LE RECORD

Dido – Girl Who Got Away (Deluxe Edition)

girl-who-got-away

Dido has always churned out great records. I loved her last 2 albums though I admit that I was a bit late to join the bandwagon. For her latest release, Dido has given us another solid record.

The first single I heard from this album was Let Us Move On, which sounded very Lana del Rey. I was a bit put off by that because it seemed like Dido was following a trend instead of being herself and though the song was quite good, I hoped that it didn’t dictate the sound for the rest of the record. The next song I heard was End of Night. It had a dance-y vibe, with its repeated throbbing beat (Think Robyn’s Dancing On My Own). Again, I felt like she was following the inescapable electro trend everyone seems to be trying out these days. Then I realized that Dido had always leaned on the dancier side of pop. I just got used to the sound of her excellent previous release, Safe Trip Home after having listened to it so many times. Since then the song has become my favorite song from the album. Another favorite of mine is Sitting on the Roof of the World, which along with Happy New Year and Day Before We Went to War resounds most with her last album. Dido also tries out other sounds on the record like a little reggae on Love to Blame and a some saturated urban on All I See.

Other highlights from the record is the title track and the refreshing sound and notable intro of Blackbird. The rest of the songs keep the recognizable Dido sound. Though the standard tracks when listened to already feel complete, the bonus tracks are also good and it would be a shame to disregard them.

Madonna – MDNA (Deluxe Edition)

I know that she’s the queen of pop and all but I was never really a big Madonna fan. I’d rather have Kylie or Janet any day. Still, I wasn’t completly oblivious to her. I liked her last 2 albums and her hit songs as well. What I also liked was the first single from her new album, Give Me All Your Luvin’ which is a cool dance song that has a bit of a vintage feel to it.

I have to give it to her though, her new album, MDNA is one solid effort. Madonna keeps it modern and shows that she still has what it takes to go head to head (or even beat out) her successors. The album is composed mainly of pop dance tracks with a hard edge. The songs give a nod to current music trends like the Britney-inspired dubstep break in the bridge which is heard on a few songs like the lead single, the happy-sounding Superstar, and Gang Bang. The latter being a highlight from the record. The monotonous singing paired with a withheld electro beat creates a perfect trans tune à la Slow by Kylie Minogue. Another stand out is Some Girls which has a hard bass that almost makes it a dubstep track but not quite. The sonic experimentation on this record is great and has not been heard since Gwen Stefani. I’m Addicted is a hard electro dance track with a synth pop break towards the end. I Don’t Give A pulls of being vintage yet modern at the same time and features a killer verse from Nicki Minaj. Other songs call to mind her previous work. Masterpiece and Beautiful Killer would fit perfectly in her Hard Candy era while the second single, Girl Gone Wild go with her Confessions era. Another stand out is Fallin Free, a slow electro ballad that is familiar to some tracks on Christina Aguilera’s Bionic. Best Friend has got a really fresh, nice beat to it that sounds like someone shooting guns and I Fucked Up is a repentant song which also grabs your attention.

I cited many different artists that come to mind when I hear some of the songs not to call out Madonna for copying them but to show that she can keep up with current trends as well as acknowledge other artist’s works and still manage make them her own without sounding fake or trying too hard. It’s a long one but I really enjoyed this latest release from her. She defended her title well.

Fashion Horror Story

I love an editorial with a narrative and these new Jil Sander ads have got a great one. The classic  horror/ thriller film theme is very believable. The  thrilling ads show models staring through a broken (maybe shot through) glass window, looking a bit frightened. In other shots they seem to be frantically rushing down stairs, running away from something/someone all while looking perfectly ferosh. Props to the editing as well. lovely!

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Don’t it make your heart go wow

The best gifts are the ones you never really asked for, the ones people don’t even know they’re giving but truly leave a mark far beyond what they can see.

Lana Del Rey – Born to Die (Deluxe Version)

Born To Die is easily one of the most anticipated new releases of the year. Lana Del Rey came out of nowhere and surprised everyone with her viral hit turned chart-topper, Video Games which made her a household name. Everyone had formed an opinion about her soon after but love her or hate her, they were all eager to hear what she had in store.

The first four singles off the record (Video Games, Blue Jeans, Born to Die, Off to The Races) were captivating songs that were a fresh mix of hip hop, pop and that deep, bluesy voice Lana had. The singles ranged from soft, simple tunes to big, orchestrated numbers. The rest of the record is more of the same. The beats deliver with the most swag on songs like the poppy, in your car song, Diet MTN Dew and This is What Makes Us Girls, a song about her childhood friends. The album is a well produced one and the sounds are very rich, wherein Lana gets to keep her indie credibility but makes it evident that she is now backed by a major label. National Anthem is one of those songs that go big. Lana’s vocals sound best in her deeper tone especially on Dark Paradise and Radio, who’s delivery has a 40s vibe to it. My only concern is that she mostly sticks to the same subject matter throughout the record– hard kissing and slipping on dresses are done more than once. And the random guy shouting on the hip hop beats tend to get repetitive at times as well. Although her first record had more diverse themes, this new one is far better. Lolita (formerly Lolyta from her first record) got a grittier makeover on Born to Die but if I had to chose a song from her last record to be included on this one it would definitely be the darker Mermaid Motel. The album closes with Lucky Ones, a very nice love song and one of the best songs from the album. Too bad it’s just a bonus track. I think it would make a great single.

Lana Del Rey definitely delivers on this album though not all of my expectations were fulfilled. Her songs are more appreciated after many listens so maybe I will reach a point where I realize my expectations were in fact there. Still, for a major label debut, this album is way better than so many out there. I believe in her and hope she continues making good music.

Ingrid Michaelson – Human Again

From the start you can tell that Human Again is not Your typical Ingrid Michaelson record. The opening track, Fire is a passionate, aggressive song backed by dramatic orchestration. Not the kind of song you would expect  from Ingrid, who’s cute, quirky songs often become the soundtrack of commercials.

Ingrid said that this record reflects a darker time in her life. This is evident on songs like Ribbons where she sings about being left by her lover after being lead on (wrap me up in ribbons then you left me to die). The dark, upbeat Black & Blue is also in that range along with the determined This is War. She also said that she shouts more on this record. I don’t know about shouting but she sings louder than what we’re used to. You can hear the ache in her voice on songs like the gritty In The Sea and Palm of Your Hand. She still keeps her signature understated songs, though as heard on How We Love (a highlight) and Keep Warm, a caring even motherly song. Ingrid has always been a good songwriter and the lyrics of the lead single, Ghost can attest to that.

This record shows that Ingrid can be diverse and try new sounds. That’s a good thing because her last record had great songs lyrically but was a bit too monotonous sonically. Another stand out from this record is the closing track, End of the World where she sings “At the end of the world will you find me so that we can go together?” Sweet.

Bring in the campaigns

It’s only January but a ton of brand have already brought it with their2012 campaigns. If this is any indication of what is to come this year in fashion, be prepared for ultimate feroxity! Here are some of my faves so far:

Givenchy

The stunning collection by Ricardo Tisci deserved these fabulous ads!

Proenza Schouler

Natasha Poly is one of my favorite models and these ads prove why she ought to be yours too.

Roberto Cavalli

Powerful elegance!

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Lana Del Rey – A.K.A. Lizzy Grant

I think that everybody right now has some idea about who Lana Del Rey is thanks to her hit song, Video Games. I loved the song from the first time I heard it and also loved all her succeeding singles. I wanted to hear more from her and while searching I found out that she released her debut album a few years ago. It was some sort of project she had.

With so much anticipation for her upcoming record, I was hoping her debut sounded more of the same. At first listen, I was really disappointed because the record didn’t sound at all like any of her current singles. Her deep register was nowhere to be heard. Instead, she uses what I believe is her normal singing voice as heard in the chorus of her new single Off To The Races. But after a few more listens, I found more appreciation for the album. It had an indie appeal to it with a few songs that seemed perfectly fit for OSTs like For K Part 2 and Kill Kill. Lana also uses unconventional themes for her songs. In Kinda Outta Luck she kills someone then regrets doing it and wants him back but, like the title says, is kinda outta luck. I assume Mermaid Motel (you call me lavender/ you call me sunshine/ you say “take it off”) is the name of a strip club and the girl singing works there. Put Me In A Movie is another song that deals with what people do to achieve fame or maybe how they are taken advantage of when trying to achive it (come on, you know you like little girls/ you can be my daddy/ put me in a movie). Not all songs are as grim though. Brite Lights is a trippy, eastern-influenced song also about finding fame, Gramma is an ode to her supportive grandmother, and Pawn Shop Blues is a sad song about letting go. Lolyta is a very fun and flirty song as well.

The album is a bit long and gets boring at times but is great when listened to in the right mood. I do hope that her upcoming record will resound more with her current releases. I really prefer her deep singing voice as opposed to her normal one and would like to hear more. I think of this album as a prelude to what is to come because it’s like she was just getting on her feet and finding her sound.

Meaning well and doing well

I just got to thinking that I don’t do my best to maintain relationships that I have. I’m not really pertaining to relationship relationships, just the platonic ones with family and friends. I do spend most of my time with them but it’s when I haven’t spoken to / seen them in a while, I don’t take initiative to contact them to meet up or anything like that. I do keep in touch but I’m not sure it’s enough. I’m just used to being the one who’s contacted BY them. When the time comes that I feel like it’s my turn to reach out, i think it’s too late and it might be awkward or I just put it off until forget about it again. It’s a habit that I know I have to break because I know that it’s not always gonna work if I don’t do my part. I really appreciate the efforts of some of my friends/ family that act as the “glue” between us and keep us all intact. I hope to be more like that but I have to overcome a few hindrances first.

I recently attended a semi family reunion where I saw my grandmother after a long time. I haven’t seen her in so long even though she just lives in a nearby province. I haven’t texted or communicated with her for so long and I don’t really have a valid reason for doing so. I really feel like I’ve neglected her in a way. I know it’s not totally my fault but i still feel bad about it because i know I could have done better. I have a small fear of losing my relationship with some people because of this attitude and I hope it doesn’t end that way. Well, just wanted to get some of my thoughts out…

Best Albums of 2011

Here’s my list of the best albums (I’ve heard) of 2011. By no means is this an official list created with tallies, album sales, fan votes, etc. It’s just MY personal list of what I think were the best releases of the year. What makes these albums the best by my standards is 1.) creativity that separates them from the rest and 2.) cohesiveness; meaning they are an actual body of work from start to finish. It’s not really the number of times I listen to an album or how much it gets played on the radio or on tv that makes it great. It is always how much the music strikes me. The sound may not always be new or different but it should be good and leave me intrigued. My aunt once told me that the best albums are the ones that you know you can listen to 10 years from now and still love them. These maybe a few of those…

List and mini-critiques after the jump!

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