Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Album Review: Angles, The Strokes


By: Captain Pownzor

Staff Blogger

I was eagerly awaiting a new strokes album since the amazing “First Impressions of Earth” that came out of 2006. With the strokes talking up a new more 70's rock feel I was hoping it was not going to be a repeat of Casablanca's solo album which did not have anywhere close to the same sound.

I knew it was going to be an evolution and I knew that there had been various tensions surrounding the band members as well as the mixing and production of the album. Hence why it was 5 years in the making.

When I heard the first single Under Cover of Darkness I was given pretty high hopes. This sounded similar to the old strokes sound. With a really catchy guitar hook and a completely infectious chorus this was indie rock you could throw on at a rock club and get the whole dance floor moving. As I waited in anticipation for the album I fell more and more in love with the single.

When the album finally dropped I couldn't wait to put it on but the remaining songs I expected to be the caliber of the single were just not there. From the opening riff on Machu Picchu we can tell we are dealing with a very different kind of strokes. The idea of this 70's rock velvet underground feel that the strokes were going for seems to get muddled up in 80's throwback material.

Two Kinds of Happiness is a bit of a fusion of this 80s sound with that of the old strokes, It is tolerable but the intro falls very flat. If anything the song could almost do without it. What is impressive in this track is the complex drum beat which is more or less unheard of in previous work by the strokes.

Your So Right” Channels a strange kind of post punk entity sounding very different again, in the bridge it almost has sort of an early goth industrial vibe. Overall it is a standout WTF on the album. Song is alright but it is a monkey wrench breaking up the theme and sound of the album.

“Gratisfaction” the only song on the album that kind of hits the decade they were shooting for right. This track sounds like a late 70's arena rock outfit. The chorus in fact sounds like it was ripped from a softened out version of a kiss song.

As for the rest of the album it all just kind of blends together. Its a mixture of classic arena rock/80s confusion and a rare bit of the strokes old sound mixed with other elements of post punk sound. A big strange punchbowl of sounds that takes you all over the place. Good albums tend to have a theme and tell a story. The Strokes seem to have the story and theme of their album “Angles” told by someone with Alzheimer's

Monday, March 21, 2011

Album Review:That Really Hurts EP: Big Charlie


By: Captain Pownzor

Staff Blogger

With vocals similar to bowie and an inventive music style similar to that of beck, Matteo De Ruggieri & Stefano Milella make up the great Italian Electro rock duo that is Big Charlie. "That Really Hurts" The 4 track EP which was released sept 2010 contains something for just about any fan of their influencing artists.

With the radio friendlyRoses first single there's an instant crooning over tickling ivories. This is a sexy song with a catchy chorus that sounds sort of similar to Fastballs “The Way”. That would be a sure chart mover on the radio. “Roses” has sexy vocal hooks and a toe tapper of a tune. The video gets a bit on the creepy side but is worth a bit of a look if your into a whole scary kidnapper vibe.

Some of the other songs of mention on the EP is “Ants” with sort of an old Ricky Martin vibe, using an almost Latin style instruments with a Blue man group sound as well. It gets really interesting and leads to a very cool experimental sound.

The intro “Jitterbug” is a nice little introduction featuring a nice jitterbuggy tune and a rarely used soloing instrument, The kazoo.

Backseat is probably one of the weaker songs on the album, not for the feel of it which is great. There is a whole electronic daft punk sort of sampling about it, Its just the simplicity of the lyrics and the meaning of the song is a little bit lost on me. It has a good vibe but I think the majority of an English audience would hear the lyrics: “oh my god, I'm sitting in the back seat, but no one drives for me, I'm hitting all the cars around, but no one helps me.” Not a club jam thats for sure. But still some really cool stuff to do with the use of that daft punk sound on this track.

Overall the EP is a decent effort, the main single has definite potential as a hit maker the only thing really holding this band back from an English market could lie in lyrical styling and updating some of those lyrics to make for a more profound song. The instrumental work however, is very experimental and different and for that reason this album is worth a quick listen.

If you want to check out more Big Charlie look no further than their website.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Artist Profile: Ocean Black

A recent number of tracks that have been brought to my attention come from the band Ocean Black. The band members consist of Rad Atefi (Ocean Man) and Quentin Walker (Illville Crew), and these guys are doing something pretty cool. Its a hip hop sound with elements of surf rock blues and world music I took a listen to some of their new tracks and here are some of my impressions in a few quick breakdown reviews:

The world keeps spinning round:


Comes across as sort of an underground sound but with a real upbeat sort of style. You can tell the mixing is sort of a home studio but they have done fairly well with the tools on hand. The beat is really happy and flows so well with the song. This would be a nice feel good song to have on with a bunch of friends and maybe a bit of a club thumper. Its got elements of rock with some wicked guitar solos towards the end as well as a bit of a techno element to it. Its catchy and has some fairly decent lyrics. Not so much controversial in nature but just a good party tune. Its a hip hop song you could play in a public school and not get into trouble which some might be really turned off by. Still the lyrics put a big smile on my face, I especially enjoyed hearing “We're the bees knees” instead of the regular cliché hiphop shout out.

Charley Sheen:


Holy topical! Another great party tune from Ocean black. They sampled some classic surfer rock in another great party tune. I especially enjoyed the sampled added in from sheens quotes. Its hard to believe the whole thing was composed over a 24 hour period. The flow is great with the sampled beat although the lyrics for this one is fairly simple and little less g rated than the world keeps spinning round, its a great slow jam. This is not a clubbing song by any means but it makes for a catchy lyrics. With synth weaving in and out of the beat in parts this adds a really funky element to the song. Yet another nice guitar solo put in towards the end keeping with the bluesy rock hip hop theme. I hope Ocean Black gets some serious mention for this song, I have a feeling Mr sheen would be proud of the mention.



With a real world music feel to this one the mixing seems to be way cleaner in this track. Vocals are excellent and clear. With sort of an island surf feel mixed with world music feel this is another slower jam more for personal listening. A real spacey guitar track closes the song and branches out from the background guitars a lot. It turns the surf feel up a notch for certain. The backing vocals are amazing sort of exemplifying a Lauren hill feel they tie in well with the world music surf fusion they have created for this track. From the description you can probably tell this is not a common hip hop track in the least. It makes for easy listening and is a good chill out track. On an album with party tunes however I could see this turning into the hangover track and being labeled as album filler.

If you wanted to check out more of Ocean Black or follow them on facebook they can be found here.

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