« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

Exclusive Review: Alanis Morissette's Bold New 'Flavors'

Alanis_m_promo_photo

A few weeks ago I got a call from one of my producers Guy Sigsworth saying that he’d nearly finished the project he, and his colleague Andy Page, have been working on for the majority of 2007 - the brand new Alanis Morissette album ‘Flavors of Entanglement’. Guy asked if I would pop over to his studio to have an album playback and share my thoughts. I was really excited, partly because I didn’t really know what to expect.

When ‘Jagged Little Pill’ came out in 1995 I was 14, and it swiftly became one of the most important albums for me alongside Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and Tori Amos’ ‘Little Earthquakes’. I loved their honesty, their melodies and their strength. Skip forward to Autumn 2006 and I was working with Guy on ‘Winter’s Coming’, the closing song for my debut Temposhark album. Alanis had just approached him to see if he’d be interested in collaborating.

One year on, I arrive at Guy’s studio in West London. He reminds me that by now they’ve produced and co-written well over twenty songs! In this one afternoon I hear 22 songs in total, and as each song went by, it was like falling in love with Alanis all over again.

Four highlights for me were ‘Citizen Of The Planet’ which starts off with intriguing lyrics that twist and turn around a captivating melody before hurtling into one of the best choruses of her career - it’s just MASSIVE and her voice cuts right through you... Another gem called ‘Madness’ is spell binding in its beauty, and actually a really long song at over six minutes if I remember correctly, but unusually it didn’t feel long at all! I could’ve listened to that one over and over again...

‘Straitjacket’ is another powerful track that has stuck in my head, with genius lyrics and great melodic hooks... whilst my favourite of all the songs is called ‘Torch’. It’s just the most touching, almost devastating, dedication to the end of a relationship and the things you miss most about your day-to-day life with a partner.

And it was on hearing ‘Torch’, that I remembered why Alanis is such an important voice. She is so good at channelling her subconscious, those true thoughts most people hide. She can take those deeply private emotions and translate them in a simple, easy-to-relate-to way; putting into words what so many of us feel. This new collection of songs takes you on a serious emotional journey, across many highs and lows, and is possibly her best song writing since ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and 'Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie'. It’s just so easy to connect with – the end of a relationship, the value of childhood friends, complicated family ties and all kinds of emotional ‘entanglements’.

Robert's review of Alanis continues after the jump!

Having heard these new songs, the first thing that struck me was Alanis’ voice. It seriously took my breath away. She sounds invigorated and consistently on top form. The diversity of her voice really comes across in what must be some of her best vocal performances recorded. In some songs it just sounds like she’s flying, the vocals are spot on! And the song writing really delivers – the lyrics are fresh and the melodies take a whole new direction.

As you'd expect from Mr Sigsworth, the production and arrangements are so unique, no-one else could make music sound this beautifully compelling. The wall-of-guitars in one track is like nothng I've ever heard. I bet that someone like Metallica or Marilyn Manson will be calling Guy up next to get that exact sound! There’s an epic quality to many of the tracks, making them perfect for film soundtracks - one even sounded a bit like a James Bond '007' theme tune! Any of the 20+ songs that don't end up on the final album tracklisting must find a good home on soundtracks, they're all worthy of maximum exposure.

‘Flavors of Entanglement’ is without a doubt a career highlight. It was almost like a new discovery for me, or a re-discovery, of a voice that had been such a big influence on the teenage me. In the same way that Madonna’s ‘Ray Of Light’ with William Orbit delivered us a new perspective of Madonna, Guy’s and Alanis’ meeting of minds has produced a fresh, classy, gutsy and uplifting masterpiece that will stand the test of time.

‘Flavors Of Entanglement’ will be released in Spring 2008 on Warner. Alanis Morissette will be performing new songs from the album on her USA live tour from January 25th until March 18th 2008 with Match Box 20, for full dates and ticket info, visit www.alanis.com or her MySpace (which is where the photo for this review came from).

Learn more about the music of Guy Sigsworth at his MySpace or entry at Wikipedia. Have a listen to Guy's previous band project Frou Frou. Plus, read a behind the scenes interview with Guy and Andy about 'Flavors' at Arbiter.co.uk

December 31, 2007 in Guest Blogger: Rob Diament, Heads Up, Music News, Music Reviews, Pop, Rare & Exclusive, Temposhark | Permalink | Comments (24)

A Piece Of Britney

Mouseketeer_britney_spears_with_ear

As 2007 comes to a close, I wanted to share with you this painting Mouseketeer Britney Spears With Ears by a great new artist Annie Kevans. It's a little exclusive for you all, as I believe this is the first time this picture has been published!

Love her or hate her, Britney was literally everywhere in 2007... including the walls of my living room! I collect art by a number of female artists and was invited in July to visit Annie's studio in London. I'd fallen in love with Annie's recent series of paintings known as the 'Swans', taking inspiration from the bizarre reality TV show The Swan where women were made over thanks to plastic surgery.

But my favourite of all Kevans' paintings are portraits of child stars such as Jodie Foster, Shirley Temple, Christina Aguilera, the Olsen Twins and of course Britney in her Mickey Mouse Club ears. They're just really powerful images, somehow summing up exactly how I feel about the state Britney is in right now...

See more paintings by Annie Kevans after the jump! 

Normal_pdf_britney_mouseketeer_for_

'Britney Spears (Mouseketeer)' by Annie Kevans (2006)

Normal_pdf_shirley_temple_300dpi

'Shirley Temple' by Annie Kevans (2006)

Olsentwins_475

'The Olsen Twins' by Annie Kevans (2006)

Visit: www.anniekevans.com and her page at Wikipedia for more info. Britney Spears' new single 'Piece of Me' is out on 14th January 2008. The brand new 'International Version' of her music video is out now on iTunes or YouTube (where Britney seems noticeably happier than the original edit screened a few weeks ago).

December 30, 2007 in Art & Lifestyle, Guest Blogger: Rob Diament, Temposhark | Permalink | Comments (5)

Introducing Rob Diament, Guest Blogger

Robtheguestblogger

Since I started the ArjanWrites.com music blog in 2003, I have never taken any proper time off from writing or preparing blog posts. But this year I've decided to turn off my Powerbook, lay down the headphones, pack my bags and head to Argentina for some time away. It has been a whirlwind year and I'm looking forward to unwind and recharge in Buenos Aires and Patagonia all of next week.

I'm very happy to announce that none other than Rob Diament has agreed to fill in for me next week with daily blog posts. Rob is of course the lead singer of emerging British electro-pop outfit Temposhark and he will be sharing his own unique perspective and insights.

I started corresponding with Rob two years ago after I first featured Temposhark's collaboration with Imogen Heap on this blog. Judging from his taste in music and the sound of Temposhark, Rob is an artist and music aficionado who has his finger on the pulse of what's hot in pop music right now (and the buzzing London pop scene in particular).  Expect him to share new discoveries, fresh tunes and much more next week. I told him to just keep it sweet and crunchy, 'cuz that's the way I like it.

A little bird told me he has some very exciting and exclusive tricks up his sleeve so make sure to check in.

Welcome, Rob! Happy 2008 everyone!

December 28, 2007 in Arjan | Permalink | Comments (5)

The 2007 Punch: My Favorite Albums of The Year

Arjanwrites_roisin_bestof07

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Róisín Murphy "Overpowered"
Timeless and intelligent dance pop by a top-notch performer. Bring on more Róisín in 2008 please!

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Siobhan Donaghy "Ghosts"
Donaghy broke out of her girl group mold and pushed her artistic boundaries in exciting new directions. "Ghosts" is one of the most overlooked, yet sublime pop records of the year.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Charlotte Gainsbourg "5.55"
Subtle, soft and chic. It is like Chanel No. 5 for your ears.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Darren Hayes "This Delicate Thing We've Made"
"This Delicate Thing We've Made" is just that. A delicate piece of work that takes you on a journey through time with Hayes' distinct vocals and Justin Shave's accomplished production stylings.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2  Kenna "Make Sure They See My Face"
Genre-buster Kenna combines electronica, funk, pop and hip hop so elegantly that it rocks.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2  Will.I.Am "Songs About Girls"
A bold solo record by one of the most genius producers of the moment.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Anouk "Who's Your Momma"
Confident and honest, this rock chick tells it like it is. Expect "Good God" to climb the global charts in 2008.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Passenger "Wicked Man's Rest"
Touching balladry sang by one of the year's most striking new voices.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Tracey Thorn "Out Of The Wood"
A perfect marriage of style and substance. And her voice is priceless.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Roz Bell "The First Sunbeams"
Bell combines songwriting talent with a laid-back attitude that is simply irresistible.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 Klaxons "Myths Of The Near Future"
These three lads got me dizzy on my feet when I saw them perform at Coachella back in April. This is rock and roll for the here and now.

Arjanwrites_bullet_small_2 I also enjoyed listening to albums by these great artists in 2007:

Kate Havnevik "Melankton"
Kanye West "Graduation"
Dragonette "Galore"
Alison Moyet "The Turn"
Young Love "Too Young To Fight It"
Just Jack "Overtones"
Annie Lennox "Songs Of Mass Destruction"
Kocky "Kingdome Come"
M.I.A. "Kala"

December 28, 2007 in Annie Lennox, Anouk, Darren Hayes, Just Jack, Kanye West, Kate Havnevik, Kenna, Mika, Passenger, Roz Bell, Róisín Murphy, Siobhan Donaghy, Tracey Thorn | Permalink | Comments (5)

Free Download: Temposhark "Crime"

Arjanwrites_temposhark_cove

As Arjan flies off to his well-deserved holiday, I’m thrilled to be here to babysit his Blog! I’m gathering together some of my favourite new music to share with you over the coming week. Do let me know what you think… :) To start off, Arjan asked me to pick a song from our debut Temposhark album to give you guys as a little pre-New Years gift!

My brief from Mr Writes was "something sweet and crunchy" so I’ve chosen "Crime" which was one of the first songs that Luke and I ever wrote, when Luke was studying in Brighton. Listening to the clip just now brought back so many hilarious memories of us running riot around Brighton with our friend Tasha (who went on to become the very wonderful Bat For Lashes).

Around the time of writing "Crime", Tasha and I performed in a musical Luke had written. We put it on in a tiny Brighton theatre and had such a laugh doing it. Great memories - but I just hope the video footage never turns up! ;)

Download: Temposhark "Crime" [MP3] (Taken from "The Invisible Line" album, CD/Download out in April 2008 on Defend Music via Ryko in the USA/Canada and in April on Paper & Glue in the UK) See Temposhark on iTunes.

December 27, 2007 in Guest Blogger: Rob Diament, MP3, Temposhark | Permalink | Comments (0)