single of the week

Taylor Swift - Out of the Woods

 

album picks

Album Review: Jessie J - Sweet Talker
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Album Review: Tokio Hotel - Kings of Suburbia
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Album Review: The Madden Brothers - Greetings From California
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Giving us a taste of semblance in terms of vocal qualities from Mariah Carey and Pixie Lott– the Bang Bang hit maker assuaged the hunger of her hopeful fans for her remarkable vociferous runs. Enabling listeners to navigate the bouncy melody gracefully and generously, well Jessie J did it again for her third studio release Sweet Talker, surpassing the expectations being set for her.

Collaborating with prevalent rapper 2 Chainz, Burnin Up is being spiced up with a tinge of sassiness. This track beckons listeners to sashay their hips away in the club, piquing and whetting the interest of listeners as the song progresses. I love the fusion of Hip Hop together with Pop within this track, bringing about themes such as temptation and seduction. The breathy vocals enhances the overall appeal too!

Have we ever reached a point in life- everyone thinks they know us but they don’t really know who we really are? Acting strong on the out-front but we are crumbling behind the facade? How could you know me/ I keep praying that the cracks don’t show my pain. These lines struck a chord within me.

You Don’t Really Know Me embraces an ingenious crafted approach towards the song. In turn putting across a sense of helplessness by the acoustic set, it is not being over powered by heavy instruments.  This enables Jessie to connect with us through her inclement vocals.

As a whole the album balances itself with a mixture of slow and fast tempo songs which takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride. Well I would certainly like Jessie to show us something more aside from the usual compositions about love. Also more collaboration with Hip Hop artists perhaps Kendrick Lamar or Drake! Let’s bring something new to the table.

Track Cuts: Burnin Up, Bang Bang and Sweet Talker

Photo Credits: Republic Records

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German rockers Tokio Hotel are back with their 5th album, Kings of Suburbia, although it's not quite the glam rock we're used to hearing from these guys. Twin brothers, vocalist Bill and guitarist Tom Kaulitz had been living in Los Angeles recently and drawing influence from the L.A. nightlife, the band have gone for an electronic sound in this album. Despite the abscence of their glam rock style, the band didn't completely disappoint with this experimental work.

The first line of the opening track, Feel It All, reads strobe lights flashing out of your eyes. Poetic yet cementing the German band's new club life identity, as seen in many of their newer videos. The heavier tracks like Stormy Weather and the anthemic Kings Of Suburbia are sure to get your blood pumping.

Run, Run, Run is the most contrasting song here, being a piano ballad with Bill singing behind Tom's piano playing. The lead single, Love Who Loves You Back is the pick of the electronic bunch with Tom's guitar strumming adding to the synthy beat backing Bill's singing of all types of love regardless of gender, race, etc.

With Girl Got A Gun, the band went too far experimentally for my taste. It's a really weird song which is always a good thing, but the chorus just gets increasingly irritating after each listen. Other than that, Tokio Hotel's most experimental work is definitely a good listen for fans of electronic music. However, most of us would like to see these guys in their original glam rock image and sound again in the future.

Track Cuts: Love Who Loves You Back, Run, Run, Run, We Found Us

Photo credit: Island

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The Madden Brothers (twin bros Joel & Benji Madden's side project from Good Charlotte) have just released their debut album, Greetings From California. The pop duo have diverted from their pop punk roots and into entirely pop rock tunes so easy-going and catchy, you'll unknowingly put on a wide smile while listening.

The album is split into two sides. Side one is filled with upbeat pop rock tunes with an intro track previewing short radio cuts of the later tracks before diving into the groovy Dear Jane, and just like UR and Brixton, is a sunny pop tune with beach acoustic guitars and bright harmonies. Jealousy introduces more synths into this heavy pop track. Love Pretenders is that heartbreaking song of lost love. Its singable chorus and pumping beat makes this song a possible radio hit.

The soulful & 60s inspired tune, We Are Done will sound familiar to FIFA 15 players. As part of the game's soundtrack, it proves its an awesome song as FIFA always chooses the best variety of songs around the world. With it's thunderous and anthemic chorus, it's definitely the pick of the first side of this album.

Side two is inspired by 70s FM pop and starts off just like the first intro track and goes into a Here Comes The Sun-esque darker tune in California Rain. The twins sing about their journey to musical success and is also their first written song as a pair. Brother continues the dark sound, singing about lost and blinded brothers with a fitting harmonica solo. Bad takes on a happy & psychedelic vibe and altogether is a great song giving off not "bad" but good feels. 

Good Gracious Abbey sounds like it doesn't belong in Greetings with it's bossa verse leading into a party chorus. But somehow, the twins' vocals fit the song and possibly could fit every kind of song there is. Suddenly and Empty Spirits revisit the acoustic guitar, adding a little more sadness to end off a fantastically fun and energetic mix of tracks that is sure to put you in the happiest mood possible.

Track Cuts: We Are Done, Bad, California Rain, Empty Spirits

Photo credit: Capitol

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You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one/ I hope someday you'll join us. This can be strongly emulated through the recent release of Rahul’s First EP entitled Night Stories as he wanted to convey his stories through these songs. What makes this EP different is due to the infusion of a Bollywood feel. Spicing it up with instruments such as the Tabla, Kanjira and Ghatam, Rahul is a true artist who believes in show casting his originality. It was something which he was rather skeptical about. Despite being a huge Bollywood fan Rahul usually draws his inspiration from artists such as The Fray and Katharine Mcphee hence the infusion of Bollywood is something new!

Inspirations are usually dawned upon the wee hours which was the case for Rahul. The interesting fact about these tracks featured in Night Stories is the different places of recording across countries such as Singapore, India and the United States. The Grand Piano which was recorded in a music classroom and guitar parts being tracked in Rahul’s brother’s college dorm room in the United States!

The sensual gravity with that gravelly voice of Rahul captures the attention of listeners upon the first listen together with the uniqueness of instruments which gives us a taste of the Eastern and Western Culture. Would you hold me in the dark night / When I don't believe that I can see the light/ Would you let me in your arms tonight.  He croons about the yearning for love with his emotive vocals being complimented with the instruments which create a choral effect that's louder and more capable of communicating a sense of desperation than any human voice could. Hold Me is a definite personal favourite of mine! 

I am certainly excited to see what Rahul is able to bring to the table for his next release! His works are one of a kind in Singapore! 

Track Cuts: Rush, I’m Not That Sorry and Hold Me

Photo Credits: Rahul Advani

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Gerard Way takes his eccentricity to a whole different level with his debut solo album, Hesitant Alien. The ex-My Chemical Romance frontman incorporates his heavy influences of 70's glam rock, 80's post-punk and 90's britpop here and revives them with today's newer musical technologies. It's an interesting glimpse into what those genres could have sounded like today.

Retaining the MCR emo-vibe, he sings about the flaws we have and that of the world we live in. We want television bodies that we can't keep. Definite standout line for me from Action Cat. While on the topic of MCR, there are songs here that relate to his former band. The political lyrics of the opening track, The Bureau, bears similarities to MCR's Danger Days and Brother is a piano-driven track seemingly about his brother, Mikey. Zero Zero and Juarez are the heavily distorted-guitar driven tracks with washed-out vocals and added fuzz reminiscent of the shoegaze movement of the early 90s.

Gerard's immense creativity is once again replicated here, taking on an interesting dystopian theme into this album. Inspired by David Bowie, he takes on a Ziggy Stardust-like persona and has an appearance on Pink Station Zero, an Ed Sullivan-type reality show on Mars. In the music video for the first single, No Shows, Gerard awakwardly performs to many aristocratic aliens dressed up like those Hunger Games Capitol citizens. The feel-good factor is present here and throughout the entire album.

Out of the numerous feel-good tracks here, Action Cat, Drugstore Perfume and Millions are the first songs you would want to plug in on a bad day. So I believe Gerard's mission of writing songs to save lives with MCR isn't all forgotten here. The number of feel-good, singable and anthemic songs here reminds me of MCR's emo anthems of the past which everyone could sing along to.

Hesitant Alien is a fusion of Gerard's eccentric love for rock 'n' roll blended with his uniquely out-of-the-box lyrics and storylines. Out of this appears a reflection of Gerard's musical heroes and influences and that's what most musicians would want to do at some point; emulate their idols on their own material. Though MCR fans might be alienated by Gerard's different approach to his debut solo effort, this album remains an impressive alternative record overall with Gerard's half-music half-comic book brain opening up new avenues to explore.

And I have a feeling this album is partly for those recovering MCR fans. 

Track Cuts: No Shows, Millions, Maya The Psychic, Action Cat

Photo credit: Warner Music

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