Monday, February 22, 2010

Project Diva OST - So You Think You Can Polka?

One day whilst wading through list after list of "best albums ever" lists on Amazon I stumbled  upon some random anime/videogame fan's listmania-thing, which happened to list some "rhythm-action" game entitled "Project Diva." After watching a video of super-deformed anime character heads fly on the screen to psychedelic supernova effects singing "YO!" I knew I had to import it - from Japan -  since it's the only way you can get it. The game's music is nothing short of fantastic, even if it is in Japanese, and that lead me to - actually willingly - purchase the two-disc game soundtrack as well.

Yes, I bought some music.Call me crazy.

I was kind of surprised of the range and scope of the soundtrack. There is a hip-hop/polka song (trust me, it works), bubblegum pop (which makes up most of the album), and even a song that is mostly sung in fast-forward. A bit hard to explain, but it's pretty unique and wholly infectious, and well... cute--I RECOMMEND!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tegan & Sara Sainthood Bonus Tracks

With a little mindless wading I fell upon a YouTube featuring tiny samples of b-sides not on Tegan & Sara's new album Sainthood. Two of the tracks come "bundled" with the Itunes version of said album ("Light Up" and "Wrists" I believe). However, with a little more digging I managed to find out that there are actually four b-sides, the other two being "Sheets" and "It Was Midnight" (oddly enough I like them better than the first two). So, in short, here are all 4 "bonus tracks" for your listening pleasure (all available via Itunes).



Light Up:


It Was Midnight:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Jim Ivins Band - EP (Album Review)

The Jim Ivins Band

I recently got a chance to listen to the The Jim Ivins Band's new 5 song EP. The best way to describe it is spartan and heartfelt rock of the non-try-hard variety. One thing I find markedly refreshing is the fact that the band itself is so honest and happy-go-lucky heart on their sleeve pussycat-sweet - there's nothing really spurious about them. Now, I'm sure by that description you probably assume you would be in for some sort of peppy go-go music, but actually, cynic, there is a lot of starry-eyed angst between them (at least musically).

The album starts off with "Fall Flat" with classic buzzing bee guitar riffs and flying "around the world" drums. The lead singer - Jim - has the perfect twin pistol vocal rage: high to low, it always hits its target - even when he decides to go for a copious amount of 9MM notes (which he does here). Overall, nothing really falls flat here - lyrically, the song breathes effervescent emotion and the candy smoke ring pretty bridge will squeeze your heart with fiber wire. Very touching.

Another notable stand-out - and one of my personal faves - is "The Chance," which is just pure buoyant fun and features some of the album's most fervent lyrics ("I muster up the courage just to open my mouth wide, and give a glimpse of just what's going on inside"). The riffs have a certain happy yet doleful twinkle to them, almost Gin Blossoms-esque. This song is especially interesting due to how some of the lyrics are purposely anchored in ignorance and/or have an impenetrable avidity (see: "the excuses to meet you are all gone so I'll make one up."). As you can see, you can pretty much play chess with this song. There are myriad pieces and much to contemplate.

The drums on "Back to Reality" are a real jawbreaker - calling them "face-boffing" would be an understatement - These drums could beat you into a state of permanent unconsciousness. As for the lyrics, they are simple yet covert ("I'll be waiting... in a memory"). It's hard to really say anything bad about them because they're sung in such a positively ear-kissing way, with ample conviction. Though, unlike most of their songs, this one isn't really constipated with good lyrics. However, even though I kind of liked "Nothing's real till she goes home" I still pretty much stand by my opinion - this song is kind of redundant and superfluous, albeit catchy. So I guess it evens out.

Every Day's Another Goodbye is a nice fleecy acoustic song. The lyrics once again run an unpredicted hook through your mouth and quickly reel you in ("Goodbye to my stomach, my pride"). Ironically, one of the lyrics is "'cause it's up for interpretation." That pretty much sums up all their songs: Everyone is liable to walk away from them with something different (think: a Goya painting, only less dark... and a lot less baby eating). It should be noted that a tiny sum of the lyrics are kind of hackneyed - for example: talk of "drifting farther" is simply trite no matter how you parse it. A couple adjectives here and there would have worked wonders for this song. Not to mention, the song really hangs during the last 30 seconds or so - just a bunch of acoustic guitar with no real hook, no chorus, no punch. The Chance and Fall Flat ended with a good one-two, however this one doesn't, and in turn ends up accidentally uppercutting itself in the process.

In summation: An excellent EP for the length with a prodigious amount of hi-quality material by a pretty much ego-less band who have got the right mindset and follow the age-old short but sweet "less is more" pop-rock science and it pays off nicely. I should also mention that the last song on the EP - How To Hold On - is by and large the most interesting. There is a blatant contradiction in:"Even though you're gone, just want to know you're not leaving." The line is interesting in that, while obtuse, it catches a certain denial twist in regards to love (as well as a feeling of querulous longing). Goes to show that a handful of EP-songs can be even more satisfying than say a full-length album with 12-13 which would probably have its share of buttnugget filler. These guys take their time, they don't put out quantity over quality in the moment detritus, and that is respectable.

Now, if it were up to me, these guys would be shucking Chicken McNuggets at little kids in a successful Happy Meal promotion... but I guess you can't have everything. So i guess I'll just do the next best thing and use all of my newfound star-power and proceed to overdose fat Elvis-style on this EP again, as well as this - now slightly irrelevant - song the inimitable caterpillar 'browed lead singer, Jim, made about Halloween, aptly titled: "It's Halloween." Check it out. It's scary good.