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Tag: "artist review"

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Monster Mash

I Love Monsters

In person, I Love Monsters may or may not be as cool as the guys from Entourage, but, in stereo, they sure as hell sound like they are. Which may be why the HBO series featured the NYC band’s song, “Heart/Beat,” on its Season 7 premiere. It’s tightly wound (like Ari Gold) and highly stylized (like Vince Chase) and wastes no time getting to the point. Drums clatter and serpentine guitars wind and lunge for a killer, two-minute showdown. I Love Monsters’ frenzied, rhythmic melodies are cut from the same cloth as the Killers and Strokes—just take away the crooning and add snotty, high-register post-punk vocals. “Keep Me Guessing,” is a jittery rocker that courses restlessly while guitars dart in and out and cymbals crash. Sounds like these monsters have a serious case of agida—lucky for you it’s contagious.

Lokz Of Love


If you’re a regular here on OurStage, the name Lokz may already be familiar to you. The Torontonian singer won Drake’s “Thank Me Later” Competition last summer, opening for the hip hop star in their shared hometown of Toronto. Listen to Lokz’s silky, seductive R&B and it’s obvious why Drake tapped him to share the stage. “Throw It Away” could be the epilogue to Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River.” Synths shudder against a bassy beat as Lokz sets out to prove that even remorse can sound sexy. “Without You” is shimmering, R&B minimalism—just the singer’s soulful baritone and undulating waves of percussion. Things get even steamier when Lokz threatens to “take your body by surprise” in “Read Your Mind.” If you’re in danger of overheating, skip to the bracing “Over” for an up-tempo rallying cry. “It’s far from over,” Lokz promises over a swelling digital string section. Music to our ears.

Meow Mix

Kirsten Price

Kirsten Price has lent her voice to ad campaigns for Coke, Campbell’s and Clinique; and has been picked up by networks like CBS, Showtime and MTV for their programming. We’ll give it to the big guys; they got it right. Price seems destined for the upper strata of popular music—her melodies are expertly wrought and impeccably produced. “With or Without You” kicks off with mock-theatric synths, giving way to electric guitar lashes and percolating beats. Think Evanescence’s “Going Under,” but fronted by a smoky chanteuse. “Moving On” is gorgeously layered balladry, with Price’s soulful voice spiraling across swells of synths, guitars and drums. If you’d rather dance than mope, skip to the disco perfection of “Take Me To the Top.” Our favorite, however, is “Give That Girl.” Price’s feathery vocals are like tendrils that curl around each word, tugging you into the mix. It’s feline, minxy and totally provocative pop. Give that girl a round of applause.

New Dawn, New Day

Katelyn Dawn

Katelyn Dawn may not have won Canadian Idol, but she placed high enough to give her a taste of musical stardom, and encourage her to keep going. The Manitoba-born singer-songwriter (and Canada’s Top Model semifinalist) certainly has the singing chops and the good looks to get a boot in the door. Though we prefer her with just a guitar, singing soulful acoustic numbers like “Hallelujah”—which she played on a showcase for the Discovery Channel—her own style leans more towards Taylor Swift than the great Leonard Cohen. “Rescue Me” is as mainstream pop as it gets—soaring, airbrushed, and just a little cloying. We recommend sultrier, minor-key fare like “There You Go Again.” “Best of Me” is as catchy as it is sly—Dawn’s breathy coo entrances while guitars thrust like daggers. Although the singer is prone to sweetness (if you think you heard the words “cocoa kisses” in her song “Puzzle Pieces,” you are correct), she’s best when she saunters in with a bad attitude.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein beat up Sarah McLachlan

We already told you to check out “Portlandia,” but this time we really mean it. IFC has released a teaser for next week’s episode, and it’s a chortlefest. Watch Carrie and Fred ravage a Sarah McLachlan piñata while their maid, singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, tries to intervene.

Nicki Minaj creeps on to SNL

Nicki Minaj is both sexy and macabre, and nowhere do those two sides come together more seamlessly than in SNL’s new digital short starring The Lonely Island. Watch her “do the creep” on a corpse, and try not to wish you were the corpse.

The Bad


Now don’t panic, he’s still the same Bieber, only a little deeper. In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, the teen pop star admitted his voice was changing. “It’s definitely lower,” he says, “but I have a great vocal coach who’s helping me.” A better Bieber is just on the other side of the puberty rainbow, kids. So don’t stop beliebing.

White Stripes officially break up

After a prolonged hiatus, the White Stripes announced that they will no longer record or perform as a band in a message posted on their Web site. Please know that it’s not because of anything you did. As the message explains, “The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health. It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.” Third Man Records will continue to issue recordings from the vault. And Meg and Jack want you to know that they both love you very, very much.

The Ugly

Robbie breaks into Moby’s place

Robbie, in case you didn’t know, is the name of the stranger who broke into Moby’s house in the Griffith Park area of Los Angeles. The musician awoke at 7 AM to find Robbie standing in his living room, lost and tripping on acid. That Robbie! Always up to something! To read Moby’s account of the whole experience, go here.


Fantastic Voyage

Ex Norwegian

Ex Norwegian is one of those wily bands that makes categorization impossible. In the one instant you’ve decided their ethereal melodies sound like The Beatles, they leap into frenzied post-punk that has Pixies written all over it. But that protean approach to songwriting is the root of the Ex Norwegian’s appeal. The Miami-based band unfurls a magic carpet ride for each song. “Turn Left” begins in a joyful jangle that sounds like Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” meets Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose.” Bluesy rock is traded for whirls of keys in “Sky Diving,” arguably the band’s sweetest and most British melody. Then there’s the outcrop of distorted, jutting guitars in “Fujeira In My Dreams” that sounds like Black Francis fronting the Shins. Not confused enough? Put on the willfully inane “Dance Trance Pants” for wah-wah guitars and a cello. The mind melt is unavoidable, and totally fun. Roll with it, baby.

Kick Ass

Big Bottom

The first thing you might notice about Big Bottom is that their logo is a guitar pick shaped like a big bottom. We recommend bypassing the art and going straight for the music. The Nashville band doles out heaping portions of glossy rock with a country soul. If you’re looking for a drawling, lackadaisical anthem for driving off into the sunset, start with “California.” “Heart Tonight” sets off at a slow, sexy saunter, with the low throttle of guitars giving way to an occasional wiry peal. Sure, it’s a little corny when singer Justin Kimball shouts “guitar” before a blistering solo. And lines like about how he’ll “fulfill your wildest fantasies/ make them all reality” are, at the best, trite. Still, a hook’s a hook, and a good one can draw your attention away from any subpar lyrics, like it does here. “Dose of Reality,” with it’s soulful strut, sounds like a cross pollination of Train and Jason Mraz. It’s made for mainstream radio. And if you don’t agree, well, you can kiss their logo.

Punk On The Rocks: Me First And The Gimme Gimmes “Go Down Under” Review

Me First and The Gimme Gimmes may be a one trick pony, but wow, what a trick. The Go Down Under EP continues the fine Me First tradition of making fans love songs they used to hate and see songs that they love in a whole new light.

In keeping with the recent music trend of Australasia-themed music and puns (See Amanda Palmer‘s “Map of Tasmania“), Me First recorded this EP for release during their Australian tour. In honor of their Aussie friends, Go Down Under is an EP full of covers of songs made famous by Australian artists like INXS, Rick Springfield and more.

Tie Me Kangaroo Down : Me First and The Gimme Gimmes

Me First’s considerable cover song skill is on full display on Go Down Under. Any band that can make Air Supply’s sappy snooze-fest “All Out Of Love” sound like it was written by the Ramones is aces in my book. All of the EP’s six covers are good, but the real stand out track, in my opinion, is the band’s take on Olivia Newton John‘s “Have You Never Been Mellow.” This is probably the most aggro Australia’s girl next store has ever sounded, and that’s a good thing.

While some fans questioned the band’s choice of songs (“Seriously, so many great Australian artists and they pick Air Supply,” quipped one user in the comments section of a post about the EP), Go Down Under is yet another solid addition to the Me First canon.

Currently available only at their Australian dates, Go Down Under will be available to the rest of the world on February 1, 2011 on Fat Wreck Chords.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Decemberists debut at Number 1 on Billboard

For the first time in their career, Portland folk rockers The Decemberists debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 with their latest offering “The King Is Dead.” Hitting the top of the charts is always a big deal for an independent band, but their sales figure—94,000 copies—is underwhelming. Still, it was enough to keep “Kidz Bop 19” from nabbing the Number 1 spot. And for that, we are eternally grateful.

Jeff Buckley biopic in the works

It’s been almost fourteen years since singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley drowned in the Mississippi River. In the years since his tragic death, his mother, Mary Guibert, refused to release his music for any of the hundreds of screenplays she saw. Now it seems like the right treatment has finally arrived. A Buckley biopic is in the works, with Robert Pattinson, James Franco, Jared Leto and James Mardsen all competing to play the iconic crooner. Guibert’s a tough cookie—we can’t wait to see who wins her approval.

The Bad

Nicki Minaj’s fans get her kicked out of London hotel

Nicki Minaj returned from a long day of press in London to find out she had been kicked out of her room at the Dorchester Hotel. The reason? Her fans, or as Minaj calls them, her “barbz.” Apparently a gaggle of barbz clashed with the paps, fights broke out and an ambulance was called. Nicki took to Twitter to thank her tenacious fans for their support, saying, “It got a bit CRAZY … hopefully the next hotel will be nicer.” And maybe undisclosed?

Charlie Louvin dead at 83

Charlie Louvin, one half of the legendary Louvin Brothers duo, passed away in Nashville after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Louvin and his brother Ira are widely recognized as the originators of the pure, honest harmonies that permeate and define country music to this day. Ira Lovin died in an automobile accident in 1965. R.I.P. Charlie.

The Ugly

Cher pissed over Oscar snub

The sweet nectar of her Golden Globe win for “Best Song” turned to sour grapes as soon as Cher realized her song, “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” for the movie “Burlesque” was passed over for an Oscar. She tweeted thusly: “We didn’t get a nomination 4 best song! That sucks! Diane’s song is so beautiful! It’s hard to understand how u win the Golden Globe 4 BEST SONG & not even get nominated by the OSCARS?” Cher, Cher, Cher …. SNAP OUTTA IT!

Ryan Murphy pissed over KoL snub

Oy vey. Here’s another bitter tale of rejection. When Kings of Leon passed up the opportunity to have their songs featured on Glee, the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, reacted in a way that was less than age appropriate. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter he seethed, “F**** you, Kings of Leon. They’re self-centered a**holes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument.” Chill, dude. A 7-year-old not hearing a rousing rendition of “Sex on Fire” is hardly the end of the world.


Straight Shooters

The Organ Beats

Some people might think that Noelle LeBlanc was crazy to walk away from her frontwoman duties for breakout Boston band Damone, just as things were starting to take off. But after hearing her new band, The Organ Beats, it’s hard to hold a grudge. Comprised of LeBlanc on guitar/vocals, her brother Danny on drums and Mikey Colorouis on bass, The Organ Beats doles out 3-minute servings of sexy power pop that gives you an instant sugar rush. Before the high can even begin to wear off, the band is on to the next track. As far as influences go, think Weezer meets The Bangles. “Happy Birthday / Come On Home” blasts off with chugging guitars, rock steady drums, and effervescent rock vocals that reach for the rafters. “Time To Go” is like “Hazy Shade of Winter” for the millennial generation. There’s nothing complicated going on here, but that doesn’t mean anyone could do it. What you get with The Organ Beats is something special: veteran rockers who know how to deliver a couple of well-placed hooks and then beat it.


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