Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Pierce the Veil – The Divine Zero

The divine [5.00].


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Thomas Inskeep: Apparently “post-hardcore” means sounding like a baby Soilwork — which I’m entirely okay with. The lead singer screams where appropriate, the guitars do their Yngwie Malmsteen thing, and the lyrics alternate between suitably emo (“Now, I only pray when it all goes down/I’ll be surrounded by all of the ones I’ve loved and cared about”) and utterly ridiculous (“My bedroom computer light is the only menace to my new faux wooden blinds”). They’ve got chops, give ‘em that.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Lets see… D-Beats? Check. Overflashy metal licks? Check. Hair metal vocal arrangements that can never sit still? Check. Bad “Good Cop/Bad Cop” vox? Yeah. Heavy pitch-tuning? Oh BEST BELIEVE IT BAYBEEEE. Also, nobody’s ever going to get over the Killswitch Engage breakdowns, are they? There’s a lot of stuff crammed in here, to PtV’s credit, to the point this is borderline Between The Buried And Me levels of overexertion, but with none of the actual ideas of unique quality to bring forward. A for effort, F for about everything else.
[3]

Patrick St. Michel: The little EDM touches offer a nice reminder that this form of teenage melodrama rock has evolved a bit. The overwrought poetry reminds that they are sticking to their roots. 
[3]

Brad Shoup: I’m on a pop-punk bender at the moment, so while this has all the imagery you shouldn’t get within 500 yards of per court order and a killer chorus, too much time is spent thrashing in the breakdowns and bridges. But goddamn, I’m ready for that Coheed record now!
[6]

Ramzi Awn: If anything could relive the glory days of Korn, Stone Temple Pilots, Hole and hits from the bong, this would be it. Who knew? I don’t think my parents ever really knew what I was up to in my best friend’s basement in high school, and I hope they never do. But “The Divine Zero” comes pretty close to summing it up.
[7]

Alfred Soto: I’m not the audience, but this works fine as scouring agent: the yells are good punctuation, the chord changes well-timed.
[6]

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Beach House – Sparks

Not a Hilary Duff cover…


[Video][Website]
[7.29]

Danilo Bortoli: Upon its release, “Sparks” gave a wrong idea of what Depression Cherry would later turn out to be. More Slowdive than, say, My Bloody Valentine (their timing could not be better, really), and definitely emotionally rawer and more controlled than anything they have ever accomplished. Looking at the greater picture, it seems like a shot in the dark. A really beautiful and random one, though. Beach House have always aimed at perfection — a state of perpetual dreaming, that is. Considering this, “Sparks” is no different, but, somehow, it manages to dig deeper than their shots at dream pop. Maybe it’s the guitar carefully cutting through the noise. It could also be the pink clouds hovering above Legrand’s vocals, more distorted than usual, making the song bigger than the duo themselves. In the context of Beach House’s perfectly crafted dream pop, it fails miserably to make sense of itself — it’s too manipulated and controlled. But as a fully embodied gesture of greatness and what this duo can do, as a single even (and this is where the fun I get from writing for TSJ resides) it makes all the sense in the world that they would end up releasing a song so out of their comfort zone. At least once.
[9]

Alfred Soto: A talented minor band, expert at undulating niceness occasionally disturbed by rude chord changes.  In 2012 I said while watching their Pitchfork performance that I could see Victoria Legrand in her backyard hosting what she’d call young people. She serves pitchers of excellent sangria and bowls of beautiful fruit salads. She wears long billowing skirts and goes barefoot. Boasting a louder than normal and more usual than normal guitar peal, “Sparks” advances Beach House not a jot but, boy, do they love Cocteau Twins and sangria.
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Beach House have always had a tediousness to them, eternally waffling between true comprehension of Stereolab/Broadcast style evanescence and a desire to be a pop band. Either they’re too twee and poised or never dedicated enough, depending on which part of the shore you’ve planted yourself on. The guitar tease hints that they’re getting closer to whatever sort of balance they’ve lacked for so long.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Who knew that what shoegaze needed, apparently, was more organ? Waves of processed guitar, a clunky beat, a Hammond B-3 (or something very much like it), and vocals that sound a bit like Hope Sandoval with some grit add up to a single that sounds as if shoegaze never went away, and for that, we should thank Beach House. This is fresh as hell.
[8]

Will Adams: Like a glacier moving across thousands of years, “Sparks” is an icy monolith that’s hard to penetrate but gorgeous enough to admire from the outside.
[6]

Brad Shoup: It feels like watching a rocket bust out in stages. The heaviness “Chest Fever” organ concedes to lighthanded guitar streaks; Legrand’s gauzy vocal loop drops out in the middle, returning like the back half of a palindrome. Heft and haze, that’s what you want. This is a sunrise.
[8]

Josh Winters: Creativity isn’t a light switch you can turn on and off whenever you please; it’s more like a potted plant: something you have to constantly nurture and take care of before it wilts out in the sun. Creativity also isn’t a concrete, tangible object; it’s inherently abstract and ephemeral. You can make attempts to work at reaching moments of clarity, but it can only truly be captured when you know you’re able to seize them. The last time I saw Beach House live was in August of 2013 at the peak of their popularity, over a year after Bloom was released. They’re known to tire of playing their music near the end of every album cycle, and in a giant 5,800-capacity outdoor coliseum in broad daylight, it couldn’t have been more clear that they were out of their comfort zone. It took them a bit longer than usual to return with new music, and as the first song put out from Depression Cherry, “Sparks” is a bold reclamation of their creative essence. Under the cacophonous forcefield of soaring guitar, serrated organ, and cavernous voices lies an undercurrent of tension as Victoria navigates her way out of her soured vision in search for something new. It’s only until midway into the track when she realizes the magical nature of transience, how memories and feelings you thought were once lost can not only return to you, but also renew themselves. There’s hope within all the clamor and discord — “Make it, wave it, alive,” she recites with assurance — and that sense of reignited possibility gives way to a pure, beautiful energy, the kind that leads one to have strong synesthetic experiences. For me, I imagine sun rays on a summer day beaming into your eyes and saturating your sight, but I also imagine aurora borealis, a myriad of color flashing wildly in the still of the night with reckless abandon.
[9]

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Hello Seahorse! – Animal

A Mexican indie band with a divisive vocalist…


[Video][Website]
[6.38]

Juana Giaimo: Hello Seahorse’s slow change from twee to melodrama was effective, especially because of Lo Blondo’s deep grief in her languid cries. Bu, being this the third album in which they’ll explore this style, it may be losing some of its intensity. While in the delicate verses Lo Blondo is desoalted and yearning, the chorus, aiming to be passionately forlorn, falls quite flat. 
[6]

David Sheffieck: Those guitars suggest summer by way of Flock of Seagulls, and if the vocalist is a bit too icy to do the same — especially in the hook — she’s still more than able to pull that hook off with aplomb.
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: It’s like a jigsaw of tedious indie clichés, topped off by a fairly typical vocal performance trying to sound like a siren, when everything is mixed so aggressively I’d more likely compare it all to a bunch of klaxons.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Echoes of nearly everything I love(d) about straight-ahead ’80s college pop-rock can be found in “Animal”: there’s some “Bring on the Dancing Horses,” some Smiths, a bit of the Sundays (especially thanks to Denise Gutiérrez’s vocals, which soar even while singing a fairly dark set of lyrics, cf. my much-missed National Velvet). Yet it still sounds contemporary.
[9]

Jer Fairall: A singer with of the chirp and squeak of Missing Persons or the Motels, and a band that wisely accentuates the underlying melancholy of her vocal by recalling that the best New Wave was as much about gloomy undercurrents as it was about shiny surfaces. So pretty that I barely notice that there isn’t really any chorus.
[7]

Brad Shoup: Lo Blondo milking the chorus is the real treat here; it’s a little like the Def Leppard chorus of the same word, but with wonder and sadness instead of just wonder. There’s a tenderness to the electric piano beds and a nice meandering quality to the delay-heavy solo.
[7]

Will Adams: Some good ideas floating about — namely that shimmery chorus — that are ultimately buried by cheap production and an incongruous vocalist.
[5]

Alfred Soto: The guitar solo has the right liquidity, and the rhythm track looks backwards to ’80s college mainstays. The problem is Denise Gutierrez, whose tone and range haven’t thawed in years.
[6]

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Nyusha – Gde Ty, Tam Ya

Diminishing returns…


[Video][Website]
[6.00]

Jessica Doyle: SHINee and Crayon Pop had a baby! And then the baby failed to heed its parents’ good advice about the importance of a strong chorus.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Pneumatic, emphatic Russian dance-pop with some delightfully traditional touches and a strong vocal. 
[5]

Iain Mew: This has a lot in common with Nyusha’s previous futuristically snapping electropop tracks. It’s just that it relates to them like a big-budget sequel that does a lot of the same things right but spends so much time showing off its exciting new location that you don’t get as much chance to properly appreciate them.
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: All the Arabian Nights-style drama and extra slink promised in those tablas, just to be treated to clunky electro based around a hook made of nasal groans.
[1]

Scott Mildenhall: So many sounds, pattern-forming fragments and flashes that catch the ear as the rhythm pulls the song inexorably through. They all fit together on the outside, a pastel-coloured spectacle from the window of a car passing at pace. It’s all over the shop, but always heading firmly in the right direction.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: Relentlessly functional dance-pop that sounds simultaneously like 2003 and 2011 — faux-Middle Eastern strings, Missile Command sounds, processed-to-puree vocals, “Tonight I’m Fucking You” beat. These are good things.
[7]

Brad Shoup: Chuck Eddy be merciful: after this and “Jungle Boogie,” what other pop songs start with gongs? I know what else has the “Toxic” strings — “Toxic,” duh — but this gives the image of trotting in place, dancing in a fashion among the bone-dry synth slats. That’s a lot, and it’s all the track offers, opting to hover in a kind of static fade-out. But it’s enough.
[8]

Alfred Soto: A swirling, stuttering wonder of a track, almost cybernetic in its interlocking of whoa-whoas and beats. I wish Rihanna sounded like this.
[7]

Rebecca A. Gowns: Perfectly acceptable club banger. Or kitchen bop, or living room jam. The point is, I’ve had this on repeat for days. It’s not unique but it sounds damn good. Press play again, and you’ll find that not much else matters.
[8]

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Alan Jackson – Jim and Jack and Hank

I’d rather hang out with Jamie and Johnnie and Jack


[Video][Website]
[4.88]

Patrick St. Michel: We all cope differently, but did the world really need another song where booze and old country singers help cover up anger and loneliness?
[4]

Brad Shoup: God, what an achy breaky fart.
[1]

Alfred Soto: For a guy whose philosophy in 1991 was don’t rock the jukebox, he sure sounds weird railing against stuff for ladies like grey Mercedes and apple martinis — he’d rather be where the boys go. To confuse things, the chords suggest “Bang a Gong.” Becase it’s Jackson he don’t know homosocial from homoerotic. But now that Brad Paisley has given up the irony undergirding the amiable doofus mugging of, say, “I’m Still a Guy,” Jackson’s eschewed irony as usual and written a treblier and jagglier number than the younger bros scoring the country airplay hits.
[7]

Anthony Easton: I don’t believe him, but it’s charming enough and sounds rockabilly enough that it almost convinces me. The canon near the end, where he mentions who’s who in country music, is even more interesting- — Jackson makes no point, though the sound is updated ever so slightly, to think about what country means post-1980. One could imagine that Brantley Gilbert might sing this. It could also be sung with some amount of ease by Eddie Cochrane. Extra points for rhyming “Mercedes” with “ladies.”
[7]

David Sheffieck: If you’re going to write a song sticking three vague reference points in the title, this is how you do it: with something grounded in specific, real, lived experience. A few laid-back hooks won’t help either.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: Jackson wrote it, and it’s as good as any uptempo record in his catalog you care to name and better than plenty of ‘em. Keith Stegall, who’s been working with Jackson for 25 years, produced with the solid hand he’s provided all the way back to Here in the Real World. This is traditional country that doesn’t sound old, boogie-ing like it’s still the ’90s (a golden age for mainstream country), while Jackson sounds supremely confident and like he’s having a helluva lot of fun; you can practically hear his grin. Because this kiss-off song is all about who Jackson is at heart: “take your string bikinis, your apple martinis,” he tells his ex, “I don’t need you, I’ve got Jim and Jack and Hank” – and Jose [Cuervo], Captain Morgan, George [Jones] and Tammy [Wynette]. This is one of the happiest breakup songs you’ll ever hear, and one of the most fun as well. And with friends like those, who can blame him?
[9]

Katherine St Asaph: More actually misogynist — not just fratty, not just annoying — than any bro-country song to date. It is a crafted sort of misogyny: words for stuff for ladies are frippery like “bikinis,” “martinis,” “Mercedes,” nothing like the plosive manliness of JIM and JACK and HANK. The chorus is deliberate but predictable, the rest is unpredictable but sloppy — Jackson rhymes “sad” with “dad,” uses “again it hit me” as a cheap way back to the chorus, thinks tanks bark. The music is equally retrograde: invokes Willie, George and Tammy, achieves only Billy Ray Cyrus. I don’t need this shit. I’ve got wine and Vulnicura.
[1]

W.B. Swygart: Innit great how easily the lyrics can be changed to “have a massive wank” instead? That’s the second-best thing about this ode to how alcohol is better than ladies because ladies are stupid and they smell weird, behind wondering what will happen when Alan hears about this.
[3]

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Girls’ Generation – Party

JUKEBOX THEORY OF PARTIES: specific parties (“house party,” “body party,” “hurly burly party”) are always better than generic parties (Beyonce, this)


[Video][Website]
[5.62]

Moses Kim: If “Catch Me If You Can” was a shot of vodka, this is a pina colada: perfectly summery, not too strong, and cool enough to tide over those of us suffering yet another warmest year on record.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: An entirely fine bit of Ed Banger-styled electro swish, but it never really transcends its breeziness, and gets swept away from memory pretty effortlessly after it’s stopped.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: With groups like EXID and 9Muses making super-progressive K-pop, exhortations like “Hey! Turn it up!” and “It’s a party!” and a straight four-on-the-floor beat result in a single that’s all too generic. 
[3]

Alfred Soto: The thinness of the mix and melodies sound closer to that moment when you’re thinking about the mythical party in your mind that’s awesome.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: The heaps of money the Tourism Authority of Thailand probably forked over to remind the world its beach sand looks unreal distracts from the real geographical intrigue of “Party.” The lyrics are mostly vague examples of summer vibe-ing, of waves and singing and (duh) partying, so general they sound best when turned to a hiccup. Yet the chorus gets really specific, highlighting lemon soju and placing Jeju Island on the same level as California and Rome as summer destinations. This is Hallyu working overtime to keep on raking in money from the Asian market. And it all sounds irresistible when rendered through Girls’ Generation’s seasonal fizz, where voices and whistles act as sonic exclamation points. This party has been done better before, though — the producer working on this song also did some of the best songs in J-pop outfit E-Girls’ catalog, and “Party” features a lot of the same details as standouts such as “ASAP” and “Fancy Baby.” That doesn’t take away from Girls’ Generation’s latest, just takes a bit of the shine off the brochure. 
[6]

Edward Okulicz: Evokes both Madonna’s “Holiday” and Kylie’s “Love at First Sight,” yet is as good as neither. Shouldn’t discount the fact that it is fun, though.
[6]

Brad Shoup: The hands-in-pockets funk of “Treasure” put in service of Carly Rae Jepservessence, with a little detour into “Tik Tok.” It skips so hard I wonder why they had to stutter the vocals.
[7]

Danilo Bortoli: Not as ecstatic and life-affirming as the title suggests (and requires the song to be), but Girls’ Generation’s indelible mark is still here, a mixture of perfect pop and their now easily recognizable gimmickry, which will not last forever.
[5]

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Cam – Burning House

I’m sitting here waiting for a verse from China that never comes.


[Video][Website]
[6.89]

Anthony Easton: Her voice is one of the strongest that has come out of Nashville, and her EP is as or more exciting than Sam Hunt’s last year. The central metaphor has been done, but the care that she works the metaphor — refusing to push anything, on the right edge of plodding —  is such a pretty piece of crewel work. 
[9]

Alfred Soto: Each pinprick of a narrative detail gets its melodic emphasis, particularly in the second verse, and while these days programmers will shunt this example of songcraft to “Americana” it deserves better.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Its a pretty simple ballad, and works really well at conveying attachment and tragedy without ever making it seem like its all about obsessing over the other. There’s a thing of loyalty, about refusing to give up on someone despite the overwhelming and perhaps obvious (nothing more obvious than impending death right?) failures at hand. No matter how foolhardy it seems, it’s touching to hear someone try to fill themselves up with that much pride and valor.
[7]

Iain Mew: Raw and suitably nightmarish, but I find myself thinking of it as a horror movie build to a development that never comes — the final twist of strings doesn’t quite do it.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: I’m genuinely shocked this is racing up the U.S. country airplay chart, because to my ears this is fairly straight-up folk music: a voice, a lightly-picked acoustic guitar, some subtle strings. It’s pretty, it’s effective, and it’s kinda dull.
[5]

David Sheffieck: I wish something would bring some fire to this song; a more distinctive vocalist might be able to make it a showcase. As is, it’s a solid lyric delivered more like a gas leak than a spark.
[5]

Ramzi Awn: In “Burning House,” Cam brings music back to when Miranda Lambert sang about the house that built her, but with more restraint. The single’s arrangement is masterful, and the California native croons about the house that burned her with just the right amount of fire and ice.
[8]

Brad Shoup: The facts that 1) she fucked up and 2) they broke up really elevate this for me. A stately Mike Leander arrangement walks alongside her in a lucid dream, dreamt without too much sadness. 
[7]

Edward Okulicz: The line “I’ve been sleepwalking too close to the fire” is about the only thing I don’t like about this song’s chorus. It feels like one too many iterations of words to do with burning and flames and such. The rest of the song is such a fine work of understated melancholy, and it feels a bit too much like dramatic poetry a second draft would have got rid of. The rest of the song reveals an artist who otherwise knows what to say and when to say nothing — as evidenced by that unresigned sigh of an ending. It’s an impressive start, and if her lyrics lag her ability to conjure a mood, they’ll catch up quick.
[8]

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Mika – Good Guys

Where have all the good scores gone?


[Video][Website]
[2.82]

Will Adams: Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone,” now eighteen years old, had the good sense to imbue its lament with a sense of satire. “Good Guys,” on the other hand, takes itself dead seriously, and is all the more embarrassing for it.
[2]

Alfred Soto: Turning an Oscar Wilde line that Chrissie Hynde immortalized into a Hallmark maxim with acoustic strumming offended me as much as anything Ted Cruz has said in recent memory. I’ll blame myself for mishearing the hook as “Where’ve all the gay guys gone?”
[2]

Iain Mew: Mika has a more interesting idea for a song than normal (where have all the gay guys gone?) and an interesting sound to go with it (stripping down his previous approach until it sounds like a particularly morose Mark Owen record). It could be enough to change my mind on him, except that after forty seconds he loses confidence and abandons the lot in favour of bland excess. “Some of us in the gutter are looking up at the stars” competes with Gregory Porter for most extensive and ineffective application of a cliché this year.
[2]

Edward Okulicz: This might be my third favourite Mika song ever, and it’s still a [2]. One of the two I prefer to this is “Happy Ending,” and this is like a tasteful but exceptionally enfeebled cousin.
[2]

Thomas Inskeep: Remember when Mika made exciting, zingy pop like “Grace Kelly”? Because apparently he doesn’t.
[2]

Ramzi Awn: If a first line’s anything to go by, “Good Guys” wouldn’t make it past five seconds on any jukebox. The chorus is even more disturbing, blending Paul McCartney senior moments with an odd brand of Sufjan Stevens. The result is the equivalent of a sneeze on a record with some bells and whistles thrown in.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: A quite muddled song. To its credit is its sad-rousing nature, heavily echoing Mika’s finest hour “Happy Ending,” right down to the joyously shoehorned breakdown-keychange into an anthemic chorus. The rest is food for thought, but mostly on Mika’s own lack of it. Flitting between “good guys” and “gay guys” is confusing even if taken as equation, and so is the idea that either have disappeared, but the most confounding failure is in the cap-doffing namecheck section. Including Kinsey in a list effectively mislabeling multiple men is not so much ironic as suggestive of a lack of any knowledge about Alfred Kinsey. This, from a man of changing public identity, can only have been laziness. If he required inspiration, that list was done better by Holly Johnson, in 1994.
[6]

Anthony Easton: Mika is huge in Montreal, part of that queer sentimentality that seems uniquely francophone, and so this is kind of the song that ends up beloved by both Anglophones and Francophones. I have heard it coming out of hipster bars and the radio in middle-aged Somali taxi drivers. I haven’t been to the drag bar in a while, or the bear bar, but it’s about three weeks to pride, and I can imagine it will end up there. His voice is fantastic, and the chanson quality only compounds it. It’s one of the reasons why I secretly love this town I profess to hate. Extra points for sounding so much like the best of late Elton.
[8]

Brad Shoup: The number of good songs with the line “don’t be offended” remains zero. He should have just gone full Hidden Cameras and gotten the choir to sing about cowboys.
[2]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Ignoring the quality of his list of examples, the song is musically the equivalent of denying a struggling family a loan. Mika here is talking wistfully about ‘the good guys’, these figment constructed persons that aren’t real humans but just the ideas we get about people. It means to be a call for us to be better, but what it results in is a parade of dehumanizing standards that we cannot live up to. Plus, any good guys would strive for a better arrangement than this shit. He tried for the “Abraham, Martin & John”, but all he got was the sappy canonization. I guess he got what counts.
[1]

Alex Ostroff: Look, in theory I am all about out queer guys in pop singing about Oscar Wilde etc. but this is the bad kind of schmaltz and we deserve better.
[2]

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Jason Derulo – Cheyenne

Well he says he was always looking for exits…


[Video][Website]
[7.64]

Scott Mildenhall: Jason crumples to his knees in another night’s rain, his baby name dictionary lying desolate by a grate, and he simply remembers, once again removed from a situation and reduced to fantasy. “Cheeeyyyyennnnneeee!” He’s in his very own movie, wondering helplessly why no-one else can see. The reason for that is that this is actually a song, but who needs visuals with something already so vivid? The electrothrob applied is one of the most reliable sounds in pop, and he seizes on it like few but the man behind the lost-love-maintains-respiration-maintaining-pain trauma of “Breathing” could. The intensity is present and beguiling.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: Derulo sings “I never meant to fall in love” like an over-dramatic walk to the electric chair in a TV movie, and the name “Cheyenne” like he’s already sitting in it. The gritty throb of the backing here is perfect for a song that might as well be the guy in “Style” leaving in anguish after a weekend, wishing for more.
[9]

Brad Shoup: “Style” in the bass, a little “Rosa Parks” in the refrain’s phrasing, Hüsker Dü’s “Diane” in how he sings the name (that’s my bad) and “Style” everywhere else. Obviously I’m on board; this is driving music.
[7]

Alfred Soto: With Robin Thicke unfairly condemned to purgatory and Justin Timberlake in a lab mixing chemicals for the next branding, Derulo emerges as the best kiddie funk love man. It peaks early. “Cheyenne” opens with the thud of sequencers and adrift rhythm guitar and builds toward a self-mocking hook, “All I ever wanted was some fuuunnnn,” whined like Barry Gibb waiting for a late chauffeur.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: State-of-the-art pop that pops and throbs like the Knight Rider theme. “Cheyenne” vaguely references the ’80s, but could only have been made in 2015. 
[6]

Josh Love: I’ve managed to basically ignore Derulo’s entire career up to this point, so he hasn’t been able to torment me the way he’s tormented (judging from his prior Jukebox scores) many of my colleagues. That said, this is an undeniably infectious song; I particularly like Derulo’s weird, whining delivery of “All I ever wanted was some fun,” including the way he draws out those last two words to emphasize the slant rhyme.
[7]

Ramzi Awn: The eclectic influences backing “Cheyenne” are too many to count, and it’s built like a brick house. The track thumps to the beat of a different time — not to mention Derulo’s voice, which soars like the guitars behind him.
[8]

Anthony Easton: Disappointingly not about the world’s biggest rodeo, but a gorgeous house track with an even more gorgeous pointillist coda and a voice as slick as product from an international conglomerate — but one of the hip ones, more Uniqlo or Muji, less Ikea. 
[7]

Alex Ostroff: I still don’t have a handle on who Jason Desrouleaux is as a pop culture figure but despite this he’s quietly become one of the few R&B guys able to cross over with consistently good songs. “Cheyenne” draws on the same era of Michael Jackson as a lot of The Weeknd’s joints, but with most of the venom and creepiness drained out. What’s left behind is a beautiful, vaguely ominous aura. It isn’t as immediately hooky as the perfect “Want to Want Me” but it’ll linger in your ears long after the radio’s moved on to lighter fare.
[9]

Will Adams: Amazing what some vocal coaching will do. Before, Derulo sounded like a giant nose; now he’s riding the disco falsetto trend better than Nick Jonas, Adam Levine, and Taio Cruz. “Cheyenne” is tightly wound and well-written on its own, but in a rare occurrence for pop, the level of melodrama provided by both the vocals and lyrics match.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Its a credit to Derulo’s savvy that he saw that The Weeknd would help him re-re-re-re-re-re*slaps the record player*vive the MJ lane again for some additional mining. And much to his credit, unlike The Weeknd, he isn’t wholly dependent on a narcotic haze gimmick. Instead, Derulo avoids the cliches and hangups of revision and launches straight for possession, playing up the vocal with a mock creepiness that goes into “Thriller”-like melodrama for serious paydirt. To think that I like, let alone am impressed by a Jason Derulo song in 2015…
[8]

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Diamond Platnumz ft. Mr. Flavour – Nana

And now we welcome Tanzania to the Jukebox…


[Video][Website]
[6.12]

Patrick St. Michel: “Warm” is the word with this song, where guitar wraps around a skippy beat and every voice gets dunked in sweet, sweet Auto-Tune, making every single word sound like its melting into a puddle. All of that’s great, but after a bit everything sort of just turns into sonic mush, albeit a very happy one. 
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: Diamond Platnumz has a name suggesting hard edges, but his song is soft and ecstatic and bubbling. It sounds like kind of happy dream that floods unbounded reality with unbounded joy. That is not to suggest an excess, but more a feeling undiluted: these keys are only major. 
[7]

Iain Mew: It’s difficult to make a song sound so easy-going and energetic at the same time. Diamond Platnumz and Mr. Flavour go for an inventive series of little changes and gestures to keep the song changing, climaxing in all the vocal filtering applied to make “I can’t deny your love!” sound like an exclamation powered by something out of the ordinary. All the while, though, they keep everything pointing in the same direction, swept along by the gentle currents of the underlying groove.
[8]

David Sheffieck: Laid-back and catchy, but I miss the promise in the sample of crowd noise at the beginning of the track: weave that vibe through the song and you’d have something a bit less sterile, a bit more loose, a whole lot more welcoming. A version of this song that could precisely capture the comfortable warmth of a summer evening would be great. The approximation still isn’t bad.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: “Nana” is sweet and happy enough to be anyone’s summer/winter/anytime jam, but its many hooks are trapped in that prison of Auto-Tune. The exclamation “I can’t deny your love” almost gets out unscathed, but while not robotic in the traditional pejorative sense of the word, it sounds lacking in human excitement. It is worth a close listen for that interjecting instrument that sounds like a string sample, which weaves a lovely countermelody now and then.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Tanzania’s biggest hip-hop star makes a pleasant, easily grooving single that I wish didn’t rely so much on vocal processing. 
[4]

Brad Shoup: Everything here steps so lightly, like a club hit inscribed on a grain of rice. Tiny cymbal hits, tiny snape raps, guitar noodling so thin it’s vermicelli. Mr. Flavour one-ups Diamond’s smile: he beams, tosses his head back, and shoots the song further into the clouds.
[8]

Ramzi Awn: Auto-Tuned The Little Mermaid is a fresh approach — Diamond deserves credit for that at least. Unfortunately, there’s no good reason to not just put on “Under the Sea” ft. Scuttle and call it a day.
[4]