Archive for June, 2010

ON HEAVY ROTATION: EMINEM COLLABOS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Congrats, Em!

Besides being sober, there’s another accomplishment under Eminem’s belt that’s worthy of praise. Eminem’s new album, Recovery, marks the rapper’s sixth straight No. 1 Billboard chart debut. The disc destroyed records for 2010’s first-week sales, moving 741,000 copies after the album’s release. Although the album didn’t reach 1 million copies in its first week (a feat Eminem achieved twice before before people stole shit on the internet), the sales are unheard of in today’s music scene, where sales aren’t as escalated as before due to the digital age and illegal downloading (among other factors).

According to Billboard, Recovery delivered the biggest sales for an album since AC/DC’s 2008 offering, Black Ice. Eminem’s new album features guests spots from Rihanna, Pink, and Lil Wayne.

Listen to two of the collaborations (NSFW) below.

STONE FOXES, BEARS & BULLS REVIEW

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


The anticipation is over, and the verdict is in. I was blessed enough to get a sneak peek of The Stone Foxes’ new album (before it’s official release date of July 06), and a blessing it is, indeed. Bravo boys, bravo. Bears and Bulls is spreading like a plague of love; no one can ignore the encompassing sound.

This record is a standing ovation to creation, strangeness, and an altitude of nearly incoherent borderline antics. Some of the songs are lacking their upstanding, toe tapping energy, and mask themselves with a more mellowed tint, but it’s dandy none the less.

My love affair with The Stone Foxes has officially gotten serious. What can I say, I’m a sucker for gentlemen with a charming dream and a deadly chord progression. It hardly takes effort to enjoy their breezy melodies, exemplary guitar solos, and natural ability to either pump it up or tone it down. This is something I could listen to all night long and longer, and that’s no lie.

It’s like the album walks you through the very best stages of a celestial summer: from the cold drinks in the sunny afternoons to the smoked up party in some old friend’s basement. The sips of a slushie, vintage aviators on your eyes, while The Stone Foxes melt around your ears like ice cream…now that’s perfection. They have you set for snapping, crackling, and popping all over the place, but they’ve also got you covered for laying back and laying low.

The Stone Foxes aren’t going to wait for you to come to them, they’re going all out, and will hunt you down and force feed you their unsheathed musical prowess. Trust me, you’re going to enjoy it.

Top tracks off the record for sending me into glee mode: Stomp, Mr. Hangman, as well as the fired up track Hyde and Pine.

Top tracks for a snoozing afternoon: Passenger Train, Through the Fire, and the decidedly chill Easy.

I’m not usually one to vouch for commercialism but: be sure to put it on your ‘to buy’ list! These guys have a spirit and talent that absolutely needs to be supported. We’ve gotta keep their engine running!

Do get ready to run with the Bears and Bulls, ‘cause the stampede of an album is getting here soon.

LENNY KRAVITZ CRASHES VOICE PRAISE CHOIR WITH SURPRISE APPEARANCE

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

[Update: The choir seen in the video below is the Voice of Praise First Baptist Church High School Choir from Lewisville, TX, performing in New Orleans.]

We all know Lenny Kravitz, infamous for amazing guitar skills, comforting voice, and retro style. We all respect his intrepid rock and alternative sound as it’s poured into our ears. We also know how much the future of music relies on our youth. Right? Now, what happens when the two blend? Great times. Let’s explore in the interior of this rock powerhouse.

I stumbled upon this video, where Lenny was sipping a drink on a terrace in New Orleans, he literally overheard the Voice Praise Choir singing his hit Fly Away. So naturally, like any celebrity would NOT do, he ran over and joined them! He lays down the beat while the choir rocks out, and even sings at the end, while the youngster rips the guitar.

Just a day, an ordinary day in New Orleans turned into the best day of some people’s lives. Witness how much the crowd grows. This just brings a smile to my face. This is what true rock stars should do, spread some love to the ones who have made them who they are — the fans.

A little video to make your glass half full.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KELLIE PICKLER!!!

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Currently hundreds and hundreds of miles away from New York City, visiting my family for my birthday, leaving 8 million for 4 thousand, I’ve landed in the country. And no, not this pseudo-country idea either. I’m talking mountains, cows, Wal*Mart, and dirt roads. Which leads me to Kellie Pickler…

Besides being Southern, and having bad driving habits, another thing I share in common with Pickler is her birthday. I’ve posted several articles on the blonde twangy twizzler and today, I post once more to celebrate her awesomeness. Joining me in turning a year older, Pickler, who recently announced her engagement to Kyle Jacobs, celebrated her 24th yesterday (June 28th).

Check out one of my favorite Pickler moments via 2006’s MTV Movie Awards.

An oldie but goodie!

[Sidenote: Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes, messages, and love. I genuinely appreciate the thoughts and gestures! Also, thank you to everyone who supports BTB currently. The site would be nothing without an audience, so thank you to all readers who continue to come back Monday-Friday every week to read what’s on our minds musically.]

BROWN FACES ‘MAN IN THE MIRROR’

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


[photograph by: matt sayles, associated press]

It’s been an entire year since we’ve lost the King of Pop, Sir Michael Jackson, and The BET Awards recently decided to pay tribute. Who measured up to par, you ask? Ironically, the former Prince of Pop, Chris Brown. I’ve decided to write about this video because it truly moved me.

The moving tribute contained songs such as Smooth Criminal, Billie Jean, and more. Granted, I was impressed with Brown’s moves and renditions of Jackson’s hits, but it wasn’t until the end when Man In The Mirror was unleashed that I felt fully convinced. Brown became overtaken by emotion, laying his whole being out on the stage. You can’t run from your demons forever, and this was his time to face the music. People make mistakes, and it seems to me, as is if he’s finally come to terms with it. For 6 minutes and 11 seconds, the crowd, and millions of viewers, pushed the negative vibes aside, and focused on the music.

Man in the Mirror is such a powerful song that Brown could barely sing the words. Sometimes when we do wrong in life, we need to be faced with our demons before we can actually conquer them. This tribute may be emotional, for we lost one of the greatest talents to ever walk this planet, but in a strange mixed-up way, it was almost like the rebirth of a talent still present here on earth.

True performers move you; granted, I do not agree with what Chris Brown has done, and do not feel the need to even touch on that topic. I strongly suggest watching the entire performance, whether of fan of Chris Brown, Michael Jackson, or just a fan of music in general. If you have ever connected a song to your life, and felt it fit entirely, you will get what I mean. “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways, and no message could have been any clearer,” — it’s amazing how much songs can actually relate to people’s lives, and this was a perfect example.

We can’t deny the talent of either one of these performers, dead or alive, even if we don’t agree with some of the things they may or may not have done. At the end of the day, BET and Chris Brown created a wonderfully moving tribute to the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Watch and comment. Is this a comeback for Chris Brown?

FEFE DOBSON SEETHES IN ‘GHOST’ VID

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Can all cheaters seriously have their balls cut off? Just sayin’!

One thing that’s always been consistent in Fefe Dobson’s music is attitude splashed with a pure pop paintbrush. And her new single is no different. Who else could sing about a scumbag in the vein that Dobson spews?

Joy, Dobson’s official sophomore studio album, will be released August 17th on Island Records. Apparently this title was chosen because her second album, Sunday Love, was never released. During production of the new album, she was re-signed (from 21 Music) to her original major record label (Island Records). Both labels are now working on the album that is set to drop later this summer (as mentioned above).

The just-released music video to her new single Ghost, is the first release from the upcoming album Joy. Watch the video (directed by Alan Ferguson) via MTV.com below.

LITTLE FISH, BIG TEETH

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Look at what’s jumped out of the water. Little Fish are a boy (Nez) and a girl (Juju) on a mission to fill the world with a rebellious sound. So far, they’re off to a good start.

When you listen to the duo make music happen, it’s hard to believe they’re just a pair of peeps jamming on the guitar and drums. Like a vigorous chemical, the sound spreads through the whole house, filling it up with eager noise. And best of all, it’s like nothing you’ve heard before.

It’s dominated by the alternative, and not only do you have to sit up and take notice, but you really have to concentrate on what you’re hearing. They’re a puzzle for the eyes and sour candy for the soul.

Since their coming together to spit acid and make magic, the devious duo have been seen touring with righteous acts like Hole and Alice in Chains. Now they’re ready to bulldoze their own path through the trees; their debut album is set to be released September 14, 2010.

If this ass-kicking business of theirs isn’t enough to start a buzz, then I give up on the music industry. Juju’s voice rides on your brainwaves and disrupts your sense of linear time, and Nez’s drums send marches of kamikaze pilots to your chest. They’re loud, refined, and have the mark of true rockers seared on their chests.

Unspoiled and uncommon, yet rank with connection, their songs glimmer in the dark, as if to remind you that the world can have its way with you and spit you back out, but no matter what happens, your spirit can never be shut down. They’re perfect reminders that creativity is the best way to nourish the soul, and genius comes hand in hand with eccentricity.

If they talk about their lifelong venture with music, you can tell they’re stuck on keeping it coming. As Juju says herself, “I think I’m quite odd which is why I find it hard to relate to myself as a musician. But when I get on stage I am at my most free and I feel really confident. When I sing I give it everything.” That’s a sure-fire attitude that’ll rub off on anyone. Sure, they don’t have the stuff that will sing you to sleep at night, but definitely have that something to help you stay up ‘till sunrise.

Their performance in the video for Am I Crazy is guided by a chaotic impulse, highlighted by stomach-turning cinematography. The black and white toning of the vid only further enhances that chilling, erratic mood of the music.

When you watch it, you can just feel as they slither into your thinking cap and stay there. Let’s all ride down to Crazytown. I hear it’s beautiful there.
 

AFTERGLO: THE RISE OF GLOZELL [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

With millions of hits on YouTube, GloZell is breaking out with megaphone in hand. The question is: Are you ready for her jelly?

GloZell Green isn’t blonde. She’s not fabricated, nor plastic, and she doesn’t speak in a Valley Girl accent. She’s not a size zero. She doesn’t wake up to a bottle of Jack, nor does she stumble out of hot spots late at night ingesting drugs. What’s wonderful about GloZell is that she doesn’t wish to be any of these things. Although she currently resides in Los Angeles, where this type of idea is pushed down one’s throat in order to get a break, GloZell is breaking out on her own terms, without the fake/tired hysterics of Hollywood. In the spark that is her life, she admits times when she fought the battle of acceptance, a battle in which she won, finally landing in a world where she has come to love herself, a world in which countless others have followed, coming together in a celebration for the hysterical comedic brilliance that she did not contrive, for GloZell Green is one of those rare talents that simply is who she is. There’s meat on her bones, expressions on her face that would make the most animated cartoon appear dull, and most importantly, a heart inside her chest that chooses to embrace all, no matter their color or experience, a heart that truly is as big as her ever-changing hair.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing GloZell twice (our first interview had numerous technical difficulties; charming, considering this sort of reality show drama seems to follow her wherever she goes). We dished on her background, the journey to self-acceptance, Ke$ha, Bieber, Sean Kingston, Gaga, and other pop turf, plus my push for her to compete for her own show via Oprah Winfrey’s contest for her new network, OWN.

Listen to the interview in full (parts 1 & 2 below).

GloZell Interview by Rob Brayl Pt. 1 (Audio)

GloZell Interview by Rob Brayl Pt. 2 (Audio)

PLEASE BE SURE TO VOTE FOR GLOZELL TO HAVE HER OWN SHOW by clicking here. [Spread the word!]

And be sure to check out GloZell in action below (with her brand new translation of Eminem’s just-released single ft. Rihanna, and the classic Tik Tok translation following).

Eminem/Rihanna: Love The Way You Lie Translation

Ke$ha: Tik Tok Translation

GET SMASHED WITH PASSION PIT

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Here’s a nice cover to make your Friday even better! BTB Fav’s and pop-darlings Passion Pit have covered Smashing Pumpkins 90’s ballad Tonight, Tonight, and let’s just say, they smashed it. Two totally different groups vibing over a wonderful jam. The cover is a part to Levi’s Pioneer Sessions Series, which aims is to share songs that have influenced today’s artists, who rework the original as their own. Pretty breezy concept, don’cha think?

Passion Pit frontman, Michael Angelakos, has a thing for unexpected covers, and we’re glad he stumbled upon this one. I think his high voice gets the message of the beautiful song across. It’s completely reconstructed from top to bottom, so be prepared if you’re not into change.

This may make some die-hard Smashing Pumpkin fans sick, but we’re always willing to take a chance. Not here to observe or critique it, just to enjoy it. What do ya’ll think of Passion Pit’s cover?

CORY MONTEITH, WAL*MART GREETER (AND OTHER CELEBRITIES WHO HAD CRAP JOBS BEFORE LANDING A BREAK)

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Stuck in a shitty job you hate? Read below for inspiration.

Madonna once worked at Dunkin Donuts, before exploding as, well, Madonna. Gwen Stefani mopped floors at Dairy Queen. Kanye West worked at The Gap. Pink, Macy Gray, and Shania Twain all worked at McDonalds. And Corey Monteith, before landing the role of a lifetime on the extremely popular Glee, worked as a Walmart Greeter.

Monteith, who recently appeared in ads for the chain, worked at the jumbo-sized retailer in Nanaimo, British Columbia. When he wasn’t handing out smiles to people on the hunt for a deal, Monteith spent his downtime playing the drums. During the auditioning process for Glee, Monteith made a video playing drums on everyday objects, which landed him a callback for the second phase of auditions. For the next round, he was told he would have to sing. According to Monteith, he had never sung before and went out and bought old Billy Joel records for inspiration. He decided to sing Honesty for the audition.

At about 4:00 p.m. the audition ended. And at 4:35 p.m. he received a call saying that that he had landed the part of high school jock Finn Hudson.

Bashed or embraced, no one can deny the goldmine of the series. According to Nielsen Soundscan, since Glee The Music: Volume 1, more than 7.4 million Glee songs have been downloaded in digital format.

Although his vocals are not mind-blowing, I love Monteith’s voice. It’s a great recording voice, one that spawned my favorite number from this past season of Glee, when Finn Hudson brewed a cup of steam over the classic Jessie’s Girl.

Listen to the track in its entirety, below (again and again and again). I can’t seem to stop playing this damn song!

THE ROOTS GET THEIR GROOVE BACK

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


American Hip Hop band that I can never get enough of, the Roots, return with a jazzy, eclectic approach to hip hop. To call the group “long-awaited” or “much-anticipated” is an understatement indeed. New release, How I Got Over, continues to maintain their street vibe without giving into the latest music gimmicks.

The Roots have time and time again experimented with sampling live band music, introducing rock fundamentals into hip-hop, and have perfected the faultless blend. Their catalogue is without fail, compelling and musically alert, yet always vibrant and exclusive. With the exception of Game Theory (which in my opinion still had its dull moments), no Roots album has had this consistency since the 90s. Not too take away from their work, because it is epic, I just feel as if a few prior releases somehow started to lose soul. I guess one just always expects a root to blossom into something beautiful. Track Fire supports this statement belting: “My soul start to grow colder than the North Pole,” — but like Stella, they’ve definitely got their groove back.

The many featured artists on How I Got Over add lots of flavor, including John Legend and Patty Crash. The celeb cameos only add to the album’s radiance, not prying with it or trying to help sell it. Sometimes artists try to use other artists to cover up spots where their music is lacking, but this is not the case. Another must-check-out track is Walk Alone featuring Truck North, P.O.R.N and Dice Raw; it’s wrapped against an emaciated sound with unforgettable harmonies and piano embellishments.

Where many admired albums and groups are more or less collections of singles, the Roots continue to make cohesive albums. Reviewing this album brings a smile to my face, because it brought me back from a lackluster appreciation of a group, to becoming a devotee again. If you’re a Roots fan, this is a must have. If you’re not, open your ears and try something new. Taking one back to that old-school feel, but not in a dated way. Take a trip back to where all good things start; The Roots.

IAN CAREY’S DANCEFLOOR ERUPTION

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Dear gays, this one’s for you!

Ian Carey is one of the major players in the House music scene worldwide. If you have no idea who the dude is, blame American radio, which has never been a fan of house/techno genres or their offspring. And normally, I’m not the biggest fan of house or techno either, but when I stumbled upon this new release, I instantly noticed it’s appeal. It’s catchy as hell. Sure, it’s nothing we haven’t all seen or heard before, but the jam has a heavy beat, one that quickly jets into the soles of your shoes and even if you want to deny it, you’ll soon realize you can’t. It’s a fun dancefloor track that’s perfect for summer.

The just-released music video is the club edit of Carey’s new single Let Loose, which features vocals from Mandy Ventrice. Carey spoke to Biggie.co.nz on Ventrice, stating: “She’s a really good pop on key vocalist. She’s signing a deal at the moment with a big label, so you will be seeing her in the near future as a solo artist.”

Get ready to bust a move!

Check out Let Loose from Ian Carey ft. vocals by Mandy Ventrice, below.

ADDICTIVE FLAVOR: CARTEL IN CYCLES

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Pop-punk; not so much an addiction as a guilty pleasure. One of my favorite flavors is Cartel. Some may know the band from MTV’s Band in a Bubble (yes, the channel did play things related to music at one point but that bubble has since been popped). The band is back after a long hiatus with a new single, The Perfect Mistake, which is the perfect solution for radio success, and an epic rebirth. 36 million plays later, an MTV mini-series, and tours all over the world has proven that Cartel has retained the “it” factor.

Their third full length album, Cycles, is full of fun and assertion. Opening track Let’s Go screams: “I’ve got so much left to do but I’ll start with this song,” — It’s a great line to initiate you to the release, proving their communal gaze is definitely focused on the future, and all its potential. I find the quintet of Cartel to be real and rousing. This release could have easily been the ideal soundtrack to a victory lap, for they’ve had the success, and are worthy of celebrations. The rock star life has bitten the boys in the ass many years ago, but the swelling never really went down. Rather than living in the past, the group chooses to go forth, to cultivate, sticking to what they’re superior at; hook-laden contemporary rock. After all, Cycles should be repeated indefinitely.

Their music may not be something new or unmarked, or have its own discrete sound, but in this case, that’s the beauty of it. Their good at what they do and don’t try to dip their shit in sugar. There’s something strangely sexy about albums like these. While there’s the accepted truth that “there is nothing new under the sun,” and that art’s magnitude comes more from how the tale is told than what the actual tale is, there are still degrees of uniqueness within the telling.

Cartel is that crew that upon first listen, not only catches your ear, but earns your loyalty, whether you admit to the public or not. I’m not forcing this band down your throat, I just want you to try a taste. Fun pop punk that lets you unleash your 14-year-old Warped Tour mosh-moves, checkered Vans and all. Have some fun, and give in to your guilty pleasure. Explore where Cartel has been, and where they’re going. Let’s go, Cartel, let’s go.

IS DRAKE THE NEW HIP HOP SAVIOR?

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


On Jay-Z’s A Star is Born, the rapper spits: “Drake’s up next, see what he do with it” — In the world of hip hop, no endorsement could be as big as one spewing from the Jay’s lips. And Drake’s moment has finally arrived.

The rapper’s highly anticipated debut dropped recently and has everyone talking. While most critics are sending praise for the album, some (as always) are not amused.

According to a review in the Chicago Tribune: “He drifts through what should have been his boisterous coming-out party, he comes off as muted and rueful, missing the days when he was 19 and it was just about him and his girlfriend in a college dorm room.”

Although I understand the angle mentioned above, I disagree with the statement. As I wrote weeks ago, the track Fireworks featuring Alicia Keys is a stand out. But when hearing the overall album, there’s undoubtedly other collaborations with just as much sizzle. Overall, the album is simply a great debut.

Did you buy Drake’s record? What are your thoughts on Thank Me Later?

Check out Drake in a Q&A interview promoting the disc, below.

FOXY TURBULENCE: THE STONE FOXES

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Remember the low-class, grunge-loving rock n’ roll style of the seventies? One might think that kind of epic glory could not be found in a band still in its infancy, but these boys have got the grimed up, classic edge that seemed to have died long ago, reviving the style with a signature stamp.

When you listen to The Stone Foxes, you’re not only getting a breezy soundtrack, but you’re getting warped into a different time zone. And that air of surrealism only makes the band more lovable.

From the balmy streets of San Francisco, comes a foxy turbulence one won’t quickly forget. When you can’t get wrapped up in the conversation or literature that’s at hand in an afternoon, then music is the way to go. And The Stone Foxes are rock solid entertainment. Even their low-key demeanour is a relentless beat that makes your foot go tapping. Their ironic, witty expressions combat against the musical bullets ricocheting off the walls, while their guitars hold the unsettling hint of country twang. That kind of keen mix splices your heart with the totality and severity of a slow, massive hit. All in all, the perfect rock n’ roll experience.

Their second album Bears and Bulls, is going to be on store shelves July 6 (pre-sale through Itunes is on June 29), and the wait is full of anticipation. Thankfully, they’ve already released some tracks from the album, including the juicy I Killed Robert Johnson, which is definitely a slice of the promised land. The song featured in the video below is Stomp, which I just had to choose, not only for the spice in the number, but the psychedelic fest that is the music video.

Grow out your hair and leave your home behind; The Stone Foxes are here for you.

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