Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ghostface Killah feat. Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good

I knew she was up to something when this track is evidently more hip-hop-oriented than the rest on her sophomore effort. So a few days ago, the new version, which is a collab with Ghostface Killah, surfaced. Practically, it's just the same brassy, jazzy instrumental with new rap verses. Now I don't know if this is a planned one, or Ghostface Killah decided to weigh in his rhymes after being convinced by the finished track probably through Mark Ronson (since he's also a renowned hip-hop producer). Whatever happened, I think this new version is quite good, and Amy's voice blended naturally and refreshingly with the beats and the rap verses. Now this is an innovative hip-hop collaboration for artistic values.
Personally, I prefer 'You Know I'm No Good' to 'Rehab', and the whole album sounds astonishingly ace after a second listen. This boozy trainwreck woman really is a talent. Well done, indeed. You just secured a place in my top 20 albums of 2006. Now you can celebrate by boozing out in some winehouse...(that was easy)

Ghostface Killah feat. Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good

Buy 'Back To Black'

Faithless Collaborates With Dido and Cat Power

Socially conscious house music? Does that click for you? Not me, though. I've never been really interested in their music, and the closest they've come to a hit for me is their collaboration with Dido on 'One Step Too Far'.

So it provoked my interest when knowing that Dido teamed up with them again for a track on their new album 'To All New Arrivals'. It's called 'Last This Day'.

Faithless feat. Dido - Last This Day
Basically, it's one of those ambient, five-minute, late night kinds of song that don't have much of a tune and are supposed to lull you to sleep. So it's okay if you already snore soundly before the song finishes. It's not breaking any new grounds, but Dido's vocal input lays a nice touch to the track. In the end, the result is something electronica fans won't love heartily, but really won't mind when it's on.

What else is worth a listen on this record? Well, Robert Smith also lends his voice to one track. Yeah, I think it's Robert the frontman of The Cure. And somehow they managed to get Cat Power. Cat Power, of all people.

Faithless feat. Cat Power - A Kind Of Peace
Like Dido, it's a pity Chan Marshall wasn't given much to sing. Another downtempo, ambient track with touches of acoustic guitar. Lukewarm. I expected so much more.

While we're at it, here's their current single 'Bombs'. It involved some bold political statement, and it's quite bland.
Faithless - Bombs (Radio Edit)

So based on the three tracks above, I think I did the right thing by passing this one. Of course, that's just my humble opinion, and you may have a different view on the songs. So if you like what you hear, waste no time and head over here to purchase the record.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bic Runga: Live

Bic Runga, the New Zealand singer/songwriter, is a powerhouse. Not only does she have a gifted knack for crafting timeless, infectious,tuneful melodies that I, but she also sounds unbelievably amazing live. No matter whether she's backed up by an orchestra, simply strums on her acoustic guitar, or do her finger-dancing on a piano, she always successfully reinterpretes her songs for the audience. Yeah, I'm a big fan. For those who haven't heard of her, I strongly recommend you to get to know her through these live tracks first, just to get an idea of how great her music really is. Of course, it all may sound biased since I'm like a cult follower of Bicrungaism (okay, that makes no sense). But just try them out, really nice, collector-worthy stuff here.Enjoy.

Bic Runga - Sway (Live Acoustic)
Bic Runga - Get Some Sleep (Live)
Bic Runga - Something Good (Live) (from Live In Concert: With The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra EP)
Bic Runga - She Left On A Monday (Live) (from Live In Concert: With The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra EP)
Bic Runga - Ne Me Quitte Pas (Live) (from Live In Concert: With The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra EP, she sang French!)
Bic Runga - The Be All And End All (Live) (from the bonus disc of Birds (Tour Edition))

Buy her latest record 'Birds' (2005)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just want to make a quick post and say 'Happy Thanksgiving!' to the North American readers! Hope you're enjoying your weekend, and having fun with family & friends! And feel thankful for what you're having. I'm not saying that Zeon's Music Blog should be included in your thanks list but hey, it wouldn't be too shabby if it is (chuckles)...

I was planning a yummy Thanksgiving-themed mp3 minimix but I happen to have a test tomorrow, so instead I leave you with a fun impromptu comedy 'duet' Sarah McLachlan did with Ana Gasteyer for Saturday Night Live a while back. For fun. Enjoy.

Have a good one!

Sarah McLachlan & Ana Gasteyer - Basted In Blood (Live From SNL)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Indietastic #2: Tilly & The Walls - Sing Songs Along

I'm glad I gave this song a chance. Well, I would give any songs a chance if it's so tweely-titled like 'Sing Songs Along'. The good news is the title pretty much sums up the whole feel of the track, which means you can totally joyfully sing along to it.
The energy of the song's just incredible from start to finish. You know a loud shout to start a song only indicates that it's gonna be effing fierce. The thumping beats are actually made from handclaps and tap shoes. The tunes are so driven it's meant to get stuck in your head after first listen and just kinda spin you around in this whole jolly singsong group thing. Very, very twee, yet so catchy and bouncy.
And the music video. Gymnastically fantastic. Never thought gymnasts can be that much fun.
Damnit, the song starts running through my head again. Everytime I hear it, I find it so hard to resist jumping around and throw things against the wall. It's that good.

Tilly & The Walls - Sing Songs Along

FYI, Tilly & The Wall is an indie pop bang from Nebraska and this song's from their new second album 'Bottoms Of Barrels', which is also pretty good.
You can purchase it here.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Indietastic #1: Albert Hammond, Jr. - 101

In the seas of indie music out there, it's hard to follow through all the new artists and songs hyped up each day and find the one you truly like. So when you find one, you stick with it and treasure it, you might try to tell everyone you know about it or include it in every single one of your playlists.
That's how this new feature was born. To honor the great great indie songs I discovered and gave them proper ravings, because they deserved their own posts. Since this week's indie-heavy themed, I'll be spreading out a bunch of songs I love lately throughout the whole week, and of course, they are all highly recommended, so stick around and make sure to try them out, and maybe give a feedback or two. Let's get rollin'!

Albert Hammond, Jr. is the guitarist of The Strokes. Recently, he released his debut solo album entitled 'Yours To Keep' through Rough Trade Records. The week it came out, I didn't really bother giving it a chance. Then all by chance I watched the video for the single '101' and got hooked. I didn't expect it to be so instantly accesible for the first listen.
This song's full of inexplicably crunchy, melodic riffs that I can't seem to get out of my head and the more I listen, the more I crave for. And there's also a decent tune, to hum along. However, with the midtempo and the somehow sombre lyrics ('I lost my life, that's what she said, back to the 101..."), it's not supposed to cheer you up. Not really miles different from his Strokes stuff, but it's just so damn ace for the riffs alone. A walk in the streets with this song playing to your ears would be a appropriate listen moment.

Albert Hammond, Jr. - 101

Buy his album 'Yours To Keep'
Nice cover art.

New Pop: Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne & Emma Bunton

Second single/ title track, produced by Akon, has been 'leaked'. And everyone's going crazy about it. Based on first listen, it's no 'Wind It Up' (though that annoying song has strangely worked it way into my head), and that's good. I totally agree with XO on the remark that this sounds like 'No Doubt doing True Blue'. Still, I expected more than this. And this didn't do justice enough for me. It's fun to hear Akon's girlish yee-hoos though.
Gwen Stefani feat. Akon - The Sweet Escape

New song penned by Avril for the soundtrack of 'Eragon'. It's a quite good ballad-sounding song that's a little bit more mature and adult contemporary. But of course it's to fit in the context of the movie, and she has stated that this song is nothing to stand by for her next album. Nice to have her back, though.

Avril Lavigne - Keep Holding On

Emma should fire her website designer. One should know that high-quality mp3s should never be attached in a flash file for we can easily extract and download it. Anyway, this title track from her upcoming, so sudden third album is a cover. And I'm not sure yet about how I feel about it. The songs previewed on her site are not all that good, either. The singles off 'Free Me' were really good, but this, I don't know. Just lukewarm.

Emma Bunton - Life In Mono

Indie 101: Tahiti 80

I blogged about them before, but their third cd 'Fosbury' got its official release finally in the US this week, so I thought it'd be nice to hype them up again and share a couple of great songs.
So Tahiti 80 is an alternative band hailed in Paris who sings in English and they make this kind of upbeat indie, electronic-tinged pop with soul tendencies.
Current single 'Changes' is my fave song off the new album. With lyrics about the rules of life, the song's as upbeat and catchy as they can get. The hip-hop beats go along great with the lead singer's airy vocals, and I absolutely love the nice instrumental break. Just a cool song to tap your toes to. You can read the old post for the video & more information about them.
As a little something extra, here is their faithful cover version of The Turtles' 'Happy Together' included in the Bonus EP of Fosbury. (everytime I heard of that song, I thought of Jennifer Aniston's ass in that Heineken commercial).

Tahiti 80 - Changes
Tahiti 80 - Happy Together (The Turtles Cover)

Click here to buy 'Fosbury'.
Their myspace

Saturday, November 18, 2006

All The Live Performances On The Charlotte Church Show..

Charlotte Church, one-time classical prodigy, owner of only one proper pop single, Britain's own tabloid fodder, and now host of her own entertainment show on UK's Channel 4.
So the thing is in every episode, Charlotte has a musical guest performing. What she does is join them for a duet on stage, hold the mike looking pre-occupiedly, then wait til the best bits to jump in and screech disconcertingly in order to remind the audience that she also happens to be a professional singer. Like a pain in the ass.
However, there are indeed some good performances from the show and if you can get past the distractions of Charlotte's big voice, you realize all the acts did a quite good job. There are also some interesting covers done on purpose for ratings. Here I've got all 7 live performances from the show so far in order of air dates, and my favorite of the bunch is Amy Winehouse's drunk slurry reinterpretation of Jacko's 'Beat It'. Enjoy, y'all.

Charlotte Church & The Feeling - Never Be Lonely
Charlotte Church & Orson - No Tomorrow
Charlotte Church & Nelly Furtado - Crazy (Gnarls Barkley Cover)
Charlotte Church & The Brand New Heavies - Seven Nation Army (White Stripes Cover)
Charlotte Church & Nerina Pallot - Message In A Bottle (The Police Cover)
Charlotte Church & Alesha - Somebody Told Me (The Killers Cover)
Charlotte Church & Amy Winehouse - Beat It (Michael Jackson Cover)

Late To The Scene: Ivy

This new feature is dedicated to bands/ artists that have been making music since the early days when I didn't even know what 'indie' meant, and when you still thought the hype machine was something you could buy at a supermarket. Okay, just bands whose prime time is back when I don't notice them, but I finally joined the bandwagon and loving them. The first band I want to blog about is IVY.

Ivy is a New York City band comprised of a trio of musicians, Adam Schlesinger, Dominique Durand and Andy Chase. They were formed back in 1994.
Here are a few essential fact you should know about them:

  • They specialize in making upbeat dream pop with jangly guitars and lush strings arrangements, backed with jazzy horns. The kind of shoegazing music that makes you sit at the sofa and tap your feet.

  • They really have a knack for writing sweet, irresistably catchy tunes.

  • Lead singer has a French accent, and a damn dreamy, floating voice. Kinda reminds me of the lead vocalist of Saint Etienne.

  • There are a lot of 'sha-la-las', 'doo-doos', and 'da-da-das' in their hooks, which can always be a good thing.

  • Their probably best-known song is 'Edge Of The Ocean', a chill-out continental-cafe ear candy, which was featured in the soundtrack of Grey's Anatomy. Their song 'Worry About You' is also the opening theme for the show Kingdom Hospital.

  • Did I mention they make damn fine pop?

So in case you never heard of this awesome band, have an experience with some of their finest tunes below. All is highly recommended.

Ivy - Edge Of The Ocean (from 'Long Distance', 2001)
Ivy - Lucy Doesn't Love You (from 'Long Distance', 2001)
Ivy - Tess Don't Tell (from 'In The Clear', 2005)
Ivy - Digging Your Scene (from 'Guestroom', 2002)

Buy their latest cd 'In The Clear'

Lazy Saturdays...

It's not that I have nothing to post. I have tons. Really, tons. But these days, there is just so much going on some time I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing.
There are at least 20 cds I still haven't listened yet. And I was picky.
Movies I haven't watched.
Shows I wasn't able to catch up.
University enrollments/ scholarship search and etc.
I hardly sleep enough.
I just wish I could be a bear and go hide away in some cave sleeping through the whole winter and wake up fresh in spring.
I'm just a mess lately.
The next two days I have more spare time on my hands. Let's see what I can do to get this blog back in shape.

For now, I'm giving serious consideration about going on hiatus in 2007 until things get easier to breathe or I might need somebody to help with things over here, although I do prefer mine as a one-man blog.

Sorry for the moping.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake - Give It To Me

Okay, so I'm aware that this track has floated around the blogosphere for a few days now. It's obviously everywhere. Everybody has probably heard of it anyway. I just want to throw in my two cents on the song.
Putting aside all the negative vibes, I actually think it's pretty good. I like the beats and the synth line, and it's possibly gonna get stuck in my head after several playbacks though. (like what just happened with 'Wind It Up', I even found myself rapping a few lines unconsciously a few days ago...) Of course, being produced by performed by the man himself, it's star-studded with guest vocals from Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake, two of his recent 'customers'. All of that, and somehow there's something not right about it. It could have been better. Nelly and Justin's vocals somehow seemed forced. I don't know why but producers seem to get writer's block when it comes to their own records (see Pharrell).
So it's a fun, club-banging track, but it just doesn't possess the magnetism that 'Maneater' or 'My Love' has. In fact, it's more like a 'featuring Timbaland' track. I hope his collaborations with Chris Martin will be better than this first single paving the way for his new solo album. He's been booked by Bjork and Duran Duran too, so let's hope he's still got plenty of tricks in his beatbag.
By the way, do you find Justin's ambiguous dissing of Janet & Prince in his verse offensive? Because I don't, since I'm not the hugest fan of Prince and actually think it's somewhat okay to make fun of Janet these days. Anyway, in my opinion, it's just a whiny thing to do. Always find him a tad too whiny. Whiny's back!

Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake - Give It To Me

Irrelevant Chantings:
It's funny, but I dreamed up an entire episode of Lost yesterday. Weird. My brain wrote its all twists and turns that are not relevant to any current plots of the show. The details faded away now, but it's...just weird. Too weird.
Speaking of weird, I just took a break for a few days and the traffic's already sinking real low. How come? (rhetorical question)
Coming up: indie overloaded. I'll finally get to talk about all these exciting new artists I've been loving, so look out for that.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

When Elbow Covers Destiny's Child & Amerie...

Above is the pic of British rock band Elbow. They're scruffy guys making grown-up alternative rock music, buddies with Chris Martin, and they're very good at doing tongue-in-cheek covers for Jo Whiley.

Here's proof. When indie blokes cover highly-overplayed r&b megahits and still make them sound so fresh and fun, then hats off to them.

These two covers are kinda old, but today's been a slow day for new music and I just feel like posting them, and also because they're great:

Elbow - Independent Woman (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge Destiny's Child Cover)
Musically, it's very nice and creative. They didn't sing the lyrics much, just bits & bobs, because it'd be weird if they sang all the original lyrics. They did try to put considerate effort into the cover, so it sounds very twee and somewhat suitable for a theme tune of a puppet show! And there is use of xylophones. Xylophones! Nice, nice stuff.

Elbow - One Thing (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge Amerie Cover)
This is also brilliant. The drums sound great. Good use of the instruments. There is a sped-up squeaky vocal sample that adds a cartoonish element to the cover. And he just sang it like he was really having fun. I love this version almost as much as the original one. Is this one thing that got me tripping? Woah woah woah...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Psapp - Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat!

Anyone has seen this movie, raise your hand! Come on, I won't tell!


When I was a kid, I used to love this film. Used to watch it numerous times, and knew the words to most of the songs. Aristocats in Paris, and street cats that know how to swing and jazz. Who wouldn't love that?

So what does this have to do with Psapp, you may ask?
Well, recently, I've been chilling out to this fine indie British toytronica band's new album 'The Only Thing I Ever Wanted'. So when I was browsing their catalogue on iTunes, it came as a surprise to me to know that they have done a cover of 'Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat' for a compilation album called 'Rewind! 5'. You know, the song when Thomas O'Maley let Duchess and the kittens groove with Scat Cat & the gang. (how come I still remember the characacters' names?)
And they did an amazing job. The usual creative percussions, the laidback, soothing vibe, the dreamy cloudwalking vocals. Made the damn song stuck in my head all over again.
Recommended if you love the movie, fine chill-out music, or just being curious.

Psapp - Evr'ybody Wants To Be A Cat

Buy 'Rewind! 5'

Or you can hear/watch the cats sing the song in their mother tongues, French!

Ugh, and I thought I had got over Disney...How this movie never gets a straight-to-dvd sequel remains a mystery.

Christina Aguilera - Hurt (Jake Ridley Remix)

There are a lot of remixes out there that are absolute cash-in crap. Well, not this one. What I like about this mix is that it doesn't turn the original into a club ravefest. What it does is add an ambient, trip-hop-like beat, and spin the power of her vocals to the full effects, so while it's not so over-the-top as the original, it still manages to sound equally, if not more, epic. Try to listen to this version in a spacious corridor. Stunning.

Christina Aguilera - Hurt (Jake Ridley Remix)

Saturday Is For Soundtrack: The Orange County, Talking Pigs & Cliffhanger

This week, I decide to take a break and just inform you on some upcoming soundtrack releases that hold my interest.

Okay, so I can't say I'm a big fan of The OC since I only finished season 1, and I'm not sure if I should catch up when I already know Marissa is six feet under. However, I am a big fan of the show's soundtrack. Obviously, I watch it just to check out new good indie songs (beside Mischa Barton). It has introduced me to so many new great artists. So you know how I feel when I found out there's gonna be a mix 6 called 'Covering Our Tracks', due out Dec 5. The concept is having indie artists covering indie tracks new and old. Check out the kickass tracklist below:

Music from the OC: Mix 6: Covering Our Tracks

Goldspot - "Float On" (Modest Mouse)
Rock Kills Kid - "I Turn My Camera On" (Spoon)
Lady Sovereign - "Pretty Vacant" (Sex Pistols)
Mates of State - "California" (Phantom Planet)
Pinback - "Wasted" (Black Flag)
John Paul White - "Can't Get It out of My Head" (ELO)
Rogue Wave - "Debaser" (Pixies)
Syd Matters - "Hello Sunshine" (Super Furry Animals)
Tally Hall - "Smile Like You Mean It" (The Killers)
The M's - "Come Into Our Room" (Clinic)
Band of Horses - "The End's Not Near" (The New Year)
Chris Holmes - "Into Dust" (Mazzy Star)

Simply, this show can do no wrong when it comes to delivering great music.

Sarah McLachlan has written a new track for the movie 'Charlotte's Web' called 'Ordinary Miracle', which you can listen to a sneak peek if you click here . Based on the 30 seconds, the song sounds pretty good. Don't even front about it, you know you'll walk into the theaters for this family flick this Christmas.

It's scary when you realize that Dakota Fanning's like the hardest-working actress in the industry right now!

To end this round of news,

F.U. J.J. Abrams! A cliffhanger like that and you leave us pondering til February next year? You son of a b1tch! Aarghh!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dionne Warwick feat. Mýa - Close To You

Q: What should a music veteran do when he/she wants to come back and make some more money without having to record new materials?

A: Release a 'collaboration' album, where you invite contemporary artists to duet the standards with you. Result: chart success.

That's exactly what Dionne's up to with her new album, aptly-titled, uhm, 'My Friends & Me', coming out this November. Just look at the guest list: Gladys Knight, Olivia Newton-John, Gloria Estefan, Kelis, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, Celia Cruz, Wynonna Judd, Cheyenne Elliott, Lisa Tucker, Deborah Cox, Chante Moore, Angie Stone, Da Brat & Mýa. Don't say you're not curious.
Think she looks scary in that pic above? Well, have a look at the cheesetastic cd cover:

Mainly, the track that's got everybody talking about is this cover of The Carpenters' 'Close To You' with Mýa. For some reasons, every time I hear the name of this song, I immediately link it to when Homer first met Marge in high school with her then short blue hair in slow motion and all. Oh, nevermind.
Actually, this cover version's pretty decent. It adds a contemporary R&B vibe to the original and Dionne and Mya's vocals both sound crisp and on point. Nothing groundbreaking (not that I expect that), but definitely sweet for the ears.

Dionne Warwick feat. Mýa - Close To You

Buy the cd

Coming Up Soon:
Psapp does a cover from 'The Aristocats'!, a nice remix of Christina's 'Hurt', and two extraordinarily good Live Lounge cover from Elbow.

Music Video: KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See (3 Versions)

A great song need a great video to go with. Or sometimes, multiple great videos. Especially when they just keep getting better. In KT Tunstall's case, 'Suddenly I See' has 3 different versions, and the latest one, surfaced last week, was the best one yet. Let's have a look at all of them.

UK Version - Directed by Big TV
The lamest. A simple performance video, with her singing at the sassier clone.

US Version - Directed by Patrick Daughters
The proper-budget version for the US market, directed by a renowned director. It cuts between scenes of her frolicking outdoor in daylight and her night job entertaining people in a Romania circus. I never know she's also an acrobat! Fun, fun version! I'd rather buy tickets to her circus than Christina Aguilera's 'vintage' one.

New US Version - Directed by Honey
The best of the three. There's so much going on. Full of cute animation with great details. Basically, KT's just smiling and walking around her small colorful little world of joy. The funny thing is that the least appealing thing here is KT's rather forced, unconvincing face expressions and acts. Ugh. Still, my favorite version. Third time's a charm.

I'm amazed that I'm still not tired of this song yet.

Download KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See Music Video (The Animated Version) - Quicktime MOV format

Friday, November 10, 2006

Music Video: Sufjan Stevens - Put The Lights On The Tree

Believe it or not, indie hipsters also celebrate Christmas. And this year, their most-anticipated Christmas album comes from no other than the indie folk mogul himself, Sufjan Stevens!
'Songs For Christmas' is a 5-disc boxset loaded with 5 EPs (5!) of Christmas traditionals and originals. All is enclosed in a box along with essays, a short story, song chords & lyrics, photos, a family portrait, and wishes for a Happy Christmas. All for $21.99. I think it's a quite good deal.
Now the quantity of tracks should knock out any other festive releases this year, and also means lots of royalties for re-releases to keep his an-album-for-each-state project going strong. The quality I expect to be quite good, too, based on the first single 'Put The Lights On The Tree', whose music video you can watch here. It's animated with bubble speeches, and it's just darn cute and adorable.

This song is a nice, childlike, sweet seasonal ditty, which is just in Sufajn's standards. Though I'm not exactly a big fan of his works, I'll still be looking forward for this!

Pre-order 'Songs For Christmas' for yourself, or as a gift, and prove to your mom how hip you are

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Keane Gets Dirrtylicious...

Oh Keane. Such an unfortunate case. After an astonishing debut, I thought you would do magic with your sophomore album. However, it didn't live up to my expectations, scoring a mere 3.5/5 stars in my rating list, and it hurt to face reality and accept the fact that I just didn't dig your music as much as I used to. And then, you Tom Chaplin went to rehab. And you released a USB single that no one seems to care about.
Now that Tom's out of rehab, he's trying damn hard to crawl back to the spotlight, reminding people that he's not dead yet, and what's a better way than doing a tongue-in-cheek cover for Jo Whiley's Radio 1 Live Lounge? It's like saying: 'Hey, I'm back, free from alcohol and drugs and all! And I am also happy and playful now! By the way, we're having a new single out! Please drag your ass outdoor and buy it, please?'
I know this cover's got pretty much covered on other blogs last week, but for being such a cover addict, I can't resist posting it here again.
Basically, it's a mash-up/cover of Christina Aguilera's 'Dirrty' & Destiny's Child 'Bootylicious'. And it's worth listening because it simply is. Won't you want to hear Tom sing the 'I don't think you're ready for this jelly' line? At least for once he sounds like having fun and not moping like a miserable old chap. And the song's got a message, too, you know, female empowerment and all...

Now take it slow and put out a kickass album in three years. If not, I'm not gonna be so keen on Keane anymore (yeah, lame pun).

Keane - Dirrtylicious (Destinys Child - Christina Aguilera Cover)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Christmas Early In November...With Sarah McLachlan

Is it wrong for a 17-year-old to actually enjoy Sarah McLachlan's back catalogue?
I've been questioning that for my music credibility for a while...
Somehow, I manage to proclaim my love for her unashamedly, without labelling her as a 'deeply guilty pleasure'. I'm just creepy that way...

Anyway, her seasonal album 'Wintersong' is a must-buy for this 'Xmas, which is just a month away. Though it gives nothing new, considering it's another Pierre Merchand production, it's a nice collection of ethereal, luminous holiday songs sung by her very lungs. Buy it for your mom, your grandpa, your weird friends or a lesbian relative you know.

Here's the music video for the lead single 'River', which is a stunning cover of the Joni Mitchell classic. I never really care for the orignal and Joni, but Sarah's rendition is just so Sarahesquely beautiful! The video's really lame, but watch if you're keen on seeing how she looks these days (still gorgeous, in my opinion).

And here's the mp3 for sampling purpose. Go on. Get weepy. Look out for the smart inclusion of 'Jingle Bells' on the piano towards the end.
Sarah McLachlan - River

Makes me feel so jolly inside, even though I'm religion-free.

Buy Wintersong

So Britney's Single Again...

And looking hot!

Here's the video of her short guest appearance on David Letterman in Nov 6.

Poor 'supertalented rap star' ex-husband-to-be Kevin Federline's reactions to the end of his golddigging career. Let's see how long he can manage to interest the tabloids til he fades into anonymity forever with Vanilla Ice.

So Britney has filed for divorce on Tuesday, due to 'irreconcilable differences'. (click for the TMZ report)


I have mixed feelings about this. Of course, it was great to see her lose weight, get rid of that pain in the ass, and look happy skating on ice. And that he's not getting a single 'yen' of her money. However, I kinda feel sorry for the kids now missing a father in their life (not that they've ever had a real one anyway). And I always thought they would last, teaching their children how to be provocateurs and opportunists. Now get back to the studio, but don't even think of going to that 'I-reflect-my-personal-life-through-songs' route.

And for more YouTube needs, here's Mississippi girl Faith Hill's horrible 'comedy stint' at the CMAs:

I believe she's joking, I can see that in her attitude and actions, but whatever, doesn't matter to me. You're a singer, not a practical comedienne, Faith.

Does anyone still care about election results, at all?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Amazing Music Video: Fatboy Slim - Champion Sound

Fatboy Slim continues the streak of his lo-fi, lo-budget yet visually tasty music videos to accompany his electronica catchiness. Here below is the video for his new single 'Champion Sound', shot by a handheld camcorder. Beginning at one push, we follow two girls around the house watching random pre-arranged items fall by the domino effects. Nothing really mindblowing or brain-stimulating, just something nice and interesting enough to keep us focusing. Refreshingly entertaining, though the song's just above average.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Acoustic Live Performances On AOL Music - The Interface

Recently, I've been digging live acoustic performances, so last week when I had a chance to listen to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing the AOL Interface podcast, it was such a delight to hear Karen O getting stripped down with her usual rocking sounds and just sat down chirping pretty. They were really lazy, like, only performing 3 songs then the rest is interviewing, but the whole sessions was stellar. I never really got into 'Cheated Hearts' before, but this acoustic version was so amazing it made me fall in love with the song instantly. There's also 'Turn Into', one of their best songs to date, and a cover of The Rentals,'The Love I'm Searching For'. I post them all here for your listening pleasure, along with a bonus acoustic version of 'Maps'. Enjoy!

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cheated Hearts (Live On AOL Music - The Interface)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Turn Into (Live On AOL Music - The Interface)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - The Love Im Searching For (The Rentals Cover)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps (Acoustic Version)

Buy Show Your Bones, their latest full-length

The Cardigans - KCRW Acoustic Sessions 2004

It was Stereogum's post on their his experience seeing The Cardigans live that inspired me to browse my music archives and upload this treasure trove for you.
Back in 2004, The Cardigans were in the US promoting their current album at the time, 'Long Gone Before Daylight'. So they came to KCRW studio and did this amazing acoustic live sessions, performing the singles from LGBD (with the exception of 'Communication') and also two others from 'Gran Turismo'. It was incredible. Nina's vocals were on point and sounded so cozy, moody and heartbrokenly melancholy. The acoustic arrangements were lush and impressive, taking the songs in different angles from the album versions. Every song they did is still worth checking out. So if you're a sucker for The Cardigans or the adorable indie sweetheart Nina Persson like me, wait no more and download them all. Trust me, it's worth your time.

01 And Then You Kissed Me.mp3
02 Erase/Rewind
03 You're The Storm
04 For What It's Worth
05 Communication
06 My Favourite Game

Buy Super Extra Gravity, their latest record

Monday, November 06, 2006

Inbox: Ella Rouge

Ella Rouge is the first promotional cd I got sent. And possibly the last. But I was glad that I do like what I hear.
So what makes this band special? Well, the one fact that the publicists will always put first: Ludvig, the lead singer, and also the songwriter that wrote the majority of the tracks on the band’s debut album, is the young son of ABBA’s leader and main songwriter Benny Andersson. I don't know if that has anything to do with the photo above (which is also the cd cover), in which this ABBA son guy has the rights to stand and strike poses on the fields while his band mates are being tied to a giant tree with their instruments.
So are there more to them beside that? There are, indeed. They come from Sweden, the land of music exports these days. And their music is quite catchy and rocking and also sappy and poppy when they want to.
Here's what their press release makes believe:

"ELLA ROUGE has already hit #1 on the revered Web site MySpace in the alternative, rock and power pop categories. “Eldorado High,” an autobiographical rocker with a wry edge, is the band’s first single in their homeland, and is currently the most-listened to track by the band on MySpace ( The single has been followed onto the airwaves with the playful “Jekyll and Hyde” and the rambunctious “The L.A. Dogs.” The band is in the midst of global exploration.

With influences going back to the early days of rock n’ roll, the band also has admiration for recent artists from the UK, U.S. and its homeland. “The Stockholm scene is always boiling with interesting new bands. The Sounds, The Knife and Jose Gonzalez… the list is endless,” says Ludvig, explaining, “If any of them has had any effect on my own songwriting I am not sure. And of course I’ve had some parental influences as well,” he admits.

The album was recorded in producer Micke Lynader’s studio on an island in the Baltic Sea in the middle of a bone-chilling winter. “During recording we lived together in six army beds in the attic of the studio,” remembers guitarist Max Lachmann. ‘We did everything together. We had fights, parties, good times, sad times and lot of jam sessions together.”

From a barrelhouse honky-tonk piano to a duel-guitar attack and a potent rhythm section, ELLA ROUGE is a rock band in the truest sense with every member helping to shape the band’s sonic intensity.

The first time I listened to the cd, The Feeling was the first band that popped up in my head for comparisons to the '80s power pop similarity. Ella Rouge just bears a striking resemblance to them in their music styles, which means if you're The Feeling fans, make room for these guys, too.
The track's orders can be a little frustrating. The odd ones are straightforward, upbeat singsong pop-rock. The even ones are piano-oriented bittersweet ballads. So one minute you want to bang your head, the next minute you find yourself sit down still. Despite the confusing strategy of tracklisting, the songs are just quite good to listen to, nicely-penned, infectious melodies that can't be pigeon-holed into a definite genre.

Here I include two songs for your evaluation. One is the bouncy number 'ElDorado High', their current single, and one is my favorite ballad of the album, 'Weary'.

Ella Rouge - ElDorado High
Ella Rouge - Weary

Ella Rouge's official site
Ella Rouge's MySpace
Buy their self-titled cd

This is irrelevant, but I feel like ranting a little bit today, so don't read this. I was this close to announcing the first giveaway for the site, as I was promised 4 copies of Shawn Colvin's new cd to give out for free, but then I was turned down because I didn't live in the States->shipping fee's costly. It sucks, because this is from the same marketing company that sent me the Ella Rouge cd. It's always like this: I got sent a letter recommending a new band and asking me if I want a copy of the cd to review, when I really dig the music, I reply with my mailing address and I never hear from them again or a polite 'We can't make it' letter. It just sucks. I'm not complaining, but my situation just sucks.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Music Player Added...

FYI, I'm currently testing the music player on the sidebar. For now, there's only Sufjan Stevens for you, but if you guys like it, I will add more good stuff soon.
So now you can both listen to music and read my blog. How amazing, huh? It's neat when you think of what technology can do to your life these days...(laugh out loud)

Feedback on this. Feel free to drop a comment.

Oh, and I'm kinda out of time now, so check back tomorrow for my write-up on Ella Rouge, a new band from Sweden, and the entire acoustic KCRW Sessions The Cardigans did back in 2004. Cheers out.

Saturday Is For Soundtrack: LOST

It's nice to see the cast all smiling together, wearing all bright colorful t-shirts for the photoshoot. Of course they are, since it's unlikely they'll be wearing those for the show...

Statement made: I'm obsessed with LOST. It's the best show on TV right now, and probably the best of this decade. My time for tv is very restricted these days, and there are only 4 shows that I choose to allow myself to catch up weekly, which is Lost, the first one came to mind, along with The Simpsons, Family Guy & Desperate Housewives.

Never have I've watched such a brilliant tv series that has a good combination of drama, suspense, mystery, thriller, excellent, well-rounded cast, thought-provoking, brainteasing plot, psychological metaphors, great dialogue, breathtaking locations, chicks. Evangeline Lily's not the only reason I watch the show, you know. There are always so much going on in one episode, the intriguing flashbacks, the little clues given here and there that keeps you guessing, drawing up theories and anticipating for the next episode. This show's drving everybody crazy, and still you can't help but glueing your eyes on the screen everytime it comes on the screen.

Still going strong in its season 3, a lot of the mysteries start unveiling (though not quickly enough), and here are a 'few' things we'll learn so far after 5 episodes.
[spoiler warning], skip this part if you haven't watched them yet

Jack, Sawyer and Kate were captured by the others, and Ben (the prisoner in the hatch back in season 2) is the leader. They're much more civilized and modern than we thought they'd be.
Elizabeth Michell, playing the role of 'Juliet', has these icy, mystically beautiful glares. There seems to be a chemistry between her and Jack.
Kate finally proclaimed her love for Sawyer. And we finally saw her bare back.
Sun did have an affair while she was still in Korea. Her baby might not be Jin's. And she unintentionally killed one of the others.
Desmond is still alive and kicking, and he seems to have a way with premonitions.
Ekko, otherwise, is dead.
Apparently, the main reason Jack was brought there is because Ben have a tumor on his spine, and needs help from him. However, Juliet's at odds with him, and she secretly told Jack through a video tape she made (in a very clever way, emulating Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues ) that she needs him to help the surgery look like an 'accident', for some of them want a change. The matter is who will Jack choose to believe? Who is lying and who is telling the truth? This is the turning point so far.
Those buzzing black clouds can kill.
Juliet's really hot.
I wonder if she is the same woman shown waken up by the phone at the very last minute of season 2 finale?

I think that's all.

Take it to the music. I think the ghostly scores composed by Michael Giacchino plays a big part in the atmosphere of the show. Lost's got the ability to send chills down my spines every single time I watch it, without any gruesome, disturbing horror or scary stuff. There are countless time I find myself with mouth wide open, awestricken by the surprising turns of events. That happened like, 10 minutes ago, after I just finished episode 5.

Despite having very few songs featured in the soundtrack (since Lost's not the kind of show that can help promote new artists or The Fray, or Snow Patrol by playing their songs in episodes), but when they do, they choose the good ones. One of them is Damien Rice's 'Cannonball', back in season 1.

Also noticeable is the use of '60s popular songs to create an eerie, nostalgic atmosphere at the right moments. For example, the sounds of Skeeter Davis's 'The End Of The World' from the radio of Kate's car in 'What Kate Did'. Mama Cass Elliot's 'Make Your Own Kind Of Music' played loud when we were first introduced to the inside of the hatch in season 2 premiere. The same with Petula Clark's 'Downtown' for the opening of season 3 (the song just recently got a lovely cover version for charity by Emma Bunton, anyway, guess she can cling on the hype). And you can hear Brenda Lee's 'I Wonder' in the funeral scene in this week's episode.

So check out all of the songs aforementioned, and the 16-second opening theme/ closing theme, to relive your lost moments, and be sure to tune in next week with me and be brainwashed by the pure brilliance that is LOST.

Damien Rice - Cannonball
Mama Cass Elliot - Make Your Own Kind Of Music
Skeeter Davis - The End Of The World
Petula Clark - Downtown
Brenda Lee - I Wonder
LOST - Opening Theme
LOST - End Title

Buy Lost soundtrack CD Vol.1
Buy Lost soundtrack CD Vol.2
Buy Lost DVDs

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Performances From European Music Awards 2006!

Quote of the week:

"Fvck this. My video cost a million dollars, Pamela Anderson was in it. I was jumping across canyons. If I don't win, the awards show loses credibility."

What an egomaniac. I don't know, but that statement's kinda cool. He's such a jerk for stealing air time from these two indie electronic dudes (whose videos I should be watching soon), but hey, it made good television.

Speaking of television, I've just found links to ridiculously high quality videos of the performances (about 100mb each, avi format), so if you missed it or couldn't watch it, here's your chance to watch the show! Props to the original uploader.

Justin Timberlake feat. Timbaland - SexyBack/My Love/LoveStoned - 138MB

The Killers - When You Were Young - 104MB

Muse - Starlight - 120MB

Snoop Dogg & Pharrell - Drop It Like It's Hot/That's The Sh*t - 115MB

Rihanna - SOS - 99MB

Diddy feat. Cassie - Come To Me - 82MB

Nelly Furtado - Maneater - 78MB

*Bonus: Borat Skit - 90MB

Have fun!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Everyone's Bringing Sexy Back...

Sexy Back's getting all the attentions it doesn't deserve. Despite being an overhyped, not-all-that comeback single, it still spent weeks on top of the charts, only to be replaced by 'My Love', and now it seems that every indie hipster have their take on it. Here are a few that I found:

The Changes - Sexy Back (Live on WEEM)
A tongue-in-cheek acoustic cover ditty from The Changes. You can even hear them chuckling during the performance. However, they did it good. Too bad it's only one minute and a half long.

James Eric - Sexy Back (Acoustic Cover)
Honestly, I never heard of this guy before, and don't plan to dig more, but his version is quite something. The same acoustic cover novelty, but it doesn't seem half-hearted. And there are falsettos. There are a plethora more of covers over at his website.

Lil Chris - Sexy Back (Live On Radio 1 Live Lounge)
And then, there's Lil' Chris. I never really get the hype about this kid, but his take on the song for a 'little-known' radio show called Jo Whiley's Live Lounge is anything but serious. I had fun listening to it! The way he altered the lyrics is kinda, well, adorable. Take it to the walrus!

Finally, as a bonus, here's 'My Love' getting the Paul Oakenfold dance remix treatment. Paul Oakenfold. 'Nuff said.
Justin Timberlake - My Love (Paul Oakenfold Remix)

Plans for upcoming posts:

  • New Saturday Is For Soundtrack! This time it's about the music in LOST, an independent tv show that no one watched. Another lame excuse to discuss about Evangeline Lily.
  • Stereogum's post on The Cardigans inspires me to browse the archives, so there's gonna be a big post covering their whole KCRW Sessions back in 2004.
  • I'm trying to put a neat flash music player mp3 at the sidebar like some sassy blogs do, but I have no clue how to do it. The instructions must be in Latvian or something.
  • I'm looking for scholarship to apply for overseas college/universities. Apparently, I'm aiming for Australia/ New Zealand (which requires IELTS, when I only have TOEFL), or possibly Singapore or the UK. I don't know where to start. My major is going to be Communications/ Media. If anyone knows a good one to enroll in, help me out, email me.
  • Oh, and anyone happens to have the 'Dirrtylicious' cover (a mash-up between Dirrty and Bootylicous) Keane did for Radio 1 in desperation to get back into the spotlight? Holler at me! Found it, thanks to Paul @ The Zapping.
  • Is it just me, or Rainy Monday by Shiny Toy Guns would be perfect for closing a dramedy trailer?
  • If you're gonna purchase a new Christmas album for the season, make it Sarah McLachlan's 'Wintersong' and Aimee Mann's 'Another Drifter In The Snow'. They're both excellent releases.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Marit Bergman - My Love (Justin Timberlake Cover)

Marit Bergman is Sweden's very own pop princess, and recently, she acted quick and did a cover of Justin Timberlake's 'My Love'.
So the original is bubbly, synthtastic, high-on-falsetto upbeat pop.
This version, though not strikingly amazing, is still quite lovely.
She switched it to a sugary, tinkling piano ballad. I'd like to believe that this was recorded properly in a studio, not one of those live covers, since the arrangements seemed quite carefully thought-out, and there were back-up singers and all recorded in her friend's living room in an afternoon with no thought out arrangements and only one musician/backing singer (her), according to Marit.
Nicely done, though.
This is just an appetizer. I've got three covers of 'SexyBack' coming tomorrow, along with a Paul Oakenfold remix of 'My Love'. So in the meantime, check this out.

Marit Bergman - My Love