Posts tagged ‘Ladytron’

April 20, 2010

Christina Aguilera – Not Myself Tonight

Everyone is doing club bangers now. Personally, I sometimes feel like everyone wants to do a club track or 12 once in their lives. I’ve been awaiting Aguilera’s new album Bionic since I read the list of producers/co-writers she was working with: Le Tigre, M.I.A., Santigold, Ladytron, Sia, and Goldfrapp. That’s literally an electro dreamteam. This track was produced by some dude named Polow da Don, and it seems he hasn’t done anything that interested me up until now. If this is what the guy who I’ve not heard of has produced, this album could be fucking awesome. It might draw comparisons to Britney’s last two albums and Lady Gaga. But, Aguilera is working with ridiculously authentic, talented people, and if anything I’ve always felt that vocally Lady Gaga sounded like Aguilera. BTW, I guess being bi is the chic thing to mention in club tracks now?

Not Myself Tonight

The album is out June 8th. Neat album cover.
Bionic

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July 2, 2009

Lady Gaga – The Fame

Let’s start with the good. They picked the singles really well. “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” are pretty decent club bangers with choruses that get stuck in your head. I particularly like the last minute of “Just Dance” where the song shifts to a 4/4 club beat. I also like the “live drum” beat of “Poker Face” and that “mamama” vocal bit. “Paparazzi” has a nice shuffling beat and 80’s new wave synths.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is pretty terrible. Especially the last half. “Money Honey” is where she runs the ideas from “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” into the ground. “Again Again” slows things down to sub-Christina Aguilera balladry and the shuffling, swinging melody may be one of the most unoriginal melodies in existence and should be retired. “Boys Boys Boys” sounds like a Gwen Stefani / Rock Steady throwaway. “Brown Eyes” sounds like “Again Again” but worse. The “blues” guitar in the song is just about the most unconvincing thing on the whole album, and at points she sounds a little like Avril Lavigne. And that is a lot of the problem. The whole album is a pastiche of more talented, more original artists. Lady Gaga sounds like Annie Lennox in “Poker Face”. She sounds like Gwen Stefani again in “Summerboy”, and the song sounds like a Blondie or Franz Ferdinand rip that was popular two or three years ago. Final song “I Like It Rough” remembers that the album started as a electro pop record. It’s a pretty good despite the Aguilera theatrics.

“Lovegame” is the perfect example of why the album is awful lyrically. “Lets have some fun, this beat is sick, I want to take a ride on your disco stick” is in the running for worst lyrics ever. It’s not helped by a boring 90’s techno/rave melody that goes nowhere and stays that way. The awful “Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)”, which musically sounds like a track on an 80s comp I’d skip over, says it all in its title, doesn’t it. You can argue that she’s doing this as some sort of “piss take” on celebrity culture. But, it’s quite clear she has a huge marketing campaign behind her. It’s clear by her fashions and her early 90’s Madonna-like stage performances that she wants people to notice her. It’s also clear that by trying to reference David Bowie and Queen, and not the artists she really resembles (Aguilera, Stefani, etc), it’s a grab for some sort of respectability that is completely fabricated.

Now for something new to my blog. I’ve been so interested and critical of this album because I listen to a lot of female dance pop artists. I wanted to see why this woman has been selected as the “next Madonna” or whatever. I am completely unconvinced, and would like to give you examples of current female artists who deserve the same popularity and exposure as Lady Gaga is getting. And, also I’ll include some songs by popular artists that do what Lady Gaga does, but better. Lest you think I’m being a snob, the first song I pick is:

Britney Spears – Break The Ice from Blackout. This song also has the live drum sound going on, but the composition of the song is of such a high quality. The cycling synth line is infectuous. And, unlike anything on Lady Gaga’s album the song fills your headphones.

Girls Aloud – Biology from Chemistry. The song starts with a shambolic rendition of a typical bluesy guitar melody, but it’s a red herring. It quickly shifts into a galloping techno track that builds with a huge crescendo. The chorus doesn’t even hit until two minutes in. This is about as good as pop music gets.

Roisin Murphy – Movie Star from Overpowered. A synth riff more monstrous than anything off Lady Gaga’s album. And a lyrical topic tackled throughout Lady Gaga’s album. Just done in a self-aware, and tactful way.

Goldfrapp – Koko from Supernatural. Another huge synth riff, clearly influenced by Gary Numan and creating a pounding yet ethereal pop track out of it. Goldfrapp make their synths rock on this track. And the bridge is divine.

Annie – Loco from Don’t Stop. This song is unreleased. I love the mixture of techno synths and britpop guitar played by Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand. I still listen to this and am amazed Annie didn’t feel it good enough to release.

Sally Shapiro – Miracle from My Guilty Pleasure. From Shapiro’s second album due August 25th. Sally Shapiro’s first album was a gorgeous, unique, well-crafted piece of work, and this first single indicates her second album will bring more of the same only better. This track is a bit more aggressive and anthemic than her earlier work. I also love how her voice is used with the little whispers and multi-tracking.

Robyn – Dream On from Robyn. A bouncy electro track that is conscious of a world beyond fame and sex. Oh, and strings.

Ladytron – Destroy Everything You Touch from Witching Hour. Electro rock pop, gothic and vital and emotional. Bright and bouncy and a dab of shoegaze guitar at the end. It takes a ton of adjectives to explain just this one song.

Lykke Li – Little Bit from Youth Novels. And finally, a slower, quieter song. It’s just as electronic as any of the above songs, but with a pretty, vaguely exotic guitar figure. The lyrics have emotional complexity, but are just as bluntly sexual as Lady Gaga gets: “And for you I keep my legs apart and forget about my tainted heart.”

June 26, 2008

John Legend is a whore. (Music 6 months in)

C’mon dude. Lexus, Target and JC Penney commercials?

Anyway, here are my favorite albums of the year so far, in alphabetical order.

1. Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours: What a weird mix of indie rock, techno, new wave, etc. Not one song quite sounds like the last. Somehow it works.
2. Fleet Foxes – S/t: Will go down as the most gorgeous album of the year. It fills my heart every time I listen to it. A masterpiece.
3. Hercules & Love Affair – S/t: The DFA astonish me every year. Modern disco at its finest. Sexy. Endlessly inventive. Antony on his own albums is a bit grating, but as a disco siren he’s great.
4. Ladytron – Velocifero: They didn’t top Witching Hour, their last album, but still a strong set of songs on a more gothic industrial bent.
5. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster: British indie pop fun from start to finish. Seems to throw every instrument into the mix at breakneck speed but somehow never sounds cluttered.
6. Neon Neon – “Stainless Style”: Modern 80’s music. What fun. Finally someone gets it right.
7. Portishead – Third: It’s easy to be disappointed when you’ve been waiting 11 years for a new album by one of your favorite groups. Instead Portishead created their third classic album.
8. Robyn – S/t: Every song is a hit single. Between the sass of the pop hiphop song “Konichiwa Bitches” or the raw emotion of the trance ballad “With Every Heartbeat”, once again I am scratching my head as to why it takes a Swede do make great pop music and Americans are stuck with shit like Britney or Katy Perry.
9. Santogold – S/t: Easily can be compared to M.I.A. and Lily Allen, both of whom she’s friendly with apparently, but doesn’t make the album any less good. Good music is good music, no matter how much it reminds you of other artists. Great album to drive to.
10. She & Him – Volume One: Zooey Deschanel should give up on acting and just sing. That’s how good her voice is. What an easy album to like.

Special mention:
Girl Talk – Feed The Animals: Really it’s Night Ripper Pt. 2. Some of the novelty is gone, but still a great time. He cuts up the songs a bit more this time around, I think more craft went into the album. Favorite moment is “Boyz” by M.I.A. and “Dreams” by The Cranberries mashed.

Biggest disappointment:
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges: Already discussed it. “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt 2.” will be one of my favorite songs of the year though.

I’m not including The Raveonettes “Lust Lust Lust” album since I put it on my top 15 for 2007.

August 16, 2006

What cool means to me:

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December 1, 2005

Top Ten Albums of 2005

So, it’s December 1st, and the year is all but over. In my neverending pretention, here is my top ten favorite albums of the past year. It’s not really a list of the “Best”, but likely most of these will make “Best Of” lists in magazines and such. In order, and this is very long, my top ten…

10. Madonna – Confessions On A Dance Floor: I already put most of my thoughts about this album in an earlier blog. What surprises me most about this album is how much various songs will get stuck in my head. While this is largely a four-to-the-floor club album, Madonna & Co. didn’t forget about writing actual songs. So many songs are able to be hummed along to. Yet, the album has an almost seamless flow to it. And, there’s no filler to any of the songs. I’ve really noticed that every song gets going without any drawn out prelude. Because of all this, largely Confessions is an achievement. It would be so easy for this album to have a sameness to each song, yet Madonna escaped that trap. The only duff song in the bunch is “Push”, and I agree that “Isaac” is “Frozen Part II”. “Future Lovers” is still the highlight to my ears. I’m impressed by Madonna’s vocal performance, which sounds so assured after the 1:30 mark (where the bass finally kicks in). I’ve heard a lot of electronic music, trust me that Confessions is excellent.

9. Gorillaz – Demon Days: When will Damon Albarn be hailed as the musical genius he so clearly is? Demon Days is easily better than the first album. Nearly every track on this album is filled with melodic keyboards, fun creative beats, and interesting lyrics. Each song jumps out of the speakers. Listen to the acoustic guitar break on “Last Living Souls” or the crazy piano section in “Every Planet We Reach Is Dead”, courtesy of Ike Turner. The album highlights are seemingly endless. The children’s choir throughout “Dirty Hairy”, and somehow they shoehorn a rap into it. The bit in “All Alone” where it gets all pretty with what sounds like robotic birds and Martina Topley-Bird singing (coincidence?). “Dare” has so much going on in it, I don’t know where to start. How about the incomparable Shaun Ryder on vocals? Or the pristine production by Danger Mouse? Going the choir route is very easy to garner emotion, but “Don’t Get Lost In Heaven” and “Demon Days” is a very moving ending to the album. Damon Albarn is a true artist. He takes everything seriously, even his little “cartoon” band. He demands a lot more respect than I think he gets. This album is further proof. And, one final point: Listen to how much he does with his vocals throughout the album.

8. Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom – The Days Of Mars: This is ‘alone on a quiet Sunday’ type stuff, and not for everyone. Intricate, beautiful, affecting. The Vangelis comparisons are appropriate, and I also think they could be compared to Phillip Glass as well. It’s high praise to be compared to such artists. Their music is a work of art and should be appreciated as such. I find listening to the album to be meditative. The DFA have done a lot this past year, and as much as I liked the discs by LCD Soundsystem (which has grown on me greatly) and The Juan MacLean (which almost made this list), The Days Of Mars is The DFA & Friends artistic album. I appreciate this more.

7. M.I.A. – Arular: An album that is better than its hype. This is the driving in the summer with the windows down album. It’s a blast and M.I.A. sounds like she’s out for blood or sex… or both. Arular is one of those debut albums that is so strong and assured, I fear M.I.A. will never come close again. M.I.A. has a charisma few women rappers can ever hope to have. Through the socio-political sentiments of “Pull Up The People”, to the anarchist thoughts of the “Freedom” skit, to the sexual come-ons of “Hombre” or “10 Dollar”, Arular is a mental rush. Listen to the mixture of call-to-arms lyrics and sexual sighs in “Bucky Done Gun”.Then there’s how easily M.I.A. covers various musical styles. She’s a Sri-Lankan Brit, and the influence of ethnic diversity is all over Arular. The Middle Eastern influences in “Hombre”, the African influences in “Amazon”, and the Caribbean influences in “Sunshowers”. All this spread over a rap/dance CD. The beats are constantly interesting and hit hard and the synths make the album sound electric. She’s been compared to Missy Elliot and Timbaland, and she even name checks them on “Fire Fire”. Yet, I think M.I.A. resembles them little, and frankly is better.

6. Martha Wainwright – Martha Wainwright: If I wanted a song to represent the first half of 2005, “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole” will do. That Martha Wainwright is a talented singer-songwriter comes as no surprise, considering the family she is from. Again, this isn’t a list of the “Best” albums of 2005, just my favorite. I took much of this album to heart. She spoke to me when I needed someone who understood. Not to say this wouldn’t make a “Best Of” list. Her voice has a lot of range to it, from angry and bitter on “Ball & Chain”, to gorgeous and moving on “Wither I Must Wander”. As a songwriter, she can go from a rocker like “G.P.T.” to a ballad like “Don’t Forget”. And, “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”. A song written with such suspense, delivered with a vocal so passionate and uninhibited. An artist willing to bare their soul as Wainwright does is someone to treasure.

5. Goldfrapp – Supernatural: 2005’s album to fuck to. This sounds like the soundtrack to a decadent orgy. I never thought that woman singing on those early Orbital and Tricky tracks would turn into an S&M sex goddess. But, nevermind Alison Goldfrapp’s seductive vocals and lyrics. Her partner, Will Gregory, is also a music score writer, and it shows in the layers in the song writing. If you really listen there’s just so much going on in each song. With both production, song writing, and vocals, Goldfrapp have raised the bar high on this album. On every front. The disco abandon of “Ride A White Horse” and “Fly Me Away”. There is the orchestral beauty of “Let It Take You” and the pop-opera of “You Never Know”, the likes of which Goldfrapp perfected on Felt Mountain. “Time Out From The World” sounds like it will float you on a cloud. There’s only one “rock” album by strict definition on my list, but Goldfrapp make their keyboards rock. Listen to “Lovely 2 CU” or “Koko” and you’ll hear what I mean. Yes, songs like “Koko” and “Number 1” put their Gary Numan influence on full display, but that doesn’t take away from how great these songs are. The first track, “Ooh La La”, is a perfect mission statement for Supernatural. Listen to how the beat evolves over the first minute, until it finally pumps into high gear. Such is the whole album.

4. Royksopp – The Understanding: Epic. Their first album, Melody AM, does nothing to prepare you for hearing this. From huge techno epics like “Triumphant” and “Alpha Male”, to pumping dance tracks like “Only This Moment”, “Follow My Ruin”, and “Beautiful Day Without You”, to emotional breakbeat tracks like “49 Percent”, “What Else Is There?”, and “Someone Like Me” they do no wrong. As an electronic act, Royksopp’s ability to cover so many moods so well on The Understanding is relatively unparalleled in my experience. The album is flawless from beginning to end. I would compare the album to UNKLE’s Never, Never Land, but The Understanding is better crafted and more enjoyable. And, with Royksopp’s production on fellow Norwegian Annie’s album (See #2), clearly they’re a master at pop as well. Being part Norwegian, I feel a lot of pride this year. Great cover, too.

3. Sleater-Kinney – The Woods: This is the only rock album on this list, and maybe the reason is because it’s so far and above anything else I’ve heard recently. Yes, this is Sleater-Kinney’s “maturity record”. But, that usually means boring. These songs are filled with passion. From the raw intensity of album opener “The Fox”, you know Sleater-Kinney aren’t fucking around. The clear album highlights are “What’s Mine Is Yours” and “Let’s Call It Love”. Both songs are a startling departure for them. “What’s Mine Is Yours” begins normal enough, but in the middle there is a sudden roaring guitar solo from Carrie Brownstein. “Let’s Call It Love” is an 11 minute swirling freak-out. Yet, when you listen to these two songs, it is clear Sleater-Kinney are not creating wank for wanking sake. There’s so much passion in the songs, you can hear this is coming from an emotional place. “Let’s Call It Love” segues without pause into final song “Night Light”, which with it’s pleading vocal and down turning chords ends things on a moving, melancholy note. Sleater-Kinney haven’t forgotten to write great songs. As powerful as songs like “Wilderness” and “Jumper” are, they’re also very melodic, which shows how far Sleater-Kinney have truly come from their punk grrrl roots. It’s been an evolution on all on their own terms. There’s still room for social commentary, as on “Modern Girl” and the raging “Entertain”. In my opinion, no rock album comes close to the breadth of emotion, talent, and sheer rock ‘n’ roll power that Sleater-Kinney has with The Woods.

2. Annie – Anniemal: Pop is not a dirty word. Not when it sounds this good. Pop music normally doesn’t deserve production and beats this good. But, Annie does because she has charisma to spare. If you’re a guy, you’ll likely fall a little in love with her. I admit I have been seduced. She’ll play hard to get (Chewing Gum), she’ll chew you out (Always Too Late), she’ll shyly hit on you (Heartbeat), she’ll slyly hint how good she is in bed (Anniemal), and she’ll tell you how in love she is (Greatest Hit). Her singing makes you listen to the lyrics, and it’s rare that lyrics matter in pop songs. There’s more to her voice than I think we’ve seen yet, judging from “Wedding” (where yes, finally, she wants to marry you) from Annie’s DJ Kicks CD. Partnered with the production talents of Richard X and Royksopp, it’s no wonder Anniemal sounds so fantastic. I think “Chewing Gum”, rather than “Heartbeat”, is the perfect pop song. I wasn’t too impressed with “Heartbeat” at first. But wouldn’t you know it, the song got lodged in my head at some point too. The whole album has. Artistically, the album is phenomenal. Listen to the sparkling disco of “Greatest Hit”, or the complexity in the beat structure of “Heartbeat”, or the acid house mid-section in “Come Together”. I defy anyone to name a better pop album to come out in the last ten years.

1. Ladytron – Witching Hour: Hands down, my favorite album of this year. I listened to it non-stop for a week after I bought it. Literally, I listened to nothing else. I already have a blog about the album, but here are some more thoughts. It’s about as perfect of a sound to my ears as modern music could have. Keyboards, beats, guitars, and a female singer. Personally, I like their reliance on Helen Marnie, rather than Mira Aroyo. Marnie’s voice is much more front and center on this album and adds a lot of emotion to the music. Mira Aroyo’s disaffected vocals would get boring through a whole album. Another thing I noticed, listening to the album more, are the lyrics: “If I give you sugar will you give me, something elusive and temporary”, “You put the end in weekend”, and “The traffic won’t know, the traffic is slow and thoughtless” are but three favorites of mine. In my ten “Desert Island Discs”, this would make the cut.

Biggest Surprise: Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better: Never would guess that they were capable of slow songs. Maybe they will have a lasting career.

Biggest Disappointment: Dandy Warhols – Odditorium & blah blah blah: Proof that I am not biased in my opinions. This album really does suck.

Cooler Than Thou: You Say Party! We Say Die! – Hit The Floor: Pretty Girls Make Graves, Le Tigre, and the B52’s wrapped into one. Try and find it.

As Good As They All Said: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – S/T: Sure, I feel like I’m listening to the Talking Heads. Not a bad thing.

Guilty Pleasure: Kasabian – S/T: Sounds so much like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Oasis, and Primal Scream I should hate it. Yet I love it so and hate myself for it.

October 16, 2005

I am obsessed with this album!!!

The new Ladytron album is one of those rare albums where once I heard it for the first time, I started the CD at the beginning again. It’s that good. It is a true pleasure in my life to witness a music group grow as artists and display such confidence. On their third album, this is an electronic group previously pigeonholed into a subgenre (electroclash) and rising well above that subgenre into being simply excellent music. Production is an important aspect in electronic music, and the album sounds incredible. But, most importantly, the songwriting is top notch. It is a very rich, full sounding album. “Blue Jeans 2.0” from the Softcore Jukebox comp is a good blueprint for the sound of Witching Hour. It’s Ladytron goes widescreen. Huge, gothic, beautiful, menacing and lush. Words can’t say enough. It’s one of those rare albums I look forward to listening to again and again.

It’s honestly one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard.

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