Friday, November 6, 2009

Best 10 songs of 2009

Ok, let's go to the songs now. A bigger female presence here. I like female vocals a lot!

10. The Cure, Tegan and Sara:
Confused and slightly disturbing, this honest rip-off of The Cure's Lovesong is irresistible to me. 'All I said to you, all I did for you, seems so silly to me now'. This speaks directly to my soul!

9. Songs Remind Me Of You, Annie:
And here am I, talking about this singer again. Seriously, she might be the best pop singer around these days, and this is the best track of her new album.

8. Dominos, The Big Pink:
A big song with a catchy chorus about guys who cheat and write great songs about it. 'These girls fall like dominos, dominos...'

7. Resistance, Muse:
Matt Bellamy might be a little crazy (ok, not just a little...) and an extraordinary songwriter, but he's also a normal human being who is in love, and who fights for his love besides all the problems and shortcomings of a, am I really talking about the Muse leadsinger here?

6. Bulletproof, La Roux:
Possibly the only true catchy chorus in La Roux's album, here we get a break from her weird vocals. Which is not necessarily a good thing, but works great in this track.

5. 1901, Phoenix:
I saw Phoenix live this year (and I'm going to see them again in December...) and they closed with this, their biggest hit. The place almost felt apart, with everybody singing the words and jumping a lot. Nice moment.

4. Zero, Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
This starts slow, and builds up and up until it explodes. Then the last 2 minutes are pure nirvana. 'You're a zeroooo...' Epic!

3. Stillness is the move, Dirty Projectors:
Dirty Projectors are truly blog darlings and their exceptional album is going to be in 9 of 10 'best of' lists this year. I certainly believe that they deserve the hype, but overall their album is just too hard for me, with too many experimentations. Once you start to like a song, something too weird shows up and you're turned off. Thank god this doesn't happen with the entire record. When the Dirty Projectors's weird pop works, it works extremely well...

2. Sleepyhead, Passion Pit:
Since the beginning of their hype last year, Passion Pit released many memorable songs and that consistency is ultimately what makes them one of the best acts of 2009, but they never improved over their first (and best) hit.

1. Heads Will Roll, Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
'Of with their heads, dance till you're dead. Heads will roll, heads will roll, heads will roll...on the floor'. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs aimed very high with It's Blitz!. They really wanted people to dance. Sure it was a risky bet. But they totally won. I never really believed that they could go beyond the glory of 'Cheated Hearts' and 'Maps'. But they did it. The best song of their career and one of the greatest moments of this decade.

My 10 favorite 2009 albums!

Usually I wait until the year is over but since I don't expect much action in the next two months, and I really need to remember why life is worth living for, I decided to do my 'best of' lists tonight. In some sense, this is good because this way I do my list before magazines like NME and so I am a little bit less biased.
I'm more of a song's person than an album's person. That said, even thought 2009 was musically amazing, it was hard to make this list. Big hits like 'Poker Face' and 'Stillness is the move' were very important to me, but there was no way I could include them here, simply because the respective albums are not as good as a whole.
Anyway, below is my list. Hopefully it tells you something about my personality and, more importantly, it gives you a new act to listen to.

10. Cobra Starship, Hot Mess:
THe kind of plastic record that doesn't say anything and stills says it all. I used to hate these emo bastards but this time, by leaving the complaints and embracing the dancefloor, they really did it! This is probably the album that rivers Cuomo had in mind (but never accomplished) for Weezer's Raditude: just plain fun, without taking itself too seriously.

Highlights: Nice Guys Finish Last, Hot Mess, Good Girls Go Bad

9. Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You:
Oh god, I love british accent. I once went out with a british girl just because of her accent. Oh yeah, and the songs are amazing too...

Highlights: The Fear, Back To The Start

8. The Big Pink, A Brief History Of Love:
This feels like a long, dense and complicated trip, occasionally made more pleasant by things like the stellar 'Dominos', but still... I was not going to put this album here, but I was in love for the entire year, and I don't know. I just connect with this album, even thought it's far from perfect.

Highlights: Dominos, Velvet, Love In Vain

7. Muse, The Resistance:
My once favorite band came back in 2009, 3 years after the memorable Black Holes And Revelations. The Resistance may not match BH&R's glory, but still it's hard to not be touched by lyrics that speak so closely to my heart such as in 'Undisclosed Desires', or to the brilliant chorus of 'Resistance'.

Highlights: Resistance, Undisclosed Desires

6. Annie, Don't Stop:
Annie's music is exactly the kind of pop that I love the most. Plastic, with no big message, but still with weird touches. In "I don't like your band', when she sings (sarcastically) about feeling bad for not liking the guy's music, it reminds me of the best moments that Lily Allen might never had. 'Songs Remind Me of you' uses a simple (and ordinary) feeling and transforms it in one of the best chorus of the year. I could go all day... In terms of singles, this is possibly the album of the year!

Highlights: Don't Stop, Songs Remind Me Of You, Bad Times

5. Franz Ferdinand, Tonight:
Cold and calculated, yes, but Franz Ferdinand was always like that. You wouldn't necessarily want to be their close friend but still cannot resist the big party anthems. People talked a lot about the role of synthesizers in this record but at least in one of the tracks it yields a very interesting result: 'Lucid Dreams', an 8-minutes club epic, is beyond fascinating.

Highlights: Lucid Dreams, Turn It On, What She Came for

4. Passion Pit, Manners:
Seriously, can someone resist the the super catchy melodrama of songs like Sleepyhead and Little Secrets? Passion Pit is this year's MGMT and more than deserves all the love it got in 2009.

Highlights: Sleepyhead, The Reeling

3. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix:
While the Strokes are too busy delivering average solo projects that they can't be a band again, these french guys gave the world a reason not to miss them. With pop gems like '1901', who needs The Strokes anyway?

Highlights: 1901, Lasso, Liztomania

2. La Roux, La Roux:
At first, I dismissed this as just an overhyped effort of an ugly girl with an annoying voice. But with time the annoying voice became less annoying and more powerful, and her beauty...well, she's still the same but who cares? Like Annie's album, this is electropop at its best. Party tunes directed to the dancefloor, the kind of Britney spears that it's cool to like. But, unlike Annie's Don't Stop, the message here is dark and angry. Eleanor Jackson is not happy but she knows that the fun can never stop...

Highlights: Colourless Colour, Bulletproof, In for The kill

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!:
'Shake it like a ladder to the sun', the first words of the YYYs third album, could be considered an understatement of what this album does. It has the big party energy of FF's Tonight but without losing the emotional stuff that made this band epic in the past. Don't get me wrong, I love all the albums in this list, but It's Blitz! is 2009's best by a mile. Reviewing this record, Spin Magazine wrote: "The result is the alternative pop album of the decade-one that imbues The Killers's Hot Fuss and MGMT's Oracular Spectacular with a remarkable depth and finesse". I couldn't agree more.

Highlights: Heads Will Roll, Hysteric, Zero

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Album review, Muse, The Resistance

Few bands, if any, had such a big impact in my life as Muse. Back in the second semester of 2006, songs as 'Time is running out' and 'Butterflies and Hurricanes' were big anthems for me, songs that had effect in pretty much every aspect of my life. I loved, loved 'Black Holes and Revelations'. I lost count of how many times I danced like crazy to the beat of 'Supermassive Black Hole'. And what about 'Starlight'? Well, let's just say it was the the song that represented an important love...
For a lot of reasons, like 'Muscle Museum', 'Stockholm Syndrome', 'Knights of Cydonia' Muse was, for a long time my favorite band. But then time passed and I became more eletronic (and less crazy...) and simply got tired of songs that I heard hundreds of times. Sure, I always came back to hits as 'Hysteria' but it was never again like before.
That's why this year I had high expectations about a lot of albums and bands, but wasn't terribly excited about Muse. Plus when ' United States Of Eurasia' with its ridiculous Queen-inspired part came out, I was really, really disappointed. After this I didn't expect much of Muse. But then came first single 'Uprising' and, while wasn't the biggest song of their career, it had some interesting elements and it was, in the end, a very nice track.
Because of the reasons above, my expectations about 'The Resistance' were mixed. "Is it going to be like 'United States' or more like 'Uprising'?", I thought. Now that the album is out, the answer is: none of the above. There is more than one Muse here.
One is the 'pop' band of Starlight, that delivers an irresistible chorus in the title track. 'It could be wrong, it could be wrong, but it should've been right...' is certainly one of the catchiest lines of the year. Another good example of this more accesible Muse is 'Undisclosed Desires', which could be described as this year's 'Supermassive Black Hole'. Except that the lyrics are much better than in the latter. I think I would say these are the best lyrics of their career. It fits perfectly in the moment that I'm living right now.
But this would not be a Muse album without the difficult and weird sound that was always in many of their songs. And believe-me: there is plenty of weirdness here. 'Unnatural Selection' is a completely paranoid track but one that makes total sense once you remember who wrote it. Isn't it suspicious that human DNA makes us so smiliar to computers? Mathew Bellamy smells something like a conspiracy. And keeps going on and on using 100 different riffs during 6:55 minutes. It can't be more Muse than this.
However, while it's nice to keep the roots of the band and preserve the craziness, there are many times in this album where it just feels too much. Sure in 'MK Ultra', you hear, like 2 or 3 very nice sounds, but in the end, you get tired and just want slow things down a little bit. Plus, while I recognize there is classical beauty in the 'Exogenesis' part, it feels like too much pretension for a rock band. And, yes, it's beautiful, but I really don't care much about the last three songs.
To sum up, there is plenty to love in this album. 'Resistance' and 'Undisclosed Desires' are two pop gems that I'm playing like crazy these days. 'Unnatural Selection' reminds me of the good old 'New born' times and that's a pretty good thing. The drawback is that this band doesn't seem to know where to stop with the experimentations and often embarasses itself with things like 'United States Of Eurasia'.
This happens probably because these three guys take themselves too seriously and think that there is nothing that they can't do. Perhaps they are right. How many mainstream bands have albums influenced both by Timbaland and Chopin? Plus, I wonder where they would be if they hadn't believed in themselves in the beginning of their careers when everybody was labeling them Radiohead copycats.
Probably not selling out Wembley and being superstars in Europe. So while this album is not as good as 'Black Holes...', it definitely deserves a lot of praise for all the risks it takes and for mantaining the band's identity. Long live, Muse. We love you!

Grade: 8 out of 10

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Best Songs Of 2009-Partial

Since I have nothing better to do (well, actually I do, but I don't want to...), I had the pretty original idea of taking a look of what 2009 in music offered us so far. It has been an above average year, and the simple fact that Little Boots in not on my list (have you hearsd about her? what? less than 10 times today?) gives one the idea of how competitive this year has been.
So far I'm still waiting for a song as remarkable as last year's Kids. Sure Yeah Yeah Yeahs tried but they just didn't get there yet. Perhaps MGMT's second album will do the job. Or perhaps Muse will blown my mind away and become once again my favorite band. Who knows? We'll have to wait for the second semester...

My partial 'best of' list goes like this:

10. Lisztomania, Phoenix:

When I decided to listen to Phoenix, I was expecting something along the lines of Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear (i.e, boring...), because all these bands have been music blogs darlings for some time . Such a pleasant surprise...

9. Headdress, Amazing Baby:

Two months from now, they will be all over the place, but I've been a fan of these guys since last year when I saw them at Mercury Lounge. Chances are high that you will see people comparing them to MGMT, but that is really not fair. MGMT is more like a big dance band, but these guys have a more, say, hypnotic sound. You don't know what that means? You weren't supposed to anyway. Just give Amazing Baby a chance.

8. Walking On A Dream, Empire Of The Sun:

At best, Empire Of The Sun is to MGMT what Kaiser Chiefs is to Franz Ferdinand. Good, but still much inferior to the band that inspired it. That doesn't mean that they cannot have their 'I Predict A Riot'.

7. Know Your Enemy, Green Day:

Repetitive, annoying at sometimes, just like everything Green Day has ever done. The lyrics don't say much but in some sense it's nice to have a break from lyrics with a 'deep' meaning and a lot of pretension, like most of the stuff on American Idiot.

6. Poker Face, Lady Gaga:

Cool people would have a problem admiting that they like this. Since I am not cool, I can safely say that I love this tune!

5. What She Came For, Franz Ferdinand:

The number one song on my, for a while I thought this would be the song of the year. Everything is pretty good about the song but the explosive guitar solo in the end is fantastic. One of the best things that my favorite band has ever done...

4. Zero, Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

This song got 2 billion remixes so far, but no one has did better than the original. It's such a hard task. This is the kind of song that it's impossible not to dance to. And the last two minutes will go down in history as some of the most memorable moments of this year.

3. Sleepyhead, Passion Pit:

The closest thing, at least in spirit, to 'Kids', this is such an addictive track. The best thing about Passion Pit is that there is a lot of feelings in their songs. Lead singer Michael Angelakos thinks like a girl and he is not gay! If I actually had any music talent, I would write songs like Passion Pit.

2. Help, I'm Alive, Metric:

"I tremble, they're gonna eat me alive..." I don't even remember a better song to identify myself with. This pretty much translates how was this semester for me, and because of this I freaking love it. After releasing their best album yet, it's pretty clear that Metric doesn't need any help but yes, they are very very alive, and making people like me much happier.

1. Heads Will Roll, Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

Before recording 'It's Blitz!', Karen O must have told guitarrist Nick Zinner: "We are going to drop the guitar on this. If it sucks, we will be back to basics next time. If it is good, I'll be in charge from now on". Poor Zinner...

This is like the perfect pop song. It's fast paced, it got a great chorus, amazing lyrics, cool synths, powerful guitars. Sure die hard fans complain a lot about the band dropping guitars, becoming too comercial, but screw them, this is unbelievably awesome!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Album review, Fantasies, Metric

"I tremble, they're gonna eat me alive...", that's how the potent single "Help, I'm alive", one of the best tracks of 2009 so far, starts. That I freaking love this track is no secret, I even dedicated a whole post to it before. But the question is: is the rest of "Fantasies" that good? Short answer is: no, but it gets close.

What I always liked about Metric was that, even thought they are the kind of happy indie band with a female vocalist that Yeah Yeah Yeahs are, there is heart in their music! They do stuff that is friendly to the dance floor, but still touches me in a deep way. And they were never as good in doing that as they are in Fantasies.

Sure there is nothing really revolutionary or different. You hear it and think: "Oh, it's just another Metric album". And that's true, but you know sometimes by recognizing their limitations and NOT changing much, bands manage to do their best work. Take notes, The Killers!

Will this be in year end lists? Maybe no, with so many "Animal Collectives" these days, but at least Metric can expect to receive "Stadium Love".

Grade: 8 out of 10

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gay Fish and Yeah Yeah Yeahs

So my plan is to go out tonight and spend my sunday afternoon in the library. And if things go amazingly well, catch one of my favorite bands, YYYs, on their "secret" show at Santos Party House. Nobody (that I know) knows by now how to get ticket for that, but going to that concert would make me feel a bit better after a pretty bad week...

The only good thing about this week was South Park' portrayal of Kanye West's ego. Don't get me wrong, I like Kanye, but this one is a classic, one of the best South Park's episodes ever.

"Do you like fishsticks?"
"Love them"
"Do you like to put fishsticks in your mouth?"
"What are you, a gay fish?"

Ridiculously funny! Sadly, the only highlight of my week. But things will get better. Or maybe they won't. But I'll certainly try to make them better. I just cannot stop fighting...   


"Nobody like you,
everyone left you,
they're all out without you,
having fun..."

My birthdays always suck, and this one was no different. My life needs a 360 degrees shift and it's hopefully starting tonight... 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Everyone's at 'Skins'

"Why can't we all, all just be honest, admit to ourselves, that everyone's on it?" ponders Lily Allen on one of her best songs, "Everyone's at it". If you do not live on Mars, or if you are not completely dumb, you know that Lily's not talking about 'Desperate Housewives', but about drugs. The message is simple: illegal drugs are everywhere, and there's no point in pretending the opposite.

Apparently, my favorite British girl wasn't the first one to think like that (duh! really?) and that's where comes Skins. That show, broadly speaking, is a 90210 of England, showing the complicated lifes of beautiful teenagers full of hormones and issues to deal with. But with drugs. Lots of drugs. It is all about being cool and getting crazy as much as possible. You do drugs and you will be able to hang out with the cool guys and fuck the hot girls.

Obviously, that is only what a superficial look at Skins would lead you to believe. But if you pay closer attention, the series is not really defending the use of drugs, it is only showing life how it is. I mean, I never been to England, but I can tell you that, at least in NYU, kids do a lot of drugs. I lost count of how many times I had to say no... I'm pretty sure that happens in pretty much every college in the occidental world.

Anyway, back to Skins, the third season (which is the only one that I watched so far) basically shows the lifes of around 5 girls and 4 boys. Everyone is hot, everyone does drugs, they fuck each other a lot, there are lesbians, cute twins (one of which is lesbian), nobody has peace of mind, and the soundtrack is pop British music (and by that, I mean, music that plays in England, not necessarily made by British people). Sure I would expect to hear Lily Allen (she's everywhere!) and Klaxons, but how about Little Boots? How cool is it to listen to 'Meddle' in such a great show?

To sum up, I love 'Skins'. Despite not working, and not going anywhere, my Spring Break wasn't all bad. I have a new favorite show. Sure it exaggerates a little bit in its description of British teens (I'm assuming it does...) but, come to think of it, South Park exaggerates a lot and that's exactly what makes it so special.

Oh, and for the record. I NEVER did illegal drugs, I don't plan to do it, but I don't have a problem with people that do it. Everybody is free to do whatever increases his utility-this is an Economics expression, just don't ask me to do the same.

The day 'Family Guy' was good

July, 2006, friday night, around 1 am, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I'm bored in my bedroom doing useless stuff on internet. The phone rings. A friend (who was clearly out of options to go out with) asks if I want to go out. "There's this dance club that we always go", he says. "It's a little bit underground, but I like it a lot". I never used to go out in Rio, don't ask me exactly why, but since being at home was terribly boring, I took a very quick shower, picked a cab, and went with my friend to "Casa da Matriz". It was my first contact with "indie music". After that night, not only that guy who called me became really a friend, but also that type of music would in some sense define who I am now, and I would go pretty much every week to "Casa da Matriz" until I moved from Rio in July, 2007. Funny that when he called me I didn't have a clue about that...

March, 15, 2007, Rio de Janeiro: Sunday afternoon and I'm watching a movie at a local theather. The phone rings. My roommate (an old brazilian woman, very nice, btw), who speaks English well, tells me that a guy from New York University just called looking for me, and that I should call him when I have the chance. I knew well what that meant. Acceptance in NYU! Of course, I didn't finish the movie (funny that I don't even remember which movie was), I ran to home like my life depended on it. You know, just like in the movies, when someone is very excited or anxious (or both) about something. Up to that point, I had only rejections from big schools like Berkeley and Yale. also, just two days earlier I went out to celebrate my friends's acceptance in Harvard! I was devastated because, among other things, I had better grades than him. I knew that he was going to do better than me because, oh well, he is better than me, but I didn't expect so much. I mean, he gets in Harvard, and I get just medium schools? How is that fair? I thought at the time.

So it was really a big relief to be accepted at NYU, the first top school that I got in (I would be accepted also in UPenn and Chicago, other schools at the top of my list). Anyway, I got home that Sunday and called the professor and confirmed that I was accepted. Next day, monday morning, around 11:30 am, I'm back at home, my roommate asks me if I was happy with the acceptance and I say: "Well, I'm just back from the celebration, what do you think?". I was more relieved than happy, like letting a big burden go away. And at that time it was pretty clear that I had learned how to party hard...

I don't know why I brought these events here. I was just thinking it's funny that some days become special when you're not really expecting them to be. I mean, at that Sunday, I didn't expect a call from NYU because, among other things, "they don't work on sundays", I thought. I was very miserable and that basically saved my week.

Some day last year, Bobst Library, NYU: I was there for god knows so many hours. Suddenly, the prettiest girl ever walks to me and asks: "1994 is, like, the twentieth century right?". Paralyzed by how gorgeous she looked, I just said: "Yes". Then she did a face like she was thinking: "Oh, such a stupid question" and walked away. I never saw her again. Later I was thinking: "Oh, you could that used that as a conversation starter, maybe that was the point, or you could have said how stupid she sounded, so she would be pissed off, and you could have used that as a conversation starter, but you should have said something better than just yes!" But then it was too late. I missed the opportunity.

What I'm trying to say is that life is about expecting the unexpected, taking the opportunities when they show up. you never know when you're going to have the chance of your life, something that could completely change your destiny... or not. The important thing is to be prepared and for most of the time I think I'm not, so I should make an effort regarding that.

All of this philosophical talk was (feel the irony...) motivated by 'Family Guy'. The irony is that I was watching 'Family Guy' in a saturday night just before going out (and getting ridiculously wasted...), and I am NOT a fan of that cartoon. On the contrary, I agree with the 'South Park' view that 'Family Guy' has random (and pointless) jokes and that it's just a cheap rip off 'The Simpsons'. But, mysteriously (or not), 'Family Guy' makes me laugh sometimes and even inspired me to write about it...

Anyway, the episode was about 'Peter' (the 'Homer' of 'Family Guy') getting nostalgic and wanting to go back to when he's was 18 years old. Then, in a ridiculous, yet funny way, his wish was granted by 'Death' (you know, the guy with the black coat and the ax...), and he was able to go back in time, but just for one day. But it turns out that he decided that he didn't wanted to go out with his girlfriend 'Louis' ('Marge'?) . Instead, he spent the night with one of his friends. The problem is that, at that night, his girlfriend, being abandoned by Peter, fell in love with another guy, changing the whole future.

When Peter came back to the present, he realized that everything was different and he no longer was married to Louis, and no longer had kids. Then, after some reflection with his talking dog (ok, Family Guy, I gotta admit, dogs don't talk on 'The 'Simpsons'. Am I being too hard on them? I think I am. I'll stop now...), Peter concluded that he should never have left Louis on that night. Thank god that in the Family Guy world things are so easy, and 'Death' can make Peter go back in time again and make things right. And, then, if he screws up again, he can go back again and again, until he does the right thing. The point is: an apparently small thing turned out to be vital for Peter's future, and he had all the chances to blow it, but he didn't. The same thing goes for my life.

What if I didn't go out with my friend at that night in 2006? He called very late, and I had every reason to turn him down, but I did not. Would I be listening to MGMT if I had not go out that night? What about the interesting people (by people, I mean girls) that I knew directly or indirectly because of that? Would I still be listening to emo stuff spending my saturday nights at home? Maybe not. Maybe I would be into "Indie rock" anyway. The point is, I'll never know. In real life, there is no 'Death' to make you go back in time. so I should stick to every opportunity, no matter how small or uncertain it may look like.

This really resonates on my actual moment, not only on personal grounds (that I'll not talk about here, I don't think that would help me...) but also regarding school. I keep thinking that "there is still a long way to go, that my PHD is 4 or 5 years in total, that is like forever, right?" But it is not. It's true that what ultimately matters is my job market paper (google it, if you don't know what that is!), but maybe the courses that I'm taking right now will lead to events that will determine what kind of job I'll get. Or maybe the courses are all useless and the network connections that I make now will make a real difference. Or maybe it will be an internship. The point is, life is too short and I cannot, and I will not, let things pass by.

Wow, a simple 'Family Guy' episode led to this. I gotta give that cartoon more credit! What happened to Peter in the episode that I was talking about? I do not know. I didn't finish it because I was so eager to go out. Last night, the episode was just a way to put me in a good mood, to get psyched to go out. Only after 4 hours of dancing, sleeping, having a small hangover, and going to the gym, I gave it more thought and decided to write about it. And maybe I will watch the entire episode now... See, my life is full of small ironies.

PS: I had a great time clubbing last time. They played kids, by MGMT. That, alone, makes half of a night.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Album Review, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz!

  After the first listen, I described this album as being one with two killer singles, and a lot of songs that I wasn't comfortable with. That wasn't fair. This is probably my favorite album of the year so far (and I really liked Franz Ferdinand and Lily Allen's releases!), so here comes my final (or not) veredict about it:

"Where are the guitars?". "They are just going electronic, doing what everyone else is doing", "Karen O is not screaming as in the other records". Who cares? Apparently a bunch of closed minded fans who would be happy if one of the most talented bands of this decade just tried to rewrite 'Fever To Tell' in every album. It's true that could work. A band can survive and manage to please fans by doing exactly the same in every album (hello Kaiser Chiefs!), but the YYYs are just better than that. 

It's Blitz! is, above all, an amazing reinvention exercise, of a band who is able to change things and still remain more than interesting. 

Opener track and lead single 'Zero' gives you the right idea of the quality that you're going to find in the rest of the album. A dance track with synths a la TV On The Radio, once it takes off, it feels like nothing can stop them. 'Your a zero, what's your name, no one is gonna ask, you better find out where they want you to goo!', this has been the sound track of my life for the past weeks and I just don't see myself getting tired of it.

Things get even better with 'Heads will roll'. 'Off with your head. Dance till you're dead!'. You know that feeling of going out, getting wasted and dancing all night long like nothing else in the world matters? This is just that. I can see this taking over indie dance floors all around the world and for me is a serious candidate for track of the year.

Third song 'Soft Shock' slows down things a little bit but never too much. The party feeling doesn't really leave here, although this may please fans of slow music. 

Just when you start to think that they came up with a dance album, there comes the surprise. Many ballads trying to rewrite 'Maps' but with new and interesting elements. Most critics seem to love 'Skeletons' (Pitchfork gave it grade 8, for a mainstream band that's a lot) but I'm really not into it. I just think it takes too long to take off, but anyway it's a small defect in a very good album.

"Dull Life' is just old school YYYs. Strong guitars and drums, lots of screaming. 'Orgasmic' is how a friend described me this track when the album leaked. I think it is a a prefect description.

In 'Runaway', they push harder in new directions. A ballad starting with just piano! Sure it is very different that what you could expect from them, but I see a potential to become a fans favorite. Beautiful!

At first listen, I didn't like 'Hysteric', but it is definitely a grower. In some sense, you find the best balance here the YYYs from 'Maps' and the new dance floor friendly group from 'Heads will roll'. And I always admired the way this bands talks about love, without being too cliche. After "they don't love you I love you" form 'Maps', Karen O sings here 'Flow sweetly, hang heavy, you suddenly complete me'. It's such a touching moment. I just can't get enough of it.

The album closes with 'Little Shadow' where YYYs teach U2 how to aim big without being boring. A song to sing along, to get sentimental, but without losing the personality that was always characteristic of this band. A very nice way to close the album.

But don't think the party is over just yet. Bonus track "Clap Song' is a surprisingly nice pop moment, with strong synths as in 'Zero'. Why do they always do this? Songs this good shouldn't be 'bonus tracks'. 

"Last on the village scene, fall apart, I'm hot, more alive than you've ever been", sings Karen O in 'Dull life'. At age 30, she is at the top of her game and she knows that. With another complex yet accessible pop effort, YYYs might have just become bigger than the sound.

9 out of 10


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Music that I listened to recently

It's been a pretty exciting year in terms of new records. unfortunately, i didn't have time to hear everything, but I can say something useful (or not) about some records.

Glasvegas, Glasvegas: I was lucky enough to catch them on virgin MegaStore at Union Square. it's a very solid record, and very emotional. If you're not touched by a song like "Geraldine", sorry, but you're dead! Still, it's too little compared to New York bands like MGMT or Vampire Weekend. It's sad, but Glasvegas was the best thing that Britain offered us last year...

Superbus, Lova Lova: Anyone that played Guitar Hero knows this underrated band, considered by many the 'french No Doubt'. I love the lead singer. She's so cute and with a lovely and sexy voice. This album is not their best, but it's pretty solid. 'Key Hole' is my favorite track.

Lily Allen, It's not me, it's you: Put simply, Lily is the best woman in pop music today. Everything is as catchy as hell in her sophomore album. And I was lucky enough to go to her myspace secret show in Bowery Ballroom a couple of weeks ago. pretty good!

Papa Roach, Metamorphosis: I have to say this, but I agree with everyone: Ever since lovehatetragedy, Papa roach has been down the road, with each album being worst than the previous one. Thought that "The Paramour Sessions" was bad? At least there were some very good singles in the pseudo-emo formula of songs like 'time is running out" and "forever". Here, everything is boring. Sad, but true.

Kelly Clarkson, All I Ever Wanted: Ok, I admit I like her. While most songs here are boring, there are some pretty good moments. "I do not hook up" is very addictive. And "My life would suck without you" made something I didn't think was possible: something better than "Since you've been gone". so do yourself a favor and don't buy this album (buy Lily Allen's instead), but definitely get the singles. They are/will be more than worth it.

The Von Bondies, Love, Hate and There's You: A dirty band, with a nervous and fast song. Not much changed since their debut. You still can enjoy them for a while, but will forget them fast.

Artists without an album:

Amazing Baby: They will continue the "Broklyn domination" as soon as their debut is released (who knows when...). I saw them live last year and i'm going to see them again in april. Hope they play new songs. Very excited.

Little Boots: Knew her because she topped the BBC's list of promising new artists. She will be big. I feel it.

Wow, three posts in a week. I'm really feeling like writing these days. Just hope that translates in research this weekend. See you folks (probably speaking to just myself ...)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs is back! It's Blitz! review.

Note: No drama this time...

One of the most exciting bands of this decade is back, and obviously is such a big time. But is their third effort worth the wait? Does it live up to their very high standards? If you're reading this, you've likely heard the album that leaked almost two months before its release. Now, if you ask me, I think that's kind of unfair with the band and I feel bad for hearing it, but I just couldn't hold my curiosity. Specially after hearing the first single... Anyway, let's get down to business.

Opener (and lead single) "Zero" sets the bar ridiculously high for the rest of the album. A dance track with the so called "Euro pop" feel. It kind of reminds me of The Killers's "Human" in the sense that it starts slow and becomes faster over the time. Here you see clearly how much better YYY is than The killers. unlike "Human", you don't get tired of the tune after 30 seconds. In fact, the opposite happens. As the song progresses, it gets better and better, and in the end you're wishing for more.

And you get more. Next song, "Heads Will roll" is possibly the best song that these guys ever wrote. Here you don't see a post punk band anymore. You see a serious flirt with dance music. People have been comparing this with New Order's "Blue Monday", but I think it's much better than that and YYY will certainly take over the indie dance floors this year. "Dance, dance, dance till you're dead!", these are probably the coolest lyrics that I heard since MGMT's "Time To Pretend".

In the next song, "Soft Shock", things slow down. Now I confess that i'm a big fan of fast tracks, but this one is pretty sweet and enjoyable. Just when I was starting to wonder if the guitarist was still alive, comes "Dull Life". with its more traditional YYY's sound, with heavy guitars, this is going to please "old school" fans. it's not as good as the first two songs, but it's still pretty good.

In their constant search to change their sound, sometimes they seem to push too hard. Ballad "Runaway" starts with just piano! This really was weird in the first listen, but after some time I started to like it. Songs like 'Little Shadow" and Hysteric" seem a bit difficult to me, but I just can't hate them. There is a sense in which this album seem complex and very well done. If Coldplay makes an album and I don't like, it's their fault, of course. But with YYY it sounds like I'm just not smart enough to enjoy the songs, and they will grow over time.

Or maybe they won't. The fact is; "Zero" and 'Heads Will Roll" are so awesome that I highly doubt that I will ever care about that.

I can't wait to see them live!! Hope they announce dates in New York soon.

Grade: 8.5 (out of 10)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random Stuff

NYU girls are absolutely gorgeous and elegant. Almost two years of school here, and I'm still impressed. Too bad I don't have many opportunities to explore the huge potential of my school...

I still suck with girls and I wonder if someday I'll get better. Why is it so hard to just make a move? Fear to be turned down? This time there are other things involved.

My classes are not really as good as they should be. Today Monetary Economics was pretty boring. And it seems that time just doesn't pass when I'm not paying attention. Hope it gets better next week.

If 2008 was the year of new bands (MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Crystal Castles...), 2009 might well be the year of "old" bands. I'm not just talking about Franz Ferdinand, but also Lily Allen, Superbus, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (single Zero is my new favorite track), Green Day, and maybe The Strokes and The White Stripes. Oh yeah, and Arctic Monkeys, of course. I have a very good feeling about all these albums.

In the past weeks, I was able to go out a lot and went, as usual, to a lot of concerts (even some that I wasn't that excited about), but the best part was to find new clubs and indie parties. It turns out that New York has a lot to offer in that matter. And that's really good news for me. To be able to go to a place where I can listen to good music, dance, get drunk and meet girls. That's all I ask for.

After another (!) cold, I think I'm in good shape now. Plus, school has been not extremely demanding in the past weeks. Then why the hell I'm not happier? I think I'm doing fine but that I could have it so much better...

I'm not a good writer. This post is pretty lame. Maybe I should delete it. Whatever, I'll post it.   

"You're zero. What's you name? No one is gonna ask you about it..." This is stuck in my head. Watch out, Franz Ferdinand. The competition for album of the year will be hard.              

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Album Review, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

"How did Scottish people ever have sex before the existence of Franz Ferdinand? " That's how Spin magazine opens its review of Franz's third album. Well, I'm not Scottish but right now it's hard to imagine how I was able to enjoy music before these guys... It's not necessary to talk here about how good their first two albums are and how anticipated 'Tonight' was, specially after all the buzz over their live concerts in the last year, where a lot of new songs were exaustively tested. I'll just say that my expectations were pretty high because Franz Ferdinand has been one of my favourite bands in the last months and I actually went to one of their concerts and saw how good the new stuff is live. Because of that, I was a little worried, worried to be disapointed, worried that they could have fucked up some of the songs that I already loved, etc... For that, my first sentiment over the new album was relief. This pretty much lives to all my expectations and may be even better than I was expecting, may be even their best album! 

'Tonight: Franz Ferdinand' is a fast album, an album to hear before going out, like Alex Kapranos described it months ago. But I'd say more than that. It's the kind of record that you can put in a danceclub without remixes and that's pretty fucking awesome! There are a lot of synthetizers and the eletronic feeling is much stronger now. Anyone with legs will dance hearing this record. It's not a lot different than their previous records, but there are new directions, like Lucid Dreams, now with almost 8 minutes! In some points, they seem inspired by acts like Justice and this may not please everyone, but for me it is more than enough. If there is anything to be criticized, it is that it feels too short. But so, are the best things in life... Below, I give a track by track review. 

Ulysses: The record opens with Ulysses, the lead single. The synths are strong here, a good indication of what awaits you. They also have a chorus with the already classic 'la la la' and I simply love it! Grade: 9.5

Turn It On: There were huge expectations about this one, labeled by many the new 'Take me out'. If that will be case, I don't know, but right now I can hardly think of a better way to spend 2:21 minutes... Grade: 10 

No, You Girls Never Know: This was previously called 'Katherine kiss me' and this was the first new song that I heard months ago. The studio version has more synths and it really feels better than the live version. Grade: 8.5 

Send Him Away: One of the best surprises, I didn't know this one. The pace slows down a little bit here, but just enough to get your breath back and the chorus is very nice. Grade: 8

Twilight Omens: This reminds me of The Beatles but without losing the Franz's appeal. It's one of my favourites. Grade: 9

Bite Hard: It starts slowly and suddenly gets really fast, more or less like 'Jacqueline'. Again, the synths and the dance feel are very strong. Grade: 9 

What She Came For: This was one of my favourite songs even before hearing the studio version. Now I can safely say that the album version rocks. For the first three minutes or so, we see Franz at their best: electric pace, killer chorus... In the end, a surprisingly good sequence, with heavier guitars. Fantastic!! Grade: 10

Live Alone: Another pretty good song. It will not be a single, just because this album is so damn good, but it will get a lot of airplay.. from me, at least. Grade: 8

Can't Stop Feeling: The beginning is a little bit weird and at first I thought the synths were too strong. Now I love them. It's better than the demo version. Grade: 8.5

Lucid Dreams: Probably the most controversial song of the album. Not only it lasts almost 8 minutes (!) but it is also very different than the demo version that everybody knows. A lot of fans seem to be pissed of by this, but I'm loving it. Specially the last three minutes, where it feels like Justice in their best moments. Amazing! Grade: 9.5

Dream Again: Ok, no record is perfect. This feels out of place. Too slow for me... Grade: 5

Katherine Kiss Me: This has the same lyrics as 'No, you girls never know', but with a slow pace. Nobody can say that they were not ambitious... Grade: 7

Most of the time it's hard to review an album track by track because rarely you find a record where more than, say, 3 or 4 songs are really good and this has 10 great songs (!). What a killer way to start 2009. 'Tonight' is Franz Ferdinand's statement that they are the best indie band of the planet. Very well done, guys! 

Grade: 9.5

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The 10 best albums of 2008!

After a crazy end of year (details later...), I'm back with another 'best of' list. If 2008 was a bad year for me in general, musically the year was pretty positive. A lot of shows and a more mature taste made 2008 the best music year of my life.
The new metal and emo bands lost a lot of space, specially with blockbusters like Paramore and Linkin Park not releasing new material. Metal bands also lost ground. No Angra and almost no Nightwish this year. But Metallica really won me with Death Magnetic, possibly one of my 5 favourite metal albums of all time. But relax, I won't say here (again!) that they came back to the good, old times prior to 'The Black Album', because I'm not a big fan of their 80's stuff anyway. But it's a kick ass album, and it's good to see them answering critics in such a great way... 
Speaking of comebacks, how satisfying is it to see Britney Spears releasing such a great album? Circus almost made my top 10, I would consider it number 11. Other pop acts, such as Katy Perry, Pink and Rihanna also impressed me a lot and they could be in my list if the year wasn't so good for indie rock. Yeah, 'indie', whatever that means, is where my heart really is and this will be clear below. Finally, there are three Brooklyn bands in my list and that really makes me feel good about living in New York. That also makes me consider leaving Manhattan and moving to Williamsburg, but that's another story... Anyway, here comes my list.

10. Kaiser Chiefs, Off With Their Heads: At first I hated it because it is so similar to their other albums, but now I love it. Yes, the Chiefs are not going to change your life like TV On The Radio (I'm being sarcastic...) and they are not going to be U2-big like The Killers (I love irony...). Kaiser Chiefs is just a band to dance to and have fun with. That's more than enough for me.  Best song: Never Miss a Beat.

9. Black Kids, Partie Traumatic: The lead singer's voice is very similar to Steve Bay's (from Hot Hot Heat) and we all know that that band is basically nothing after Franz Ferdinand. Not only the voice, but the songs structure is also similar. How could they succeed with that? With female backing vocals that are cute and sexy at the same time, of course. After all, Franz doesn't have girls singing. Come to think of it, it's a very smart yet simple trick. Hot Hot Heat should consider that in the future...  Best song: Partie Traumatic.

8. Chairlift, Does You Inspire You?: Two Brooklyn bands seem to be everyone's favourites to be '2009's MGMT'. One of them is Amazing Baby, which still doesn't have an album out. The other one is Chairlift. Even thought they are in practice a 2009's band, they already have an ipod commercial's hit song-Bruises-and a surprisingly polite and clean album. Think about cute music a la Feist, but with tons of Bjork. Interesting? You bet your sweet ass it is! Best song: Garbage.

7. Metallica, Death Magnetic: No more wood drums, no more seemingly unfinished songs, no more flirts with new metal. Death Magnetic is Metallica's statement that St. Anger was an accident and that they totally deserve to be considered 'THE metal band'. Best song: The Unforgiven III.

6. The Kills, Midnight Boom: Most of the time It sounds  as a combination of The White Stripes with Garbage. I can hardly think of a more exciting mix. Can you?. Best song: Last Day Of Magic.

5. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles: Probably the most original debut of the year. When you sample 8-bit videogame sounds and have a girl screaming, most of the time senseless words, and call that music, the bet is high. If something goes wrong, not only you will not sell, but also the critics will kill you. Fortunately for these guys, everything went right. Their album was well received by critics, they have a cult fan base (I'm including myself here...), Alice Glass is NME's coolest person of 2008 and 'Alice Practice' is a huge success in indie dance floors. Forget about Justice, Crystal Castles is the new supercool electronic band!  Best song: Alice Practice.

4. The Subways, All Or Nothing: This album is similar to their debut and there's nothing revolutionary about it. We are talking about straightforward pop rock here, executed almost with perfection, an improvement over their (very good!) debut. Songs like 'Turn around', 'Kalifornia' and 'Shake! Shake!' are instant pleasures, but it was only after I realized the power of songs like 'Obssession' and 'All Or Nothing' that I saw how amazing this album is. It is the number one album in my and that's really really something because I listened to a lot of music this year. Best song: Shake! Shake!

3. The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing: The perfect combination of pop a la Kylie Minogue, and indie rock, this caught my attention in the first listen. Like The Subways's All Or Nothing, it has some of the best singles of the year, but it's more homogeneous than that album. Basically, every song is good! Also, I went to their concert three times last year, and all of them were pretty decent: The live experience feels like a very good party, the kind that you never want to leave. Best songs: Great DJ, Keep your head. 

2. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend: At first, I didn't see what was special about them and the african beats seemed a little weird. I remember thinking: "Oh god, this sucks". Thank god I was patient and listened to them a few times before giving up. I really don't know which band I like better, this or The Ting Tings, so I flipped a coin (haha, more or less) and they are number two... Best songs: Walcott, The Kids Don't Stand a Chance.

1. MGMT, Oracular Spectacular: If you're into indie rock, you're probably tired of hearing about the career-making singles 'Kids', 'Time To Pretend' and 'Electric Feel'. But MGMT is much more than that. Take, 'The Handshake' for example. It starts slowly and becomes faster progressively in a nicer and nicer way. And the lyrics? Are they about fearing to sell out to a big label?  Or is the song about manipulating someone in a relationship? Every time I hear this song I think about it and I still  can't reach a definite conclusion. The fact that this happens with pretty much all the songs in this album already puts it above the rest. Also, 'Kids' is the best song that I heard in a long time, to say the least, and that puts MGMT's debut easily among the best albums of this decade. Regarding this band, the comparison should be with Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes. The standards are pretty fucking high...  Best songs: Kids, The Handshake.