Quick Listen – Marina and the Diamonds – “I am Not a Robot” Friday, Jan 29 2010 

The other day, I was chilling in a 3D Design class. I say “chilling” because I’m not actually in this class; I have the professor for the class before, know a good portion of the students in the class, and have nothing more worthwhile to do with that period of time until more screen printing orders come in at work, so I bring my laptop and mingle with my fellow art students. This is a very laid back class anyways, so much so that I got away with gluing some random toothpicks to the table and naming it “Spear.”

Like I was saying, though, I was chilling in this class, and my friend put on some music video about not being a robot or something. My initial reaction was, “Oh, Dan’s going to play yet another fun, mildly catchy jam that I’ll bob my head to and forget about by the end of class. Cool. I wonder when he’s going to pick another Lady GaGa single.”

Then the song started… and I liked it. I actually liked it a lot. By the end of the video, I was mentally humming along with the chorus, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. The infectious hook had latched onto the inside of my skull, and I couldn’t undo it, but I was kind of alright with that. There was something so delightful about it. This was just a really good pop song.

“Guess what… I am not a robot!”

Just in case you were too lazy to read that subject at the top of this page (which is unlikely, especially if you just took the time to read that rather pointless story that didn’t even end with me finding five dollars), the song I’m talking about is “I am Not a Robot” by Marina and the Diamonds. The song empowers the listener and elevates him/her into the cosmos. Marina’s voice shows some signs of vulnerability, but for the most part, especially during the anthemic chorus, she asserts herself as a majestic force to be reckoned with. Under this frame rest lyrics dealing with a subject matter that sounds a bit silly on paper but feels quite personal and meaningful nonetheless.

“It’s okay to say you’ve got a weak spot.
You don’t always have to be on top.
Better to be hated than love, love, loved for what you’re not.”

Yeah, I might love this song. Just a bit.

-Tim

Patrick Stump Announces Solo Album Thursday, Jan 28 2010 

On the day Fall Out Boy announced their indefinite hiatus, I was the saddest camper around. Thankfully, I got to see them three times on their last tour and was at their very last headlining show.

And while Pete, Joe, and Andy have been keeping themselves busy (Andy especially so), FOB’s singer/songwriter has yet to announce any future plans… until now.

After drastically changing his website last week, (and apparently losing a lot of weight) he updated PatrickStump.com today with a new logo and a video (which can also be viewed below) that features him playing every instrument from the cowbell to the trumpet (and the drums he originally joined FOB to play). The incredibly funky new track is accompanied by a message from Patrick:

I’m working on an album.
I’ll be writing/producing/performing everything myself.

Stay tuned.

Color me incredibly stoked. Call me a fanboy if you must, but Stump has been a major inspiration for me since middle school, and I love everything Fall Out Boy have ever done. This is going to be my most anticipated release for a while.

-Evan

The National’s 5th Studio Album Out This May Monday, Jan 25 2010 

Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist of The National

Brooklyn-based indie rock group The National will be releasing their as yet untitled fifth studio album this May. A handful of European shows and a US tour will follow. This followup to 2007’s Boxer is said to have “one song you can dance to,” but the album “can’t be described as happy.”

Boxer was given Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” tag in 2007, and it was also declared the third best album of the decade by Sun on the Sand, behind only Radiohead and Arcade Fire. It was also my personal favorite album of the decade, making this easily my most anticipated album of 2010. Matt Berninger has claimed that this is going to be their best album; here’s hoping he’s right.

-Tim

Mr. West is (back) in the Building Wednesday, Jan 13 2010 

Firstly, I’m pretty sure I read something about Kanye West being back in the studio on his official blog, but sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly what the hell he’s trying to say when he types on that thing. According to the NY Times, he was talking about going back into the studio. Complain all you want about Kanye’s ego, but he was, undeniably, the most important solo artist of the past decade. Not only did he remind us what a rock star is supposed to be like (what with the stage crashes, political comments, and all that shit), but he also reinvented his genre, both musically and lyrically. Kanye West successfully killed gangsta rap, paving the way for the increased success of Mos Def, Common, Drake, Kid CuDi, and one of my favorite up-and-comers, J. Cole. There’s simply no way to argue against this dynamo of an artist; the entirety of the music world should be anxiously awaiting his return. Plus, have you heard his guest verses lately? The dude is on fire, so don’t expect another sappy record about Robocops and Pinocchio.

In other Kanye news, West’s new live CD/DVD from his VH1 Storytellers special can now be purchased here, among other places.

Recommendation – Regina Spektor’s Soviet Kitsch Wednesday, Jan 13 2010 

I know I’m late to the party on this, but DAMN, is Regina Spektor amazing. I’ve recently been perusing her discography, and there’s nothing I seem to enjoy more than her 2004 album Soviet Kitsch. I don’t know what’s regularly considered her best album, or what I’m SUPPOSED to be falling head-over-heels for, but I’ve fallen completely in love with this.

From the tenderness of “Carbon Monoxide” to the fury of “Your Honor,” Spektor here shows so many sides of her piano-based anti-folk songwriting genius. She alludes to Fitzgerald and Hemingway in “Poor Little Rich Boy,” and it feels almost like an afterthought, it’s so casual. But it’s all delivered so deliberately. It’s brilliance in the same vein as Ben Folds (though Spektor has a very different style, if the comparison still makes sense).

She’s incredible, but in particular on Soviet Kitsch. The whole album is addictive. It’s beautiful, it’s nasty, it’s powerful, it’s light and fun. I’m honestly completely taken aback by this. Again, I know I’m late to the party, but get this now.

New M.I.A. Album To Be Released This Year, New Track Released Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

M.I.A. will be releasing her third studio album this summer, or possibly as soon as early spring. A new track, called “THERES SPACE FOR OL DAT I SEE,” was released today through a video posted on her Twitter account.

The 34-year-old artist described the upcoming album to NME as “really odd” and “more musical” than her last two albums. According to a Rolling Stone article, she collaborated with producer Blaqstarr, who “simply makes music that sounds good, and I needed that. I definitely needed to come to music on this album, to make music. I don’t want it to be gimmicky or silly or hipstery.” She promised a mix of singing and rapping: “I just stopped singing on the last one because I put more emphasis into production, so I was more about making beats and sang less on my last album.”

I really enjoy Kala, but the songs feel a bit too repetitive when I’m not in the right mood, so the focus on songs over beats sound really promising. One of the songs apparently features a hook sung by Filipino Verizon workers… Huh. Neat. This album promises to be a really rad summer soundtrack.

-Tim

Taylor Swift is the top-selling digital artist of all time! Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

"I don't know how it gets better than this. You take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless."

Yes, 20-year-old pop star Taylor Swift is the top-selling digital artist in history with over 24.3 million tracks sold thus far, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Fearless is also the top-selling album of 2009 (the second year in a row), and her self-titled debut album has remained on the Billboard charts for longer than any other album this century.

Congratulations, Taylor! Fearless was one of my favorite albums of 2008. I found the songs to be wonderful snapshots of a young girl’s growth into womanhood, and apparently I wasn’t the only one. That, or she’s just really marketable. Well, either way, I’m really happy with her and anxiously await her next album (hopefully within the next year).

-Tim

Recommendation – Drought – Demo 2010 Thursday, Jan 7 2010 

The 90s are alive and well.

I’m not talking about Soundgarden’s impending reunion shows after 12 years of inactivity, nor am I talking about Brand New’s bastardization of In Utero with their most recent full-length, Daisy. No, I’m talking about what may very well be the first great release of the new decade.

Texas based rock band Drought has released a self-recorded tape demo, which can be streamed and downloaded for free here. Downloads are available in mp3, FLAC, and a variety of other formats for all the audiophiles out there. Lyrics can also be viewed on the page.

This demo sounds great. The noisy feedback and bluesy guitars ebb and flow under a captivating hiss familiar to anyone who remembers the cassette tapes of fifteen years ago. The opening plucks of “Sacrament pt. I” are reminiscent of Nirvana in the best way possible. If you grew up on any of the great alternative rock classics of the 90s, I highly recommend that you give this band a listen.

-Tim

New Motion City Soundtrack song up for stream at Spin.com Tuesday, Jan 5 2010 

You can listen to the new song “A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)” by Motion City Soundtrack off their upcoming My Dinosaur Life here. This is the third song they’ve released off the new album so far, and it is far and away the most enticing. “Disappear” was a grower, certainly, but it lacked some of Justin Pierre’s characteristic lyrical and vocal charm, instead opting for a rougher, more edgy sound. The next track, which also premiered at Spin.com (and can be heard here), was entitled “Her Words Destroyed My Planet.” It was…bad, to say the least. Thankfully, this new track finds MCS doing what they do best instead of trying to be edgy and cursing a lot, and though it doesn’t blow my mind, it at least means the new album will be worth a listen. My Dinosaur Life hits stores January 19th.

-David

Kanye West Feeds The Homeless Monday, Jan 4 2010 

This is the human side of Kanye West that the media will never acknowledge. According to Kanye’s blog, the day before Christmas, he, his fiance, and his cousin volunteered with L.A. Mission to feed the homeless at a local shelter. Kanye didn’t bother bringing a bunch of cameras with him or trying to publicize the trip, and he didn’t even blog about it until almost two weeks later. It’s really great to see him doing something this helpful and selfless, even as the media constantly demonizes him as an arrogant asshole. The sad part is that most music news sites won’t cover this, because it doesn’t fit nice and tidy with the character they (yes, the media) has created for the Grammy winner.

A local homeless man was quoted as saying, “It was really thrilling to see Kanye West here serving us. I went right up to him and asked for an autograph and he gave it to me with a smile. He really is one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met, except for when I asked for turkey and he told me that ham is the greatest Christmas meat of ALL TIME!”

… I couldn’t help myself. Pictures can be seen below.

-Dion

Next Page »