Album of the Week: The Veronicas

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The one good thing about the fall I enjoy is record companies issuing releases in time for Christmas (or whatever else you might celebrate). It’s like their last push for music ear budders like myself to get into new bands or singers that we might not have heard anything from and I dig that. That being said, this is a band that is a perfect example. I don’t know much about The Veronicas other than they’re Australian, they’re twins, and they have a single called “You Ruined Me.” When I heard this first single, I was a little hesitant because I thought, “Ok, here we go, another band writing sad sap music and singing about a love lost.” So when I was sent their latest self tilted album I already had a preconceived notion. I have to say, I couldn’t have BEEN more wrong if I tried. These ladies are, as Robbie Williams says, “the tits.” They do not disappoint. Lisa and Jessica Origliasso have made an album that captures all the best in music today – melodies, dance, pop, electronic, solid songwriting, and vocals. If this album doesn’t sell well, it’ll be a tragedy because they really really are wonderful. Stand out tracks – really, the WHOLE ALBUM. It’s a rarity that I go for every song on an album. Most albums have at least two songs of filler. But these ladies know their stuff. They know what works, and what doesn’t. They really have something for everyone. Let me give you a run down of a few tracks:

1. Sanctified – A sexy sultry boot stomping “take me to the river” jam about love and the feeling, the intense feeling you get when you’re wrapped up in it. Truly beautiful.

2. Do You Miss Me? – If you are a fan of electronic music with a hint of synths and industrial elements, then this is right up your alley. It’s dance-y, bouncy, and honestly… a rap song lol. Trust me. It’s excellent. Their raps intertwined with industrial undertones can be compared to any rapper out there today. I’m not lying. It’s good shit.

3. Cruel – Easily a radio hit. It’s reminiscent of bands like Paramore, Sleeper Agent, Echosmith, and the like. It’s very catchy. The main objective: being upset at the ex boyfriend who shows off his new flavor of the month, and virtually ignoring his ex.. And every time she sees them together, it is like a knife to the heart. She sees it as a cruel and heartless. She wants him to miss her. We’ve all been there haven’t we?

4.  Line of Fire – Another sexy tune but with a hip hop beat behind it. The vocals just ooze sex if that’s possible. They’re setting you up for the kill. They know what they want and won’t expect anything less.

5.  Teenage Millionaire – Another dance track about a love affair that they treasure as the richest thing in their lives and that relationship is so grand it makes them famous. If only all love could be like that, no?

6. Born Bob Dylan – This is truly a standout for me. The lyrics are wonderfully beautiful. She is trying to capture how she feels for someone but can’t. She tries. But can’t, so she wishes she could be as poetic as Bob Dylan. She struggles because she KNOWS how she feels in her heart, but words seem to escape her. It’s another radio friendly potential single that is an absolute winner for me.

I love this album folks. I won’t reveal all the tracks. But I thank The Veronicas for giving me faith in good pop music again. So many influences are heard in this album. If you want to hear an array of entertainment, I suggest you give them a listen.

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Coldplay’s Ghost Stories.

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I admit. I’m a Coldplay fan. In doses, but I do like them. Do I love them? No. Do I think they’re going to save music? Of course not. But I guarantee when I hear Yellow or Fix You on the radio, I do sing along. Can’t help it. The tracks are catchy. And Chris Martin knows how to write a good radio song. Their last album wasn’t the greatest to me but that’s just me. So when I heard Ghost Stories was going to be released I had hopes this was going to be better than the last. What I got was a diary it seems into Chris Martin’s life and his feelings towards his impending divorce with Gwyneth Paltrow. All of Coldplay’s albums are reflections of what is going on with band members’ lives at the time. But this album overall has a sense of sadness and regret. The funny thing about the album is that he never really sounds convincing vocally. You usually hear emotion in voices when they sing about their issues in their lives. But his voice just remained constant for the most part.

Most of the songs on this album are either mid tempo or just plain slow. I would play this album if I’m having problems sleeping but if I’m just relaxing this isn’t the music to listen to. It IS the album to listen to after a breakup – preferably huddled in the fetal position with a box of kleenex beside you.  He loves the love of his life (presuming it’s Paltrow) and he misses her and remembers the good in the relationship.  In the beginning he is obsessed with her and she’s always in his thoughts, as stated in “Always in My Head.”  But by the end of the album, on a song called “O” he is reflective and wishes to fly with the former love at some point. I take it he’s saying maybe after time they will find each other again.

I won’t go into each song as I thought about doing because I didn’t want to interpret completely the whole work. There is only ONE real fast song that doesn’t fit the overall theme of the album. “A Sky Full of Stars” is a beautiful dance song. It is. I’m sure it will be remixed countless times. The point of the song is that his love is so bright, she could light up the sky. Again, Martin, you know how to write a good song. You won’t be single for too long.

My particular favorite song is “Magic.” It’s an r&b song. It’s comprised of a sparse beat and easy going lyrics. No interpretation needed. It’s a winner. A no brainer. And I hope this song makes the album a success.

Overall, it’s an ok album. The music itself is gorgeous arrangement wise. And I do believe if you listen to it enough you will finally see the light after a breakup. It’s a therapy headphone record. Better than the Mylo album. But not as good as Viva La Vida.

 

 

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The King of Pop Returns … From Six Feet Under

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I’ve never been a fan of labels releasing music from people after they pass away. To me, it’s a way for them all to cash in and make a quick buck. And chances are, B-sides, and never released material are never released for a reason. They’re never really up to par with what we fans are used to hearing. Tupac Shakur is a prime example. At one point, his company released a new album of his rejected songs at least once a year. It was overflowing, and usually, the tracks were underwhelming. But hey anything for money right? So I was on the fence when I heard Michael Jackson’s label released a new album called “Xscape.” But I will say, this album is good. It’s very good. I enjoyed this album a lot more than his previous album, Michael, which was pretty much a compilation of unfinished tracks salvaged and reworked by people such as Akon. Not a good one. In fact, proceed to go if you ever see that album. This album, Xscape, brings the King of Pop back to original form. I can completely imagine him spinning and sliding on the stage with every “Woooooooo” he sings.

The album is broken into two parts – the first 8 songs are completely new and enhanced with updated beats and vocals and the last 8 are how they songs originally sounded, with the last track being a duet with Justin Timberalake. Oh the magic of technology. These 8 songs were fully produced over the years from 1983 to 2001. He sounds more upbeat, and full of joy for the most part, the way I care to remember him truth be told. They sound as fresh and wonderful as he was from back in the day. The lead single, Love Never Felt So Good, which was co-written by Paul Anka, is a throwback to his Off The Wall days even though it was recorded in 1983. And it also wraps up the album with Justin Timberlake’s vocals, just re-worked. It’s smooth, it’s dance-y, it’s pop gold. Timbaland threw his hand in as producer. Tim stayed true to the original but still put in a bit of disco flare. It works. And I didn’t have to hear that annoying “I’m Timbo I have to be heard on EVERY track I produce.” He let the music do the talking – which is what ALL producers should do – for him. I always thought JT was another MJ wannabe but this track just solidifies my theory. But I digress. One standout, “A Place With No Name,” which partially samples the instrumental to “Horse with No Name” by America includes a powerful sound of drums and percussion. It reminds me of his hit “Leave Me Alone.” “Slave to the Rhythm”, the original version, sounds like another single from the Bad era.

“Loving You” displays a playful Michael who is just over the moon in love. I always enjoyed that version of him. He puts his love on a pedestal no matter what the day is, he wants to stay in and take care of her. Ain’t that sweet? He wants to dance in the heavens and fly and take her away from here. Oh if love was really that grand lol. We’d all be accepting of it. “Do You Know Where Your Children Are” is so heavily synthesized and industrial sounding you could swear Trent Reznor was behind the console. “Blue Gangsta” definitely sounds like something from his “Invisible” time period. The sped up and slow down melody and syncopated rhythms makes me think Rodney Jerkins had something to do with this. Just sayin’.. The title track, Xscape, is a Rodney Jerkins produced track. This is the only original I didn’t care for too much. It just gets to a point where a song sounds like a machine and not a song if that makes sense. The music is so loud it takes away from the vocals. It’s heavy on the percussion and it’s a return to MJ’s complaining about how he can’t be himself, which over the years got a bit annoying to hear. But overall I thoroughly enjoyed this album and MJ fans should as well. It’s done right.

I took time out to write this because MJ has a special place in my heart. Say what you want about the man – yes he was out there let’s face it – but musically, he will forever be a genius. It saddens me greatly after I listened to this album, how much music we will miss out on because of his untimely departure. Xscape is the album we’ve been waiting for and it’s worth the wait.

Thanks Michael. Wherever you may be.

PS- How long til we see a hologram of Michael onstage like we did Tupac? You know it’s coming.

 

 

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