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.

July 29, 2008

Ashanti - Body On Me /ft. Akon & Nelly

Album: The Declaration

I wasn’t even aware that Ashanti had released another album. Actually this one, and the previous one, Concrete Rose, passed by me without much grabbing my attention. This particular track features Akon singing the hook and Nelly contributing a verse, but even then it seems to lack something, considering that her first two albums were really good. Maybe Ashanti is too focused on her acting career more than music nowadays.

Carolina Liar - I'm Not Over

Album: Coming To Terms

Carolina Liar has an interesting background. The lead singer, Chad Wolf is from South Carolina, and after he moved to LA, he did an internship with Diane Warren, and through some luck, he met super Swedish producer Max Martin (Britney, Nsync, Kelly Clarkson). Martin liked Chad Wolf, so he gave Wolf studio time, and bunch of Swedish musicians to be in the band, and thus the band, Carolina Liar was formed. But it’s not the interesting story that sells the band, it’s the music, and they do just that by creating UK rock style of synth-rock with good songwriting. This song in particular sounds like when U2 does an upbeat song.

Ice Cube - Do Ya Thang

Album: Raw Footage

Ice Cube is back with a brand new record. He’s one of my favorite rappers of all time, and though he’s been busy directing and acting in Hollywood, Ice Cube still finds time to record albums here and there and go on concerts. His latest album, set to be released in mid August is supposed to be a lot more political. “Do Ya Thang” is the second single off of the 9th solo album.

Madonna - Give It 2 Me

Album: Hard Candy

If you are a regular clubber, hearing this song should get you pumped up for the weekend. Listening to this song can get you to imagine the green laser light bouncing around you. Big props to Pharrell who produced the track. On the interview, he talked about how difficult it was to come up with “dance” sounding song, as that wasn’t particularly his specialty. Pharrell commented that it was like going to school, producing for Madonna, as he had to learn a lot of new things to please her.

The Maine – I Wanna Love You (Akon Cover)

Album: Punk Goes Crunk

With a ridiculous cover and title, I was going to dismiss this album, but I gave it a try. First of all, the title of the album is very misleading. Most of the bands doing the cover here aren’t really punk, and they are not covering crunk. Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” or Will Smith’s “Men In Black” are far from crunk. With that said, there were a couple of decent covers on the album, this being one of them. It starts out like it could be a Christmas song, and turns into a cheery pop rock song. Another one worth checking out from the album is All Time Low’s version of “Umbrella”.

O.A.R. – Shattered (Turn The Car Around)

Album: All Sides

This song was available for free download from Amazon. I was hooked on it within the first 30 seconds of the song. O.A.R. stands for Of A Revolution. I’ve heard of the name a couple of times, but I never paid attention to their music. This song in particular should please the fan of Snow Patrol and OneRepublic.

Rihanna - Disturbia

Album: Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded

A lot of artists nowadays are doing the deluxe edition re-issues, and Rihanna is joining the bandwagon. The limited edition comes with a DVD featuring behind the scenes footage, as well as three new songs. One of which is “Take A Bow” which has been popular all around the world (though I’m not a huge fan). Another new track, Disturbia is the next single, which is more of a club oriented track. The music video is kind of disturbing as Rihanna portrays psychotic vampire of some kind.

Shwayze – Buzzin’

Album: Shwayze

Shwayze talks about himself as the only black kid in the Malibu community he grew up in. Shwayze, along with his producer/friend Cisco Adler (no, not Sisqo who sung “Thong Song”) have their own show on MTV. This song has been getting a lot of buzz even before the first episode had aired, showcasing that MTV still has fairly strong marketing power. It’s a decent summer time, old-school flavored hip-hop tune.

Tickle Me Pink – Typical

Album: Madeline

Colorado band, Flobot’s “Handlebars” is getting a lot of airplays this summer. Add Tickle Me Pink to another breakthrough artist from Colorado. Their debut album, Madeline was released on July 1st. Just as they were preparing to celebrate their first ever album release, the bassist Johnny Schou was found dead at his home. The cause of death is still not released, but the other band members insist that drugs and alcohol were not involved. It’s a sad story, but they are moving on with national tour in memory of the bass player. The band’s sound reminds me of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Weezer - Troublemaker

Album: Weezer (Red Album)

Reminiscent of some of their older rocking sounds, like “The Good Life” from Pinkerton, Weezer shows their fun side again. Their first single off of the Red Album, “Pork And Beans” spent 11 weeks at #1 spot on Billboard Modern Rock chart. Personally I like “Troublemaker” more than “Pork And Beans” but we’ll see if Weezer can repeat the similar success with this song.

July 13, 2008

Beck – Gamma Ray

Album: Modern Guilt

Beck decided to team up with producer Danger Mouse (member of Gnarls Barkley) for his 8th album. The whole album has Gnarls Barkley feel to it, except all the songs are sung by Beck (and a couple songs assisted by lovely Cat Power). Overall, the combination of Beck and Danger Mouse work really well.

Craig David – Hot Stuff (Let’s Dance)

Album: Trust Me

Recently on an interview Craig has mentioned how he has to be really modest and beg US radio station DJs to play his songs. He became somewhat popular in the US several years ago with the song, “7 Days” but hasn’t repeated the similar success since then. In the UK, he’s still one of the most popular R&B stars. He’s hoping that this single, which samples David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” could bring him more exposure in the US again.

Elbow – Grounds For Divorce

Album: The Seldom Seen Kid

One late night, I caught their video on MTV2. The music video for this song takes place in a smoky bar, and music and the scene fit perfectly. When the lead singer started pounding the empty big beer mug on the table to the beat, I was ready to download this song. Elbow is based in UK, and has been around since 1990. This song is on their fourth album titled, The Seldom Seen Kid.

The Game – Game’s Pain /ft. Keyshia Cole

Album: LAX

The Game’s third album, LAX has been delayed a couple of times now. First, it was going to be released on the same date as his nemesis G-Unit’s latest album, so it was postponed. Then the new release date coincided with Nas’ latest, so it was postponed again. Right now it’s set for end of August. On this song, The Game enlists the help of Keyshia Cole, who is talented singer, but on this track, she sounds like a cheap imitation of Mary J. Blige. I think this song is supposed to be chill laid back summer song, like Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” but The Game doesn’t sound as good as he normally does (maybe because he’s not angry on the song).

The Hush Sound – Honey

Album: Goodbye Blues

Another band associated with Fall Out Boy (on Fueled By Ramen label). Their previous album was produced by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, but for their latest album, they recorded with producer Kevin Augunas (Cold War Kids). The Hush Sound was founded by Greta Salpeter and Robert Morris, while Greta was in 7th grade and Robert in 10th. They both share the vocal duties, but on their latest album, Goodbye Blues, Greta takes most of the mic time. Most of the songs are poppy, jazzy, swing dance style of music that’s fun to listen to. They would probably be a fun band to see live.

Justin Nozuka – After Tonight

Album: Holly

If you like Jason Mraz, you may also like Justin Nozuka. Justin Nozuka’s father is Japanese, and mother is American named Holly Sedgwick, who has a famous sister Kyra Sedgwick, who is married to Kevin Bacon. That means Justin Nozuka is Kevin Bacon’s nephew. Justin Nozuka doesn’t speak any Japanese, as he was raised by his single mother after his parents split. To show his thanks, he has titled his debut CD after his mother. He is still a young kid (only 18 years old), but is already a talented singer-songwriter. He will be performing at Fuji Rock this summer at one of the smaller stages.

My Chemical Romance – Cancer [Live in Mexico]

Album: The Black Parade Is Dead!

Last month My Chemical Romance released a special DVD of their Black Parade concert. The DVD includes two concerts, one from big arena in Mexico City, and other from smaller venue in their hometown, New Jersey. It also contains audio tracks from the Mexico City concert. I attended the Black Parade concert last year, and it became one of the most memorable concerts. A lot of the songs on this live album sounds very close to the studio album, but slower tracks such as this track shines as a live track. What a dramatic pause in the ending.

Ne-Yo – Closer

Album: Year of the Gentleman

R&B singer, Ne-Yo tries something new on this track. Unlike his previous albums where most of the songs were slower paced R&B style, he tackles the dance floor with the help of producer Stargate (who recently had a hit with Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music”). It’s a decent track, but in the end, I started to think that it would’ve sounded better if Usher had done the same song. At least this song is a big hit in the UK right now. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the album will turn out.

The Subways – Alright

Album: All Or Nothing

It’s not the first, but what do you do when you date the hot female bass player in your own band, but the relationship comes to an awkward end, but as the band, you need to continue? Smashing Pumpkins continued as a band even after James Iha and Darcy stopped dating, and the Subways lead singer Billy Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper try to stay professional and do the same for their second album. The Subways second album, All Or Nothing was produced by Butch Vigg (drummer of Garbage, and famous producer responsible for Nirvana’s Nevermind).

Tilly And The Wall – Pot Kettle Black

Album: o

Tilly And The Wall is a unique band from Omaha, Nebraska for having a tap dancer instead of a drummer. The combination of fun keyboard chords and the tap dance beat makes this band fun to listen to (and probably to check out live). “Pot Kettle Black” is the first single off of their third album titled, o. The track sounds like The Go-Go’s playing along with The White Stripes. There is nobody named Tilly in the band, as the band name originated from a children’s book called Tillie and the Wall.