About This Site

Each month I select 20 songs (10 songs twice a month) that I am either hooked on or am curious about. Most of the music I select are rock, hip-hop, R&B and pop songs.

My song selection comes from 20-30 CDs I get from various sources each month, as well as recommendations from iTunes and Amazon. I also check out the charts in US, UK and Japan.

May 30, 2008

Britney Spears - Break The Ice [Kaskade Remix]

Album: Break The Ice (Single)

I first heard this song on the dance music radio station, and I never thought it was Britney’s. The song had a real dance hit feel to it, as opposed to her usual popstar trying to be a clubber. To be fair, this is the remix version which I heard, but it’s not that far off from the original track. Break the Ice is Britney’s third single from the album Blackout.

Bun B - That's Gangsta /ft. Sean Kingston

Album: II Trill

Bun B and Pimp C make up the rap duo, UGK (Under Ground Kingz). In December of 2007, Pimp C was found dead in a hotel. They’ve both done some solo stuff, and Bun B is probably most known for being featured on Beyonce’s Pink Panther song, “Check On It.” Bun B follows up on his debut album, Trill, with this II Trill. There are a lot of featured guests on the album, including Pimp C and a song dedicated to him. On this track, he teams up with Sean Kingston and the producer that discovered the reggae boy, JR Rotem.

Duffy - Warwick Avenue

Album: Rockferry

When I first heard this song, I didn’t think too much of it. I thought it was a decent slow song effort by Welsh singer, Duffy, who has a hit with “Mercy” on the radio right now. But I saw the music video and it gave me chills. The music video is so simple, but says so much about the song. Originally the music video was supposed to have bunch of different shots, one of them being Duffy sitting in the back of the car singing. She was singing the song, and somehow became emotional and tears started pouring out. The director told her to keep going with it, and they decided to throw out the original plan of the video and just use that single take from the beginning to the end. I thought it was brilliant. Check out her video here.

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours

Album: We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things

Jason Mraz hasn’t had a huge hit since his debut single in 2002, “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry). His second album didn’t generate much of anything, and now for his third album, he might have something. This lead off single, “I’m Yours” has the Jack Johnson feel good relaxed beat, and he can also showcase his vocal talent. It’s a great beach track.

Katy Perry - Ur So Gay

Album: One of the Boys

Recently, Madonna was on some radio interview, and she was asked, “what’s one song that is not your song that you are listening to a lot?” Madonna responded, “Ur So Gay.” The radio DJs thought she was kidding, but she told them to look it up on iTunes, and that it’s by artist named Katy Perry. That’s gotta be the best publicity for her. This summer she will be on the Warped Tour along with her boyfriend in Gym Class Heroes as well as Angels & Airwaves, The Academy Is, Relient K and bunch others.

Lil Wayne - Lollipop /ft. Static Major

Album: Tha Carter III

Personally, I don’t think this is anything that great. Lil Wayne, aka Weezy has done so much better, but I guess the mainstream America loves it because it has been on #1 spot for five weeks now. Lil Wayne uses the vocoder (made famous by T-Pain) on the entire song, which I find it a bit annoying. The album image follows the similar style of what Nas did for Illmatic and Notorious BIG did for Ready to Die. Blender music magazine recently asked Lil Wayne who he thought was the best rapper dead or alive, other than him, and he named Biggie, Jay-Z, Bun B, Cee-Lo (of Gnarls Barkley) and Scarface (he stated that he was never that into 2Pac).

The Offspring - Hammerhead

Album: Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace

The Offspring is back. It’s been five years since their last album, Splinter. Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace is their 8th studio album, and is set to be released in mid June. This first single, Hammerhead was offered for free on their website to their fans that registered for their mailing list (which was also free). It seems like a lot of the artists are giving away their singles recently. Unlike their comedic effort like “Pretty Fly For a White Guy”, this one is a serious rocker.

Pennywise - The Western World

Album: Reason To Believe

Although Pennywise has been around just as long as The Offspring, and they both have the similar California pop-punk-rock sound, they haven’t enjoyed the similar mainstream success the Offspring has had. Still, Pennywise has a strong indie following (especially in Japan). Their latest album, Reason to Believe has been getting some airplay on my local rock station (might be the first time hearing their song on this station), probably because they are playing alongside MGMT and Flobots for the station’s summer concert.

The Ting Tings - Shut Up And Let Me Go

Album: We Started Nothing

If you watch TV and has seen the latest iPod commercial, you would know this song. Apple always does a superb job selecting great indie, undiscovered songs, and turns it into a hit (good example is Yael Naim’s “New Soul” which was used on Air Mac commercial). The Ting Tings are from the UK and consist of cute blonde, Katie White and Jules De Martino. Their debut album, We Started Nothing is currently the #1 album in the UK.

Usher - Love in This Club, Part II /ft. Beyonce, Lil Wayne & Young Jeezy

Album: Here I Stand

Usher had a big hit with “Love In This Club”, and now his album is released. One of the songs on his new album (fifth), is the Part II of the hit single, this time featuring R&B diva Beyonce, and self-claimed best rapper alive, Lil Wayne. I’m sure this will end up being the #1 album on the chart, but it will be interesting to see if he can generate multiple big hits like his last album, Confessions.

May 15, 2008

Armor For Sleep – Hold the Door

Album: Smile For Them

Armor For Sleep first got attention after one of their songs appeared on Snakes on a Plane soundtrack. Then another one of their songs was used on Transformers movie. Their third album, Smile For Them was released in October of 2007. Since they have recently been added to Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution tour (also on the bill are: Chris Cornell, The Bravery, Atreyu, etc). They will also be coming to Seattle to perform at Marymoore for 107.7 The End’s Summer Camp 2 outdoor concert festival.

May 14, 2008

Brooke White – I Am…I Said

Album: American Idol Season 7

Brooke White was one of my favorite contestants on this year’s American Idol as her voice reminded me of 70s singer songwriters such as Carole King. When I found out that the contestants would be singing Neil Diamond songs, I knew Brooke White would do well, as I figured that was her genre. I particularly liked this song, so I ended up buying it on iTunes (first time doing so for songs performed by contestants). And what do you know, she gets kicked out. This song reminds you of how good Neil Diamond’s songs are (for those of you who don’t know him, he’s most famous for “Sweet Caroline” song).

The Cab – One Of Those Nights

Album: Whisper War

This song rocks, but how could it not. It was written by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, and features vocals from both Stump and Panic at the Disco singer, Brendon Urie. The Cab recently graduated from Las Vegas, and was discovered by Panic at the Disco, who are also from Vegas, and they have signed onto Fueled By Ramen label. Sure enough, this record sounds a lot like Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco mixed together. So, if you are a fan of those two bands, you should pick up The Cab’s debut album, Whisper War.

Flobots – Handlebars

Album: Fight With Tools

One of my new favorites bands right now. Flobots are an unique full band hip-hop rock group that also has a violist, hailing from Denver, Colorado. The rapping is only mediocre (a bit weaker version of Eminem), but the music, the message and the performance is awesome. Even though they are considered to be a hip-hop group, this song was picked up by many alternative rock stations, and it is even #3 on Modern Rock chart now. I recommend their album, which was recently released nationwide after they signed to Universal Republic record. I’m looking forward to seeing them live this summer.

KT Tunstall – Saving My Face

Album: Drastic Fantastic

This song was available for free on Amazon MP3 several months ago, so I downloaded it, but didn’t think much of it. Last week, I went and saw her live show for the first time, and I particularly enjoyed this song. She talked about how there weren’t too many people that looked like they had gone through plastic surgery in Seattle before performing this song (I wonder what she would say in LA). She put on a good show, using her famous loop machine on some of the songs.

The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement

Album: The Age Of The Understatement

Love the name of the band, the album title, cover, and the song. The Last Shadow Puppets is a side project of Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and The Rascals’ Miles Kane. They decided to make an album using 22-piece London Metropolitan Orchestra, and it sounds like any songs from the album could be used on James Bond film. The album was #1 in the UK.

Maroon 5 – If I Never See Your Face Again /ft. Rihanna

Album: If I Never See Your Face Again (Single)

Maroon 5’s track, “If I Never See Your Face Again” (1st track on It Won’t Be Soon Before Long album) got a make over with Rihanna being featured on it. The music itself doesn’t sound that different compared to the album version, but Rihanna’s presence definitely help this track make it more radio-friendly.

Melody Gardot – Worrisome Heart

Album: Worrisome Heart

If you are a fan of Norah Jones, you might like this song. I read a raving review on Amazon regarding this album last month, but I wasn’t aware of who Melody Gardot was. She was born in 1985 (so, still in her early 20s), and when she was 19, she got in a car accident that disabled her. Her doctor suggested that she should write music to help with the brain damage (apparently that’s good for you). So, while she was on a hospital bed, she wrote and recorded songs, which somehow landed on Philadelphia local radio DJ’s desk, and she was signed. She has gotten better and can now walk using a cane, but needs to wear dark sunglasses for residual photosensitivity. It’s an inspiring music story, so I thought I would select it for this month.

Nine Inch Nails – Discipline

Album: The Slip

Nine Inch Nails has recently released an album titled, Ghosts I-IV, which is all instrumental and no vocal track. And a month after that, they have released a new album with brand new songs (this time with vocals). But what they did this time was that they are releasing it on their website for free to anyone with an email address. They even let you choose what format you want it in from DRM free MP3s to Wave file. This single is currently climbing up on the rock chart.

Tristan Prettyman – Madly

Album: Hello...x

A friend of mine in Japan bought her album, quite randomly without knowing any of her songs or her name, because he read that she’s like a female version of Jack Johnson. When he asked me if I had heard of her before, her name sounded really familiar and I recalled visiting her official website. It turns out that iTunes offered this song as a free single a few weeks back. Her first album sounded more Jack Johnson style of music, (Prettyman is a surfer herself), but this album sounds more like a mixture of Natalie Merchant and Sheryl Crow. She’s apparently dating Jason Mraz.

May 10, 2008

Sasquatch Festival 2008 (Sat)

I will be attending first two days of the Sasquatch Festival this year. It's my first time going to a camping concert event, so I'm looking forward it, and at the same time, a bit worried since I don't know what to expect. But it should be a great show. I decided to pick out ten artists I am interested in seeing, and one of their songs.

R.E.M. - Hollowman

Album: Accelerate

Hollow Man is the second single off of their 13th studio album, titled Accelerate. Since this album is a lot more guitar driven and upbeat, it would be fun to see them perform this album live. I’ve also read that they have been playing some of their older stuff at the concerts lately. I'm still digging their single, "Supernatural Superserious".

Modest Mouse - Fire It Up

Album: We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

Modest Mouse was formed in Issaquah, Washington (20 minute drive from Seattle) in 1993. Growing up near Issaquah, I heard of them several times in my highschool years, but never paid that much attention, and now they are one of the biggest names in indie rock, and they’ve added Johnny Marr from The Smiths a couple of years ago. My favorite song by them is still Float On, but this song is pretty good, too.

M.I.A. - Boyz

Album: Kala

I reviewed M.I.A.’s song, “Paper Planes” in January of this year, but I still don’t understand the big deal about her. This album, Kala was voted as the best album of the year last year by numerous magazines and blogs. I can see that it is very artistic, creative and different from mainstream, but I find all of her songs to be annoying, kind of like this one. But I guess once I have several beers in me, I might get hooked. We’ll see how I feel about her after seeing her show live.

The New Pornographers - Challengers

Album: Challengers

I might be one of the very few people out there that gets Neko Case and Cat Power confused. They are both talented female musicians that sing slower paced songs but Neko means “cat” in Japanese, and I think that throws me off. The New Pornographers are a Canadian indie rock super group that consist of bunch of musicians from other bands and solo artists, such as Neko Case.

The National - Mistaken For Strangers

Album: Boxer

I started seeing their name a lot in the past six months or so, especially after the release of their fourth album, Boxer, which received a lot of critical praise. The National was formed by group of friends from Ohio. I am personally not a huge fan of this group as the lead vocalist’s voice puts me to sleep. But musically I can hear that they are a talented bunch.

Ozomatli - Can't Stop

Album: Don't Mess With The Dragon

I first heard of them when their song, “Saturday Night” was used on the 4th generation iPod commercial. I haven’t heard much about them recently, but have found that Ozomatli has released a couple of albums since then. This band blends all sorts of genre of music from funk, hip-hop, jazz and reggae with Latin flavor.

Okkervil River - A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene

Album: The Stage Names

Okkervil River is an indie rock band from Austin, Texas. Back in September 2007, I reviewed their song, “Unless It’s Kicks”. I really liked that song, but I wasn’t too happy with their second single. But this song, “A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene” from the same album is not too bad.

Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers [Acoustic]

Album: Asking for Flowers

Kathleen Edwards is a Canadian folk, country, pop musician that sings and writes her own music. She is often compared to her fellow Canadian singer-songwriter, Sarah McLachlan, but she hasn’t had that big break yet. This exclusive acoustic performance of this track is available for free download from Amazon MP3.

The Whigs - Right Hand On My Heart

Album: Mission Control

Hailing from Athens, Georgia (that brought R.E.M. and B-52’s), The Whigs signed to Dave Matthews’ record label, ATO Records. Mission Control is their second album release, and this particular track sounds a lot like combinations of bunch of good rock songs, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it. But I like it.

Newton Faulkner - Dream Catch Me

Album: Hand Built By Robots

Newton Faulkner is a British folk rocker that has been burning up the charts in the UK. Americans may compare him to the current American Idol contestant, Jason Castro as they both have dreadlocks, and play soft rock on acoustic guitars. If you are a fan of Massive Attack’s hit song, “Teardrop” you may be interested in hearing his interpretation of the song, which is also included on this album.