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album picks

Album Review: The Madden Brothers - Greetings From California
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Album Review: Rahul Advani - Night Stories
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Album Review: Gerard Way - Hesitant Alien
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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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Candian electropop recording artist Lights has been a prominent act in the indie pop scene. The 2009 Juno Best New Artist releases her third studio album, Little Machines, a bright and nostalgic work with singable tunes and more upbeat synths as compared to her earlier dubstep-electronic work.

Little Machines starts off with the ambient Portal, a slow fanfare for the rest of the generally light electropop tracks such as the ethereal Oil And Water and the upbeat How We Do It

Her singles from this album are really really good. Running With The Boys produces a feel-good factor all around with it's singable melody reminiscing the old times. In Up We Go, we see a little bit of her Patti Smith influence at the beginning before the anthemic pop chorus. This particular track has a bridge so singable, it's perplexing as to how such a simple melody combines with the synth beat to create a very likeable track.

Same Sea is another heart pumping track turning back the clock as she draws inspiration from her earlier material. Here, Lights goes back 'to the arms of her same, similar sea' to put in poetically.

LIttle Machines definitely has that radio-friendliness to it and with such feel-good nostalgic tracks, it's sure to interest electropop enthusiasts, bring back memories and relate to your own personal past experiences.

Track Cuts: Running With The Boys, Up We Go, Same Sea

Photo credit: Warner Bros. Records

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Album Review: Goddess - Banks

By Nikita Sep 27, 2014

Love it or hate it? Call her the twin of Lorde, Banks dropped her latest album Goddess. Reflecting on broken relationships and allowing her voice to take the lead. The usual cliché lines about love and break ups. Personally I felt that the approach towards the album is rather slow pace, which loses the interest of listeners after 15 minutes due to the disconnectivity.  It’s a shame as she possess a unique vocal quality however her compositions failed to meet the benchmark.

Let’s be fair, the top two tracks out of her entire album will be Someone New and Drowning. Someone New is refreshing and I love the finger plucking of the acoustic guitar as it compliments Banks voice and brings out the laceration of her wounds. I can love you desperately, though your love ain’t guaranteed/ Oh I wish you knew the deal. Everything I do, I’m gonna think of you. Unrequited love is the worst out of all and finding someone new is the hardest due to the past memories.

Take it from the girl you claimed to love, You gonna get some bad karma. I’m the one who had to learn to build a heart made of armor/ Made your soup and tied your shoes when you were hurting. Summer flings where emotions are long gone for their old flame. The girl who was always there for him but was never appreciated. The one who mended his wounds and offered a moral support during his unstable period of time. Drowning encompasses the aspects of a cheating relationship.

Well Banks has to step it up for her next album! 

Track Cuts: Someone New, Drowning 

Photo Credit: Harvest Records 

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