Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Album Review - "Crazy World EP" by Boys Like Girls

I have to admit I was a lot more excited for this EP than I was letting on. I have had some issues with the change in their line up (some big issues) and I've had some issues with the direction in which they seem to be promoting things, (still not sure why they released the EP and not just moved the album date up and gave us a single for the radio like Matchbox Twenty is doing but this is Boys Like Girls! They're back. It'll be an EP of Martin crooning with at least two of the best musicians floating around pop music right now backing him.

Not so much.

The single, "Be Your Everything" is great. I'd heard leaked versions and live acoustic versions and I still have a copy of Martin singing it by himself last summer. It's gorgeous. It's so very Boys Like Girls. Everything we missed, everything we wanted. The single on the EP is a touch over-produced in my mind, but it's forgivable. That's not saying I don't like it, I just feel like it doesn't need that, but I do know a radio song these days kind of does. It's still fantastic though.

The rest of the Crazy World EP isn't.

I don't even really know where to start with "The First Time" which sounds kind of like a country song, but not a great one and while it starts to grow on you after a while, it's has this heavy synth line that intros the song and actually takes away from it. The first time I heard it I made a face. The second time through it was better, but I'm not sure I'm going to ever really like the album version. Hopefully they drop the synth when they play it live.

As for "Life of the Party"? I don't even know where to start. I know that I don't like it. I know it sounds like a bad country party song with what I can only liken to some sort of hip hop inspired speaking the background. Anyone could have sung it (if we're counting that as singing) which puts it well below Martin's ability and it's entirely unnecessary to ever have "do you know that that smells like / smells like Boys Like Girls is back" spoken in the song. Completely.

I hope the album has more in store, but I have to admit...I'm starting to worry. I wanted this to be better. I wanted to get the same feel back, but BLG seems to be headed in a new direction. And while I'm supporter of bands maturing their sound and heading in new directions? I'm just not sure they know which direction they want to head in specifically. They seemed to be more trying more than one at a time and it comes across as sloppy.

I'll keep hoping for better, but for now? Grab the single and hold out to hear the rest of the album before you click 'buy'.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Album Review - "Winds Will Change" EP by William Beckett

William Beckett's newest solo endeavor, Winds Will Change, lives up to its name. If the winds will change, they're doing just that and taking Beckett in a completely different direction than expected. Leaving behind the pop punk tunes of The Academy Is.. , which he was the former front man for, he's proving that he's more than the pretty face to front a band. We knew that, if every youtube video and cover he's posted online wasn't proof enough, Winds Will Change is the certified stamp.

"Great Night" is one I heard live a little while back when he came through Atlanta, and the album version of it actually sounds a lot like the live version. It's the song played at your favorite bar that everyone sings along to and yet it's more than that. It's deeper than just a drinking song, deeper than a song about a night out. It's the drinking song for the educated music aficionado. (Not everyone thinks "Red Solo Cup" is an anthem.)

But it's not all fun songs that sound like something almost Beatles-esque, recorded over a live bar sound. "Warriors" is almost hard, especially coming from Beckett and that stretch to something else makes it all the more fantastic. The alt rock kid in my loves it, and really got into the heavy bass and guitars lines and the overall 'take no prisoners' feel is intoxicating. But it's different. It's not a song I would have expected to hear on this EP and while that thought is jarring? It doesn't matter. Not when the song is that good.

Something closer to what one might expect from Beckett is "Scarlett (Tokyo)" and in my mind it's the closest to that pop punk sound, but it's more just influenced by those roots rather than pandering to a genre. Alternating between a higher pitched, peppy guitar line to an earthy, dreamy feeling, it's hard not to get lost in the music, to find yourself swaying slightly and daydreaming with it.

My favorite track is the anthem of the EP, and where the title comes from. "Dig a Hole" isn't about getting stuck in a rut. It's about getting out of it. About starting something new and embracing it. "I know the winds will change / And together we'll become the rain."

Beckett has found his own voice, really found it, and has created a ripple in a still lake with these new tunes. As much as I loved Walk the Talk, it was far more rooted in what he'd done before, but Winds Will Change is not that. It's just Beckett, leaving it all behind. The winds might change, and they might be blowing away the old, but Beckett stands strong and weathers the storm with something even better than before waiting.

Pick up the EP on iTunes today! And enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Music for Monday: Tyler Hilton

With him being in town it only makes sense to turn on Tyler Hilton's tunes today, just to prep for the show that I may or may not be going to. I'm still not sure.

His new album, Forget the Storm is out and I do really enjoy it. It's similar to my favorite album of his (Tracks Of) but a little more rock and roll, which just makes it all the more fun. Give it a listen on Spotify and enjoy. The single off the album "Prince of Nothing Charming" is fantastic, downright perfect, an the rest of it? It's fun, easy to listen to, easy to get into while working, studying, or just doing housework.

And if you feel like going back in time? Grab some of the older stuff and let yourself get sucked into it. Sure he did a stint on One Tree Hill, but that was when the show was good and honestly I always found his character amusing. And it wasn't like the show didn't prove he could sing. He blew us away.

As for the show, we'll see if I wind up there, it's a nice tiny venue which is always fun, but it's alos in about 6 hours and I don't have plan yet. While I'm fine with flying by the seat of my pants, it doesn't always work out. If I do wind up there, I'll obviously have a post about that too. If not...well Warped Tour is on the horizon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Album Review: "Fire It Up EP" by Fossil Factory

On the list of eagerly awaited music for this year, the new tunes from Fossil Factory have been pretty high on the list. The genius behind this EDM group out of Boston, Mass is none other than Luke Dent, who joined Boys like Girls members, Morgan Dorr and John Keefe as part of the Empire Kids and is part of the genius behind that as well (I saw them last year with Early Morning Blues--that's a babbling fan girl post. Sorry. There's a few good shots of Luke manning the keyboard though).

So trust me, I hear he's working on something new? I've spent a while, living off samplers on the soundcloud site, itching for more, studying the short list and waiting for a hint that there was more to come. And more is finally here. The EP, Fire It Up debuted on iTunes this week and it is fantastic. Even if dance music isn't really your thing? Trust me, you'll like this.

The first thirty seconds of the title track "Fire it Up" had me bouncing, ready to dance along with it and seriously considering adding the whole EP to my half-marathon training playlist. Then later thinking that no, I'd rather not associate such music with the miserable and grueling pain of running. It's too happy for that.

Don't believe me? That song is still streaming here on the soundcloud site. Give it a listen and tell me don't love it.

The other two tracks, "Sunset Over Detroit" and "Eric Draven", have just as much to offer, peppy, high energy beats that just begged to be danced to, something that you can't not move to as you listen to it. It's the perfect pick you up, wake you up, get you moving music and I'm completely hooked. As good as "Fire It Up" is? The other two tracks are better, and worth every penny.

Get your hands on it, find your glowsticks and let's rock out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thank God it's Friday the 13th

Thank God it's finally Friday right? Of course it would be a Friday the 13th, but that doesn't have to mean a bad thing right? We've had some strange weather here in Atlanta (that's what we get for complaining about how hot it was) and I think everyone spent the week recovering from the holiday weekend. The new weekend is on the horizon though and just to get you through those last few hours, here's some treats.

Travis Alexander of Ghost Thrower tossed this gem up on his tumblr earlier this week and honestly this guy + a guitar might be all I need. (Okay not all, but I love it). I feel horrible sometimes because I do love when he's screaming in a mic and the whole place is burning with energy, but the fact that just him and the acoustic covering "Small Skeletal" by Crime In Stereo is this good? I can't help it. The more acoustic the better.

Cara Salimando put out her June EP this week as well and you can grab it for free here on her facebook page. These two tracks are peppier than I expected, but my first influence to Cara was her and a piano. I'm always expecting just that and a full band is a pleasant surprise. What is expected though, is that both tracks will be fantastic, which they are. I really love "Never Come Home" and have since I saw it love. This girl is beyond talented and if you aren't listening to her yet you're missing out.

Last, and it feels odd to add it to the same post, but it can't go ignored, the new and long awaited single from Boys Like Girls is out and comes with a pretty fancy looking lyric video.

We've heard teasers of this song since last summer when Martin showed up at a festival as just "Martin Johnson" (and we were sure the band was doomed) and now it's finally a studio thing, which I'm not sure I love as much as I did when it was just the boy and the guitar. I guess I'm spoiled from too many acoustic versions that all the extras seem like too much. I love the way his voice has grown up, and I feel like it doesn't need all that.

That said though, the song is pretty damn beautiful. So here's hoping the new leaf they've turned over won't disappoint. Seems like there's potential for it, but I'm still hedging my bets. Their EP is due out next week with four songs from the upcoming album on it, which is due out in the fall.

Stay safe, watch out for black cats and don't break any mirrors and we should get through this one. Well unless you've got a friend with a mask. Then you might need to be worried.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Album Review: "The Approach" by Kyoto Drive

Kyoto Drive out of Birmingham, England (one of my favorite places I saw in England by the way), just put out a new mini-album, The Approach on I Am Mighty Records and it's no joke.

Overall they have a really solid sound, something kind of Mayday Parade esque, but minus the constant theme of 'just how sad can I make you with a song' that Mayday has. Think lyrics like Boys Like Girls or Cartel with a Mayday sound.

The intro to the mini-album, "Receive This Little Breath" can make one anxious, worrying of an overproduced, studio phenomenon to follow, but it's not. It's followed up by a strong guitar intro in "Holiday" and in the second listen-through it fits the album and does just what it needs to prime the ears.

Though honestly? "Holiday" stands alone just fine with an acoustic guitar. Don't believe me? Check out this video they did for Already Heard. It's fantastic.

(Even with the sirens in the background it's good. Actually that might just add an edgy sort of touch right?)

It's impossible not to bob your head along with "So Much Alive", my second favorite track on the album. It was catchy without being annoying and by the end I caught myself mentally singing along. "I've got this feeling / I'm awake but it feels like dreaming." The song just screams to be stuck in your head, resting there until you can't think of anything else, but in a completely great way (not a "Call Me Maybe" or a "What Makes You Beautiful" kind of way. Those two songs are going to be the death of me).

"Faking Laughs For Photographs" and "Chapters" play two different sides of the emotional coin and Faking might be as close to Mayday as they get. The words tug on heart strings, an anthem for the brokenhearted just trying to survive. "Chapters" is peppier, a toe-tapper kind of song, but still full of emotion. It's the kind of song that you love every time it comes up on shuffle and probably wind up tweeting lyrics to.

My favorite track is the last one, "You Never Know" which intros with a solid piano line a la Something Corporate or anyone else daring enough to stick a piano or keys line in a rock song. It's an introspective journey, the story of the musician, the music lover, the writer, and just how they manage to hold it together. Vocals stand up to powerful (not loud, powerful) music, words find their way into your heart and by the end of it you've stopped doing whatever you were doing in the background and wind up listening to just the song.

All in all, it's solid work and definitely worth getting your hands on (iTunes and Spotify folks). If you need a taste you can stream three of the songs on their facebook page and be sure to add them on twitter as well.

Now I get to sit back and wait for them to wander to my end of the pond.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Music for Monday - The Goo Goo Dolls

Champ and I road tripped to Florida to visit my family this weekend, and with that much time in the car we were sitting there, the iPod hitting Hootie and the Blowfish, The Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty, just right in a row and all I could think was "man, remember when music was just so tragic and so good?"

There really was nothing like the 90s with music that was so tragically depressing, but so beautiful that you listen to it over and over again. Take the entire Dizzy Up the Girl album. It's tragic, with songs like "Acoustic #3" and "Black Balloon", but it's gorgeous. I love it and I swear if the laser in my CD player could have worn a hole in the CD it would have.

It was inevitable that I was going to put them on for the day after, while cleaning up around the house. The Goo Goo Dolls have a discography that spans genres, decades and most of my lifetime. My favorite song is still "Name" off the Boo Named Goo album, but the new album, Something for Everyone while not as punk rock as the old days, it still great, still full of emotion. They are always good, always solid and super talented. And while the music has become more pop music friendly? It's never lost those words so full of heart, feelings and tragedy. Definitely a mainstay in my music collection.

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