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, 2009

Billy Boy On Poison - On My Way

Album: Drama Junkie Queen

Billy Boy On Poison is a new band from LA that was signed by “24” star, Kiefer Sutherland, who has been signing quite a few cool bands recently (such as honeyhoney). The band was formed when they were in their teens, but don’t let their youth fool you. They know how to rock. A lot of the songs on their debut has great guitar riffs that gets your head bobbing. “On My Way” was a free download from iTunes and also getting some air plays. They will be opening up for Blink-182/Weezer tour this summer.

Daughtry - No Surprise

Album: Leave This Town

After Michael Jackson’s death, MJ’s album has been leading the #1 album for a few weeks until Daughtry released their sophomore effort, “Leave This Town” earlier this month. The first single, “No Surprise” has been getting a lot of radio play as well. I recently had a chance to check them out for free for Samsung’s Summer Krush concert series (I highly suggest people in other cities to check it out. I mean, it’s free). They sounded good, together as a band. The show only lasted 45 minutes, but Chris Daughtry showed that he has matured and seemed a lot more comfortable on the stage, since his American Idols days.

The Dead Weather - So Far From Your Weapon

Album: Horehound

I personally think Jack White is one of the most brilliant musician to come forward this decade. Both the White Stripes and the Raconteurs are great bands. This time, White extends his hands (and drumming skill) to another super band, this time recruiting The Kills foxy singer, Alison Mosshart, fellow Raconteurs bass player (the one with glasses), Jack Lawrence, and The Queen of the Stone Age’s guitarist Dean Fertita. The Dead Weather may be my least favorite of Jack White venture, as some tracks sound a little too alternative for me, but some of the songs, like this one keeps me rooting for more of Jack White projects.

Drake - Best I Ever Had

Album: Best I Ever Had (Single)

Drake started out as a teen actor on Canadian TV drama, “Degrassi: The Next Generation” but now he’s known as the hottest rapper to debut in 2009. There was apparently a biggest bidding war ever to sign him to a label before he ended up at his mentor, Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment. And next thing I know, even before his album release, this single is #2 song in the US. It’s a decent song, and Drake is a competent rapper, but I still haven’t figured out why Drake is getting so much attention.

Eminem - Beautiful

Album: Relapse

After releasing a couple of silly songs, it’s time for Eminem to get serious. On this latest single, Eminem raps about being depressed for being famous and also try to inspire others. The concept is similar to “Lose Yourself” but compared to that, the music doesn’t sound as dramatic. This track is also one of the few that was not produced by Dr. Dre.

Jay-Z - D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)

Album: D.O.A. (Single)

This song is getting a lot of attention since Jay-Z, the self claimed “best rapper alive” has killed and dissed auto-tune. What is interesting is that Jay-Z mentioned that it was Kanye West, who suggested that he rap about the subject, even though Kanye’s last album was recorded all in auto-tune. There is a lot of inside report that after this song release, a lot of rappers and pop artists are going back to the studio to get rid of their auto-tune sound. Jay-Z himself had to take out a track which he recorded along with Kanye West that used an auto-tune. Could this be the reason of Mariah and Diddy both announcing that their albums will be delayed? What will T-Pain do now? With all of that aside, when I first heard this song, I didn’t think much of it, but the more I listen to it, the music is powerful and it gets to you.

Keri Hilson - Knock You Down /ft. Kanye West & Ne-Yo

Album: In A Perfect World

I was almost ready to dismiss Keri Hilson as she wasn’t generating huge hits despite all the backing from major producers and rappers. But this song finally put Keri on the top 10 map. My only concern is that despite its strong chart success in both UK and US, I don’t notice Keri so much on the song. This seems more of Kanye’s song or even Ne-Yo’s. Hopefully that won’t make Keri into a hook singing side kick. I do want to mention that Kanye really shines on this song, and mentioning Michael Jackson on the song probably helps, too.

Our Lady Peace - All You Did Was Save My Life

Album: Burn Burn

A lot of the popular rock bands from the 90s are trying to make a come back this summer. Collective Soul, Third Eye Blind, Sugar Ray are all releasing albums this summer, and the Canadian rocker, Our Lady Peace is also trying to stay relevant. This is a good catchy song, but at the same time, I was a little disappointed. I was a huge fan of their 90s hits such as “Superman’s Dead” and “Clumsy” because they sounded unique and different. But now, particularly this track, makes them sound like every other top 40 pop-rock bands like Lifehouse or David Cook (but then lead singer Raine Maida produced for several of Cook’s tracks). It’s fine if they chose to go on that path, but they made an announcement that this album is going to be like their older stuff, so I guess my expectation was a little different.

Pet Shop Boys - Love Etc.

Album: Yes

Dance pop duo, Pet Shop Boys recently broke the record for most #1s among duos or groups on Dance/Club Play Songs chart. Their latest single, “Love Etc” became their ninth #1 song on the chart, breaking Depeche Mode’s previous record. Looking into my music hard drive, I don’t have anything from them since the 80s. I wasn’t aware that they continued to generate dance hits well into the 90s and today. So, I’m choosing this song this month as they have proven that they are not just the 80s long lost act. And it’s a good dance pop song as well.

Shakira - She Wolf

Album: She Wolf (Single)

After having one of the biggest hits of the decade with “Hips Don’t Lie”, Shakira is back with a brand new single. It sounds quite different from her previous work. The music sounds like it could belong on Kylie Minogue’s album. This track was co-produced by The Bravery singer, Sam Endicott. On the song, Shakira howls and pants as if she were a wolf. This MP3 was actually available for a free download from ABC Lounge two days before its release. Her album is to be released sometime in the Fall.

July 18, 2009

The Alchemist - Lose Your Life /ft. Snoop Dogg, Jadakiss & Pusha T

Album: Chemical Warfare

The Alchemist was signed on to be Eminem’s official tour DJ in 2005 for the Anger Management Tour. Since then he has gained popularity and this album, Chemical Warfare is star studded album featuring The Alchemist’s beat. Eminem provides verses on a song, “Chemical Warfare” but the real gem on the album is this track featuring Snoop Dogg, Jadakiss and Pusha T. If this track was on Snoop’s album, maybe it could’ve gotten more attention. It was released as a single a year ago, but it never crossed my path until just now, when the album was just released.

Coldplay – Viva La Vida [Live]

Album: Left Right Left Right Left

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Coldplay is currently on their huge global tour, and I had a chance to go check them out, actually my first time. I’ve heard many people tell me that they sound great live, and that they put on energetic show. Unfortunately I was seated a little far to tell the energy, but I appreciated their effort in moving the stage occasionally to get closer to other parts of amphitheater. I was also impressed that they covered “Billie Jean” in memory of Michael Jackson’s death. Coldplay has released numerous hits in the past, but this song got the biggest cheer and audience participation, chanting, “oooooh ooooh ooh oooh.” It is a great song, especially hearing it live on summer evening. This entire live album is available for a free download from their official website, but an actual CD was also handed out at the concert.

Gin Wigmore - Under My Skin

Album: Extended Play

This New Zealand artist won a songwriting competition when she was only 16 years, expressing her thoughts on her father's death. She came to my attention after watching a clip of Air New Zealand's crazy creative safety video, you know the one where they tell you how to use the oxygen mask and seatbelt. The flight crew on that video are all nude, except for the body paint. Of course, since all ages will be seeing this video on the flight, all the private areas are nicely covered with objects and camera angles. Gin Wigmore's "Under My Skin" can be heard in the background, and it is catchy and memorable. Her smoky voice reminds me of Macy Gray. She has only released an EP album so far, but is currently working on a full album.

Green Day - 21 Guns

Album: 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day started their 21st Century Breakdown tour in Seattle from earlier this month. There was a rumor that they may play their latest album from beginning to the end, but after starting out with several songs from the new album, they mixed in old favorites such as “Holiday”, “Brainstew” and of course, “Basketcase.” 21 Guns is their second single from this new album, which can also be found on the latest Transformer soundtrack.

Jamie Foxx & Ne-Yo - I'll Be There [Live]

Album: BET Award 2009

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I was looking for a track in honor of Michael Jackson’s death, but was surprised to find that iTunes or Amazon MP3 were not releasing any tribute album for a good cause. I didn’t watch the entire Memorial Service, but some of the performances such as Mariah’s “I’ll Be There” didn’t sound as good as she did 15 years ago. I was happy to find this version with Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo did at this year’s BET Music Award, which had a lot of tribute for Michael Jackson, including Ciara doing “Heal the World.” Maybe in several months, iTunes will do a similar thing they did for Frank Sinatra, where the contemporary artists cover the legend’s hits.

Moby - Pale Horses

Album: Wait For Me

After releasing his biggest album, “Play” in 1999, he hasn’t had that much exposure (other than Eminem threatening him at 2002 MTV Video Music Award). Moby is now releasing his ninth album, “Wait For Me” which isn’t as up tempo and danceable like his previous effort. He claims that it’s his most personal album yet, and it shows. A lot of the songs are quite touching. The vocal for the song is provided by relatively unknown Amelia Zirin Brown.

Sara Rumar - Make Things Right

Album: Why? Because. When? Now.

I saw the commercial for Hilton Garden Inn, which was just an ordinary commercial, but this song stuck in my head. At first I thought maybe it was Tegan & Sara, but after some research, found out that the singer is Sara Rumar from Sweden. I especially love the trumpet break in the middle.

Seether - I've Got You Under My Skin

Album: I've Got You Under My Skin (Single)

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South African band Seether recently released a cover of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, and now they are doing another cover, this time one of Frank Sinatra’s. To commemorate Frank Sinatra, iTunes has asked numerous artists to cover Sinatra’s catalog. Artists such as Maroon 5, Meiko, The Kills have attempted their version. Some do it just like the original, and do a good job (like Maroon 5), but some tried to do their own version and fail. Seether does a darker version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” but it actually works quite well. It may take a couple of listens before you can appreciate it, but maybe they should think about doing all cover album, as they are good at interpreting other artists’ songs.

Southside - DirtyBook

Album: Liquors

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Indie hip-hop group, Southside has been putting on shows at small venues around Seattle for a few years now. It’s hard to label them in any genre, but Southside includes several rappers and a live band. They recently released their brand new album, Liquors. From listening to their album, you can tell that they are having a great time making music as they don’t take themselves too seriously. In fact, they shine the most on lighthearted materials such as this track, “DirtyBook.” The verses by Thunderball is the highlight: starting with dipping in punch bowl and ending with encoding for Quicktime file 5 MB download. Hilarious.

We Are The Fallen - Bury Me Alive

Album: Bury Me Alive (Single)

Evanescence was founded by singer, pianist Amy Lee and guitarist, Ben Moody. But after a mega successful release of their debut album, “Fallen” which both Lee and Moody were responsible for writing songs, Ben Moody left the band to produce hit songs for others such as Avril Lavigne’s “Nobody’s Home” or Kelly Clarkson’s “Because of You.” And, two years ago, Amy Lee fired rest of the original members, thus making her the only original member of Evanescence. Meanwhile, Ben Moody gathered all of the ex-Evanescence members, and former American Idol contestant Carly Smithson as the lead singer and formed We Are the Fallen. The result? They sound just like Evanescence from five years ago. Carly Smithson sounds a lot like Amy Lee, and even dresses like her. And to make matters worse, they will be performing Evanescence songs (mostly the ones Moody was responsible for writing) on the tour. Wow. I wonder how Amy Lee feels about that. But nevertheless, I do like this single that they have released.

July 13, 2009

Fuji Rock Festival 2009 (Fri)

Not that I can attend Fuji Rock Festival 2009 this year, but I thought it would be fun to list up the artists that I would check up at the concert. Here is the review of the artists that I would definitely want to check out at Fuji Rock this year for Friday 7/24.

White Lies - Farewell To The Fairground

Album: To Lose My Life

Often compared to The Killers, this new UK band will be playing on the main stage this year during the same time slot as Cage the Elephant (also a good band to check out). This track was available for a free download from Amazon MP3, and thus far their highest peaking single. They have also covered Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” for Radio1 Live, which would be cool to see live (if they do it).

Major Lazer - Keep It Goin' Louder /ft. Nina Sky & Ricky Blaze

Album: Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do

According to the press release, Major Lazer fights vampires and other kinds of monsters, and also likes to party hard. In fact, Major Lazer consists of producers Diplo and Switch most famous for producing for M.I.A. They have recruited numerous vocalist for their debut album, including Santigold, T.O.K. and Amanda Blank. I like the mixture of reggae and trance for this track as well as Nina Sky’s catchy verses.

Lily Allen - F*ck You

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

Just like most other Lily Allen songs, this song is addictive and stays in your head. The song is already doing well in international locales such as Australia, Germany and Netherland. The rumor is that this song was written for George W Bush, as it used to be titled, “Guess Who Batman.” If you take the first initial of each word, it can be same as George W. Bush. The lyrics also mentions being small minded, and seeking approval of his father. Either way, this song should get people chanting along during the chorus.

The Virgins - Rich Girls

Album: The Virgins

This New York three-piece band was touted as the next “it” band in 2008, after the producer of the hit American TV show, Gossip Girl decided to use their songs on one of the shows. They still only have one album under their belt, but it has a good mixture of funk and UK rock. Definitely worth checking out in the smaller stage.

Patti Smith - Smells Like Teen Spirit

Album: Twelve

Patti Smith’s biggest (and only top 20 hit) maybe “Because the Night” which the 10,000 Maniacs covered in the 90s, but she is a legendary singer songwriter. In 2007, she was inducted into Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. In the same year, she released all cover album including Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, and this grunge staple by Nirvana. On this cover, she mixes Kurt Kobain’s song with her own poetry in the middle. She would be a good one to check out in these festivals.

Oasis - I'm Outta Time

Album: Dig Out Your Soul

British band, Oasis’ seventh album, Dig Out Your Soul was marketed as their “comeback album” but in the US, it hasn’t made much impact or increased their radio play. In fact, this was the first Oasis single to not make the UK top 10, breaking their consecutive 22 top ten streak, which is a surprise considering it’s a good slow track.

Fuji Rock Festival 2009 (Sat)

Saturday 7/25 Fuji Rock Festival lineup is also very good. It’s tough to choose between the two final acts in Green Stage (Franz Ferdinand) and White Stage (Public Enemy). I’m also interested in checking out newcomers such as Ida Maria, Priscilla Ahn, Billy Boy On Poison. Other than the artists I reviewed below, I would also be interested in seeing Ben Harper and Relentless7.

Ida Maria - Oh My God

Album: Fortress 'round My Heart

This Norwegian rockstar has been getting quite a bit of attention in the US thanks to the single, “I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked.” “Oh My God” was actually her first single, that didn’t get noticed too much except Time magazine voted this track as #3 song of 2008 (#2 was Pink’s “So What” and #1 went to Kanye’s “Love Lockdown”). I still prefer “I Like You So Much Better” but this track is also catchy.

The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

Album: The '59 Sound

This New Jersey band is often compared to another Jersey man, Bruce Springsteen. In fact, their popularity grew even more when Springsteen made guest appearance during their recent show in Glastonbury. The Gaslight Anthem has been getting a lot of positive reviews from critics around the world, including #1 album of 2008 from eMusic.com.

Jet - Rollover D.J.

Album: Get Born

The Aussie rock band is preparing to release another album later in the summer. Their debut album in 2003, Get Born was an international best seller, but their follow up album, Shine On, couldn’t match the success. Still, it would be fun to see them live as they have a lot of hits (mostly from Get Born) including this track, Rollover DJ.

Priscilla Ahn - Dream

Album: A Good Day

Priscilla Ahn decided to take her mother’s maiden name (who is Korean) and moved from Pennsylvania to LA to pursue her career in music. This talented musician can play multiple instruments, and her music has been featured on a lot of TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy. Her debut album, A Good Day was released by Blue Note in 2008. Festivals tend to cater to loud rock music, but once in a while, it’ll be great to take a break by listening to this kind of music (especially for your ears).

Dinosaur Jr. - Pieces

Album: Farm

Known as noise rock stars, they have been around since the mid 80s. They found success in the early 90s when the grunge scene took over the chart (my favorite track is “Feel the Pain” in 94), but disbanded in 1997. Seven years later, they decided to reunite with all the original members and even released an album, Beyond in 2007, and performed at Summersonic that same year. This year they are back with another new album, containing this single.

Public Enemy - Can't Truss It

Album: Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black

Too bad they are performing at the same time slot as Franz Ferdinand. I can’t choose between the two, so I will probably see an hour of them, and an hour of Franz. Although Chuck D and clock wearing Flavor Flav may not be in their prime anymore, their stage presence and energetic shows are still worth checking out. This track is from their 1991 album.

Franz Ferdinand - Lucid Dreams

Album: Tonight

This track is actually almost 8 minutes long, but the last four minutes is just bunch of techno beats. Performing at the main stage as the closer for the night, they should put on a rocking show. “No You Girls” is turning into quite a hit, thanks to Apple using it on their iPod touch commercial. “Lucid Dreams” was released as pre-album single last year, but when the album was released earlier this year, a different version was included.