Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's December 1st....

So you know what that means. Only 3 tracks on heavy rotation:

1. Last Christmas- Wham!
2. All I Want For Christmas is You- Mariah Carey
3. Do They Know it's Christmas?- Band Aid II (original is also acceptable)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Album Review: Duffy 'Endlessly'

There's a reason why a sophmore album is labelled 'the very difficult second album'. Some artists get it right whilst others do not. That's because when you're coming off an exceptional debut, there's either a decision to stick with the same sound (it worked the first time, so why not) or change it up so audiences don't get bored. There's an equal chance of both options failing or being successful.

Here though, Duffy has cleverly decided to both change it up and keep her blue-eyed soul sound that rocketed her to stardom on her debut 'Rockferry'.
Whilst her debut was mainly ballad heavy, 'Endlessly' is a more upbeat affair. Yes, there are ballads ('Too Hurt to Dance, 'Don't Forsake Me' and 'Hard for the Heart'), but there are also tracks like the first single 'Well, Well, Well' which show this other side to her that 'Mercy' really only hinted at. Heck, she even goes a bit disco on 'Lovestruck'. I know, guys. I know. But it works. It's almost like the upbeat blue eyed soul of the 60s in a contemporary format. There's beats! And drums! And strings!

As for singles, nothing really standouts as opposed to her debut, but as an album it works well. The change in her production and writing team really shows (I believe the dance sound is ultimately due to Stuart Price's co-production on some tracks- gosh, he is getting around this year!) and while some audiences may find her uber-vibrato voice grating, I quite enjoy it. Certainly, out of her peers (Amy Winehouse and Adele) her album was by far my favourite and this second album solidifies it. My only gripe is the lack of dual epicness. On 'Rockferry' we had the title track and closed with 'Distant Dreamer' but the siblings here 'My Boy' and 'Hard For the Heart', although amazing, fall short of the grandiose aspects of the former tracks.

Verdict:A solid effort. 4 out of 5.
Key tracks: My Boy, Breath Away, Hard For The Heart, Keeping My Baby, Well, Well, Well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interrupting our normal programming....

Today I was hoping to do a review of Duffy's new album 'Endlessly'.

(This is a picture of it)

Sadly, my local CD store did not have it.

I was also hoping to write up my thoughts on Take That's new album 'Progress'

(This is a picture of it too. Nifty, isn't it?)

Sadly, I'm still waiting on my order courtesy of the same CD store.

In conclusion, I have no new music to report on as yet. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The case for B-side

'These are dark times...'
(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K Rowling)

Around 10 years ago, when I was 10 or 11 years old, I used to look forward to Monday afternoons. Why? Because I knew there would be two things waiting for me in the car when my mother picked my sisters and I up from school. These were 1)the weekly magazines (Woman's Day, New Idea and NW. Sometimes Who) and 2) the new chart releases i.e the humble CD single. Fast forward to now and I rarely pick up the weeklies (mainly because 80% of their stories are junk journalism) and the CD single is a dying species.

In the digital age, the argument for the (slow) eradication of the physical single has been because of the increase of mp3s (illegal and legal downloads), whereby consumers can have the song that they want instantaneously without having any of the ad-ons.

This is all well and good for casual fans of artists, but what about the uber-fans? By taking away the CD single, there is nothing tangible for them to invest in emotionally. Sure we have the mp3, but that's just a track existing in the murky depths of cyber space and brings up all sorts of meta-physical and existential questions (in the vein of 'if a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no-one hears it, did it really fall?')

The uber-fan needs the physical single as proof of their ingroup status and their identification of their fandom. It's something the can hold up and say 'SEE!!! I DO LOVE THIS ARTIST!'

Sadly, it doesn't look as though the single will ever come back in a big way. Many stores have stopped stocking them and in an ironic sort of fashion, the only place to find them is to order them online.

Which brings me to the idea of the digital single and the uber-fan. For some reason, many artists are now only putting out 1 tracks or digital bundles with a bajillion remixes on them. The 1-tracks are perfect for the casual fan (who actually *GASP* pays for their music) but the lack of b-sides are becoming problematic for uber-fans. Without a b-side on a single, the incentive to buy is withdrawn, thus forcing the fan to question the status of their ingroup membership- it makes them stop and go 'Well, I've already got the album. Why do I need this single?' I know some fans love the remixes, but there are even more who love new material. There are some who don't question their fandom and continue to support the artist and I tip my proverbial hat off to them.

Personally, I believe that a b-side shows us another side to an album's era and is part and parcel of a singles success. It's like ying and yang: the b-side balances out the a-side so it's not all club beats and dubs.

And with that, I think I'll go weep into my jewel cases now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Track of the Day

Katy Perry- Firework

Well, Katy Purry, who I've had a so-so relationship with in the past, has really piqued my interest with her last two singles off her latest album 'Teenage Dream'. The title track is a fantastic, punchy pop track, encapsulating the freedom of youth and the feelings of summer within each punctured beat of the chorus. I was hooked from the opening guitar chords and a few months later, I'm still loving it. Not so with with the first single 'California Gurls' which I felt was a shambolic 'Tik-Tok' ripoff (I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on that.) And I really couldn't stand 'Tik-Tok'.

So when I heard her third single 'Firework', I held my breath and reserved judgment until the end. And I was not disappointed. It's not as great as its predecessor, but it's full on, ballsy chorus does a pretty good job of sitting in your head for hours after listening. And that, in my opinion, makes for an excellent pop song. It comes complete with cheesy lyrics ('Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?'- why yes, Katy. All the time) and 'meaningful' video- kid with cancer, gay men kissing, thugs, fireworks exploding from Katy's chest. You know. Symbolic stuff.
Not a classic but close enough.


I realise it's been a whole year since I've updated. So, I'd like to take this time to say I'm sorry.
It's not, you it's me. I had a lot on my plate this year with uni and such... I'm sorry. Come back!
I miss you :(
I promise to try harder.
I'll be around more often, what with the holidays and such.
You've got to try harder to communicate with me- that's the only way this relationship will ever work.
I'll bring more presents- photos, and goodies and updates etc...
Just don't leave me again. Please.
I'm sorry.