Monday, January 25, 2010

Now Playing At Mel's Place (Hot Chip, Goldfrapp, Ellie and More!)

I've tried over and over again to keep up a stable listing of what songs I'm currently spinning from week to week, and that commitment tends to turn sporadic as time goes on. Therefore, may I direct your attention to one of my New Year's Resolutions, the Melismatic Charts subblog, should your interest bring you toward what I'm playing. I'm warning you now, it's a mixture of my favorite new cuts, random recurrents and vaguely disturbing guilty pleasures -- but isn't everyone's list reflective of this?

Speaking of what I'm currently spinning over and over, now is a good a time as any to gush about a few tracks that are seeing a lot of airplay on my end.

Hot Chip - "One Life Stand"

I  blame Ken for this one. I'm relatively unfamiliar of this band, as the little bit of material I have heard I wasn't so keen on, until now. This Brit band has been around for awhile, and from what I gather, their upcoming record, named One Life Stand after the first single, will be their most commercially accessible yet. If the rest of the record sounds anything remotely like "One Life Stand", I'm both hands in. The song itself sounds like four songs in one: a driving electro-based bass-jingling cut at the start, almost-Caribbean like funk complete with xylophone, dance-based rock as the chorus heats up, then back to a more grandiose electro feel as the synth layers in over the razor-sharp guitar grooves. It keeps you guessing, and more importantly, it keeps you listening.

Goldfrapp - "Rocket"
Unlike many of my blogger friends, I'm not super duber in love with Goldfrapp. While I can certainly appreciate their fearless sound and smart lyrics, much of their catalogue has gone a bit over my head. I'm a fan of their record Black Cherry (esp. "Train" and "Crystalline Green"), but otherwise, I was more of a casual listener. Then came "Rocket", the dancey first single from the duo's upcoming fifth record, Head First. The song is something straight out of the 80's -- but I know what you're thinking. Isn't everything these days? That could be somewhat true, but while so much of the 80's-sounding synthy pop that is currently popular is somewhat dark in color, this is decidedly bright, sunny and dare I say downright rainbow sounding. My pal Will-W is touting the song reminds him of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing", and perhaps in a music world that embraces Glee and their classic covers, it will do well (especially in the UK -- where not only the Glee cover of "Believing" is doing quite well, but the original has too bounced back into the Top 10). I don't disagree, but also get flashbacks of another Glee favorite, Van Halen's "Jump". No?

Rochella Danishei - "Counting Down to Zero"
By now, several new solo cuts by my girl Ro Danishei have made their premiere on her MySpace page, but my favorite continues to be her first offering, "Counting Down to Zero". It points to very big things for the former Coated in Candy Coated Chaos, and signals a bit of a departure in sound to more of a funky, sexy, guitar-riffy place. While it doesn't really show off  too much what she can do vocally, it's a fun  mid-tempo romp.  Again, it's like two pieces of goodness in one: the more drum and rhythm-dependent verses and the brighter chorus, with the oozy "Oooh, ah ah ah ah ahhhhh" hook to steam things up just a little bit more. Ro has been working round the clock on her upcoming solo album, and I couldn't be more excited to see what else she has to share.

Ellie Goulding - "Under the Sheets"
The UK has been ranting and raving about her, and with every new song I hear, I fall for her a bit more. Her debut album, Lights, is due for release in the upcoming months, and the video for her superb second single, "Starry Eyed" is making the blog rounds. However, it just doesn't get better than the multi-layered first single "Under the Sheets" (despite the fact that it didn't chart in the UK as high as it should have). It forgoes relying too hard on synth, and the drum back beat can only be described as unrelenting. Mix all that with Goulding's airy, light, almost child-like voice and the result is remarkably haunting and very much welcomed. With so much sonic overload, the lyrics get a bit forgotten, but they too are something to behold: "We're under the sheets/And you're killing me/In our house made of paper/Your words roll over me/We're under the sheets/And you're killing me/Like all the boys before/Like all the boys before." Deep stuff, and so good.

I've briefly mentioned it before, but it's one of those songs that just gets a tinsiest bit better every time you play it. Sade's deep and raspy voice rolls over a downright symphonic rhythm and string section, giving the song a sonic appeal that makes it stand-out in a sea of overproduction. And given the calamity in Haiti, the song has already taken on a fresh meaning -- thanks Will for giving me a fresh set of eyes with this one.

Allison Iraheta - "D Is For Dangerous"
Considering the majority of last year's American Idol contestants have left me wanting, I was a bit disinterested in the inevitable slew of records released by its participants in the wake of last May's finale. While third-place finisher and 17-year-old Allison Iraheta's first single, the Max Martin-produced "Friday I'll Be Over U", gave me a bit of interest, if only for its innate catchiness, her full length debut record Just Like You is filled with much more promise, and presents Iraheta (who also won the Telemundo reality show QuinceaƱera in 2006) as a younger, Radio Disney version of P!NK. Her voice at times sounds so similar to Ms. Moore's, even I was astounded. "D Is For Dangerous", a Biancaniello cut (Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield", the Jonas Brothers' ballads), straddles the line of adult soul and kid-friendly fare, showing off her voice without making her appear older than she really is. Just Like You isn't exactly a timeless classic, but has it's fun pop moments, and gives me hope for an actual career based in vocal abilities, rather than publicity stunts (and yes, I'm looking at you, Adam Lambert -- I know you have a voice in you somewhere, and I wish you'd show it off, rather than "push" limits with your sexuality).

Kristinia DeBarge - "Sabotage"
This song was "promoted" as Lil DeBarge's second single stateside after she appeared out of nowhere with last year's "Goodbye", but before you could say "Sabotage", her version of the Varisty Fanclub single "Future Love" pulled the rug out from underneath it. Neither song did particularly well on the charts or on the radio in comparison (despite all efforts with the latter, including getting Pitbull on a Radio Remix -- should've gone for Flo Rida, he seems to have the magic touch), but that doesn't take away how gorgeous a song it is.  It presents a fresh look at the typical "internal-struggle" "good girl versus bad girl" song that so many poptarts like to put forth, while sounding surprisingly fresh. It also allows Kristinia to show off more of her riff-tastic vocals, especially in the more stripped-down version provided to MTV last October. It's a shame the song didn't do better, but I've heard word she's already back in the studio to record a followup album -- and can't wait for the results.

Christian Kane - "The House Rules"
Every few months, I tend to get a bit crazyobsessed with a random country-pop crossover song for reasons completely unintelligble. Usually, the damage is done at the hands of a female vocalist, but this time, it's a rather handsome lookin' fella. One of my closest friends (who, it should be said, is like me and isn't the biggest country fan) introduced me to Christian Kane, a singer/actor who in addition to fronting the band Kane, is best known for his former role on the WB hit Angel, and for currently starring in the cable drama Leverage. Much of his material is good fun, and this song is no different, which you can grab gratis (that means free, ya'll) on his official website in exchange for your email address. It's rousing, country-fried, pure fun with sometimes silly and border-line trailer park trashy lyrics, but if you dug Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats", you might find this one to be a guilty pleasure just like yours truly, for as he says in the track, "We don't take kindly to serious."

Marina & The Diamonds - "Hollywood"

I'm a bit belated to the Marina party -- I know several bloggers have been on her from the get go. While I very much enjoy "I Am Not A Robot", it was the backwards compliment about the guilty pleasure that is "Hollywood" that truly converted me. I love everything about it, from the sardonic lyrics to the piano and handclappy backbeat, to Marina's thick Welsh/London accent. And yes, does it really get better than that big line from the second verse: "Oh.My.Gawd./You look just like Shakira/No no, no, Catherine Zeta/Actually, my name's Marina." (Is it just me, or does she not look like either of them...or is that supposed to be ironic? ::scratches head::) That's a big fat no. It's kind of "Hollywood"s "Leonard Bernstein", now isn't it? Kudos, Marina and your imaginary Diamonds -- I can't wait for the full record.

Selena Gomez & The Scene - "Naturally"
You knew I had to throw in something Disney-related on here. That's just the way I roll. Either way, Sel and her Scene are full steam ahead with their second single (the followup to last year's "Falling Down"), and with every listen, I start to like it more and more. It features identical sound effects to the song that was Miley's breakthrough -- "See You Again" -- but "Naturally" stands on its own two feet if only for that killer anthematic chorus of "You are the thun-der and I am the lightning/And I love the way you know/Who you are/And to me, it's exciting". It's one of those upbeat numbers that kind of sounds like a dance remix in itself, and  it is already making big strides over at pop radio (making her the first Disney artist since Miley and the brothers Jonai to do so). The shelflife of Selena and the Scene is arguable (as is her on-again/off-again relationship with the second youngest Jonas bro, Nick), but this sure is a fun cut.

And, for the (Relatively) Random Recurrents:

-Mandy Moore, "In My Pocket" (2001)
Even I am not really sure why this one has crept back up on me, but it has in a big way. Perhaps it's because I geniunely miss the poppy version of Amanda Moore. Perhaps it's because of those undeniable Middle-Eastern kind of sounds being the perfect compliment to her breathy vocals. Either way, what a fun tune to dance to on the way to work. Just saying.

-Snap!, "Rhythm Is A Dancer" (1992)
I could not be happier that early 90's Euro-dance music is making a big comeback. This song came on downstairs at my work place and I've been humming it ever since, taking me back to my single-digit years when music was always dancey and equally carefree. Viva Forever!

-Def Leppard, "Rock of Ages" (1983)
What do you want? (I want rock and roll!) For those of you who don't know, I am a ride or die fan of the CW's Supernatural series since it's inception in 2005. So much so that one of my closest friends and I (a different one from the one mentioned above) are going to a live fan convention in NJ in July devoted to SPN fangirliness. With that said, the show's soundtrack reads like a guide to Classic Rock, and every Thursday sees me becoming blackhole obsessed with a different cut closely associated with the show, whether it's Kansas' "Carry On My Wayward Son", Styx's "Renegade", Asia's "Heat of the Moment" or Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". (In fact, I would highly recommend the series on the fact of their killer soundtrack alone, in addition to the addicting plot and sexy duo of leading men.) This past week, it was Def Leppard's rockin' "Rock of Ages" that's got me headbanging. Rock on, indeed.

-Girls Aloud, "What You Crying For" (2007)
Tangled Up remains to be my overall favorite Girls Aloud disc to date, and everytime I spend some time with it, I find a new favorite non-single. For now, it's the gasoline-driven, waa-waa soaked "What You Crying For". It's one of those songs that just kind of flies by too quickly that you have to repeat, a few times for good measure.


rcLoy said...

High 5 for Goldfrapp, Marina, Ellie and Selena~ Especially for Under The Sheets~ It's pure GOuLD~ :)

Ken said...

Brillo playlist. Haha. Don't blame me for good music. LOL. Hot Chip are just ace aren't they?

I love this. Seriously.

Myfizzypop said...

so much good stuff here. i'm very excited for Rochella's debut album and more material from her. could be an absolute corker...

J.Mensah said...

I've always said you had awesome taste in music! :) I'm beginning to love that Sade song not that I hated it before but I couldn't be bothered to listen to it lol.

Aaron said...

OK - So much here to comment on!

First - Great to hear of Rochella and Kristinia love.

Just heard the Rocket single - and it's rather catchy. Yes, I do think Jump is in there somewhere, now that you mentioned it!

ABSOLUTELY ADORE Naturally, the album is rather fantastic too - but Naturally is just pure brilliance!

Also, I always felt Girl Overboard was the best non-single from Tangled Up....

Mel said...

Loy - Agreed, agreed, agreed! :)

Ken - Haha, I didn't mean it in a bad way. Thanks for turning me on to them -- that song is amazing in every way.

Paul - Ditto on Ro. Such a super talented girl. :)

J - The Sade track is so different and mellow that its so soothing. <3s all around for that one! And thanks, luv, as always. :)

Aaron - Nice to know you're on the Ro/Kristinia bandwagon, as well as "Naturally". As for "Girl Overboard" -- I agree 100%, it's my favorite cut on Tangled Up alongside "Sexy No No No". I almost don't even like to include it as a non-commercial single, because it so SHOULD have been. Grr.

The Reflective Inklings said...

Awesome playlist. Sade is finally back!

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