Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rocket Scientist

The short version:
Florence + the Machine—Lungs: 7/10
New Politics—New Politics: 6/10
Dragonette—Fixin' to Thrill: 6/10
Hans Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, Borislav Slavov, Tilman Sillescu—Crysis 2: 8/10
Little Boots—Hands: 6/10
Mike Posner—31 Minutes to Takeoff: 6/10
Teddybears—Devil's Music: 9/10

I decided to pick up Florence + the Machine's debut album Lungs after enjoying Heavy in Your Arms from the Eclipse soundtrack.  Overall it's pretty decent.  The songs are all well-made; there's just something that I don't quite love that makes me not like this CD more than "above average."  Is it the singer's slightly unconventional singing style?  Do I resent that the album sounds like it's trying a little too hard to avoid being radio pop?  I'm not really sure.  Or maybe it's just that while I enjoy listening to it for a while, I don't really ever feel like listening to the whole album at once.  Regardless, I sure do like Rabbit Heart, You've Got the Love, and Dog Days Are Over.

I got the self-titled New Politics debut CD as well, and my opinion is kind of the opposite of what I feel about Lungs: it's not a very good CD but it has a bunch of catchy rock music.  Overall the album is a bit screamy for my tastes but My Love, Dignity, and Give Me Hope are all pretty pleasant to listen to.

Dragonette's Fixin' to Thrill just isn't as good as her first album Galore.  The backing beats and melodies are all pretty solid though they don't match the quality of the previous album, but I guess my main complaint has to be with the vocals.  Her voice just doesn't come through clearly, like the whole album was recorded while she had the flu or something.  The title track and Liar are the best two, and Don't Be Funny is probably third place.  (The lead singer looks pretty terrifying in the Fixin' to Thrill video.  I fear she may be undead.)

Hans Zimmer's the big name on the Crysis 2 soundtrack, but he mostly just composed the theme for the game and most of the tracks on the disc are by Borislav Slavov and Tilman Sillescu, who do a great job with the bulk of the tracks.  It's one of the best game soundtracks I own, and it's fantastic action movie music, with good variation between the grandiose and the tensely quiet.  It fits the game extremely well, but much of it sounds good on its own as well.  Insertion is one of a few Zimmer tracks that feature his main theme for the game.  Unfortunately there are multiple issues of the album with different track listings, and apparently what some of them called Insertion is Intro on mine, and Insertion is a different track that I think is better.  Spotify has the version I like.  The best two others are New York - Aftermath and SOS New York.  If you liked Crysis 2's music or like instrumental action movie music in general, I think it's definitely worth looking into the 2-disc set.

Something's... off about Little Boots' album Hands.  The production and beats are for the most part quite good.  I just don't like the singer's voice all that much.  I sort of feel like I'm saying that a lot for this batch of CDs but it's very true.  About half of the songs on this album are produced by Greg Kurstin of The Bird and the Bee and he's responsible for one of my favorites, the opening track New in Town.  My other two favorites are from other producers, though: Remedy and Hearts Collide.  Overall the album certainly isn't bad by any means, but I feel like it could have used stronger vocals on the other tracks, like Mathematics.  Maybe I'll warm up to it more over time.

Mike Posner's 31 Minutes to Takeoff is a hard one to describe.  Two of the tracks are just jaw-droppingly amazing, Cooler Than Me and Please Don't Go.  I think I could listen to those two back and forth for like an hour and not get bored.  The bassline and beat on each of those is absolutely gorgeous.  But then it's hard for me to pick a third favorite; those two are just so much better than the rest of the album.  I guess it'd be Déjà Vu (featuring Boyz II Men... no, really).  Most of the other tracks are pretty disappointing after hearing the best singles.  Three of the others are also produced by—that's right—Greg Kurstin, and his portion of those tracks is excellent as usual, but the vocals and lyrics just don't really stand out.

I hadn't heard of Teddybears until seeing their latest album Devil's Music featured on Spotify, and I bought the CD almost immediately.  The first real track on the album, Rocket Scientist (featuring Eve), rocks my world.  The lyrics and singing style remind me a bit of Robyn's Fembot, but this one's got more of a rock vibe.  (Speaking of Robyn, she's got a track on here too.)  Second best is Get Mama a House (featuring B.o.B), and then Crystal Meth Christian (featuring The Flaming Lips).  (The original version of the album has Desmond Forster on Get Mama a House but the new US version is better.)  It's not quite electronic dance music and it's not quite typical rock.  Dance-rock perhaps?  Is that a thing?  Anyway, I love this CD.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recycled content

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging as much recently is that all of my short posts have sort of migrated over to Facebook.  I'd post that sort of thing here and let them just magically syndicate over there but then it would take a random time between 1 and 30 days for them to appear which isn't really practical.  Anyway, just in case you follow me here but not there, here are some of the recent posts that I'm proud of.  Someone recently accused me of taking illegal humor-enhancing drugs, which is just about the best compliment I've gotten in a very long time.

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Who decided the spacing on belt holes? Why is there no setting between "intestinal discomfort" and "pants nearly fall off in the Best Buy parking lot?"

I really hope the City of Redmond is at least aware of the irony in sending out a survey to find out if people read the inserts that come with their water bill as an insert in their water bill.

Manager: My goal this week is to finish reviews, so soon I'll have some numbers for you.
Me: That's good. If possible I'd just like my numbers in a canvas bag with a dollar sign on the side.
[Later as I leave his office...]
Manager: By the way, flaw in your plan: you did not specify what you wanted in your bag.

Last night I dreamed that I bought a head of cabbage. I carried it around for a while but it was annoying because I didn't get a bag. And now you know why the phrase "in your wildest dreams" has little effect on me.

I hereby declare that new RPGs that satirize the clichés of old-school classic RPGs are themselves now cliché. Whoa.

This Betty Crocker cookbook is way better than my old Chris Crocker cookbook. Every recipe was like "LEAVE THE POT ROAST ALONE!!"

Every time I walk down the hall toward the bathroom and kitchen with a water bottle in my hand I get this strange urge to pee in it. In summary, don't steal my water bottle.

Now that hotel wi-fi is quickly becoming a standard feature, I hope that the new differentiator is how many waffle irons they have for public use. Yum.

Today I won Photoshop. I was cropping a picture and I thought to myself, "256x256 would be a good size for this. Nah, I'll just crop it freeform and see what size that is." Then I proceeded to draw a rectangle of exactly 256x256 pixels. UNSTOPPABLE.