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Namie’s Uncontrolled – My Reaction

Namie Amuro is celebrating her 20th anniversary and her 10th studio album ‘Uncontrolled‘ hits shelves Wednesday. After the never ending stream of singles since 2009, it was already a given this album would be choc-full of previously released material. After all was said and done, only 4 brand new tracks were able to grace this new album: Only You, In the Spotlight (Tokyo), Let’s Go, and Hot GirlsGo Round, Yeah-Oh, and Break It were revamped to ensure Uncontrolled was not just an entire Avex copy and paste fest; however, these ‘tune-ups’ turned it into a crap fest.

First, let’s talk about the new songs. Hot Girls is definitely my least favorite. To me it comes off as awkward and slightly tacky. Only You gets significantly better with repeated listens. When I first heard the tune, it literally screamed “GENERIC!” However, this is how many Namie songs are for me initially. Let’s Go sounds like the lost sibling from the Go Round/Yeah-Oh single – not that that’s a bad thing. I think it turned out rather well. In the Spotlight (Tokyo) has become my favorite of the new tracks. I wasn’t pleased with it at first, but I’ve come to really enjoy it.

Now onto the ‘tune-ups’… they KILLED Break It!!!! – and squished it with a house slipper for good measure! The arrangement is completely off and unappealing. I couldn’t even finish listening to it all the way through. Go Round and Yeah-Oh have been equally blasphemed. Apparently someone decided to turn Uncontrolled into Engrish Party 2012. Both songs have been entirely converted to English- and they sound strange and forced. It’s truly a horrible let down; especially since the single versions were absolutely awesome. At least the remaining 6 single tracks help carry the immense weight of these duds. Naked and Get Myself Back are my other favorites of the record and I highly recommend you check them out.  Uncontrolled has lived up to it’s name – a very untamed (but hot) mess.

Final Score: 6/10 

Best Tracks: Naked, Get Myself Back, In the Spotlight (Tokyo), Let’s Go

Not as Nice: (Break It, Go Round, and Yeah-Oh 2.0) , Hot Girls

Azealia Banks = Awesome!

I apologize for my long absence. A lot has been going on lately and I haven’t found any time to make new posts. However,  there’s a lot to catch up on. There has been a lot of awesome music released since I finished my last mega- verdict. In that time I have been fortunate to find out about a brand new artist, Azealia Banks. While I’m usually not quick to jump on brand new rap acts, I gave her a chance and listened to a couple songs she released. I was seriously impressed. Lately rap has become such a joke, so it was amazing to discover an artist that actually deserves attention. Last week she released her ‘1991 EP’, which is absolutely superb. It brings back that old 90s flavor hip-hop and fuses perfectly with a  dose of house music. Her lyrics are a bit brazen at times, but it really adds to the quality of the songs. They’re certainly Nicki Minaj level explicit, but Azealia is on an entirely different level. She’s preparing to release her full debut album later this year, and I’ll definitely be tuning in. Anyways, enough talking – check out a couple of her songs below!

 

Quadruple Verdict – Marina, Carrie, Santigold & Norah

Last week we were witness to an amazing onslaught of new material. That’s right, the world gained 4 excellent new albums the week of May 1st. Marina & the Diamonds unleashed her epic sophomore effort Electra Heart, Carrie Underwood gave us her fourth record Blown Away, Santigold finally returned after 4 years with Master of My Make Believe, and Norah Jones released her latest installment Little Broken Hearts. I’m very pleased with all of these releases, so I haven’t yet been able to pick a ‘winner’ of the four. However, hopefully my mini-evaluations will clear things up.

1. Electra Heart – Marina & the Diamonds

Marina’s been one of the coolest artists I’ve been following for a while. Well, this is only her second album but it seems like she’s been in the game for a long time. Electra Heart takes a more mainstream route than its predecessor and focuses on archetypes of the classic American woman. It really is quite a journey. Then again, it’s hard to ignore the punch of the opening track ‘Bubblegum Bitch.’ The tracks vary from peppy and aggressive to sultry and melodic. The record comes to an astounding finish with the extended ‘Fear and Loathing,’ which ends the album on a high note. The deluxe tracks, in my opinion, enhance the record but aren’t the same caliber as the main tracks- with the exception of ‘Radioactive.’ While ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ and ‘Buy the Stars’ are nice bonuses, I’m glad they weren’t part of the normal album. ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ is catchy, but is lacking that special something. ‘Buy the Stars’ is too much of a homage to ‘Numb,’ a track from her previous record. All in all this an amazing release, and I love just about every song. I ordered the exclusive signed deluxe from HMV (pictures forthcoming)  so it’s pretty damn fantastic.

Final Grade: 9.4/10

Standout Tracks: Primadonna, Bubblegum Bitch, The State of Dreaming, Power & Control, Fear and Loathing

Not as nice: Sex Yeah, Lonely Hearts Club, Buy the Stars

2. Blown Away – Carrie Underwood

I wasn’t sure what to think at first when Carrie announced her new record earlier this year. However, if ‘Good Girl’ was any indication the album was sure to be fantastic- and it is! Blown Away literally blew me away! I was left a bit disappointed with her previous album, Play On. The singles were excellent, but the album tracks didn’t hold up so well. However, there is no evidence of that in Blown Away. I think it’s her most cohesive work yet and -dare I say- her best album. This record brings a lot to the table, successfully blending country with a twist of mainstream pop. I don’t know about you, but I prefer ‘pure’ country in very small doses. Let’s just say, if it’s someone singing about a tractor- I’m out. I love the darkness to this record. ‘Blown Away’ and ‘Two Black Cadillacs’ put the ‘R’ in revenge. I was scared the midtempo tracks tying the ends together would be boring and annoying, but they delivered! ‘One Way Ticket’ has a slight reggae vibe- something I would never associate with Carrie. Her growth stylistically has been superb, and I think the extra time put into this release made it especially solid.

Final Grade: 9.5/10

Standout Tracks: Blown Away, Two Black Cadillacs, See You Again, Nobody Ever Told You, Good Girl, Good in Goodbye

Not as Nice: N/A

3. Master of My Make Believe – Santigold

Finally! It’s been forever since we’ve heard from Santi. Honestly, I thought she was going to pull a Lauryn Hill and go away for over a decade. It’s been almost 4 years since her debut album, but it was so worth the wait. Her unique, M.I.A-esque style sets her apart from all the other ‘alternative’ artists out there. For me, it’s been pretty quiet in the alternative genre. Most efforts released are either boring and nothing special or seriously annoying- I’m talking to you, fun.! I can see why people didn’t care for her buzz single ‘Big Mouth’ as much, but I thought it was a good track. However, ‘Disparate Youth’ freaking brought it! That my friends, is how good music is done. I’ve had ‘The Keepers’ on heavy rotation for a while now. It has an anthem-like quality to it and is majorly groovy despite the lyrics, “While we sleep in America, our house is burning down.” The only track I don’t find myself returning to often is ‘Pirate in the Water.’ It doesn’t capture my attention as much as the other songs on the record, but its production is great. So, this makes for a third virtually flawless album- all in the same week! I also highly recommend checking out the itunes bonus track ‘Never Enough.’ Tis killa!

Final Grade : 9.7/10

Standout Tracks: Disparate Youth, Fame, The Keepers, God from the Machine

Not as Nice: Pirate in the Water (it’s growing on me though!)

4. Little Broken Hearts- Norah Jones

After I saw the killer cover for this album, I was stoked to see what was in store for this release. Overall, I’m pretty pleased. This is definitely a grower though. While I enjoy most of the tracks, they do fall victim to being forgettable and a bit boring. The main gripe from most people has been that every song sounds the same, which is a valid point. The energy and tempo of the tracks remain virtually unchanging throughout the whole duration of the record. Only after repeated listens will most be able to appreciate the nuances and quirks to each track. The album’s still growing on me at the moment though. I wasn’t sold on buying this until I saw the Target edition. It contains 3 bonus tracks, one being ‘I Don’t Wanna Hear Another Sound,’ which otherwise is a Japan exclusive track. It was only after I previewed that song on Itunes Japan that I was sold on buying. That song is hands down one of the best on the record, and I can’t believe it’s not on the main album. Still, I’m liking this release more with every listen. Unfortunately, it pales a bit in comparison to the above  three albums.

Final Grade: 7.8/10

Standout Tracks: Happy Pills, I Don’t Wanna Hear Another Sound, Say Goodbye, 4 Broken Hearts

Not as Nice: After the Fall, Travelin’ On, All a Dream

Kaela Returns with a New Single!

As expected, I completely lost it when I heard Kaela was coming out with a new single. She’s one of the few /REALLY GOOD/ unique and quirky artists who sounds great and grabs your attention. She doesn’t need to pull out an arsenal on the level of Lady Gaga to stand out. She stays true to her own style, and that’s what I love about her. Her new single ‘Mamireru’ is slated to drop May 16th. Apparently it means ‘smeared,’ which would explain why she’s completely pink on the cover. And yes, it does look a bit scary. However, the song is freaking awesome! It and its coupling track ‘BMX’ have already been released on the radio and can be found online. It’s really nice that both songs are on the same level of awesomeness; each are absolutely infectious and upbeat. Mamireru is  influenced by synths and random sounds, while BMX is more natural and dominated by the guitar and drums. The music video for Mamireru was released last week, bringing with it the usual Kaela flair. While I really dislike pink, she seriously rocks it.  That cannot be said for pretty much 95% of people. So yes, I’m very excited for this release. I already ordered the cd/dvd limited edition. The dvd will have 12 songs from her live performances at the Ebisu Liquid Room from December 2011. Finally, a dvd that actually has content! Most singles come with one music video, and the making of if you’re lucky. Not to mention the skyrocketed sticker price- I’m talking to you Namie Amuro! D:< Anyways, check out the video and songs below. Hope you enjoy!

Mamireru PV:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xqf0w1_mamireru_lifestyle

BMX:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xqg1e4_music

Artist Overload! (Again)

I’m sorry it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. The end of my spring semester is approaching and soon I’ll have a bit more free time to do things. Anyway, a LOT has been going on. The past two weeks have been choc-full of new album leaks and release announcements. I am highly anticipating next week, since 4 amazing albums will be dropping. First of all, Marina & the Diamonds’ Electra Heart is finally coming out! It’s been a long few months since her original announcement, and now the date is almost upon us! She truly is a remarkable artist, and so far all the previews sound incredible. I have a feeling this will be the pop album of the year- well, for me at least. Also, so happy I’ve finally been able to hear Santigold’s Master of My Make Believe. It’s been 4 years since her first record, and that extra time has really paid off. The production quality is off the charts and the tracks are very in-depth and meaningful. I was worried we’d never get another album from her in this century, but it has definitely been worth the wait! So far my favorites are Fame, Disparate Youth, Go, and The Keepers. Carrie Underwood’s new album is now available for streaming this week on itunes! I’ve gotten through 12 of the 14 tracks so far, and I have to say this is such a step up from Play On. I really liked Play on at first, but then it just became stale and boring. However, Blown Away has so much more life in it. It really captures that country flavor, while remaining catchy and relatively mainstream. Completing this quadruple sandwich of amazingness is Norah Jones’ latest work, Little Broken Hearts. I was left unimpressed with her previous effort, so I have much higher hopes for this record. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been able to listen to so far. Hopefully the rest of the album will be as amazing. And very quickly, we’ve gotten two more album announcements! Nelly Furtado finally broke her silence and has a new record due June 19th titled The Spirit Indestructible. Sounds pretty damn cool. She released the lead single ‘Big Hoops (Bigger the Better)’ the other week. I like the track a lot; the production and musicality is quite catchy. My only problem is with her vocals in some parts, because they are extra nasal-y and grating on the ears at times. Also, Namie Amuro finally dropped the bomb about a new LP. So far it is untitled, but it is slated for a June 27th release. I knew it was only a matter of time before she would announce this, since she has released an obscene amount of singles for this era. As I predicted, the album is predominantly the singles. It has 13 tracks- only 4 of them being new. The part I find odd is that these new songs are the first 4 on the album itself. Way to integrate the new material! Anyways, that is my main rant for now. I have more releases to discuss for another time, so please hang in there. Thanks!

Epic CDJapan Order!

I received my CDJapan package today! Very excited of course, since it contains the much anticipated new single from Perfume! Also this is the biggest order I’ve ever gotten from them, so it’s feels extra special. It’s also been quite a while since I’ve ordered from them. Here’s what I got this time around:

Spring of Life (Regular & Limited + 2 Posters) – Perfume 

Guitarium (Limited Cd/dvd + Poster) – Miwa

Independent – AI

Shout in the Rainbow Concert (With bonus cd) – Superfly

I have been waiting a long time to get all of these. AI’s album was released back in February, and Miwa’s in March. I wanted to make sure I supported them this time around, as they are absolutely amazing artists. I have yet to own a Superfly concert, so I’m intrigued to see how this will be. The bonus track ‘Sasurai no Tabibito’ on the cd is amazing. I would not be surprised in the least if this makes it on her new album in September. Still think it’s a bit weird to attach a 1 track cd single to a concert dvd, but record companies have done things that make far less sense. Of course, the Perfume single is incredible. I’m also really liking the new B-side ‘Communication’ which I finally heard in full tonight. It would have been nice if they included a plastic sleeve for the limited edition, since it has a slipcase. I’m not too worried though since the slipcase is pretty tight and there isn’t much danger of the cd case randomly falling out if you’re holding it awkward. The poster is truly stunning. I seriously can’t wait to put it up, which translates to tomorrow after work😛 Here are the pics from opening my order. I’ll probably do more in-depth coverage at a later time. Anyways, hope you enjoyed my random babbling. Cheers!

My Reaction: Monica’s ‘New Life’ – First Listen

Wow. I haven’t been this impressed by an R&B album in a long time! It’s been so frustrating having to settle for the cut-rate gimmicky ripoffs floating about everywhere. Monica has proved once again why she is the queen of R&B. You can tell she spent a long time crafting each song. I’ve found it difficult to single out my favorite tracks, as this record is so solid. Honestly almost every single song is absolutely amazing. The only exception for me is the collabo with Brandy, ‘It all Belongs to Me.’ I’m not feeling that track as much as the rest of the album. Still, that leaves 15 sensational songs to blow your mind! I think overall, New Life is better than her previous effort Still Standing- and I loved that record. I am very happy to be supporting such an amazing artist and cannot wait to receive my copy (which I will be posting). Definitely in the running for album of the year for sure!