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Ellie Goulding 2013

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Ellie Goulding ‘Can’t Seem to Stop’ – New Video and More

New Music, Pop Artists, Tours, Uncategorized

January 6, 2014

Rising star of the pop genre, Ellie Goulding will start the new year with a world tour beginning in Europe and stretching to the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. All tour dates can be found here.

This came after the August re-release of her sophomore album Halcyon as Halcyon Days, featuring new songs, remixes and a cover or two. Many of the new songs hold a heavier electronic-pop influence, opening a new door for the artist.

However, she is no stranger to the world of pop hits. In 2012, “Lights” sold over four million copies in the US alone. That sweet soft-pop girl has turned into a fierce and spirited electro-pop goddess.

“Burn” was the first single from Halcyon Days which propelled her success after becoming No. 1 for three consecutive weeks last July.

“Probably the most poppy song I’ve released. But it’s all me,” Goulding tells The Guardian in an interview. “I wanted to release Burn, I loved it, even if it is a vague sentiment. I think it’s a truly great song.”

As of Jan. 5, Goulding has announced “Goodness Gracious,” another wildly enthralling dance- and sing-along-song, as her next single from Halcyon Days along with the release of the music video.

In a “Behind the Scenes” interview, Goulding discusses the meaning of the song, writing with Nate Ruess of FUN. and making the video, which can be viewed here.

As if that wasn’t enough, Halcyon went No. 1 in the UK, an astonishing 65 weeks after its release.

After a big year of success in 2013, it appears that 2014 could be even bigger for this pop queen.

 

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Andrew McMahon

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Andrew McMahon’s Pop Underground EP Review

Album Reviews, New Music, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

June 1, 2013

On April 30, Andrew McMahon released his first EP as a solo artist. The Pop Underground EP is his first published work since taking off time and the retirement of Jack’s Mannequin more than a year ago. This was a big step for him, as it is for many artists who choose to put out music under their own name.

Although the EP’s sound strays from McMahon’s previous alternative works, it still has the same genuine feeling found in his lyrics. This I have found to be one of his distinguishing traits. His ability to write lyrics and sing them in such an honest and real manner is unmatched.

McMahon’s first single “Synesthesia” opens the EP with a new sound of synthesizers, yet the guitar and drums give it the old alternative Andrew feel. The chorus breaks into a vibrant mix of synth and keyboard that is highlighted by lyrics “I see colors when I hear your voice.”

People may not know that Synesthesia is a rare disease that occurs when certain nerves in the brain don’t match up correctly, causing the sensation of seeing colors when you hear sounds or taste foods, although there can be other combinations of mixed senses.

Synesthesia is lyrically my favorite song on the EP. The lyrics in the verse  “yes, I never made a gold record/ and I’ve never been to mars/ but I’ve traveled around this world/ shooting fireworks and falling stars” exemplify what McMahon does best- write about real life and his personal experiences in a way that translates to so many of his listeners.

The song shows that “there’s more to life/ than singing songs we wrote/ while we lived in the shadow of the moon;” life isn’t about how good the songs you write are or your how successful you are, but the people in your life and the little things that make you happy.

The theme of this song carries into “Learn to Dance,” a quick-paced syncopation of drums and backing vocals that opens into a chorus with prominent piano and guitar, more like the sounds of People and Things.

“Catching Cold” received the most mixed reviews from fans; some hate it, some love it. This song was a bold move for McMahon, as none of his previous work even comes close to the programming work done on this song. It opens with a synth sequence that repeats through the entire song, which to me, resembles a video game theme song and makes me wonder if it helps the song. While the first verse is on the edge of questionable with its melodies and instruments, the chorus chimes in at the right moment to save the song. Overall, the song works as a catchy pop number to show McMahon’s new direction.

Critics also pointed out the use of auto-tune in the pre-chorus, but I see it as a voice effect for the purpose of enhancing the song. It is widely known that Andrew has an excellent voice and does not need the help of auto-tune.

“After the Fire” is my other favorite song on the EP. Everything about it is what a good pop song should be. My only objection is that the piano chord progression in the verse is on the simple and boring side. Still, the chorus is the perfect balance of synthesizer, guitar and drums.  It could not have been done any better.

Throughout, McMahon’s complex lyrics and honest voice remain constant and omnipresent, an important quality for any musician. I am happy to see that there are artists who respect the music enough to be able to reach out into the pop genre without throwing all of their methodology and unique qualities out the window. I applaud Andrew in his efforts and look forward to his future endeavors what ever they may be.

Artist: Andrew McMahon

Album: The Pop Underground EP

Recommended Songs: “Synesthesia” and “After the Fire”

Jenna’s Rating: 4/5

Purchase: Digital EP, iTunes, Amazon, Vinyl

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Paradise Fears Release “Lullaby” and EP Details

New Music, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

May 17, 2013

Paradise Fears released “Lullaby” on May 14. The song was co-written by The Summer Set’s Brian Dales.

The band has been saying that they are taking their sound in a new direction and this single holds true to that statement. At first the song can be a bit of a shock, considering the pop-rock sounds of their previous works, Make Them Believe EP and Yours Truly.

Don’t let the name fool you, “Lullaby” is actually a rather dynamic love song that has a pop feeling. But it’s not the same as today’s “crap-pop” radio tunes. In a tweet, lead singer Sam Miller said he calls it “alt-pop.” I think he’s right- you can hear the pop influences in it, yet it still has that edge that gives it an alternative feeling.

The acoustic guitar that opens the song gives off an old-school Jesse McCartney “Beautiful Soul” feeling. The verses feature short lyrics that resemble spoken word:  “late night/ phone calls/ bags packed/ so long/ night drives/ long flight/ nothing good about goodbye,” which makes it clear that the band was influenced by Ed Sheeran’s poetic verses in “The A Team.”

Overall, the orchestral accompaniment is well-done and gives the song depth. Likewise, Miller’s vocals on this track are probably the best they’ve ever been. And the lyric video could not be any better- it’s visually sensational.

I’m really interested to hear what the band has done on their upcoming EP Antebellum, which will be released on June 25. Pre-order packages & bundles are available for purchase on their web store.

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Austin City Limits Festival Lineup

Festivals, Indie Artists, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

May 3, 2013

With the coming of May means the coming of official ACL announcements. The event is only five short months away, which means it’s time to buy tickets and fan-girl over the lineup. ACL will be announcing the full lineup at 12:01am CST on May 7 and tickets will go on sale the following morning at 10:00am CST.

With the big news just around the corner, many fans and concert goers are getting very excited and have been trading lineup rumors and predictions. But fans aren’t the only ones eager to see the line up.

Early Friday morning, it was discovered that ACL leaked a few bands through their ads in The Chronicle. The bands are FUN., Grouplove, Shovels & Rope, and True Believers. These bands will also be joined by Muse, who spilled the beans about playing the festival earlier.

ACL revealed later that certain bands have been printed on ACL stickers/ napkins/ coozies and have been distributed to restaurants around Austin. The mission is simple: Austintites find leaked band stickers and instagram a photo using the hash tag “#ACLfest”.

So far the bands that have been discovered through this scavenger hunt are Local Natives, My Jerusalem, Neko Case, Shuggie Otis, Portugal the Man, Not In the Face, Smith Westerns, The Joy Formidable, Haim, Junip, and Jake Bugg, with more being discovered every day.

This year ACL expanded to two weekends with identical lineups. ACL also got rid of 1-day passes due to popular demand of 3-day passes. This means you have to whip out 225 big ones if you want to get your hands on a wristband. Visit aclfestival.com for more details.

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Five Songs You’ll Love

Indie Artists, New Music, Pop Artists, Pop Punk Artists, Uncategorized

April 21, 2013

1. The Neighbourhood – “Sweater Weather”

The obvious British spelling of the name goes to show that the California native band is anything but average. One of my personal favorite songs at the moment, “Sweater Weather” is a cheeky tune that feels like exactly what their music video shows- young love adventures in California’s sun-kissed summer days with dashing bad boys.

2. twenty | one | pilots – “Holding On To You”

Don’t let the Eminem sound-alike catch you off guard, this isn’t another rapper with a cheesy radio hit. Twenty One Pilots is an extremely energetic duo from Ohio. It’s hard to put a label on this band. Indietronica? Synth-pop? Rap rock? No matter what it is, they do it well. Give them a listen for yourself and see what you think.

3. The 1975 – “Chocolate”

British band The 1975 is taking over the alternative music scene with this addictive song. “Chocolate” is a new take on the bad boy vibe with electrifying pop-y guitar pick-ups that seems to have listeners captivated.

4. New Politics – “Harlem”

“Harlem” is a dancing song if there ever was one. After hearing this song, you’ll probably be as surprised I as was to find out this pop rock trio is from Copenhagen, Denmark, although they currently live in New York, which makes a lot more sense for the song. The band made an appearance at SXSW this year and they are one to keep your eyes out for.

5. Robert DeLong – “Global Concepts”

I first encountered Robert DeLong when he opened for Two Door Cinema Club at Stubb’s on April 10. I had no idea who he was, but after his performance I made sure to add him to my radar. My first reaction to him was that a face-painted Ron Weasley was on stage playing us dub step on a joystick. As weird of a combination as that sounds, it was freaking awesome.  Robert DeLong is part of the new generation that brings their video gaming skills to play- literally- in their music. Watch a part of the madness here.

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SXSW 2013 Is Here

Festivals, Indie Artists, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

March 14, 2013

Hey guys!

I know it’s been awhile since I posted an article, but I wanted to let you know what’s up. It’s South By Southwest here in Austin, which means you can find bands from all over the world playing anywhere and everywhere every second of the day for a whole week! Even if you don’t live in Austin, that’s okay, because I’m bringing the show to you with lots of coverage coming soon.

I will be posting a video of my adventures around the city in addition to full coverage on bands like Twenty One Pilots, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Andrew McMahon and more. Make sure to check back next week for those updates.

Jenna

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis playing at Waterloo Records free showcase.

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Ellie Goulding Releases “Explosions” Video

Album Reviews, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

January 30, 2013

British synth-pop sensation Ellie Goulding released a tour video for her song “Explosions,” featured on Halcyon. The song is currently climbing to the top of the UK iTunes charts.

Goulding tweeted her reaction about the song’s success.

“Really very delighted to see that my unreleased track Explosions is climbing ITunes chaaart,” Goulding (@elliegoulding) tweeted.

The song shows off Goulding’s softer side with lyrics like “I’ve fallen from grace/ Took a blow to my face/ I’ve loved and I’ve lost.” With her personal lyrics accompanied by a choir and an orchestra, this song is sure to touch your heart.

“Explosions” is personally one of my favorite songs from Halcyon and it will be yours too after you listen to it once. It fits nicely on the album in between her other upbeat songs.

If you’re like me you’re probably wondering what exactly Halcyon means. It means a period of peaceful happiness or an idealistic time. Halcyon literally refers to a bird, common to the kingfisher, which in ancient legend would live by the sea and calm the waves during the winter solstice.

You can buy “Explosions” on iTunes and follow Ellie Goulding on twitter.

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Hot Chelle Rae is “Hung Up” on You

Album Reviews, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

January 28, 2013

After Hot Chelle Rae’s big year of touring the world with artists like Demi Lovato, Cher Lloyd and Taylor Swift, they have gone back to the studio to record their next album. Hot Chelle Rae released their first single on Jan. 24 called “Hung Up.”

The song stays true to Hot Chelle Rae’s classic pop sound with simple and catchy melodies. However, this song also has a newer, fresher pop sound to it, like something you would hear on One Direction’s latest album Take Me Home. The sound Hot Chelle Rae has created on “Hung Up” is where I believe the future of pop music is headed.

“Hung Up” is sure to be just as popular as Hot Chelle Rae’s previous radio hits “Tonight Tonight” and “I Like It Like That,” so be prepared for it to be your new car radio jam.

Hot Chelle Rae is streaming “Hung Up” on Youtube and will be available to purchase on iTunes on Feb. 12.

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Action Item’s Resolution “Takes My Breath Away”

Album Reviews, Pop Artists, Uncategorized

January 12, 2013

On Jan 1, Action Item released their second full length album Resolution. It debuted at #72 on Billboard’s Top 200 and #9 on Billboard Independent Albums.

Here is my track by track review of Action Item’s Resolution.

Track 1: Where We Left Off

This song is a really good intro to Resolution. It captures all the ideas and thoughts that brought Action Item together and to where they are now. So it makes sense that they opened the song with “Auld Lang Syne” which means “times long past.” This is their resolution to their fans and themselves.

Track 2: Good or Bad

Infused with the string instruments introduced in the previous track,  and mixed with pop-rock, this song does a good job of setting the mood for the album. It shows the new direction that Action Item has taken.

Watch the promo video for “Good or Bad” here.

Track 3: Brave

“Brave” has the classic Action Item sound that everyone loves. The lyrics “If you don’t try you’ll never fly/ but you gotta be brave” inspire listeners while the up beat tempo makes this every teenager’s anthem.

Track 4: Better Than Perfect

This song shows off Action Item’s fun side and will have you singing along in no time. It’s a flirty tune to let go and dance to. This is one of those radio songs you could jam to in the car while fun with friends.

Track 5: Lucky

The relaxed jazzy sound with piano riffs and funky guitar and bass sets this song apart from others on the album. The lyrics give it a sophisticated yet romantic feel that makes you want to fall in love. Lyrics “It’s a crazy life to live/ but through it all/ I think we’re lucky” are a perfect example of this.

Track 6: Bad For You

Opening keyboard and lyrics “You took my breath away/ and I don’t quite know if I want it back” sets up the mood of the song. The catchy rhythm and melodies go perfectly with lyrics “Girl I got it bad for you/anything you want me to/ I will do.” Co-written with The Ready Set’s Jordan Witzigreuter, this is another one of those great young-love dance anthems.

Track 7: Moments

To end the album, Action Item slowed it down with an acoustic song that will speak to a lot of their fans through lyrics “It’s beautiful how we all heal when it hurts/ Don’t ever stop fighting for/ what sets your heart free.” This song is a perfect ending to the album.

With Resolution, Action Item has taken a step forward in the right direction for their band. Progressive instrumentals, varieties of sounds, and lyrics that I could quote forever make the songs on Resolution a special collection. Action Item has set the stage for all bands and albums of 2013.

This is an album you don’t want to miss out on, so make sure to buy it on iTunes!

Artist: Action Item

Album: Resolution

Jenna’s Rating: 4/5

Suggested Songs: “Lucky” “Bad For You” “Moments”

You can see Action Item on the Resolution Tour right now along with Paradise Fears, Before You Exit, Hello Highway, and more! Click here for details.

Watch the lyric video for “Brave.”

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Album Review: Warrior

Album Reviews, Pop Artists

January 4, 2013

Ke$ha-warrior

On November 30, Ke$ha released her second full studio album, Warrior.

The album explores many new sounds but still keeps the old pop-rock Ke$ha sound in songs “C’mon” and “Die Young”. “Crazy Kids” features a classic Ke$ha chorus but the verses change to heavy base and synth with rap style lyrics. One of the pop songs on the album is “Wherever You Are” which fits nicely in the album’s eclectic sound.

Warrior has shown Ke$ha’s improvement from her first full length album Animal where she used no trace of guitar. Although she hasn’t completely said good-bye to her auto-tuned, synth ridden songs like “Supernatural” and title track “Warrior,” she has taken a huge step in the right direction since her breakout single “Tik Tok” as she infuses different sounds with heavy influences from rock and pop of the 70s.

Ke$ha collaborated with a dream-team of big name producers and songwriters (Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Max Martin, Shelback, Cirkut, Ammo and more) as well as other song writers and musicians including Fun.’s front man Nate Ruess (Die Young), Patrick Carney from The Black Keys, and The Strokes. But it doesn’t end there. The 70s icon Iggy Pop is featured on track “Dirty Love” and guest vocals from Flaming Lip’s singer Wayne Coyne are on the bonus track “Past Lives.”

This album does take time to show Ke$ha’s softer side in tracks “Wonderland,” “Love into the Light,” and “Past Lives.” Her time between albums has proven her new outlook on life with lyrics “I know I’m not perfect/ I know I got issues” and “Maybe it’s about the perfect place/ to let go and forget/ about the hate” (Love into the Light) where she emphasizes the importance of letting differences go and accepting each other.

Although the album failed to break the Top 5 of Billboard’s Hot 200 chart, it is still a collection of fun pop-rock songs that fans will listen to on repeat. Whether you are a new fan or a returning fan, you will love this crazy pop album.

Artist: Ke$ha

Album: Warrior

Jenna’s Rating: 3.5/5

Suggested Tracks: “Thinking of You” “Wherever You Are” “Love into the Light”

Watch Ke$ha’s music video for “Die Young” here and click here to see the official “C’mon” lyric video. You can also buy Warrior on iTunes.

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