Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Kele – Doubt

ft. Meryl Streep…


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Anthony Easton: [8] if this is about Jesus, [4] if this is about sex, [12] if this is about sex with Jesus. 
[5]

Abby Waysdorf: Less EDM, more EBM, the variety of goth/industrial music concerned with dance rhythms and melodic synths. Kele’s voice is too distinctively British-indie to fit with the genre’s tendency towards Germanic tenors, but the echoing beat and basslines fit. It could perhaps use a little more strength in the chorus — the whole thing blends together a bit — but it’s a pleasant new entry in goth’s subtle emergence into other forms.
[7]

Brad Shoup: He’s a mosquito on a bloodless track, a tiny wheezing thing navigating a drunkproof bassline.
[3]

Alfred Soto: He’s programming better two-step beats, stealing bits from Gorgon City and Caribou, the chorus melody ain’t bad, and I love the ohhhs. But this is still far from transcendent because Kele sings like the keyboardist had to sub for the lead singer because the latter had the flu.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: You know how non-native speakers often learn languages phonetically? This sounds like Kele learned how to make “house” music phonetically. (Those quotation marks are intentional.) It’s as if he thought, “Well, Bloc Party didn’t work out quite like we wanted; I’ll try something different,” and he bought a stack of Simian Mobile Disco records to study.
[4]

Dan MacRae: You know those parachutes that you used to get to run under in elementary school gym class? If I could enjoy a moody stroll underneath one of those things as an adult, “Doubt” would be the cut I’d do it to.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Former Bloc Party frontman comes in with pretty weak 2-step skips and basic house-by-numbers. But he’s provided possibly the best New Order song since “Regret” on top of it, so I guess it all evens out in the end.
[5]

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Yellow Claw & Cesqeaux ft. Kalibwoy – Legends

Diplo’s Dutch buddies of course…


[Video][Website]
[4.88]

Madeleine Lee: You really have to lean on an organ’s bass pedals to get a note out. Even though it’s electronic, the bass of “Legends” has that lean, that resonance squeezed out by human weight, and it gives a nice, sinister heft to what would otherwise be a generic boast over a generic dub-trap pattern.
[6]

Abby Waysdorf: Yellow Claw has become a name I look for, although my absolute unfamiliarity with whatever genre they’re working in makes it hard for me to explain what I like about them. I just think they’re neat, with their blend of really loud dance music and hip-hop and all the things the kids are into these days, I’m assuming. “Legends” doesn’t quite do it for me as much as some of their other songs, I think because it lacks the pop flash of “Shotgun” or “Thunder” (I’m old-fashioned and like a chorus). But it’s still fun, maintaining the over-the-topness I associate with Yellow Claw, the sounds and styles piling up on top of each other into only-somewhat coherence. More is more, as I always say.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: The snares here are just a bit too clunky, the 808 kicks boom a little too sharply and I’ve never understood why trap thinks those nasal motorcycle-revving noises are particularly hot. Further, Kalibwoy sounds like your typical rent-a-ragga, which in 2014 means some weak Mavado and Tommy Lee Sparta biting. But who gives a fuck about actual black artforms in the 21st century? Let’s just turn up!
[2]

Brad Shoup: They stretch Kalibwoy’s “legends” into something terrifically dreadful, and then they just turn him into a cartoon for the windup. Yellow Claw could’ve built an entire grandiose trap track around him, instead of tossing him into an EDM blender.
[5]

Anthony Easton: I wanted this to ramp up to previously unknown heights of squeals and grunts. Instead, it slows down into a finger-snapped matrix resembling a kind of hipped-up light jazz.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: TRAP! We’re going to live forever. Toasting trappings aside, this is exactly the same song as “Shotgun” (which holds up, somehow) with almost exactly the same throughline: beginning in medias motivational whatever — this time it’s “we will be legends,” delivered like a 300 hoplite — drop, vigorous apeshit. Where “Legends” departs is where it peters out into water-level atmospherics, then into nothing.
[3]

David Sheffieck: This is exactly the kind of song that should’ve been rendered obsolete by the seismic impact of “Turn Down for What,” but Yellow Claw & co. seem set on proving there’s still life in obnoxious drops when they’re paired with the right combination of shout-along hooks and production twists. I didn’t expect it, but it works for me — the drop-out at 2:34 is a genuine surprise, and enough to make me feel like there might still be life in dubstep hybrids after all.
[7]

Patrick St. Michel: This might be the best way to make an otherwise shrug-worthy number stand out a bit — make the drop sound like a pack of metallic bees. 
[5]

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Tokio Hotel – Girl Got a Gun

We end nostalgia day with a band that debuted a whole nine years ago…


[Video][Website]
[3.44]

Katherine St Asaph: Choruses are mouthy bastards. They shout down their verses, cut them off entirely; they’ll take over an entire song if a writer’s not careful. Sometimes this is benign — it’s why radio works. Sometimes this is profoundly annoying, the reason why pundits insist — still! — that “Blurred Lines” is a one-sided flirtation or “Bills, Bills, Bills” is about something other than a loser spending his girl’s money and wrecking her credit. But sometimes they do something really cool: let listeners take songs to heart for the exact opposite scenarios. It’s why songs like “He Loves U Not” are secretly the best pump-up music for pursuing or at least pining for your loves-u-not crush, and why songs like “Cold” and “Girl Got a Gun,” breakup whines that are at least semi-misogynist, make such wonderful cold/wounded-girl anthems. It helps that Bill’s voice is so processed — the distortion literally shuts him up when he gets too harsh — and that this is so scant on verses. They are ignorable. What’s not: a steely synth break, a Guettafied spaghetti-western riff without actual Guetta, New Age panpipes because why not, and a chorus — girl got a gun, boys gotta run — that’ll repeat until there’s vitriol and bullet in everything that’s wronged you.
[7]

Scott Mildenhall: Who needs lyrics when you have alliteration? The chorus is a gradual reduction to pure syllables, and to all intents and purposes the verses are too. There might be a coherent narrative if you squint, but it’s perhaps best read as “noises meet rhythm”. You could also read it as a poorly pronounced tribute to Borussia Dortmund’s recently revived midfielder İlkay Gündoğan, but that would just be silly.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: But I thought that Tokio Hotel were a rock band? Because this is some awful shit like what I imagine Fred Durst would do if someone gave him a sampler. Not that “Girl Got a Gun” sounds anything like Limp Bizkit, but it’s just as inept, sounding an awful lot like “look at all the cool things this computer can do!”
[1]

Alfred Soto: I’m OK with these fools recording “Rock Me Amadeus” for the indie EDM set, but find a better catchphrase.
[3]

Maxwell Cavaseno: If you take Muse’s brostep fascination of the last few years and place it over “Knights Of Cydonia” and in relationship to singer Bill Kaulitz’ fascination with trying to pass as Chester from Linkin Park, you get some ugly malformed brat version of EMF’s “Unbelievable” apparently. It’s funny, in science, when you get a formula turning out something so poor, you go back to the drawing board…
[1]

Edward Okulicz: This is unintentionally hilarious, but I can’t say it’s a complete failure because it’s not even obvious what was being aimed for. The riff could have been the foundation of a nice little technogoth stomper, but much as the lyrics are more or less darts thrown at random, so too are all the weird sounds and stutters. Is that a pipes preset? Really?
[4]

David Sheffieck: The vocal effect — and probably the vocals themselves, if there were a way to approach them without dealing with that filter — is supremely annoying and the hook seems to mistake repetition for catchiness, but I can’t deny there’s a certain charge to the way the guitar and harmonica (can we blame/credit Avicii for this?) play off the dance-focused elements. Impeccably produced, but I can only wish the sound had been used in service of a better song.
[5]

Iain Mew: A curious mix of emo drama swagger and weak dance beat, it ends up stranded ineffectually between the two. It’s like a meeting between Kasabian and Panic! at the Disco where they each brought not their best or worst tendencies, but their most worn out.
[3]

Brad Shoup: Somehow, in 2014, these guys attained peak levels of twerp.
[2]

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Atari Teenage Riot – Modern Liars

Atari “will aim at capitalizing on other rapidly growing markets and reaching out to new audiences — including LGBT, social casinos, real-money gambling, and YouTube with exclusive video content”…


[Video][Website]
[5.00]
Kat Stevens: When I was about 7, I used to have a toy keyring that made 8-bit weapon noises when you pressed each of the four brightly-coloured buttons: the rifle (yellow) went pew-pew-pew, grenade launcher (red) went deeedle-eeeedle-eeeedle-oddle-BLATAATATAT, and the machine gun (blue) made the sound that Alec Empire has put on the verse here. It must have come out of a cracker or a Kinder Egg, or something else able to conceal its inappropriate nature. I can’t remember what the green button did but perhaps we can assign it Alec’s beyond-parodical lyrics, which could well be classified as a kind of aural warfare. Not offensive or scary, just jaw-droppingly bad. “Algorithms! Algorithms! Have you found your new religion?” We’re talking car-crash levels of shit here, and just as I nearly drove Mum to distraction by continually pressing the grenade launcher, I cannot stop playing it.
[6]

Brad Shoup: I kinda feel like the difference between ATR and Scooter is but a mere bounce of God’s dice, so I can accept this as merely really entertaining. The refrain’s melted sugar is just kind of slopped on you; it’s more tart and more surprising than BiS managed on “STUPiG”. Even though I’d still want InfoSec Taylor Swift to take a pass at those too-hopeful lyrics, I can’t imagine she’d be able to make the chorus any poppier.
[7]

Alfred Soto: With its segues, electronic interludes, female choruses, and sampled nonsense, it could be a Trevor Horn track from a ’85 Grace Jones record. But this isn’t 1985. And what the fuck are they doing?
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: KMFDM 2014, both in terms of the combination of riffage and beats, and that it’s not a patch on their past glories. That said, Alec Empire still knows how to hit my pleasure centers, just perhaps not as well as he used to do.
[6]

Edward Okulicz: This is nonsense, delivered with ludicrous conviction, and nothing more. But speed up that chorus by about 10-15 per cent and you have a great lost Shampoo single.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: The problem with all punks is that when you get to a certain point, you become old hat. Atari Teenage Riot are no different. Alec Empire and Nic Endo’s brand of sonic attack has also grown cliché: the metallic thrash guitars and glitch-and-gabber sturm having become primitive to anyone who’s heard the recent advances in both hardcore guitar and electronics since ATR pulled the plug. Your author humbly suggests anyone looking for a better song to turn to fellow dance music/punk infiltrator Andy Weatherall’s remix of ATR’s “J1.M1” for an early-Ministry-esque goth shuffle, or for a modern mutation of eclectic electronics and punk rage to go look up Houston’s “B L A C K I E.” But ATR are just no longer the voice of those who stare into the eyes of the future.
[2]

Anthony Easton: I suspect that Atari Teenage Riot takes their politics less seriously than I thought they did when I heard them on a CMJ comp bought at the 7-11 during high school. The techno future breakthrough is about as relevant a statement as the “Hack the World” chorus in the film Hackers, which I also watched about the time I was listening to CMJ comps. I still cannot tell how absurd this is, but we rarely can rate absurdity of the things that we were interested in at 17.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: We live in a cyberpunk dystopia, our most critically acclaimed artists are releasing dystopian work, and our pop stars wear cyberpunk as costumes; yet original-issue cyberpunk has perhaps aged worse than any genre of the past few decades. The new stuff isn’t great either. When artists go for serious they mostly suck, and when they go for satire it also fails, because real life is a better technological satire than most writers can produce. When they go for Atari Teenage (Digital) Rioting? It’s just silly. A non-trivial portions of the world’s hackers, DJs, activists and riot grrrls are currently on opposite sides of a death threat shitstorm, so I’m not sure there’s any coming together to be had, certainly not around Atari Teenage Fucking Riot; meanwhile, when Alec starts yelling about algorithms he’s as believable and un-embarrassing as Mark shouting from the table in RENT. (He doesn’t give us the catharsis he started: “Some say computers are destroying our humanity… but we say, humanity is DESTROYING OUR COMPUTERS!”) Yet “Modern Liars” is somehow galvanizing, and I’m gonna hack history to explain why. Is This Hyperreal? came out in 2011, but let’s suppose it didn’t, and ATR went away in 1999. They’d have kept a song around, which’d explain why the “Modern Liars” intro is a distorted Max Martin riff from 2000. They watched as electroclash, Sleigh Bells, even mainstream pop made their sound seem half-OK, even cool?! Then this year they heard a PC Music song, with its sugary chorus, and thought it the absolute last straw (the next-to-last straw being, I dunno, the NSA or something.) All of that is probably bunk. But it’s why I don’t hate this.
[7]

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Bush – The Only Way Out

This Is One Singles Jukebox Entry Every Child Of The Nineties Is Guaranteed To Love…


[Video][Website]
[4.11]

Megan Harrington: When Bush debuted in 1994, their albatross was their inauthenticity. Bush were not grunge, they hailed from London and manufactured the Seattle sound wholecloth, borrowing producers like Steve Albini to create a hologram of credibility. At the time, they were, unfairly to all involved, considered pretty boys for teen girls, nothing like the real rock that inspired them. Of course, much of that real rock has aged badly — so badly that we hold regular postmortems for the whole genre. Bush’s advantage is that they were charlatans. They weren’t loyal to anything but catchy chords and crunchy guitars and they’ve been able to adapt and update that sound much better than their peers. “The Only Way Out” is as good as modern rock gets, Rossdale’s vocals are scratchy and effectively urgent, the background “oh-oh”s are sufficiently poppy and the guitars are bright and lively. 
[8]

Brad Shoup: Rossdale’s always had a soothing vocal tone, a sanded-down, burped-out baritone. It works well on this almost-power-pop cut, a throwback to that golden Vertical Horizon sound. The bass paddles in place; when the chorus hits, you can hear the pedals getting punched. I’m pretty sure Apple put this on my phone last month.
[5]

Abby Waysdorf: Gavin Rossdale was my first celebrity crush, mostly thanks to my parent’s Rolling Stone subscription and the perfect overwroughtness of “Glycerine.” (Both of these hold up, by the way.) As I went down the dark path of music snobbery, my interest in Bush didn’t continue, but that I have some lingering fondness for the band probably makes me the target audience for this single. I can tell that they’re trying to go for that angst mid-tempo rock thing that was what I remember of them, but my memories aren’t enough to keep me interested in an even more bland retread. Plus, Rossdale doesn’t even sound British any more. What’s the point if he’s not British? 
[5]

Edward Okulicz: No, Gavin Rossdale did not vanish after Razorblade Suitcase. You would still see him once a year when the camera randomly panned to him during the Wimbledon coverage, and he was probably alive in 2004 to lift this song’s chorus from Alanis Morissette, and his band’s no longer peddling mediocre post-grunge. Dare I say, it’s peddling slightly-better-than average shiny modern rock/pop and that this single is lot more enjoyable than all their old hits? Jeez, I’m halfway to enjoying this; either today’s rock bands really are worse – hi Imagine Dragons or whoever — or my ’90s nostalgia is now terminal.
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Gavin saw Veruca Salt and Courtney were cashing in on the ’90s alt nostalgia wave and he wasn’t going to get left behind, no sir! I can’t take Bush as a band too seriously because they took their Nirvana fetish so far; they even made a comparatively unlistenable follow-up to their commercial blockbuster with Steve Albini. The jokes write themselves! However, I am horrified to think that Gavin Rossdale thinks Kurt would be writing U2 songs by now.
[3]

Thomas Inskeep: A joke about how “the dream of the ’90s is still alive and well” would just be lazy, not to mention inaccurate, because this doesn’t sound particularly ’90s. It doesn’t sound particularly anything, which is its primary problem: this is so inoffensive as to be anonymous, pure genera-rock. And Gavin Rossdale is a more interesting actor than singer; chew on that for a minute. 
[2]

Alfred Soto: Imagine the Wallflowers trafficking in holy-roller tropes and guitars that sound Pro Tooled in a wind tunnel. Decent cheekbones though.
[5]

Anthony Easton: There are other ways out — like marrying well, or returning to an aesthetic like a dog returns to its vomit, or by refusing to engage when people who never had anything interesting to say continue not to have anything interesting to say. This has no reason for existing and is even vapid for a comeback single from a band who defined vapidity. 
[0]

Dan MacRae: This band sounds awfully similar to a band we used to have in Canada known as Bush X. (REGIONAL TRADEMARK HUMOUR FEVER: CATCH IT!) “The Only Way Out” isn’t particularly interesting, is it? The tune just kinda sits there for three-plus minutes as a testament to polished blandness. It’s the sort of song where Gavin’s vocals could be swapped out for a testimonial on how taking classes online really worked for Meg M. from Knoxville and I wouldn’t really notice.
[3]

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Perfume Genius – Grid

A minimalist maximalist or a maximalist minimalist?


[Video][Website]
[6.71]

Brad Shoup: The whole track’s like a jump blues tone poem: what Scott Walker might have coughed up in one of his more lucid moments. The last 40 seconds in particular sound like Hell’s bar combo, nihilistic and more disquieting than those screams, which are almost pitched like real notes.
[8]

Maxwell Cavaseno: You know how, technically speaking, Suicide was always supposed to sound like some frightening industrial hell version of Dion? Yeah, this is that. I don’t know if the song here is as powerful in emotion as some of those songs, but the same way a lot of those early doo-woop songs were drenched in a downright spooky sensation, this has a VIBE. And the vibe has me sold.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Mike Hadreas’ minimalist miserabilism is so outside my purview that it requires patience and an imaginative leap to endure. Like Robert Lowell he sets his prayers at a level of abstraction that makes his work inscrutable if not incomprehensible to my ears. Here, he almost gets a setting worth the effort. Punctuated by cries and peals and the steady pat-pat-pat of a drum, he opens up. A bit.
[5]

Abby Waysdorf: It is basically a Suicide song without any updating, or even much variation on that formula, but I really like Suicide. 
[8]

Anthony Easton: There has been a clutch of mostly formal, queer male melancholics, writing songs that work somewhere between macro politics and micro feelings, of late–and it’s fair to lump Perfume Genius among the John Grants, Owen Pallets, Patrick Wolves, and the like–the assumption of listening to Tori at 17, and having that infused into a sexualised suffering, constantly re-asserts itself. As a meloncholic queer person, who spent a lot of  time working through Tori, and who writes somewhere between the deeply personal and political, the exhaustion that is found in these works is my exhaustion, I can claim it. But, you know, I don’t want to claim Perfume Genius. I don’t know why though–I find his work precious, and less brave, almost silly at times–intended to be at the end of a trend piece in the Sunday Times, and so the writing is full of hooks, the music is gorgeous, but it seems to be at the fag end of what could be considered a failed experiment. I never would have considered the expriment failed before this. 
[6]

David Sheffieck: Maybe it’s just the ebola – it’s almost certainly the ebola – but this strikes me as pop for the postapocalypse: relentless, catchy, and filled with nightmarish hooks. Bring on the end of the world.
[8]

Jonathan Bogart: This would be a great way to break up a couple of more ponderous tracks on an album.
[5]

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Netsky ft. Beth Ditto – Running Low

Opinions high.


[Video][Website]
[5.20]

Abby Waysdorf: Beth Ditto in full House Diva mode is a glorious thing. She delivers completely here, emotional in the verses, over-the-top in the choruses, showcasing what she can bring to the genre. It’s a shame the rest of the song is generic Low Countries whatever-EDM, the sort of stuff I hear in the background of cellphone commercials here. I’m waiting for the remix that gives the vocal track a song worthy of it.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Beth Ditto doing her thing over some rocky Drudge & Blah beat. Sure to be a big hit with the Zane Lowe crowd.
[2]

Thomas Inskeep: When I heard Beth Ditto was fronting a Belgian dance single, I mistakenly assumed it would be something a bit H&LA-esque – certainly not a d’n’b stormer. That’s what I get for assuming. Let’s party like it’s 1998, because this track expertly pairs big nasty beats and a big diva vocal and is the epitome of a firestarter. 
[7]

Anthony Easton: I love Ditto’s voice and her skillful manipulation of it: how she pushes formal limits back, how she is an old fashioned, often brilliant belter, a belt that comes very close to a shout. I am not convinced that Netsky’s work here does all that it could to position Ditto in ways that reward repeated listening.
[5]

Ashley Ellerson: Either my dollar store headphones are messing with the sound quality, or the music is drowning Beth’s vocals in the chorus. Like, how do you utilize freakin’ Beth Ditto, owner of a killer voice, and sandwich her between (not above) noise we’ve heard time and time again? The buildup led me to believe that a disco hit was about to drop, but buildups are deceiving. I’m sure the club kids will love it.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: Yet it just keeps going.
[3]

Alfred Soto: When Eurodance was overrun by the Calvin Harris Army, this single sounded mildly diverting. Now she says screw it — the invasion wasn’t so bad. She sounds like a commercial for a Time-Life compilation of the history of Eurodance. With beats so thin you can spread Brie on them and an overstatement big enough to fill a rave in a factory.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Beth Ditto’s voice has flourished in all kinds of settings. On Gossip tracks, her own, Blondie’s, it’s been one of rage, portent and affirmation, but here isn’t making as much sense. Somehow she feels apart from a production midway between 2008 Laser Quest era Pendulum and bought-a-guitar 2009 Chase & Status. That part sounds ideal, but she sounds tacked-on, and Beth Ditto should never sound tacked-on.
[6]

Brad Shoup: This is the flattest drum ‘n’ bass song I’ve ever heard. Ditto and the portentous synth chase each other around, and this faint figure half-heartedly tries to compensate for strings. There’s no room for that kind of elegance: this is an angry track, a whole mess of dark ocean waves.
[5]

Jonathan Bogart: I don’t think I’ve ever heard a tune that more accurately embodied EDM as house-meets-stadium-rock. This isn’t a bad thing; both house and stadium rock have their massive crowdpleasing appeal because they conjure very broad and universal emotions in extremely unsubtle ways. House is traditionally about collective transcendence; stadium rock is traditionally about how cool the guys on stage are; but both of them are sneakily, and reliably beloved because of it, about heartbreak.
[7]

Friday, October 17th, 2014

The Juan Maclean – A Simple Design

Not a simple consensus.


[Video][Website]
[6.12]

Will Adams: I never tire of hearing Nancy Whang’s harsh, double-tracked vocals against gorgeous electro-disco. It’s a juxtaposition that always intrigues rather than jars, and “A Simple Design” is no different. True to its name, it’s a pop song at its core, but Juan Maclean is too smart to keep his gorgeous shimmer synths under wraps.
[8]

Anthony Easton: You can’t sing, and so you speak, and slide the production to Amanda Lear, 70’s style. But Lear could both talk and sing. Besides, you aren’t that louche. Aesthetic choices born out of failure should be more interesting than this mess. Minus a point for the literal-ism of the “down” in joke.
[2]

Ashley Ellerson: It’s not too loud, it doesn’t have an unnecessary buildup, it’s perfect for light moving and grooving, and Nancy Whang sings lyrics that are relevant over carefree. Disco, house, and light dance punk were mixed in a nice dance stew for “A Simple Design”, and I want to eat this stew everyday. 
[8]

Alfred Soto: Or: title fulfillment. If I have to listen to Nancy Whang for more than a couple tracks at a time I get nostalgic for Martha Wash. On 2008’s “Happy House”  she kept up with the thundering keyboards, creating the impression that  she was another woman lost in music, caught in a trance; the “you” who  is “so excellent” could be Juan MacLean himself, creator of one of the new  century’s most exuberant singles. Although “A Simple Design” need no defense, just sweat, nothing feels at stake; it  doesn’t even bother flirting with transgression, a decision embodied in  Whang and MacLean’s self-containment. To summon the past for listeners  born too late for house is defensible, but set beside Hercules &  Love Affair’s The Feast of the Broken Heart this Juan MacLean album honors its title. Still. Still.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: For having such a distinctive voice, Nancy Whang sure is a personality-less singer. Which kinda makes her a perfect fit for the Juan Maclean, because as opposed to, say, Hercules & Love Affair, the Juan Maclean’s records are, while fine, fairly sterile: music for “hip” optometrist’s offices. Also, this sounds like K-Klass.
[5]

Jonathan Bogart: Some days it’s nice to remember that disco never changes.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: THIS CLUB IS SO BORING! OH SHIT Y’ALL, IT’S MORE ELECTRO FROM DFA! I TOTALLY HAVEN’T HEARD THIS LABEL TURN OUT THE SAME SINGLE FOR A DECADE AND A HALF! DON’T YOU GUYS MISS LCD SOUNDSYSTEM!? DO YOU WANT TO GO TO MY LOFT!? I THINK CARLOS D IS THERE, PLUS I HAVE COCAINE AND I JUST FOUND MY OLD MISS KITTIN ALBUM. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT’S NOT 2003!?!?
[4]

Brad Shoup: Whang’s declamations go down well; they contain the possibility of being wrong. The track shuffles along with grace — opaque like so much else on DFA, but gauzier, more nakedly nostalgic. But the vocals remind me of… Ace of Base, I think. Steely, omniscient, a little judgmental.
[7]

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Raquel Sofía – La Ecuación

Backup singer for Shakira and Juanes takes the lead mic…


[Video][Website]
[6.33]

Brad Shoup: Latin America had thriving New Wave and rock scenes in the ’80s, too. “La Ecuación” is pitched between the two, with a playful bassline and a vocal performance to match. She’s so brash in the bridge, it’s practically K-pop.
[6]

Patrick St. Michel: A pleasant bop-along… until that breakdown, which is a nice shake-ya-up interruption, enough to give this one extra point. 
[6]

Alfred Soto: I wish the writers had toughened the conceit. “I don’t care what others say,” she snaps, and well, why should she? It’s math, according to her. You wouldn’t say 2+2 = 5 unless you were Ted Cruz explaining stuff to midterm election voters. An extra point for the tempo change.
[5]

Jonathan Bogart: I had to start this one over about five times because the various streams on my mobile devices kept crapping out on me (I guess I need to set my new router up differently), with the result that I became intimately familiar with the first half of the song… so that when I finally got the full song and the cheerleader chant came in during the back half it was even more of a pleasant surprise. The cheerful venom of the verses is so great that the lovelorn chorus feels oddly deflating, but that closing patter helps to paper over the joins.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: I’m utterly entranced by the pre-chorus here, coiled like a spring that launches the chorus. Add that delightful breakdown and the frisky beat and you’ve got something pitched halfway between Cyndi and Gwen. I pity everyone trying to hear this in the northern hemisphere where it isn’t spring right now.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Perky Latin pop like Shakira made pre-English language stardom. Entirely entertaining, and I won’t remember it five minutes from now. 
[5]

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Kira Isabella – Gone Enough

Our second-highest scorer follows up, fumbles slightly?


[Video][Website]
[6.83]
Alfred Soto: I expected these brawny guitars on Big & Rich’s comeback, not here. Of course “Gone Enough” isn’t the revelation that “Quarterback” remains, but if that song was a dispatch, this one is a report from the front lines, where she has no intention of being any guy with a truck’s plan B. If she keeps this up the Pistol Annies might need to be a foursome.
[7]

Anthony Easton: The guitar work here — somewhere north of Top 40 rock and south of rockabilly — matches the spitting lyrics. It is of a certain type, but Isabella has amazing story telling skills and a chameleon tendency to know where nu-country is and where it’s going. I think she might be the Canuck who breaks through Nashville’s parochial fear of non-Americans.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: Nothing more than a low-wattage Band Perry.
[5]

Brad Shoup: She’s got electrified twang to fill a room, and a fiddle that enters like a stock sitcom character. It’s “God Blessed Texas” with a sentiment that other people can relate to, I suppose.
[6]

Will Adams: I wished those chugging sixteenths on the pre- and post-chorus would stick around more. It’s the place where Kira Isabella’s fire rages the most powerfully.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: In all the right ways this screams of a next-gen Carrie Underwood, from its uptempo ass-kickin’-ness, to her voice (definitely reminiscent of Underwood’s, especially when she sings the word “enough”) to its lyrical content (not takin’ shit from a cheater). Isabella’s no copycat though; she’s got her own personality, full of sass for days. One of the year’s best country singles.
[9]