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HANA Enters The World Of SynthPop With Self-Titled EP
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Album Review: Mike Posner Gets Real And Honest In 'At Night, Alone'
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Album Review: What’s Lacking In Catfish and The Bottlemen’s 'The Ride'
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Hana Pestle, more commonly known as her stagename HANA, has been gaining popularity performing alongside Grimes. Unbeknownst to many, HANA released a five-track self-titled EP earlier this year, which carries fresh tunes almost incomparable to her previous work as “Hana Pestle.”

The transition from acoustic to synthpop has been a smooth ride for the 27-year-old artist. The first track of the EP, Clay, opens with the delicate mixture of melodic synths followed by HANA’s lush vocals, which are almost operatic, in my opinion. (I’ve listened to her sing along to the Game of Thrones opening sequence and god, did it sound amazing.) HANA’s newly discovered brilliance in Clay received much-deserved recognition from the likes of Lorde and Lena Dunham, who featured the song in her HBO show Girls.

Avalanche, however, is a more dynamic track compared to Clay. The track doesn’t exist just for it’s upbeat sound though, HANA explains, “That song is also kind of about psyching myself out, and becoming an avalanche—someone who can basically roll over whatever comes in their way.”

Thought the first two tracks of the EP could easily get one’s attention, new listeners would soon realize the repetitive and similar melodies the rest of the songs carry. Underwater speaks for itself with a mellow arrangement almost synonymous to the sound of the ocean, hence the title.

Despite the lack of experimentation in melodies, HANA was able to pull off the new EP with the last two songs,White and Chimera. The tracks made use of HANA’s wide vocal range, which I’m sure is capable of producing more angelic music in the future.

 

Listen to Clay here:

Photo Credit: Hana Pestle, Mike Diamond, MTV

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The upfront, acoustic route Mike Posner has taken in At Night, Alone is a definite improvement from his pop-rap debut with his country-rooted voice and songwriting abilities being put on show.

Of course everyone knows the global hit I Took A Pill In Ibiza, but most guys are more familiar with the SeeB remix version, the original one on the other hand, is a shining example of Posner's new introspective approach towards his music in an acoustic rendition of the catchy tune.

Posner's vocals also show a hint of country twang to it, especially in the personal (slightly braggy) One Hell Of A Song and in the instrument-less Only God Knows which is a brave decision for him to include on the album being the most disparate track here.

He means for the album to be listened to at night, alone, and Posner gives us slow piano tunes like Not That Simple and the beautifully-penned Iris, which definitely lend to the album's purpose of putting you in a reflective mood in the late p.m.

Posner's overlooked ability to write powerful pop songs is proven in the incredibly arranged In The Arms Of A Stranger and the adventurous track Silence, both tracks give us dominating pop numbers that outshine the softness of the other tracks.

The overall stripped-down, synthless sound of this record may not sit well with fans of the I Took A Pill In Ibiza remix, but it's a decent singer-songwriter piece of work from one of the pop industry's middle-class men.

Track Gems: Silence, Iris, Jade, In The Arms Of A Stranger

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Though highly anticipated by fans, Catfish and The Bottlemen’s second record is not without it’s disappointing limitations. The breakthrough act of the 2016 Brit Awards took a step backwards with the release of The Ride, at least according to critics, myself included.

The Ride opens with the catchy track called 7, which was inspired by the time difference between frontman Van McCann and his love interest. The song adds an overall indie rock vibe to the album with the melodic part, “I don't think through things, I never get time cause I don't think things through.”

The strong essence of what the band was trying to achieve builds up until the third song, Soundcheck, but sadly, the climax seems to end there.

Still, there’s a few noteworthy songs that might get one’s attention, like the folk sounding guitar intro in Glasglow or the heartwarming “Oasis-esque” melody of Outside.

Catfish and The Bottlemen finds themselves in between their other British counterparts. The Ride somehow captures the soft rock anthems of The Kooks and the passive aggressiveness of Arctic Monkeys, but has yet to establish a unique sound in the gray area.

A part of their seemingly hollow theme in this album might come from their need to stay in their comfort zone. Prior to the album release, McCann confessed, “I feel like everybody started thinking too outside the box, trying to be arty and different. We wanted to stay inside the box.”

So in terms of metaphors, there are none. What you see is what you get. Perhaps the band’s main goal is to write straightforward lyrics that are far from being intellectually (or emotionally) stimulating. But maybe not everything has to mean something.

One thing’s for certain this moment, Catfish and The Bottlemen is not going to hop onto the “artsy-pretentious bandwagon.”  

Track gems: 7, Twice, Soundcheck, Glasglow, Outside

 

Photo Credit: Island Records

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Longtime indie rockers Tegan And Sara have had a recent synthpop transition following their successful 2013 release Heartthrob that shone the duo in a fresh new light. Love You To Death continues their newfound sound with a more outgoing attitude about it on this love-hate record.

What makes their indie pop sound standout is how catchy their synth lines and vocal hooks are. Their indie rock career may have helped that with the synth pumping Boyfriend and the tongue-twisting Dying To Know leaving earworms in our heads with memorable lines.

The twins' synthpop vibes stretch across different types here, from the CHVRCHES-esque midtempo opener That Girl, the 80's-inspired Faint Of Heart and the upbeat BWU (it stand for 'be with you' FYI) which recalls some indie rock elements. The latter is another example of how indie rock has helped them breakthrough to mainstream with this new genre.

Love You To Death is filled with songs of lost love, giving it a slight hint of a breakup album hiding behind optimistic indie pop sounds, with the exception of 100x, a somber piano tune that gives the Quin twins their most honest showing on the tracklist.

Things are looking bright for this indie power duo and Love You To Death is another testament to their new musical surge. You can catch Tegan And Sara in Singapore at The Star Theatre on 29 July.

Track Gems: Dying To Know, U-Turn, BWU, Boyfriend

*****

Concert Details:

Date: 29 July 2016
Venue: The Star Theatre, The Star Performing Arts Centre
Ticket Prices: $68, $88, $148, VIP BOX $228 (only 16 seats available)

Tickets are now available for purchase at SISTIC.

Spin or Bin Music is proud to be the Official Music Blog for Tegan and Sara Tour 2016 in Singapore!

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There is certainly no doubting Ariana Grande's superstar capacity, with a voice like Mariah, a young career similar to her peers in Selena and Demi, and an impressive resume of hit singles at just close to 23 years of age. And with the Dangerous Woman alter ego she's adopted, Ariana finds an exciting identity for her to evolve from and fulfill her high potential.

Despite the Max Martin-fueled tracks Leave Me Lonely and Let Me Love You featuring Macy Gray & Lil Wayne respectively, Ariana gets less help making this album and depends more on herself, with her artistry showing on the energetic Greedy and on the sparkling opener Moonlight, which, like much of the album, tones down the instrumentation and allows her limitless vocal prowess to shine through.

We also see a boost in Ariana's confidence as she sings more about sex using her sultry vocals on the Nicki Minaj-assisted, reggae-influenced track Side To Side and on the flirtatious tune Into You teasing "a little less conversation and a little more touch my body".

The album is Ariana's best by far, showcasing her crazy vocal abilities. She's growing into a more complex artist and person, and hopefully she can take this "dangerous woman" persona and finally silence those Mariah-comparing critics by nurturing her artist identity and realising her amazing potential.

Track Gems: Moonlight, Into You, Everyday, Side To Side

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