Katy Perry vs. Lady Gaga: All Pop Songs Will Disappoint You

Categories: Review Roundup

Katy Perry (Maria Vassett)
Maria Vassett (View the complete slideshow)
But you'll love them anyway.
Normally I don't go out of my way to listen to music the moment it's released, but I devour on-trend, manufactured pop like a snake devouring its prey. I digest over a period of days, listening to it over and over, and then something snaps inside me and the song is gone. At a rate of approximately one song every three days, I am often hungry for trashy pop.

Enter two of today's biggest pop stars, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, and their simultaneous single releases of "Applause" and "Roar." I am beyond thrilled because two brand new songs might buy me more than a week of entertainment. The downside is that for the first day, at least, both songs will disappoint me.

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Re:Generation Music Project: More Than Just Another Techno Movie

Categories: Review Roundup

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Mark Ronson
Amir Bar-Lev's Re:Generation Music Project is a truly sensational demonstration of the music that can be made when people have an open mind. As DJ Premier said in the film, "Music can't die as long as someone keeps on making it fresh, and that's what we did."

The Re:Generation Music Project features five techno artists and deejays putting a twist on their signature sounds by incorporating musicians another genre. Skrillex worked with rock, The Crystal Method got soulful with R&B, Pretty Lights threw some country in the mix, Mark Ronson got jazzy, and DJ Premier experimented with classical music. The collaborations with other artists made for some incredible finished products, and explored the notion that you don't have to have a guitar or piano to be a "musician."

Watching the song-making process was captivating. Each artist had to explain to the prominent artists from their assigned genre what was wanted of them and how the music was going to be reworked into techno. All of the collaborations were a humbling experience for all parties involved (except for Dr. Ralph Stanley, but more on that later). It was interesting to watch these techno artists and deejays expand their musical horizons and open up to incorporating new sounds into their productions. To see the interactions of the artists understanding where the others from another genre and generation came from was really something.

More on each artist's project after the jump...


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Army Navy: The Last Place

Categories: Review Roundup
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Army Navy - The Last Place
​I must admit that the first time I heard L.A.-based indie rock trio Army Navy was on the fantastic podcast Sklarbro Country. The brothers Sklar had the band join them this past May in their tiny podcast studio, letting them play a song or two to help round things out. While I wasn't initially overwhelmed by the band -- the sound quality of a podcast leaves a bit to be desired -- Army Navy was now on my radar. Good thing, too, as their latest album The Last Place is one of a handful of new albums being released today.

The Last Place, upon further listens, is a solid, well-rounded indie rock record. The album chronicles a failed relationship, a topic that lends itself rather well to Kennedy's songwriting abilities. Army Navy have, thankfully, managed to inject some life into a month with a rather bleak slate of new releases with The Last Place.

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Archers of Loaf: Icky Mettle (Remastered)

Categories: Review Roundup

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Archers of Loaf - Icky Mettle
​It's a rather, let's say, quaint day for new releases, so that's why I've decided to go ahead and take a look at the reissue of the influential 1993 Archers of Loaf debut album Icky Mettle. The Chapel Hill, North Carolina band played their first show in 13 years this past January, helping complete the reunion with the reissue of Icky Mettle -- complete with a bonus disc of 14 songs. Among those songs on the extra disc are b-sides from the band, including the band's first ever single and various 7" versions of some of the bands more popular songs.

Icky Mettle stands the test of time incredibly well, due in large part to its massive influence -- as well as the fact it was released in the also influential year of 1993. Sure, other bigger name bands like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins had their own ground-breaking albums from that same year, but there's an inexplicable charm to what Archers of Loaf were creating with their own rock music.

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Pictureplane: Thee Physical

Categories: Review Roundup
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Pictureplane - Thee Physical
​It's hard not to imagine yourself smack dab in the middle of 1994 when listening to Thee Physical -- the latest effort from Travis Egedy's Pictureplane project. First, the magic eye album art grabs your attention, only to have said attention skewed towards Egedy's diva-house, Euro-beat songs. There is an honest feeling, at least on the song "Touching Transform," that Egedy lifted the track's beat from some obscure Orbital B-side.

However, therein lies the skillful, electronic music sensibilities of Travis Egedy -- his music effortlessly whisks listeners away to a bygone era of day-glo, grown men sucking on pacifiers, and an all-night-long rave in a dingy warehouse. Not too bad for the man who coined the term "witch house," even though his music -- unlike the aforementioned genre -- have song titles in plain ol', legible English.

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Washed Out: Within And Without

Categories: Review Roundup
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Washed Out - Within and Without
​Ah, chillwave -- the not-so-nascent genre of music that "those darned kids listen to" these days. It'd be foolish to not put Perry, Georgia's Ernest Greene -- better known to the world as Washed Out -- at the forefront of the chillwave bonanza. His efforts in 2009 -- out of his bedroom in his parent's house, mind you -- endeared him to the blogosphere, putting Washed Out's music on everyone's minds.

After two brilliantly crafted EPs, Greene has finally released Washed Out's much-anticipated debut, Within And Without. Buoyed by the strong lead single, "Eyes Be Closed," Within And Without carries the chillwave torch, one still has plenty of fuel left. Greene's latest effort not only helps broaden the appeal of the somewhat difficult to approach genre of chillwave, it also solidifies Washed Out's as the genre's go-to artist.

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Memory Tapes: Player Piano

Categories: Review Roundup
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Memory Tapes -- Player Piano
​I fancy myself a bit of a know-it-all when it comes to certain things about a band -- details like where the band is from, what label they are on, and how many albums they have released. Color me surprised, then, when I just found out that Memory Tapes is the moniker for Dayve Hawk, former lead singer and founder of Philadelphia-based indie rock band Hail Social. Hawk releases his second Memory Tapes album today, Player Piano -- and here I had no clue he was involved with a band I used to really enjoy.

Dayve Hawk lit up the blogosphere back in 2008 with his multifarious Memory Tapes remixes, as well as 2009's debut LP Seek Magic. Then championed as chillwave, Memory Tapes is now seen as a more calculated producer effort by Hawk, and rightfully so -- he has hit his stride with Player Piano and its minimalist, layered synths and lo-fi yearnings.

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Woods: Sun and Shade

Categories: Review Roundup
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Woods - Sun and Shade
​Churning out five albums in as many years, Brooklyn lo-fi/indie rockers Woods have set a rather torrid pace for themselves. With their latest album, Sun and Shade, the band has created a rather fitting album for a middle of June release. Filled with light, airy rock/pop songs, Sun and Shade finds the band experimenting with longer instrumental breaks. While 2010's At Echo Lake was seen by many as the band's finest work, Sun and Shade could very easily stake a claim as the band's best yet.

Those instrumental breaks certainly add a wild-card element to Sun and Shade, furthering the band's sound rather than allowing it to rest on past laurels. That eye on progress is something that the members of Woods have quite the knack for, yet the band hasn't, by any means, forgotten their lo-fi roots.

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Battles: Gloss Drop

Categories: Review Roundup

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Battles, Gloss Drop
I must say -- it felt like today would never come. June 7th seemed like a far too distant goal, a sinister illusion in the grand scheme of new releases. You see, New York experimental rockers Battles had announced they were going to release their sophomore album Gloss Drop on June 7th some months ago -- and the time spent in the interim, waiting for the album to come, was nothing short of excruciating.

Well, fuck all that nonsense -- it's finally June 7th and Gloss Drop is finally out. It's a good thing, too, since I believe Gloss Drop is one of 2011's finest albums to date -- a proper 1-B to the 1-A ranking of Fleet Foxes' brilliant Helplessness Blues. Gloss Drop is a decadent, seamlessly crafted work of art. Hyperbole knows no end with this album -- and I am being 100% genuine when I say that.

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My Morning Jacket: Circuital

Categories: Review Roundup

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My Morning Jacket - Circuital
Today marks the last grasp for the month of May -- a rather solid month, I might add, for new releases. So far, I've covered Fleet Foxes, Gang Gang Dance, Friendly Fires and, now, Kentucky indie rockers My Morning Jacket. Circuital, the band's sixth LP, is their first from 2008's warmly received Evil Urges. While that particular album put MMJ on most everyone's radar, Circuital will effectively propel the band near the top of said radar.

Bolstered by lead single "Hangin' On To Black Metal," Circuital finds Jim James and company yet again refining their Americana rock roots. The titular track "Circuital" is a delightful give and take between an all-out rock offering and its meandering, folk-twinged prelude. "The Day Is Coming" harkens back to MMJ's earlier, It Still Moves days -- the song is mellow and all-around enjoyable, singing the praises of such earlier MMJ songs like "Mahgeetah" and "One Big Big Holiday." No matter what mood you're in, Circuital has you covered.

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