Tag Archives: pop rock

Jason Mraz ‎– We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things

Jason Mraz ‎– We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things [Atlantic ‎– 7567-89929-4]

This album is pure fun. Pure sunshine, and takes me back to my teenage years when this album came out. When this album came out I had recieved my first ever computer to call my own, met my first true teenage love and found this wonderful service called YouTube.

I came to this album like many through the popular track, “I’m Yours” a fantastic soppy love song. But I did not find the original first, no instead I was hooked on watching a cover on YouTube over-and-over again. As always one thing led to another and I came to this album, and it was great.

The thing about this album is that I /should/ hate it – its generic, it doesn’t break any new ground but its just unhateable. I was a Jack Johnson super fan at the time that I discovered this album, and that most likely played a big part as I was a big lover (and still am to some effect) of acoustic pop. So much so that two other artists who I thoroughly enjoyed at the time also appear on this album – Jack Morrison and Colbie Caillat.

This album bounces from track to track with extremely light and happy melodies however some tracks lyrics move towards more serious and troublesome themes – namely the track “Love For A Child”. I love this track, most probably because it tells a story and I love story songs, but it just has this wonderful bittersweetness to it. Another track that I thoroughly enjoy is Coyotes, it has this brooding emotion about it that I find difficult to explain. Of course set up against any other “menacing” track that I came to discover later in my music life, this track falls flat and sounds like any other pop song, but against the backdrop of the happy-go-lucky tracks presented this song punches hard.

But with my rose-tinted glasses off for a moment, disconnecting myself from the sentimental properties of this album – would I enjoy it if it came out today? Unlikely, I don’t think I would vehemently hate it – but if you explained to me that it was just white guy rapping with an acoustic guitar I’d be rather unimpressed and would go back to listening to my main course of hip-hop and tragic indie tracks.

However this isn’t the case, this album just makes me happy – almost to the point of breaking face and wanting to dance around and be cheerful. I can happily listen to all 50 minutes of this release without much complaint, seldom reaching for the next track button. Do I listen to anything else Mraz has put out? Nope. Do I intend to? Unlikely

I don’t want to ruin what this mostly inconspicuous pop album means to me.

Also, Mraz looks terribly similar to someone I know from my hometown – spooky.

Various – Crystal Top Music Presents

Various ‎– Crystal Top Music Presents [CrystalTop Music ‎– CTM-CD004]

I love compilations such as these. These are the compilations I strive to find in dusty record stores, damp charity shops and at the bottom of destroyed cardboard boxes at car boots. Compilations like these that are so varied, spanning various genres, filled with new music that you’ve likely never heard of before, introducing you and your friends to new acts and performers you’d have otherwise missed.

Sadly I didn’t find this compilation at a record store, nor charity shop or car boot – instead I had to resort to ordering it online.

Ok give me my due, this was the first compilation like this that I ended up owning. Without this release I would have never guessed such varied compilations existed in the world, as prior my only exposure to compilations were the more common mainstream pop offerings such as NOW and Smash Hits.

Of course as is always the case releases special as this have a story behind them. I cast my mind back almost 10 years ago now, I was old enough to watch “grown-up” American drama’s like LOST and Prison Break with my mother that were aired on satellite television. She had found out about a new show, Hidden Palms. I loved this show, I don’t know why in hindsight it doesn’t hold up that well in comparison to the US blockbuster series I would come to watch in the decade to come, but more than the show I loved two other things. The first was the scene of Amber Heard running through a field of sprinklers in a white dress, and the second was the theme song, “Blind” by Mega Bass.

Now the issue with this theme song was it was a real pain the ass to locate on the internet, not because it was 2007/8 internet or because I was 14 and unable to use Google properly. No because unfortunately the band decided on an extremely generic name for themselves, which would bring up numerous happy hardcore acts instead. I searched on and off for a while to find this track, at the time I used to locate most of my music on the wonderful Limewire/Kazaa Gold software. With endless supply of “free” music I began to develop a hunger for new and different music, and so I began using iTunes to discover a lot of new music. It was here that I managed to locate this track, but it only ever appeared on this compilation. I was a kid, of course I had no money to pay the £0.99 for the track definitely not in the dreaded .m4a format that did not work with my Creative MP3 player. So I kept it in the back of my mind where this track appeared, never forgetting.

Fast forward a few years to 2010, at this time I had a small job which meant MONEY! What did I spend my money on? MUSIC! Mostly CD’s at the time, a few records as I was just getting into that. It got to the point that instead of buying bus fare which could speed up my 2 mile walk to town by a good hour, I would prefer to save that money for buying music. Smart. Anyway, I knew I would not find this record in any HMV in the UK, nor in any charity shop or at any car boot. So I began to look online, I don’t recall it taking long to find it on Amazon UK and I was amazed. Gobsmacked, only £3! (I was easily surprised back then, fearing that such a small fry-record release from the far away lands of the United States would cost a bomb in jolly ol’ Britain)

So I still have this CD in my collection, I don’t think I will ever get rid of it. It is a great compilation in my opinion, but it is not perfect. There are a few dud tracks but there are some great entries on here. Remember I purchased this CD for ONE track only, so who knew what I would think of the other 10.

Here are my favourites:

Momma’s Boy, Elizabeth & The Catapult
At the time of getting this CD I was entering my sour period in my music tastes, preferring more “mature” music that still had the edge of sarcasm, frustration and anger of the pop-punk and emo music I had been gorging myself on years prior. A long way off from discovering the joys of Fiona Apple or the Eels, I discovered this track. As the first track I listened to this before the track I had purchased it for and wow, I loved LOVED it. I loved Liz’s passive-aggressive, almost mean spirited lyrics that just came as nasty stabs at the protagonist in the song. I loved how I found an “angry” song which did not involve screaming, thrashing guitars and fast paced drums – no this song has a beautiful female vocalist and an upbeat melody that contrasts against the lyrical content. Fantastic, this was evolution for me.

Blind, Mega Bass
If it wasn’t for this track, if it wasn’t for Hidden Palms, if it wasn’t for US TV, if it wasn’t for Amber Heard – I would have never even picked this release up, and maybe never had bought another compilation/sampler ever. I love this track, its a shame that the band have never (according to Discogs) put out anything else but this track (band member and vocalist Aiden Hawken had another track on this release, and his own solo career). In my mind this song is late 2000’s Californian coast music, light, airy, streaks of electronica but nothing overpowering – if I had to classify it it would most probably slip somewhere between trip-hop and the vague Indie Electronic genre.

Foreign Country, Christina Courtin’s Running Kicks
Although I didn’t take to this track as much as I did the first track on this release, Foreign Country soon became a favourite of mine. I would say this track is what sent me down a path of finding female lead acts with an unusual vocal style leading me to acts such as Soko (5). Also I fell in love with the line, “If I was a foreign country – would you come visit me?”

Late Night With Christina, Aidan Hawken
Ok maybe I took to this song so quickly because Aiden is the vocalist of the track that brought me to this release in the first place. But I really enjoyed this light, easy going folk indie/americana track and it worked well to fuel my new found passion in those genres. Although this is track is not one of my favourites from Aiden in himself, I have included it in this highlights list as it did bring me to his work.

Tobaco Y Ron, Luz Mob
I am still terrible with my knowledge when it comes to Latin music. But I do really, really enjoy this track. It’s just a fun, summery track that works well in the mixing pot that is this sampler. There are other Latin tracks on this album but this is always the one that stands out.

This compilation to me is summer. I don’t know if there was a theme indented for this compilation or not, but to me it will always symbolise an American summer – something I would not experience until a good 5 years later. This compilation may not to be to everyones taste, and sadly it appears that CrystalTop Music did not do as well as hoped but like I have explained in this short review this compilation has a special meaning to me, making it pretty much invaluable to me.

McFly – The Heart Never Lies

McFly – The Heart Never Lies [Universal ‎/ Island Records Group ‎– 1750108]

I never really dug McFly‘s music, it always felt like an even more watered down radio friendly version of Busted (3). By 2007 when this record was released I thought McFly were very uncool, producing shallow radio friendly rock for your gran to listen to. Today I still feel that way about them, which is odd because there are plenty of “pop rock” acts that I actively enjoy who some could argue are much worse than McFly. I think again it comes down to how and when I ended up encountering the band, and that I grew up with them that causes me to give them such criticisms.

This track for me came out at a point when the McFly star was fading fast, soon to become old news and all their old teeny-bopper fans were growing up and feasting on heavier (both acoustically and emotionally) music.

The second track you get on this album is a cover of the legendary Umbrella by R&B superstar Rihanna. I usually like rock covers of songs that aren’t rock, and this cover is not bad – to be honest I might enjoy it more if you told me it was a band other than McFly performing it. Personally I prefer All Time Low‘s take on the track which features on the Pop Goes Crunk compilation, but then again I am a big sucka for US Pop Punk in the 00s – even though strictly speaking All Time Low are really no better than McFly in the lameness race.

Quietdrive – When All That’s Left Is You

Quietdrive ‎– When All That’s Left Is You [Epic ‎– 82796939692]

Hoh oh, this album. This album evokes feelings, memories and thoughts of being a troubled teenage boy. This is one of those perfect Emo Pop albums for me, its just so… corny. Like when I heard this at the tender age of 13 I felt this album spoke my emotions and feelings louder than I ever could, thinking I was one of a kind feeling these “feels”.

Quietdrive‘s first album is very much in the same vein as releases from other teenage emo-pop favourites such as The All-American Rejects or Yellowcard. Up beat, sugary sweet power pop anthems sung by pretty boys wearing their heart on their sleeves is how I sum this album up. This album has no teeth, no edge, thus appealing to everyone with how middle of the road it is. All the songs are about, loving, or not understanding love, or these new “feelings” and those bittersweet teenage relationships. However Quietdrive’s offerings ended up blending in with the surge of other albums/acts with a similar sound coming out at the same time.

I only keep this album around because of it being a pure soundtrack for about 6 months of my life, before moving onto music with at least some kind of substance.

A pure nostalgic trip, offering little else.