Archive for March, 2007

PELLE CARLBERG In A Nutshell ALBUM REVIEW

PELLE CARLBERG In A Nutshell Pelle Carlberg comes back with a brilliant sophomore album. In A Nutshell takes Pelle Carlberg’s already mature and solid song writing and takes it further with more fun and air thrilling arrangements. From the upbeat opener “Pamplona,” you can already tell that Pelle Carlberg seems to be a lot more optimistic and cheerful in comparison to his predecessor of songs from Everything Now! This seems to be a new Pelle Carlberg that may have found some light that he was seeking in his first album. With the piano playing and the strings tip toeing and the drums bouncing, “Pamplona” is one hell of an opener. Then right off to “I Love You, You Imbecile” he duets into a completely blissful pop tune.

In A Nutshell is full of songs that are playful and are sung in complete harmonium. Songs like “Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls,” “Crying All the Way To the Pawnshop,” “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” and “Middleclass Kid” will have you humming and snapping your fingers along. But this is not to say that In A Nutshell is all sugar. “Why Do Today What You Can Put Off Until Tomorrow?” would have you brooding seconds into his guitar strums and his echoing vocals being their commentary on “working to live.” “Even a Broken Clock (is Right Twice a Day)” with its airy drum brushes and twinkling xylophone and strings in the background would have you feeling lazy on a Sunday. Pelle Carlberg balances his new album by not leaving it overly cheery and sweet. But in the end you’ll have an uplifting feeling in your chest after you’ve listened through the album.

MP3: “I Love You, You Imbecile

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MIKA Life In Cartoon Motion MUSIC REVIEW

Mika - Life In Cartoon MotionIt’s hard to imagine what it’s like to be in your early 20s and to be put out as one of the next “it” artists to look out for. Sometimes that can lead to destruction of an artist or lead to an ever long and successful career.

Born in Beirut then having moved and raised in Paris, London and New York, this musical talented international wonder known as MIKA explodes into the pop world with an album full of grace and maturity. Having music as his only escape from his tumultuous upbringing, MIKA does not redefine pop music but demonstrates how much talent and passion can go a long way.

Blasting into the album with “Grace Kelly” and belting “So I try a little Freddie” and boy does he! With the kind of vocal chops that can hit heavy and soar high, it’s incredible to hear this once 11 year old opera singer try his chops at songs that reminisce and takes us back when over the top song writing and glam were the norm. Then we’re thrown into another diddy in “Lollipop” where you swear this is a song that poptress Gwen Steffani would’ve penned and sung.

Life In Cartoon Motion is full of eclectic pop songs that like contemporary artists Scissor Sisters, transcend the last three generations in pop music. For example, I read that he was also influenced by Harry Nilsson. With all of the comparisons to Sir Elton John, Rufus Wainwright and Scissor Sisters I couldn’t hear it happening. Then I heard “Billy Brown.” What a sugary tune “Billy Brown” is. This is one of the first pop songs I’ve heard in a long long time that really brought back memories of listening to old pop artists on cassette tape. Then there’s “Stuck In The Middle” that reminded me of the Sir Elton John that I used to listen to as a kid (but of course with the added incredible vocal climbs into high falsettos). At age 23, MIKA really does know how to wear his influences on his shoulders.

And of course, MIKA didn’t forget about that dance floor as well. “Love Today” has MIKA once again hitting over the top falsettos over thumping bass beats and pounding piano to get that booty moving. But soon after my favorite song on the album “Relax, Take It Easy,” a single that minimal impact on the British charts really does it for me. Bee Gees like glamour and disco beats always does it for me.

But sometimes there can also be too much sweetness. With all of the tunes that move my groove there are only a few tracks that has me on the “skip.” Not that the songs are not well-crafted, but placed sitting awkwardly between some of the best pop songs I’ve heard in a while. Sounding more like an adult contemporary song from the likes of James Blunt, “My Interpretation” for some reason puts a sour taste in my groove. There’s nothing wrong with the song, it just doesn’t belong on the album. Then there’s “Happy Ending” which sounds like it could’ve been a tune sung for the broadway musical R.E.N.T. Another well-crafted song that just seems to feel out of place on the album. The only ballad on the album that seems to strike a good chord with me was “Any Other World.”

So in the end this young 23 year old musical guru’s debut Life In Cartoon Motion can open up a portal for an emerging career. With the vocal chops, musical talent, mature song writing and of course the dazzling looks, we will see how far this can take MIKA.

MP3: “Grace Kelly” “Love Today
Website: www.mikasounds.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/mikamyspace
Purchase: Life In Cartoon Motion
Label: Casablanca
Videos:

“Grace Kelly”

“Love Today”

SCISSOR SISTERS Ta-Dah ALBUM REVIEW

Scissor Sisters - Ta-DahOne of my most anticipated albums of 2006, Scissor Sister’s Ta-Dah kind of tapped quietly underneath the radar. There wasn’t a lot of hooplah or hype around the album in comparison to their official debut. But I did hear about their single “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” being a top charter in England as well as Sir Elton John having guested on their grand return to the world of disco brights and neon lights. The frolicking guitar lick in the beginning, the chimming piano, Shears’ soaring vocals through the muffled percussion resonates of the same ole good times had back in the day when it was a norm to go to rollar skating while letting that mullet fly.

Though there doesn’t seem to be as much UMPH! and PIZAZZ! as their debut, Ta-Dah seems to find the Scissor Sisters more unified in their song crafting. With dance floor hits such as “She’s My Man,” “Ooh,” and “Paul McCartney” joining more authentically fused songs such as “Lights” and “Kiss You Off,” Ta-Dah packs enough mojo to keep their fans’ hips freaked out.

And to keep in touch with their pop synthesis of over three generations, Ta-Dah contains more than just “dance hits.” Ballads such as “The Other Side” and “I Might Tell You Tonight” keeps things retrospective without the cheese and trite lyrics. Vaudvillesque tunes such as “I Can’t Decide” and “Intermission” proves that even bubbliest of songs has a place in today’s pop world.

Ta-Dah is a more refined Scissor Sisters. Their sophomore album is an album that the melds the last three generations into one giant party.

MP3: “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing

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THE MARY ONETTES Void ALBUM REVIEW

THE MARY ONETTES VoidThe heavy 80’s influenecd Swedish rocks have done it again. After releasing the fantastic single “Lost,” they’ve hit us again with another single. “Void” with it’s running guitars along with two b-sides “Everyday And Today” and “Translate” will get our appetites ready for their upcoming full-length.

This band is everything that a lot of today’s “80’s influenced” bands wish they were. In comparison Interpol, The Stills, Cities, Editors, The Killers, etc. The Mary Onettes produce a sound that is so much more authentic and natural. From Philip Ekström’s reverbed vocals echoing and the jangling guitars jangling and brooding lyrics brooding, you would definitely mistake their music for something that really came out of the 80’s.

Now whether they will be able to compete with the juggernauts in an ocean of bands is another question. But regardless if they blow up or not, The Mary Onettes will definitely be known for bringing forth music that’s timeless just like their predecessors.

MP3: “Void

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BEDROOM EYES Embrace In Stereo

BEDROOM EYESI don’t know what’s up with these Swedes. I can’t even wake up the next day without finding out that there are a handful of new pop acts. It’s like writing sweet pop music is their crack and the addiction doesn’t look like it’s going to become weary anytime soon. But who’s complaining? This the good kind of crack…well, wait…not that there ever was a good crack to begin with.

KIDS SAY NO TO DRUGS!

But anyways…

Jonas Jonsson from the small town of Östersund in northern Sweden has created a nice little sound reminiscent of a male vocal fronted Camera Obscura or a Swedish Teenage Fanclub. The self-released Embrace In Stereo contains four ditties that represent what good indie pop should be now a days. There are four snapping, crackling pop tunes on this EP that’ll satisfy your appetite for a full-length meal in the near future.

But what’s also great about this release in comparison other indie pop/twee acts is that Jonas Jonsson didn’t only take it up a notch with his song writing, but he took it up a bit as well on production. With instruments from the banjo, french horn, harmonica, strings accompanying the standard guitar, bass, drums set up and as well as some harmonious vocals, Jonas Jonnsson may be one indie pop song writer to watch out for in the future.

BEDROOM EYES

MP3(s): “Motorcycle Daydream” “Dancing Under Influence” “The Sky Writer” “Blueprint For Departure
Website: www.bedroomeyes.se
MySpace: www.myspace.com/bedroomeyes
Purchase: Embrace In Stereo
Label: self-released

THE SOFTLIGHTES Say No To Being Cool: Say Yes To Being Happy

Say Yes To Being HappyAfter the demise of The Incredible Moses Leroy a few years ago, I’ve always wondered what happened to them. I had their first album Electric Pocket Radio which was a bowl of swishing and smooshing sugar coated pop running at high altitudes. Not to mention it had one of the mostest most perfectest pop songs in “Fuzzy.” It was a fun album though it critically didn’t go over too well. Then his second album Electric Pocket Radio which continued the eclectic formula containing synth pop but partnered with even more eclectic elements that made the album a lil more soulful and quite loungy at times.

So after a hop and a skip around MySpace, I found mister Ron Fountenbarry aka The Incredible Moses Leroy under his new moniker The Softlightes. I hadn’t realized it till further research actually. But what I did hear was the first strums over the airy background in the single “Heart Made Of Sound.” I looked under the label section to find it filled out as “unsigned.” “Wow” and “hmmm…” were the first two actions in my synapses. Then all I remember was being lost in the innocence of a spiritful chorus. “And they could want you / And They could want you / But they don’t believe to want you” over the trilling piano and the beeps over that subtle strum was all I can hear. “What a great sweet song!” I said to myself.

So having left The Incredible Moses Leroy to come out of a cocoon as The Softlightes (possibly hinted in the album title The Incredible Moses Leroy Becomes The Soft.lightes) , Ron Fountenbarry coincidentally returns to the more playful pop and synth sounds from the Electric Pocket Radio. Though not as spunky and hyper as Electric Pocket Radio, Say No To Being Cool: Say Yes To Being Happy found its middle ground to where it can play back and flow as one happy album. Having recorded the album in his bedroom, the sounds find themselves floating more freely.

Along the bubbly “Heart Made Of Sound” tracks such as “A Town Named Blue” and “Leonor And Me” are sweet sweet fluffy sing alongs in the same vein that they can make you flutter. They also happen to be my two favorite songs! But where as songs such as “Girlskillsbear” being synth heavy, “The Microwave Song” being sun shiney, “Untitled Duet #3” being drum machine driven and where a song like “The Robots In My Room Are Playing Arena Rock” is guitar driven, it is safe to say that although The Softlightes is a lot more conducive to its sound as a whole in comparison to The Incredible Moses Leroy, the music is just as eclectic and fun.

This is definitely an album I would love to have playing on a long drive out on the west coast towards that cool breeze and setting sun.

THE SOFTLIGHTES THE SOFTLIGHTES

MP3: “Heart Made Of Sound” “The Ballad Of Theodore And June
Website: www.thesoftlightes.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/thesoftlightes
Purchase: Say No To Being Cool: Say Yes To Being Happy
Label: Modular
Videos: “Heart Made of Sound”

GWOEMUL (The Host)

THE HOST (Gwoemul)The biggest blockbuster ever in Korea cinema and from 2006 has finally arrived in the states. How will the American audience perceive this film? I am not too sure, but I am quite worried. Marketed as “ONE OF THE GREATEST MONSTER MOVIES EVER MADE!” may be quite a statement and possibly in a general sense pretty close. But what makes a “monster movie” a “monster movie” in another country may be quite different. But who cares what the audience thinks, this refreshing and humorous and entertaining film was one of my favorites of 2006!

Let’s begin with the typical storyline for GWOEMUL. A biochemist dumps a slew of biochemicals into the Han River. The chemicals interact with the river life and eventually spawns “the monster.” The monster comes out of the river and wrecks havoc. The monster takes Hyun-seo the daughter of Gang-du hostage into the canals and then the story unravels. The slow witted father alongside his dysfunctional family (sister Nam-joo, brother Nam-il, father Hee-bong) get into a roller coaster of a ride in trying to save Hyun-seo themselves.

I won’t get any further into plot of the film, but it does like every other typical monster movie doesn’t it?

But what makes Gweomul remarkably different from every other “monster movie” that has come out in years is that the story rather than taking typical characters and predictable characters into a predictable plot instead took a string of quirky off-beat characters into a predictable plot. What the film was also able to do was not take itself seriously. Director Boon Joon-ho who received critical acclaim for his Salunui Chueok (Memories Of Murder) on top of directing a little favorite of mine Namgeuk-ilgi (Antarctic Journal) and the low profile black comedy Flandersui Gae (Barking Dogs Never Bite), was able to get this dysfunctional family to become the focus point the film rather than its monster. The tragedy and hardships that the family goes through and their interaction with the city and city folk around them is what made this film interesting and entertaining.

Instead of the King Kongs swinging through the skyscrapers, the T-Rex munching down on people, aliens hiding in the air vents, insane psychopaths slashing innocent bystanders, Boon Joon-ho captivates us with a middle class family who just happens to have been strapped into an unfortunate event. Actors playing this family, the adorable and talented Bae Du-na, the sharp Song Kang-ho along with Byeon Hie-bong, Park Hae-il and Ko Ah-sung were able to bring the characters to life and their dilemma into having us go along for the ride. The uniqueness in each character doesn’t bore with the trite and repetitive nature that have we have seen in so many previous films.

Now tie up the creative story with top notch and NOT OVER DONE special effects with great cinematography from Kim Hyung-ku and a soundtrack by Lee Byung-woo that will have feeling like you’re running around in a circus and you’ll have yourself a good time. The direction, cinematography, score and acting was able to gel together different genres and emotions together into a smorgasbord of fun. Film critics have labeled this film a monster movie, a thriller, a comedy, a horror, a sci-fi. But I would like to label this “a good time.”

If you are expecting a film with overly done CGI, with humongous monsters, with $100 million budget, with over dramatic acting and with gore splishing and splashing everywhere you can skip out on this one. You’ll be missing out on what this film really has to offer.

Oh, and no…this is nothing like JAWS!

Website: www.hostmovie.com

Original Korean movie posters:

THE HOSTTHE HOSTTHE HOST (Gwoemul)

Original Korean trailer:

American (English) trailers:


About

Twentyseven Views is primarily a music blog (although sometimes I will do the random post on a film or something culture or art related). All posts are genuine and honest opinions by the writer.

The writer is based in New York and has run a small indie record label, was a former publicist and has done freelance publicity. The writer has penchant taste in music that lean towards pop. Whether that be indie pop, dance music or hip-hop.

MP3s are used to help promote the artists and musicians. Please buy their art!

If you have any questions regarding any posts please feel free to contact the writer.

Contact

Please feel free to contact me at twentysevenviews(at)gmail.com.

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