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

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Quick Listen – DJ Earworm – United State of Pop (Blame it on the Pop) Monday, Dec 28 2009 

DJ EarwormSometime back in October, I found myself at one of the many school sponsored events that I typically avoid. It was called Casino Night. I wasn’t particularly in the mood, to be honest; relationship problems had me wanting to spend the evening alone in my dorm. Somehow, I ended up there with a few friends to play poker and drink free sparkling grape juice (I’m only 19; alcohol isn’t readily available yet). Thanks to a friend of mine, I put all my bad feelings aside and enjoyed the night in the its fullest, even getting out on the dance floor for a few songs. I didn’t know it at the time, but that night of dancing lead to one of my biggest musical developments of the year. You see, as is expected, a lot of pop music was played. Instead of being the jaded music hipster I normally would be, I embraced the songs and found myself really enjoying them. You see, pop music has this great unifying power to it that a lot of other genres just don’t have; they’re too divisive. I still love Kid A and all that shit, but if it wasn’t for that dance, I would’ve never been able to say I enjoy Party in the U.S.A., at least without an ironic grin on my face. Music doesn’t always have to be dense, deep, and divisive; sometimes, you just want to dance.

That’s where DJ Earworm comes in. For the past two years straight, he’s released a “United State of Pop” mixtape where he uses his considerable skill as a mashup artist to combine the year’s top hits into one sugary sweet, four-minute monster. This year is no exception. It’s entitled “Blame it on the Pop,” a forgivably puntastic name. At nearly five minutes, every major player of 2009’s KISS FM rotations is represented; this may be the only song we’ll ever hear that features both Kanye West and Taylor Swift. The result is something like Girl Talk, only decidedly less scatterbrained (DJ Earworm bases the entire song around The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” whereas Girl Talk squeezes so many songs, decades, and genres into each song, it’s hard to tell whether or not each piece has any basis at all).

In that sense, it is a safe mix, not quite measuring up to the other mashup heavyweights, Danger Mouse and the aforementioned Girl Talk. Then again, neither of those artists really strive for what DJ Earworm attempts with these United State of Pop mashups; he’s created a solid, nostalgic look at what pop radio has done in 2009. It reinvented itself, seemingly with the vision of the decade’s looming end that is much more positive than the one indie rock has suggested. We need that every now and then.

-Dion, but Tim recommended it.

Quick Listen – Timber Timbre Sunday, Dec 27 2009 

In a fairly recent discussion about albums worth checking out based solely on their artwork, my friend Rick brought up Timber Timbre’s self-titled third studio album (first on Toronto-based record label Arts & Crafts), and something about it caught my attention immediately. Not that it’s a particularly amazing work of art or anything; I guess I’m simply a sucker for black-and-white photography. The composition was rather enjoyable. As a result of this and my occasional musical agreements with Rick, I decided, “What the heck? I’ll give this a try.”

Timber Timbre is the bluesy folk rock project of singer-songwriter Taylor Kirk, named after a play on the words “timbre” (for his guitar) and “timber” (for his father). For my introduction, I chose “Demon Host,” the opening track to Timber Timbre and first result on YouTube. My thoughts?

Taylor’s voice took a bit for me to get comfortable with. It sounds rather warm and inviting over the cool acoustic guitar, but something about it just didn’t rub me quite right at first. Lyrically, there are some good moments, but the constant couplets feel a bit forced at times. At his best, he flows smoothly from line to line, delivering his words rather naturally while retaining the rhyme and meter; at his worst, he feels choppy as a tenth-grader’s poetry assignment. In spite of these complaints, I did enjoy the song and will likely check out the rest of the album when I get the chance.

“Oh reverend please can I chew your ear?
I have become what I most fear
And I know there’s no such thing as ghosts
But I have seen the demon host”

-Tim

Quick Listen – The Late Brittany Murphy Sunday, Dec 20 2009 

This morning, at the age of 32, actress Brittany Murphy was found unconscious in her shower. Paramedics soon discovered that she was in full cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. At such a relatively young age, it is pretty surprising to hear this news, as I don’t know of anyone who was expecting. I’m no expert on acting, nor am I a movie buff, and I never particularly enjoyed any of Murphy’s movies (with the exception of 8 Mile), so I’m not going to bother pretending that her death is a huge tragedy. Still, while reading her wikipedia page, I saw that she had recorded some music, so I figured why not check some of it out. The result: 2006’s #1 dance hit, “Faster Kill Pussycat” from Paul Oakenfold’s album, A Lively Mind.

I’m probably the best equipped Decomposed writer to give this song a Quick Listen. Electronic pop makes up a pretty big chunk of what I listen to lately. So how does Brittany Murphy’s music compare to her acting? The truth is, it’s about the same: not offensively bad, but never hovering too high above average. Murphy’s voice is one that doesn’t seem quite designed for making thrilling music. She lacks both the raw talent to impress music purists and the spunky attitude to attract long-term pop radio success. Musically, the track’s verses sit boringly atop the back-beat and bass-line, neither quite big enough to excite the listener for the chorus. It’s for the best though, considering the chorus underwhelms to the point where I wasn’t quite sure if it was actually the chorus, or a pre-chorus of sorts. It’s not all bad though. With riskier production techniques, more dynamic mixing, and some affects tossed on Murphy’s voice, I can see this track being a fairly good hype song. I’m sure the pre-GaGa music listener didn’t mind though.

RIP, Brittany Murphy.

-Dion

Quick Listen – P.O.S. Tuesday, Jul 28 2009 

Welcome to the very first edition of a new feature for the Decomposed Blog. This is called Quick Listen, in which I choose a band I am not  too familiar with, read their wiki page, and watch one of their videos on YouTube. I do this for two reason: 1. To further expand my musical knowledge and 2. To prove to the nostaligia-lovers that, although our generation has lost certain aspects of the musical experience, what we have gained is much more valuable. With the use of the internet, I am able to learn a decent amount of info about an artist and hear a sample of their music, all within seconds and all for free. It is a beautiful thing and anyone who denies that needs to go back to arguing about why Mineral is one of the best bands of all time on AbsolutePunk’s forums and leave the music loving to those who care about, well, the music. Anyway, let’s get into it.

This is P.O.S., a punk rocker turned rapper. “Drumroll” seems to be quite the anthem, with one of the sickest samples I’ve heard in awhile. Lyrically, P.O.S. is tight, squeezing plenty of impressive internal rhyme into his lines, although at times it seems as if he spits more syllables than are really necessary. P.O.S. will, no doubt, impress fans of pop-punk, who will gladly namedrop him to prove that they “listen to all types of music, even rap, as long as it’s intelligent.” Lucky for him though, P.O.S. actually does seem to have legitimate talent and drive. Although he has chosen to market his records to a fanbase that does not buy as many albums as fans of mainstream hip-hop do, I hope P.O.S. sticks around a lot longer and continues to bridge the gap between hip-hop and punk rock.

Also, this album really makes me want Lil’ Wayne’s Rebirth.