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.

April 29, 2009

Anberlin - Feel Good Drag

Album: New Surrender

Anberlin is a rock band from Florida. They had been around since the early 2000s, but they recently signed to the major label. New Surrender marks their major debut (fourth overall), and the single, “Feel Good Drag” had been released since last summer, but it took 29 weeks to get to the top of the rock chart (and to come to my attention, and my local rock radio station to start playing it). It’s a good solid rock song.

Asher Roth - Be Be Myself /ft. Cee-Lo

Album: Asleep In The Bread Isle

Asher Roth was one of the most talked about rappers in early 2009 (along with Kid Cudi). It’s hard to find an article that doesn’t compare him with Eminem, because he’s a white rapper. Roth is flattered by the comparison, but claims he’s not as angry as Slim Shady, and that he’s a laid back kid from the suburbs that likes to party. He even has a song called “As I Em”. His single, “I Love College” is getting a lot of attention, but I didn’t think that song showcased any rapping (more or less he’s just talking). His debut album has solid songs, and Roth is a decent rapper, but on a song that features Busta Rhymes (“Lion’s Roar”), the difference between a seasoned rapper and newcomer clearly shows. This track from the album was one of my favorites, and has great hook sung by Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo.

Band Of Skulls - I Know What I Am

Album: Baby Darling Doll Face Honey

I don’t know much about this band, other than it was offered as one of the free singles of the week from iTunes a few weeks back. From the first listen, I was intrigued. And after reading their bio, the band also seems to be surprised at this lighting speed of getting global attention. Based in London, the three piece band has both male and female lead singers. The music is simple yet catchy like those of The White Stripes.

Depeche Mode - Wrong

Album: Sounds Of The Universe

Wrong! Wrong! This is the type of song that stays in your head for a while. Check out the creepy music video. Even before watching the video, I felt that this sounded like an entrance music for The Joker from Batman (though I’ve never seen the movie). I had not really checked out their music since the 80s and early 90s (“People Are People” and “Personal Jesus” come to mind), but they seem to be still popular in the UK.
Link to music video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bsXOcK9_Cw

Fastball - Little White Lies

Album: Little White Lies

Fastball hit big time in 1998 with hits like “The Way”, “Out of My Head” and “Fire Escape.” I didn’t even know that they had released two albums after that. I came across this album by luck when I was surfing along Amazon Music page. They are on tour, playing at small clubs/bars so if you used to like their music it might be a good time to go check them out for under $20.

Green Day - Know Your Enemy

Album: 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day must’ve been under a lot of pressure after the huge success of American Idiot. That album was one of the biggest selling rock albums. How do you follow after that kind of success? Well, they tried to distract themselves by pretending to be another band called Foxboro Hot Tubs last year. Now they are launching their real new album, this time produced by Butch Vigg (he’s a member of Garbage, and also produced Nirvana’s Nevermind). Since I had such high expectation, the first time I heard this song, I was slightly disappointed. But the more I listen to it, it grew on me. I’ve seen hundreds of bands live, and I still have to say that they put on the most entertaining show. They really know how to work the crowd. They are touring this summer, and I’m definitely going to be there.

Madcon - Beggin'

Album: So Dark The Con Of Man

The first time I heard this song, I thought it was Chris Rock singing. I thought it was part of Madagascar soundtrack (in which Chris Rock does the voice of the zebra). I was impressed how well he could sing. But later I found out that this song is done by a group called Madcon from Norway! This track was already a huge hit in their native country Norway, as well as other European nations including France, Germany and UK. This song is finally getting the US release. It’s a great track that samples Frankie Valli’s song.

Metric - Help I'm Alive

Album: Fantasies

This indie rock band from Canada sounds a lot like Veruca Salt and Juliana Hatfield. The lead singer Emily Haines belongs to several bands such as Stars and Emily Haines and Soft Skeleton, but the band got together again for their third album. It’s a slick indie rock album, and this is one of my favorite tracks, except it could’ve been maybe a minute shorter.

Peter Bjorn And John - Nothing To Worry About

Album: Living Thing

The Swedish rock band had an international success in 2006 with a song, “Young Folks” that featured lots of whistling and bongo drums (or I think that’s what it’s called). They are back with new album. The new single, “Nothing to Worry About” has addicting hook, but what got me hooked was the music video that features Japanese rockabilly punk dancers at Yoyogi Park near Harajuku. The first time I saw the video, I thought “what the…” but the more I listen to the song, the song fits the video very well.

Tinted Windows - Kind Of A Girl

Album: Tinted Windows

What do you get when you mix Smashing Pumpkins, Fountains of Wayne, Cheap Trick and Hanson? Well, you get Tinted Windows. I have to admit, it’s a pure pop power rock album that makes you want to sing “woooahh” and “yay yay” along with them. I’m a huge fan of Adam Schlesinger’s songwriting, (particularly on films That Things You Do and Music & Lyrics). The guitar you hear is definitely from ex-Pumpkin’s James Iha. I can’t say that I know enough Cheap Trick music to recognize the particular drumming. When I first heard that the lead singer is going to be one of the Hanson brothers (the second one), I was a little hesitant, but I guess he’s not a boy any more (that would be freaky considering those days were over 10 years ago), and he does a good job with the vocal task.

April 14, 2009

Bat For Lashes - Daniel

Album: Two Suns

Bat For Lashes is not a band, but a stage name for British musician, Natasha Khan, who is half Pakistani. Her eerie music has been compared to Bjork, PJ Harvey and Tori Amos as well as Radiohead, who took her as their opening act on the recent tour (someone pointed out that she kind of looks like Lily Allen – hmm maybe just the eyes). “Daniel” is definitely not an upbeat song that I normally select, but it sounded unique and caught my attention. I’m not sure if Bat For Lashes has a huge crush on Daniel-san from Karate Kid, but in the music video, a guy dressed up like him shows up in the very end. The album cover for the single has her bareback with Daniel-san’s face painted (hopefully not tattooed) . What I want to know is, where is Mr. Miyagi?

Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow

Album: Boom Boom Pow (Single)

Black Eyed Peas are back, and they just broke an all time group record for most download in a single week by shifting 465,000 (previous record was 253,000 download for Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” The song itself isn’t that great, but since it’s the latest single from Black Eyed Peas, ever since Fergie became a superstar, everyone (including myself) was quite curious to hear how they would sound now. As expected, Fergie has bigger role (at least on this song). Their new album will be released in June.

Blue October - Dirt Room

Album: Approaching Normal

The group famous for “Hate me today, hate me tomorrow” song, Blue October tries to prove that they are not an one-hit-wonder group. This song is from Houston, Texas band’s fifth album, Approaching Normal. Blue October teamed up with producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Jason Mraz, Phish) for this project, and it has paid off as the song has nice polished sound.

Ciara - Love Sex Magic /ft. Justin Timberlake

Album: Fantasy Ride

Ciara’s third album titled, Fantasy Ride has been delayed because of poor performances from her earlier singles, but finally the track co-written by JT did the trick. Her new album supposedly has superhero theme (like seen on the cover), and will be introducing her alter ego, Super C. DC Comics (famous for Superman and Batman) artist Bernard Chang helped with the design of the cover. This track has a nice funky beat, which definitely has Justin Timberlake feel to it.

Jamie Foxx - Blame It /ft. T-Pain

Album: Intuition

I was a huge fan of Jamie Foxx on In Living Color TV show over 15 years ago. He is also a very talented musician (he received scholarship to study classical music composition). He was also superb in Ray. With all that said, I never quite got into his albums, perhaps because they are more geared toward R&B, which isn’t quite my favorites. When I heard that his new album was geared toward more party songs, I was excited. Sure, compared to his previous efforts, there are more upbeat songs, but compared to songs like Usher’s “Yeah”, “Blame It” still lacks energy. Still, T-Pain brings catchiness to the song, and it is climbing up the charts. Foxx uses his Hollywood connections, and this music video has cameo appearances from stars like Ron Howard, Samuel L Jackson, and Forest Whitaker.

Kid Cudi - Day 'n' Nite

Album: Day 'n' Nite (Single)

Along with Asher Roth, Kid Cudi has been gaining a lot of attention since end of last year as he was named “one of the hottest MCs to watch in 2009” by numerous music publications. 2009 is here, and Kid Cudi proving to be quite successful as his debut single, “Day ‘n’ Nite” is burning up the chart. He was discovered by Kanye West, and signed to his label, and helped West with the latest album, 808s & Heartbreak (Cudi is featured on “Welcome to Heartbreak”). There is more upbeat remix of the song which is also popular on the dance radio.

Lily Allen - Womanizer [Acoustic]

Album: F.U.E.P. (EP)

Lily Allen has been known to perform Britney’s hit song during her live shows, and she has finally made it available to public (currently only available on iTunes as part of F**k You EP). This cover is a stripped down version with piano and acoustic guitar. I still like the original version by Britney better, but I thought this version was unique enough, and I thought it was interesting the UK tabloid magnet Lily Allen (numerous topless photos of hers have appeared all over the internet) decided to cover US tabloid magnet, Britney Spears.

Pearl Jam - Brother

Album: Ten [Legacy Edition]

Yes, back to the early 90s! Pearl Jam recently re-released their groundbreaking album from 1992, Ten, which was remastered by producer Brendan O’Brien. Also on the re-release are a few previously unreleased songs such as this track. Brother was written during the original recording of Ten, but was left out since it never fully finished. For this Legacy Edition, they decided to finally release the song, and it shot up to #1 on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks. It totally reminds me of the 90s grunge scene, yet sound fresh.

Seether - Careless Whisper

Album: Careless Whisper (Single)

80s kids will know this as Wham song. Some of the 90s kids may recognize the song as Tamia covered it for A Night at the Roxbury movie. Now the kids in 2000s will get to hear it from the South African rock band, Seether. This cover of George Michael classic (Wham song to be exact), has turned into a huge hit. Listening to it again makes me realize what a great songwriter George Michael used to be in his prime. Seether is currently on tour with Nickelback and don’t plan on going to the studio any time soon, so this track has been released as a single only track so far.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero

Album: It's Blitz!

With every new album releases, I get more and more attracted to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ music (including their EP). The lead off single from their third album, “Zero” contains little bit of disco, electrobeat and of course, rock. It is a great track with addictive beat. The lead singer Karen O. has been noted as hottest rock goddess by many music magazines for her fashion sense and stage presence. I never knew that she was half Korean and Polish.