Monday, November 28, 2011

Emeli Sande "Daddy"

British singer Emeli Sande's latest single "Daddy" is another great tune from the soulful songstress. Distinctively darker than "Heaven" but still adhereing to that awesome underpinning trip-hop sound and that prominenet scattering drum line. It's a shame this is looking at a miss of the top 10. Check it below:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Album Reviews: Rihanna and Drake

Rihanna - Talk That Talk (4/5). Congratulations to Rihanna on her horniest work yet. On, Talk That Talk, Rihanna's vagina has never been more revved up and ready to go. It begins with the beat heavy urban-drenched opener "You Da One" in which she sings ("You had me yellin' like that... Ain't no other niggas like you") then to the drum and synth heavy R&B title track "Talk That Talk" featuring hip-hop heavyweight Jay-Z.

Then it flows to the albums sexually climatic mid-section where things border on sexual overload--with the bass-doped "Cockiness (Love It)" which bluntly opens with the lyric: "I want you to be my sex slave" which sets the tone for the just as vulgar chorus ("Suck my cock-iness, lick my persuasion") which harbours the repetition of "I love it, I love it, I love it when you eat it."

This is quickly followed by the kinetic hip-hop of "Birthday Cake" a short interlude where Rihanna lays her cards on the table as she states with blunt disposition: "I wanna fuck you right now," and the more darkening R&B of "Roc Me Out" ("Boy I'm so ready, you're taking too long to get my head on the ground"). A prude, she is not.

Sexual vulgarities aside, Talk That Talk, is Rihanna's most musically interesting and diverse (albeit lyrically disappointing) album to date--venturing into a well-executed mix of dance-pop, R&B, hip-hop and even more left-field alternative territories. Eighth track "Drunk On Love" samples British indie pop band The XX's "Intro" from their debut album--Genius! "Where Have You Been" has a strong, throbbing euro-pop edge. It reminds me of Ne-Yo "Closer" a little, before the skewing synths and drums kick in.

Others aren't so enthralling. The attempt at uplifting pop in "We All Want Love" is nothing short of underwhelming (and a little weird as it follows "Birthday Cake"). And I'm not too sold on the Caribbean pop "Watch n' Learn," which is actually just as sexually driven as the aforementioned ("Imma do it on the bed, on the floor, on the couch..."). However, the album does close on a nice note, with the vocally engaging ballad "Farewell" which only highlights how far Rihanna's come since the piercing screeching of "Unfaithful."

Best: We Found Love, Drunk On Love, Talk That Talk, You Da One, Where Have You Been, Farewell


Drake - Take Care (3.5/5). Canadian rapper Drake showcased his distinctive taste in hip-hop with his debut album last year, Thank Me Later, which ultimately revolves around a seductive blend of soft beats, the occasional piano chords, hollowing atmospherics and his indisputable flow. Admittedly, I didn't give it enough appreciation, however the problem I had with such a sensitive sound is that things can get a little dull and repetitive, which is a flaw that transfers itself onto here, except only this time it's an extremely extensive 18 track album that more or less cuts from the same vein. On a more positive note, with such a similar sounding set, it's easier to pick out the highlights such as the scattering beat-heavy hip-hop of lead single "Headlines," the awesome mix of pounding bass lines and piano chords on title track "Take Care" featuring Rihanna. The dark mid-tempo "Marvin's Room" is also personal favorite. Expectedly, some interesting collaborations pop up--such as the quite mellow R&B of "Doing It Wrong" featuring Stevie Wonder and the obligatory Nicki Minaj collab ("Make Me Proud"). Best: Headlines, Marvin's Room, Take Care, Make Me Proud, Doing It Wrong

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rihanna "You Da One"

Ahead of the release of her sixth album Talk That Talk next week, Barbadian singer Rihanna drops its second single "You Da One," less the frantic dance-pop of "We Found Love" but a laid back R&B ditty with spots of dub-step--"Hold It Against Me" style. Check it below:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fleetwood Mac "Landslide"

Away from contemporary music, I've really been getting into British/American rock band Fleetwood Mac lately. I bought two of their biggest albums 1975's Fleetwood Mac and 1977's Rumours, to familarise myself with the band. "Landslide," the gentle guitar-backed ballad about adapting to change was a real standout. The lyric ("If you see my relfection in the snow covered hills, well the landslide brought me down") is particuarly touching.

Billboard Hot 100, November 19, 2011

1. We Found Love - Rihanna Featuring Calvin Harris

Rihanna extends her reign at #1 with "We Found Love" to a second week, becoming this week's airplay gainer, with the single also rises 3 spots up to #4 on the radio songs tally. Last week, when "Love" nabbed Rihanna her 11th chart topper she became the seventh artist in Billboard history to score 11 #1's or more, following The Beatles, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Supremes and Whitney Houston.

2. Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO

Hot on Rihanna's heels is LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" which climbs a notch to #2. After the misfire of previous single "Champagne Shower," it's surprising the annoying duo have yet another poteintial #1 on their hands--following "Party Rock Anthem."

8. Good Feeling - Flo Rida

Clearly, Flo Rida isn't the chart monster her once was. It wasn't that long ago, Flo was topping the chart for multiple weeks with singles "Right Round" and "Low" and shifting 300k a week. Sure, his singles aren't hot property anymore, but he still can land the odd hit. This week his latest single "Good Feeling" climbs four spots up to #8, scoring his sixth top ten hit.

11. 5 O'Clock - T-Pain Featuring Wiz Khalifa and Lily Allen

Surely set for a top ten entry next week is T-Pain's "5 O'Clock" which climbs three spots up to #11. If this should enter the top ten next week, it will be British singer Lily Allen's first. C'mon!!!

12. It Will Rain - Bruno Mars
18. The One That Got Away - Katy Perry

This week's digital gainer is awarded to Bruno Mars who rises nine notches up to #12 with his latest single "It Will Rain" taken from the accompanying soundtrack to the forthcoming Twilight movie. Katy Perry continues to makes big strides with her latest single "The One That Got Away," the sixth released from her sophomore album Teenage Dream. This week it climbs 16 spots up to #18. It's both Perry and Mars' ninth top twenty single.

19. Super Bass- Nicki Minaj
20. Dance (A$$) - Big Sean Featuring Nicki Minaj
21. Fly - Nicki Minaj Featuring Rihanna

American rapper Nicki Minaj scores a chart triple this week. Her last single single "Super Bass" from her debut album Pink Friday, falls four spots to #19, while her latest feature on fellow American rapper Big Sean's new single "Dance (A$$)" (which is lyrically hilarious) climbs 10 spots up to #20. Whilst, her current single "Fly" featuring Rihanna climbs 1 notch to #21, scoring itself a new peak.

Personal Airplay, November 10, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Album Review: The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow (4.5/5)

Okay, so I'm not the biggest fan of the more obscure country-tinged, indie/folk however sometimes the blending of those sounds can be done so immaculately and wonderfully you can't help but embrace it. Some good examples are American folk band Fleet Foxes, particularly their first eponymous album or Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall's fantastic third album Tiger Suit. And now Barton Hollow.

So, who are The Civil Wars? The indie folk duo is made up of Christian pop singer Joy Williams, whose authentic, gracious vocal is the root of the duo's intimate and sensitive semblance--before this album the only other song I'd heard of hers was a heartfelt ballad called "I'm In Love With You," which was by accident. And John Paul White, who oddly there is limited information about, but as you would expect, balances out the graciousness of the songs with a huskier tone to his vocal.

Their sounds is very much grounded in the rootsy compositions of folkish country and light indie rock. The sharp, twiddling guitar strings of "20 Years" kicks things off, setting the tone for the whole set. It's a little bit of a slow burner, very light hearted before the gentle warbling violins pierce through the backdrop, enhancing the softening atmosphere.

"I've Got This Friend" is a little less subtle, still relying on the gentle layering of guitar strings but now playing alongside soft percussion and tambourines--complementing the beautiful harmonic vocal work on here. "C'est la Mort," is an emotional number, harboring very a melancholic melody, succumbed to poignant piano keys behind a gentle fort of tame guitar work. It's a lovely vocal matching--Williams courts such a powerful emotion within such a subtle vocal, which works magic against White's slightly more dense bearing. He takes the lead on the slightly more country/rock dominating title track "Barton Hollow."

"To Whom It May Concern" is an emotional highlight, a gentle ballad with a brittle guitar line and swooning melody that works the subtle vocal very well. It sets the stage perfectly for the even more emotional laden "Poison & Wine," a heart-felt, love-declaring ballad. It's a little reminiscent of a Lady Antebellum song.

It's no secret, The Civil Wars have a knack for capitalizing on subtlety--the instrumental "The Violet Hour" is beautiful. An angelic, whimsical venture--piano keys, lullaby-melody mimicking guitar strings, strings soothing the backdrop, penetrating the gentle melody. "Girl With the Red Balloon" is a little darker than some of the other songs, although still as subtle as ever--evoking a sense of isolation within its poignant lyrics.

Barton Hollow is a beautiful collection songs--varying from the incredibly subtle to the wonderfully upbeat and country-studded. In the midst of all the subtlety, things can get a little monotonous, but that's a minuscule flaw with such a heart-string tugging set like this.

Best: 20 Years, C'est la Mort, To Whom It May Concern, Poison & Wine, I've Got This Friend, Barton Hollow, The Violet Hour, Girl With the Red Balloon

What I'm Listening To...

Haven't done this in awhile, here's what's been on heavy rotation on my iPhone lately:
  • "Lego House" Ed Sheeran - A brilliant slice of downbeat balladry from Ed Sheeran--twiddling guitar strings pondering over piano chords and soft drum patterns--it cuts more the tame pop of "The A Team" than the urban-shadowed beat-heavy venture of "You Need Me."
  • "Rumour Has It" Adele - Honestly, I've been playing "Rumour Has It" just as much as any other track on 21, but I guess it deserves a mention now that it's a single. It finds Adele returning to the feisty and somewhat vengeful rooting of "Rolling in the Deep," miles away from the subtlety of "Somone Like You."
  • "We Found Lovc" Rihanna - I reckon this will be on heavy rotation on the radio a long time, so I thought I'd wait until Rihanna's sixth album Talk That Talk came out (in 2 weeks) before I owned it, so I didn't get sick of it.
  • "Cough Syrup" Young the Giant - Thanks to my buddy Loy who directed my attention to American alternative band Young the Giant. "Cough Syrup" is the current single from their self-titled debut. Great slice of anthemic rock--harbouring the typical instrumentals--not particularly breaking any ground but a damn good tune this is.
  • "Princess of China" Coldplay/Rihanna - I wasn't impressed with the latest Coldplay album, Mylo Xyloto but it did have some highlights--the more urban inspired synth-rock of "Princess of China" featuring non other than Rihanna--who weirdly sounds right at home on here.
  • "With UR Love" Cher Lloyd Featuring Mike Posner - I'll be honest, "Swagger Jagger" was one of the worst excuses for a "song" I had heard for a long, long, long time, hence why I didn't really give any written attention, however this more tame, but still pumped with attitude, "With UR Love" is way better, not only by comparison but in its own right.
  • "Sexy And I Know It" LMFAO - It's incredibly hypocritical of me to slam "Swagger Jagger" and say I've been playing this quite a lot, but what can you do... I'm sexy and I know it.
  • "Wherever You Go" Charlene Soraia - Absolutely beautiful cover of The Calling's hit "Wherever You Go," stripped down to just vocal and piano. Stunning.
  • "It Will Rain" Bruno Mars - Awesome downbeat new single from Bruno Mars supporting the forthcoming Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 1.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Album Review: Florence + The Machine and Coldplay

Florence + The Machine - Ceremonials (4/5). British alternative band Florence + Machine certainly struck an emotional chord with their debut album Lungs, delivering a haunting mix of dark ballads, loud vocals and murky productions as well as landing the massive hit "You Got the Love." This follow up trails the same sound with a slightly more accessible sensibilities, beginning with the rippling drumming of opening track "Only If for a Night" lined with deep piano chords and strings, swiftly sueging into the more tribal rock of "Shake It Out" and "What the Water Gave Me." "Breaking Down" is interesting, as Florence tries their hand with some moody, throwback vintage pop--harbouring a real lush melodic core, complimented with her beautiful toned down vocal. "Lover to Lover" has a great subtle '70s rock vibe to it--crashing drum beats, poignant piano keys adhering to some soulful tones. "All This and Heaven Too" has a great melody--probably the closest to a conventional ballad on here. This a great album, I wouldn't call it a better album than its predecessor but a great follow up nontheless. Best: What the Water Gave Me, Shake It Out, Breaking Dawn, Lover to Lover, All This and Heaven Too, Only If for a Night

Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto (3/5). I'm not the Coldplay fan I once was. Their first two albums Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head were fantastic pieces of alternative rock with a sensitive touch. Their third and fourth albums X&Y and Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends was great even though I didn't love them. Now we have Mylo Xyloto which is, in prospective, the least impressive in their collection. It doesn't particularly break any new ground--which they have doing consecutively with their last four albums. It just seems to trail the same dreary pop/rock production all the way through. However, it's not without it's highlights, "Paradise" is fantastic, lined with piano chords, drums, strings and bleepy undertones that work the song nicely. "Princess of China" with Rihanna is an obvious highlight--venturing into more subtle urban shadowed territories. The acoustic guitar and vocal measuring "Us Against the World" is pretty nice too. Best: Paradise, Princess of Chine, Us Against the World