Saturday, April 21, 2007

If I Got You We Have More than Money

This Is Ryan Shaw - Ryan Shaw

You may not know the name Ryan Shaw, but one listen to his music and undoubtedly you will think you have heard him before. Calling his music neo-soul would be a little misleading because there is nothing new about it. As evident on his debut, This Is Ryan Shaw, he doesn’t want to update the classic R&B sound, the Georgia native wants to recreate it.

The album is like a history lesson of R&B music for those born in the eighties or later as Shaw channels classic soul staples like Motown and Stax as unless you already know beforehand, you most likely won’t be able to distinguish which songs are rerecorded from the Golden Era of Soul and which ones Shaw and his writing team wrote for this record. And even though his backing band isn’t the Funk Brothers or Booker T. and the MG’s, they definitely get the job done helping recreate their classic sound.

The album starts off with the obscure Sharpee’s cover, Do the 45 which should start you two tapping and you should be up on your feet by the time the originals We Got Love and Nobody are done as well as a thrilling version of Looking for Love mad popular by Bobby Womack later on the album. Then Shaw shows he can croon with the best of them as evident on Wilson Pickett’s I Found a Love and I’ll Always Love You. If there were one downside to this album is that at thirty-five minutes, it is just too short.

Song to Download - We Got Love

This Is Ryan Shaw gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

She’s One of Those Girls, They’re Nothing but Trouble

The Best Damn Thing - Avril Lavigne

From her first album to her second, there seemed to be growth to Avril Lavigne as she moved from the power pop to a more rock sound. After the second album the maturity seemed to grow as she got married and released the Celine Dion type power balled from a movie that no one saw. Then the Girlfriend video came out and everyone saw that Avril had traded in her neckties for high heels, hot pants, and pink streaks in her hair. It’s almost as see saw Britney shave her hair and thought that if anyone could fill the void of blonde pop princess with a trashy husband, why not her?

With the image makeover, the songs on The Best Damn Thing aren’t musically that far from those that made up her debut. But that makes it a step backwards; sure the songs here are catchy like Complicated, but they are most disposable of disposable pop whereas songs like My Happy Ending have a mush longer staying power. Everything Back but You is just a rehash of Sk8ter Boi, though it does have the best line on the disk, “I wish you were her, you left out the ‘e’.” Classic. When she slow things down things only gets worse. Keep Holding On is stuck on the end, and songs like When You’re Gone just bogs down the album.

One of the reasons why When You’re Gone loses its weight is because you can’t help listening to it and thinking it is about her husband. Seriously, do we really need sappy loves dongs about the dude from Sum41? Even more embarrassing for Whibley than the love song written about him is I Don’t Have to Try where Avril starts of the song in another faux rap like the breakdown from Girlfriend, I’m the one, the one that wears the pants.” But then again, how can you embarrass a guy who is a notch in Paris Hilton’s bedpost.

Hopefully by the next album, Avril will have stopped taking her giddy pills that she took in the making of this album because smiling and happy Avril. As catchy as some of the songs are, they will be forgotten by the time the next power pop girl releases her album of forgettable middle school anthems. And since they seem like they come out once a month, that won’t be too long.

Song to Download - Runaway

The Best Damn Thing gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Avril Lavigne on Apple iTunes

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Don't Download These Videos vol. XIV

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I though I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form so here they are courtesy of YouTube. I advise you to watch them before you read my reviews if you don’t want me to spoil things. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available, if not the link goes to YouTube where you can watch the video in full screen). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Signal Fire - Snow Patrol

It seems like the soundtrack era has died. Back in the nineties every band seemed willing to send songs not good enough to make there own albums to the soundtrack, most of the songs which never actually appear in the movie so I guess it is a good thing. Another good reason major soundtracks have disappeared, the lame music video tie in where they would mix in scenes from the movie with scenes of the band that usually had nothing to do with the movie. Well maybe that will change with this great video from the Spiderman 3 Soundtrack with an elementary school play reviews the first two movies with Snow Patrol playing the role of the house band conjuring up images of the Crash Test Dummies video. But in true soundtrack fashion, the song itself isn’t nearly as good as anything on their latest album.

Awakening - Switchfoot

Remember the good ol’ days of 2003 when Arrested Development was still on the air and a little band was daring you to move? Now they are both back (sort of) and together in this video. Apparently Buster asking price is so high that Switchfoot couldn’t even afford the licensing fee for Guitar Hero. And if there were an video equivalent to jumping the shark (okay that was a blatant AD reference) it would be when the dead chick from Heroes goes all eighties.

Trouble Sleeping - Corrine Bailey Rae

Back when I reviewed the debut album from Corinne Bailey Rae (see Girl Go Ahead Let Your Hair Down), in an album chalk full of good songs, Trouble Sleeping received the coveted Song to Download for the album. And she finally released the song here stateside (it has been out for awhile in England). I dare you to listen to this song and not grab somewhere near and start dancing.

Okay, one more video. Words really cannot describe this video other than it may be the greatest thing ever in the history of YouTube:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

First Impressions: Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School

The Flavor of Love GirlsThe Surreal Life has to hold the record for most spin-offs. It is directly it is responsible for Strange Love, My Fair Brady and The Surreal Life: Fame Games. Strange Love itself gave us Flavor of Love which then spawned I Love New York (which my sources tell me will get a spin-off of its own) and the latest generation to The Surreal Life family tree, Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School. And what a premise the show has, take thirteen of the most outrageous Flavor Flav castoffs, including the porn star, the spitter, and the fighter and teach them proper etiquette. Although after taking a look at the cast, you can’t help but wonder how the girl that did her business in Flav’s hallway didn’t get on the show.

Mo'nique and Not-BootzA closer look at the show, though, gave me some reservations on how good the show could be. First it ended up being a competition with weekly vote offs which means the most unrulely, i.e. most entertaining, would leave first making the latter episode uninteresting. Second, having Mo’nique as a Charm School judge would be like letting Paula Abdul judge a singing competition (um, yeah). Then as the show begins Mo’nique does the unthinkable, she burns the nicknames that Flav gave the girls instead opting to call the girls by the names on their birth certificates. I have enough trouble distinguishing Bootz from Buckeey as it is, now I have to figure out whom Larissa and Shay are.

But with all the reservations, Charm School lived up to all expectations. It doesn’t take too long to realize that Charm School isn’t going to help any of these girls and it didn’t take too long before the girls started fighting (over a blog at that) and crying. And as fake as some of them try to be in front of the judges, the claws come out during the interviews. And for the girls to stick around, they have to stick to The Ten Commandments of Charm School including 1) Check Thyself before Thou Wreck Thyself. Yeah, because when I think of proper etiquette, I think of Ice Cube lyrics.

The bottom threeThroughout the series, it looks like they will put the girls though a series of challenges that will make kissing Flavor Flav look like a cakewalk in comparison. The first being to rough it at a campsite which included a two hour walk which took the girls four hours to complete. Then the following day, the girls were split into two team and competed in an obstacle course stolen from Celebrity Fit Club. Naturally the team with Like That, err, Darra lost and were up for expulsion from Charm School. At elimination we get to better know the other judges including an editor for Essence and someone who works for the Miss California pageant who is your token mean-spirited judge. And if anyone knows where I can bet on when the dude gets slapped and by whom, please let me know. In the end, some random chick gets the boot.

Verdict: This will be either the greatest or worst show in the history of television. I leave it up to you to decide which one. As for a prediction, I saying that Goldie, oops, Courtney wins. Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School airs Sundays at 10:00 on VH1.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Va Tech Memorium

There is something odd about our society when we get most of our news solely from headlines. When I opened up my e-mail today, a quick headline caught my eye right before I went to the mail page: 20 Dead at Va Tech. I just sat there and stared at the headline instead of going to my e-mail thinking "this is not something that should be reduced to a small headline that most people pass over anyways." Granted I'm not sure what would be a good way to report this kind of news, but five word of less just doesn't seem right. Since I first saw the headline the number has gone up, but the news still remains jarring.

And this is something that will haunt the Virginia Tech campus for years to come as I know from experience. I did my undergrad at Kent State University and the shootings there over three decades ago still hard to escape it despite how hard the administration tries to distance the college away from the incident. A week wouldn't go by where I didn't pass by the May 4th Memorial as I typically had to go by it because of my job, to get to class or to play tennis as the courts are about a hundred feet away.

My heart and prayers go out to the friends and families who lost a loved one today and hopefully someday we as a society realized that we don't we don't need to have the right to own guns anymore.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lyrics Quiz: Punctuation Marks

Earlier this year, Fall Out Boy released Infinity on High and in his review for Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield wrote:

We're living in a golden age of long song titles, and Fall Out Boy are leading the way. In the olden days, rock stars used parentheses and slashes to prove they were serious artists, refusing to reduce their verbiage for radio DJs or jukeboxes. But in the MySpace era, bands have discovered commas, and as a result song titles have gotten longer than Meat Loaf ever dreamed possible.

And that is the inspiration of this month’s Lyrics Quiz, the over use of the punctuation mark. And I hate to go all English teacher on you, but since this is a quiz about punctuations, you must give the full song title, no shorthand and with correct puncuation. I will be very picky. And of course you must also include the artist’s name. If you do get it right I will unbold the lyric and give you credit. I even threw in a bonus lyric because, 1) it actually doesn’t technically have any punctuation, and 2) I can’t imagine anyone remembering the song and even I had to do some research to remember who sang it. (Please don’t do so yourself unless you don’t plan on answering). So a bonus point to anyone who gets that right. Now onto the quiz:

1. Lenny Bruce is not afraid. (It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I feel Fine) - R.E.M; guessed by Tony)
2. And each time I feel like losing sight, there is one thing I want to know. ((What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding? - Elvis Costello and the Attractions; guessed by Slaygal1981)
3. Mars ain’t the kind place to raise your kids. (Rocket Man (I Think it's Going to Be a Long, Long Time) - Elton John; guessed by Monique)
4. In ’77 and ’69 revolution was in the air. I was born too late to a world that doesn’t care. (I Wish I Were a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) - Sandi Thom; guessed by Tony)
5. Now once I was downhearted, disappointment was my closest friend. But then you came and he soon departed and you know he never showed his face again. ((You Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson; guessed by Slaygal1981)
6. I know the territory, I’ve been around. It’ll all turn to dust and we’ll all fall down. Sooner or later you’ll be screwing around. (I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) - Meat Loaf; guessed by Tony)
7. In and out my life, you come and you go. Leaving just your picture behind and I've kissed it a thousand times. (I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) - Four Tops; guessed by Slaygal1981)
8. There’s just an empty space and there’s nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face. (Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) - Phil Collins; guessed by Tony)
9. Can we hit it like we did one more time, from the top? Can we hit like that one more time? One more time! Let's hit it and quit! Can we hit it and quit? (Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine - James Brown; guessed by Slaygal1981)
10. Hey Cinderella, step in your shoe. I’ll be your non-stop lover, get it while you can. Your non-stop miracle, I’m your man. (Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car - Billy Ocean; guessed by Tony)
11. Albert’s fallen on the sun, cracked his head wide open. The world begins to disappear, the worst things come from inside here, and all the king's men reappear. (Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman) - Counting Crows; guessed by Tony)
12. Girl, all I know is every time you’re here I feel the change. Something moves, I scream your name. Look what you got me doing. (Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe - Barry White; guessed by Slaygal1981)
13. I’m not a shoulder to cry on, but I digress. (This Ain't a Scene, it's an Arms Race - Fall Out Boy; guessed by Tony)
14. I’ve done a lot of foolish things that I really didn't mean, didn't I? Seen a lot of things in this old world when I touch them, they mean nothing, girl. (Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Your - Stevie Wonder; guessed by Tony)
15. I got wasted, she got mad. Called me names then she called her dad. He got crazy and I did too, wondered what I did to you. (Anything, Anything (I'll Give You) - Dramarama; guessed by Tony)
16. Look into my eyes, you will see what you mean to me. Search your heart, search your soul and when you find me there you'll search no more. ((Everything I Do) I Do it for You - Bryan Adams; guessed by Doug)
17. I promised I would never leave you and you should always know wherever you may go, no matter where you are I never will be far away. (Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) - Billy Joel; guessed by Slaygal1981)
18. Yo we ‘bout to make you set speed. Peace to Baby Phife, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed. Watch me knock you out like Apollo Creed. (Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check - Busta Rhymes; guessed by Doug)
19. Just remember, you’re the one manl I can’t get enough of. So I’ll tell you something, this could be love. ((I've Had) The Time of My Life - Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes; guessed by Doug)
20. Right about now it's about that time for me to holler. Girl, I wanna waller in the back of my Impala. Woo; don't need no tickets for this thing. (C'mon N' Ride It (The Train) - Quad City DJ's; guessed by Doug)
21. Green light, 7-11. You stop in for a pack of cigarettes. You don’t smoke, don’t even want to. (Stay (Faraway, So Close!; guessed by Slaygal1981)
22. Right before my very eyes. I thought that you were only faking it and right before my heart was taking it. (Baby, What a Big Surpise - Chicago; guessed by Slaygal1981)
23. Well here we go again; you've found yourself a friend that knows you well. But no matter what you do, it always feels as though you tripped and fell. (Steady, As She Goes - The Raconteurs; guessed by Slaygal1981)
24. Baby, baby it looks like it’s gonna hail. Baby, baby it looks like it’s gonna hail. You better come inside. (Jump, Jive, an' Wail - Louis Prima; guessed by Slaygal1981)
25. I had a dream, I had an awesome dream. People in the park playing games in the dark. (Say You, Say Me - Lionel Richie; guessed by Monique)

Bonus: Do you love me question mark. Please, please exclamation point. I want to hold you in parentheses. (I Love You Period - Dan Baird; guessed by Tony)