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 28, 2009

Busta Rhymes - Hustler's Anthem '09' /ft. T-Pain

Album: Back On My B.S.

Busta Rhymes' 8th album, Back On My BS took a very long time to get released as he switched labels. The album release was hardly noticed as it didn't generate much sale. Although his last album, The Big Bang did fairly well, thanks to the single, "Touch It", I feel like Busta Rhymes' popularity is going down. He is one of the most dynamic rappers out there with recognizeable uniqueness. But perhaps he does better when he is a featured artist instead of rapping a whole song. It's always a joy to listen to remixes of other rappers and hear him come on and do his crazy thing. This single was released a few months ago, and although I like the beat, it seems to lack the fire Busta once had.

Del The Funky Homosapien - Young Adrenaline

Album: Funk Man

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I've heard this rapper's name before, but I couldn't think of why I knew. I'm not very keen on underground or indie hip-hop, but after hearing the voice, I recognized him from Gorillaz's hit song, "Clint Eastwood." Del is also Ice Cube's cousin. Del The Funky Homosapien became tired of labels not doing much, and albums not selling much, so he decided to distribute his music for free. In exchange? He just wants people to hear his music. I went to his official site, download the album for free, enjoyed it (particularly this track), so the least I could do it is promote it some more.

Kings Of Leon - Notion

Album: Only By The Night

I really dig Nathan Followill's voice. Nathan and his brothers and a cousin are doing fairly well nowadays as they have moved up to being headline acts in both UK and US. I hadn't heard this track, but a friend of mine has told me he's been hearing it on the radio and suggested it to me. It's a great rock song that I would want to hear live someday.

Lily Allen - Not Fair

Album: It's Not Me, It's You

The music starts out like western gunsling showdown, and nothing matches better than Lily Allen's fast talking, cheeky lyrics about a super nice guy who is just terrible in bed. The song is catchy, fun and gets stuck in your head. What else can you ask for? This track is rising up fast on the UK chart.

Lyrics Born - I Like It, I Love It

Album: Everywhere At Once

My coworker gave me this album and told me that I would probably like it. He first let me listen to this particular track on his computer, and I was hooked. The beat was funky and the rap style was cool. How come I had never heard of this guy before? Then I was told that the rapper was Japanese guy named Tom Shimura. Really? I couldn’t believe it. My image of Japanese rapper was… well, I didn’t have any image of a Japanese rapper. Lyrics Born was born in Japan, but grew up in San Francisco area. He started out as MC name of Asian Born, but later changed it to Lyrics Born because he didn’t want to be known as the “Asian Rapper.” He is currently working on a new album, so I will have to check that out when it comes out.

Maia Hirasawa - Crackers

Album: Though, I'm Just Me

Maia Hirasawa is Swedish (she’s half Japanese) singer songwriter that has been getting some attention in the US recently. I stumbled this track as it was a free download from Amazon MP3 (the editors there are doing good job selecting great songs), and decided to check out some of her other music. She has so far only released one album. A track, “And I Found This Boy” is a fun piano pop song reminiscent of Yael Naim and Meiko. The music video was cute, too.

Method Man & Redman - A-Yo /ft. Saukrates

Album: Blackout 2

Childhood friends, Method Man and Redman are back together again to bring fun back into hip-hop. When these guys get together and rap, it's like two old friends meeting at a bbq and talk and laugh about what they did last weekend. It's a nice laid back rap album with funky beat with a hook reminiscent of Nate Dogg. The track also features Canadian rapper, Saukrates.

NOFX - Creeping Out Sara

Album: Coaster

I'm a huge fan of Tegan & Sara, and I don't know how other fans feel about this song, but I think it's hilarious. NOFX is a punk rock band from California that doesn't know how to take life seriously. Creeping Out Sara is a song about meeting Sara (or possibly Tegan, since Fat Mike couldn't tell them apart) at one of the big music festival. The song goes on to ask Sara about lesbian orgy sex and drugs. Considering that both Tegan & Sara have great sense of humor, I get a feeling they were able to laugh it off.

Pitbull - I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)

Album: I Know You Want Me (Single)

Pitbull has recently figured out how to crank out hits. Two years ago, him and Lil Jon sampled Europe's popular dance track, "Calabria" and turned it into "The Anthem." This year, he took last year's hot dance track, "75 Brazil Street" and converted it into "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)". This track is now Pitbull's most successful single to date as it is currently #4 on Billboard Single chart.

Zee Avi - Bitter Heart

Album: Zee Avi

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Melody Gardot's latest song and raved about her voice. This new artist, Zee Avi is up there when it comes to "nice voice to listen to." This track was also another free single offered from Amazon MP3, and when I heard it, I thought her voice was beautiful. The album cover didn't show her face, so I had no idea what kind of person was singing this song, until I checked out her official site, and learned that she was a tiny girl from Malaysia (she looks like a kid, but she's apparently 23). She was posting her music on YouTube until she was discovered and signed to Jack Johnson's Brushfire label. She would be cool to see live. I wish her great success.

May 14, 2009

Better Than Ezra - Absolutely Still

Album: Paper Empire

Before The All-American Rejects and Snow Patrol, there was Better Than Ezra. They are back to prove that they can still create well crafted slow pop rock songs. After spending some time as a songwriter for other pop acts such as Idol winner, David Cook, and Tristan Prettyman, lead singer Kevin Griffin and the band is releasing their seventh album.

Chester French - She Loves Everybody

Album: Love The Future

Chester French was formed by two students from Harvard University. Both Kanye West and Pharrell became interested in signing the band, and after a bidding war between the two hip-hop giants, Pharrell's Star Trak won. It's odd to think that hip-hop producers were interested in signing them considering that their music is more pop rock oriented. I listened to their entire album, but it sounded like three complete different bands put together the album. A lot of the songs sounded like early Billy Joel, but some sounded like Weezer, Fountains of Wayne type of pop rock. Then there's "She Loves Everybody" which sounds more like UK rock (Arctic Monkeys comes to mind). Maybe these Harvard guys are too smart for their own good, because even though I liked this track, I didn't enjoy their "all-over-the-place" album.

The Crystal Method - Drown In The Now /ft. Matisyahu

Album: Divided By Night

I haven't listened to The Crystal Method since their 1997 album, Vegas, which was released in the peak of 90s electronica music scene (along with Orbital, Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy just to name a few). Their latest single, Drown In The Now featuring the Jewish reggae rapper Matisyahu, is a cool song reminiscent of their glory days. But the rest of the album, not so much. I don't know if they are trying to go pop, but none of the other tracks on the album sound as strong. Their latest album is available for $3 at Amazon MP3 store.

Eminem - We Made You

Album: Relapse

Ultra conservative newsman, Bill O'Reilly said of this particular video, "he represents the lowest form of entertainment in this country and is a publicity hound to boot." O’Reilly may not be the only person Eminem will upset in this video as he pokes fun of Sarah Palin, Jessica Simpson, Amy Winehouse, Lindsey Lohan, just to name a few. This is the kind of song that you have to watch the music video to fully appreciate what he is rapping about. It’s a silly song, but I’m now ready for some serious rapping from Eminem.

Fischerspooner - Supply & Demand

Album: Entertainment

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First of all, look at the cover. It really is something (kind of remind me of Adam Lambert from this year's American Idol). I was first hooked into Fischerspooner because of the song "Never Win" from four years ago. This track, which is available for free download from their official website, isn't as good, but it sounds good when you turn it up really loud in your car.

The Fray - Heartless [Swinghouse Session]

Album: The Fray Live: iTunes Pass

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This year’s American Idol contestant, Kris Allen hadn’t been standing out much on the show, but during the top 3 performance week, he came through with acoustic version of Kanye West’s “Heartless.” It was bossa nova, street musician style, and I loved it. Just a few weeks ago, The Fray had released their version on piano, which is probably where Kris Allen got the inspiration from. Kanye isn’t the greatest singer in the world, but when you hear it sung by someone like The Fray, you realize how good the song really is, and how brilliant Kanye West is for writing a song like that.

Ida Maria - I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked

Album: Fortress 'round My Heart

How can you dislike this song? If a semi-drunk girl sung this at a karaoke (especially in husky voice like Ida Maria), I’d probably fall for her right away. It’s a little ska, little punk, and a whole lot of fun. Ida Maria comes from Norway, and she will be performing at numerous festivals this summer including Fuji Rock in Japan.

Jupiter Rising - Falling Away

Album: The Quiet Hype

If Black Eyed Peas enlisted Timbaland to produce a song, the result may sound similar to Jupiter Rising’s latest single, Falling Away. Despite that complimenting comparison to chart burning producers, I have to say that they still lack the star power. It’s a catchy enough song, but probably not enough to grab everyone’s attention. I’ve liked their past two records, and they are getting better at crafting catchy pop tunes. Maybe by next album release, they will finally have a top 10 hit.

Marilyn Manson - We're From America

Album: The High End Of Low

Marilyn Manson will be releasing his seventh album later this month. To get the early buzz going, he released this track as a free download on his official site. I must say, it’s probably my favorite Manson track to date. It is as catchy as Beautiful People, and just as powerful. I also think it’s a smart political song, not expected from Marilyn Manson. I’ve always felt that he was much much smarter than his target audience. Hopefully his fans have grown enough to understand what the song is about.

Melody Gardot - Baby I'm A Fool

Album: My One And Only Thrill

Yes, it is odd to see slow jazz song included in my selection, but I occasionally come across a gem like Melody Gardot. I stumbled upon her debut album last year and fell in love with her Norah Jones-esque voice. As I wrote last time, Gardot became disabled after a bicycle accident. When she performs, she needs a special chair for her muscle pain. She is also ultra sensitive to light and noise. Despite all of that difficulty, when she sings, you feel like you are out in a nature with birds singing. This track from her second album is already a hit in Japan, but also check out her cover of “Over the Rainbow” (which actually has birds chirping sound effect) which has Brazilian feel to it.

May 11, 2009

Sasquatch Festival 2009 (Sat)

Sasquatch concert festival is at end of the month! Although I won't be able to attend this year, I thought I would select some of the highlights and guide for this year's performers. Saturday's headliner is Kings of Leon, who is finally getting the recognition they deserve in their home country, US (they are already a headliner act in UK). If any of you go, please let me know which act shined on the stage!

Blind Pilot - Go On, Say It

Album: 3 Rounds And A Sound

Blind Pilot consists of Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski from Portland, Oregon. They create nice laid back folkish music, reminiscent of younger days of Death Cab For Cuties. This particular song was a free single on iTunes last year. Once they toured from Bellingham to San Diego on a bicycle (though the equipment was carried in a van)

M. Ward - Chinese Translation

Album: Post-War

Even though M. Ward is a contemporary artist, his songs sound like it could've been a hit 30 years ago, or better yet, would feel comfortable on Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack. The music video for the song has old Chinese style animation, which is pretty cool.

Ra Ra Riot - Ghosts Under Rocks

Album: The Rhumb Line

Not many rock bands have both cellist and violinist in a group (at least not in the official lineup). Ra Ra Riot hails from New York, and they released their debut album last year. This particular track showcases the strength of the string section.

The Decemberists - O Valencia!

Album: The Crane Wife

Here's another band from Portland, Oregon that also sounds like Death Cab For Cuties. I never got into their music (maybe because they sound like Death Cab, and I'm not a huge fan of their music), but they have quite a big following, without having any big radio hit.

Mos Def - Life In Marvelous Times

Album: Life In Marvelous Times

Mos Def is supposed to release a new album titled The Ecstatic in early June of this year, but considering that his releases tend to get delayed, who knows if it will actually happen. Since Mos Def doesn't have any top 40 hits, many people may not be familiar with his work, but he raps about socially conscious issues, and is a great live performer.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Runaway

Album: It's Blitz!

Their current upbeat single, "Zero" is still doing well on the rock chart. I like the haunting piano on this song. Lead singer Karen O proves that she can do these slower ballad just as well as the danceable track like "Zero."

Kings Of Leon - Fans

Album: Because Of The Times

Nashville band, Kings of Leon has been more popular in UK, but finally they are getting the popularity they deserve in the US. I first saw them over five years ago at Summersonic in Japan when they had only released one album. I would like to see them again now that they have released so many hits. This particular track was a top 20 hit in UK, but didn't get any reception in the US.