Artist Recommendation – Tes Swanks

tes-swanksWell, I am back. I gave myself a week, and my first inclination to write was about RnB up-and-comer Toni Swanks, otherwise known as Tes Swanks. Swanks’ presentation as an artist strikes immediate comparisons to Tinashe’s style, especially vocally. Her sound is soulful but catchy, much similar to that sound Beyonce.

The music of Swanks shows great instrumental influence and she finds a way to balance her voice with the beat. The effects production add to her voice are presented well, especially when high notes comes so natural to her.

My favorite songs come from her lone debut album, Heart Stringz. These include “Under The Influence”, “Won’t Turn Down”, and her first recorded song, “Who Am I”. Her music is perfect for any RnB fan and I highly recommend it.

Overall, I would rate her music at:

9.5/10

You can give her music a listen by checking out her bio on MuzicNotez.com by clicking here:

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Thowback Thursday – Chic, “Everybody Dance”

Chic-everybody-danceYou may have killed 10 minutes by listening “Everybody Dance” already, whether it be through its popularity as Chic’s second single from their self-titled debut album, or from the Grand Theft Auto video game series, being a part of The Ballad Of Gay Tony expansion pack. Either way, this song has been stuck in my head for a solid couple of days and I figured I would share my suffering with my whole 20 readers.

The song is surprisingly repetitive for a song at almost 10 minutes in length, but you gotta love that low bass and killer instrumental overall. That is quite a lot of the song, along with the phrase “Everybody dance” whispered enough times so as to convince you that this method could have inspired Nazi Germany to just follow Hitler right away had he whispered it enough in his own disco song.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

7.75/10

The song serves it purpose, it’s mad catchy and makes you want to dance because of its simplicity. It was a great way for Chic to get a following and I’m sure any club-hopping turnt-up adult from the 70’s can half recognize the tune from a drunk night on the town. You can listen to the song below:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Jason Derulo, “Want To Want Me”

want-to-want-meOnce upon a time, I really liked Jason Derulo’s music. Then I turned 14. Actually it was around 17, when he came out with songs such as “Wiggle” and “Trumpets”. While a couple of Future History‘s tracks rank in my all-time favorites, its follow up sincerely disappointed me. That may be why I really like “Want To Want Me”.

Also, just want to point out that the cover art makes it appear that Jason Derulo has really long nose hairs. PSA over, moving on.

Originally, this article was meant to be a “Hear It First” (and it still kinda is), but I found this song feeling like everything I wanted from him in the last two years. The rhythm is catchy, the song is easy to pick up without being too repetitive, and the upbeat sound makes it a fun listen. While I did notice a bit more work on the vocals than I was comfortable with, it did not take away much from my general enjoyment of the song.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

8.75/10

This is an excellent way for Jason Derulo to start 2015, and I really hope that we get more of this. The artist has proved he knows how to change up his sound, but will this be his signature look for album #4?

You can check out the song below (and hear it first):

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Album Review – Foxes, “Glorious”

foxes-gloriousIt has been far too long since I did an album review. Or maybe not, most readers find themselves more attracted to hordes of wasps than reading a long wall of text. But fear not, I will keep the song descriptions brief. Actually, I probably won’t, or else I would not open every album review with “This will be shorter than usual.”

With that all said, let’s dive into Foxes’ debut album Glorious and break down why I enjoyed it as much as I did:

1. “Talking To Ghosts” – The album kicks off with “Talking To Ghosts”, which immediately sets a soulful but up-pace tone to the album. The rhythm is peculiar, but the sound is intriguing and keeps the listener’s attention. The instrumental is complex, and a little overpowering, but the song stands out and makes the next song worth tuning into. The lyrics become a bit less reflective by the end of the song, but the sound remains containing that attention-drawing complexity throughout the whole track.

8/10

2. “Youth” – “Youth” may be arguably Foxes’ most popular solo song (Afterall, nothing will ever reach the success that “Clarity” did). While the rhythm becomes easier to catch up with, the chorus comes and go rather fast. It takes the second round, at around one and a half minutes in, until the song’s anatomy makes more sense. Production does go a bit overboard with echoing, autotune, and forced voice-cracks until the bridge (which is just the chorus replayed again, but with less instrumentals). The conclusion of the song, however, features a climax of the beat and just the right amount of echo on the vocals of Foxes. That last third of the song makes the whole listen worth it for me.

6.75/10

3. “Holding Onto Heaven” –  At this point, I began to really enjoy the album. “Holding Onto Heaven” feels like the right balance of complexity but mindless Pop that Foxes is clearly attempting at. While she will hit it again in a few more songs (Hint hint at my favorite), “Holding Onto Heaven” is a great way to keep the listener saying “Well, let’s just see how this pans out.” The vocals do feature a bit of cosmetic work done over them, but the final product turns out better than the first two songs.

8.75/10

4. “White Coats” – “White Coats” goes back to the original pace that the album set, but does a much better job of carrying the mysterious aura of the sound of Glorious. I find “White Coats” the perfect “album” song, in that you enjoy it when you are listening to the album in full, but as an individual single it just feels out of place. The way it is placed in the album is perfect, and that gives the song a big extra couple of points. The chorus is noticeable, but still contains that lyrical complexity that peaked your interest in the last few songs. If you enjoy the raw sound of the chorus, you should find the bridge quite nice as well. The song

8.25/10

5. “Let Go For Tonight” – This song immediately represents a fast shift in the song’s tone, and while it may serve as a catchy individual piece, it just feels off with the album’s design. I admire the change and diversity, though the jump feels obnoxiously fast. It features less complexity, and more of an upbeat and happy-go-lucky Pop feel. While “Holding Onto Heaven” did well balancing the two, “Let Go For Tonight” feels unnecessarily repetitive and off balance from the original sound the album does well in keeping through the rest of the album.

6.25/10

6. “Night Glo” – And we find ourselves back to the original feel of the album, but the quick transition back makes “Night Glo” almost a tad boring. You might miss the chorus because there is virtually no change in pace until about half way into the song, and even that progresses slower than the American government system (shots fired). You may not notice this song play, but if you do you might see that it is actually a calming melody. Placing on the tracklist ruins it more than anything.

7.25/10

7. “Night Owls Early Birds” – I found this song featuring a solid balance (Not an artist, but a dope ass name for a band), similar to “Holding Onto Heaven”, but it seems production hit it and quit it on “Holding Onto Heaven” and left a bit to be done on the vocals. The raw sound feels dominated by the upbeat instrumental, but I can still admit the song is catchy. Still does not do the balance as well as some of its other siblings in Glorious, and feels like the first real “skippable” track on the album. Though that might be because of how abruptly it ends (It went to the next song and took me by surprise, but a very pleasant one. Hint hint #2).

5.75/10

8. “Glorious” – The title track of Glorious comes on the eighth piece, but boy is it worth the wait. Before I go into this, I will admit this is not the perfect song; However, it comes damn close. The lyrics, tone, and rhythm sum up the album perfect, making this song serve as the perfect title track. The chorus drops some of the lyrical complexity, but production and vocals do their part to make the whole work great. The bridge starts out slow but transitions into a chanting chorus that just caps the song off perfectly. This has to be my favorite song on the album, and while it may not appeal to everyone’s tastes (much like the artistry of Foxes), it is definitely a fine piece of music.

9.75/10

9. “Echo” – I actually like “Echo” quite a bit too, but it simply cannot compare to its predecessor. The rhythm is still unique and the tone of the vocals and lyrics are just mesmerizing. The chorus is long, but barely repetitive. The song represents the sound of Foxes quite well, though it does try a bit too hard to be like the title track by the end. Still a great song and one of my favorites on the album. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

9.25/10

10. “Shaking Heads” – Is dangerous and not recommended for children under 3 years old. That probably was not a good joke, so we’ll just move on. This song is decent, though the chorus cuts off rather abruptly. “Shaking Heads” does fail at following up “Glorious” and “Echo”, but does do well in conveying that the album is beginning to come to a close. I enjoy the song, but does disappoint after the last two.

6.75/10

11. “Count The Saints” – I did not know what to expect from the final song on the album, but I knew it would have a tremendous role in the score of the album as a whole. As it opens, I notice a similar rhythm to “Glorious” on the piano. The complex and ominous feel to “Count The Saints” as it progresses does a great job of summing up the sound of the album and end the album with a reflective tone. The vocals echo more and more and the song concludes with a great surge of sound before it mellows out and fades out through one last chorus and soft piano. “Count The Saints” is definitely one of the better tracks and ends the album very well.

8.75/10

So overall, the album averages out to about:

7.75/10

While Glorious can almost reach for 4 stars, the album just does not find its way up. It is a great change to Pop and has a unique feel that makes the album as a whole seriously worth a listen, but it contains a couple of highlights and otherwise filler songs. Had it been cut down to an EP and featured the songs that scored above 7.5, it would have gotten a better score. Just beware of songs that you kinda hope are under four minutes due to either not feeling enjoyable or just sheer boring. Most of these are not exactly “sing loud in the shower” types.

I did enjoy the album and loved a few songs on here, and will be keeping an eye on music by Foxes in the future. In the meantime, you can check out the album below (Yay, I got it done! So much for keeping it short):

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Hear It First – M.I.A., “CanSeeCanDo”

miaI’ve never been a huge fan of M.I.A., but I do remember Aziz Ansari talk about her once (also some song in 2012 with Nicki Minaj and Madonna?). She sent a tweet out announcing this was the first song of an album and told her hardcore fans (M.I.A. has hardcore fans apparently, news to me as well) that the LP would drop this summer. Anyways, I covered L.A. Love a while back before it exploded, so I’ll do what I did then by swallowing my pride and sharing the track.

You can hear the song first below:

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Favorites Friday – OneRepublic, “Secrets”

onerepublicOneRepublic has placed a couple of their hits into my favorites, but none of their songs compare in both quality and nostalgia to “Secrets”. It differs greatly from most Pop music while still finding a catchy rhythm and entrancing tune. The strings are glorious and Ryan Tedder’s vocals stand out from most band’s lead singers in its unique pitch.

The song is slightly repetitive, but the chorus is the best part. While I can shake that part off, I have to admit that the instrumental does tend to dominate the vocals, especially in the first stanza. If those strings weren’t so damn awesome, that could be a bit of a problem.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.25/10

Hoping you like this song, because I have plenty other OneRepublic songs to cover later. Consider them the T-Pain of Pop for AMP’s Favorites Friday; You will probably see them way more than you like. In the meantime, you can check out one of my all-time favorites (seriously, this just barely missed the list) below:

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Hear It First – Carly Rae Jepsen, “I Really Like You”

Carly-Rae-Jepsen-I-Really-Like-YouRelive your 2012 summer with the return of the reason you always heard “Call Me Maybe” wherever you went. Carly Rae Jepsen returns with a new song, titled “I Really Like You”. When coming up with a new tween anthem song, why not something as simple as that.

I hate how catchy this song is. You can pick it up easy and just spit it back out after a single listen. As Stereogum writes, “Resistance is futile”. Still, you can hear the song first below:

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Favorites Friday – Rihanna, “Disturbia”

rihanna-good-girl-gone-badEarlier this week I spoiled that I would be writing about Rihanna this Frid – Saturday. Of course, I had to start with a personal favorite of hers, “Disturbia”. What made this song a favorite of mine, you may ask? Either hours of playing Just Dance 4, how unique the concept of the song was, or how catchy that “bum-bum-be-dum-be-dum-dum” part is.

The lyrics are way off from the low standard of most Pop music, and even better than most of Rihanna’s lyrics from other songs. In the end, nothing she ever releases will top “Good Girl Gone Bad”, but I’ll save that rant for another time.

Really, the chilling sound yet easy listening of the track makes it the most interesting. Vocally, there is quite a bit of autotune and work done, though I can’t say I still don’t love singing along to it.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

8.5/10

You can go check out one of my favorites below (Hopefully you’re not claustrophobic like me):

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Throwback Thursday – Styx, “The Best Of Times”; “Too Much Time On My Hands”

I could not decide on which Styx song from their 1981 album Paradise Theatre I should write about, and then it hit me:

why-not-both

styx-paradise-theatreSo here I am, writing about two throwback songs, on a Friday no less! Guys, being a homeschooled high school student does not give you much breathing room for writing about music. Regardless, let’s talk about each of these songs:

“The Best Of Times” – My favorite of the two, and also one of my favorite Styx songs in general, is “The Best Of Times”. It was always like Elton John singing after getting kicked in the balls. The vocals were high but not irrationally so, and the pacing leads perfectly into the instrumental at the bridge. The whole song is a great listen and one of the best songs by Styx.

9.75/10

“Too Much Time On My Hands” – While “The Best Of Times” may be the better (and more popular) of the two, something about “Too Much Time On Your Hands” just does not get old when listening to it. The intro is intriguing, the lyrics are relateable and interesting, and the tune is so easy to enjoy. Of the two, this seems to get more play time, mostly because of how good the chorus. However, it does have a bit of repetition to it that should get old to others after a while, but somehow does not for me.

9.25/10

Hope you enjoyed, Styx have some great songs but Paradise Theatre definitely includes some of their finest works. Afterall, who didn’t love them in the ’80’s?

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