#33 – Loco

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Artist – Enrique Iglesias
Album – Loco – Single
Year – 2013
Genre – Latin Pop

Hey all. So I’m going to be switching things up from here on out. I’m going to try to make my reviews a little less long-winded. The essence, melody and emotion of the song are the focus, so I’m going to try and cut out a lot of the details of instrumentation, as I figure you’ll hopefully hear it in the song for yourself. However, instrumentation will still be analyzed to a point, just not as much. Hopefully this is a good change, but with that said, let’s dive into a new track for the week!

Enrique Iglesias’ new single “Loco” has everything you’ll want in not just a latin pop song, but a pop song in general. The guitar is beautiful and clean throughout the entire track, and it keeps the traditional bachata (Dominican Dance) flavor of the song but also gives it a modern flair. The great little bongo hits in the background of the song just make you want to get up and dance. The instrumentation as a whole in this track really transports you to somewhere warm and tropical. There’s even a great little guitar solo at the end that picks up the tempo and lets the song get a bit, well, loco.

The vocals and lyrics are the standout of this track, and even if you’re not familiar with Iglesias’ Spanish tracks, this is still a must listen track because of how much passion is put into the words. Iglesias’ voice is stunning on this track, and he truly follows the bachata style of heartbreak and loneliness in his singing. As he goes from quiet longing to full on ache and desperation, you can hear the mood in every line he sings. Mr. Romeo Santos makes an appearance on his song, and his higher register and tone complement Iglesias very well. The chorus of this song is absolutely the most well crafted piece of the song. It’s catchy and emotional at the same time, as the duo sings of how crazy they are just to give a kiss to the object of their affection. It’s great stuff all around.

The Spanish language is naturally beautiful in my opinion, and the way the words flow in each section, especially the chorus, is just wonderful to listen to. It’s very pleasing to the ears, and it feels very romantic. Even if you look up the English translation, the words still fit and flow very well, but the Spanish just works so much better.

This is a song for romance. It’s a song for summer. It’s really a song for anyone looking for a great, fun romantic pop song. In my opinion, Enrique Iglesias’ songs designed for the latin market are actually more appealing than many of his other pop songs. But whether you do enjoy his previous catalog or are new to his music, the vocal and instrumental treat you’ll get in this track is great! Being one of the best new releases this week, this song is definitely worth a spot on your Ipod.

So what do you all think of the shorter, more concise reviews? Should I keep them? Go back to being more in depth? Let me know what you think about the construction, or what you’d like me to focus on more below! I’m always trying to improve, so let me know how I can. Thanks everyone!

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#32 – Bleed Out

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Artist – Blue October
Album – Sway
Year – 2013
Genre – Alternative/Modern Rock

Ok, I promised a fresh start with keeping up on new tracks every week, so let’s start right on new music Tuesday with a brand new song by modern rock group Blue October. I literally found this track whilst poking around for a new track to use, but after hearing it I promptly decided I was going to use it. So here we go.

The beginning of the song is this quiet echoing piano line, and it creates this very eerie mood going in. However, as soon as frontman Justin Furstenfeld starts singing, the pieces begin to fall into place. His voice is sweet and longing, and the music sounds perfectly in tuned with his sadness. Make no mistake, this is a song about pain and sadness. Furstenfeld’s lyrics are well written and very poetic, and i’ll talk about them in full later. The song’s first two verses are soft, but Furstenfeld has a pleading in his voice that perfectly balances tone. The instrumentation is simple: a soft guitar line, echoing piano hits, and a simple drum line, but more is not needed here. The vocals have great little intonations here and there which really display Furstenfeld as the highlight.

The verses lead right into the explosive chorus. There’s this jittery back beat here which makes the chorus fast and intense, as do Furstenfeld’s vocals. You can tell that singing this was definitely cathartic for him as he almost seems to cry-sing it. It’s that intense, but also well written and catchy for sure. The instruments add bombast and depth to the intensity of the words and vocals. It’s a chorus reminiscent of Coldplay almost, or especially a song like The Funeral by Band of Horses.

The next two verses are even better than the first, and there’s a return to the instrumentation of the beginning of the song. I have to talk about the last lines of the fourth verse. They just got me.

“I keep trying to heal your pain. In return, you cut me over and over.”

Wow. What a great universal statement of the painful side of life that is. How many times do we find ourselves trying to help a loved one or a friend, but in return, they spurn us or ever hurt us. I just felt this line is so resonant with so many people out there, I had to point it out. The actual last line of this verse, “One more time and I will…” is sung with great force, and there’s this awesome syncopation in that line that leads directly into the next chorus.

The next chorus is just as good as the first, with the same great beat and instrumentation. The bridge to the song isn’t the best melody wise, but the lyrics are certainly the highlight. It quickly leads into the last two choruses, the second of which is AMAZING. The second chorus has great drum mix ups in the bass pedal and great overlaying with harmonies and side vocals, and this continues till the end of the song. It paints this amazing picture of heartache that’s as detailed as anything, and it shows the band pouring their very soul into the music and words. Speaking of…

The lyrics are the absolute standout of this track. Furstenfeld’s words show us a man at the very pit of sadness and pain. He’s been “cut” so many times by his loved one that he feels he’s bleeding out and they’re doing nothing but just watching. It’s intense stuff, but poetic. The notion that a loved one knows just where to hurt you “with their eyes closed” is painful, but I feel it’s very true for many out there who’ve experienced similar situations. It’s a plea to stop the hurt, and that he’s trying to help. Unfortunately, sometimes that plea falls on deaf ears many times. It’s great lyric work from the frontman, but the lyrics are only half of the equation. Furstenfeld sings every note how it should be sung. The subtle nuances of his changing emotions are audible throughout the whole of the song, and his emotion is chill inducing. Well done Mr. Furstenfeld, you are to be commended.

All in all, Bleed Out is a song that fantastically and brutally captures the emotion of pain and suffering that many of us feel during our lives. It’s a song about how those who are often closest to us can inflict the deepest wounds to our hearts and minds. The sense of empathy that comes with the song is reason enough to give it a listen, but it’s so well done musically that there really is no excuse. So give it a listen. It may be hard at first, but I think most will come out the other side feeling that this is a song that they can relate to on the deepest levels.

What did you think of the song and review? Let me know in the comments!

#31 – Slice

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Artist – Five For Fighting
Album – Slice
Year – 2010
Genre – Piano Pop/Rock

When we live in an age of instant connection and internet based lives (look who’s talking) there come both benefits and detriments. Sometimes we get so caught up in our Facebook friendships and our texts that we don’t really take the time to look back to when life was a bit simpler. Slice, by Five For Fighting mastermind and renaissance man John Ondrasik, is a nostalgic look back at a time when even though there were no cell phones or Facebook, somehow everyone just felt a little more connected. It’s about enjoying the personal time we have with our music and those we cherish in life, laid out in an absolutely beautiful tune.

The song starts with a wonderfully sweet piano line, typical of Five For Fighting’s style. Right away, Ondrasik’s voice is the first thing you’ll notice. Chances are you’ve heard other songs by Mr. Ondrasik on the radio, but if not, then you will hear one of the sweetest voices in modern songwriting. The early lines make a nice reference to Don Mclean’s “American Pie,” as does the chorus line “we’re more than just a slice of American Pie.” But more on that later. The first two verses paint a beautiful picture of how in the early days of rock music, people formed bonds over this brand new type of music that just seemed to have a way of touching people. It’s a great sentiment, and one that’s sorely needed in our modern era.

The chorus is astonishingly catchy and extremely stirring. It reinforces that sense of personal brotherhood and friendship that was a huge facet of the 60’s and 70’s, or as we kids like to say, “like forever ago.” The melody is gorgeous, and the hook will keep you coming back for more. He sings with so much passion here that it’s hard not to tear up. It goes to show how fondly Ondrasik remembers the capability for connection years ago, and you find yourself wondering if that kind of connection still exists.

The next two verses are where the rest of the instruments come in, and although they don’t truly stand out, that’s not their point. They simply add layers to the song that give the song a sense of grandiosity. This is what the song is all about, the fullness of life from decades past, and the instruments portray that beautifully. The lyrics here contrast the nostalgia of the first two, speaking of blog reading, putting off personal time with friends, and how we feel strange when we come across others from different parts of the country that turn out to be just like ourselves. We think, “how can you be so much like me? I don’t know you and we live so far away.” It’s a feeling that, while I don’t believe is completely true, Ondrasik seems to feel is permeating our internet culture today, instead of connecting on a face to face and heart to heart basis.

The chorus repeats twice, this time with more gusto and passion than before. Then the bridge section comes in, and I absolutely love this bridge. It has so much imagery in it that you can almost feel what he describes, even though I never lived in that time period: Driving with the top down, music blasting, friends singing along, a starry moonlit night, and warm wind whipping at your face. This is how friendships and relationships were forged back then. Not through tweets and posts, but through good times together and being together in the moment. I could not agree more with this section, and some days I long for experiences like this.

The instruments cut out and the piano plays over the first verse again. It’s a subtle, but very nice pull back from the section before, bringing us back to reality. There’s a short quiet section, and then the final choruses kick in with a bang, and the whole group just kills it. The final choruses are very emotional, and the final piano line almost tells us, “This can’t be the way it’s going to be forever…is it?”

However you feel about the song’s message, Slice is a beautiful track with stirring vocals and lyrics. It’s a song you can tell was written with a lot of emotion going into it, and Mr. Ondrasik knows how to touch a chord with listeners both old and young. If you’re looking for a meaningful piece of music with an insanely catchy chorus and lyrics to ponder, Slice is for you.

What do you all think of the review and song? Let me know below.

#30 – House of Cards

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Artist – Radiohead
Album – In Rainbows
Year – 2007
Genre – Alternative/Art Rock

Hey everyone. So it looks like I have some ‘splainin to do. You all were probably like, “where did he go?” “Did the pressure get to him?” “Did he quit?” “WHERE’S MY NEW SONGS DAMMIT?” Well, I certainly haven’t quit. I’ve been quite sick for this past week and a half, and frankly I really didn’t feel like doing much of anything except trying to get better. Luckily, it’s finally past, and yes I know I haven’t kept up on my new song a week policy recently, so we’re going to try and start fresh from here on. I’ll do my best. Without further ado, here’s a great track from one of the most influential bands in my life, Radiohead.

The song begins with some very clean and jazzy chords that are repeated from the beginning to the end. A simple drum beat covers the background, while you hear these airy, haunting howls from singer Thom Yorke. Then the vocals come in, and they are simply the highlight of the song. There’s this whole echoing effect placed on them from start to finish, and you feel them reverberate off imaginary walls. Yorke has always had such a distinctive voice, and in this song he croons every word so that the tone becomes almost sultry. He certainly is in top form vocally for this track, and the way he sings the whole chorus is beautiful. Speaking of the chorus, when you get to it, you’ll here these eerie wavering strings that really give a sense of literal instability to House of Cards.

During the next verse, there’s all these little nuances and echoing sounds added in the background layer, and during the chorus, it gives this swelling of sound that backs up Yorke’s vocals. As for the rest of instrumentation in the song, it really stays pretty constant, but it’s interwoven so well and blended so masterfully that anything more would seem unnecessary. Everything flows in and out of each other seamlessly, and it does this until the end of the song. The little guitar nuances and background sounds are what make this song so unnerving, as do the lyrics.

The lyrics here are extremely well written. Yorke makes his point simple, but also makes it known artistically and beautifully. The song refers to a man is in an affair with a married woman, but the whole situation is unstable, like a house of cards. He doesn’t really care, though, as nothing will get in his way of what he wants or what he thinks she wants. If interpreted more broadly, the song could easily be applied to most relationships, as each day is a delicate balancing act of emotions and the whole thing could come crashing down at any moment. It’s quite a scary sentiment, but one that Yorke and company portray though beautiful words and music.

House of Cards, despite it’s subject, is actually an extremely relaxing song. Anyone who can appreciate great instrumentation and construction will not only love this song, but Radiohead in general. But this is one of the best starting points for anyone who wants to jump into one of the most influential bands of the past two decades. It’s a piece of art that puts the heart to rest and unsettles you at the same time, and it definitely is a must listen.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

#29 – Dark Side of Me

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Artist – Coheed & Cambria
Album – The Afterman: Descension
Year – 2013
Genre – Modern Progressive Rock/Metal

Coheed & Cambria is one of the most unique bands to be found in modern rock today. Claudio Sanchez, the band’s frontman, is the author of the Amory Wars comic book series. The music he releases from his band, which is named after two of the main characters from the series, relates directly to the thoughts and actions of the characters in his comic. However, Sanchez is a smart enough musician to not pigeonhole himself into a specific niche. His lyrics cover broad themes of life, like love, death, triumph, and defeat. The music here is wonderful as well, so let’s take a look deeper at the track Dark Side of Me, recently released from their double album The Afterman.

A powerful drum opening kicks off the song, which actually begins rather quietly. A soft strumming guitar sets the tone of the verses in this song. Sanchez begins singing, and immediately you can hear the emotion he’s releasing in his voice. He rolls the notes perfectly, and each little flourish gives you chills. You’ll also probably notice that the lyrics are beautifully poetic. The first verses perfectly capture the essence of longing and loneliness that Sanchez is trying to convey.

When the chorus kicks in, Sanchez’s vocal delivery hits you right in the soul. His voice is an instrument on its own, as he wails “This has become hell. How can I share this life with someone else?” This is an absolutely beautiful line because it describes the turmoil and pain felt when looking back on a loved one. The next line continues this wonderfully written chorus: “There is no weight that can bury us beneath the ghosts of all my guilt here in the dark side of me.” Again, this is top-notch songwriting from Sanchez, and the band backs up the words perfectly with crashing drums and great atmospheric guitar picking that creates this swelling of feeling and grandeur.

The next verse again really brings out the loneliness and desperation of the song’s mood, although it is short. The next chorus begins with the same wonderful textures and themes. After this, there’s this wonderful bridge with a short lyric section and a chilling two seconds of glittering guitar. It really adds so much to the feel of the track in those two seconds. It just goes to show that no matter how short an amount of time it is, no piece of a song should go to waste.

There’s one last chorus, and the band finishes strong. All the palpable feelings held by Sanchez pour out here. It’s heartbreaking how perfectly the music from the band and Sanchez’s incredible singing and lyrics all come together to create this wonderful tale of lost love and regret. Sanchez does these wonderful harmonic “ohs” at the end of the song, and they put a beautiful cap on a song that already captures emotion so well. The guitar backs him perfectly, and the track ends with a little snippet from the characters of Sanchez’s comics speaking to one another.

This song really demonstrates how something that was designed for one purpose can touch people in a universal way. The way Sanchez sings really shows you he means every word, and his lyrics capture the tragic beauty that is loss. It’s pure poetry in music and in words. If you love beautiful melodies, heartfelt words, talented musicianship and great artistic rock, you will love Dark Side of Me.

#28 – Space Station #5

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Artist – Montrose
Album – Montrose
Year – 1973
Genre – Classic Rock

They were called America’s answer to Led Zeppelin, and their debut album is regarded as one of the biggest influences to heavy metal. But you probably haven’t heard of them. Montrose was the first band of second Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar and guitarist Ronnie Montrose. Though they were overshadowed by their British contemporaries, Montrose proves on their awesome track Space Station #5 that they can play with the big boys of classic rock. Seriously, this song will make you want to do bad things and drive fast. Very fast.

The first 50 seconds of the song begin with a psychedelic soundscape comprised of bleeps and bloops and some echoing guitar strums, but don’t let that drive you away. At 51 seconds, you will be hit with a riff of epic proportions. It’s gonna blow you out of the water. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted from a classic rock riff. It’s not fancy or overdone, but it is POWERFUL. Hagar then lets out a scream to let you know that this song is ready to give you some honest to goodness rock n’ roll.

The riff continues throughout each verse, and the other instruments are perfectly tempered to fit the beat of the song. It’s nothing flashy, but it’s solid as a rock. Hagar’s vocals, however, take this track from great to greater. He has a quintessential classic rock voice with just the right amount of grit and power, but also that technical ability that is oh so important. The whole band just has a blast for each and every verse.

The verses are connected with some great little “chorus sections” that are really there to add some versatility for the rest of the band. All the instruments get a little funky here with some ascending lines that really get you grooving. These lead right back into that monster riff and next verse.

After a second chorus section, there’s a repeat of the psychedelic feel of the opening, but in a bridge section. It’s quite a change up and it certainly feels sort of abrupt, but it doesn’t detract at all. However, you will find yourself waiting for the next verse, as it really is the pin that holds the song together. Luckily, there’s a great little funky arpeggio section that rolls right into the next verse perfectly.

Hagar lets it out with all he’s got for this last verse and chorus, and unfortunately he has to because this is the last verse. The song doesn’t end here though, my friends. Montrose gets to show off his skills and there’s a wonderfully awesome guitar solo. Then you will notice that the song gets faster…and faster. The tempo of the instruments speed up continuously and the band shows that they have the chops to keep it up. It almost gives this kind of pre-thrash metal vibe, and you can really see the influences this song had. The guitar gets faster and faster until it blends in with more bleeps and the song ends how it began. But you’ll want to listen again. Did I mention the lyrics of this song are very classic rock and roll fare? It’s about some HOT SPACE LOVIN’! Sorry about the caps, I just really wanted to say that.

Space Station #5 is exactly the great lost classic rock track you’ve been searching for all your life. The guitar playing and riffs here are absolutely monstrous, and Sammy Hagar’s voice is legendary. It encapsulates everything that we love about classic rock, and that’s why it can stand the test of time. It’ll hook from that 51 second mark. All I can say is that if you love rock n’ roll, you will love this track. It rolls, and more importantly, it ROCKS!