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Marianas Trench – Ever After

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Marianas Trench – Ever After (2011)

One of my biggest passions in life is discovering music. This is mostly for my own enjoyment, but it typically means I am able to introduce them into the lives of my friends.

I have always prided myself on the ability to choose the appropriate tracks on an album for single release. However, the labels never reach out to ask my opinion and therefore, probably miss out on some successful releases because some old stuffy guy has made a decision based on who they know and the people that have worked on the track.

My favorite find of 2011 is Marianas Trench. They are a Canadian band that creates albums with  a story. In other words, there are concepts behind their releases from beginning to end. When was the last time we truly could listen to something from an artist that told a story from song one until the end of the album? In the singles market of iTunes and Amazon MP3, we usually will find albums with a mix of radio-friendly tracks (or so they think) and some album filler.

In 2011, Mariana’s Trench blessed my ears with their latest concept album, EVER AFTER. Now, I realize that my ears may hear things differently than others, but that will not stop me from sharing my opinion on music with people I know (and those on Facebook and here that I do not).

So, EVER AFTER is a blend of genres that tells a story of love. If you listen from the beginning to the end, you feel the determination of the main character to end up with the love that might not necessarily be able to love him. There are hints of punk, rock, country/bluegrass, 80s flare, pop, you name it. It has a very radio-friendly feel (minus the two f-words randomly placed in the album). Some may feel that it sounds slightly affected, I just say you can hear a little Panic at the Disco mixed with 30 Seconds to Mars. So what, just enjoy the music.

If you need to sample a few tracks before committing to the full concept of the album, my recommendations are “Ever After”, “By Now”, “Desperate Measures”, and “Toy Soldiers”. As I go through the track list to find the stand out tracks, I find myself wanting to put them all down on the list.

Tracklist:

  • “Ever After”
  • “Haven’t Had Enough”
  • “By Now”
  • “Truth or Dare”
  • “Desperate Measures”
  • “Porcelain”
  • “Fallout”
  • “Stutter”
  • “Toy Soldiers”
  • “B Team”
  • “So Soon”
  • “No Place Like Home”

If you like my suggestions, check out their albums “Masterpiece Theater” and “Fix Me”. I would love to hear your thoughts on my favorite musical find of 2011, Marianas Trench.

Link to album on iTunes : http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ever-after-deluxe-version/id479674517

Video for Marianas Trench – Haven’t Had Enough

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The Lighter Exchange – Beneath the Endlessness

The following is a reply given to a friend after she asked me to give a listen to the release: “Beneath the Endlessness” by The Lighter Exchange

The Lighter Exchange

So first off, I really love the CD. I think there is a lot of promise if they can swim through the muck on the radio right now. The politics and whatnot are not the most desirable, but I’m sure you have some local connections at least for local play.

I also saw that Long Way Down and Lady Luck are in an independent film in the Florida Film Festival. There are many songs on this album that could have a chance with TV and movie placement.

I have listened to the CD a bazillion times since  it was given to me since I wanted to be as helpful as possible. As I listened, thoughts continued to change based on pieces of different songs.

My favorites are:

  1. Hello My Friend (3:34)
  2. Stuck in My Head (3:37)
  3. Morning Comes (3:24)
  4. Paper Planes (5:35)

Those selections are based on what I think might click on a fan basis. Hello My Friend is upbeat enough to catch attention and the lead singer starts almost immediately (could be hard for radio since there is no room to talk over). Then, I love Stuck in My Head. It has a mid tempo/ballad feel. Those types, I feel, are a nice follow up to a catchy pop/rock track. Morning Comes brings more of the up tempo rock feel as a ballad follow up. However the 27 second introduction might be too long for internet plays, but okay for radio since they can talk over it.

Then I love Paper Planes which is totally sentimental and enjoyable. Not sure how that falls into anything, but I really think its a nice ending to the album. Probably way too long for radio play though. The others seem to fit in the mold.

I saw some clips on Youtube from the HOB show. The studio versions are a bit better of some of the tracks, but I think the more they are played, the stronger the vocals get.

Those are my 52 cents.  Check it out.

www.myspace.com/thelighterexchange

http://www.thelighterexchange.com (not updated yet)

Gavin Degraw – Free

April 16, 2009 2 comments

So, as some of you may recall (probably not), I wrote a pretty strong and  praising review of Gavin’s last album, GAVIN DEGRAW. Looking back, I might have been a little bit excited about it and that MIGHT have clouded my judgement a little bit. But that is neither here nor there. I liked it then and I like it now. I do think that waiting 5 years between albums though might have been a bit too much.

Gavin changed his mind this time and put out an album in a year or so. He decided to go back to the foundation of his music and avoid the overly processed sound he felt he had on the last album. He wanted it to be organic and raw. I think he achieved this, but I think it might be too raw, too contrived. Is there such a thing as Gavin Degraw over-singing his own songs? In my opinion, this is exactly what he does on some of the tracks of his new album, FREE.

Don’t get me wrong though. I enjoy the album and I enjoy the concept. I will definitely keep it in rotation, but I can’t help but want for more. Maybe he will take the Josh Kelley route and put out an album every time he has enough songs. I like that idea. 

On another positive note, I’m thrilled that he finally recorded a version of “Dancing Shoes.” Way to go Gavin. Oh, and apparently I got some autographed poster with my purchase. I guess I forgot about this and ripped into the package prematurely. Yes, I ripped the poster. HA

Keep on keeping on. 

Did any of you get this album? What’d you think?

Sugarland – Love on the Inside

July 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Sugarland Love on the Inside Cover

Sugarland – Love on the Inside (Release date: July 22, 2008 )

My second favorite country album of 2008. It comes in very close behind Lady Antebellum’s release earlier this year.

There is something about Sugarland that I just love. I have liked their music since the first album, ya know, back when they were a trio. I liked them when they lost the third member and went on as a duo. I loved them when they put out that emotional STAY. And, now I love them even more. Jennifer Nettles looks and sounds great. Whenever I see her and bandmate, Kristian Bush, I smile. They look like they are enjoying everything that they have earned. They seem to appreciate life and are genuinely grateful for their successes. They are truly a joy to watch.

The new album, LOVE ON THE INSIDE, is one of their best. How do they just keep upping the status quo? This is the first album of Sugarland to be #1 on the country charts. If only Miley Cyrus did not exist, they would have taken the top spot on the Top 100 on Billboard. Damn her.

What do I not love about this album? I think the only track I could do without is Genevieve. Even still, I’ll listen. On the deluxe fan edition, I was thrilled to hear the live version of “Life in a Northern Town” that they performed with Little Big Town and Jake Owens as well as a live cover of a Matt Nathanson song, “Come on Get Higher”. Who would have thought?

So the true gems of this album are:

  • “All I wanna do” – just a fun summer song and the video is great too
  • “It happens” – I love when she says, “pshhh…..it happens” I think that was intentional. It was also intentional that it is my new ringtone. Ha
  • “We run” – Just a great mid-tempo song. Sing sing sing.
  • “Love” – wonderful ballad showcasing both Nettles and Bush.
  • “Take Me As I Am”
  • “Very last Country Song” – what if we didn’t have problems. Then this would be the last country song you’d hear. for sure.
  • “What I’d Give” – a true longing
  • “Fall Into Me” – another great ballad.

Another great thing about this album is that we get to hear more of Kristian Bush. Long time coming…

So, can you tell that I loved it? Some nice country pop. 10!

Vanessa Hudgens…

June 23, 2008 6 comments

Vanessa Hudgens

…sucks my ass! HAHA

Her new album, IDENTIFIED, is streaming here and it sucks hard core.

Her new single “Sneaknight” is one of the dumbest songs I have heard in awhile. The press has written about her excitement to finally wear sneakers in a music video. Oh, cause she has done soooo many music videos in her recording career. Well, the song is about going out with her girls for some dancing, BUT they better bring their sneakers cause she don’t want no one passin’ out while dancing (probably to her own cd).

I think she should stick to leaking her nude pictures on the internet.

Check out the lameness…

Really? No, seriously? Come on…

Julianne Hough – Julianne Hough (Debut)

May 19, 2008 2 comments

Julianne Hough – Julianne Hough ( Street Date: 5/20/08 )

To be gorgeous, to be on a major TV show, to be a world champion dancer, what else can a woman do? Well, Julianne Hough has added a professional singing contract to her pot. Julianne’s country debut CD will be released on May 20th.

THAT SONG IN MY HEAD, Hough’s first single, was at #29 on the Country Billboard charts. Pretty impressive for a two time champion of Dancing with the Stars. A true country ditty with an infectious chorus. In my opinion, great first single to get yourself noticed in a saturated country market.

Surprisingly, this album is completely enjoyable. I guess I went into it aligning her with actors-turned-singers, but she isn’t. Apparently she has always done both.

On this debut cd, Julianne has played it safe, but to her benefit. A handful of radio friendly hits, including DREAMING UNDER THE SAME MOON, a duet with her dancing brother, Derek Hough. Side note, Derek is in a band “Almost Amy” with Mark Ballas (also of Dancing With the Stars fame). DUTSM is a nice song that showcases sibling harmonies on a pop-country track. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song was released as a single next.

Other highlights include, HELP ME, HELP YOU and YOU, YOU, YOU and LOVE YOURSELF. I’D JUST BE WITH YOU is a pretty ballad that closes the album fittingly.

Julianne proves that she has the vocal ability to compete in this market. A well rounded debut that is definitely worth the $6.99 on Amazon. It will come to me who she sounds like, but it’s definitely someone. I figured it out!! She sounds somewhat like Amanda Wilkinson from The Wilkinsons (a country trio from Canada).

Go get this CD. What do I give it? Hmmm. I enjoy it, so 7/10.

Listen to the stream of the album, HERE.

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Besides the music, Julianne returned with Dancing With the Stars winner Apollo Anton Ohno to dance on the 100th episode of the show. This dance was insanely hot. I think they might be doing it since she broke off her engagement to Dance War star Zack something or other awhile back.

Jesse McCartney – Departure

May 13, 2008 3 comments

Jesse McCartney – Departure ( Release date: 5/20/08 )

So this might be embarassing, but since LEAVIN’ is a bit addicting and BLEEDING LOVE (by Leona Lewis, co-written by Jess) is a hit, I thought maybe I should “review” the advance copy of DEPARTURE by Jesse McCartney. I hate to admit that I can say that I enjoy most of the album, okay, well at least half of it.

My overall thought is that this is a homage to one of his probable idols, Justin Timberlake. Most of the songs range between a “Longing for Love (lost or found)” theme and a “Let’s DO It (because I’m grown up now)” theme.

There are some ridiculous and overly-urban songs on this album for a 21 year old white kid that used to be in a group called DREAMSTREET. 🙂 The song ROCK YOU does not belong, with lyrics like “They call me Jesse baby…” spoken over some hard beats, uh…what? INTO YA sounds like it may be illuding to some kind of sex act, but I won’t discuss because I frankly would rather skip it and pretend it is not on the album.

On to the good points of the album, the first single LEAVIN’ is awesome and catchy. Unfortunately, the video was banned from Disney for being a bit too racey. Scandalous! Ha. Catchy pop tracks HOW DO YOU SLEEP and MY BABY keep you singing the chorus long after the song has ended. This is exactly what pop songs should be doing. Kudos. The song RUNNIN’ is reminiscent of fellow chart topper, Chris Brown (also similar to Brown’s Run It title). Rounding out the album are a few ballads, TOLD YOU SO and NOT YOUR ENEMY, the latter being more sappy and somewhat enjoyable.

I would have to give this album, uh… a 7 out of 10. I think thats fair because I do enjoy most of it. 🙂 SHHHHH.