The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

Archive for July, 2008

New Issue: The Ting Tings

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The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing – So much buzz has surrounded this band, for better or for worse. Over here, they are the toast of the club scene. Flyers and tube ads adorn every block advertising the album. Plus, you can’t get away from “That’s Not My Name”. And why would you? Same goes for “Great DJ”. In fact, the whole album is one big summer party waiting to happen. I guess that’s why the Captain of Columbia Records snapped them up so quickly. Their quirky sense of pop is strongly rooted in new wave and disco (this seems to be a theme for 2008. I think VH1 brainwashed everyone with I Love the ’80s) but has a distinct indie bend that gives it a bit of edge. Call it Manchester Madness. Or simply the silliness that comes from 2 member “bands”. Either way, it spells success (just like R-O-L-A-I-D-S spells relief). Note – a lot of their best licks seem stolen from their influences. Blondie in particular. But it doesn’t make it any less satisfying. Or any less novel since I was really too young to enjoy the rebellious nature of Deborah Harry. So I say enjoy the Ting Tings shamelessly and have a lovely summer!

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July 23rd, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Stockpile: Antony &The Johnsons

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Antony & the Johnsons, Antony & the Johnsons – Everyone kept on describing this album as “passionate”. What does that really mean, particularly when all music should show some passion in it? But I must say, that is the best terminology to describe Antony’s voice. He is almost overwhelmed by his passion and the songs seem semi-operatic in structure. Or at least over the top. Same goes for the thematic structure. It’s all or nothing. But not in a pretentious way (Viva la Vida and….). Nevertheless, it took me by surprise and I couldn’t quite figure out if I liked it or not. But it grew on me. Quickly. And I genuinely enjoy it. It is definitely a mood piece – hard to digest often in the summer – but it does have it’s place. My major concern, which is totally unfair but still remains, is his lisp. It was SO hard to overcome in early listens. I didn’t know if it was a cruel joke or a real condition. It still takes me out of the music in the early songs, but falls away by the end of the album. Oh yes, another great aspect of this piece – good ending! I’m always surprised by albums that end poorly and this one was quite the opposite – “Blue Angel” was a rousing romp and great fun. Sign me up for the ever growing bandwagon.

Oh, and HUGE Thanks to Zubin for sending this my way. There is so much I’m missing and Zubin is showing me the light!

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July 16th, 2008 at 5:14 am

Stockpile: TeddyBears

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Teddybears, Soft Machine – Long live Swedish pop! They are taking over the world! Or at least my world of music. And how wonderful it is. Just to tick off a few of my Swedish favorites: Robyn, Peter, Bjorn and John, Lykkie Li, Max Martin (true, he did sell out by producing early Britney, but come on, you know you liked it) and Jens Lekman. They really do just know pop up there. And being fit. And having excellent socialized services. But high taxes! Where is this going….

Ah yes, back to the mainstream pop. Which this album exhibits an unending collection. Soft touches of genre bending make it instantly appealing without seeming too “poppy” (the Black Eyed Peas fell off the deep end a long time ago and should take note). Alas, it is still a little too commercial for me. The radio presence of collaborations is a bit nauseating at times (Elephant Man goes to Sweden? I don’t think so…) and you can tell this is easily a cell phone and iTunes selling CD. In fact, I’m sure most of the tracks have been sampled in one way or another to sell some type of product. Not to say that all advertising music is bad (Jamie Lidell DID sell out to Target and I still love him), but a whole album of catchy with no substance leaves me lacking. Much like eating Fun Dip, the sugar is too sweet after a while. I would have liked a little more of the quirkiness that their brethren all exhibit (a hook that is whistled, a dance song about breaking up, a misinterpretation of a conversation sung in troubadour style, etc.) Still, I have to give respect to a culture that respects great pop music and continues to progress its bounds.

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July 15th, 2008 at 5:08 am

New Issue: Adele

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Adele, 19 – British soul is on the rise. Again. A late 2000’s rush of rhythm and blues inspired singers are coming out in droves over here. Led by the de facto ring leader (but soon to be hospitalized) Amy Winehouse, well deserved attention is finally being given to the British contribution to modern R&B. Duffy is on the verge with the well crafted “Mercy” single racing up the charts and hitting the dance floors. You know how I feel about Jamie Lidell. Yet, Adele seems to be the strongest candidate for global succession to the house built by Amy Wino.

The Good – once again, we have some strong vocal chops coming from a young woman. And I am enjoying this turn from a country currently known more for their indie rock chops than soul singers (no, Leona Lewis does NOT count). She sounds fully developed for her age and has less of a bend towards satisfying her audience with age appropriate lyrics. Seems like she could last an album or two.
The Not So Good – No definitive bad elements, but some less than stunning qualities lie in her subject matter – love. That’s really all we have here: a 19 year old girl telling her side of romance, heartache, and scorn. Sometimes it’s catchy enough to work. Often, it becomes repetitive. What doesn’t help is her lack of genre depth. I like that she has a great fit for blues and jazz, but too often her songs end up muddled in lite FM territory. Too many strings and not enough spontaneity. And I wouldn’t mind a few more upbeat songs. She can kill a ballad, but ends up beating the dead horse. Digression alert – whoever did the mixing stuck too heavily on the treble end as all I can hear are the strings and her voice above the actual music. Sounds ill blended and a bit gaudy.

Overall, I like Adele. I think she has a lot to offer given her age and experience. This is no Back to Black, which, for all of Amy’s faults, is an amazing offering. I would like to see her strip off a lot of her backing elements and stick to the acoustic/sparer repertoire as it allows her talent (and emotion) to shine best. “Daydreamer” is by far my favorite track as it’s just Adele. And that’s all I’m asking for.

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July 14th, 2008 at 4:44 am

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New Issue: M83

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M83, Saturdays = Youth – I SO got seduced into this one by the Pitchfork review. And this time the romance was very short lived. It goes to show you that you can’t always trust what you read. And my ears are ringing from this one. Well, not ringing from an overwhelming sound. Rather the opposite. I know the ’80s are back with a vengeance – I just came back from seeing The Cool Kids and I saw more than a couple gold rope chains, Adidas tortoise shell shoes, and even some headbands – but sometimes the homage can be taken too far with no point. And do we really need those bare, tinny synthesizers back? We’ve made so many improvements in technology. Let’s all just move forward.
And while we are at, can the lyrics be a little less sappy? OK, so I get that we are all being “youthfully inspired”, but it doesn’t have to be in the vein of Panic at the Disco. Which is not to say that M83 is trying to fill the new emo high school void. But the constant whining and all out repetitive nature just makes me tired. So, I’ve learned my lesson. I am my own women and I will NOT succumb to the peer pressure of big indie blogs.

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July 13th, 2008 at 4:58 am

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New Issue: Girl Talk

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Girl Talk, Feed the Animals – “Hi, my name is Greg Gillis. Thank you for coming to my show”. This mantra was repeated at least 50 times at the end of his show in London. No one wanted to leave. We all just stood and clapped while a Journey loop played on in the background. At this point, Greg was only wearing his underwear (briefs) and his old Nike Air Force 1s (high tops). Throughout the entire show the crowd was ripping at him, wanting more and going absolutely nuts. This was my first true experience of organized insanity brought on by music alone.

Aparantly, this effect often occurs at Girl Talk shows, thus Greg decided to name his next album Feed the Animals. And I am well satisfied. Chock full of unthinkable musical collages that find a way to work seamlessly. This album is so hard to describe without giving away the excitement of the first listen. His use of pop samples from across the ages is a cross between a house party and Name That Tune. You feel smarter for knowing where all of the pieces are from but you don’t need to know them to enjoy the album. It’s just, well, good. I can’t find any better words than that right now. Except it’s also (semi) free. Go to his website, pay what you want (thanks Radiohead and NIN for starting a wonderful trend) and check it out for yourself.

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July 13th, 2008 at 4:28 am

Top Drops: June

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Whew! What a long month in between posts. My negligence can be explained. But it may take a while and I’d rather not waste the blog space. Suffice to say, I am sorry for those who have waited patiently for my top picks of June. In response, I shall make it brief as one album has dominated my life for the past 6 weeks. No contest. And a shoe in for a Top Drop of 2008

Girl Talk, Feed the Animals – The formal review is forthcoming. Just know two things:
1) This album is amazing
2) You can pay what you want for it. Click on the album link and check it out for yourself.

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July 13th, 2008 at 4:13 am