Not dead, just resting – plus cool artists to check out

Oh my goodness, I’ve been away from this blog for too long! The rest of my “best of 2009” posts are forthcoming, and then hopefully I’ll get a bit more consistent with posting. Hope everyone in the blogosphere is doing well! :D

I’ve received a few emails about nifty new stuff from cool artists – I just have been as slow as molasses about actually posting about them! Here are artists that you need to hear right now!

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Elika, you might remember, is a nifty electronica outfit, and they’ve just recently put out an EP called “There Was No Summer.” Find more details about this release on their News page!

The Greatcoats
The Greatcoats

“The music of The Greatcoats is, at heart, music that reminds you of better times.” That’s what The Greatcoats’ MySpace says, and I agree – but I’d have to add that listening to the warm and inviting sounds of The Greatcoats’ retro-inspired debut album makes now one of those better time. The Greatcoats is released on March 9, 2010, and you can check it out at iTunes, CDBaby, and their official site!

Tristan Clopet
Tristan Clopet

Miami-based musician Tristan Clopet has a new EP out, called “Purple.” He has a charming, versatile voice, sounding just as at home atop the grinding guitars of “Proximity Bomb” as soaring above piano on “So Alive.” The tracks on “Purple” promise great things for this artist, so check them out at his official site and iTunes!

My Education
My Education

My Education has created and will release in late April 2010 an original score, titled Sunrise, for the 1927 F.W. Murnau silent film, Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans. Based on a listen to a track from the album titled “Oars,” this instrumental group have something special on their hands. “Oars” is an atmospheric tune that builds up to an epic end, and it highlights the group’s skill at conjuring a mood. Visit their official website and MySpace!

Whore's Mascara
Whore’s Mascara

All righty, moving right along from “Oars” to… Whores! Whore’s Mascara, that is! This trio is gonna be big – their newest single, “Monogamous,” can be seen on MTV LOGO, MTVmusic.com, SpikeTV, Fuse.tv, and Fuse On demand. Whore’s Mascara is synthy electro with its tongue firmly in cheek (and elsewhere). Try out “Monogamous” and their debut album, Like This But Sexy, on iTunes – even if just to look at the song titles. “Dance Party (Up Your Butt)”? This is a band to get behind (so to speak…!).

The Boxing Lesson
The Boxing Lesson

The psychedelic group The Boxing Lesson (remember them?) have announced that they will be releasing two new albums this year! To whet your appetite, listen to three new demos from their 2009 sessions on their MySpace!

Peter Squires
Peter Squires

Last but certainly not least, Peter Squires released his debut album, Woe Is Me, in late 2009. It’s a short album, but Woe Is Me is long on quality. It’s a folky sort of affair that showcases Squires’ witty lyrics. You can download it for free at his official website – a pretty sweet deal, doncha think? :)

Good news and sad news

So the year is coming to a close – and you know what that means! My “best of 2009” posts are coming soon. :)

First, though, some musical notes:

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Richard Ashcroft

Richard Ashcroft must be busy – a recent NME.com article details how he not only composed the title song for The Journey, a film that “aims to highlight the plight of sex trafficking,” but he also recently recorded “‘between 20-30 songs'” with rap producer No ID! Hopefully we’ll hear what Ashcroft and No ID have come up with in 2010, but for now you can buy “The Journey” on iTunes – and as it says on Ashcroft’s official site, your purchase of the track from the film means that “money will be donated to the Helen Bamber Foundation” (“a UK-based human rights organisation, formed in April 2005 to help rebuild lives and inspire a new self-esteem in survivors of gross human rights violations”). Great song, and an even greater cause.

Brittany Murphy
Brittany Murphy

Very unexpectedly and sadly, today actress/sometime singer Brittany Murphy died of cardiac arrest. She was only 32. I knew of Murphy for two things that I love: her voicing of King Of The Hill character Luanne, and her vocal performance on the Paul Oakenfold 2006 song “Faster Kill Pussycat.” “Faster Kill Pussycat” was and still is one of those perfect summer songs to me, and her great work on that track led me to wonder if Murphy might start up a pop career at some point. Brittany Murphy will be missed.

Paloma Faith – Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? (2009)

61jhr2pPaloma Faith released her debut album, Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?, in late September. I wasn’t too interested in listening to it initially – from what I’d read about her, and from the quick listen I had to a snippet of one of her songs, she just seemed like another Amy Winehouse-wannabe.

Well, that was a mistake on my part. I found out my error in judgment when I gave her whole album a good listen. My first thoughts were so, so wrong – and I ended up loving Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?. To write Paloma off as a wannabe or imitator would do her talent a huge disservice. If any comparisons are to be made, I’d say that Paloma sounds more like Duffy with bite. In any case, Paloma’s voice is actually more 30s-jazzy than bluesy, at least to me!

What I’m getting at here is that it’s worth giving music you’re not generally inclined to listen to a chance. Good things can come of it. :)

Now, on to Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?!

Right from the horn and piano hook that starts “Stone Cold Sober” off, I knew I was going to like this song. Great lyrics give the song an extra kick, like when Paloma tells anyone who would dare to mess with her to “take a rocket out to space”! As good as this track is, it does seem kind of derivative of Duffy’s “Mercy.” Still, it makes for a memorable start to the album. “Smoke And Mirrors,” the next track, has a grand sound – it gets even grander with the big chorus! I love the “give it up” bridge, especially how Paloma sings “lover” as “lovahh”. Her voice sounds neat during the wordless middle eight, and when she lets loose towards the end… just, wow!

l_e6c19fe6d8e44034bdf61b9bc325e93fIn the lovely ballad “Broken Doll,” I can hear how Paloma’s voice might actually turn people off. It’s very stylized and distinct. For those of us who love her vocals, this bass-heavy, slow-paced track puts the focus right on her pipes. After the superb displays of self-confidence in “Stone Cold Sober” and “Smoke And Mirrors,” it’s endearing to hear the bits of vulnerability Paloma displays here. Listen for the cool way she sings “piece me all together” at 3:30.

“Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?” Well, I don’t know about truth, but Paloma certainly gives us something beautiful in this song! I like that she dialed it back a bit on this one – she sounds just as good in a low-key setting as in a full-on orchestral sound. The guitar flourishes that enter at 1:26 are excellent touches. More strings sweep through as the song progresses, and horns blare, too, all adding up to a nicely layered production.

My favorite track on the album, at least next to “New York,” “Upside Down” is irresistible. The jazzy-30s vibe is tailor-made for Paloma’s voice, and the male background vocals complement her well. This song will get you moving! The middle eight is my fave bit, especially when she takes a melodic page from The Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” I hope this gets released as a single!! “Romance Is Dead” starts off dreamily, with atmospheric, gauzy production and a pretty melody. The second verse has fantastic lyrics, like when Paloma sings “you kiss with such a potential.” I love how her voice cracks at 2:18 – Paloma is such a captivating singer.

“New York.” What can be said about this piece of absolute loveliness? Sumptuous, larger than life, and featuring a tour-de-force vocal from Paloma, “New York” is the highlight of an already excellent album. I adore the lilting background vocals that enter in the second chorus. The whole song is amazing, but when the choral background vocals come in at 2:33, this track moves from the pop realm into the sublime.

un00titled“Stargazer” has a beautiful chorus, both melodically and lyrically: “how will I shine anymore without your atmosphere?” Perhaps not as ambitious as the other songs on the album, it still sounds beautiful. “My Legs Are Weak” is like a gorgeous, downtempo funeral march. The chorus cry of “goodbye sweet angel” is movingly mournful. The bombastic closing track, “Play On,” is sort of like a companion piece to “My Legs Are Weak.” That blast of a chorus is just wonderful – Paloma really belts it out! The strings and horns are in particularly good form here. A rather epic way to end a really lovely album.

Also worth seeking out is the pretty, relatively restrained “Press Lightly,” an iTunes bonus track. You can find places to buy Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? here! :)

Hadise – Fast Life (2009)

A couple months on from my declaration that Hadise‘s Fast Life was probably my favorite pop album of the year, I stand by what I said – Fast Life is a fab album!

Hadisepackshot%281%29Kicking things off right is Hadise’s Eurovision entry, “Dum Tek Tek.” Turkish rhythms and western beats combine to make a melting pot of fabulousness, with male choral “hey!”s coming in towards the end to heighten the excitement. What a shame this didn’t win the prize! “Fast Life,” the second single from the album, features lyrics about being busy, busy, busy, and unable to find love. It’s less energetic than “Dum Tek Tek,” but that doesn’t detract from the electro-tinged pop proceedings. Love the line “on my high heels, try walking a mile on these”!

The next track, “Supernatural Love,” has a nice bridge (“and it’s burning…”) and ultra-catchy hook – “I don’t even have to ask-ask-ask, will this love last-last-last?” Fast-paced and fun, this is one you’ll want to play over again. “Long Distance Relationships” is that rare kind of song that is at once both melancholy and danceable. The high-pitched atmospheric synths that come in at 1:35 and the background vocals that enter at 2:08 really add depth to the sound.

My favorite track of the album (tied with “On Top,” which comes later), “Here” is a song about moving on. Beautiful strings and guitar work soar above grungy beats and buzzing synths, and Hadise’s lightly soulful voice sounds perfect for delivering lines like “being sad made me strong.” A great song – in fact, the title of her 2009 Turkish album is taken from this song: Kahraman, the Turkish version of “Hero.” Coming up next is “Married Man,” the only song on the album that doesn’t really go anywhere (but sounds awesome anyway). Hadise sounds fierce as she advises us to “never mess with a married man.” I particularly like the high note Hadise hits in the middle of the song, and the back-up vocals that warn “don’t do it, girl!”

Funky and ferocious – that’s “On Top”! The lyrics are fantastic, with lines like “once my army hits your shores, you’ll wish you could end this war” highlighting how Hadise is the head bitch in charge! The groovy bass intertwines with zippy synths, making this a perfect funk-electro hybrid. The moral of the story? “You better not mess with Hadise!” The next song, “Obsession,” has such a great chorus – it’s just good old-fashioned pop. The middle eight distorts the vocal, “tossing and turning,” so that it sounds like it’s doing just that – tossing and turning! Nice touch.

untitled23234Turkish-flavored like “Dum Tek Tek,” “Double Life” has got another killer of a chorus. It’s not that it’s big or anything, it’s just the perfect blend of great lyrics and great music. I love the “I gotta be with you” ad libs and the flute-y sounding instrumental flourishes – cool stuff! The cute “First Steps” is musically kind of like electro-doo wop, but without “doo wop”s. The “running around” middle eight is heavenly!

The final song on Fast Life, “I’ll Try Not To Cry” ends the album on a high note. Big beats, sweeping synths, and expressive vocals from Hadise convey the sadness and need for strength in a breakup. Love her big vocalizations towards the close of the track. It’s a nice conclusion to a fun pop experience!

You can buy Fast Life on iTunes or 7Digital. It doesn’t look like it’s been released in the US yet, but you can buy Kahraman on iTunes! :)

GaGa ooh la la

untitled2Have you seen Lady GaGa’s new video for her newest masterpiece, “Bad Romance”? It. Is. Phenomenal! I like the “Paparazzi” vid but didn’t quite get why everyone was so buzzed about it. The “Bad Romance” video, however, has made me love the Lady even more.

What I think I love most about this visually arresting video is that it defines Lady GaGa – she is not afraid to be “weird.” She doesn’t do safe. And yet, she manages to be sexy and fierce even while going outside the box. No, she’s probably not a super-serious artiste, but who cares? She’s fresh, fabulous, and fun – and the most exciting pop star out there right now. (Well, at least until Kylie comes out with another single! :) )

Also – because I seem to relate everything back to the Mighty Boosh – anyone else think of this…

3699475626_2838048d8a…during this part?

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Great minds, I guess! :)

Short takes

I’ve been listening to a lot of 2009 albums over my ~hiatus~ – unfortunately, not every album I listen to can end up as one of my favorites. Here are a few that I won’t be adding to my “best of 2009” list at the end of the year, but that I think are still worth a listen. :)

Utada-03-bigUtada – This Is The One
The album doesn’t start very memorably – “On And On” is just bland. “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – FYI” is also rather formulaic, but I love the way a melody, which is cribbed from a song composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, is incorporated. The next track, “Apple And Cinnamon,” has nice piano and beats, and I like the “chemistry like apple and cinnamon” simile – but otherwise the song just doesn’t have that “something.” But “Taking My Money Back” has a bit of a 90s groove and great lyrics, like “what a waste of a man so fi-i-ine,” so things are looking up! “This One,” the best ballad so far, features the lyric “I’ve been living on my own like Freddie” – nice reference! :)

I found that this album gets better as it goes on. “Automatic Part II” has neat vocoded vocals, and is full of catchy swagger. “Dirty Desire” is fast-paced and I love the heavy beats and nice synth breakdown toward the end. A great guitar riff and fun lyrics like “Oops! Did I turn you on?” make “Poppin'” the album’s best track. Listen out for the “yes” after the “we have it better” lyric. At first I thought I preferred the Seamus Haji & Paul Emanuel remix of “Come Back To Me,” but the song sounds just as good as a ballad. I suppose it just depends on your mood! Love the chorus, which is beautifully melancholic but not sappy. The album closes with “Me Muero,” an up-to-date, 60s-loungey track. It’s a fine song but feels out of place; an odd way to end a patchy album.

1238761746_bwoBWO – Big Science
Big Science begins with my favorite song on the album, “Right Here Right Now.” The next track is really good too. “Love Came Crashing Down” has a piano intro that instantly brings to mind Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of A Thin Man,” while the chorus reminds me of “Everlasting Love.” So OK, the song is derivative, but I still dig it. The big, gospel-infused ending is cool. “Kings Of Tomorrow (Ballad Version)” is moodily downtempo, and I have no idea what it’s about. It references “sealing fates,” “waiting for signals,” and “fighting the resistance.” So, yeah. I dunno. The next song, “Burning Down The House,” is very 60s-inspired, especially by the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” but is ultimately kinda flat.

Current single “Rise To The Occasion” has nice violin work and hand-clap beats, and I like the “oh whoa oh oh”s in the chorus. “You’re Not Alone (Ballad Version)” has cheesy beats, but the synths are great. The next song, “Bite The Bullet,” is a bit dull, really… “In Too Deep” is pop-by-numbers… but “Thunderbolt” strikes next to save the day with its driving beat and chilled middle eight. Definitely better than the last few songs. “Rhythm Of The Night” is a midtempo track that’s decent but not great. There is a nice Queen-esque vocal rise toward the end, though, so listen for that. “Singing In My Car” is just far too cheesy. I’m a big fan of cheese but this just grates on my nerves (pun intended!) for some reason. BWO can do much better than this. The next song is some sort of sci-fi love song. “Shoot From The Heart” is one of those super-fast BWO songs that I love. The final two tracks are “disco versions” of “Kings Of Tomorrow” and “You’re Not Alone,” and I much prefer them to the ballad versions.

handsLittle Boots – Hands
“New In Town” kicks things of excellently. It’s irresistibly catchy and the chorus is fierce. Little Boots’ voice, though, doesn’t grab you or compel you to listen. The music is great, but there’s no personality driving it. Still, “New In Town” is really, really good stuff. “Earthquake” is synthesized heaven with a pretty chorus. The disco-y “Stuck On Repeat” doesn’t really go anywhere, but I like the beautiful “every time I try” melody. “Click”is icily bubbly and has a fun chorus – I really like this one. The dance-y and catchy “Remedy” sounds like Lady GaGa, which makes sense, because it was produced by RedOne. “Meddle” has a fantastic chorus, but only OK verses. The military beat of “Ghost” is good, but the rest of it isn’t anything special. Clever lyrics, plus a nice melody on the “heart plus a heart” bit, keep “Mathematics” from being too flat. “Symmetry” is very 80s, but in a good way. Little Boots’ voice goes well with Philip Oakey’s (of The Human League), but his vocals highlight how soft and, well, dull, her voice is.

“Tune Into My Heart”: I can hear that it’s a nice song but it just doesn’t strike a chord with me. “Hearts Collide,” on the other hand, does. This dark track is the best song on the album after “New In Town.” Hands closes with “No Brakes,” which has a good bridge, but is really a weak ending to the album. The trouble with Little Boots is that you want to like her – she’s pop! she’s electro! she covered a Freddie Mercury song (“Love Kills”)! – but her songs leave you feeling like you had a big meal but still feel empty. Her tunes do sound tasty but just aren’t satisfying.

5554Erika Jayne – Pretty Mess
“Stars” is first and is a disco dream! Erika’s kittenish voice, somewhat like that of Donna Lewis or Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell, is perfect for this pop confection. Great synth work and cool vocal effects (love the descending vocal at the end of each verse!) and Erika’s delivery bring the attitude to “Just A Phaze.” The bit at 2:58 is rather euphoric, really. “Everybody Wants Some” of this next track, which starts with a very French-sounding accordion, then gets into a dirty groove. Love the way Erika sings “she’s so bad!” Her purring and meowing get pretty silly, though. “Give You Everything” takes us back to the disco. Everything about this track is fantastic – the chorus is instantly memorable and the production is top-of-the-line. The Mike Rizzo Funk Generation remix of this song is really great, too, by the way! “Pretty Mess”: Oh dear. The one track on the album that just doesn’t work. The sex-driven lyrics are just tired, and basically the song is only a few of those lyrics repeated. Sadly dull.

“Beautiful” is more like it! A perfect summer song, all about beaches, sunsets, and sunrises. Hot beats and shimmery production touches give this track a beachy kind of cool. Deep ‘n’ dirty bass underscores the fabulously filthy lyrics of “Roller Coaster.” No, this track doesn’t really go anywhere – but like a rollercoaster ride, it’s not the destination that matters. What matters is the ~journey~. ;) On the next track, Sheila E. provides some seriously infectious beats. But “Time To Realize” is otherwise kinda boring – you’d think a track featuring Sheila E. would have more energy! The bitchy-fun lyrics, like “is that your real hair?”, make “Run Along” a memorable track. “Sex Shooter” has bite: Erika has incredibly confident delivery. The tempo slows down with “Without You,” a pretty track that proves Erika’s voice works just as well floating atop downtempo beats as riding dance drums. “Love You Forever” starts off as a slow jam, then segues into a delightful dance number. I suppose this song has the slow-to-fast formula of “Pretty Mess,” but for some reason “Love You Forever” works much better. “Lose Myself” is set in Paris in 1922 – no, I have no idea why either! – and accordingly this mellow groove features some French words d’amour. The production is beautifully atmospheric. Erika should try some more songs like this – she’s not just a disco dolly! “One More Time” closes this album with panache. Erika’s voice is really pretty here, supported by breezy, gauzy synths and beats.

All in all, a worthy album, especially considering it’s a debut. Sure there are a few less-than-stellar tracks, but a couple clunkers out of 14 songs is pretty good, I’d say! :)

la-rouxLa Roux – La Roux
You either like La Roux’s Elly Jackson’s high-pitched vocals, or you run screaming in the other direction. Personally, I quite like that her voice isn’t your typical pop vocal. The album gets the show on the road with “In For The Kill,” a nicely icy synth-pop gem. Elly’s tough delivery on “Tigerlily” gives the song a great aggressive vibe. The chorus, in contrast to the forceful verses, is rather pretty. Elly Jackson’s father gives a Vincent Price-in-“Thriller”-esque voiceover toward the end of “Tigerlily,” and to me it’s too obviously derivative to be fresh. “Quicksand” was the first La Roux song I heard, and I loved it! It’s pretty simply arranged, with no big chorus or anything, but it just sounds really good. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like “Bulletproof” at first. It sounded like an ad jingle for a toy store or something. Then I listened again, and the ricocheting drums and fierce melody got lodged in my brain. I guess it was the bubbly synths at the beginning that threw me off at first! Gentler vocals from Elly and a lovely melody make “Colourless Colour” a highlight of the album. I love how the chorus introduces a driving beat – it gives the song that little extra punch.

Though “I’m Not Your Toy” was a single, I think it is fairly average stuff. To be honest, the “I’m not your toy” thing was done much more meaningfully by Lesley Gore with “You Don’t Own Me” in the 60s. Still, “I’m Not Your Toy” is not a bad song, it just pales in comparison to the first five tracks of La Roux. The soft vocals from Elly and the twinkling synths of “Cover My Eyes” makes me think this would’ve been a good slow-dance song in the 80s or something. I like the background vocals here, “ooh”-ing and echoing key lines. To me, this song, aside from those neat bg vox, is one of the reasons why La Roux songs are thought of as just pastiches of 80s synth-pop. By all means, get inspiration from 80s artists – just don’t stick to their formula! The melancholy but bouncy “As If By Magic” reminds me of Ladyhawke’s sound. Next is “Fascination.” From the beginning of this track, my interest was piqued. The catchy melody is enhanced by thumping beats and galloping synths.

“Reflections Are Protection”: By this track, I realized I prefer La Roux’s more fast-paced songs. When they slow it down, the fairly simple synths are less effective than when paired with more energetic vocals and beats. I do like the chorus of this track, though, so it’s not all bad. The album closes with “Armour Love,” a huge step up from “Reflections…” More downtempo than just slow, “Armour Love” has more “oomph” to it because of the nifty beats and synths that don’t sound as color-by-numbers. Bonus track “Growing Pains” is stronger than, say, “Reflections…”, so I would have included it as an album track. The chorus, with its complaint that the answer Elly gets to her questions or struggles is simply “it’s just growing pains,” sounds a bit like a whiny teenager! But the melody’s good, so I can forgive her for the chorus lyrics. :)

All of these albums should be available on iTunes, though I’m not sure about BWO’s Big Science… Anyways – happy listening! :)

Florence + The Machine – Lungs (2009)

As I noted in my last semi-review: Florence + The Machine‘s Lungs is exquisite. Here are my thoughts about this beauty of a record. :)

florence-and-the-machines-lungLungs begins with the 2008 single “Dog Days Are Over.” It starts off calmly enough with plucked harp strings… then some hand claps… then the “run fast for your mother” bit comes along and BOOM! Well, that’s the first, smaller BOOM of the song. Wait for the moment after the gentle piano interlude, when the BOOM! really gets ya. “Happiness hit her” indeed! The jolt at 3:05, when the song quiets down then explodes back into the chorus, is the final brilliant BOOM! of “Dog Days Are Over.” The album, by the way, is not short on BOOM! moments. It is a testament to Florence’s great skill, because though the BOOM!s are many, they never feel unwelcome or dull.

Dreamy sounds kick “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)” off. Every section of the song is delicious, especially the “here I am, a rabbit-hearted girl” bridge, and that lush, Enya-like “ahhh-ah” right before the chorus. And of course, I love that there’s a potential Kate Bush reference in the line “I must become a lionhearted girl.” :) This is really an epic little tune, with its references to Midas, lambs and knives, and water turning from blue to red. I absolutely love the final, weary “this is a gift…” The next track, “I’m Not Calling You A Liar,” didn’t really appeal to me on first listen. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just doesn’t hit me the same way the rest of the songs do. However, I do love the creepy imagery of the lyrics – “there’s a ghost in my mouth… wraps itself around my tongue as it softly speaks.” The harp-accompanied “there but for the grace of God go I” part of the song is lovely, too.

Florence%2B%2BThe%2BMachine%2Bflorence%2B%2BgloveOh my goodness. “Howl.” Can you say “intense”? Everything about this song is fantastic. The pounding percussion and squealing strings pulse around Florence’s primal wail. Make sure to brace yourself for 2:16 – 2:30, especially the point where the music drops out and Florence cries “I hunt for you with bloody feet across the hollow groooound!” Sends a shiver down my spine, I can tell you. The song concludes with just Florence’s voice, on the word “ground.” Beautiful.

I’m reminded of Siobhan Donaghy’s Ghosts album when it comes to the next track, “Kiss With A Fist.” Just as “12 Bar Acid Blues” sounded great but didn’t quite fit with the rest of Ghosts, so “Kiss With A Fist”‘s punky garage rock sits awkwardly amidst the raw regality of the rest of Lungs. This one particular guitar lick towards the end of “Kiss With A Fist” brings to mind the nifty ending of Queen’s “It’s Late,” when the band has a short freak-out and Freddie’s voice and Brian May’s guitar squeal before returning to the main melody. OK, so anyways…! “Kiss With A Fist” is fab for what it is, but it’s just not a perfect fit with the rest of the album.

Now, the next track fits the album perfectly. Ghostly guitar leads us into the tale of the “Girl With One Eye.” Eerie, kinda gross (“I took a knife and cut out her eye”), and rather brilliant, really. The “I said hey, girl with one eye” refrain is addictive. There are 3 BOOM! moments to treasure in this song: at 2:22, when Florence’s voice soars over the erupting song; 2:45 and its sharp intake of breath; and 2:57’s “I said! [BANG!] Girl with one eye…”. You just can’t get any better than those wonderfully jarring instances.

Florence%2B%2BThe%2BMachine%2BRT3R6Km9rofnppwzkqyfhP2Co1_400
Noel Fielding and Florence

“Drumming,” the current Flo single, is next. The percussion at the beginning reminds me of the beats from the training montage in The Mighty Boosh’s first series episode, “Killeroo.” (There’s Florence glaring at Noel Fielding for some reason, in the picture at left.) Anyways! Now that’s out of the way, “Drumming” is one of those songs that is more of an experience than just a tune. Such wonderful, evocative lyrics, like how the “drumming noise inside my head” is described as being “such an almighty sound.” It’s almost a couple different songs in one, and yet it works so well. Excellent stuff! More excellence comes in the form of “Between Two Lungs,” one of the less heavy songs on the album. Beautiful lyrics about “the breath that passed from you to me” float upon jaunty piano and jangly beats. A magical little song.

Speaking of magic – “Cosmic Love”! This song is out of this world (lol). Florence booms “the stars, the moon, they have all been blown out,” and that’s just what it feels like when you listen to “Cosmic Love.” Another “experience” song, really. The next track, “My Boy Builds Coffins,” made an impression on me on my first listen to the album. It just sounds like it’s an old classic; the lyrics are simple but compelling and the music is the most restrained on the album. It’s a fabulous little gem of a tune. And then comes “Hurricane Drunk”! I love the joyfully resigned chorus to this: “I’m going out! I’m gonna drink myself to death!” Florence makes being down in the dumps a delightful notion with “Hurricane Drunk”: the music has a skip in its step and I imagine would be fun to see performed live.

Florence%2B%2BThe%2BMachine%2B%2Bjesse%2Bjenkins%2BphotographyThe album technically closes with “You’ve Got The Love” (such a fun cover of the Candi Staton song), but from what I’ve read it’s supposed to be a bonus track, so for me the album really ends with “Blinding.” And what an ending. The menacing harp motif, the awesome atmospheric touches, the lyrics: “no more dreaming of the dead as if death itself was undone,” “no more calling like a crow for a boy, for a body in the garden” (what’s up with Florence and the death-y imagery?!), and “all the walls of dreaming, they were torn wide open” are but a few of the lusciously morbid lyrics in “Blinding.” My favorite thing about the song is that it ends with a sharp breath. I mean, I love all of the song, but I adore that it ends so dramatically.

If you haven’t listened to Lungs yet, go forth and listen! :)

Hallelujah!

Great news, or greatest news ever?

[Siobhan Donaghy] is carrying her trusty laptop, containing work-in-progress from a new musical project; words that will be a comfort to the members of her fanbase who felt a sense of mild panic when she recently announced that she would be taking a sabbatical from the industry. “I feel like I have had that break now” she says, though her relaxed demeanour and self-confessed perfectionism betray the fact that she won’t be rushed.

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Discovering Siobhan Donaghy’s album Ghosts (and then her debut album, Revolution In Me) in 2007 was one of my favorite musical moments in the last few years, so I was gutted to read in January 2009 that she had “no further plans to undertake a record of my own.”

But a new interview with PonyStep (from September 16, 2009, and it includes stunning new photos!) reveals that Siobhan’s fans’ prayers have been answered. A new musical project! I am stoked. There aren’t even any other details about the project out yet, and from the looks of the quote (“she won’t be rushed”) it’ll be some time before we get to hear her new stuff, but I’m just thrilled that she’s back in business.

I think Siobhan is a really special artist. I can’t really explain it, though I tried in my reviews of Ghosts and Revolution In Me. I dunno. All I do know is that I like what I’ve heard, and now I can’t wait to hear more. :)

I’m still here!

Guess what? I’m not dead! ;) Here’s an eye saga update from my LiveJournal from August 13:

I saw a neurologist twice, and he confirmed that I have optic neuritis. He says I will definitely recover, but it will take time, and I’ll have to be checked out once every few months for the next couple of years. I’m just glad that things have settled down now – but it’s a wonderful thing that I’ve got some great doctors looking out for my health. :) … After all this nonsense, I’m actually in good spirits and all, so things are pretty good right now. :)

Turns out that after everything settled down, though I was in good spirits, the stress of what I’d been through this summer with my eye sort of hit me – and so I kinda just chilled through August. This meant a lack of posts here, and a lack of reading all the cool music blogs I love. It really hasn’t been that long, but life moves fast in the music world – so much has happened in music while I’ve been AWOL! I’ve been jotting down notes about albums I’ve listened to during this unintentional hiatus and I can’t wait to get back to rambling. ;)

I hope everyone has been doing well and enjoying some great tunes! :D