Tag Archives: Lady Gaga

End of September 2016 New Song Round-Up

Well, it’s officially autumn! As summer fades into the distance, a middle-aged rock nerd’s thoughts turn to assembling a Best of The Year list. I haven’t done one since 2012, mostly because I wasn’t focused enough on music throughout the year. I’ve slacked off a bit this month, hence a New Song Round-Up post for September. I wish I could say I was busy doing something awesome, but the sad truth is I just couldn’t get myself focused enough to sit down and write anything up. Some big albums dropped in the last two weeks and I’m determined to get at least two album reviews out before October. We’ll see if that pans out (don’t hold your breath).

Anyway, without further ado, here are some new songs that hit the airwaves (???) and my radar this month. I’m sure I missed something, let me know what I should have paid attention to down in the comments.

The Defending Axl Rose End of September 2016 New Song Round-Up

“I Love the USA” by Weezer: You know that Best of 2016 list I mentioned above? Weezer’s latest THE WHITE ALBUM is 100% a lock for a top 5 spot. I can’t believe how much I disliked it upon first listen and how much it’s grown on me. Seriously, if you haven’t checked it out do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s great. What’s not so great is this B-side, “I Love the USA.” I really don’t know what to make of this track, to be honest. Apparently, this song was written to commemorate a successful NASA mission to Jupiter. You really wouldn’t get that from the lyrics (at least, I didn’t), but luckily Rivers Cuomo was nice enough to tweet an explanation. The song starts off as a soft piano ballad before building into a super-jingoistic guitar jam. With lyrics like “fuck yeah, this place is great/God save the King/God save the King” it’s easy to see how I missed the whole NASA commemoration point. This track probably would have worked better if it was ironic (maybe a scathing indictment of how messed up the country is?). The whole thing ends with a line about a missing boy who “didn’t make it.” What does this have to do with the Juno probe to Jupiter? I have no idea, and frankly, I don’t care. Sadly, “I Love the USA” isn’t the outlier in the modern Weezer canon, but instead that new album is the odd duck out (because it’s good).

Am I being too hard on Weezer? Let me know, I honestly can’t tell anymore.

 

“Hyper Dark” by Sleigh Bells: I really, really, really, really loved that first Sleigh Bells album. I had high hopes for the band but three albums in, I’m starting to lose faith. Modern bands that explode onto the scene seem to have a dismal track record for sticking around. It’s not that these bands aren’t talented, I think the issue is that labels don’t let bands percolate long enough. Then again, The Beatles cranked out hit after hit at a breakneck pace. Maybe the problem is that most of these bands are really only  capable of one good album? That’s exactly one great album more than I have inside of me, so forgive me if that seems judgmental.

Anyway, this new track from Sleigh Bells, “Hyper Dark” is ushering in a fourth album JESSICA RABBIT (which comes out in November). The song starts off a bit boring but rebounds into something almost interesting. It’s missing the brash brutality of TREATS, instead favoring an 80’s-ish dream pop quality. I wish the guitars were a tad louder, like on the band’s other new track “It’s Just Us Now.” That track had the bombast that made Sleigh Bells famous and got me excited about this new album. If JESSICA RABBIT strikes an equal balance between loud/fun Sleigh Bells and the quieter, more experimental stuff (like “Hyper Dark”) then this might be the follow-up album I’ve been waiting for.

 

“Waste A Moment” by Kings of Leon: If you’d gone back in time and told me how lame Kings of Leon were going to become when I first heard “Red Morning Light” back in 2003, I would have laughed in your face. YOUTH AND YOUNG MANHOOD is a stone-cold classic, a truly fantastic southern fried garage rock album. “Waste A Moment” is bland vanilla pudding. I’m not sure what about this song’s production is sapping it of all of its visceral energy, but this song could possibly put me to sleep. There’s no passion, no urgency to this song. I think the last Kings of Leon album I gave a fuck about was 2007’s BECAUSE OF THE TIMES. What happened to this band? They lost their balls and got dump trucks full of money. I don’t begrudge them from making a living, and hell yes I’m super jealous they have millions of 50-year-old women swooning at their shows now, but where is the band that wrote a song about Molly’s…ahem…chamber? The band has a new album, WALLS, coming out soon but just like the last two records, I’ll be sitting WALLS out. The only reason I even wrote about this track is because I wanted to mention how fucking great YOUTH AND YOUNG MANHOOD is. It’s great. Go listen to that, skip this song.

 

“Perfect Illusion” by Lady Gaga: I bet you think I’m going to trash this song, but I actually really dig it. When I saw that Lady Gaga had a new single out I decided to give it a listen mainly out of curiosity. Okay, I’ll admit…I wanted to see just how bad it was. I really like THE FAME and thought that Gaga was going to be my generation’s Madonna or whatever…instead she kinda became a disappointment/one trick pony whose only real talent was shocking little old ladies with meat dresses. To my surprise, Lady Gaga decided to channel Bruce Springsteen (and 90’s R&B)! While it’s a typical our-love-was-a-lie song, there’s passion in the vocals. I honestly wouldn’t have known this was a Lady Gaga song had I not known it was her. I guess I’ll have to give the new album a listen (barring any sort of freaky ass album art).

 

“Revolution Radio” by Green Day: You know, I think I was too harsh on Green Day last month when they released their song “Bang Bang.” I don’t think that “Revolution Radio” is the best Green Day song of the last 10 years, but it certainly isn’t terrible. And compared to “Bang Bang” it’s a 10/10 masterpiece. Sure, the cherry bombs and snarling is a bit cliche (and silly coming from dudes this old), this track sounds like Green Day. Not my little sister’s Green Day, but the version of the band that I remember listening to in the late 1990’s. The opening reminds me of the theme song for the old Colbert Show, but that’s my problem (not the song’s fault). “Revolution Radio” sticks with the protest themes we’ve come to expect from latter-day Green Day (“legalize the truth,” seriously guys?), but I can’t help but wonder what a snarling party anthem from old-ass Green Day would sound like. I wouldn’t mind if the band stopped being so serious and got a little fun. A little fun never hurt anyone guys.

So that’s it for the new songs of September! There was a new Beach Slang single released, but the album came out today and I decided to just do a write-up of that rather than feature the track here. Like I said above, I’m sure I missed something so please tell me below!

 

 

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Guilty Pleasures: 5 Artists I Reluctantly Admit to Liking

Look, I like what I like. I’ll be the first to admit that I have great taste…and I also love the worst shit.  One of the nice things about being a mature adult, as opposed to a scared little boy, is that I just don’t care what people think.  Which is why I’m able to speak openly about so-called “guilty pleasures.”  You know, those things we all like but wouldn’t necessarily admit.

Well, no one’s twisting my arm, here are 5 of mine:

1. ROBBIE WILLIAMS: Britain’s most popular entertainer is also one of my all-time favorites.  The bravado. The ego. The amazingly catchy (and increasingly kitchy) songs. The positives are also the negatives when it comes to Mr. Williams.  Though he started out in a dopey boy-band, Robbie’s been realeasing consistently great pop records since the late 1990’s.  Too bad his fey, anglo-saxon schtick didn’t catch on over here in America. Oh well, I guess it’s just another example of Europe’s superiority.

Robbie Williams, man-above-town

CHECK OUT:  2002’s ESCAPOLOGY is probably the best “mature” Robbie record to date.  You should also pick up THE EGO HAS LANDED which is an American-only compilation of hits from first few British releases.

AVOID: The over-the-top dance/techno record RUDEBOX is awesome, but will probably turn most people off.

2. GENESIS: Everybody agrees that after Peter Gabriel left Phil Collins ran Genesis into the ground.  Well guess what? I find myself listening to “I Can’t Dance” way more than “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.”  There’s a reason that Genesis went double-mega-ultra platinum after Collins took the helm: I only sometimes want to hear a 7+ minute prog-rock song…but I always want to hear a 3 minute pop song.

Gabriel took all the pink hearts and blue horseshoes.

CHECK OUT: INVISIBLE TOUCH and 1983’s GENESIS are pretty much the gold-standard when it comes to Genesis.  Sure, they’re mostly Phil Collins solo-records, but who cares?

AVOID: STATION TO STATION the record the band released after Phil Collins left in 1996. No Collins? No Gabriel? No dice.

3. LADY GAGA: This one surprise you? Well it shouldn’t.  Lady Gaga’s first two records are pretty damn good.  “Bad Romance” and “Paparazzi” are great, catchy songs. The production alone is fantastic, period. I’m seeing a pattern here with these guilty pleasures: they’re all “pop” music.  What is it about a good pop song that makes us love it despite ourselves?

This is the stupidest cover for this album I could find.

CHECK OUT: THE FAME and THE FAME MONSTER.

AVOID:  BORN THIS WAY. My how the mighty have fallen.

4. METALLICA: Alight, now we’re getting to embarrassing. I think I’d rather tell people I like Lady Gaga before I told them I liked Metallica.  Why? We’ll besides being pretty meat-headed, Metallica has cultivated a reputation over the years as pretty much hating their fans (see Metallica vs. the Internet and LULU).  That said, once upon a time Metallica WAS metal.  To this day I get goosebumps listening to “One” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”  Sure, “Enter Sandman” has been overplayed, but that’s because it’s an awesome song.  It sucks to admit it: but I like Metallica.

A graveyard. How prophetic for Metallica's future artistic endeavors with Lou Reed.

CHECK OUT: MASTER OF PUPPETS and RIDE THE LIGHTNING.

AVOID: For crying out loud stay FAR away from LULU. If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself a lucky (better) person.

5. BREE SHARP: This is totally random. I almost didn’t put her on the list because she’s pretty obscure.  I decided I liked Bree Sharp after hearing her do a cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” on an all-covers podcast a few years back.  I downloaded her album MORE B.S. and thought it was fantastic.  Songs like “Everything Feels Wrong” and “Morning in a Bar” are melancholy yet kinda dreamy at the same time.  I then proceeded to do a little research and found out that she’s mostly known for her semi-novelty song “David Duchovny” which is about her infatuation with the former X-Files star.  Yikes girl.

Look at that front-end! Oh, and there's a nice cab too.

CHECK OUT: MORE B.S. and her live album LIVE AT THE FEZ (if you can find it).

AVOID: Her 1999 debut record, A CHEAP AND EVIL GIRL, is pretty lame and dated.  A song about Agent Mulder, seriously?

(DIS)HONORABLE mentions must also go to: Van Hagar/Sammy Hagar, Jay-Z, Duncan Sheik, 14:59-era Sugar Ray, Lilly Allen, Sade, Mick Jagger (solo), and Ben Folds rapping.

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