Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Tunes Tastings


It's Tuesday, and so it's time for another Tuesday Tunes Tasting.  There was a LOT more to ingest last Friday, and so this is going to be a far longer post than last week.  Some good, some great, some awful; there's a lot to discuss today.

I want to start by making a slight note regarding David Bowie.  The first album I listened to and graded was Bowie's latest release, Blackstar.  I was tempted, upon hearing of his death Sunday night, to revisit the album and even my grade, but I didn't want it to be tainted by emotion, so I have decided to keep my initial review as it was written last week.

And on that note; here we go:


All I Know [Conrad Sewell]


I knew that I knew this name when I started this EP…but it didn’t hit me until about halfway through that this was the same kid who sings that awful Hold Me Up song (that until now I had always thought was sung by a woman) and then that song came on and my face kind of made this awful cringe.  All I know is that all was lost at that moment, sort of.  All I Know starts of somewhat strong, with Start Again being a really well-crafted pop track with stellar vocals and nice gospel flair.  Why Sewell felt it necessary to delve into 90’s electro-pop after that is beyond me.  Unlike Justin Timberlake and even Nick Jonas, Sewell is unable to take inspired artists like Michael Jackson (whose influence is all over Who You Lovin) and make them feel anything but a dated reference.  Start Again is a beacon of light in a sea of mediocrity until we get to Firestone, which is so beautifully composed I almost thought I had started a different album.  That chorus quietly creeps up on you and delivers a tremendous emotional sting as Sewell delivers achingly earnest vocals I wouldn’t have believed he could give us based on the wreckage of the rest of this album.

Grade: 
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I’m not all that interested in where this career goes, mainly because this album feels like self-sabotage.  It’s messy and misdirected, drawing legitimate influence from good music but failing to do anything with it.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Best Male Vocal: Firestone
Best Pop Song: Firestone

AudioDamn! [AudioDamn!]


This short and sweet EP contains such spunk that I can’t help but kind of adore it.  Rock Pop personified, but with such shimmery energy.  This reminds me a lot of what Maroon 5 used to be, bubbly, sharply constructed Rock Pop standards, with slick pulses of soul, R&B and electropop laced into each and every track.  The single Radar has such endearing horns driving the beat, and the opening Brief Microsleep is edgy and fun.  Lights Out amps of the rock aspects of their sound, giving a little more attention to the almost British Punk Rock vibe, and the closing Give It Up feels so radio ready in all it’s well timed catchiness (and that chanting chorus).  All I have to say it…I really hope they drop a complete album this year!

Grade:
4 Miley Tongues
Why?  I’m ready to see where these guys take this sound.  Like I said, very early Maroon 5, which is a good thing and a potentially harmful thing, considering that Maroon 5 has kind of desolved into a joke of sorts.  I hope they hone this sound and continue to produce interesting and diverse music.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Extended Play of the Year: AudioDamn!
Best Rock Song: Lights Out

Blackstar [David Bowie]


Bowie’s opening title track, lasting nearly ten minutes, sets the tone for this listening experience.  Bizarre, intriguing, provoking and long.  Yes, despite only containing seven songs, Blackstar feels like it lasts a few hours.  Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Sure, I’d love for these 5-6 minute songs to have been trimmed a tad (since they tend to get repetitious), but there is something about the sheer audacity of this album that almost demands these extreme running time.  Blending alternative rock with jazz, electro-pop and soul; Blackstar feels like an experience more than anything else; an album to respect and admire more than love.  Lyrically, Bowie is all over the map, going from spiritual (Lazarus) to sensual (‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore) to almost parody-like (Girl Loves Me) and yet they kind of fit together to tell this complete story of an album.  When all is said and done, with all this experimentation going on, it is when Bowie tones it down that he shines the most.  Lazarus is a truly beautiful song, one that takes the 80’s musicality (it almost feels like a Phil Collins message song) and makes it feel relevant and modernized.  Straightforward and direct, it seeps into our ears and into our minds in the best possible way.

Grade:
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  It’s messy, but in a really beautiful way and is one of those albums that I’m bound to revisit throughout the year and it may even rise in my esteem as I listen to it more.

Possible Mouthi Contenter?
Album of the Year: Blackstar
Favorite Song of the Year: Lazarus
Best Songwriting: Lazarus
Alternative Album of the Year: Lazarus
Best Alternative Song: Lazarus

Leave Me Alone [Hinds]


So, here is my issue with these garage style indie bands; they can (and often do) bore me.  Standard guitar riffs played out in a very muted and uninteresting way with zero polish and nothing substantial to hold onto, leaving us with a body of work that is bland and busted sounding.  I tried.  I really tried to like this.  I take that back; I listened to it THREE TIMES looking for any reason to not give it a solitary tongue and I couldn’t find one.  BAD vocals, BORING musicality, ZERO charisma.  Mess.

Grade:
1 Miley Tongue
Why?  Need I say more than what I already said?

Possible Mouthi Contender?
NO

Joytime [Marshmello]


Electronica/Dance is a genre that I once adored and then kind of fell out of love with but have genuinely been more and more inclined to listen to lately, and Joytime is the latest D/E offering I was able to digest.  Marshmello is new to the game, and their debut shows nice promise.  Overall, it’s a touch repetitive, but the almost videogame tones here are kind of infectious.  It’s bouncy and in many ways a delightfully fun and flirty album that has some great standout tracks like Find Me, which has a real slink to the way it dissects its own sounds, and the closing track Keep It Mello, which utilizes vocals from rapper Omar Linx to give the track added aural depth.

Grade:
3 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  It is a fun album, but it does get too repetitive and doesn’t offer enough differentiation between tracks to make it feel like a complete album.  Too often, it feels like one really long song.  Overall, I like the sound produced here, but they need to spice things up a little more in order to sustain their career.

Potential Mouthi Contender?
Best Dance/Electronica Song:  Find Me

Queen’s Speech [Lady Leshurr]


So, apparently Lady Leshurr became some kind of internet sensation when her freestyle raps went viral over the past year or so.  I’d never heard of her, but whatever.  This collection of those previously released freestyles shows talent, but it also feels like one long repetitious release that I can’t help but feel detached from it.  Her lyrical content is a touch weak (and also repetitive), which I guess is a sign of her ‘freestyle’, so hopefully she can clean it up when she actually makes an official release of original material; but if 1 Million Views is an indication of what she’ll be producing, I’m not very hopeful.

Grade:
2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I see the potential, but I’m afraid she’ll squander it.  Her vocals are unique (she reminds me of M.I.A.) but her actual content is just so weak.  I’ll definitely give her debut album a spin, but my expectations will remain low.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
NO

Ron Pope & the Nighthawks [Ron Pope]


I feel like I’ve been listening to more Country music since I left Texas than while I was living there, but a lot of that has to do with this new venture of being a music completest and so here I am finding out about a Country/Southern Rock act I had never heard of before but am glad I know now.  Yup, there is so much soul (and a little blues) wrapped up in Ron Pope’s latest album and I’m ready to dig into his entire discography.  Think Bob Seger meets Lynyrd Skynyrd meets the delicacy of Caleb Coudle (if you don’t know him, you should) and you have Ron Pope.  Take Me Home cranks up the Southern Rock homage while the beautiful Hotel Room stirs up such emotional intimacy and then he takes us to the Honky-Tonk with tracks like Bad Intentions.  Pope’s voice has a nice way of finding the rawness in his words.  You feel his loss, his pain, his slipping grasp on his story.  Lies and Cigarettes just bleeds such tragic honesty and latches itself onto the listener.

Grade:
4 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  Pope brings everything he has to the table, laying it all on us and he delivers!  If you love Country music or Southern Rock then this album has something on it for you.  The sheer range of his style here is enough to make it a worthy listen.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
Album of the Year: Ron Pope & the Nighthawks
Best Songwriting: Lies and Cigarettes
Male Vocal: Lies and Cigarettes
Country Album of the Year: Ron Pope & the Nighthawks
Best Country Song: Hotel Room

We Could Be [The Hunna]


This EP is pretty short, with only three tracks to give us a taste of what The Hunna is bringing to the table, and to be honest…I’m underwhelmed.  Their lead singer, Ryan, has such a whine to his voice that I was turned off about mid-Song two and kind of resolved to not care anymore, which is a shame since I kind of loved the title track, We Could Be.  Sadly, though, the vocals started to wane considerably, and Ryan’s attempt to be smooth and breathy distracted from the overall effect of the songs.  Be Young is the worst culprit since that chorus and the way “young” is drug out is almost painful on the ears.  The other thing here is that these guys are so generic that there is nothing special of interesting here.  They have the Brit-Rock thing going, but lack any true energy.  Think The Struts with the energy of Augustana.  It doesn’t fit or feel right at all.

Grade:
1 1/2 Miley Tongues
Why?  I’m bored and turned off and there isn’t enough here to yank my attention back.

Possible Mouthi Contender?
NO

16 comments:

  1. The album cover alone turned me off from Conrad Sewell. No danger of me ever listening to that. Of the rest, I'm most interested in Audiodamn since I really like early M5. Say what you will, but I like late M5, too. Might give the Bowie album a spin because that sounds interesting. Love these blurbs, but I will say I'm not sure what to think of that last one given the fact it's only 3 songs or the Lady Leshurr one since it's just freestyles. Curiosity might make me seek those out, as well. Great post!

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    1. LOL, that album cover is...pretty bad.

      I think you'll really love AudioDamn's ep then. Can't wait to hear what you think of it.

      I want an album from Lady Leshurr...but I'm fearful of what it'll feel like, to be honest.

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  2. The only album of these I have is Blackstar, which I enjoy. Lazarus is my favorite track on it, even though it's a very sad goodbye note.

    I finally got around to getting Begin Again's soundtrack though, I forgot how much I loved it.

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    1. Begin Again's soundtrack is so good.

      I'm loving all the love for Lazarus. Such a brilliant song, all the more so now.

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  3. I don't know any except for Bowie, of course,. Last night I watched some on Youtube and it just shows how amazing Bowie really is. A true artist in every sense who knew his mortality was coming close to the end. Great reviews!

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    1. He really was an artist, through and through!

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  4. OH-I know you are very busy and have enough on your plate but I follow Battle of the bands which is on the 1st and 15th of each month. The bloggers who join in take 1 song played by 2 different artists and you decide which one you prefer and why. Later in the week they let you know who won. You can find it over at Stephen T McCarthy's blog or Tossing it out.

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  5. I'm looking forward to listening to Blackstar. It sounds like it's a love letter to his fans. And we love you too David. Godspeed.

    We have to talk about the Miley tongue ratings. You know Miley would be perfectly lovely if she just kept her tongue in her mouth.

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    1. LOL, but it feels like the perfect kind of rating system!

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  6. I listened to Blackstar yesterday and was just reminded of how much I love the album. Lazarus easily makes my Top 5 Bowie Songs list as well. Really gonna miss him :(

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    1. Lazarus is such a powerful track, and with his passing so closely to the release of the album, it really does take on a new feeling/meaning.

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  7. I love that you listened to all of this music! Really looking forward to Blackstar, and Joytime sounds interesting.

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    1. This is how I spend my Fridays now :-P

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  8. I've been on holiday, so took a break from the blogosphere and haven't listened to Bowie's final album(hopefully this month). Your review certainly makes Black Star sound promising. I agree Lady Leshurr has potential.

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    1. Black Star is really great and an album I'll be listening to a lot this year, I'm sure.

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