Monday, July 30, 2012

Blame It On My ADD, Baby.

If at first you don't succeed... well, you know how that ends. Just ask Aaron Bruno, face and founder of AWOLNATION, formerly of the bands Under the Influence of Giants, Hometown Hero and Insurgence. Awolnation's single "Sail" is making big waves in the alternative rock community with the return of New York's "New Rock" station, 101.9 FM (apologies to my less-than-local readers for the nonsensical reference). Regardless of your proximity to the Empire State, however, you may still be familiar with the band, as its music has been featured on everything from a BMW commercial to "House" to "Sons of Anarchy," even a Portuguese Nokia LTE commercial. Released in March of 2011, "Sail" has now gone Platinum in the US and double-so in Canada.

The title of Awolnation's debut album, Megalithic Symphony, pretty much gives it away at the go. Listening to this album in its entirety seems as if intended to provide an all-inclusive, transcendent experience, beginning with an almost-instrumental title track that spans less than a minute to a grand finale "Knights of Shame" reminiscent of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- not in style or composition -- rather, in its length and constant evolution. The 12-minute song acts as a sort of summary of the album as a whole, showcasing the band's eclectic sound. Some of my other favorites include "All I Need" and "Kill Your Heroes." Like what you hear? Catch the guys on their US tour this Fall with (one of my absolute favorites) Imagine Dragons. Website's below for more info...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Ultimate Primadonna Girl

I've found the next big thing to hit the USA, and fortunately for...well...everyone, it doesn't consist of prepubescent boys. Meet Marina Diamondis, dubbed Marina & The Diamonds thanks to the translation of her Greek surname. While her stagename may be a bit of a misnomer, the act consists solely of the singer-songwriter: no band; no group. The diamonds, she explains, are her fans. In that case, I'm declaring myself Marina's Number One "diamond."

Born and raised in Wales, Marina moved to the UK at the age of eighteen to pursue a music degree. Although she dropped out after only a few semesters, she credits her being "delusional with drive" for her success, as she was signed by Warner Music Group in 2009, released her debut album The Family Jewels in 2010 and nabbed several international music awards before her sophmore album Electra Heart debuted at number one in the UK and Ireland in April 2012.

Even more appealing than her obvious talent (she penned every song on the album, you oughta know) is her style. When asked to sum up her look in three words? "Vintage, cheerleader and cartoon," said Marina. With her new album came a new image, an evolution from brunette Euro edge to blonde Hollywood glamour. Perhaps we can attribute her time spent in Los Angeles for the transformation; perhaps her adoration of Blondie, Gwen Stefani and Madonna. Either way, we're on board, as was Max Factor when it made Marina their new poster girl last winter.

It's difficult to find a single song on this album not worthy of playing on loop, but if I had to choose my faves, they would be "Bubblegum Bitch," "Lies" (check out the acoustic version of this one), "Homewrecker," "Power & Control," and of course, "Primadonna Girl."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Good Thing for Good Old War

In the spirit of the Fourth, it's only fitting that I declare my independence from the UK sound of which I've grown so fond and celebrate some good old American boys for a change. Meet Keith, Daniel and Tim -- the combination of whom produce the Philadelphia feel-good folk band Good Old War. Its third album since the band's formation in 2008, Come Back As Rain was released this past March and features songs that effortlessly soundtrack the summer months.

On first listen, Good Old War may remind you of Fleet Foxes thanks to the boys' Sixties-esque vocal harmonies or Mumford and Sons as they manage to incorporate accordian into quick, staccato beats, yet their sound is remarkably different. From the new release, try "Amazing Eyes" (featured below), "Not Quite Happiness," "Can't Go Home," "Over and Over," "Touch the Clouds (Taste the Ground)," "After the Party" and "Loud Love."

From those past -- which exhibit a more percussion-driven and upbeat sound -- give "Coney Island," "Making My Life," and "My Own Sinking Ship" a listen.