Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Singing Actor

Can actors sing? That's probably the question raised most after the famous 'chicken or egg first?' doubt. He may not be able to hit those high notes, but Ryan Gosling definitely has a couple tricks up his sleeves. You may recognise him from 'The Notebook', 'Half Nelson', 'Lars and the Real Girl' or as early back as 'Breaker High', being an actor with credibility now he adds the band Dead Man's Bones to that long impressive list. With old friend Zach Shields, the band creates an original sound with a hint of Arcade Fire's grand emotional punch plus a deep dark baritone vocal similar to that of The National, and the use of The Silverlake Conservatory of Music children's choir, the combination is an instant winning formula to keep those indie kids intrigued. The band has just released a dark folk doo-wop number “My Body’s A Zombie For You” and their self-titled debut will be released on October 6th via Anti Records.

Dead Man's Bones - My Body’s A Zombie For You

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Harlem Shakes

Hailed from Brooklyn, Harlem Shakes combine an eclectic pop sensibility with a literary touch, making sound of guitar jangle and flawless pop, just like the time when The OC still matters. Formed in 2006, the band has moved on to release one of this year’s notable pop records, "Technicolor Health".

Album opener ‘Nothing But Change Part II’ definitely sets the ball bouncing. A upbeat track it is, there is no lack of modern pop necessities of horn, backup vocals and handclaps that bolster Lead singer Lexy Benaim's Neutral Milk Hotel-like vocal. And the joyousness continues with "Strictly Game", a strictly Afro-veat singalong that comes with encouraging lyric of “This will be a better year".

Other tracks like ‘TFO’, ‘Niagara Falls’ and ‘Sunlight’ are all about sheer catchiness of potential summer tunes. This first half of the album is really full of great tracks, but the downsides may be that the second half is a bit of a mixed bag of fillers that I have hard time recalling them.
Maybe a couple more of listens could have done the trick.

Technicolor Health is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is definitely a bright spot of pure pop medicine that will help us get through the day. Harlem Shakes in indeed a solid pop mastermind. And why not add in a Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover by keyboardist Kendrick Strauch, which is brilliant in its own way.

Harlem Shakes - Nothing But Change Part II
Harlem Shakes - Strictly Game
Harlem Shakes - Y Control (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover)

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