Friday, 23 October 2009

Cover me up: Metal covers pop III

Another bundle of metal covers of pop songs. Really tried to come up with some more recognizable, but it wasn't that easy.

SugarComa - Crazy (Britney Spears)

Yngwie Malmsteen - Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (ABBA)

Volbeat - I Only Wanna Be With You (Dusty Springfield)

Judas Priest - Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry)

Knorkator - All That She Wants (Ace of Base)

New Found Glory - My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)

Guano Apes - Big in Japan (Alphaville)

Raintime - Beat It (Michael Jackson)

Sonic Syndicate - All About Us (t.A.T.u)

Lillasyster - Umbrella (Rihanna)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Cover me up: Metal covers pop II

Another ten metal covers of popular songs. Even if you don't like them, blame only the musicians.

Lacuna Coil - Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)

HIM - Wicked Game (Chris Isaak)

Children of Bodom - Oops, I Did It Again (Britney Spears)

Nevermore - The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)

Vader - I Feel You (Depeche Mode)

My Dying Bride - Roads (Portishead)

Pain - Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)

Black Label Society - A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum)

Graveworm - I Need a Hero (Bonnie Tyler)

Turisas - Rasputin (Boney M)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Cover me up: Metal covers pop I

To be honest I am not that much of a cover-versions-fan, but there are some covers that happen to be better than the original. Recently I was listening to Paradise Lost when it struck me all of a sudden that their "Small Town Boy" was in fact a cover of the 80s hit single by Bronski Beat. Half an hour later I was digging lists of cover version of various popular songs and it's not that much of a surprise that even performers from the rang of Madonna have covered at least one song throughout their career. Hence, I decided to create a few lists of my own with covers that you might possibly know or at least enjoy. Still, if you don't like them or find them of poor quality you can only blame the musicians. I am just the one with the lists.

I decided to start with metal covers of pop songs as they tend to be most fun to compare to the original and most are quite original of their own.

Dope - You Spin Me Right Round (Dead or Alive)

Theatre of Tragedy - You Keep Me Hangin' On (The Supremes)

Paradise Lost - Small Town Boy (Bronski Beat)

To/Die/For - (I Just) Died In Your Hands (Cutting Crew)

Machinae Supremacy - Gimme More (Britney Spears)

Rammstein - Das Modell (Kraftwerk)

Helloween - Lay All Your Love On Me (ABBA)

Gamma Ray - It's a Sin (Pet Shop Boys)

Deftones - To Have and To Hold (Depeche Mode)

Within Temptation - Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush)

Monday, 19 October 2009

Discoveries: The Bird and the Bee

A MySpace music sensation Inara George (The Bird) and Greg Kurstin (The Bee), The Bird and the Bee offered their fresh approach to electronic music with slight influences from jazz, new wave and pop-rock. The duo falls in the indietronica sub-genre with dreamy songs and catchy tunes carrying 80s nostalgia. Their music brings together the best of both sides: Inara's mellow voice and Greg's instrumentals. Elegant and sophisticated The Bird and the Bee draw inspiration from French pop that serves as the backbone of the sound and appearance they have introduced. Up to date the duo has released two albums and four EPs with the eponymous debut from 2007 being my personal favourite.

* None of the featured videos are official and no copyright infringement is intended!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Recommendation weekly: Evil Nine + Freeland

Evil Nine is an English breakbeat/electro hip-hop DJ duo from Brighton. Although being active since 1998 they have released only two studio albums up to date with their official debut being in 2004 with "You Can Be Special Too". Four years later it is followed by the sophomore release "They Live!" that continues their stylistic development. The duo has gained prominence with the hit single "Crooked" that features US rapper Aesop Rocks. For those a bit more into the electronic world Evil Nine might not appear to be much of a new name, although the duo keeps a rather more underground profile and still maintains an accessible and quite enjoyable style.

Evil Nine are closely associated with Adam Freeland, also known as Freeland, as they are signed to his very own label Marine Parade. Freeland himself is a musician and a producer active in the breakbeat scene. He started DJ-ing back in early 90s and soon began releasing mixes of his own. Despite his long club career his first ever original release saw the light in 2003. The album heavily relied on influences from punk, hip hop, electro, dub, reggae and rock. For his second studio record he worked together with Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe, ex-Marilyn Manson Twiggy Ramirez, Joey Santiago of The Pixies and Tony Bevilacqua of The Distillers / Spinnerette.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Review: Rammstein - Liebe ist für alle da

Love! For you! Indeed, Rammstein are back and they have brought you a basket full of love, but be warned - it's going to hurt...good! With a sound reminiscent of their earliest material and irony always the loyal friend on their side "Liebe ist für alle da" is here to blow your top. Witty and disturbing, original and cocky, cynical and yet a must-have this album demonstrates Till Lindeman and co's returned back to basics and still managed to explore in depth a new music horizon.

"Liebe ist für alle da" didn't bring love to censorship across the world as it unanimously defied the scandalous accompanying video to the lead single "Pussy" and banned it from virtually any TV station. In Germany the song "Ich tu dir weh" caused a major controversy because of its lyrical content that resulted in the official banning of the song. Rammstein spent no time apologizing and announced the song as the second single to be released, although it most probably will never see light in their homeland. The rest of the tracks keep up the ill-fated spirit of the album with heavy riffs, steady drums and Lindeman's unforgettable singing. The track list takes a journey from their best known Tanz-metal style, through pre-World War II nostalgia to a sinister heavy crossover.

If you felt let down by Rammstein's previous two albums ("Reise, Reise" and "Rosenrot") this is the great return you had been waiting for over the past few years. It's unlikely that their newest release will ever top the impact that "Mutter" and "Sehnsucht" had on mainstream heavy music, but it most definitely will rock your socks. Despite the adherence to the industrial scene this album is accessible for any open-minded people who have a broader taste in music and feel free to experiment. "Liebe is für alle da" is one of those multi-layered albums that might take years to explore as they always have something to pop out after every listen.

Songs to hear: "Haifisch", "Frühling in Paris", "Waidmanns Heil" and "B********"

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Review: David Guetta - One Love

The more popularity David Guetta gains the lower the quality of his music goes...sad, but true. "One Love" is like a super-album that gathers prominent (predominantly) American R&B singers who kindly lend their vocals for the sake of commercial dance music. Among the featured names are Kelly Rowland,, Akon and Estelle, as well as Guetta's long-time vocal guest Chris Willis. Actually the album is so packed with famous people that one could easily miss out who really sits behind the whole production. Another thing is that despite the celebrity dance-floor-stampede "One Love" stands out as more of a filling with a few catchy tunes than an astounding mash-up of electronica and R&B (as it may had been planned).

I miss the French house influences he drew inspiration from and that served as the backbone of his older material. It's pretty obvious that "One Love" is aimed at American listeners, making it by far Guetta's most commercial release. His attempt proved to be successful as both "When Love Takes Over" and "Sexy Bitch" topped Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs and made it in the Billboard Hot 100.

Still, Guetta's fourth studio effort is a must-listen-to for every house fan and an excellent recommendation for anyone who is in it for the party. Apart from that "One Love" shows the extent of one's inflated ego after they truly start taking themselves as big shots. I personally have no idea what the title should stand for anyway as "unity" of any kind is absent. The tracks follow the same pattern - chewy beats, strong black voices and cheesy loops scattered here and there. However, most of the songs hardly make a connection between each other and the track-listing looks like a symposium of "singles" rather than an album with a creative idea. Unlike his previous albums this time Guetta focuses on the vocals and lets his crony buddies to take the lead.

Songs to hear: "One Love", "When Love Takes Over", "Sound of Letting Go" and "Sexy Bitch"


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Review: Annie - Don't Stop

The long-anticipated "Don't Stop", Annie' sophomore album finally made it to she shelves after numerous delays, a label transition and legal disputes. "Don't Stop" has gone through more changes than Lady GaGa's concert outfits. Annie had to push the release date more often than Amy Whinehouse had to go to rehab. After her debut "Anniemal" was positively received by both fans and critics, it meant that any next releases would be met with high expectations. Despite all the tension that surrounded the production of "Don't Stop", it most certainly secures the young Norwegian singer a high-level position in the electronic world.

If "Anniemal" could be described as a bold synth-driven debut with a handful of the 80s, "Don't Stop" explores various fields of electronica going from French electro through Scandinavian electro-pop to catchy American synth-pop. This is mainly due to the presence of several prominent producers among who British production house Xenomania that has worked for Kylie Minogue, Sugababes and Pet Shop Boys among others. "Don't Stop" easily satisfies everyone with a good taste in pop music, especially those who are already overwhelmed with Britney's dubious electronic throw-ups.

"Don't Stop" is a classy and non-pretentious album that proves how outstanding and vibrant the Scandinavian pop scene can be. Annie has outdone herself, leading you into a colorful world of her own backed by clever lyrics and up-beat tunes. Definitely one of the best pop releases for 2009!

*Have in mind that there is an additional bonus CD "All Night EP" that has five songs not included on "Don't Stop".

Songs to hear: "I Don't Like Your Band", "Loco", "Don't Stop" and "My Love Is Better"

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Review: Natalie Imbruglia - Come To Life

Natalie Imbruglia finally came back to life with her fourth studio album "Come To Life" that took her almost four years to record. After the mixed reception of her previous album "Counting Down the Days", Imbruglia took her time to face the frustration of meeting her own expectations about any future music efforts. Obviously she managed to pull herself together and revive what's left of her career. Don't get me wrong, Imbruglia has had a few major hits, but four years of silence in today's music business is equivalent to suicide.

Anyway, "Come To Life" is out there and Natalie has done a great job. After a first listen I thought that the album was full of crap and deserved to go straight to oblivion. Honestly, I was really disappointed, but second chance should always be given and this time it just clicked to me. Indeed, "Come To Life" is beautiful in any possible way, you've got the ballads, the up-beat songs and the good old semi-romantic/semi-angry-at-you tunes. Natalie is bitchy, sweet and ironical and sounds better than ever. The album has something for almost every taste, ranging from dance-driven contemplations to soulful guitar-based emotional landscapes. Furthermore Imbruglia gracefully sways between genres, leaving any false pretensions far behind.

For the track and best choice for a pilot single "Want" Natalie has worked together with Christ Martin from Coldplay. Another Chris Martin collaboration is "Lukas" that had been recorded during Coldplay' sessions for their album "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends" and produced by Brian Eno. Martin has also worked on the song "Fun". Imbruglia takes part in writing most of the songs on "Come To Life" and since this is her first independent release she had additional freedom on the whole recording process. Congrats, Natalie, on coming to life!

Songs to hear: "Want", "Lukas", "Fun" and "WYUT"

Personal rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Review: Zero 7 - Yeah Ghost

What's most noticeable about "Yeah Ghost", Zero 7's fourth studio release, is the absence of long-time guest vocalist Sia Furler. Sia, who by some is seen as the band's third member, didn't make an appearance as she is currently working on her next album "We Are Born", due April 2010. Although Zero 7 had initial plans to record something less vocal-dependent, obviously they have decided to stick to their collaborative projects the band is best known with. "Yeah Ghost" is somewhere in between the downtempo vibe Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker transmitted through their first two albums and a more up-beat clever electronica with a pinch of various genres brought together by the ensemble of guest vocalists.

"Yeah Ghost" easily distinguish itself from Zero 7's previous releases, as it incorporates a more club-orientated sound with a jazzy twist. I don't consider this a stylistic shift, but more of experimenting in new directions. The presence of new guest vocalists allows the band to explore other fields of interest, thus the variety of songs. "Ghost Symbol" reminds me of a Fever Ray outtake, "Sleeper" and "Medicine Man" could easily be mistaken as under the Basement Jaxx umbrella, and "Everything Up (Zizou)" could pass as a softer Calvin Harris. I am not saying that the duo ran out of ideas and decided on patching up material from other musicians. Not at all, more like they needed to step out of their comfort zone and make a few steps out of line, no matter if they tripped over or even flopped down to the bottom. After all music has to be defying, bold and constantly evolving and "Yeah Ghost" is the challenge that Zero 7 have to face themselves.

Songs to hear: "Ghost Symbol", "Mr McGee", "Medicine Man" and "Everything Up (Zizou)"

Personal rating: 8/10

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Review: Paloma Faith - Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful

Joining Britain's soul music forces, new addition Paloma Faith had to go through plenty of criticism, often being downsized to an Amy-Winehouse-wannabe or an Adele-copycat. Faith admits that she has always had awed rich soul voices and has occasionally tried to imitate them, but after some time she actually found herself in the wide music field. Despite critics opinions Paloma's debut album "Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?" deserves your attention, unless you are not all fed up with the whole wave of white chicks spilling their guts out to sound as black as they can.

If you give the album a chance you'll realize that Paloma has put a lot of effort and it would have actually sounded pretty damn good, if it hadn't been the year of 2009. Sadly, as it may be, Faith has got on the train a bit too late and what her fellow Brit gals had already done, she was just about to do. It's not that the album sounds as if it was recorded in the 50s, that perhaps is it's best trait, but it's awfully reminiscent of several debut albums from the last 4-5 years and you could easily fail to notice that "Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?" is not by Duffy or Adele. The whole record is elegantly structured, flowing from one song to the next one, leading through topics like faithfulness, loneliness, love and disappointment.

"Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?" seems to suffer of poor promotion, as for the time being Faith lacks all the media attention Duffy-alikes got some time ago. Don't get me wrong, everyone for themselves, but Paloma's debut release may come out with a bit of a delay and still it gets to blow off tops, which seem to feel annoyingly secure about their careers. Looking forward to a next release, unless she changes careers again.

Songs to hear: "Stone Cold Sober", "New York", "Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?" and "Play On"

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 2 October 2009

Review: Nelly Furtado - Mi Plan

A Canadian of Portuguese descent singing in Spanish is the shear proof that we live in a modern cosmopolitan world where everything is possible. The singer is Nelly Furtado and the album "Mi Plan", her fourth studio release and first attempt in the Latino genre. Actually, Furtado has had several tracks in either Portuguese or Spanish, but "Mi Plan" is her first and probably not her last record aimed mainly at the Spanish-speaking world.

Around the worldwide release of the album Furtado stated that singing in Spanish or Portuguese lets her express things that she couldn't say in English and allowed her to be more personal and musically free. What she obviously missed out was the fact that she had already established herself as an English-singing performer and a change so big could have a negative impact on her career. I don't say that "Mi Plan" is not worth listening to or that Furtado doesn't deserve to be given thumbs up for the risky detour she is taking, but the public wasn't ready for Spanish Nelly. Not at all. "Mi Plan" was supposed to surpass "Loose" and prove that Furtado is here to stay. Yet, poor promotion and lack of media attention has put the singer in a displeasing situation she has to swiftly get herself out of.

No doubt "Mi Plan" would have made a great debut album in Latin America or Spain, most probably securing her an easily recognizable place in the hearts of fans and critics. Out of the field of possibly-maybe "Mi Plan" stands on shaky grounds that are about to given in under the high expectations that Furtado supposedly had to meet. With the current pace in a few months "Mi Plan" can be officially labeled as a flop.

If we distance from the whole market sales thing and solely concentrate on the product itself, "Mi Plan" cracks wide open under the pressure of simple love-songs that hardly distinguish from one another. The album runs so predictably as if Furtado was too busy giving statements on her Spanish debut than coming up original ideas of her own. The final product that landed on the shelves turned out to be more of an exaggerated dream-come-true than an album of genuine Latino passion.

Next time, Nelly, when you decide you want to go world just have another multilingual album, I am pretty sure anyone would have a favourite piece to stick to.

Songs to hear: "Manos al aire", "Mas", "Bajo Otra Luz" and "Fuerte"
Personal rating: 5/10

Review: Basement Jaxx - Scars

Three years ago I thought that "Crazy Itch Radio" was my biggest Basement Jaxx disappointment, set myself ready for a better album next time. The only thing that came after so much waiting was a bigger disappointment, more dissatisfying than ever. Not that "Scars" is a poor product of contemporary electronic music, but it just misses out a few fundamentals for a successful dance album. Obviously Basement Jaxx have been walking along the wrong path for several years already and with this pace of weak production a major flop is on its way.

"Scars" contains everything that you ought to expect from a Basement Jaxx album: plenty of guest vocalists, danceable house tunes and witty lyrics with a certain touch of exotica. Apart from everything listed the album has nothing more to offer, it sounds so painfully familiar that you might mistake it for a re-release of "Kish Kash" with some additional b-side tracks. The whole album lacks the disco thrill that Basement Jaxx were so fond of. "Scars" is somewhere in between mediocre and satisfactory, failing to create originality of its own.

Despite the guest appearances of hyped performers like Santigold, Sam Sparro and Paloma Faith, the majority of songs easily pass the ear by without causing any specific attention. It seems as if the duo Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton has run out of genuinely good ideas and desperately needs a push forward to a more comprehensive and intriguing dance reality. If no visible stylistic change is to come and another Kish Kash-alike is to be released they'd better have the decency to break up. Please!

Songs to hear: "Scars", "Saga", "What's a Girl Got to Do?" and "Feelings Gone"

Personal rating: 5/10