Sunday, 31 May 2009

My concert experience: Guano Apes

* click on the thumbnails for a better preview

It's great when your favourite bands reunite after a long split. It's even better when they embark on a tour and your country gets to be included. Four years after their official split up Guano Apes came back together announcing several gigs at prominent European festivals with the only exception of Bulgaria, where they held an indoor concert. Guano Apes proved to be in great shape and frontwoman Sandra Nasić to have improved her vocal skills.

The concert was due to begin at 20:00 and I was there at 19:15 and in a few minutes they started letting us in, which was very surprising as Bulgarian fans are used to waiting outside for hours before anyone shows any mercy on our at this occasion freezing souls. Here is the moment where I should compliment Most of Evil on their excellent organization this time, as the support band Fyeld came on stage at sharp 20:00. Of course, this doesn't mean that I've forgotten the long two hours spent outside the hall for the Pain concert last month, but today's issue are the Apes. Fyeld is a Bulgarian crossover band, which occasionally plays at various gigs. I cannot say much about them as I actually got to hear them for the first time last night. They are OK, but definitely not my scene.

A few minutes after 21:00 Sandra Nasić and company appeared in flesh and bones in front of the nearly 3,000 fans at Universiada Hall in Sofia. To many this was a dream come true, to the rest an iconic band in front of them ready to blow their tops. They started with "You Can't Stop Me", although no one actually wanted them to stop, even for a drink break. The audience was in ecstasy as we heard Nasić first words...Yep, one of the biggest alt-metal chicks was right there singing just for us and she sounded great. A friend of mine told me that she sucked live, but luckily it didn't prove right and Nasić did demonstrate that she could actually sing. Bang! We were nailed down from the very start! Guano Apes had more and more surprises to come..."Money & Milk", followed by "Quetly", "Open Your Eyes" and "Pretty In Scarlet". In between they played "Do It Again", which is from Sandra's solo album "The Signal". The gig was getting so hot that before singing "Open Your Eyes" Sandra encouraged all the guys to take off their shirts and to mix with the rest of sweaty bodies and burning skins.

When Sandra came on stage she was wearing a T-shirt saying "Ruf mir nie wider an", which in English means "Never call me again". In order to be persuasive enough as she asked us to lose some clothing in favor of some skin-trade and sweaty pogos, she took her shirt off, but she had another one under it...tricky, very tricky. The set-list continued with a straight line of some of their less known stuff, which toned down the audience as mostly fans knew them and the anticipation was not that passionate, which doesn't mean that there were no pogos or frantic singing along with Nasić. However, this could easily be considered as the major flaw of their whole performance as most people were there for their biggest hits and to a certain extent Guano Apes should have lived up to their expectations. After all, we can never be sure how long will this reunion last and will it crash and burn before even releasing new material.

The good news is that all of the songs were worth performing and listening to and there was something for everyone, from the die-hard fan to the girlfriend who came just to be with her bf/gf. The set-list definitely was not their best possible, but what was important Guano Apes to be playing at all. Still, I have no fine explanation why they included that many of their non-album tracks, although I believe they were trying to go beyond the expected, another thing is whether they managed to do it.

It was great that they made no difference between their performance in Braga, Portugal in front of over 15,000 spectators and in Sofia, Bulgaria with the modest amount of 3,000. Size doesn't matter after all, but some bands tend to believe that the bigger the crowd the better for their reputation. Probably right, but the Bulgarian crowd was perfect and I am pretty sure Guano Apes will have us in mind if they decide to embark on another tour some time in the long as they haven't split up once again.

The second part of the concert was dominated by their hits "Break the Line", "Scratch the Pitch" and where to without "Big In Japan". The last made the audience go crazy, hundreds jumping on one place and pushing back and forth as a human wave. Most of us already knew the set list and we perfectly knew that Sandra was going to say Goodbye, just to return on stage in a few minutes. The "promised" encore was remarkable for the excellent performance of "Lords of the Boards", which is the epitome of their career and narrow relation with the culture of the boards. Sandra let the audience sing it as obviously we were really in an urge to shout it out loud. We all shouted as our lives depended on it and sadly this did put an end to the concert. All sweaty, exhausted and a little dizzy the people were making their way to the exits, taking a look back to the empty scene...filled with the fresh memories of a concert long to be talked about.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Stuck in my mind: Moby - Pale Horses

Regularly checking my blog list I came across the newest video by Moby and his second official single from the upcoming album "Wait for Me" "Pale Horses". This is his first self-produced single and it will be released on 22th June, just a week before the album itself.

"Pale Horses" is a touching melancholic return to Moby's ambient sound filled with soothing female vocals. The song tells the story of loneliness, grief and to some extent even despair. Despite everything positivism like a beam rips apart the darkness that has the heart in a strong grip, as life is never just black or white, but with thousands of shades of gray. Vocalist is Moby's friend Amelia.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Смешен плач: Наградите на БГРадио

Докато се вълнувам от нови албуми, летни хитове и предстоящи размазващи концерти, няма как да подмина наградите на единственото радио в страната посветено изцяло на българската музика, която все още не се е тотално изчалгарила. Потресен съм! Вече съжалявам, че изобщо се заинтересовах кои са номинираните тази година, то бива наглост, но такава безочливост не очаквах, че ще доживея...а изглежда съм бил прекалено голям оптимист относно съдбата на родната ни музика.

Чинно отварям сайта на БГРадио и бързо стигам до секцийката отредена за номинациите. Какво да видят черните ми очи? В изстраданите 9 категории има 25 отделни музиканти/музикални формации при общо 5 номинации на категория. Графа отново досажда с цели 5 номинации, а по някакви неясни стечения на обстоятелствата тандемът Калин Вельов и Нина Николина имат същия набор от предложения за награда, въпреки че песента им "Абсент" трудно може да мине за позната на аудиторията, а какво остава за хитова. Плътно следвани са от прото-чалга певецът Миро с 4 номинации, който след старта на соловата си кариера излишно много си повярва. Още по-несериозно звучат трите номинации за абсурдния напън на Дичо и Ъпсурт. Не по-озадачително е и присъствието на песни, които освен в ефира на БГРадио едва ли някъде другаде са кънтели и малцина са имали "щастието" да чуят. Хубаво е да се раздават награди, но още по-хубаво е те да бъдат реално заслужени, а не просто да се чешат егота и да се дефибрилират вече загниващи кариери.

Нещата щяха да свършат до тук, ако не бях решил по-обстойно да разгледам номинациите категория по категория и да се чудя защо бг-попът все още се държи на командно дишане. Второто пришествие ли чакаме или някои хора наистина много си вярват, но тазгодишните призове на БГРадио са поредното доказателство, че в милата ни татковина поп/рок музика сериозно от години не се прави. Мисля, че дори Майкъл Джексън би завидял на ежегодните номинации на Графа, който каквото и да направи е задължително абониран поне за една статуетка. Мадона също само може да си мечтае да стигне рекордът на Мария Илиева по-последователни номинации за Певица на годината. Човек, ако не знае каква е реалната ситуаци в България би си помислил, че нашите музиканти са адски продуктивни и просто всяка година изкарват поне по един открояващ се албум, докато се борят с безкрайната конкуренция. За съжаление, картинката е далеч по-едноцветна, а напоследък дори грозна: една дузина хора се събират на едно място да си раздават позлатени статуетки, ръкопляскат си един на друг, благодарят си един на друг и след това дружно се натоварвар по колите да идат да се почерпят за поредната успешна година. Двайсет години след края на соца, май в музиката ни той все още не е свършил. Сардонично се подсмихват щом се спомене "Златния Орфей", НО тогава поне наградите наистина са се раздавали за творчество и креативност, а не поради липсата на кандидати за тях.

Категория "Дебют" винаги има с какво искрено да ме разсмее и тази година не прави изключение. Трима от петте номинации са напънали се да бъдат Идоли на България, които имаха предостатъчно време да ни впечатлят с нещо, но минаха с някакви извинения за песни. Разбирам, че музика в България се прави трудно, но това не означава, че всяка боза, която се запише моментално трябва да се завърти в ефира. Другите две номинации са ми още по-мъгляви, имайки предвид, че проявявам достатъчно голям интерес спрямо нашенската музика, дори и да не я слушам активно. След обстойно прослушване само се затвърждава мнението ми, че тук под дебют се разбира просто първото пробутано нещо.

В категориите "Изпълнител" и "Изпълнителка" да се чудиш дали да се смееш или да плачеш. Номинациите са толкова вкиснати, че докато ги гледаш може да глътнеш някоя виненка. Благодарения на тези номинации аз и тези, които изобщо сме се заинтересовали, че БГРадио още имали награди, научаваме, че Орлин (екс-Каффе) и Любо (екс-Те) измъчили по нещо да се отчетат тази година. Подобна е ситуацията и при дамите, където от кумова срама са набутани Десислава Добрева (бивша певачка при Слави) и Мария Илиева. Последната е получила номинацията си за съвместната си песен с Графа, което е просто смехотворно, но видимо в България не е нужно да правиш соло неща, за да се обкичиш с някоя награда за самостоятелна дейност. За да не е хипер нагло, че е сложена два пъти в една и съща категория, Илиева се е разположила в цели две категории със съвместни проекти нищо, че и двете й песни са валидни само за категорията "Дует/Трио".

Кой купува албумите на БГ музикантите? Всички знаем отговорът, но това не пречи да си се награждават с изключително престижната награда за най-добър албум на годината. Чудно къде точно тези албуми са постигнали реални успехи в класации или просто това са единствените пет албума успели да видят бял свят тази година. Иска ми се да не е така, но ми намирисва на отчаяние. БГРадио до толкова нямат с какво да си пълнят категорийките, че са опряли до там да ръгат чушки в боба и да се надяват, че ние сме музикално вглупени и искрено вярваме, че това наистина са култовите албуми на изминалата година.

Категорията "Група" е като гробницата на Тутанкамон, стара и вмирисана откъм краката. Хубаво е да си спомни човек за групи като Мери Бойс Бенд или Акага, но само докато гледа ретро рубриката на телевизия ММ. Присъствието на Дичо е като два пищака на гол тумбак, което не оправдава милосърдните номинации за БТР и Те.

Без да отделям излишно пространство ще задам един реторичен въпрос: Нужно ли е радио да има награда за видеоклип? И докато се смеем през сълзи, спускайки бавно ковчега на българската поп музика, не бива да забравяме напевно да повтаряме: Бе-Ге музиката е мъртва, да живее Бе-Ге музиката! БГРадио и сие ще си я закопаят като съвестни гробари.

Stuck in my mind: Freemasons - Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)

Freemasons definitely know how to make excellent dance tracks, avoiding the mediocrity of regular house music, and choosing the right vocals for most of their material. "Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)" is not an exception, immediately storming the radio and TV stations and for just two weeks gaining positive reviews from around the world. Vocalist this time is Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who is their most famous guest star for the time being. The video is no biggy, but Sophie looks spectacular as usual, and she perfectly adds up with her witty lyrics, which tell the story of a broken heart which will not give in to disappointment.

The video version of the song differs from the original edit; the breaks between verses are shorter, and the bridge towards the end of the song is quicker and is mixed differently.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Review: Flunk - This Is What You Get

Flunk's newest album is what downtempo get this month as an excellent present from Norway. After establishing themselves as one of the best Scandinavian trip-hop bands for the last decade Flunk offers a new portion of music for the body and soul. "This Is What You Get" is their sixth proper studio album and a fine continuation of ther dreampop style with obvious influences of post-rock, shoegaze and blue-eyed soul.

Anja Oyen Vister's voice is as soothing and inspiring as well, exploring the depths of melody through composition and vocal. Despite not being as skillful as Sade Adu or Sarah Brightman, Anja does her best to create the relevant ambiance for a spiritual endeavor in the spectrum of emotions, memories and dreams. "This Is What I Get" most definitely is not the groundbreaking album of 2009, but still is a perfect addition to the an extensive electronic library. While listening to the record you might spot how softly the songs swift, the tempo reaches emotional peaks and there is no confrontation between lyrics and music. A pleasant surprise is the cover of "Karma Police" by Radiohead, which perfectly puts the final touch in the track-list. I really don't like Thom Yorke and company, but the cover is worth the listen and I do believe they've done it very well, preserving the common feeling from the original and still creating a different atmosphere when listening to it.

Even if you are not a true ambient fanatic or an actual fan of Flunk this album, as well as the rest of their material, "This Is What You Get" is actually everything you can really expect from a downtempo trip-hop driven record. Mild, soft and charming it takes all the problems away, teaching us to cherish life as it is and never take anything for granted, even the mere existence.

Songs to hear: "Common Sense", "Ride", "Stain" and "Karma Police"

Personal rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Review: Bif Naked - The Promise

After four years of silence Canadian rock singer Bif Naked gave a push to her career with her fifth in a row studio album "The Promise". The record is a return to her folk-rock roots and inspiring songwriting talent and poetic skills. Bif Naked once again proves as an accomplished lyricist and an excellent alt-rock singer. Although being criminally underrated she has managed to stay above surface and covet her own crown of Queen of the Canadian independent rock scene.

"The Promise" is not as promising as the title itself, but still has a few rubies hidden throughout the album. Beth Torbert has given the full freedom of her poetry, which gently flows and brings her emotions to a new level. After the tough battle with cancer Naked just couldn't let it all just pass by as it never came as a hurricane in her life and brought her to the edge of existence. The album is the promise to never give up and face problems with pride and faith in oneself.

Nevertheless, what kept "The Promise" away from commercial success is the obvious lack of memorable songs. Despite all the efforts Torbert has created more of passionate confession than an accessible record which raises empathy and understanding. After the poppier "Superbeautifulmonster" "The Promise" is a hard-pill to swallow if you are used to pop-rock ballads and fresh tunes. If you are prepared for some good alternative sound and poetic landscapes this Canadian export will suit you right. For the pop-lovers, expect Mandy Moore's newest effort.

Personal rating: 7 out of 10

Songs to hear: "Sick", "Bluejay", "Honeybee" and "King of Karma"

Discoveries: Little Dragon + Crazy P

Awaiting the Park Live Fest in Sofia next month and listening to my beloved Lamb, I thoroughly checked the line-up and came upon two names, which after prelistening had to share with you.

Little Dragon

Little Dragon is a trip-hop/downtempo band from Gothenburg, Sweden. The band is fronted by Yukimi Nagano, who has also worked with alt/folk singer Jose Gonzales. Nagano's father is Japanese and her mother is American, but she has spent her entire life in the Nordic country. She grew up listening to American folk, although she drew inspiration from R'n'B and New Wave as well. The other members are Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrick Källgren (bass), and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards). All of them come from various music backgrounds, thus their stylistically rich eponymous debut album from 2007.

Crazy P

Crazy P is an English house music project, which was started in 1996, when founding members James Baron and Chris Todd met. They shared the same passion for home-made music, which samples old records incorporating various electronic specialties. Soon they started playing in clubs and attracted the attention of the label Paper Recordings. In the following years the duo grew to the size of a band, adding vocalist Danielle Moore, guitarist Tim Davies and drum-player Matt Klose. With the new line-up Crazy P went beyond the boundaries of house music and started creating indietronica, funk and downtempo.

Review: N.A.S.A. - The Spirit of Apollo

Some albums are meant to be groundbreaking, other groundbreakings are meant to be albums. N.A.S.A.'s album "The Spirit of Apollo" is somewhere in between, released as an album, which can hardly hold up its shaky structure and the spectacular 40-something guest performances. Yep, you've read it right! The album's 17-track list contains more than 40 appearances by other musicians. Although stylistically "The Spirit of Apollo" is placed in the hip-hop niché, it hardly fits any strict boundaries of genre.

N.A.S.A. which stands for North America / South America is a DJ collaborative project, consisting of Ze Gonazales (DJ Zegon) and Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean), who started spent the last five years experimenting with music before they came up with the idea of recording an album, which will feature as many as possible favourite singers...thus "The Spirit of Apollo" was born. It all would have been great if the guest performances were not three or more in a single song. The whole album sounds so cramped that at a certain point you just can't decide whether a new song has started or it's just another guest on this very track.

Several of the collaborations are pretty bad, especially those featuring David Byrne from Talking Heads and Tom Waits...despite all the efforts the songs are waste of time and talent. Others manage to fit quite well, among which Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lykke Li, although their presence is in no way compelling or adequate. The main thread throughout the album is the inadequacy of guest performances, the unusual combination of alternative with hip-hop, or the constant change of pace and beat. "The Spirit of Apollo" is more of a show-off of the extensive buddy list that N.A.S.A has than the mere act of creating an elaborate compilation of vocals and music coming from various backgrounds.

I should complement the electronic duo for the idea to bring M.I.A. and Santigold together in a song, although the final product can hardly pass for a proper collaboration between the two. The presence of Lovefoxxx from Cansei de Ser Sexy is more than mediocre, repeating a few words throughout the whole song. Similar is the performance of Karen O, who is given the chorus, which consists of maximum two sentences. After all when you have a gazillion of guests most of them get a rather lame part, narrowed down to mumbling several words. Definitely the stylistic core of "The Spirit of Apollo" is hip-hop music, but when you invite performers from other genres you have to find the acceptable balance. N.A.S.A. didn't get it right...this time.

Songs to hear: "Money", "Gifted", "Wachadoin?", "Strange Enough" and "Spacious Thoughts"

Personal rating: 5 out of 10

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Steal me: Madonna vs Joanna Dark

Drawing influence from other musicians has existed for centuries, due to great inspiration or similar way of expressing through sound. But when you start copying ideas things usually mess up, especially when you don't admit "the robbing". Such is the case with the Bulgarian wannabe-singer Joanna Dark, who also is the vocalist of the house act Deep Zone Project. Dark, who happens to be lacking singing abilities, stared her solo career just a couple of months ago. However, she decided to head straight to number one with the kind help of Madonna. With the little-itzy-bitzy detail that Madonna doesn't give a damn about Joanna, nor the gazillions of wannabes, and still it's ridiculous that obviously to steal from the Queen of Pop and deny it afterward. That is pretty lame, as well as the song itself. "Enjoy"

Unfortunately I couldn't find the English version of the song, but the video is absolutely the same. The Bulgarian title is translated as "Goodbye Kiss".

If you have problems watching the video and still couldn't figure out where Joanna has copied from watch "Love Profusion" ASAP!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Stuck in my mind: N.A.S.A. - Gifted

N.A.S.A., which stands for North America/South America, is the dream-come-true for Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean) and Ze Gonzales (DJ Zegon), who have teamed up to create music cramped with all their favourite and hyped singers, coming from various genres and backgrounds. I still haven't listened to their debut album "The Spirit of Apollo", but as soon as I get my hands on it a review is going to be posted. Today's post is dedicated to the single "Gifted", which has as guest stars Kanye West, Santigold and Lykke Li. "Gifted" happens to be their fourth single in a row. Although the song sounds a bit too crowded with the separate guest-stars I like the combination of Lykke Li's soft vocals with the rapping of West and the distinctive singing of Santi White. Probably not the most impressive track I have listened these days, but still worth listening.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Discoveries: FlyKKiller

I really hated it when I overlook some great stuff and afterward have to shame myself with belated posts and praise, but one cannot hear absolutely everything, which is my excuse...I guess. Luckily the excellent music eventually always reaches my ears and befriends my soul. Such is the case with the Polish-English act FlyKKiller, which is formed by Pati Yang and Stephen Hilton (who are married as well). It was started as a electro-rock project, but it immediately started incorporating elements of trip-hop, dark-electro and alternative pop. Pati Yang is famous for her solo project being the pioneer of trip-hop music in Poland, making the way for loads of Polish alternative projects. The debut album "Experiments in Violent Light" on 1st October 2007 with mainly positive reception by both critics and fans. The duo has already announced their second studio release on its way this year.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Discoveries: Aural Vampire

Not much could be said about today's choice: the Japanese dark-electro duo Aural Vampire. The band, which is pronounced as Oraru Vanpaia in their native country, consists of Exo-Chika (vocals/lyrics) and Raveman (music), who while being together in school decided to start their very own music project. In 2004 they independently released the album "Vampire Ecstasy", which in no time gained popularity in both Japan and Europe, allowing them to numerously tour the Old continent. In 2008 Aural Vampire signed with Avex Trax, one of the major record labels in Japan. They are expected to release a long awaited sophomore effort this year.

Recommendation Weekly: Familjen

Familjen is the stage name of Swedish electronic musician Johan T Karlsson, who hails from Hässleholm, but now lives in Stockholm. His endeavor in the music-making started while he was living in his hometown visiting from time to time the music studio of a friend. Soon he became interested in the whole recording process and started experimenting on his own, creating short instrumental pieces.

Afterward the experiments became more complex encompassing himself with professional equipment and the desire to be a professional musician. His style is an intriguing mixture of indietronica with elements of the singer-songwriter genre with the lyrics being the main force in his music. Although Karlsson sings exclusively in Swedish this is not a real obstacle as he sounds good without even understanding a single word coming out of his mouth, which is another fine example that music recognizes no language barriers. A couple of years he has already been active in Sweden and gradually gaining fame in Scandinavia, but still awaiting for the big moment to break in Europe and beyond. Probably it will be no sooner than he starts singing in English, which to me would be spoil the whole charm in his music, but who knows. I am pretty sure more of him is on its way to our ears.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Review: Marilyn Manson - The High End Of Low

Has Manson reached the high end of low of his career? Could this be the agonizing downfall of one of the most iconic names in the alternative music scene? Only time knows, but Marilyn Manson is slowly and surely changing uncertain directions, favoring a rather more rock-based style than his well-known industrial metal sound. If you didn't like "Eat Me, Drink Me" "The High End Of Low" is going to be a new disappointment to you. Despite the new release being compared to the ground-breaking "Antichrist Superstar" it lacks the power and genuine electro-industrial rhythm passed throughout the whole album.

After a series of personal lows and the rather negative way his last work was received by both fans and critics, Manson decided to go back to his roots, teaming up once again with Twiggy Ramirez, after parting company with Tim Skold, who decided to concentrate more on his work with KMFDM. However, no major differences are noticeable, especially if you manage to reach to the very end of the album.

I have never been very much into exceedingly long album and and the new release makes no exception. The impressive 72-minute length of "The High End Of Low" is no actual compensation for the rather mediocre quality of the whole product. More likely to be left with the impression that Manson decided to include absolutely everything recorded during the session period, probably as a generous gesture to the fans. Thanks, Marilyn, but it would have made a great gift for us if the album was worth listening from start to end. Don't get me wrong, Manson is a talented musician, but he has spent too much time self-pitying and whining about unsuccessful relationships, crying out ponds of black tears, while struggling to get out of his lovey-dovey depression and get back to the Valley of death.

Once holding the title of the Prince of shock, now Marilyn Manson could only shock you with the enormous amounts of sick depression he generates on an album-base. Although a few of the songs deal with his favourite political issues and the Antichrist crusade to the downfall of organized religion, they stand quite odd and alone in the whole tracklist and lyrics lack any distinguishable originality. Throughout the whole album Manson is trying to convince us and himself as well that he has come up with a brand new record, filled with anger, despair and black lust, but it turns out to be his career slowly town apart by the canny tricks of love.

Despite "The High End Of Low" being at least an idea ahead of "Eat Me, Drink Me" it is more of a desperate attempt to stay above the surface. In my opinion this is probably his most commercial release up to date striving to be radio-friendly and less based on actual shock values. Probably the 00s is just not Manson's decade...or just his high end of low.

Songs to hear: "We're from America", "Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon", "Leave a Scar", "Running to the Edge of the World" and "Four Rusted Horseman"

Personal rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Review: Lady Sovereign - Jigsaw

The biggest white midget in hip-hop found all the parts of a jigsaw and came back to life with a new album, which is a confusing mixture between electronica and grime. "Jigsaw" is Lady Sovereign's sophomore attempt in the music bizz, following a series of professional misfortunes in the last year, topped by being kicked out of Def Jam run by Jay-Z, but immediately went under the wing of EMI.

"Jigsaw" is your regular party album with plenty of dance tracks and good beats. You have Sovereign with her sarcastic lyrics, you have the spirit of grime, and still the whole product lacks distinctive originality. At several points it sounds so desperate for freshness that it virtually cries out for ideas. What surprises me is the fact that Sovereign did actually have troubles in the past few years and still nothing brought the light to this record. As soon as she released "Public Warning" critics started comparing her impeccable talent with The Streets, although she received a heavy support from the American hip-hop scene rather than England's.

Sovereign is more electronic than ever before, which could be a big plus if the whole electro stuff didn't sound out of place and order. Most of the tracks are a havoc of grime, electronica and rap beats, which would have been great if this was M.I.A. new release...but it's not and it just doesn't suit her. As a whole Louise, the rappers real name, has tried to sound more accessible and commercially acceptable, thus giving "Jigsaw" a lighter and cleaner structure. Big mistake! "Public Warning" was relatively positively met by the critics due to its satire, loads of sarcasm and witty texts, bringing a new light to the skills of female rappers. This time you have a less confident record, which explores too well-known thematic spheres like relationships, trust, entertainment and similar.

The major controversy in "Jigsaw" is caused by sampling of the song "Close To Me" by The Cure for the single "So Human". Underground MC Thomas Jules already had the rights to use the original version. The idea to use this song as a backing track was given to Sovereign by an Island Records execute after hearing Jule performing his version. Robert Smith, The Cure's frontman, has stated that he prefers Jules' song to Sovereign's track, despite the last being worldwide distributed.

Songs to hear: "So Human", "I Got You Dancing", "Bang Bang" and "Jigsaw"

Personal rating: 5 out of 10

Monday, 18 May 2009

Review: Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted To Sin

Abnormally attracted to boredom! Tori Amos sent me to bed with her new album! Despite all the respect I have for Amos' work I find it hard being positive about her newest effort. Let's say that I don't feel disappointed and pissed off after listening to it, but I had higher expectation and they were not some extent.

"Abnormally Attracted To Sin" is the tenth proper studio album released by Amos and it continues her traditionally lengthy records, which usually exceed 15 tracks in a single CD. Definitely a blessing for the fanatics and a tease for the regular listeners like me. Not that I don't like to hear more material by my favourite singers, but Tori just goes beyond the acceptable for me. With her 17 brand new tracks Tori has absolutely nothing for us. We have already heard all the whining, all the emancipation, all the ambiguity and the despair, all the lust and pride, and still could use a little change. The whole album would have sounded perfect if wasn't her tenth already. Come on, Tori, is that all you've got?

I personally liked a lot the idea with the various alter-egos in the previous album "American Doll Posse", which was a fresh breath after several years of pretended wisdom and exploited sensuality. Well, yeah, old boring Tori is back on track ready to sing a few more lines about women, sinning and power of the sexes...blah, blah, blah. I start to believe that she has had the same little red book with lyrics, which she finds so amazing that after a few changes they are ready to be used in the newest album. Is Amos out of ideas? Has the music prodigy become a victim of her own talent? The answers are kept deep inside of "Abnormally Attracted To Sin" and if you manage to thoroughly listen to it more than three time you might have them for yourselves. If not, feel excused if you have dozed off while being attracted to sins.

Unless you are a die-hard Tori Amos fan, the chances to be abnormally in love with it are less probable. Still the album has a charm of its own built up by tracks like "Give", "Welcome To England" and "Flavor", which are the strong beginning of the record, which gradually goes down the interest index. The second part of the album is quite monotonous and I really had to make a few break while listening to it as I could hardly concentrate when the songs started sounding alike. "Abnormally Attracted To Sin" will definitely find no place in Amos' top three best albums and is no crucial add to the singer-songwriter genre as a whole. What's more a singer like Bat for Lashes came up with a more quality album, which despite being genuinely inspired by Tori's work has much more variety to offer than Amos herself. Watch out Tori, you are abnormally attracted to repetition!

Tracks to hear: "Give", "Welcome To England", "Flavor", "Maybe California" and "Police Me"

Personal rating: 6 out of 10

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Classic album covers (Part VII)

This is the final, but not least, of the Classic album covers series and it is dedicated to the pop music scene. Honestly, I had no idea that most pop albums have such a boring artwork and it took me a few days in order to decide on what to include. The majority of covers are not very original, but have gained fame thanks to the cult status of the albums themselves.

Actually this is the first series based more on the impact the album had on the charts and the listeners than of the appeal the cover has. Although I found plenty of intriguing sleeves they were not included as they are far from the idea of classic, thus the rather blunt list. As you will see the majority of covers contain facial image of the band/singer, which I have never thought to be interesting, but, oh well, we are talking about pop music, aren't we? Most of the albums that made it in the list are from the last 30 years, although a few older examples of artwork can be seen.

I personally didn't enjoy making this list up, but do hope you will approve of the entries...and if you don't I dare you to try to come up with at least 10 original pop album covers from the past two decades. Feel warned, muhahaha!

Madonna - Ray Of Light

Michael Jackson - Dangerous

Britney Spears - Britney

Kylie Minogue - Impossible Princess

Nelly Furtado - Whoa, Nelly!

Christina Aguilera - Stripped

Texas - White On Blonde

'N Sync - No Strings Attached

Ace of Base - The Sign

Cher - Believe

Mylene Farmer - Innamoramento

Spice Girls - Spiceworld

Mariah Carey - Music Box

Celine Dion - Let's Talk About Love

Army Of Lovers - Massive Luxury Overdose

Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation 1814

Roxette - Look Sharp

George Michael - Faith

Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual

Boney M. - Nightflight To Venus

Simply Red - Stars

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Carpenters - Close To You

ABBA - Super Troupers

Barbra Straisand - Je m'apelle Barbra

BeeGees - Spirits Having Flown

The Mamas & The Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Classic album covers (Part VI)

Dark ambiance and complex spiritual endeavors are what unite today's list Classic album covers. The span of included styles is quite extensive, although the majority are either gothic or post-punk, with certain exception in favor of avantgarde and experimental. The sub-genres vary from rock, metal, classic, electronic, thus the presence of Paradise Lost, Blutengel and Dead Can Dance in the same list.

Dead Can Dance - Into The Labyrinth

Siouxsie and The Banshees - A Kiss In The Dreamhouse

Sisters of Mercy - Floodland

This Mortal Coil - It'll End In Tears

Christian Death - Only Theare Of Pain

London After Midnight - Selected Scenes From The End Of The World

Bauhaus - Burning From The Inside

Swans - The Great Annihilator

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

Cocteau Twins - Treasure

Sopor Aeternus - Songs From The Inverted Womb

Clan of Xymos - Hidden Faces

Black Tape For A Blue Girl - The Scavenger Bride

Lacrimosa - Stille

Cranes - Loved

Virgin Prunes - The Moon Looked Down and Laughed

Rasputina - How We Quit The Forest

Sex Gang Children - Song and Legend

Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses

Paradise Lost - One Second

Tiamat - A Deeper Kind of Slumber

Wolfsheim - Spectators

Alien Sex Fiend - Acid Bath

Switchblade Symphony - Serpentine Gallery

Blutengel - Seelenschmerz

Deine Lakaien - Dark Star

Einstürzende Neubauten - Tabula Rasa

Coil - Love's Secret Domain