The collaboration between singer Elly Jackson and producer Ben Langmaid (both from London) is the latest heavily promoted eighties revival pop act. Although they are gathering more press coverage in Europe right now (which is usually the case with avant-garde musical acts) they are traveling to North America for several shows in select major cities (the Toronto date is July 31st at El Mocambo). Pulling influences from David Bowie, Blondie, The Knife, Hot Chip and other modern and retro electronic acts, La Roux features a androgynous lead singer (Jackson) supported by a bouncy retro infused electronic backdrop. With the amount of hype they are receiving in France, The Netherlands, and the UK, one might ask when their popularity in the US and Canada will grow...and I'm not sure it will happen. With the amount of retro eighties infused pop acts polluting the air waves at the moment (Lady Gaga being the obvious poster girl, as well as LMFAO...yuck) La Roux may be dismissed as an act riding on the coattails of the growing eighties musical nostalgia. Their music isn't bad but it also leads one to wonder why talented acts like Robyn haven't received as much hype or press coverage. Robyn is just (if not more talented and innovative than La Roux) but seems to be ignored by the mainstream press in the US and Europe. Not only can Robyn sing (she was groomed to be one of the pop queens of the late 1990s) but she writes and co-produces almost all of her material as well as runs her own record label. However, the growing popularity of La Roux as well as other eighties pop acts may be a positive change in an industry where appearance rules over talent (Heidi Montag, Britney Spears, Brooke Hogen, Paris Hilton??) hopefully bands like La Roux may change people's ideas of how to market music and revive a fledgling industry (when was the last time YOU felt like paying for a song?). If more bands with talent and musical integrity are pushed by major record labels and auto-tune finally dies (I can dream can't I?), pop music may finally see a rebirth. http://www.myspace.com/larouxuk
Since this is a music blog I feel obligated to comment on the passing of Michael Jackson. The only problem is its hard for me to do, because I can honestly say that I did not listen to the majority of his music or follow his career that closely. However, one cannot deny the impact he had on pop music and indirectly on alternative and indie music. I only mention this because Micheal's trademark hooks and songs especially from "Thriller' and "Bad" are still the standard for catchy dance and pop tunes that have trickled down to the underground scene. Michael's older songs (meaning pre-1993) will probably remain the golden standard for pop tunes for years to come, if you take the time to listen to "Thriller" every other heir to thrown of pop music (yes Justin Timberlake that means you) pails in comparison.
My favorite group from my junior year of high school, The Sounds are back with record number three, and with a fresher less dance/pop oriented sound that dominated their sophomore effort "Dying to Say This to You." Although I enjoyed their last effort immensely, I did start to miss the sound of their debut, the raw, "Living in America." Their new single "No One Sleeps when I'm Awake" combines the grandeur power pop songs of their second album with the more punk infused tunes of their debut, and I'm digging it!!
My friends in Toronto have turned me on to a Quebecois singer/songwriter Coeur De Pirate, I really like her sweet take on folk pop. Through her Myspace I also discovered her other group, Pearls. The song featured on their Myspace page "One For Me" sounds like a combination between lofi and shoegaze. They have trapped elements of singer songwriters like Roisin Murphy and Bright Eyes in their hazy maze of trippy indie rock as well as the psychedelic sounds of a mellower Chairlift. http://www.myspace.com/pearlsrules
So I spent my weekend hanging out with friends and making the long trek up to Downsview Park to take part in 102.1 The Edge's annual celebration of beer, weed and of course alternative rock music. I didn't really have high expectations for the festival, I had come specifically to see three bands: K-OS, Metric, and Beast. Although Alexisonfire, AFI and Billy Talent were the major headliners, I didn't have much interest in them (although my friends are pretty big Billy Talent fans).
We got to Edgefest around 1 pm (we all agreed that we had no desire to see the opening act on the main stage The Arkells). When we finally made it through the doors and security the first band we saw take the stage was The Stills. Although I have always liked the songs "Still in Love" and "I'm With You" their overall performance was lackluster and a bit boring. The majority of their songs sounded quite similar with no distinctive vocals or instrumentals, one song morphed into the next one, and the audience was not that enthused. After The Stills left the main stage we moved towards the side stage to wait for Beast to perform. Unfortunately one of the band mates was not present, causing a delay, and shortening the performance. We were all disappointed that Beast could not play a longer set, however overall they were quite entertaining and kept the audience engaged. Their songs were strong, but due to lack of time, they could not play their single "Mr Hurricane" which everyone in the audience was waiting in anticipation to hear.
K-OS really kicked off the concert for me, and after he took the stage that's when I really started to enjoy myself. His set was fun and unpredictable. He even free-styled on several occasions in between songs. I got really into his set, however I don't think the rest of the audience gave him such a warm reception. The issue with K-OS is that he isn't quite alternative rock and he isn't quite hip-hop either, he is a weird hybrid of several genres. Although K-OS has many supporters and fans like myself, he didn't really fit in to the genre of music the majority of people at Edgefest wanted to hear. If you are going to see K-OS I would probably recommend seeing him in a lower key setting like a club instead of an outdoor rock festival, especially if you actually want to SEE him (I am short...so you get the idea).
Metric finally got the rest of the crowd excited, and they played an awesome set. In my opinion they were the best band of the day, they were fun, edgy and made the crowd wild. I only wish they were given more time to perform, I thought their set should have been longer given the popularity of the band, and the crowd's reception to their music.
After Metric, we decided to explore more bands on the side stage, we listened to Cancer Bats but were not too enthused. They were one of the most popular acts on the side stage, but I think we all agreed that screamo-core was just not our thing. Moneen was also a crowd favorite and my friends seem to like them. They were fun at the time however their music was not that original or memorable. The Waking Eyes were my favorite performers on the side stage other than Beast, they were also the most original bands. I was actually surprised they were not featured on the main stage given the fact they have been around for at least 5 years now and are regularly featured on The Edge.
The majority of people were waiting in anticipation for the last three acts on the main stage: Alexisonfire, AFI and Billy Talent. Alexisonfire gave a decent performance (from a distance...we got hungry). They sounded like they should, angry and angry (they are a screamo band). While they were performing we checked out smaller acts but really couldn't find anything too interesting. Once AFI entered on the main, we knew where our attention should be. I have never been a huge AFI fan, but they were really fun to watch and got the crowd really pumped with their rendition of "Miss Murder."
Billy Talent was really the act everyone was waiting for and I had no idea I would like them so much. With a "LETS GO MUTHERFUKAS!" they invaded our ears with "Devil in a Midnight Mass." The lead singer was rather tipsy and even allowed the audience to baptise him in mud (it was very muddy, my shoes were ruined at the end of the day). People flailed everything at the band from blow up dolls to a rubber chicken (really). Overall a really great performance and a really great day.
When I first heard "I'm In Love With a Stripper" by T-Pain I thought it was a joke...until someone told me otherwise. I had stopped listening to pop radio years before so it wasn't like I was up to date on current pop music trends, but the song was so horrible I couldn't believe anyone could ever enjoy listening to it. Then came "Look Back at Me" by Trina, a Lil Kim wannabe who looks more drag queen than hip hop queen. Soon after that desperate call for attention; Soulja Boy came out with two consecutive barftastic hits "Tell em" and "Kiss me through the phone" (I mean seriously are you people deaf???). I had decided that I was done with pop music forever...until LMFAO came along with their new song "I'm In Miami Trick" pop music has officially reached new lows. How can anyone listen to this song, the lyrics, the singing, I thought that it had to be a horrible joke...well the joke is on me I guess. People how can you support this crap???
In other news I will be going away this weekend to a concert with some friends so I will not have any new blog posts until Monday or Tuesday. Hopefully I will be able to post pictures of the bands and other concert related stuff next week!! Cheers!
When I fist heard this group I could of sworn they were from the Southern United States. They combine bluegrass, blues and rockabilly into a indie folk concoction that sounds like something you would hear while train hopping in Tennessee. However they are not from the South, or America for that matter--Oslo Norway is where they reside.
Super Junior - "Sorry Sorry" and "Its You" My friend Emily loves this band and has unfortunately gotten me involved in her K-pop addiction, but the songs are so catchy and the beats are so fresh its hard not to like them.
Chae Yeon - "Shake" Another Korean making catchy tunes...
M Pokora - "They Talk Shit About Me" and "Catch Me if You Can" So He looks and sings like a french Justin Timberlake, however that doesn't make the songs any less addictive. I found him last summer and tried to repress my feelings for his music, however I couldn't do it any longer and now I am out of the closet.
Dan Black - "Symphonies" and "HYPNTZ" Black's first song was a Biggie Smalls cover (HPNTZ) when he signed with Polydor Records he was forced to change the lyrics and name of the song and thats how "Symphonies" was born. Both songs are worth listening to.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - "Everything With You" They sound like the modern day reincarnation of the Smiths.
Uh Huh Her - "Explode" A sultry mix of electronica and rock, with a lo-fi undertone.
Ladyhawke - "My Delirium" This was relaesed in Octoder of 2008 but its been stuck in my head for the last week!
The King Blues - "I Got Love" The singer has a slight nasal voice but the song is cute and I wish he loved me! If Bedouin Soundclash decieded to make a rockabilly record this is what they might sound like.