If you weren’t already aware, Alanis Morrissette‘s got a new record out, and it’s quite good. But don’t take it from just me…take it from me and my guest writer, RJ (AutomaticTLC).
I live the American dream and can back this up with one simple trait that over two-thirds of Americans all share: I haven’t listened to an Alanis Morrissette album since Jagged Little Pill. With that being said, as soon as it was let out that this forgotten rock star was teaming up with the lush and lovely Guy Sigsworth, Flavors of Entanglement automatically jumped on to the “buy this now” list.
Alanis could care less about the opening paragraph of this review, because according to track number one, she is a “Citizen of the Planet,” not just the United States. African, Middle Eastern and modern rock influences electronically thrive through this absolutely flawless aggressive down-tempo vibe and sounds like something that could be played over the opening track of an epic movie. A Natalie Imbruglia-esque “Underneath” plays after.
Flavors of Entanglement‘s highlight track is not buried too far into the album. “Straitjacket” is five steps up from Britney Spears‘ “Piece Of Me,” and grabs the listener from the beginning industrial grinding synths, angst filled lyrics, and the line, “I don’t know who you’re talking to with such fucking disrespect” all the way through to a bass drop, when the track then explodes into an angry and emotional diary that vows, “I swear you won’t be happy till I’m bound in a straitjacket.” Well Alanis, I always did like you better when you were a raging psychopath. Ryan Reynolds (Alanis’ ex) must be shaking in his boots.
The music your ears will moan over doesn’t stop in the insane asylum. “Versions of Violence” follows with eerie dragged out verses and is offers a call out to any sort of violence, lamenting that no matter how small of a violent act is committed, a mark is still left on that person. “Not as We” smooths things out with a solemn piano melody. Its a nice break and allows you to turn down the volume, as the prior two tracks demanded that you cranked it up.
“In Praise of the Vulnerable Man” dives into more happier territory and offers the epic “Moratorium” to build and lead you to think back of Frou Frou‘s “Shh” and “Psychobabble” songs off of their wildly popular Details album. From here on out, the album pretty much follows in the same path as its been going on, as “Torch” offers yet another piano track and “Giggling Again for No Reason” which sums up every aspect of the album, as it offers an electronic haven, as well as a down-tempo groove and a small bit of guitar. Giggling not only gets respect for its super cute track title, but for its eclectic energy.
“Tapes” starts out like something that experimental group Pink Floyd would take a stab at producing if they were still together and trying new things in the studio and continues to keep an ambient-like state, while still staying true to the electronic-rock sound that drives this album. Haunting background vocals that start toward the middle of the track and then resurface towards the end make this song a special gem in Flavors of Entanglement.
Sadly, “Incomplete” sounds extremely incomplete and could have easily been replaced with something else to finish the album. Lyrically, it has everything that usually ends out an album that is this amazing, however, the lyrical melody of the verses offers a childlike atmosphere, as does the acoustic guitar sound, but until this point, the album has been strictly mature-adult sounding. Why bring on the extreme happiness now? Doesn’t make sense, however, the chorus offers layer after layer and has subtle Imogen Heap-like background vocals, which is a plus.
Overall, the album is like this: you know when you’re out in the cold and someone keeps punching you over and over again and it hurts extra hard in the spot they keep hitting you because your body is borderline numb? Flavors of Entanglement offers that punch and while its not the same “I will burn down your house motherfucker” momentum that her debut album offers, its the best thing since.
Note: Please make sure to play this album through your stereo. It sounds so much better than listening through computer speakers.
“I don’t know who you’re talking to with such fucking disrespect,” the Canadian songstress growls off the top verse of “Straitjacket” the third track from the upcoming album, Flavors of Entanglement. And in that moment, there’s little doubt of what’s already been established: Alanis Morrissette is at her prime when pissed. It’s a fact that’s been beaten to death within mainstream media over the past ten years. But unlike the ultra-angst of Jagged Little Pill and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, discontent is only a minor theme of the Flavors experience. There’s contemplation, restlessness, and pure happiness…all components of Alanis’ dizzying array of emotions in the past few months.
Written during the break-up period of her engagement to Ryan Reynolds last year and produced only a few months ago, Flavors features an array of emotions that have only recently been tapped. As she’s explained in recent interviews, the album is very much a snapshot of the very recent experiences in Morrissette’s life. With the help of producer Guy Sigsworth‘s signature gothic, stringed tinglings of electricity, the songs featured here offer a stunning variety of sound–perhaps her most diverse collection yet.
Morrissette is still a brilliant storyteller, and tracks like “Underneath,” the lead-off single, illuminate her talent in its exploration of the inner arguments that make their way out into the grander scheme of things. There’s the breathlessly beautiful, simple piano ballad “Not As We” which showcases a more uncommonly seen vulnerable side, while “Versions of Violence” exists as a menacing almighty eruption of discontent. In fact, it’s difficult to go through a track-by-track review, as each song is so wonderfully crafted.
One particular, unexpected standout from the pack here though is “Giggling Again For No Reason,” which might as well have been an album track right off of Imogen Heap‘s epic Speak For Yourself. It’s beautifully listless and teeming with richly layered sound in the same style as the gloriously talented Ms. Heap. “Tapes” too is an outright triumph, featuring an out of body-like experience into the mind of the artist herself. As the album glides into its final throws, this electro-lite masterpiece is an impressive source of delight.
Flavors is probably her finest moment since her breakthrough album released ten years ago. I could recall at least eight tracks off the top of my head that I would classify as instant successes, which is an incredibly rare occurrence for a single album. You’ll certainly be seeing this one featured in the “best of” write-ups later on in the year. With lyrics as searching as that of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, jubilant moments of So Called Chaos, and captivating, raw emotion reminiscent of Jagged Little Pill, the album is an laudable collection of things past and a marker of maturity for the artist as diverse and talented as Ms. Morrissette. A true artist, indeed.
The critically acclaimed and underground Hip-Hop duo Atmosphere have been pumping out some of the most influential songs since the early 1990′s, but its 0n their sixth album, cleverly titled When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold that has earned them airtime on entertainment outlets such as MTV and MySpace and morphed the two into more than just another group none of your friends know of. Sean “Slug” Dailey’s introspective and personal rhymes flow aggressively and eloquently over Anthony “Ant” Davis’ production with combines elements of not only hip-hop, but also of the rock, electronica and pop realms. Together, the atmospheric duo deliver one of 2008′s best albums. And if you don’t think that the Rap genre is your cup of tea at all, take a listen to their electro-inspired first single “Shoulda Known” or turn on the ending half of “Glasshouse” (fast forward to about 3:17) and think again.
Lemons starts off with the sound of a toy box and introduces one of the most well put together piano based hip-hop beats. “Like The Rest Of Us” supplies an urban bass and thin snare that sends a relaxing groove as Slug raps about wanting to fly away and trying to stop running in place. “Puppets” ensures that while Slug is running in place, the album is not. However, it is Paint That Shit Gold‘s third track “The Skinny” which sends the album into a political and electronic influenced frenzy. It opens with industrial drums that sound like something off a Nine Inch Nails‘ record, as well as a suspicious synth that sets the mood for a song about a sexually abusive pimp who forces a girl to pleasure him orally and hints at prostitution.
“The Dreamer” stays true to alternative hip-hop influences, setting up an issue of teenage pregnancy and young love and moving right on into the album’s highlight and first single “Shoulda Known.” A tale of spur-of-the-moment sex and drugs, Slug raps over an extremely Electronica-inspired groove. Even if it has gotten praise and recognition, it would be unjust not to call this one of this years most under-appreciated singles.
“You” holds a special place in the hearts of waiters and waitresses across the universe as it narrates the tale of a restaurant worker forced to put on a plastic smile, only to remove it at the end of the night. The thing about When Life Gives you… is that it not only covers the topics of alcohol, drugs and sex, but also issues more people could relate to and could possibly face day to day. The track could easily be on a Nouveau Riche album if it were a bit more indie sounding. A fluttering/reverberated snare also provides something that isn’t normally heard in the urban world.
Although “Painting” is nice and offers a great guitar sound, “Glasshouse” is the album’s climax and most creative moment on the album. Slug’s introspective lyrics involving a panicked, upset and sick woman not realizing what house she is in after waking up after a night are extremely innovative and bring back an aspect of storytelling that has been lost in the hip-hop world for many years. Not only is the shocking story (with a great twist at the end that I absolutely will not spoil for you), but the dark-electro beat paints an image all on its own as it winds down and transforms into a lush, emotional and extremely creative semi-ambient masterpiece, reminiscent of pop-sounding trip-hop. It’s unlike anything ever I’ve heard in the urban world before.
“Yesterday,” has a beat that is a more light hearted version of Scarface‘s “My Block” and at times, could compare lyrically as well. However, while you may think that the artist is rhyming about an ex-girlfriend or friend, Slug revels at the end of the track a more emotional and deep person, which will also be kept secret. I seriously thought that this track was terrible until I heard the last few lines of the last verse. Once you hear that, this song will no longer sound like a sappy “I miss you, come back to me” song, but something that may cut deeper.
“Gurantees” has a strictly acoustic feel to it and “Me” could easily be used as a track to an R&B star but slow the album down a bit. “Wild Wild Horses” picks it up a little with horns and a beach like vibe but its “Can’t Break” that brings the album back to the electronic influences that us here at MuuMuse love.
“The Waitress” starts out with a mellow piano that sounds like something J-pop singer Shono Juli would pull out on one of her brilliant albums, but soon brings in the bass, the snare, and jazz-like instruments as a story of a homeless man is rhymed. “In Her Music Box” ends the album on a cute note and is a song about Slug’s daughter and is very Eminem like…only good.
All in all, this album needs to be something that makes it into every home across the universe this year because there is something for everyone on it. The easy listening fans, the jazz fans, the electronic fans, the pop fans, rock fans, and hip-hop freaks. Atmosphere get an A+ for crafting such a beautiful urban piece of art, and should definitely receive more recognition than they’ve got.
BONUS: The video for “Shoulda Known” is not only creative, but is also very homo-friendly, as its main subjects are two lesbians. Check it out!
In a word, haunting. Instilling unconventional vocals along with distorted ’80′s power synth sounds, Zeigeist just may be the new “it” group to lead their proudly pop-happy country to the top of the pop charts yet again. Chock full of unforgettable riffs and crisp electro noises from the year 2010, the band’s album The Jade Machine is one long breath of Swedish electro bliss. Though many of the songs featured are undeniably similar to the output of fellow Swedes The Knife (“Dawn Night” is essentially “We Share Our Mother’s Health”), the album retains an originality of its own within its more mainstream, digestable pop-electro sound. Sure, that’s not always a better thing, but it certainly works for them.
There’s even a hint of Goldfrapp hidden beneath the fragmented synthesizer, especially within “The Lake.” “Wrecked Metal” might as well have come directly from the Depeche Mode back catalog, bouncing along with the original synth-band’s familiar air of hopelessness, darkness, and pure sex. “Cuffs” is uncomfortably similar to Kelly Osbourne‘s genius pop-noir hit, “One Word,” but I’ll consider it a posthumous nod to the original. (No, she’s not dead, but that career sure is.) I’m even getting some waves of The Presets every now and then while listening. This is an incredibly promising, incredibly exciting release, and I highly encourage you to check out their MySpace now and order the album. Make sure you check out their pictures as well. I don’t know if they’re promotional or actual lives, but the visuals of their performances seem epic.
It’s quite difficult to track down a proper live, so enjoy this thirty second clip. I’ve no idea what’s happening here (there looks to be some triangle lights, a giant dancing space creature, and Liza Minelli) but it appears they make for a rather good show.
I made a little Muusical faux-pas tonight, mentioning the album but forgetting to post my review of Martha Wainwright‘s spectacular second full length album, I Know You’re Married, But I’ve Got Feelings Too. And yes, the title’s perfection is on par with the album’s contents. Now yes, this is Rufus Wainwright’s sister. She’s got a musical career of her own, you know. These things can get a little messy sometimes when siblings take on the industry, but thankfully the Wainwrights are settled comfortably into their own musical niches in life.
The opening track to Wainwright’s album, “Bleeding All Over You,” may be a little off-putting at first. With a frolicking country twang, the first few bars of the song weren’t initially captivating, and neither were Martha’s unusual vocal skills. Sort of a cross between Tori Amos and Stevie Nicks, Martha’s got a brightly eccentric, at times cartoon-ish voice that drifts the line between bold and beautiful throughout the CD. Once the song carries into the chorus however, there’s no doubt that the artist has crafted something wonderful.
But before you’ve got a chance to envelop yourselves into the mood of the first track, “You Cheated Me,” bursts in with a wonderfully catchy jaunt into vindication and anger. “You cheated me, and I can’t believe it / I’ve been calling since four o’ clock last night,” she laments throughout the chorus.It’s not Kelly Clarkson angst, but it’s tangibly tart.
“Jesus and Mary” then sweeps in, a pensive, calculating whirlwind of biblical allusions and vocal exorcism. It’s a beautiful little trip while it lasts, short as the ride may be. Oh, and that yelling middle eight is a brief moment of hallucinogenic, religious bliss, short as it may be.
And so the album continues in this fashion–or rather, in no fashion in particular. Each track is wonderfully assorted; sultry, vindictive, and often as theatrical as her brother’s work, the album closes to form a mature, fulfilling work of art.
Much in the same vein of my all-time favorite bands, The Cardigans, Wainwright has her way with the sounds and sways of typical country twang, yet never employs the genre into her music. Instead, the plucks of the guitar form the canvas for something much prettier in the long run–a beautiful composition, at that.
Please check out her MySpace here to listen to upcoming tracks from the new album!
I think this could be the beginning of something really lovely. For no reason in particular, I accidentally stumbled upon the MySpace of up-and-coming artist, Charlotte Sometimes while avoiding my studies. With a genre label of “Nu-Jazz/Alternative/Pop” (ooh!), I was naturally quite intrigued. After the first song off the page (“How I Could Just Kill A Man”), I was sold. It was catchy, melodic, and full of deep, rich sound. She’s got a definite top notch singer-songwriter quality, but thankfully lacks the monotony that plagues so many one hit wonder crooners that pop up on the radio every month or so. “Love Song,” anyone? Just saying.
Like a more orchestrated version of Fiona Apple‘s voice, Charlotte delivers with a rich set of emotion-fueled pipes and an urgent vibrato. It’s a little amazing that she’s only twenty, since her vocal skills are at the same level as that of a seasoned musician. I’m also quite smitten with her self-image. She seems to bemuse herself with the idea of a stage persona versus her natural self: “For the most part I like to write poetry and hang out in my apartment and cry, but when I’m on stage I’m a man eating machine. It’s a way of being two people but still remaining myself.”
The man eating becomes apparent from the get-go off of her debut, Waves & The Both Of Us. The songs are charged with a burning energy with lyrics than are more biting than one would expect. They’re absolutely loaded with well executed vocal performances, never providing a dull moment…I’m honestly blown away by her singing ability. As for her sound? It’s a refreshing blend of mellowed hip-hop grooves a la Lily Allen, chugging guitars, a deep nu-jazzy undercurrent, and a nice melodic Regina Spektor nature, give or take a crazy pill…a winning combination, in my opinion.
So far, so very wonderful. I see opportunities of promise, and growth, and all of the squishy things that make a musician pump out tunes far, far into the future. This is the first time I’ve been excited about a new artist for some time. Give her a try, you never know when they’ll take off into the mainstream. Check her out at her MySpace, buy the album (which was actually released two days ago) on iTunes, or stream the entire album over at iMeem now!