Archive for June, 2011





Beyoncé has always possessed the most natural talent of any of the current batch of pop stars, and also arguably the most individual. On the fantastic 4, B succeeds on both counts: the powerful voice we’ve loved since her Destiny’s Child days shines through in a collection of songs that ignores current dance-pop trends.  Nowhere is that more apparent than on “Countdown,” a clattering up-tempo profession of fidelity that shows she’s still “Crazy in Love” without ever sounding derivative. Marching band horns and a Boyz II Men sample buoy the club-ready track as Beyonce sings, “I still love the way he talk, he still love the way I sing/Still love the way he rock them black diamonds in that chain.”  It’s stylistically closest to the songs off B’Day, combining a swaggering talk-rap with her soaring distinctive vocals.  The end of the literal countdown of the chorus finds her professing, “You’re still the one.”  And although it was directed toward her husband Jay-Z, it could very well apply to herself; eight years into her solo career, she is still the undisputed Queen of R&B.


Selena Gomez

“Bang Bang Bang”



Our motto is “We’re not pretentious” and with good reason: we take good music for what it is, whether it’s Top 40 pop or Pitchfork-approved indie rock.  While songs by Disney Channel startlets usually aren’t up our alley (although “Party in the U.S.A.” is an absolute jam), it’s hard to deny the consistency of Selena Gomez’s pop output over the past two years.  Even though her voice isn’t the best in the Disney Channel roster, by surrounding herself with talented pop songwriters, Gomez has scored a bevy of hits from the soaring “A Year Without Rain” to the effervescent anthem “Who Says.”  She continues that success with “Bang Bang Bang” off the forthcoming When the Sun Goes Down, an 80s-styled electro-pop kiss-off to an ex in which she’s “stealing all my love back” to give to her new boy.  Written and produced by “Big Girls Don’t Cry” mastermind Toby Gad, “Bang Bang Bang” is the type of irresistibly and effortlessly catchy pop you would expect an 18-year-old to be making. The hooky “You’re gonna be the one” is sure to be stuck in our heads all summer, but we’re not complaining.




“Glowing Mouth”

Kill Rock Stars


The chorus to “Glowing Mouth” finds Kyle Wilson singing, “Son, you better get used to believing in things that you can’t see.”  It is this sense of mystery that shrouds this wonderful song from Milagres’ forthcoming debut album: the sense that you’ve heard this song before, yet never sounding derivative.  It’s a song made for late summer nights – a slow burning jam accompanied by a falsetto that invokes Prince.  The calm of the woozy organ, the steady chirping of synthesizers and melodies Ed Droste would be jealous all come together to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.  That is perhaps why “Glowing Mouth” seems familiar; it’s the type of song that welcomes you in and never lets you go for all of its glorious four minutes and forty-eight seconds.

Jamie xx

“Far Nearer”



The xx’s debut album was one of our favorites of 2009 due to the gorgeous harmonies of singers Romy Croft and Oliver Sim and the amazing production of beatmaker Jamie Smith.  Now Jamie finally returns with the finished version of his solo debut single “Far Nearer” and the timing couldn’t be any better.  While his minimalist style remains, the song takes on a sunny vibe as steel drums play over clattering drums and a pitched sample of Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” sings “I feel better when I have you near me.”  And one thing’s for sure: we’ll keep this song near in the coming months, soundtracking countless barbecues and swim parties from now until Labor Day.

Hooray for Earth




Noel Heroux, the leader of Brooklyn-based Hooray for Earth, described his songwriting inspiration as “I get more emotionally affected by extremes.”  And despite their cheery band name, this song from debut album True Loves finds the band embracing a darker brand of synthpop, dripping with ominous synthesizers and reverb-drenched vocals.  Regardless of the inevitable comparisons to modern synthpop groups such as MGMT and Passion Pit, “Sails” instead harkens back to the 80’s and owes more to Depeche Mode and new wave.  But ultimately it’s the earworm of a melody that makes the song; it’s a pop song at heart and a fantastic one at that.