgring Germany
Sun 5th Jun 2011 Rock Im Park Nuremberg, Nuremberg Germany
Fri 10th Jun 2011 Schools Out Festival Notodden, Notodden Norway
Sun 3rd Jul 2011 Wireless Festival London, UK United Kingdom
Fri 8th Jul 2011 Oxegen Festival Punchestown, Ireland Ireland
Thu 14th Jul 2011 Latitude Festival Southwold, Suffolk United Kingdom
Fri 15th Jul 2011 Melt! Ferropolis, Germany
Sat 30th Jul 2011 Fuji Rock Festival Naeba, Japan Japan
Fri 26th Aug 2011 Reading Festival Reading, United Kingdom
Sat 27th Aug 2011 Leeds Festival Leeds, United Kingdom

Good Luck getting this out of your head:

Ways to stalk TNAF:
Official Website
MySpace
FB
YouTube
Blog

American Idol would like (more of) your money

American Idol 10th AnniversaryAmerican Idol
10th Anniversary – The Hits -Volume 1
RCA Records
Released: 03/15/2011

American Idol would like to celebrate it’s tenth anniversary by releasing a CD which contains songs that most of us already have on mp3. There is nothing new, nothing unreleased, or any limited live versions to be had here. Who will buy this album then?

Kids.

Who still buys CDs?

Kids.

It’s almost unfair how targeted this -while the show is on – release is. It would seem more ethical if it were pre-packaged with a happy meal. All of the 9 previous season’s winners are here with their biggest singles, and 3 runners up provide the filler to make it a “full” 12 track record. The absence of JHud and presence of Taylor Hicks seems backwards based on their portfolios. I wonder if the addition of Jennifer might have also attracted a post grade school crowd? ..

The CD makes a great gift for your little cousin Josh’s pool party this summer, or for your great aunt who just loves that gosh darn idol show and can’t work her laptopy to burn a cd, but other than that, I can’t fathom the need to buy or sell this.. If only for AI to rival the NOW! (#48752) compilation series, and for you to have your very own (Ryan Seacrest voice) AMERICAN IDOL CD COASTER!

JHud Rises Above

Jennifer Hudson I remember meJennifer Hudson
I Remember Me
Arista Records
Released: 3/22/2011

Jennifer Hudson’s name has become synonymous with the word tragedy, unlike most celebs and musicians today this sadly has been through no fault of her own. As she releases her sophmore album many expect to hear and will even seek out the song for her mother, then the song for her brother, and the heart wrenching song for her nephew, but will find themselves empty handed; as there is a limited amount of weakness or grovelling here.

Everyone in America seems to love a tragedy. Shocking stories of celebrities’ heart ache and and their health issues grip us as if they are our own struggles. Events like what happened to JHud make us tuck our children in a little tighter at night. It’s a startling event that makes us turn to our fighting partner and apologize and say I love you instead of the previously planned hateful words. We lived Jennifer’s pain as they searched for her nephew and broke the news about her mother and brother. Now as we listen to her new album it’s nearly impossible to separate those events and solidify the artist and the music from what she had to live through. Yet she handles the fallout of her life with such grace and overcoming strength that for just a moment you lose yourself in song, which one might suspect Jennifer did in recording the album.

All in all it is just a good solid album with JHud’s stellar pipes present at all times. The title track is easily the most standout of any song on the album. The track is based on a poem Jennifer wrote and is one of the few songs that addresses her struggle with overcoming loss. It blantantly stares in the face of her stages of grief and extendes a middle finger to sadness as she finds her way, again. It’s an inspirational track to anyone who has ever lost someone and marks Jennifer’s first writer’s credit. I Remember Me will be released as a single on May 1st, 2011 and should lift to the top of the charts where it belongs. In the face of it all JHud has created a feel good album, personifying Per Aspera Ad Astra. Bravo Girl.

Lil Wayne opens tour in Lil Providence

Lil Wayne w/ Nicki Minaj
I Am Still Music Tour
Dunkin Donuts Center – Providence, RI
3/16/2011
Lil Wayne w/ Nicki Minaj I Am Still Music Tour

When I was younger during the golden years of hip hop all that inspired me in rap was only available in one place: a cassette tape. Last week I caught myself trying to very passionately explain this fact to my 14 year old cousin. A sentence came out of my mouth that started with “When I was young…” and I gasped.. I realized in that moment that two important things had taken place. I have become officially old, and hip hop has become officially BAD. To my left someone overheard me and asked my age to gauge how serious I was about my hip hop, and to better know which artists raised me. We were instantly sharing daps and hugs reminiscing about how you would never hear Wu-Tang clan on the pop radio, how tribe called quest made you get up and bounce, and how only the lost boys could have told you that story about Renee. Memories. How sad it was that gone are the days of jolting your body into motion from simply hearing two simple starting beats (Try me.. Let me know if anything today makes you feel like these songs did. I’m talking to kids who grew up in the 90s right now.) When hip hop had a message, a story of a struggle to tell, and the artists weren’t just puppets of who the suits at the labels want them to be, they were rappers with heartache, not entertainers with a meal ticket.

Lil Wayne w/ Nicki Minaj I Am Still Music TourI was raised with Biggie and Pac. Men who were ahead of their time and left us with timeless hiphop classics. There are few artists like that who we are here today, and even then those artists can only come through, sometimes. Jay-Z has a catalog of solid story telling hip hop jams to rely on, as does Eminem and Nas, and maybe 50 cent. He’s told us before not to forget him and after seeing him live I will now officially include Weezy in that short list.

Last week I caught Lil Wayne’s first concert appearance since his prison sentencing and was accompanied by my 14 year old baby cousin. Lil Wayne put on a respectable classic hip hop show with the ambiance of old school hip hop artists all over it. He respectfully thanked God, and his fans multiple times. He shared his spotlight with his lablemates, and this brings me to my one caveat of his stage performance. Lil Tunechi gets the crowd pumped up with his best songs, tastefully remade with live musicians – guitars, drums, bass, and dj and then all of a sudden the energy of the I am still music tour dies.. and out comes a young, young money artist and Wayne has a backstage nap for an hour. This happened twice and it was a major energy killer of the show. Maybe if Drake came out instead of Nicki Minaj or Shanell It would have maintained the energy in the crowd – yet for some they seemed unaffected…

Nicki Minaj is for the children, because she is in one word: Theatrical. The crowd seemed diversely split in age brackets, those above the age of 18 were there for Wayne and anyone still in high school was there for Nicki. All underage males were simply there to give respect to her fresh butt implants. Nicki Minaj’s performance was utterly and brutally painful to endure. She is Broadway meets nickelodeon, and should never be filed under Hip or Hop but only cheesey Pop-Hop, aka: you will never hold Lil Kim, Mc Lyte, or even Lady Sovereign’s jock. I’d even go so far as to say that Neneh Cherry could take you in her weakest bullafo stance.

I am glad to say that wayne remains an talented and enjoyable rapper. He was an engaging performer, and a real entertainer without any crayola factor involved. If you are a hip hop head and find yourself free you should defiantly check out the show as it rolls through your city and pray that the tour is sans Nicki Threeway and you are lucky enough to get Drake Cakes instead, else bring a deck of cards to entertain yourself during the prolonged Barbie break.

March 26 2011 – Philadelphia PA – Wells Fargo Center PA
March 27 2011 – Uniondale NY – Nassau Coliseum
March 28 2011 – Uniondale NY – Nassau Coliseum
March 30 2011 – University Park PA – Bryce Jordan Center
April 1 2011 – Chicago IL – United Center
April 2 2011 – Auburn Hills MI – Palace of Auburn Hills
April 3 2011 – Washington DC – Verizon Center (Washington DC)
April 6 2011 – Sunrise FL – BankAtlantic Center
April 8 2011 – Greensboro NC – Greensboro Coliseum Complex
April 9 2011 – Atlanta GA – Philips Arena
April 10 2011 – Saint Louis MO – Scottrade Center
April 14 2011 – New Orleans LA – New Orleans Arena
April 15 2011 – Dallas TX – American Airlines Center
April 16 2011 – Houston TX – Toyota Center
April 19 2011 – Phoenix AZ – US Airways Center
April 23 2011 – Anaheim CA – Honda Center
April 24 2011 – Oakland CA – Oracle Arena
April 26 2011 – Sacramento CA – Arco Arena
April 28 2011 – Edmonton AB – Rexall Place
April 29 2011 – Vancouver BC – Rogers Arena
May 1 2011 – East Rutherford, NJ – New Meadowlands Stadium

Sounds Pretty, You Reckless.

The Pretty Reckless
Light Me Up
Interscope
2/8/2011

The Pretty Reckless Light Me UpI bet I am exactly who Taylor Momsen would prefer listen to her music. I’ve never seen an episode of Gossip Girl, I don’t care to, and I can safely bet my life on it that I never will. No offense to Taylor, or any show groupies, but I already have an extensive tv show schedule and there just isn’t room for anymore. Being that I never saw the show that Taylor is an actress on, nor can I recall her in the Grinch movie as a kid, I am fully able to only know her as a musician in a band, playing music. It seems, this is how she would prefer to be known. There are a lot of actors who moonlight with singing, then return to acting as their cash cow. For Taylor, this seems to be reversed. Music is her calling, and acting is just her current meal ticket. Taylor casually dances around the “leaving Gossip Girl topic” by consistently saying how supportive the show is by writing her out of lines, yet anyone can see that her dream is to do this music thing, full time. Taylor will turn 18 this summer in July. She is still, only, 17! She has a lifetime ahead of her to polish new rock songs and fulfill her rockstar dream. Judging by the quality of the band’s debut album, it’s a good sign that Taylor will easily see those dreams come to fruition. [Read more...]

Three time$ a charm

Ke$ha
I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance: The Remix Album
March 22, 2011
RCA Records

 I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance: The Remix Album

I told ya’ll before I’m not mad at Ke$ha, although there is a fine line between smart marketing, and milking an opportunity. This newest release seems to lean towards the latter. Honestly, what is up with homegirl’s recent releases? An Ep, and a “too early in your career to release” remix album? Few people have realized that Ke$ha only has a single album of original material released. With which she has now cleverly churned out three albums from a mere handful of songs. You wonder why a new artist would risk overkill so soon, intentionally. Releasing a remix or greatest hits album is usually a great escape from an artist’s recording contract without granting the said record label any new material. Is that what’s going on here? The new album is listed on Wikipedia as only RCA records, and not RCA/Kemosabe Entertainment as with previous releases. Could all these rush releases be because Ke$ha is trying to break away from Dr.Luke (Producer& Writer)? More importantly is this remix album worth your purchase?

If you love all things Ke$ha, then by all means hit download, or run out and buy it, surely you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise the more meticulous ear will only find “Animal” (Switch Remix), and “Tik Tok” (Chuck Buckett’s Veruca Salt Remix) worth any time because they are the only true remixes, and could have been released as B-sides or Singles. Honoring my heart felt devotion to the Mad Decent family I knew when I saw the name Switch that at least that track would be solid gold. Staying true to my high regard, Switch came through again. From the opening note to the last beat of “Animal” (Switch Remix), I found myself eyes closed, head nodding up and down. This is seamless production in it’s finest form. Take notes kids, and if you truly want a remix album hire the likes of Switch to remake the entire thing. The rest of the tracks on the album fall short of earning the proper title of “remix” as they are merely rearranged with bad techno intros and outros.

Just four months ago Ke$ha released an EP with a few previously released tracks on it, with the addition of a new single entitled “We R Who We R”. The album has sold 313,300 copies since its release in the US. You wonder why someone would buy an album half full of material they already know, and possibly already own, yet with the addition of the single it proved financially successful and paid off on Billboard charts. Since that move proved successful, why not try again, and attempt to make even more money off of the same material for a third time? ..Not so much. Let’s get back in the $tudio Ke$h.

Fast Farward to these tracks:
“Animal” (Switch Remix)
“Tik Tok” (Chuck Buckett’s Veruca Salt Remix)

I regret, Without Regrets

Kimberly Caldwell
Without Regrets
Vanguard/Capitol
April 19, 2011

Kimberly Caldwell Without Regrets

There is no easy way to say this. Kimberly Caldwell is the watered down Pink. I found myself listening to her new album and closing my eyes, pretending Pink was singing to me with a slight cold, and during those moments I found the album the most enjoyable. This album is a pure example of a greatly talented singer, with horrible lyrical content and underproduced songs. (Joss Stone, version 2.0) Almost all of Kimberly’s songs follow the same verse – chorus- verse- bridge – chorus song form, with Kimberly almost always singing the song title, or a line from the song at the end to close the song out. That being the case you have to honestly ask yourself how any of these tracks could be decipherable from each other? They truly all sound the same, just as many female contemporary pop singers sound exactly the same as they drowned each other out. Which brings me to the ultimate question: How is it, that no one at management ever asked how Kimberly Caldwell was going to be different from the rest of the herd? Is it truly possible that no one cared to carve out her niche? Is the corporate machine which is creating and producing her album so naive as to think that they can get by on the American Idol card all these years later and still hope for mass profit? Clearly it’s not working that way. Primarily because short minded Americans only remember the current or last season’s AI kiddies. For the ones that do remember ancient idol shows, it is safe to say that with this album Kimberly has fulfilled her contractual mainstream preconceived notion of what type of album she should release, and now she is free to rock.

Why no one has lathered heavy eyeliner on this beauty and asked her to scream out rock ballands instead of bad pop songs is beyond me. Kimberly’s raspy voice is made for rock songs, her body is begging to be in shiny black leather rock star pants. Above all America is always looking for something different and still desperately hoping for change. Unless you are Madonna or GaGa you can’t squeeze by on lyrically bad, non creative, underproduced pop songs.

This truly is a weak debut from KC, especially since the first two singles were released over a year ago. Kimberly has all you would ever need to reach the top notch in the industry, a stunning unique voice, the body and image some artists could only dream of, and a personality larger than life. She comes across as such a sweetheart that I almost feel a slight tinge of guilt dissing her music, yet, what is the goal here? Is it to remain where she is now, as number 30 on the top 100, or is it the top? It seems pretty clear that unless she carves out a more unique path for herself, and doesn’t switch genres fast, what you see may be the best she ever gets.

It’s up to Kimberly to decide what her goals are in the industry. If they are larger than where she is now, she should begin rocking the hell out, as there is less contention amongst rock women these days, and she has enough balls to handle the better suited genre. I can only hope she uses what ever album profits she receives from this release to reinvent herself as Joan Jett version 2.0, because it’s a lonely struggle waiting another 8 years for a half way hit, ask your girl Joss Stone.

Kimberly Caldwell, Almost, but not quite.

Kimberly Caldwell
Hotel Cafe – Los Angeles, CA
1/31/2011

Kimberly Caldwell Hotel Cafe You may remember Kimberly as a performer on American Idol season two, you may have also seen her hosting shows on television. These days you can see her live, confusing these two roles in an identity crisis. Kimberly has everything you may need to be successful as an artist in America, but she just can’t seem to pull it all together. Which makes it clear at the end of the day what really drives a good performance home. Kimberly is a petite blonde with a really cute smile. She has perfect pitch, and hits every note head on with a unique raspy voice. Shouldn’t that be enough? It is.. for a local bar in her native Katy, Texas, but this is L.A. and a stage presence class up the block could have saved her.

Kimberly has a bubbly personality, and in between each song she would talk, and talk, and talk, borderlining on attemptempted stand up comedy at each break. The air of the energy between song segways was awkward, as she would lift the room up with jokes, then suddendly break into sad songs. She also continued to remind us how light in fame she is by mentioning her families presence repeatedly. While they helped to fill the room, she would state that she paid the crowd to cheer. There is a saying that could help Kimberly and that is to “Fake it, until you make it”.

The setlist included her single “Desperate Girls & Stupid Boys” which would appeal to tweens everywhere. Then after an array of more self imposed jokes she made way into the track “Say Love” which truly highlights Kimberly’s vocal abilities. It’s a sweet track that would have made a lasting impression had she not dampered the intensity of the song before hand. “Going Going Gone” is a track with potential, although it is better suited for Joan Jett to exemplify it’s full balls as a rock song. Twoards the end Kimberly made a cover all her own melding Pat Benetar into Melissa Etheridge, and it didn’t sound like Karaoke, it sounded like heaven for 3 and 1/2 minutes.

Maybe she is best suited at covers, as that is what America Idol has perfectly trained her to do. There is talent there for sure, although it’s hard to see it past her hand constantly being in the way, playing with her hair. Stage Presence 101, above good looks and a good voice, that is in fact what drives it home.

*Judge for yourself as Kimberly plays NYC this Thursday night 2/03/11 @ Dominion 428 Lafayette Street. BUY TICKETS

Jokes on You, Jamie.

Jamie Foxx
Best Night of My Life
J Records
12/21/2010

Jamie Foxx Best Night of My LifeJamie Foxx’s new album is a joke, and not a good one like he’s capable of as a comedian. We’ve all been so fond of blaming it on the al-al-al-al-alcohol for the last two years that it’s kept us enjoying his tactful disguise of comedy routines as songs. Yet, it may have been better for Jamie to quit while he was platinum because on “The Best Night of my Life”, there is nothing to blame it on but Jamie’s lack of substance. Jamie uses a small vocabulary of different words, mostly designer labels, and shout outs to Petron over and over.. Then he straight up steals “Big Pappa” from The Notorious Big, and uses the king of pop’s lyrics in vain. The album only provides two decent radio singles, “Winner” with Justin Timberlake, and the best song on the album “Fall for your type” with Drake. .The rest of the 13 tracks are repetitive descriptions of Jamie’s ill fated attempts with women, and promising if one lady gives him a chance he will break you off for a whopping 15 minutes. Which I must say, would be 12 minutes more pleasure than the entire album gave me.

Hark, The angels of autotune are calling!

Diddy – Dirty Money
Last Train To Paris
Bad Boy, Interscope
12/14/2010

Diddy - Dirty Money Last Train To Paris

Puff Daddy
P.Diddy
Puff
Puffy
Sean Jean
Diddy

You would think a man who has changed his name so many times would be comfortable with his own self imposed genre shift. Yet, after all this time, and all that he’s proven to himself and the world, he’s still nervous to let people hear him “sing”. Diddy as he’s know these days, started his singing over rapping evolution with his last album “Press Play”. With this album the singing has gone full scale, and it’s actually good. I’m growing to prefer it to his previous “rapping”. When Diddy sings with his flanger effect it sounds better suited for him, it’s more natural and relaxing to the ear. (Angels doesn’t get old for me, It reminds me of Seal at times, and is up there with the Benjamins, baby.) All through the years whenever I’ve heard Diddy start to rap I’ve winced and watched with one eye open fearing your boy is about to crash. It’s usually hit or miss if he can make it though a verse and come off lyrically astute. I think he knows deep down lyrics aren’t his shine, as Madonna knows her vocal range leaves a bit to be desired. We all know that’s not what has made Diddy the man he is today. Rather, since the 90s Puff has always had an inspiring knack of discovering and developing up and coming talent. He is the master of samples, his production is always on point, and he’s always had an all star entourage to work with and churn out hits. This album, the long awaited and much hyped “Last Train To Paris” is no exception to Diddy’s rule. His all star on the rise talent carries him through the album and would outshine him, if his ego would let them.

Diddy has always gotten slack for being one of the first to commercialize hip hop, therefore we should expect nothing less from the mogul as he continues his efforts to reign. Although “Last Train To Paris” includes record breaking usage of the word “m*therfucker” that doesn’t make it a hip hop album. Being EuroDance inspired it is in good company of tracks like “Closer” by Ne-yo, and aligns with the dance hip-hop merger taking place in the charts. This is not “P.Diddy and the Family”, It’s not even “The Saga Continues”. This is conflicted Emo Diddy who would rather hug, than thug it out. This works for his emerging mainstream wallet and in the non forgiving genre of hip hop, you have to ask yourself who is he competing against now? Who is he marketing to? My 49 year old white aunt has the single “Angels” from this album as her ring tone. She paid $3.99 for the initial download, and pays a fee each month to Mr.Combs so that she can hum the jingle when her phone rings. This is who Diddy is marketing to, whether he realizes it or not. My aunt is also a Black Eyed Peas fan, and this album is far more competition to Fergie and her clan with all it’s electro synth dance funk than it would be to say T.I or Jay.

Basically, after all the hype and the wait – For true hip-hop heads, It’s listenable, with a few stand out throwback Puffy style tracks. Especially “Someone to love me” which offers an epic sample and the best lyrics on album which profile deep shit for Diddy. “The hustle, I got that honestly from my father.. When you ain’t got dough, you scratch and you crawl, and your state of mind ain’t I want something, I want it all, look at the sky wonder when it’s gonna fall”. As a hip hop head from the Golden Age of hip hip I would have been more than happy for ten more tracks like this one.. but I digress. For radio, this album will be perfect, and for the average listener, it should be pretty enjoyable. Diddy’s raps have always been add lib style, uncomfortable, and fumbling along as if he has two thumbs. Yet Dirty Money ladies Dawn Richard (Danity Kane) and Kalenna Harper never let you get focused on Diddy’s lyrical shortcomings. Instead they enrapture you with their new in the game voices and get your incited about the fierce threat these ladies will be as solo acts. (Both have albums coming out next year.) “Hate You Now” is a perfect example of this. The nasty opening beats make way for perfect female vocals from the first note. The track explains the trials of a love-hate relationship. “ I don’t need nobody like you.. don’t go..I want you.. I hate you..I hate loving you, I don’t wanna be without you” Later you hear the same lady singing the “P” word on “Your Love”. Plenty of women in the game have rapped about it, but to hear it sung was something else. On this track we really didn’t need a puffy verse, but he couldn’t help himself. I mean it is HIS dirty money so straight in the middle of a great song about sex you hear: “Bitch you know I’m Diddy hoe, real dilly yo..” etc etc not one lyric of his verse has to do with sex, it’s just his awkward rap attempting to blow himself up. If you were already wondering about these girls solo careers, this was good ammunition. It would have been better to let the ladies shine on just one track, but ever the hype man, puff won’t let it happen.

Diddy’s ego can’t help but almost bastardize the project and at times you will hear his classic elementary school lines like: “Smoke weed listening to Sade. I left my pain in Paree, why can’t you see things my way. “ You start to roll your eyes and begin to fear him opening his mouth, but you are quickly saved by one the girls and tight production so you’re not completely distracted, tweens won’t bat an eye.

The Prince stylistic elements of “Shades” will force the track to grow on you. “Strobe Lights” almost tricked me into thinking Little Wayne was singing too. It’s actually a skillful blend between Wayne’s rap, Diddy’s singing and the ladies harmonies. Check out the deluxe edition for Diddy singing beginning to end on a track saying things like: “ You showed me my love just wasn’t enough.. you know I’m always your friend.. I promise I will change.. even though I promised you everything i ain’t changed.. I’m still the same. “ ….Nother’ day in the life of the commission?

While his singing voice is lovely, and I prefer it to his “rapping” he walks a fine line with appearing completely soft with some of his swan songs on LTTP. He also comes off a bit contradictory. In an MTV interview Diddy stated: “A lot of records out right now — no disrespect to them, but they’re all surface. It’s about what people have or a dance. All our records are gonna be about love, feelings and emotion.” A few minutes later you inevitably hear about Channel, Tiffanys, and 100 bottles. Is that not what you HAVE Diddy? “Let’s not forget back in brooklyn, where it all began..” he sings, but only in one track does it seem he really remembers, still. Reminder: There are no trains to Paris from Brooklyn.

Watch out for Grammy nominated upcoming Skylar Grey featured on the last track “coming home”, Peep the video here. (They always walking in their videos, maybe the destination will appear in a new video.) You won’t see Skylar, but you will hear her in the opening of the song, and lightly on the chorus. She co-wrote “Love the Way You Lie” by Rihanna and Eminem (along with performing piano, background vocals and serving as co-producer on the Piano Version) Her voice is ethereal and she’ll be going places with her upcoming solo album. For Fun, count how many times “M’fer” and “ass” are overused on the record, may make for a good time killer on a road trip!