Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Amy Winehouse: Live Covers & An Acoustic Version


You know what, I think it won't be exaggerative to say that Amy Winehouse can sing the phone book and still make it sound soulful. When you put aside all that eating-disordered, drunken ho persona aside (and her horseface), you realize how excellent she is at singing songs that sound like they were written in the '50s.
And when stripped down to just an acoustic guitar as company, it just becomes clearer how powerful that voice can be. Her gin-soaked voice just kinda pours down into your ears and wraps you around.

Here I give you a gorgeous cover of The Teddy Bears' 'To Know Him Is To Love Him', a Live Lounge cover of The Zutons' 'Valerie' and an acoustic version of 'Love Is A Losing Game', which is the bonus track for 'Back To Black'. Experience it yourself. She's a real gem.

Amy Winehouse - To Know Him Is To Love Him (Napsterlive Session)
Amy Winehouse - Valerie (The Zutons Cover)
Amy Winehouse - Love Is A Losing Game (Acoustic)


Her sophomore album will be released stateside soon.

Link: Her MySpace

The Pipettes On Ice!


This is brilliant. It really is.

So here's the story: at the Ice Gala 2006 ice skating competition, Italian skater Valentina Marchei chose The Pipettes' totally awesome 'Pull Shapes' to soundtrack her performance. Everything from her choreography to her costume was all connected to the song and the whole '60s girl-group reference. What's even more amazing is how she managed to get the audience to clap along towards the end (clearly because they 'want some more'!).

I don't know how much she scored overall (though it looked like a good performance to me), whatsoever I would give her a perfect 10 for the flawless music pick. Just awesome.

Thanks Forkcast for the heads up.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cover: Klaxons - My Love!


Oh guess what, Klaxons, one of the buzzing new acts of 2007 that everyone's raving about, just stopped by an obscure radio show called...wait for it...BBC Live Lounge with Jo Whiley!, and did a cover of...Justin Timberlake's 'My Love'!, the song you've probably heard for a billionth time by now.
I'm in a hurry right now, so all I can say is that they did a damn fantastic job. It's a faithful cover, and they added a little cool piano part which is a nice touch. Though being covered by an indie band, the song's actually still very catchy and pretty danceable. My thoughts on the band may be saved for another time, another post. For now, I say no more and let you hear it for yourself, if you haven't yet.


Link: Their myspace

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'll come back stronger than a powered up Pac-Man...


Woohoo! (insert the chorus of Blur's 'Song 2')
The return of Zeon!
During my little break, I was able to find a handful of exciting new artists and I just can't wait to share all the awesome music to you guys! There's gonna be a shower of posts coming up in the next few days, so keep checking back!
And what's a better way to start a comeback post than a Lily Allen track?

Lily Allen - Smile (Mark Ronson Revisit)

Mark Ronson + Lily Allen = hot sh1t! Them two always deliver! Here, 'Smile' gets a 'revisit' from Mark. Imagine an instrumental of any tracks from Amy Winehouse's sophomore album with the acapella of 'Smile' on top of it, and you pretty much have the basic idea of how it sounds like. Oh, and there are horns. A great remix for those who've grown tired of the original version. This alternative take is included as a bonus track in the US edition of 'Alright, Still', dropping Stateside on Jan 30.
(I noticed how MTV US cut out the scene in the 'Smile' music video when she put the pills in her ex's drink, and probably the mug scene, too. And they air all those racy hip-hop videos everyday. Screw them.)


Mark Ronson - Toxic (Radio Edit)

Speaking of Mark Ronson, he will also have a new album called 'Version' coming out soon consisting of his covers of songs like Coldplay's 'God Put A Smile Upon Your Face', Kaiser Chiefs' 'Oh My God' (with the vocal input of no other than Miss Lily), and this one, Britney Spears' 'Toxic'. I like how the cover doesn't take itself seriously. This got the trademark Ronson sound, with a hip-hop vibe, complete with some rap verses and some tongue-in-cheek vocals. It's fun to listen to, he did a good job reworking the song. It's probably the only good thing related to Britney coming out this year.

More tracks available for streaming at his MySpace.
Enjoy!

Friday, January 12, 2007

I never thought I'd have to say this but...

Okay, I'm in big trouble. I just got into a big fight with mom and she has decided to cancel the internet subscription as a punishment. So this could be the last time I blog with internet access at home. I can sort things out if I try, but right now, I'm really feeling sinister. I'm in the mood of ruining my life/my parents' life. It's all quite complicated and things are on the edge...
So yeah, I never thought I'd have to say this but I declare hiatus on the blog for now. This could be the end. I don't know. I can't really promise anything. I know that the blog's been shit lately and I tried to make the best out of what's available, when I'm unable to upload stuff. Maybe the blog will be back someday. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe never. Wow, have I really transformed into some kind 'emo monster'?

I'm just feeling really lost right now and I need a good sleep.

So long, everyone. It's been a good run. Sorry for letting you down.

Zeon.


UPDATE!

Hey,

Just check in to say that things have been sorted out. Everything's under control, for now. However, I'll still be taking a short break until my internet connection's back in its full capacity and when I come back, I promise you it will be worth the wait. I've already had ideas for future posts piling up, and I've been contacting some indie artists whose music I found exciting to ask for permission to post mp3s and stuff, you know, to be a little 'professional' etc.

I didn't expect so many supportive comments like that. I really appreciate that you guys took the time to type down a line or two. So while the blog's on hiatus, I want to do a little survey and I hope you guys can give me some feedbacks. You don't have to answer all of them, though.

1. What's your favorite post(s)/find(s) on Zeon's Music Blog in 2006?
2. What you like/don't like about the blog? Is there anything that needs to be improved and how? What should I focus more on?
3. Should I change the template? I know it's very generically looking and boring, but should I?
4. I always wanted to keep this as a one-man blog, but the next few months I won't have much time to blog as much as before, so should I recruit new team members? If so, would you be interested in becoming a part of Zeon's Music Blog?
5. What do you think I'd look life in real life? ;-)

That's all. See y'all soon.

Zeon.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Indietastic #6: The Softlightes - Heart Made Of Sound


I never seemed to make out why I was able to keep mum about this infectious ditty from this Californian indie pop quartet.
I was completely astonished the first time I watched the video/heard the song.
With a title like that, all I could expect was a lush, lo-fi indie pop song. There is more than I bargained for. This is the kinda of song that's meant to be listened in wide open spaces, like when you're on a field all alone, you walk during the verses, you stomp your feet and wave your hands around when the chorus comes on, and you run like a maniac when the piano break rushes in. It all sounds amazing with enough experimental elements, but remains catchy enough to grow on you. The Softlightes was signed by Modular People, which means the guys are label mates with the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, New Young Pony Club, Klaxons. Their EP with the same title is a good preview of what's to come, and their debut album will be released soon this spring. I've marked this on my hot list. And you might, too.
Now, let's talk about the video. It's incredible. Even if you don't like the song, you have to give some props to the director Kris Moyes, because there's really some awesome stop-motion animation here. It looked like it took him ages to complete all the shots, and the concept is simple: recreating the lyrics on different everyday objects. With the super fast editing, I have to watch it many times to not miss out on all the details that could be gone in a blink of an eye! One of my top favorite videos of 2006!

Watch the video, the common way.


To sum up, I really love it. Hope you'll give it a try.


As you can see in the press pic up there, one of the band members always seems very shy in front of the camera. Either he's so hideous he has to cover up his face or he really is a cat.


Download:
The Softlightes - Heart Made Of Sound
*Bonus:
The Softlightes - Noan And The Electric Cholos
Download the music video for Heart Made Of Sound (MOV format)
-> Buy Heart Made Of Sound EP
->Their Myspace


Off-topic: I wish there was a college who granted scholarships based on one's music taste.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Beyoncé - Irreplaceable (Remix feat. Trina)


Okay, so this is a filler post, a little something to 'secure' the traffic.
Not actually, just think I have something to say.
These days, remix doesn't exactly mean remix anymore, does it? Most of the time, for a hip-hop/r&b song, it just means the same instrumental with a new verse featuring a guest rapper. Lazy, yet quite effective.
I know there has been another 'remix' version featuring Ghostface Killah around, this time she's got Trina backing her up, throwing in a few more in-the-face rhymes. There's nothing wrong with this version, since I really need a new one as I've started to grow tired of the album version.
What I want to say here is how the song was marketed. You've seen the video, where she did all her "icy queen" stuff, and this remix just confirms again the whole message of the song: *Fvck U* to the ex-boyfriend. That 'girl power' thing. However, I'd still want to believe that the trembling vocals delivered by her in the chorus is a hint of the fact that she's still not really over him yet, that she's just lying to herself. At least that's what I prefer to be lead to believe it that way. Just me, though. Guys don't like the idea of chicks dumping them so robotically, I guess.
For your interest, "Irreplaceable" was the most played pop song in my iTunes library in 2006. 51 play counts. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the best song of 2006, it just proves that this song is the most accessible, like I can listen to it at any occasions etc. Gosh, I'm so mainstreamish.
And my English is getting worse.

You can get it at IGIF. By the way, their Holiday Hangover mix is quite awesome, too.

2007: Upcoming Indie Releases

These are the US release dates for upcoming indie records in 2007. What you can see here is a great number of comebacks from some influential artists/bands that have shaken up the music blogosphere about 2-3 years ago, most of which will be released in the first quarter of 2007, and already are doing their rounds in the hype machine (Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Bloc Party, Of Montreal...). Here I only pick out the ones I'm interested in, not that I will check them all out (I wish I had that kind of free time), but what's most likely to happen is that I'll probably grab the first single and a few key tracks, then see if I'd like to proceed with the whole album etc.

I post this in order to keep track of what's to be looked out for, and I think it can be useful for you music geeks, too.
So here you go, note that the release dates are subject to change.


01/23/07 The Bird And The Bee - The Bird And The Bee (Blue Note)
01/23/07 Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity (5RC)
01/23/07 Field Music - Tones of Town (Memphis Industries)
01/23/07 Mum - The Peel Session (FatCat)
01/23/07 Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer (Polyvinyl)
01/23/07 The Shins - Wincing The Night Away (Sub Pop)
01/30/07 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder (Self-Released)
01/30/07 Lily Allen - Alright Still (Capitol - US Release)
02/06/07 Apostle Of Hustle - National Anthem Of Nowhere (Arts & Crafts)
02/06/07 Apples in Stereo - New Magetic Wonder (Simian/Yep Roc)
02/06/07 Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City (Vice)
02/06/07 Loney, Dear - Loney, Noir (Sub Pop)
02/06/07 Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block (Almost Gold - US Release)
02/13/07 Soft Lightes - Say No To Being Cool, Say Yes To Being Happy (Modular)
02/20/07 Explosions In The Sky - All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone (Temporary Residence LTD)
03/06/07 Air - Pocket Symphony (Astralwerks)
03/06/07 RJD2 - The Third Hand (XL)
03/20/07 Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum)
03/20/07 I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends (Mute - US Release)
03/20/07 LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (DFA/Capitol)
03/20/07 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living with the Living (Touch and Go)
04/10/07 Bright Eyes - Cassadaga (Saddle Creek)



Rolling eyes...that's really a lot!
Read the full list here.


*Sidenote:
-The 2007 Bloggies Awards are open for nominations til Jan 10. Of course, I just inform you so that you can go over there and nominate your favorite blogs, (I wouldn't even dare to dream of being in the finalists), but if you happen to slip my blog in, then I'd be flattered. :-)
-On Wednesday, I've got an important contest to enter. So til then there should be no posts. Wish me luck, guys! I'll need a lot of that.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Indietastic #5: Damien Rice - The Rat Within The Grain



Okay, so before the connection got effed-up, I uploaded a few songs that caught my interest, but hadn't found the time to blog about them yet. Well, wise move, now in difficult times like these, when I'm unable to upload new songs and there isn't much of new music around, I can finally flick off the 'digital' dust, and introduce them to you.

Most people turn to Damien Rice when they need some downtempo, wispy, bedsitting sadcore music to listen in the middle of the night. However, that's not to say that Damien Rice doesn't sound good when singing slightly more upbeat songs. In fact, it works out quite nicely. I've got this 'Spike Mix' version of 'Cannonball' which is simply the album version with a faster tempo and it sounds amazingly better. Another case is this one song.
With a mininal production value, it's just him and his guitar here. I think it's one of the catchiest songs of his, and also has some well-written lyrics, especially those in the chorus. I think the reason why I like this song so much is the way he expressed his feeling for a messed-up relationship and how he 'only wanted to be wanted' by his 'her'.
What makes this song even more awesome is the rightful use of such 'explicit' words as 'fvck' and 'chicken sh1t', which is totally on point in its context.
This song was the b-side for '9 Crimes'. In my humble opinion, it way kicks the single's ass and is a lot better than some tracks on the album.

That is all I have to say. Go have a listen, if you'd like to.

Damien Rice - The Rat Within The Grain
Buy the single

P.S. That ugly cover up there should be crime #10.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Prototypes - Je Ne Te Connais Pas EP


The Prototypes. You may think you've never heard of them. You have. At least if you've watched that new iPod Shuffle commercial, which used their song 'Who's Gonna Sing' (watch it here). This French band makes upbeat, danceable '60s-inspired electro punk pop, and they sound kinda like a cross between Yeah Yeah Yeahs and CSS.
Recently, Minty Fresh, their US label, released a new EP consisting of 5 previously unreleased song, and they're generous enough to give away the whole EP online for free, legally. Of course, I couldn't pass up the deal, so I gave it a listen, and enjoyed it. Quite good, I say.
Although all the tracks are in French, language shouldn't be stopping you from enjoying the music.
Here I only post the title track and my favorite one, 'Décider'. (Normally, I would toss in 'Who's Gonna Sing', but not today 'cause I'm having uploading issues)
And if you dig what you hear, then you can download the whole EP in a zip below. Be fast, it's available for a limited time only!

The Prototypes - Décider
The Prototypes - Je Ne Te Connais Pas

Download Je Ne Te Connais Pas EP (5 tracks)
Visit their MySpace

Do I finally get The Shins?


I've been walking in and out of this song for several times now. At first listen I gave it a three star, bearing in mind that I might never understand what the fuss is all about. Well, I was patient enough to give it many tries, and now it's all slowly coming together, bit by bit. The off-beat melodic style. The smooth, warm-sounding vocals. The unintelligible lyrics. And the singalong bits towards the end. Basically, it's their new 'New Slang'. And now it's become my favorite song from them. Took a long time for it to grow on me, but it paid off, and now I think it's safe to say I finally get them now. It was weird, because this type of music usually wins me over in no time.
Now I'm all ready to check out the entire album, 'Wincing The Night Away', with an open mind and hopefully it will fully convert me into Shinnism.

So in case you haven't checked out the single (where have you been?), do so because this record's reserved to be one of the major indie releases this year, and already gained much hype in the blogosphere. Indie music junkies everywhere are gonna bring it up in just about every conversation for the next 12 months or so, so better prepare or get left out of the crowd.

The Shins - Phantom Limb

Pre-order the album

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 In A List: The Best of CD Artworks

Kick start with my favorite album artworks, the ones that caught my eyes instantly. Apparently, not all artists show off their lean stomaches and pretty hairdos on their cd covers. I just have a thing for those 'arty' artworks. Sometimes it's the cover that makes me decide to check out the music. So here you go, I've tried my best to remember all the ones I had seen toc come up with this list. Beside the number one, the others are in no particular orders.


Lily Allen - Alright, Still
I'd like to have this one in large size, autographed, all framed up, hung on the living room wall and called it pop f***ing art.


Tortoise - A Lazarus Taxon
Interesting Wikitrivia: The cover is the work of a retired Swiss police officer named Arnold Odermatt, who became noted for his pictures of accident scenes and police training, he often returned to accident scenes he had photographed to shoot them again once they were free of people. This photo is about 30 to 40 years old. Just way too cool.


Benoit Pioulard - Precis
Dreamy, and glistening.


Air - Late Night Tales (compilation)
Like the contrast. And how it perfectly interprets the concept of the cd.


The Feeling - Twelve Stops And Home
The single covers are even better.


Massive Attack - Collected
Look twice.


I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends
Long live twee! This is the perfect portrait of a twee summer. Gotta love the colors.


Owen - At Home With Owen
What can I say? Beautifully photographed. Haunting. Sombre. It just kinda exudes this mist...I know it's a weird choice, but it's just amazing.


Beck - The Information
The coolest physical cd cover I've ever seen. From the image above, you may roll your eyes like 'WTF?', but it really is. See, it's a blank cover because you get all kinds of really cool stickers to stick on it, and makes your own one-of-a-kind cover (you can view the stickers here). Beck nailed this one, quite original concept.


Number One:
Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
I can't really explain why I love this one so much. It's just...visually captivating, very well-painted (is it a painting? Looks like one). I really like the mossy green color, the reflection, the details, the font they used and the hint of gloom beneath it all. I'm not too crazy about the record itself, but this cover...I know it's just trees. There's no way to justify its awesomeness.

Think I'm missing out any great covers? Feel free to leave a comment and tell me.

Double Yay: Sophie Ellis Bextor's Comeback Single & New Lily Allen B-Side

I photoshopped this myself!

Good sign I say. The new year already shaped up to become a promising year for music in general, and pop music in specific. Fortunately, the connection wasn't that unbearably horrible, so I managed to 'grab' these two songs, and it's well worth THE wait.

1. Sophie Ellis Bextor - Catch You (Radio Edit)
Pop enthusiasts had been waiting for this ever since the demo floated around. Now it's leaked. And it really is quite amazing. I'd say the record company made a good decision by pushing the release date back to January, just in time for springtime, because this Cathy-Dennis-produced electro pop comeback single got 'spring' written all over it. There's the killer chorus, the happy-go-lucky, feel-good, more rock-influenced vibe, and Sophie's classy vocals on top of it. This is the kind of poppy song that you want to listen to outdoor, and have some fun in the sun. The lyrics is presumable about an obsessed stalker, which earns it even more extra points. Now we just need the Sophie Muller-directed video with Sophie basking her skin and frolicking around under the Vienna sun, and there we have a decent comeback. So if you love pop, definitely check this one out and let it work it grooves on you.
Somehow I've got a bad feeling that this probably won't be her first UK number one or third number 2, though. A top ten hit is more of a safe aim.

2.Lily Allen - U Killed It (B-Side to 'Littlest Things')
Finally got my hold of this song today, and all I gotta say is that it wasn't bad. It's good enough for a b-side, it's the longest Lily song ever (if you don't count the remixes), and it pairs well with the a-side. Still I have no idea why it failed to chart, maybe people did't want to buy sad songs in December?
Anyway, January 30 will the day when the American can officially buy a non-import copy of her debut and the title was changed into 'Alright, Then' so that it won't cause confusions among them due to the differences between British and American English etc. Here's hoping she'll follow the successes of KT Tunstall, Corinne Bailey Rae, James Blunt (yikes), and recently, Lady Sovereign.

Since I'm unable to upload anything right now, all I can do is direct you to the nice blogs where I found them so you can abuse their bandwidth instead. Just kiddin'!

Sophie Ellis Bextor - Catch You (Radio Edit) (thanks to Into The Groove, or there's a zshare mirror at Paul's blog)

Lily Allen - U Killed It (thanks to Ashley Plath, no it's the right song, 'Sunday Morning' is just the old title from which it got renamed)