• Scissor Sisters: "Night Work" - my review

    15 jul 2010, 21:02

    Night Work, the Scissor Sisters’ third album, has been a long time coming. Lead singer Jake Shears admitted to the band being dissatisfied with and discarding their previous work in early 2009 after 18 months recording time. This lead to his solo, soul-searching journey to Berlin where he found inspiration from the electrifying music scene of the city to write a new album – which ultimately became Night Work. His inspiration called for some high-energy dance tunes and who better to craft this desire than Stuart Price, king producer of retro 70’s/80’s dance goodness. Even the album’s cover art appears to be a cheeky (no pun intended) nod to the time period, bringing to mind Bruce Springsteen’s iconic cover for Born in the U.S.A. turned queer – and surprisingly is not Shears’ ass, but a photograph from 1983 that he stumbled across and knew he wanted as the cover).

    The Sisters’ last outing – 2006’s Ta-Dah – featured a more theatrical, show tune theme with a noticeably decreased libido. Night Work, however, is more reminiscent of the band’s salacious, disco-influenced debut and feels like its natural successor in time and maturity. It’s a more cohesive work of art from a band with total confidence in their vision – a non-stop journey through dance heaven, packed with introspective tales and sprinkled with indulgence and debauchery that remind us what we had been missing and why we fell in love with the band in the first place.

    Night Work opens the album with a fireball of frantic energy, telling a story reminiscent of Shears’ go-go dancing past. There’s plenty more sexual innuendo and sleaze throughout with Whole New Way, Any Which Way, and Harder You Get all containing cleverly crafted metaphors for various body parts and activities of enjoyment in true Scissor Sisters’ style. The lovely Ana Matronic turns into a sex-prowled vixen on the slinky Skin This Cat, giving her best lead vocals ever and the desire for more. Heartstrings are pulled with Fire With Fire – a dramatic tale brimmed with hope and glory, and Skin Tight - the epitome of an 80’s power ballad with an “it’s you and me ‘til the end” love song with a powerful chorus you can imagine a rain-soaked Shears singing in slow motion. The last three tracks are the most serious, creating a sense of urgency that grips listeners until the very end; Sex and Violence pushes into darker territory with low, brooding vocals, while Invisible Light is a 6-minute, epic album closer, filled with dream-like imagery that serves as the apocalypse to the magnificent journey.

    Night Work isn’t just a light throwback to the time period it channels; it’s an authentic embodiment of the sounds and stories of the late 70’s and early 80’s, making you feel as if you’re traveling chronologically through time as the album progresses. In a recent interview, Shears discussed the gay liberation movement of the late 70’s and asked the hypothetical question of what might have been if AIDS hadn’t struck the community so horrifically in the early 80’s; ultimately, Night Work feels like an exploration to answer his own question – musically, lyrically, and through the emotion it invokes – and in doing so, has led to the creation of an incredibly remarkable concept album.

    Long live the Sisters.
  • Kylie Minogue: "Aphrodite" - my review

    15 jul 2010, 19:46

    “Dance – it’s all I wanna do, so won’t you dance?” Kylie Minogue declares as she opens Aphrodite, the pop diva’s 11th studio album. And that’s exactly what this album is all about – non-stop dance music, courtesy of Stuart Price’s role as executive producer and impeccable knack for creating monumental dance tracks. And while Kylie has always been a huge gay icon, this album embodies her queer appeal to the brink and could serve as *the* soundtrack to a white party near you.

    Price is a genius at what he does; yet, he’s also quite predictable. All the Lovers sounds like the love child of the Killers’ “Human” and Minogue’s previous hit “I Believe In You” and was most definitely engineered that way as the first single. That still doesn’t take away from its brilliance as a shining, glorious dance anthem. Get Outta My Way instantly sends rushes of serotonin to the brain, with its rich, pulsing beats, while “Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love) creates the image of a euphoric, jam-packed dance floor. Everything Is Beautiful sounds like a magical hit ripped from the late 70’s, with its lush instrumentation coupled with Kylie’s sexual coos. Title-track Aphrodite is a cheerleading-inspired, butt-kicking rumpus while Illusion is straight-up single material, with its addictive hooks and beats. Unfortunately, the second half of the album begins to sag a bit. While most of the music is still quite good, the moments become less special when compared to previous songs. The lyrics noticeably feel more cliché – with Kylie continuing to assert unbridled love for her lucky man – and it fails to explore any new territory.

    With a legacy of over 20 years in the music business, Kylie is about established as one could ever hope to be. She’s pop royalty – a goddess, as appropriately embodied on the album’s cover – and there’s little left for her to prove. However, it’s tempting for some of us to want a little more from our girl, especially when we know Kylie is capable of mixing good beats with substance. Aphrodite only falters when you expect some sort of theme or message alongside the music – alas, there is none.

    Admittedly, no one really expects a “deep” album from Kylie. Though she experimented in the past with 1997’s amazing and largely unheard Impossible Princess, the album didn’t fare well and is a far cry from what the majority of her fan base would expect today; besides, we don’t need any more dark, megalomaniac divas attempting to be full of meaning (no names necessary). Kylie knows what she does best – embodying the joyous, celebratory factor of pop music. All the same, 2007’s X is a prime example of top-quality, original and entertaining pop music with a bit of soul to it. If she can top that body of work in the future, she’s done something remarkable. For now, shake your ass, find somebody to love, and bow down to worship Aphrodite, goddess of the dance floor.
  • Christina Aguilera: "Bionic" - my review

    2 jul 2010, 05:49

    It’s been a long 4 years since Christina Aguilera last graced us with an album, however, it’s really no surprise; Miss Aguilera has always taken her time between musical endeavors in true diva fashion. It’s always a risky move to delay your next album for an extended period of time in the world of pop music. A good two years off usually suffices as enough time for any established star to leave their audience yearning for more – but pushing it further can endanger an artist of becoming irrelevant in the sweeping tides of the music industry. And, of course, the obvious question is – mostly due to fan feuds and a fat blogger on the Internet – can Christina make it in a GaGa world?

    Let’s briefly rewind back to 2006 when Christina put out Back to Basics. This album ultimately didn't intrigue me. It seemed almost too calculated of a career move and none of the songs really blew me away. Where was the innovative fighter who told the world she was Dirrty, yet Beautiful, and didn’t really give a fuck what you think? Well, boys and girls, with Bionic, X-Tina is back in full force. Bionic ultimately seems like the natural sequel to Stripped; it follows a similar formula and has Christina exploring similar territory musically and lyrically. However, Bionic stands on its own as a worthy, unique predecessor and actually flows more cohesively throughout.

    Bionic sees Christina experimenting more than ever – and not just musically, but vocally as well. Everyone knows Aguilera is a vocal powerhouse, but she surprisingly can twist her voice into multiple characters that Whitney and Mariah have never dared to try. Whether its exploring her lower register, rapping, gently cooing, or belting out something technically difficult, she’s always spot on. The album also possesses amazing production, thanks to an impressive array of established producers (Linda Perry, Tricky Stewart, and Sia) that mesh incredibly well together.

    Not Myself Tonight introduced the album – and quite poorly due to the video’s numerous GaGa/Madonna comparisons. While the song itself is fun, it ends up being slightly unoriginal as the first single and actually pales in comparison to many superior tracks on the album. Woohoo – the album’s second single – would most likely be a hot mess of a song by any other artist, but Christina’s quick and irresistibly catchy vocal stylings make it pure fun the whole way through. Desnudate (translation: get naked!) is a brilliant 4 ½ minutes of raunchy, upbeat Latin fire, while the fabulous Glam stands as the next generation’s “Vogue.” Sex for Breakfast is a sexy, Janet-inspired “baby-making” song, I Am could be considered the sequel to “Beautiful” with its magical, dreamy chorus, and Lift Me Up climaxes into a inspirational crescendo of beauty that leaves one in awe of the powerful vocals and magical touch that Aguilera can effortlessly put into a song.

    The most disappointing aspect of the album comes at the closing with the last three songs; with extremely immature lyrics and Christina screaming “bitch” multiple times while talking about how “fucking pretty” she is, it seems like this songs were solely tacked on to impress queeny gays across the world. Nevertheless, because of the superior bonus tracks, the faux pas can be forgiven; it’s just surprising she didn’t choose them to be on the actual album! Monday Morning is effortlessly cool and could easily be a Ladyhawke song, Birds of Prey is mysterious, dark and alluring, while Little Dreamer is an uplifting slice of 80’s inspired pop that would have worked well as the album closer.

    In the end, the album is pretty fantastic and stands as her best yet. The whole “Christina is a copycat” cry has unfairly overshadowed the music and become quite boring; besides, Christina is the original wild child of fashion. Anyone remember when she sported blond weave with a ghetto-fabulous, reverse cleavage top? And who would ever forget her infamous Lady Marmalade getup? I remember back to my undergrad years discussing what she would wear to the 2003 VMAs (I made a joke about ostrich feathers and she actually ended up wearing a dress made of magenta feathers!). She’s the long-standing fashionista of crazy and has been criticized severely for it all along – and with “Not Myself Tonight” faltering on the charts, it seems as if boycotting Christina is once again in style at the moment. However, something tells me she doesn’t care too much. This is the same girl who experienced the public turning their back on her when “Dirrty” was released, was overshadowed at the VMAs by Britney’s kiss, and has normally lived in the shadow of more popular artists. Christina is the ultimate fighter – the underdog – and she’s always pulled through turmoil stronger than before. Honestly, I don’t think she’d have it any other way; remarkably good music speaks for itself and something tells me X-Tina knows it.
  • April 26th, 2010 - Sia at St. Andrews Hall, Detroit

    29 apr 2010, 17:33

    Mon 26 Apr – Sia

    Setlist:
    1) The Fight
    2) Buttons
    3) You've Changed
    4) Be Good To Me
    5) Oh Father (Madonna cover)
    6) Little Black Sandals
    7) Bring Night
    8) Sunday
    9) I Go To Sleep
    10) Never Gonna Leave Me
    11) The Girl You Lost To Cocaine
    12) Cloud
    13) Clap Your Hands
    14) You Have Been Loved
    15) Breathe Me
    **********
    Encore:
    16) Co-Dependent
    17) Soon We'll Be Found
  • 15 Amazing Songs

    16 jul 2009, 01:30

    It's impossible to pick my most favorites... but I feel like I'm getting close:

    01) Jóga - Björk
    02) Woodstock - Joni Mitchell
    03) A&E - Goldfrapp
    04) Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) - Kate Bush
    05) Breathe Me - Sia
    06) Silent All These Years - Tori Amos
    07) Destiny - Zero 7
    08) Weird Fishes/Arpeggi - Radiohead
    09) Frozen - Madonna
    10) Why - Annie Lennox
    11) Head Over Feet - Alanis Morissette
    12) You Look So Fine - Garbage
    13) Never Is A Promise - Fiona Apple
    14) Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
    15) Pagan Poetry - Björk
  • 2009 So Far

    14 maj 2009, 17:02

    Just writing this to say I absolutely love the following 4 albums:

    Two Suns -- Bat For Lashes
    Fantasies -- Metric
    I Feel Cream -- Peaches
    It's Blitz! -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

    2009 is shaping up to be a great year for music... and Abnormally Attracted To Sin is coming out next week. I've done well with staying away from it. I like to be suddenly and fully immersed into Tori albums. Excited :)
  • Electrospring

    14 apr 2009, 00:41

    The promise of warm weather, clear skies, and cocktails on the balcony with the sun shining inspired this new playlist for Spring 2009...

    01) Comfortably Numb - Scissor Sisters
    02) My Love Is Better - Annie
    03) The Girl and the Robot - Röyksopp ft. Robyn
    04) Better Off As Two - Frankmusik
    05) Me and My Imagination - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
    06) Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    07) Talk to Me - Peaches
    08) Sleep Alone - Bat For Lashes
    09) The Fear - Lily Allen
    10) Too Funky - George Michael
    11) Sandcastle Disco - Solange
    12) Footprints - Róisín Murphy
    13) The Look Of Love (Madison Park vs. Lenny B Remix) - Nina Simone
    14) Boys Boys Boys - Lady Gaga
    15) Raging Storm - Cyndi Lauper
    16) Little Star - Stina Nordenstam
    17) Crazy World - Ladyhawke
  • Winter 2009 Playlist

    15 feb 2009, 06:18

    This is probably my most random playlist ever, consisting of songs I've had on repeat recently. However, I noticed one thing they all have in common: they're sung by incredible female vocalists. Let me know what you think...

    1) Woodstock - Joni Mitchell
    2) Wanderlust - Björk
    3) Internacional - Brazilian Girls
    4) Dear Miami - Róisín Murphy
    5) Little Star - Stina Nordenstam
    6) Rain on Me - Cyndi Lauper
    7) You Will Feel Like This - Nicola Hitchcock
    8) Snow On The Sahara - Anggun
    9) Agenais - Donna Lewis
    10) Don't Bring Me Down - Sia
    11) The Song of Solomon - Kate Bush
    12) Oedipus - Regina Spektor
    13) Love...Thy Will Be Done - Martika
    14) Must Be Dreaming - Frou Frou
    15) No Fear, No Pain, No Hate (No Broken Hearts) - Eurythmics
    16) Fly Away - Poe
  • S.E.X.

    7 jan 2009, 23:39

    My sex playlist:

    01 #1 Crush - Garbage
    02 Fastlove - George Michael
    03 Sexual (Li Da Di) - Amber
    04 Breathe on Me - Britney Spears
    05 Get Mine, Get Yours - Christina Aguilera
    06 Chocolate - Kylie Minogue
    07 Red Light Special - TLC
    08 Rope Burn - Janet
    09 Justify My Love - Madonna
    10 2Wicky - Hooverphonic
    11 Heaven - Lamb
    12 Destiny - Zero 7

    (If you can last that long)
  • 2008: The BEST - according to me!

    22 dec 2008, 04:43

    I wanted to do what I did last year and make a Top 15 Album list along with a singles chart; however, I felt like I couldn't do it this time around! Due to a massive influx of music downloading this year, I didn't get around to listening to a lot of albums as fully as I wanted to; plus, a lot of my new tunes were older.

    Therefore, I'm only going to list my top 5 albums of the year - and then a bunch of notable singles. Thanks for reading - and please comment!

    TOP ALBUMS OF 2008!
    #1: Flavors of Entanglement - Alanis Morissette
    I noticed I was semi-harsh of the opening tracks in my review. After repeated listenings, I retract my earlier comments and declare this my top album of the year! Amazing, amazing stuff. A creative triumph for her. The b-sides were spectacular as well!
    [Top tracks: Underneath, Not As We, Giggling Again For No Reason, Torch, Tapes]

    #2: Seventh Tree - Goldfrapp
    I'm actually a bigger fan of Goldfrapp's mellower music. This album is one big, beautiful musical journey.
    [Top tracks: Clowns, Happiness, Eat Yourself, A&E]

    #3: Bring Ya To The Brink - Cyndi Lauper
    Finally, the dance album we've all been waiting for from her. I feel like this is her most solid album from start to finish. Every song is a winner.
    [Top tracks: Into The Nightlife, Rocking Chair, Echo, Rain On Me]

    #4: Some People Have Real Problems - Sia
    As of this year, I'm totally crazy about Sia. Her voice is an incredible instrument. She tackles so many kinds of genres with it and it always sounds brilliant.
    [Top Tracks: I Go To Sleep, The Girl You Lost To Cocaine, Death By Chocolate, Buttons]

    #5: Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
    I actually stumbled across her on last.fm and thankfully so. She effortlessly made a perfect, heavily 80's-inspired electro-pop album, while maintaining a sense of "cool" about her. I think of her as an indie version of Annie.
    [Magic, My Delirium, Paris Is Burning, Crazy World, Morning Dreams]

    TOP SONGS OF 2008! (random order)
    Rock With U - Janet Jackson
    Chasing Pavements - Adele
    Electric Feel - MGMT
    Warwick Avenue - Duffy
    Disturbia - Rhianna
    Pocketful of Sunshine - Natasha Bedingfield
    Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
    Black & Gold - Sam Sparro
    Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
    Human - The Killers
    I Still Care For You - Ray Lamontagne
    Poker Face - Lady GaGa
    Crystal Ball - Pink
    Me - Erykah Badu
    Stop - Ryan Adams
    Shut Up and Let Me Go - The Ting Tings
    Miles Away - Madonna
    Spiralling - Keane
    Sleepyhead - Passion Pit
    Death & All Of His Friends - Coldplay

    Best New Artist: Ladyhawke
    Old Artist I Got Into This Year: Björk
    Best Old Album I Got This Year: TIE! Homogenic and Vespertine
    Best B-Sides: TIE! Flavors of Entanglement - Alanis Morissette and X - Kylie Minogue
    Artists Who Let Me Down With Their Albums This Year: The Killers, Jenny Lewis, Madonna
    Artists Who I Didn't Listen To Enough To Judge This Year: Death Cab For Cutie, Lucinda Williams, Rachel Yamagata
    Needs a new album in 2009 ASAP: Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, Annie