You can watch the artsy new video for the pretty song “Million Things” by Lucy Michelle & The Velvet Lapelles below. Also included is a free, legal Souncloud stream of their new album, Heat.
Guest Post By: Heather
The new release from The Killers, Battle Born, reflects the band’s Vegas roots with a grown up musical sound. Brandon Flowers continues to belt it out like a Broadway singer, but this time with a greater range and precision than he had on previous efforts. It sounds as though he has been taking vocal lessons from a stage performer, which only enhances the other band members’ individual qualities.
Conjuring up images of the desert and wild horses, the songs on Battle Born are forged poetically from the band’s hometown of Las Vegas. A few of the tracks begin with a twangy rockabilly strain. This blending of sounds from rock, electronic (yes, the band has picked up a synthesizer somewhere), western and show tunes makes this a difficult album to place in a specific genre.
Though I enjoy the album for its unique sound unparalleled by other popular artists, I find it difficult to distinguish one song from the next. It’s as though The Killers picked one song that was extraordinary and made it into an entire album. This serves to make Battle Born feel more like a modern opera where the music is made to blend together, but also has the potential to turn away listeners who have grown accustomed to simply downloading individual mp3s. I’m thankful to have the whole album to play from start to finish.
For anyone looking to download only one or two songs, I would suggest “Runaways” – a great narrative of troubled romance – and the lesser played but passionate song, “Flesh and Bone.”
Where did this guy come from? Other than Oklahoma, I mean. The photo on JD McPherson’s debut album, Signs & Signifiers, looks like another average singer-songwriter guy, but his music is a delicious mix of brassed up retro soul and rumbling vintage blues-rock. It’s been a very long time since I was struck by such an intense sense of awe while listening to an album.
Even more amazing than former art teacher and punk rocker McPherson’s robust voice is that he wrote almost all of these songs – most of which sound like classics by Little Richard, Jackie Wilson or The Big Bopper with a bit of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Sun Studios-era Elvis thrown in.
“Scratching Circles” and “Fire Bug” are the standout tracks and other highlights include “Northside Gal” (you can download the mp3 below) and “I Can’t Complain,” but there’s not a weak track to be found here. This album will definitely be on my Best of the Year list.
Seminal female rock band Heart just released their fourteenth studio album, Fanatic. The album is somewhat of a companion to their new memoir, Kicking and Dreaming. I had a mixed reaction to the recording. It’s one of those albums that’s torn between magnificence and mediocrity. Thankfully, though, its strengths are far greater than its weaknesses.
Something about the production of the opening title track seems a little off. Neither the instrumentation nor Ann’s vocals are individually bad, but they just don’t mesh as they should. Her vocal track seems to have been laid flatly on top of the arrangement rather than properly mixed with it.
“Dear Old America” is much better, though. The song is a swirling rocker written from perspective of a Marine returning home from war. Said Marine just happens to be the Wilson sisters’ father.
The tepid “Walkin’ Good” seems a wasted duet with Sarah McLachlan. Again I feel the problem lies in the production or mixing. According to the liner notes, Sarah recorded her vocal track and emailed it to be incorporated into the song. As a result, her voice is barely audible in the chorus.
The sultry “Skin and Bones” sets things right again with a bluesy rock style that fits perfectly with both Ann’s rich voice and Nancy’s searing guitar work. It’s smooth sailing after that, as the album’s second half is totally solid and praiseworthy.
The fantastic blues-rock anthem “A Million Miles” was inspired by the traditional folk song “900 Miles.”
The epic “Mashallah!” is the standout with its thunderous rock arrangement and wailing chorus, both of which remind us why Heart used to be nicknamed Little Led Zeppelin.
“59 Crunch,” which the band describes as “psycho surfer,” is another guitar-heavy rock track.
The finale “Corduroy Road” is the perfect marriage of the Heart’s usually dueling rock and acoustic sides.
As a whole, Fanatic doesn’t quite grab me as much as its predecessor, Red Velvet Car. However, the standout tracks mentioned above are among the best Heart’s ever recorded.
Muse recently released their sixth studio album, The 2nd Law, and, wow, was it ever worth the wait. I’m truly in awe that the band was even capable of successfully following 2010′s brilliant, The Resistance (one of my Top Albums of The Decade). Not only does The 2nd Law continue that grandiose marriage of arena rock and classical music, but its futuristic electronic twist allows the album to stand completely on its alone. Definitely one for the year end list.
The bombastic drama of “Supremacy” heralds the welcome return of Muse. Theatrical verses – think Les Miserables meets Phantom of the Opera – explode into a finale that sounds like Jimi Hendrix rippin’ on a James Bond theme.
The slinky, slow burning electro-rock of “Madness” then spins the album into another orbit. The song fairly vibrates with electronic beats and searing rock guitar.
“Panic Station” plays like a catchy, rocked-up, Bizarroland mashup of Willy Wonka‘s “Pure Imagniation” and Genesis’ “Land of Confusion.”
“Survival” is the album’s stunningly gorgeous and multi-faceted centerpiece, weaving thunderous rock, classical song structure and instrumentation with operatic backing vocals into a glorious, cross-genre cacophony.
The actual song “Animals” doesn’t really stand out, but I thought it clever that Muse used sound samples from a Wall Street trading floor to imitate a mob at the end.
“Explorers” is an uncharacteristically soft and subtle ballad.
“The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” is an environmentally conscious, sci-fi thriller of a song. It’s epic, it’s rough, it’s absolutely spectacular.
Overall, I don’t foresee listening to The 2nd Law quite as obsessively as I continue to do so with The Resistance. But the standout tracks are truly superb.
You can watch the videos for “Madness,” “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” and “The 2nd Law: Isolated System” below.