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Monday, October 28, 2013

Bangerz Review

Since Halloween is just around the corner, it's the perfect time to review Bangerz, the new album by this year's hot Halloween costume, Miley Cyrus.

Bangerz has sixteen tracks, not all of which are actually bangers/z. There's plenty of ballads like "Adore You" and "Maybe You're Right" that are so mellow they're sleepy. "My Darlin'" has an odd sample of "Stand By Me." The bangers/z range from mediocre ("Love Money Party") to hypnotic ("Somebody Else") to smooth radio friendly pop ("Do My Thang"). "SMS (Bangerz)" featuring Britney Spears is probably the only song on the album to which one should actually twerk.

"#getitright" has a fun sort of sexiness that isn't try-too-hard, a little reminiscent of Loose-era Nelly Furtado. "FU" is an aggressive breakup song that is a little reminiscent of Christina Aguilera. "4x4" is the nod to Cyrus's pop-country past, with some odd lyrics ("Driving so fast 'bout to piss on myself").

Of course, the stars of the album are the two singles released so far, "We Can't Stop" and "Wrecking Ball." The latter is a beautiful, heartbreaking complex ballad. They are solid pop songs in their own right, but they're more notable for their videos.

Bangerz can be heard on Spotify.

Monday, October 21, 2013

10 Things about Janelle Monae's Electric Tour

1. I saw Janelle Monae perform the New York stop on her Electric tour at the Apollo Theater on Friday.

2. She really turned it out! Amazing performances from top to bottom from her and her support dancers/musicians. Monae is a fantastic live singer.

3. She had one of the best concert entrances I've seen: wheeled in on a dolly in straitjacket by men in labcoats and bowties.

4. She very nearly brought the house down! I was in the balcony and it was bouncing, such was the audience's enthusiasm.

5. Of course as a face of a cosmetics company, she looked flawless. She had several costume changes in a striking black and white palette. And I have to applaud her for even changing into flat shoes.

6. Besides performing the songs from her new album, she also performed earlier singles "Cold War" and "Tightrope," as well as a cover of "I Want You Back."

7. She seemed very shocked/amazed/thankful to have sold out her show in the historic theater.

8. The opening act, Roman GianArthur, was very good too. He played a long set, including a fine cover of "Higher Ground."

9. Before the show, audience members received handouts with "The Ten Droid Commandments," with such laws as "if you see your neighbor jamming harder than you, covet his or her jam" and "abandon your expectations about art, race, gender, culture, and gravity."

10. The other side of the handout urged "After seeing The Electric Tour, please don't tell your friends its shocking secrets..." so I've already said too much!

Monday, October 14, 2013

OC ReMix: Bad Ass: Boss Themes: Volume II Review

OC ReMix recently released their latest album, BadAss: Boss Themes: Volume II. The album features 14 tracks by 12 artists, all of them remixes and reimaginings of boss battle themes from games both wildly popular and lesser known.

A lot of these songs are metal versions of the game themes, including "Baby Bowser - Bowzilla," "Teddy Bear - Hunger," " The Dark Legion - Skull-Head," "The Magi - Oblivion," and "The Syndicate - Syndication." "Ganondorf - Ganonize" simmers an electric guitar sinisterly, but doesn't reach a boil. "Robot Bosses - Hedgehog Fodder" from Sonic & Knuckles is a real standout in this category.

Several of the songs have vocals. "The Great Mighty Poo - Poop" from the N64 game Conker's Bad Fur Day is a dream for the juvenile listener, a dark metal remake of the song famous for its potty humor. "Dr. Eggman - Broken Dreams" also uses vocals effectively, in this case sound clips from the TV over an electronic beat. "The Combine - Mister Freeman" uses distorted vocals for a haunting feel, as if something is lurking around the corner. "Ultimate Phalanx - Red Retaliation" features raspy screamed lyrics over a dynamic metal track.
"02 - Tough It Out!" isn't evil sounding, but it's frenetic and reaches tense chiptune heights. "Dr. Wily - Top This" also sounds like a party with a little gritty edge. "Dr. Robotnik - Egg-Shaped Prison" evokes a creepy, haunted dungeon, and sounds the most like "video game music" of these tracks.

BadAss: Boss Themes: Volume II is available as a free download from