Archive for March, 2012

WHY WILLAM BELLI GOT THE BOOT FROM RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE [VIDEO, GURL!]

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


“Your actions have consequences, and I’m afraid I have no choice,” RuPaul told contestant Willam Belli on a recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race before disqualifying her from the competition, leaving many fans (including myself) uttering three letters: W.T.F.?!

Since then, speculation has spread like wildfire over the internetz, with errbody trying to figure out why the bitch got da boot!

Well, kids…

In the words of Miz Willam herself:

BTW: Willam’s new single — instant classic, right?! If you watch this and do not laugh/smile, your sense of humor seriously sucks butt!!!


[RuPaul’s Drag Race airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Logo TV.]

[Related Post: RuPaul Realness]

ALBUM REVIEW: ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS – ‘KIDS IN THE STREET’

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

The All-American Rejects were fashioned when vocalist/bassist Tyson Ritter and guitarist, co-songwriter Nick Wheeler, were youngsters in 1999. Thirteen years strong, they are back with their fourth studio release, Kids in the Street. To be honest, I had heard no buzz of a single or album until I found it on the front page of i-Tunes, but to my surprise, this stuff isn’t bad; in fact, it’s really good.

I am not sure what they have been up too since When the World Comes Down four long years ago. Well, to be honest again, when I hear this band’s name, a few specific things come to mind: freshman year of high school, summers at The Warped Tour, and watching music videos all day on VH1. I mean, hell; these guys were the kings of the charts, and anyone with a radio was forced to listen to their tunes whether we wanted to or not. After about five listens through on this new release, I think I have figured it out; they’ve are maturing, right in front of our ears. In the words of Blink 182, “Well I guess this is growing up…”

The All-American Rejects dispose of a lot of their childlike potency and boldness for a fresh maturity and sound; out with the old, in with the new. In fact, many may assume the title Kids in the Street to mean that the band would be acting like adolescents. I mean, if the shoe fits, right? Well, it couldn’t be more of the opposite here; nothing kid-like at all actually. Every musician is an artist, only problem is, how to remain an artist once growing up. Whether they have been influenced more by actually growing up, you know the aging process of life, or maybe they’re just drained of struggling with all those indecisive girls who won’t return their tweets? Who knows if we will ever figure that one out, but if you are yearning for the days of Swing, Swing and Move Along, re-think this one. If you want some more of the same, you may be disappointed. They aren’t that band playing The Warped Tour early in the afternoon, enduring the blistering heat to gain new fans. After all, our checkered vans can only withhold so many concerts.

This time around, the boys teamed up with mastermind Greg Wells (the man behind little acts named Adele, Katy Perry, and One Republic), making the production crisp and clearer than ever before. It permits Tyson and the band to expand their sound to unparalleled terrains, considering the fact that Wells is one of the most underrated producers in the business in my opinion. Completely dissimilar from their old school Rejects’ work, the completion is an imaginative chef-d’oeuvre, established and groundbreakingly filled with elements of conventional rock sounds. Yes, they still have their pop-rock sound, but there is so much more substance here. A strong story is being told, lyrically and emotionally. This album will catch fans, ancient and new, by surprise.

To quickly break it down before you purchase, the opening of the album is exceptionally strong, especially the first three tracks. Now, if you actually listened that far without skipping through, you’d expect to be leading up to a real pop-rock-n-roll monster, but don’t be fooled, some drowsiness does set in. It’s almost as if this album is demanding your ear’s attention, not wanting you to expect what is coming next. Some moments are dramatic, like the remorseful track Bleed Into Your Mind, the muted closing song I For You and Heartbeat Slowing Down, a poignant adios. You then can find the fun, outgoing parts of the album, with Beekeeper’s Daughter, Fast & Slow and Affection, three of my preferred tracks on the record. They make me want to take my hair down, and whip it back and forth.

They are taking this record out on the road this spring, and I am hoping to catch it live. In fact, they will be playing some festivals, and opening some shows for Blink 182 as well.

In conclusion, the more I write about and listen to this record, I have come to the realization that The All-American Rejects may not be the most amazing band on the planet, but they are for sure a clever band. They are staying up-to-date in a dying scene, while understanding how to write and produce a record that is still alluring to their direct demographic without sacrificing panache or intellect; job well done. Powerful, passionate, and spirited. Need I say more?

TAKING BACK SUNDAY KEEPS IT REAL

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Taking Back Sunday’s latest video for This Is All Now is currently ranked high on my playlist. The track’s ways of tackling faith really strikes a nerve: “You don’t know yourself/ How can I know you?” singer Adam Lazzara belts, before asking, “Can you imagine Christ hitting a child?”

Major props to the boys of TBS for keeping it real!

Watch the emotionally-fueled song take video form below.

LOVING EVA SIMONS

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

You must know Eva Simons — a Dutch stick of dynamite who creates dance floor-ready tracks as catchy as a viral video. You may not recognize the name, but I’m certain you’ve heard her voice, from singles like 2009’s Silly Boy (which Kanye West gave props to on his bloggy), and of course, Take Over Control (the smash club banger by Afrojack).

Now, the Dutch pop singer is ready to light a fire underneath a solo career, with the release of her new single I Don’t Like You, produced by Zedd. The song was just released digitally on Interscope Records and I freakin’ love it!

Go support this chick!

FACE THE KING

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Face The King is vicious in subtlety. It’s been a long time since such a pure-blooded genre like arena rock got such a spruce-up. This ensemble is the perfect antidote for those sick of the ironic hipster bands dominating so many scenes (I’m not hating here- we all know I love me some indie rock, too).

These guys are lightning bolts in sound and stage. They make me want to steal someone’s lighter and do the classic, flammable wave (long before cell phones were the cool thing). They themselves are a trigger of heat, one that is slow-going and takes its time to warm your insides. At the same time, there’s a lot of serious longing in their music.

They’ve mastered the break and made it their own without being formulaic. While they give you chills they also give you time to self-reflect. Parachutes, for example, made me feel utterly alone but entirely understood. Many of their other songs like Due North and The Burning And the Falling Down (vid below) also have a haunting influence. Conjoined by their musical material, the band melds to become one kick of honest, devastating emotion.

Not to say they can’t rock with the best of them. The percussion is a super-glue assuring that the other instrumentals stay in place, while Eric’s luscious vocals are well-backed up by bass and guitar.

I could compare them to insert-radio-bound-rock-group-here, but songs like Armed To the Teeth make it impossible to reduce them to cliches. When a band gets stuck in your skin, they transcend and become an experience.

We all know I’m a music junkie. These guys have reaffirmed my addiction.

oMg!

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I have a feeling Madonna is gonna be 90 and still making me wet my pants in excitement over a freaking music video. This is her latest…

Eat your heart out, Gaga. No one will ever be as stylish as this bitch.

THE SHINS/’PORT OF MORROW’ REVIEW

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

This is a band that has everything: kick ass records, notable side projects, and other antics, going by the name of The Shins. I reviewed their new single Simple Song, not too long ago, but now it’s time to embellish in their fourth studio masterpiece that goes by the name of Port of Morrow. This is a story about the evolution of The Shins.

The Shins, formed by musical prodigy James Mercer, have been a guiding light of musical hope in the genre of “Indie Pop” since they released their first LP under the name Flake, back in the late 90’s. They rapidly became The Shins, who have become far more than James Mercer most likely ever intended. Oh, how Inverted World stole my heart and ripped it out of my chest with its chilly appeal, and startling charm… They then came back for more with Chutes Too Narrow, Wincing the Night Away, and even a remarkable side project, Broken Bells, Mercer’s sophisticated, unearthly project with producer Danger Mouse. One of the only issues with Broken Bells is that it occupied much of Mercer’s time, and didn’t really seem to deliver an appropriate outlet for one of the indie movement’s strongest starters. It’s been five years since our last musical spread from The Shins, proving that after all this time, something worth having is something worth waiting for. We’ve seen members gained and lost, and sounds lost then found, all in training for Port of Morrow, which may be my favorite release to date.

This record is compacted with astounding elegances in every form and fashion; a fusion of old and new. It takes a larger leap forward, showing how Mercer has had time to evolve as an artist. (One may even say it seems like more of a solo record than one with a band, but shit, the point is that Mercer isn’t a member of the Shins — he is the Shins.) Blended with multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Greg Kurstin, Mercer lets in more electronica than ever before; in my opinion, this was an implausible, stimulating move.

These fluctuations show that The Shins, once the poster children of sing-along-and-cry indie rock heroes, are an identity that Mercer, the sole original member left, may have outgrown. Honestly, if artists didn’t grow, I feel as if their gimmicks would almost become laughable; something that wasn’t real. Who wants to hear the exact same music over and over again?

Port of Morrow is more polished than their previous wincing, but still has that emotive edge to it that keeps you listening, almost telling you to remember where you were when you first heard it. What I mean by that is, it feels like a vital announcement over a loud speaker; thrilling yet undefined, of what is still yet to come.

I have a lot of favorite bands, but never has a group made such an impact on the way I experience music. I am not saying they are the most remarkable band on the planet, but it’s tough to grasp that something so ironically simple can also be larger than life.

Some personal favorites of mine that I would recommend are It’s Only Life, No Way Down, and For a Fool. I have read many critical reviews on Port of Morrow, and yes, it is dissimilar, but I have to say, Mercer has not sold out or gone mainstream. There are all of the aspects of classic Shins, with a blend of incorporated experimental sounds to keep their music engaging and interesting to old fans. At the same time, it’s inviting rookies to come join the party, no hazing, just straight-up entry.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this record. Better yet, if you have a few minutes to spare, read the lyrics while you listen to gain the full appreciation.

Comeback stories don’t get much better than this one. A message to all The Shins-sters out there; keep on rockin’ in the inverted world.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL PLAYS A SERIAL HIPSTER KILLER A LITTLE TOO WELL

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

This post is coming at cha in real time, thanks to a feature I like to call “Copy and paste from my Facebook.” It’s a really neat tool, you guys. This is a FB status I posted yesterday:

“I just made direct eye contact w/ Maggie Gyllenhaal. If Jake walks in (I’m at lunch), I might “die”. I’m just saying. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, what what! (He used to be a lifeguard, so he knows his first-aid procedures. Don’t ask me how I know this stuff.)”

Yeah, so that happened. Fun times.

Speaking of Jakey Snugglebutt…

I only watched this new music video because of Jake. But then it creeped me out. I don’t like hipster killer Jake. I like cute, puppy dog Jake.

Still, this is a piece of art backed by a pretty killer groove. Get it, killer! Gosh, I crack myself up.

Creepy Jake (boo!) + puppy dog Jake (yay!) following.

KATY PERRY COVERS JAY-Z AND KANYE WEST’S ‘NIGGAS IN PARIS’

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Okay, not gonna lie, I don’t hate it. Katy Perry recently covered Jay Z and Kanye West’s Niggas In Paris, and it’s not bad, not bad at all. She performed the track in Paris for BBC Radio 1. She’s no emcee, but she puts a cute little twist on the hip hop smash. And I must say, seeing her in New York gear makes me like her even more.

Enjoy.

[Related Post: Richard Marx Covers Miz Katy Perry]

IT’S 2012 & MARIA MENA IS STILL BEAUTIFUL

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Captain Obvious, I know!

To keep it elementary, Maria Mena has an uber-unique voice. I can remember the very first time I heard this voice, years ago when I instantly fell in love with her American hit single, You’re The Only One, with its undeniable charm and quirkster yet vulnerable lyrics.

Now, the Norwegian pop singer/songwriter is back with a just-released video for new single Viktoria, the title track off her fifth studio album, out now on Columbia Records/Sony Music.

I really love how fragile and honest this girl’s music is.

She’s a stunning talent that deserves a lot more recognition.

Case in point…

THE HUSSY

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Taking me back to those ripped jeans with the mud on them, those starry nights invaded by crackling speakers, broken headphones. Hmm? Oh, sorry. Just listening to The Hussy. Who? Oh, just one of those bands that transmit trippage without forsaking quality of sound. Weed Seizure is their second LP and it was just released two days ago. (Oh yeah, I’m on the ball.) All their instruments play as if through rust; the vocals sing through smog, stuck somewhere in a time tunnel. Listening to them, you’re transported to an almost-place, a nearly-there-place, a fuzzy in-between that dazzles.

How a collaboration of two can come up with this material is beyond me. Their skulls must be busting with creative exposure.

I can just imagine their concerts (they’re touring mighty soon). All those medicinal herbs flowing through the air, all those dreadlocked kids marching to their own drummers. Love the imagery. It’s a memory-to-be made for a Polaroid.

With little to no effort, they resuscitate garage rock and add an extra hunk of spit to polish it up.

They are a full service machine. Drums, vocals, guitar and keyboards, all rolled up in two talented people.

By far one of the most uppity tracks would have to be Stab Me; those fingers are teaching the guitar strings how to dance! But I have to say my favourite jig is Undefined, a stunning breach of musical ability combined with freakalicious visuals in their music video.

This one will be in my head for weeks, and I’m in no hurry to make it leave. It can rent out a corner of my cranium for all I care.
 

The Hussy – Undefined (Official Video) from High Frequency Media on Vimeo.

ROYAL CANOE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Royal Canoe is sailing down the river of weird, and I’d like to join them.

They are a band from Winnipeg that sort of got together by accident. It all started with making an album that was never meant to be played. Then came an alteration of manpower, and before anyone knew what was happening, they were touring like there was no tomorrow. Royal Canoe has since made a beautiful break on the local music scene. The quirky melodies splice up your auditory canal with multi-layer oddities.

I’m not saying I’ve sparked up a love affair with them. They are a sample on my Ipod; I doubt they’ll become a feature on the menu. Still, for someone else they may be a long term staple of a delicacy.

I leave you with their video for Nightcrawlin’, a little tuneage from their upcoming album. It’s nightmare material, but in a good way. Paranoia is good for the skin.
 

KELLY CLARKSON TAKES ON PARAMORE

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Does this girl do anything wrong? Upon request, Miss Kelly Clarkson continues to wow us with an amazing cover of Paramore’s The Only Exception. Whether this song is her own or not, she owns it. I am continually inspired by her kick-ass attitude, astonishing pipes, and stick-to-her-gun ways. This may not be the best video quality, but the quality of her voice is always top notch. Enjoy.

[Related Post: Kelly Clarkson Soars At Radio City]

U GOTZ TO SEE DEJA’S ‘ATROPHY’ VID

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Whoa! This video is CRAZY…good!

Melbourne natives, DEJA, have just released the music video to their new single, Atrophy, the first release off their forthcoming debut album. The track, which was created in the band’s home studio, pulsates with an erratic punch.

The video presents the jam with haunting, creepy ass scenes, focusing on themes of fear, death, and loss. Sad face!

For real though, it’s a visual feast.

Electro pop has never been so creepy and neurotic. And I love it.

BREAKING NEWS: OPRAH POOPS [GASP!]

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“I have a special pair of poop shoes under my desk. Whenever I need to drop a deuce, I slip them on and scurry to the restroom, and no one ever knows it’s me. Like, if I’m wearing Louboutins that day, and my producer sees Earth shoes in the stall…well, you get the idea. It was truly a lightbulb moment when that came to me.”

–Oprah Winfrey

And to switch the subject from poop to music (since hey, this is a damn music blog after all), if you haven’t seen Oprah’s special on rock legend Steven Tyler, I’d highly recommend it. It’s absolutely fascinating.

Watch in full below.

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