Stream New Macy Gray Single
On paper, Macy Gray's new album should be a shoe-in. Her voice is so distinct and different that it easily sets her apart from the slew of mediocre R&B singers. But I'm not feeling most of the songs on her new album "Big" that will be out in stores on March 27.
After 1999's memorable "I Try," Gray desperately needs a hit. She turned to hitmakers Will.i.am, Robin Fair (Mary J Blige) and Justin Timberlake to come up with some radio-friendly tracks for the record. She also invited a whole batch of stars to make cameos on the album including Fergie, NAS and Natalie Cole.
I listened to an advance copy and was horrified by some of the tracks on "Big." You know how American Idol's Simon Cowell often judges amateur talent on the basis of song selection? Gray should have kept that in mind. Instead of keeping her style eclectic and fresh across the record, Gray primarily chose to go with cookie cutter productions that don't do any justice to her idiosyncratic style and vocals. No, Macy you are not a Pussycat Doll.
Exceptions are the whimsical "One For Me," the blues stomper "Everybody," the hilarious storytelling on "Strange Behavior" and the 80's inspired "Treat Me Like Your Money" that incorporates a playful quote of Dead Or Alive's gay classic "You Spin Me Around (Like A Record)." Now, this is the Gray I love and want to hear more from.
Listen to the first single "Finally Made Me Happy" that sparkles as soon as Natalie Cole harmonizes with Gray. This is Cole's gig, not Gray's. (Click here to purchase "Finally Made Me Happy" on iTunes.)
Video Premiere: Jason Mraz "The Beauty In Ugly"
American Idol contestant Chris Richardson did a decent performance of Jason Mraz' "Geek In The Pink" tonight. I tip him to be in the final four of the singing contest this season. Just because he has the Timberlake edge, the right height and a little bit of soul.
While on the topic of television shows and Jason Mraz, the gayest straight dude in pop music quietly released a brand-new video for the song "The Beauty In Ugly" that was inspired by the popular
FOX ABC series "Ugly Betty." This cute pop ditty is taken from his new album that will be out this fall. (Click here to purchase "The Beauty In Ugly" on iTunes.)
Free Download: Ultraviolet "Out Of Control"
Back in 2004, I met up with Sarah Hudson to talk about her major label debut "Naked Truth" that I regarded as one of the most promising pop debuts at the time. Hudson (who is the cousin of movie actress Kate Hudson) grew up down and out in Los Angeles with both her parents working in the music business. She attended an all-girls private Catholic high school where inspiration for her future songwriting was easy to come by - there was sex, drugs, Mercedes and BMW's, and lots of "daddy's little girls."
Her teenage experiences led to a radio-friendly album that was slick and well-produced, yet still managed to tell Hudson's truth. Despite positive reviews and a television appearance on the first season of BRAVO's Poject Runway, the record fizzled into obscurity.
But Hudson is back, harder and fiercer than before. She is now fronting Los Angeles-based synth pop outfit Ultraviolet together with Sami (synths), Brand (guitar) and Chris (drums). The group is building a fanbase from the ground up following the proven MySpace formula.
Ultraviolet is like the evil little sister of cookie cutter synth pop band Stefy who are also from Southern California. Ultraviolet's gritty music is the perfect soundtrack to the schizophrenic and hedonistic wasteland that makes up much of Los Angeles, home of hope and shattered dreams that can eat you up or spit you out. Something that Hudson experienced first-hand and all around her since she grew up.
"Out Of Control" will make you want to kick and scream. It is a throbbing electro pop anthem that prominently displays Hudson's in-your-face lyrics. This crazy-ass "bitch" might be on the hunt and "out of control" but she will have you hooked for more just seconds into the song. (Thanks to Sarah and the band for allowing me to share the track. Click here to buy more track from Ultraviolet's EP.)
Download Ultraviolet "Out Of Control" [MP3]
Kris Menace Remixes LCD Soundsystem "North American Scum"
Kris Menace is one of my favorite electro house DJs. He recently produced amazing remixes for Robbie Williams ("She's Madonna"), Bodyrox ("Yeah, Yeah") and Tracey Thorn ("It's All True"). One of his latest concoctions is a dub for LCD Soundsystem's new indie pop tune "North American Scum. Menace's version is a mind-altering slice of electro house with its soaring synths and pulsating rhythms.
Menace shot to fame with his house classic "Discopolis" that he produced together with Lifelike. He founded his own label Compuphonic to release his very own music "with influences from his adolescence to breathe a bit of new life into dance music," the DJ writes on his web site. Currently, he is touring with French electro champ Alan Braxe and preparing the release of his debut album later this year.
LCD Soundsystem is the brainchild of James Murphy who you might also know as one half of the popular DFA production team. DFA has remixed and recorded with artists like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Gorillaz and Nince Inch Nails). "North American Scum" is taken from LCD Soundsystem's upcoming new album "Sound Of Silver" (out in March) that "further expands LCD's sonic palette, taking its experimental impulses to wild new places," according to a press release. Check out the lo-fi video for "North American Scum" that is a bit silly but clever and amusing at moments. (Click here to purchase Kris Menace's remix of "North American Scum" on iTunes.)
Watch LCD Soundsystem "North American Scum" (orginal)
Preview LCD Soundsystem "North American Scum" (Kris Menace RMX) [iTunes]
Free Download: Bang Gang “Find What You Get" (Shout Out Out Out Out Remix)
The Shout Out Out Out Out remix of Bang Gang's "Find What You Get" is a monster. Rife with a heavy dose of dance floor drama, the DJ group has refurnished the Icelandic guitar rock song with a grinding bassline, hopping hi-hats and moody strings.
Both Shout Out Out Out Out and Bang Gang are relatively new to the U.S. music scene. The Canada-based Shout Out Out Out Out describe their music as "volatile dance music" put together by their two drummers, four bass players, two samplers, five synthesizers and one vocoder.
The Bang Gang is an Icelandic band founded by Barði Jóhannson and Henrik Baldvin Björnsson. Quircky and eccentric, the group released their most recent album "Something Wrong" in 2004 that also features "Find What You Get." You can stream that song on Bang Gang's MySpace page.
Download Bang Gang "Find What You Get (Shout Out Out Out Out Remix)" [MP3]