Saturday, April 30, 2011

[April 30, 2011] MBC Music Core Highlights+Commentary

Sorry for being MIA yesterday, I had still to take care of and I wasn't feeling very well. Even now I have this horrid horrid migraine that even extra strength, "fast-acting" Advil can't remedy and any second now I'm gonna cry out in pain LOL. But enough about me. Today's MuCore was pretty bare, but that's mainly because a lot of the acts have already said goodbye, and some are just missing LOL.

Video credit goes to CrazyCarrot270@YT.

X-5 - "The Show Is Over"
You know, for rookies like them they're outstanding. Not just kinda good, outstanding - one of the best new bands I've seen in a while. What made me say that? Their consistently strong vocals on all three music shows - this is MuCore, which dooesn't have the best sound in the world, and they're using handsfree mics. To sing live. While running around stage and dancing their asses off. I mean they slip up sometimes, but a lot less than your regular rookie. The song is strong for a group of their stature as well. I mean they can definitely do better, but for their debut this is really good. Good to know the truckloads of money spent on them went to a good cause.

A Pink - "Don't Know"
K so I'm writing this now with one of the worse migraines I've had in months and the stage is hurting my eyes - I had to invert the colors of my screen just to watch it without crying out in pain. Today's performance was mimed, thankfully for my ears, but not for them. They need the practice, and they need to be able to prove themselves in the near future - miming is like the worse thing to do at this point. A big no, A Pink.

Infinite - "Nothing's Over"
Awww, I can't believe they're already doing their last round of live performances this weekend - I actually liked this song! And thankfully, everyone's singing it pretty consistently now - the vocals are pretty much as strong as they can get for a song as melodic as this. And you have to hand it to them - the chorus is pretty tricky. It sounds easy, but it's not that easy to sing. The way they cut the song into like 2+ minutes was kinda sloppy and awkward too.

Rainbow - "To Me"
Their vocals are kinda soft today, I blame it on the handsfree mics, but they're actually pretty consistent and not half bad. They're getting used to the song (it's about time) and they're getting used to performing it - all of them.

CN Blue -"Love Girl"
The stage today was.. interesting. The cinematography was.. more like for a commercial. The vocals were.. Yonghwa. And once again, the guitars weren't plugged in. You know MuCore, it's bad to zoom in on the drummer, and his sticks, when someone like me is watching. I'll leave it at that LOL.

f(x) - "Danger"
After winning MuBank yesterday (Yay! Happy for them. :D), it's like everyone's vocals suddenly went up really close to the 6-member (and less) SM band standard, which is incredibly high. And considering that this is a song you can't really sing, that's really good. Luna's high note got hella strong, and Sulli's voice is starting to shine. Ooooh I can't wait for the day they get a song that'll turn non-fans into fans and fans into rabid fans - they're pretty close!

4Minute - "Mirror Mirror"
Outdoor performance, eh? Hyun A's improved A LOT, Jiyoon is still brilliant, I still hate the maknae, and Gayoon sounds the same. They're a lot more comfortable singing the song now, but that's about the only change. The attitude is there, the presence, the grace (one way or another).

After School - "Let's Step Up" + "Shampoo"
Yay! They're back! The intro was cool, even if I liked their outfits better yesterday. It was oozing with After School presence, and everything about it makes you wanna stop what you're doing and just watch. The vocals on 'Shampoo' today were definitely a lot better than yesterday - UEE sounds like less of a mess (but still is one), there is in fact a voice hidden under new girl's still-weak live vocals, Nana has actually held a melody, Bekah has gotten a grip on herself and delivered, Raina sounds a lot stronger and you can actually hear Jooyeon now! Looks like I'll have to do a lot less begging to Pledis now that their vocals aren't a complete mess anymore. Yayyy.

Big Bang -"Stupid Liar"
Well, it looks like this chapter of k-pop is coming to a close - HoMin are gone, and Big Bang/Infinite are at their goodbye stages already. It was a good phase, if I may say so. Like I always say when they do this song, it's literally like Big Bang just dropped everything, ran to the stage, and had a blast. You just wanna have fun after watching this. The vocal parts, minus GD's pseudo-vocals, were strong again, as they should be.

Vessels- Helioscope

I am a shallow music listener because usually I don't take the time to find out anything about the band I am listening to. I figure, they sound good, why bother finding out anything about them? Unless of course they are really, really good. (Did you know that Little Birdy was named after a Ween song?) The Vessels made me endeavour to discover something interesting as their music was so interesting, and this would also allow me to tack something onto the end of my recommendation.

“Have you heard the Vessels? Oh! You should they are good and *INSERT INTERSTING COMMENT HERE*”

So, off to google I go and the first thing I find is their webpage (handy thing > ) and discover they are British. This may not seem major to many people but I am a real sucker for British music (I know... I am a traitor to my own country) and this seemed like something I ought to follow on with. I then found out that they had a previous album that they released back in 2008 (Don't worry. It is downloading now.) They also consist of five members; Tim  Mitchell, Martin Teff, Tom Evans, Lee J. Malcolm and Peter Wright.

Moving on from my lame background information that most of you probably know already...

Helioscope. Good stuff. Actually, really good stuff. Considering I had to wait two hours for it to download because I went over my limit, it had better have been. It didn't disappoint.

The first song on the album "Monoform" served as a way of calming me down from the murderous- throw- my- laptop- out- of- the- window point I was at. It is sort of trippy and reminds me a little of "M4" by the Faunts but more rock. "The Trap" keeps the mood.

The first vocals on the album start at "Recur" and I like it. It is simple  and  perfectly compliments the complicated almost rock music your ears are now revealed to.

"Later Than You Think" opens with a calming soft sound that has you straining to pick out what exactly it is. The music then builds your suspense as it becomes louder and closer to you then fades off  and opens up to another complicated, rhythmic and creative part of the song. The sound at the beginning then fades out, and it opens up to reveal another layer, then comes back to the sound. It goes round and round like this and it is a piece of music that is very well thought out and planned but still holds a spontaneous feeling in it as you aren't quite sure what the next layer it holds.

So maybe I am just a little girl on the inside because I was giggling for several minutes because of the title, and the lyrics of "Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute", “We'll ride horses, After we bathe together.” This is not because I am an insensitive, immature person but because a few of my straight male friends were joking about riding horses naked together the very same night... Seemed like an odd and funny coincidence to me... After I got over my own personal problems I really had to respect this song for its creativity and musical talents. The eerie sweet tinkling music and right of stage singing gives way to the end rock climax.

"Art/Choke" then continues the rock mood "Meatman, Piano Tuner and Prostitute" just set up, but minus the vocals. It builds the rock mood, then breaks off to allow for some fancy frett work, then builds again. Heal takes you back into the electronic sounds that the Vessels seem to have mastered.

"All Our Ends" is my favourite song on the album. Vocals, electronic music, the complicated layering all perfectly matched and really hits the spot.

Finally,  "Spun Infinite" is the prefect end to Helioscope with note holding lyrics to electronic mixed music. It seems quite a sad song, due to the elongated sound over the minor notes.

All in all, a good album. The strong instrumental and electronic sounds are quite polished with the vocals enhancing the music instead of being the reason to have the music. Refreshing and invigorating to listen to.

- Koala

Buy here: Helioscope

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thank you SO MUCH

Earlier this year, I said that 2011 is a turning point for me - so many things are happening, changing, and starting that I needed to prioritize and put PRN on hold from mid-January to mid-April.

I was away for 3 months trying to finish high school, choosing between the two top universities in the country, and preparing to leave the life I've known for the past 4 years. Those were my priorities during that time.

A few weeks back, fresh from graduation, I returned to blogging. It took me a long time, and heaps of doubts, to get into writing again, find all my old readers, and recover from 3 months of dormancy, but I did it, and I'm here. With you guys.

I'd just like to assure you that Pop Reviews Now will be my main priority this May - I will get it back to how it was just before I left, even if that means having to put out posts every day. And I would also like to thank you all SO SO SOOOO MUCH for not only welcoming me, but for waiting for me. I cannot stress enough how much PRN's success means to me, and my ambitions - thank you for helping me more than you can imagine.

I built PRN, and my reputation, with nothing less than hard work and sacrifice. Even if I'm not the most talented writer around, I would like to thank you guys for continuously reading my work, and giving me priceless feedback - the only way I know how to repay you is by assuring you that I'm not going anywhere, and that PRN will be the biggest thing on my mind this May.

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising

This is... gonzo journalism!

This is... method reviewing!

Come on, Strasberg and Stanislavski, let's rev up my affective (race?) memory and feel the pillage! (I'm German-American, so surely there's pillaging memory in there somewhere....)
I, in the spirit of the pillaging Viking hordes (pretty sure that name's copywritten), have written this entire review of Sweden's Amon Amarth and their newest, Surtur Rising, while drinking mead.

Mead-- the honey-wine every Viking and his mother drank.

You're welcome.
You know how Goddamn hard it is to find mead around here?

The things I do for you....

So: the Mead I actually found,  Oliver's Camelot Mead, tastes like, well, Honey wine (though apparently I should've tried this or thiskind).
A lot stronger than beer, less so than wine, it tastes like really light liquid honey with alcohol in it. I can't stand wine, but this is not bad. Not as good as beer, which I do so enjoy, but not bad at all.

One 5 oz. serving in:
Opener "War of the Gods" hammers in the intro theme with a crushing downbeat with melody that segues into a chorus that you could chant over a fire.... Amon Amarth sound confident and strong, and old Viking ruler --Odin?-- who's seen a lot and knows it back to front...will make you mad mead is so hard to get in comparison to beer;

Former albums have been fairly filler-dense, with a couple or three songs that are so good you forget the rest... I'm curious how this will pan out....

"Töck's Taunt: Loke's Treachery Part II" follows their pattern in songwriting: somewhat memorable verse followed by hooky-in-a- somehow-Viking way chorus... not quite as good as the first track, but quite good... we fade out into:

"Destroyer of the Universe"  which thrashes its ways, at 200 bpm, into a rager of a tune-- sounding like a cousin to "Twilight of the Thunder God" from their previous work, this time faster and with more solos and riffs....

"Slaves of Fear" a rager, though not to the previous degree, but is nothing near filler and rages and rages and rages....

Two Servings (10 oz.) in:
"Live Without Regrets" continues the Viking-themed melody with death metal vocals motif... but does little new with it, Amon Amarth's riffing in B standard, a fifth below standard tuning... somehow making up for the lack of nuance....

"The Last Stand of Frej" is suitable epic (and yet tragic) in its sonic recounting of the tale of the Norse goddess of majick, war and death... fades out to "For Victory or Death," which, clichéd title or no, which starts like a combination of Mercyful Fate and Bay Area Thrash....

Forget "Wrath of the Norsemen" overall, though at 2:10 it drops briefly into a nice little dirge/breakdown... "A Beast Am I" brings the fury back at 230 bpm, leaves behind the melody and just fucking rages....

 "Doom Over Dead Man," though I'm not sure what the title means, is perhaps the most emotional (read: bittersweet) track on here-- primitive instrument melodies about: conches, horns, shouts, abound... the rallying cry of a race (sadly?) long dead....

Long may they live...!!

And: though you know always what you're getting....

Bottom Line (15 ozs. in):

It's their stride.
This is feasting hall music.

This is music you scream with your barbarian friends after you've bested Grendel's Mother.

This is war music that manages to avoid the cheese of Manowar (said with love).

Now hoist your Goddamned tankards...!

To Amon Amarth!!! To Mount Doom!!!

May their kingdom resist weather, time and treachery...!

Buy here: Surtur Rising
Buy here Deluxe Box: Surtur Rising
Buy here mp3: Surtur Rising
Buy here vinyl: Surtur Rising

Thursday, April 28, 2011

After School - 'Virgin'

After I was disappointed yesterday with "Shampoo", I didn't bother waiting up for the album anymore (partially, at least), and boy did I make a mistake. I was listening to the album all day today, and came up with my very first vlog, and my first album review since HoMin's 'Keep Your Head Down'! Yayyyy!

(Subscribe to me on YouTube!)

'Virgin' is a cohesive album. That's what it is - it's an album. Even if not all the songs are amazing or whatever, put them together, listen to the thing from start to finish, and they make sense.

The material on this album is very Pop/Disney/the stuff I grew up with - it's girl group material done in 2011. So you have all these fancy effects, analog-fests, autotune and modern technology. Not always a good thing, but at least they changed things up a bit.

For an intro, 'Let's Step Up' is pretty long. But to a certain extent I like it. It's got those hard drum/percussion lines that they used in "Bang", laced with an analog synth-fest (which is welcomed), and it's oozing After School. Overflowing, almost. But the neat thing is that 'Shampoo' comes right after, and they complement each other really well.

The more I listen to 'Shampoo', the more I personally like it. I do like listening to it for fun and whatnot, and it is a pretty song (bar the autotune), but no matter how many times I listen to it 'Shampoo' still lacks kick, and in After School's case, kick is vital.

'Virgin' should've been the first single, to be completely honest with you. Make the vocals more powerful and less restrained, give the instrumental more dynamic dynamics (LOL), and basically magnify the entire song - it'll sound like one hell of an After School single, I tell you. It's got hints of the Gahee and Orange Caramel singles, but the sounds don't clash, nor do they overpower the over-all After School sound. I like chorus, because even if it does go on and on and on and can literally go on forever, it's melodic, and it sounds very "sly", so to say. Attitude. Yes.

So on the vlog I talked about the 3 "re-recordings" - 'Bang!', 'Because of You' and 'When I Fall'. There's not much change to 'Bang', except for the vocals and maybe some little details in the instrumental. They spiced up 'Because of You' a little more, with the added autotune, the stronger-sounding instrumental, the held-back vocals, and the addition of backing vocals throughout. But just when I thought it couldn't get any better, in comes 'When I Fall'. As you saw on the video, I was literally speechless. The pretty piano line made my eyes light up and all, but then the drums came in and I just lost it. REAL DRUMS. CYMBALS. OH MY GOD. The dynamics were spot-on too, and the melody's gorgeous to start with, so throw everything together, as well as a string section they sneaked in just before the last chorus, and you have epic.

'Play Ur Love' is, in one word, pretty. I, fact, it's on the same wavelength as 'Shampoo', the only difference is that the vocals have clarity, and that makes all the difference - there's punch to them. And they were actually really well-executed - everyone sounds good, not too cutesy, and with the right amount of urgency to give the song the life it should have.

'Dream' is very US mainstream pop. It's also very cheesy - mass produced-ish, but catchy in its own way. And LOL at the pre-school, just LOL. I don't know all their voices inside out yet so I can't pinpoint her, so I have no idea if she can sing. New girl's not half bad though - I just need to see her live.

Raina's solo song '시간에 기대어', reminds me a lot of the early 2000's pop I grew up with, actually - M2M, maybe super early Christina, that type. Everything from the melody to the hook to the vocal treatment - it's like you took a song from that era and updated the production. Not a big fan of the chorus because it tends to be a bit nightclub-y, but the verses are fine, and the middle 8 is decent. But in all honesty, it really fits Raina - she sounds like she actually has something more than an OK voice! I'm kinda annoyed at the execution of those high notes towards the end, but I realize that however she did them I'd be annoyed. She's one of the lead vocalists for a reason, yes, but just because she has a nice voice in this range, doesn't give Pledis permission to make her sing all those shrill parts - you can have a nice voice and not have wide range.

Jung Ah's solo song, like I said, didn't make her sound like her, and she actually sounds even more cutesy than Raina. No. God no. She has a gorgeous, gorgeous voice, when she pushes. While Raina shouldn't push, Jung Ah should - and she didn't on this. The song itself is your standard big ballad they'd play on a chick-flick type k-drama - run-of-the-mill melody, nagging chorus, good singer, and big drums and backup vocals.

The only new ballad by the whole band on the album - '잘 지내고 있죠'. It's a ballad. Your standard sad, sobbing, k-drama ballad. Nothing new, then. Well done, but that's about it.

'Funky Man' wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be after I saw who'd be singing it, but then again we went through Orange Caramel, I highly doubt anything could be worse than that. It reminds me of a lot of other songs, but I kinda like it in the cheesy/guilty pleasure kind of way. Beneath all the gimmicks, the talking, and the cheap-ified instrumental, the melody's actually kinda pretty. It's something you'd have to listen to at max volume, but at times you'd be too shy to let anyone know you're listening to it. It's hella catchy though, so ultimately that wins.

Best track(s): 'Virgin', 'When I Fall' (re-recording)
Good track(s): 'Shampoo', 'Play Ur Love', 'Because of You' (re-recording), '시간에 기대어'
Worst track(s): N/A
The Rating: 4.4/5

Small Stone Triple Axe Attack – part II featuring, Suplecs, Lo-Pan, and Ironweed

I’ve been neglecting my pile of recent Small Stone releases lately. They’ve been sitting here for a few weeks now and every time I try to get around to writing them the demands of reality (ugh!) demand my attention and another day slips by. But not anymore! Here a triple decker of new stuff from the unusually consistent rock label.

Suplecs - Mad Oak Redoux

First up is the new one from Suplecs called Mad Oak Redoux. This New Orleans outfit has been going for about 15 years and show no signs of mellowing out. I’d never heard these guys before and really enjoyed their mix of classic influences like Black Sabbath and The Misfits merged with Soundgarden, Melvins and Nirvana. About half the songs are short and fast and they stretch out on some of the longer ones. “Stand Alone” reminds me a lot of forgotten Louisville titans Kinghorse with their mix of Sabotage-era Sabbath riffs with a big Danziggy chorus. “Fema Man” is a suitably pissed off song about hurricane Katrina and all the bullshit that went on afterwards. “Switchblade” and “2x4” are the longest songs, about 6 minutes each, and pound heavy. 10 songs, 40 minutes. Hit and quit it. Nice one.

Buy here: Small Stone

Lo-Pan – Salvador

If you keep your records in alphabetical order and have Thin Lizzy right next to Tool then chances are Lo-Pan is for you. Fast, heavy, pissed off music with strong vocals and plenty of good hooks. There are some great guitar freak outs that would make both Tommy Bolin and Piggy from VoiVod smile. Lo-Pan hails from Columbus, OH and try as they might they cannot escape the classic rock stranglehold that exists in that part of the country but they’re way too heavy for any commercial rock station. Good songwriting and plenty of dynamics keep some of the longer songs from getting dull. Maybe they can convince Eric Moore of The Godz to contribute to the next one.

Buy here: Small Stone

Ironweed - Your World Of Tomorrow

I always liked the name Ironweed and now that I’ve heard their music I like that a lot, too. Hailing from the New York state capitol, Ironweed are easily the best thing to come from Albany since Blotto. Ironweed are a straight ahead pummeling metal band. Two crushing guitars, pounding rhythm section and lots of good yelling, Ironweed remind me of another great Small Stone band Solace. Fans of anything hard n heavy ranging from vintage Judas Priest to D.R.I. will love Ironweed. Starving iron dogs will feast upon this bloody platter of raw riff metal.

Buy here: iTunes

It’s worth noting that all three of these releases were produced and recorded by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in Boston. The sound is hard, clear and punchy and will definitely sound good in your car as flip off the slow pokes in the right lane.

-- Woody

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

After School - 'Shampoo'

After School is known for very strong songs - not always in terms of technique or musicality, but in terms of sound. "Diva" and "Ah!" were very Euro dance and it had a hit-you-over-the-head hook and loop, "Because Of You" was very angst-y with the right amount of grace, "Bang!" was punchy in a sharp kind of way, and even "LOVE LOVE LOVE" had spunk. They are known for their conviction - for the fact that they're not cutesy-cutesy and whatnot, but can still call themselves a girl group. Their music is the epitome of the concept of "girl power" in Korea.

It's a well-established fact by now that I like After School more than your run-of-the-mill girl group at the moment, and it's also well-established that I like them mostly for their material, and some of the members. And because I like them, a part of me is more demanding of them - because I've seen what they are capable of and I know the extent to which they can humanely push themselves.

I don't usually incorporate things like personality and all that into my reviews, but to be completely honest with you they're known as a band with very strong personalities, and they've not only managed to show that in the way they move and act, but in their music. Don't try and deny it because you know it's true - they're classy, strong and intense, it shows in the material.

"Shampoo" is what would most likely come out of mixing "Because of You" and "Ah!"/"Diva" - let's stop at that for now. The piano lines and string section were borrowed from "Because of You", clearly, and so was the grace and the melodic-ness of the song. Then it's as if those qualities was slapped on top of a "Diva"-esque loop and out came "Shampoo". They're moving forward stylistically, but they're taking the qualities that defined their musical identity - I'll give them that.

That said, the melody is gorgeous, if I may say so, but it makes me worry if they will be able to pull this off live because I absolutely hated the fact that "Because of You" was so gorgeous recorded but was a mess live. The crisp beats at the beginning and throughout the song make it nice and clean, and dynamics, although pretty predictable if you can count from 1 to 8 in tempo, very clear and sure. The chorus seems like a mess, with everything running around, but it organizes itself in the end, and it's actually kinda nifty how everything gets resolved. The intro was a little too long for me - almost a minute? When I first heard the song I was confused whether I was listening to the single or the instrumental. As a whole it sounds like something straight out of a 2011 Disney teenage princess/popstar movie that's all about dreams coming true and whatnot.

So now that you slap BCOY on top of "Diva" and add a few things here and there, you'd think that it would be the ultimate After School song to end all After School songs. I will tell you now that it isn't, because it lacks the one quality that set After School apart from groups of their generation. I said that "Shampoo" sounds like a cross between their previous singles, and some of the individual elements are pretty, but I didn't finish the sentence just yet. "Shampoo" sounds like those 3 singles put together, after you suck all the life out of them.

Like I said a while ago, the song is very clean - but it's a little too clean. The song is princess-pretty - but it's a little too pretty. And this time, there's nothing to add that bit of punch that's crucial to their songs.

What happened to the intensity and emotion that made them the band they were? Even when they jumped from "Ah!" to "Because Of You" the song had intensity and a sense of urgency - it had kick. I'll tell you what happened - they mixed the wrong elements together. You're forgetting that it's not the piano line that made "Because of You" angst-y, and it's not the fancy loops that made "Ah!" convincing - it was the strong drum+bass lines. When you listen to the songs at max volume you will literally feel your hearth thumping. Pretty hard.

Another possible factor is the shift in lead vocalists, which I am completely against. If they were giving majority of the singing parts to people who could actually out sing everyone else but were new I'd have nothing against it. But you give Nana and Raina a lot of the solo parts? Seriously? They can sing, they've learned, but there are better, more practiced and more stable singers in After School - give them the attention they deserve.

Another issue with the vocals is the way they were processed. The processing made their vocals far too clean, too sanitary, and too lifeless. No emotion, no intensity - in other words, dead vocals.

You know, I tried listening to the song at max volume after I was let down, thinking maybe that will solve things. I felt nothing. No thumping, no goosebumps, no nothing - I heard, but I didn't feel. If there's one phrase from me that I want you guys to take seriously, it's that music is half-heard, yes, but it's also half-felt. Technique and musicality are vital, of course, but what you feel when you listen to the technicalities is just as important. Music is art because it comes from people - who can think, but who can also feel.

Yeah sure the melody's pretty, the dynamics are neat, and they've grown musically, but there's no life to them. They can ALL do better than this - we've all seen them do just that - so why settle for dullness? Here's hoping my "it's the processing" theory is right. If it is, this will sound epic performed live, I tell you - if they can pull it off properly, that is.


Meekos &Me- Anxious Little Turtles

The first thing you will notice about the new LP released by this LA based band is the fourteen song length. Now, I am no expert but fourteen songs is longer than the average LP, especially if they are of this quality. All of the songs are really good and the sound is built to suit the content. Due to their changing style and story telling it manages to keep you interested throughout the entire fourteen songs.

As I have mentioned, Meekos&Me is a LA based band. They are comprised of guitarist, songwriter and singer Joey Colando and classically trained cellist Danny Grab. Anxious Little Turtles is their debut release and gives a glimpse of the greatness that is to come. It is difficult to sum them up into a single genre as it is clearly a work of creative collaboration rather than a decision to make a folk band or a rock band.

“Entropy” is the opening of the album. With good acoustics and cello support and creative, clever lyrics it gets you ready for what is to come.
“I say I love you,
You say you love me.
But oh my god,
Its been way too long.
Strength divides the weak from the strong”

It is surprising how well the electric sound from the guitar and the classical cello work together in “Grove Street”, accompanied with soulful vocals and lyrics about separation. Tied together to make a neat package.
“We've got green plants in the garden
It was nothing before we stared
And I know that
So stop your whining
Get away from me, if you are crying.”

“Underwater Dream” is a song about a merman's love for a human and is recorded to sounds muffled and bubbly, as if you were underwater as well. It really shows of the duo's creative outlook on their music.
“I can walk on water, on the bottom of the sea,
And when I talk to you, you can't understand me.”

“Animals in my Room” immediately caught my attention because of the opening with the Kookaburra laugh and the other lyrics that refer to Australian animals,
“Kangaroos, Polar bears,
Owls with their crazy stares,
And I am scared”
This was released as the single and it is easy to see why. It represents the album well with its eccentricity that still stays between the lines of normalcy. 

“Mountains in the Rearview” has a “hillbilly” sound to it with banjo like sounds and the pitch climb that hillbilly music has. Additionally, interesting lyrics.
“I'm going home,
Because you're back home.
Every night we are the last to fall asleep,
We talk about music
And we act so casually”

“Steven and Kirsten” is one of those growing up and moving on songs that most people are going to relate to. It is lyrically well written with a country sound to it (think tambourines). I especially related to it as it is pretty much how I ended up moving to the city. Just decided to one day and packed.
“All she wanted to know,
Is why you move so slow,
All you have to do is pack and go”

Joey Colando's talent on the guitar is on showcase with “Fantasies and Fairies” being carried by his brilliant fingerpicking style. With creative lyrics it is another exceptional song.
“Fantasies and flying fairies
Are you insane?
Act your age.
You gotta act your age
These days”

 “Umbrella” opens with Danny Grab's cello solo then breaks into being rhythm based. The cello stills features largely in this song and has a really good sound to it.
“I saw you laugh a lot the other day
You looked so cute
Do you think you look any other way?”

“If I Don't” has a great acoustics accompanied by soulful cello which is perfectly matched for this love song.
“I'll be with you some day,
I will.
I'll be with you one day,
My heart always will.”

“Whistle” is another sweet acoustic song that has almost dark lyrics to it. Unexpected but brilliant.
“But I whistle everyday
Cause I have nothing to say.
I lose my mind with you
I will someday
Oh, one day.”

“Kid Things” another song that is percussion and cello dominated but it then opens to a surprising electric guitar climax. It was really enjoyable hearing it open up and explode like that.

“Whistle (reprise)” is the only song on the album that is not full length. Whistling to the tune of “Whistle” it is a sweet way to wrap things up.

Overall, a really creative album. It is enjoyable to listen to and I will be on the look out for their next releases. 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show - Revisited

It is Mardi Gras and Spring Break all rolled into one.  Then, lit and smoked.  The band members’  tongues are firmly pressed into their cheeks as they look for a party. They make you cry, laugh,  whoop and holler.  Then, they’ll roll you another one.  Yes, the Doctor is in the house.

First, there was George Cummings, Ray Sawyer and Billy Francis and it was good. Then came Dennis Locorriere and it was better.  In 1969 a club owner asked for their name.and their decision-making probably went something like this:


“We ah,” (pulls out another zigzag rolling paper) “we need a name” (rolls zigzag with one hand and licks it).  “The man wants us to give him a band name.” (takes a “strike anywhere”” match, scrapes it on his unshaven chin, lights the zig zag and takes a long inhalation.) “Well, any ideas? (the cigarette and conversation pass to the right.)


(Large puff, followed by a cloud of exhalation) “Damn, that’s tough.  Any of you got some pills? My head is killing me.” (Pockets are searched and contents placed on table)


(Looking at contents on table) “Wow!  Man,  that is a god damn medicine show!  Hey, let’s call ourselves the ‘Medicine Show.’” (large toke, and the conversation moves to the right.)

Sawyer (who wears an eyepatch due to a 1967 car accident):

“Naw, not good enough.  We need a hook.  That’s it!  How ‘bout “Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show?”   (Nods all around; mint juleps are sipped;  roach is extinguished.)


“Umm. What were we talkin’ about?”

Well, maybe not like that but that is how I have always envisioned  it  (according to wikipedia Sawyer is “mistakenly considered Dr. Hook because of the eyepatch.”) The band had a string of top 100 hits until 1983 when Sawyer left the band.  Their early, gritty, hits are the subject of their pre-disco 1976 Best of Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show release called “Revisited.”

You won’t find the later hits “Sexy Eyes,”  "When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman" or “Walk Right In” here.  You will find an amalgamation of the band’s best “quirky” work, with almost all of the lyrics written by the late, great writer/poet Shel Silverstein. . Sure, you get the time-tested hit “Cover of The Rolling Stone,”  but you also get “Sylvia’s Mother,”  which tells of a man trying to telephone his ex-girlfriend, Sylvia Avery, to say one last goodbye, but unable to get past her mother; “Acapulco Goldie,” a tale about a beautiful Acapulco prostitute; “Freakin’ At The Freakers’ Ball,” a journey best characterized as a visit to San Francisco’s yearly Exotic-Erotic Ball; “Makin’ It Natural,”  about “going straight” over a woman; “Penicillin Penny,” which explores the life of a Sunset Strip streetwalker with venereal disease;  “Get My Rocks Off,”  a ditty about what things are needed for the singer to, well, get his rocks off; “Carry Me, Carrie,”  a poetic look at a delusional, alcohol addicted, street person; “Queen Of The Silver Dollar,” the saga of a female bar fly who is ultimately won by the singer; and “Roland The Roadie And Gertrude The Groupie,” the story of a roadie in love with a groupie who is only in love with groups.

Okay, this isn’t classic.  It isn’t pop.  It isn’t straight ahead rock.  It’s not jazz,  What is it?  It is Mardi Gras and Spring Break all rolled into one.

- Old School 

Buy here: Revisited
Buy here mp3: Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show Revisited

Monday, April 25, 2011


In case you weren't with me last year, I've taken quite a liking to After School, after "Bang!" drew me in. Part of me is in it for the talent, which a lot of them posses, but part of me is in it for reasons I don't know - they make me want to see them do well. I like them - they have attitude, some of them can sing, they've had both decent and amazing material over the years, and they have Jung Ah. End of. If they could all sing well, they'd most probably be my all-time favorite girl group.

So anyway. Since it's been ages since I've done any serious following with the accompanying writing, why not start with After School? This week is comeback week, so for this week, and the week after - I'll be tracing their releases.

A review of the single once it's out, as well as my first album review in over 3 months (!) once the album's out. Of course they'll be featured on this weekend's music show recaps, and to top it all off a vocal commentary, my first in nearly a year (!), next week. I'll be doing some preliminary writing over the next few days, and finalizing everything once the album and the live performances are out.

Now this teaser. More than a song I absolutely adore, to be honest with you I want a song they can actually sing live. I will beg to Pledis on my knees if I have to - they got it right with "Bang!", they better get it right with "Shampoo". Of course if I like the song it's a big plus, but if I like the song and they can't sing it live that would be a disaster. And I so badly want them to do well - because majority of them deserve it. (We'll talk about who I want to graduate on my vocal commentary) Something that's a cross between "Because of You" and "Bang!" would be great, thanks Pledis.

Any guesses? Leave them in the comments section!

Taddy Porter - S/T

“Hey man, we got the kegs.  Four of em.  You ready?”

Ready?  The words trickle through my brain.  I’m 18 years old, finishing high school.  Hanging with my friends Jeff, Paul, Ron, John, and Chris.  Dave is there.  So’s Bob.  Gary's somewhere.  The beer is cold.  An abandoned barn has been pre-scouted as the spot du jour.  My “man-machine” the 1974 Fiat is gassed and ready, intimidating the world with it's huge rubber bumpers.  The word has been spread around the school.  It’s time for a good old-fashioned beer blowout. 

And it’s up to me to bring the music.

Now, in reality, that scene may have taken place in the late ‘70’s or early ‘80’s, but the perfect music to complete this scene just dropped into my hands, fresh and dirty in 2011.

Taddy Porter bring on a southern-fried, greasy blitz of big riff, blues-infected rock that just begs to be cranked up and blown out of ’67 Camaro’s, ’73 Mach One’s, and just about any pick-up truck ever made.  These guys are simply a party in a bottle.  This is retro-rock, near-perfection and should blow the band huge.  Their blues riffs are meaty and beefy enough to get the guys gathered around the keg head-bobbing in rock-mania unison, while the backbeat grooves and undulates with enough sex to keep the girls swaying their hips on the dancefloor.  Or in this case, the dance barn.

I knew I was in good shape from the very first seconds of “Whatever Haunts You,” quite simply a monster of retro-fried Zeppelin blues frenzy.  From the very first moment, the boys show restraint, inherently knowing what it takes to bring dynamic to the song.  A simple, bluesy guitar stutter brings us on.  A drum beats somewhere in the background, steadily, like someone making love behind the barn door.  Slowly, languidly, the pace picks up until . . . all blues hell breaks loose.  Andy Brewer belts out the opening with a gruff-Plant energy as guitars, bass, and drums kick into full fury around him.  Dust bellows from the abandoned barn as air guitars break out from the guys and those young girls start swaying in ways far too seductive to write about in a family music site.  Oh fuck that.  They’re sexy as all get out.  Guys lining the walls watching those girls grind and shake, fantasies filling their heads.  And in each of those fantasies, “Whatever Haunts You,” is playing.  Dropping down to a mid-song respite, bellowing back up with a raging guitar solo courtesy of Joe Selby.  Kevin Jones on bass and Doug Jones on the kit keep those female hips taunting and teasing.  A great modern blues rock number through and through.

“Big Enough” keeps the sexual energy driving with a country-fried blues work-out.  This is what I always wanted the Black Crowes to sound like.  Big muscular guitars, stop-start riffing, snotty backing vocals, and Andy spewing out lyrics that seem to be about just what you might think with a title like “Big Enough.”  Not sure about that, but on my imaginary dancefloor that’s what they’d all be thinking anyways.  Toss in a truly bopping chorus and this song is another barn burner.

“Shake Me,” rocks in a Bad Company vein, maybe with a touch of BTO or many other 70’s rockers.  The opening riff reminds me of half of an ELO track before it takes off into dirty blues rock heaven.   For the life of me, I can’t imagine why this song wouldn’t be a hit.  In the 70’s it would’ve been and Taddy Porter would be filling stadiums with their southern Arena rock approach.  And the crowd would’ve eaten it up.   Whiskey soaks through each note like a home-bottled brew of 70’s moonshine.  Each riff is powered with enough grit and dust to make it truly authentic.  These aren’t guys going through the motions and they aren’t living in the past.  They’re living this rock, day to day, moment to moment.  Authenticity drips from each song like blood from an opened vein.  Toss some Stone Axe into the mix and we got a whole new breed of modern 70’s rock. 

As the party rages on and the keg starts to dry up, “Long Slow Drag” offers a brief respite from the frenzied rock.  A momentary slow dance before “I Gotta Love,” attacks in Blackfoot intensity.   The party rages back to full force.  With that charging guitar riff and killer vocal hook, hands fly into the air, the dance barn fills, beer flies and spills.  “Mean Bitch” sums up the wallflower guys’ thoughts at all the girls who rejected them that night with a guitar solo that can burn off enough of these guys’ pent up sexual frustrations.

The first fight of the night erupts to the rocking second half of “Fire in the Streets” which escalates from it’s subdued beginning in true Bad Company fashion to a full-on fist-throwing guitar epic mid-section.  A few lips get bloodied.  A few girls start crying in high school dramatics.  It’s all good.  It’s a Saturday night at a barn beer fest. 

Finally, as the keg runs dry, Taddy Porter cool the crowd down with the restrained, mid-tempo closers of “Railroad Queen” with it’s tasty slide licks and southern boogie, then the finale of “King Louie” a guitar screamer with a fierce backbeat a la The Rockets or 38 Special when they were good.  Andy’s voice really shines here revealing some tastefully roughed up soulful vocal chords, and the band ushers the crowd out with some stinging guitar leads.

The Camaros fire up.  The Mach One’s drive off.  Empty kegs get thrown into the back of the pick up trucks and I climb behind the wheel of my . . . Fiat.  Testosterone burned.  Sweat stained.  Sexual fantasy induced.  It’s been one helluva night.

And Taddy Porter is on tap for next weeks blast as well.


Buy here: Taddy Porter
Buy here mp3: Taddy Porter (Amazon Exclusive Version)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Come Join The Ripple Effect Facebook Page - Your Source for Tons of Excellent Free Music!

Yeah, yeah, we know.  Although we've had a Ripple Music Facebook page going for some time with some 1300 friends joining us, it took us a while to get around to launching a true Ripple Effect FB page.

But the wait is over.

Best of all, we're making a conscious effort not to make the FB page a carbon copy of The Ripple.  Occasionally, we  may cross-promote some really cool news, or tour dates, or reviews, but for the most part we're planning on making the Ripple FB page a real companion to The Ripple Effect.

And primarily, that means your source for some truly excellent free music!  Yep, we're gonna use that forum as our place to upload all the links that come in to some great free albums, singles, compilations . . . whatever.  As long as it's good music, it's free, and it's legal, we'll get it up on the Ripple FB.

So far, we've already posted links to the killer Tsurumi Records free compilation, the latest awesome set from Exploding in Sound, Stoner rock nirvana from the Soda Shop, a Canadian Death Metal compilation and a single from the brand new band, Bowery Beasts.  All free.

So pop on over to Ripple FB.  Friend us.  Tell all your friends (please) and just wait to see what's the next free album we giveaway.

And, as always, drop off your thoughts, comments, suggestions.  We really do listen to our waveriders and want to make this community as fun as possible.


The Ripple Effect Gang.

[April 24, 2011] SBS Inkigayo Highlights + Commentary

Inki was in Jeju today! Yay! However, when I found out that little bit of information yesterday, I was less than pleased - more like fearful for my ears. Why? Because one, you have a gazillion rookie groups on today Two, this is Inkigayo - the sound ALWAYS sucks. And three, this is Inkigayo somewhere other than the SBS studio - the sound people aren't used to the venue. Add the fact that they can't even get good results at the SBS studio week in and week out and you have a sonic disaster.

Well it looks like my predictions were right. Someone please fire the Inki sound guy before I go there myself and make sure he dies a slow, and painful death. I don't care if it's easter, he needs to go. NOW.

Video credits go to CrazyCarrot370. The best thing that ever happened to kpop hahah.

A Pink - "Don't Know"
You know what they remind me of? That group of girls in elementary school with budding stage parents who force them to perform during school events. Maybe some of them can sing, but the main goal of the entire performance, as dictated by their parents, is to be "discovered" and become the next Mariah or Whitney. Which you can only do by attracting attention to yourself more than the others. The vocals today were painful and the over-all performance like some kind of cute-off. Meh.

Rania -"Dr. Feel Good"
That part where the girl's miming the part another girl sings reminds me of Chun and Yunho on "The Way You Are". Anyway. Oh wow. Apart from that stupidity at the first line of the song and the 2 or 3 solo lines mimed, for rookies Rania overcame crap Inki sound pretty well. And in k-pop, doing well in Inki means you're pretty damn good. They have presence, they have vocals, they have a pretty decent song - I'm impressed, and I want more.

Dal Shabet -"Pink Rocket"
I don't even want to talk about them. Just watch the video.

Infinite - "Nothing's Over"
As much as I'd like to say Infinite did good today, like on MuBank, and as much as they've really improved, for SOME STUPID REASON like I don't know, crap sound, they sounded off today. And the verses hurt my ears. That last set of high notes wasn't half bad though, even if the guy doing it was cracking all over the place. Very tight performance, except of course for the blegh vocals.

Orange Caramel -"Bangkok City"
I don't want to talk about the song, but I will say something. I AM SO GLAD AFTER SCHOOL IS COMING BACK THIS WEEK SO I CAN BE SPARED OF THIS BLASPHEMY. Preferably by a JungAh/Gahee tag-team.

Rainbow - "To Me"
It's now a contest between the long-haired blonde girl and the girl I liked yesterday for my favorite voice in Rainbow. The fact that there's a contest means we're making progress, Rainbow! But the inki handsfree mics are doing nothing for their vocals, and you really have to listen to hear them actually singing - most of the time it's just a bunch of random sounds and the backing track laced with breaths. We're not making that much progress, Rainbow - work harder. LOL.

ZE:A - "Here I Am"
I understand that the song is floaty and whatnot, but their live vocals do not sound floaty - they sound strained, like in reality that can't sing the song. Their energy on stage is really strong, and they finally worked on that whole "being a group" thing, but their vocals are the exact opposite - some of them are lifeless, majority are strained. And as a whole just sad, I'm sorry to say. My ears hurt. It's a shame though, I kinda like the recorded version.

CN Blue -"Intuition"
JONGHYUN. SHADES. YES. Yonghwa slurring his words because he doesn't have shades but still wants to be all "gangster". NO. Just no. Yonghwa you're a very competent, consistent live singer - slurring your words only makes you sound like you don't know what you're doing. ANd if we can move the drummer a biiiiiiiit closer that would be great, SBS, thank you. We can work on plugging in their guitars later.

f(x) - "Danger"
What did I say about NOT TURNING THE BACKING TRACK UP TOO LOUD, inki sound guy? I thought we worked this out last year - you have to make their voices AUDIBLE, not drown them in pre-recorded crap. You can hardly hear ANY of them, and Krystal's vocals were like, non-existent. We're talking about Krystal here, the popular one. And you can't hear her? Are you nuts? Now because the stupid sound guy was being stupid, the performance lacked punch - obviously, I COULDN'T EVEN HEAR THEM SING. The attitude was there though, which is always good.

4Minute - "Mirror Mirror"
They're all getting used to singing the song, that's for sure - OK maybe everyone except Hyun A. Can she just stick with rapping and mock-singing please? However Jiyoon sounds epic as always. And Gayoon is consistent, but the problem is just I really just don't like her voice. The performance was fine, with the standard 4Minute attitude, and the vocals were ever so slightly better than the last time. I still prefer HuH over this though.

U-Kiss - "0330"
Oh wow. Their vocals sound a lot less strained today, and a lot richer. Of course the hand mics are a big help, but it's like they all got rest because there's no panting. And the high note was done pretty well, even if the line right after was sloppy. Strong performance - I've been waiting to say that for a U-kiss song!

SNSD - "Hoot"
Before I personally thought SNSD's live vocals were way below the standard for a band of their stature and pedigree. I mean outside of their singles a good half of them can really sing, but they could never quite pull off their singles the way a band like them should be able to. The only reason why I didn't like SNSD was because I wasn't sold on the live performances of their singles, and it annoyed me that they could sing other people's songs better than their own, but as they get older they're forced to grow - more so now that they're in Japan. Surprise of all surprises, guess what the solution to that problem was - Japan. Of course. It turned DBSK from extraordinary talents into legends - it's slowly turning SNSD from a girl group that hit the big time to a girl group with pedigree to their name, and this performance is proof of that. The good singers are getting competent, consistent, and the slightly better ones are getting stronger.

Big Bang -"Love Song"
If you want TOP to sing, and want to make it look like he isn't TOP trying desperately sing, please don't put his line before Daesung, who is undeniably the best singer in Big Bang. (if you want to argue with me I don't care - Taeyang's voice annoys me) Then if you want to make GD sound good, don't put him between Daesung and Taeyang, who have obviously been singing more lines than GD these past few years. What's more, GD couldn't even pull off singing a few "I hate this love song"'s without panting. And Seungri's first solo was weak. I know he's sick, but if he can stand on stage and dance, the vocals should be slightly stronger. Daesung sounds tired too, and his lower range sounds weak. Did someone forget to make these guys warm up or something? Do they even need to be told to warm up at this point? The only one who sounds like usual is Taeyang. I'm being tough on them because they're Big Bang, undeniably 5 of the best performers of their generation - for heaven's sake they just gave an epic performance yesterday, what the crap happened? Apart from Seungri being sick, of course.

DBSK/HoMin - "Before You Go" & "Keep Your Head Down"
Before we start, Inki, is it really necessary for the flame to be heard through HoMin's mics? It's annoying. But anyway. If you want strong Inki handsfree mic vocals - you get them with HoMin. Of course they're not as good as they are on MuBank, but of all the performers who used handsfree mics today, obviously HoMin's vocals were the strongest. And Inki sound guy only slightly messed up! Yay! The performance today was spot-on for Inki standards - if you're a good performer, you're a good performer wherever you go, and technicalities cannot, and will not change that. HoMin are seasoned, trained and outstanding performers - you see how their vocals are brilliant whether it's on major music shows like this or small TV shows with almost no equipment to accommodate vocals. Now, this is the official end of all HoMin activities for "Keep Your Head Down". I'm sad. Really sad. But like the crazy OT5 cassie I am, there's that little sliver of hope that the next time they come back, it's at 5. I know it's ridiculous, but it keeps me, and a lot of other fans, sane. The demands of the industry say otherwise, heck even my brain says otherwise, but there's a part of me that HAS to see that magic again - and hoping keeps me from going nuts, so yeah - have mercy on me just this once?

Ripple News - Tsurumi Records Releases Free 10 song Sampler

Ardent vinyl lovers Tsurumi Records are extending their passion to digital giveaways this Spring.  Love is in the air and Tsurumi Records wants to share theirs with everyone.  It kicks off today with 10 free downloadable tracks that sample their catalogue. The Tsurumi Sampler will be available for free until the release of their 5th album Last Chance Summer Dance by latest label signee Fonzarelli. 

Tsurumi Records is home to garage punks The Beautiful Mothers, the lo-fi rock of The Second Academy, the elegant noise that is Tokyo’s Golden and now Fonzarelli, an epitaph solo project turned indie rock spectacle.

With a focus on a love for vinyl, Tsurumi Records has one simple goal: release music that listeners can’t live without.   Remember a time not too long ago when you could purchase an album without a sample listen, simply because of your faith in the label that released it? Tsurumi Records remains a trustworthy source for refreshing and interesting music. For more information on Tsurumi Records visit

To listen to and download the Tsurumi Sampler for free, click here:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

[April 23, 2011] MBC Music Core Highlights + Commentary

Yes, I will be returning with the regular three music shows a week - this is serious, until I once again get too busy to keep up. Today's MuCore had a pretty good line up, and surprisingly, MuCore sound has greatly improved! A lot of debuts today, as well as f(x)'s comeback and HoMin's farewell stage.

Let's get right into it! Read on for the recap.

Video credit goes to CrazyCarrot270@YT. Brilliance, I tell you, brilliance!

B1A4 -"OK"
You know what this song reminds me of? The theme song for a Disney-type teenage sitcom by someone like McFly, or the JoBros in their early days. Or the theme song for something like "God of Study". It's not bad, in fact since it's the kind of music I was surrounded by growing up, I'm kinda feeling it. But to be honest with you their vocals, their presence and their over-all performance is over this type of songs that I honestly just want them to get over this phase and give me brilliance. Did I hear fanchants? And loud cheers? For a debuting group? And did you see how they just prance around stage like it's nothing to them - but end up putting out pretty strong vocals? Right now, it's between them and X-5 for new boyband supremacy, and the competition is pretty damn fierce, if you ask me.

A Pink - "Don't Know"
Ugh. Them. Once again, everyone is trying to out sing, out dance and out cute each other. It's like this is a competition between members for them and the one who has the cutest expression or the sharpest hand movements wins - it's not. And because everyone is still trying to outdo everyone else, I cannot pinpoint an effortlessly amazing voice yet. Today's performance was very robotic - no feeling, no spark. Boring.

Block B - "Freeze"
I know a lot of people have been gushing about Block B, but to be honest with you I don't see the hype. The song is generic and they're not the best singers I've seen either. The guy with the hand mic, who I assume is their lead vocalist, can belt notes alright but there's something off about the way he sings. It's like he's trying to be Taeyang, Seulong, and Jay Park all rolled in one - he's not any of them. And is it just me is one of the rappers trying to look, and rap, like TOP? Give me a better song and work on singing before I take notice of you, please?

Rania -"Dr. Feel Good"
To be honest with you, I don't really get why they're being criticized. I mean OK the choreography is rather suggestive, but for heaven's sake it's not like we haven't seen something like this before. And my god are these girls talented - they can sing like THAT while dancing themselves into oblivion? I'm impressed. Yeah sure majority of the performance was the hook(s), but their solo lines were near-perfectly delivered. With handsfree mics. While dancing like that and lying down on the floor and everything. If it's between X-5 and B1A4 for the boybands, it's definitely a war between Rania and the Brave Girls. Oh dear why is this generation of new groups so damn good.

Dal Shabet -"Pink Rocket"
You know Dal Shabet, you didn't need to come back so quickly after "Supa Dupa Diva". That's code for "I don't want to see you on music shows. preferably never again, but I'll bargain for a few months". But nooooooooo, they just HAD to come back with this disaster of a single that they obviously cannot sing. Their vocals today were an absolute pain to hear, I'm sorry.

Rainbow - "To Me"
Rainbow are the perfect example to girl groups starting out that if you really want it and you really try, you can turn out pretty decent. From what I've seen, I really like the girl who's in the middle for majority of the choruses - the one singing "na reul bulreo bwa"? Yeah, her. Nice voice. And around 3 others have nice voices, but not enough technique to carry them live. Today's performance wasn't as good as yesterday's, but it's definitely a lot better than majority of the performances of their previous singles. I wouldn't willingly watch this again, but I won't cringe to death if I watched it again. We're making progress, Rainbow, let's hope DSP lets you stick around long enough.

Orange Caramel -"Bangkok City"
I refuse to talk about the song again, and subject myself to anger and annoyance LOL. But to be honest with you the vocals weren't bad, if you take in consideration how the verses fit none of them and the chorus is 90% backing track. Next song, please? My ears hurt.

CN Blue -"Intuition"
The only difference this has from yesterday's performance is that Yonghwa isn't wearing shades, he has a guitar, and the song's shorter. That's basically it. Vocally strong, as always, unplugged guitars, as always, and an alienated drummer. Although we're making progress - maybe 2 feet closer to Yonghwa and I'll be happy.

f(x) - "Danger"
Oh wow. Where do I start. Well, considering that SM refuses to give up on the "NU ABO"/"Chu~" vocal treatment that I would like them to set on fire for the world to forget, I think this song is a good compromise. It's not that cutesy anymore, it has a bit more epic-ness to it, AND YOU CAN ACTUALLY SING THE SONG NOW! SME I'm so proud of you! LOL. And another thing - it fits all their vocals perfectly. Luna's vocals are degraded here and there's no epic high note to make up for it, but I now realize that they could've done worse. The gap between the better and the worse in f(x) is getting closer and closer - Sulli and Victoria's vocals are much much stronger now, and are catching up to Luna and Krystal. And may I say that I'm beginning to like Sulli's voice. Whether or not they're all using handsfree mics today, it was a strong performance.

4Minute - "Mirror Mirror"
I like the outfits today! Jiyoon was good today, although her vocals still a bit too throaty, but I'd take her over Gayoon any day. Now if only we can get Gayoon's fluidity and Jiyoon's technique and put it in one voice - that would be perfect. Although, Jihyun wasn't half bad today. And their presence is slowly, but surely, getting stronger and stronger - if before they owned the stage, now it looks like home of them. They're still really bringing it, but it's slowly getting effortless. Now just work on your vocals and BAM.

Big Bang -"Stupid Liar"
Performers in every sense of the word. Not a big fan of the song, but I can't help but watch - they're having SO MUCH FUN and you can't keep your eyes off of them. It's like, screw caring about our vocals, screw trying to hold the audience in the palms of our hands - we can do that like clockwork now - we are going to prance around this stage and have fun and no one can stop us. And my god what a show that makes - it makes you just want to prance around like they are. I'd watch this at least a dozen more times.

DBSK/HoMin - "Before You Go" & "Keep Your Head Down"
If Big Bang went the "screw everything we're having fun here" route, which perfectly matches who they are, HoMin went with the "we're gods, we know - keep worshipping us" way, which also perfectly matches the songs. They know they're good, they know they're practically immortal in k-pop, and they know the fans will go to ends of the earth for them - they're turning that into a performance. The result? A spectacle - a feast to all your senses. Everything about this performance was formulated, calculated, painstakingly practiced, but they're so good, so experienced, that they make it look like all you have to do on stage is stand there and look pretty. And maybe that's why so many new idol groups are so lazy and lack effort - because when they see people like DBSK and Big Bang on stage it looks so easy. It's not, they just make it look like it os. EXCUSE ME WHILE I ABUSE THE REPLAY BUTTON.

Cattle Drums- The Boy Kisser Sessions +3

The thing that works with pop rock is the mix of catchy pop and heavy rock sounds. This EP by Cattle Drum brings that together, but in an unexpected way. Usually in pop/rock albums, the music is rock and the vocals provide the sing along pop but not with this EP. The music almost reaches the point of pop, the vocals definitely rock. It is possible to even go as far as saying the only thing that makes it pop is the guitar riffs that make you want to play along.

The entire The Boy Kisser Sessions +3 EP is full of cryptic lyrics and is wildly unpredictable making it really fun to listen to.

The first surprise is delivered with the first song. "New Furniture and Wigs" is a great opening to the album with an awesome riff that makes your reach for your guitar to try and play. The surprise is really the vocals. After hearing the riff you are expecting something a little  Fall Out Boy in flavour, but you don't. You get hit with impact making, tuneful shouting. The same sort of taste follows with "Who Punched Pat Moore's Face"- really great riff.

Just when you are thinking, “Okay... I think I can get what they are doing here...” they pop in "Sluts and Coconuts" which brings the two fast paced impact hitting songs to a slower more relaxed point. With a smoother, higher pitched riff and lyrics you can almost follow. "Bovrg the Nag" keeps you on the same wave as "Sluts and Coconuts", which is something you can appreciate in the roller coaster that is this EP.

 "Two Pigeons" has a sweet little opening, with acoustic guitar and soft drums, transitions into the faster paced, and backs off again later in the song.

"Just the Right Height" has an electronic start opening up to the tuneful shout that, at this point in the EP, you are beginning to really like. The lyrics still baffle you with things like-

“Doc scaled the walls of the typhoon front line, but I don’t mind the drive underground. Put em’ up high. A left handed pitcher who only throws curves, throws a fit”

"All the Electric Secrets of Hell" begins with my favourite riff of the album because it is soft and engaging. The obscure lyrics have also grown on you and you can almost find yourself wanting to sing along to the chorus of-

“Uh oh I’ve been waiting up all night, for something sweet, to crawl in my mouth.
You’re cutting out 'land ho' I’m wasting away out of bounds, scraping off my nails, and chewing off my tongue, but I’m at it again wearing in the wrong shoes.”

"I Know Who Killed Me" tops off the unpredictability of The Boy Kisser Sessions +3 by opening with lyrics, which none of the other songs have done. This is my favourite song because it provides me with a mental picture in my head of some crazy imaginary world thanks to the opening lines-

“I want to be more than a dramatic silhouette spilling gasoline on my paper shoes, to waste away playing kicking the can in an uphill landscape full of loose connections, a landscape prone to open flame.”

It can be also noticed, that in this song the shouting has almost dissolved into talking and the final half with just the tapping throws me out of my imaginary land into a jungle waiting for a cannibalistic tribe to eat me.

It is as if the Cattle Drums just went insane during this EP, and that is why I like it. You have no idea what is going on, where it is heading and you can't even sing along because you are never quite sure if you are going left or right. It appeals to me, and hopefully to others, because it is unlike most other productions. If anyone works out the meaning of it all, let me know.