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Parade of Lights Releases New EP 'Born To Live, Born To Love' [Review]

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Given Los Angeles' rich musical history, abundance of talent and its fresh ocean breeze filled with hope and dreams, it should come as no surprise that the city continues to be a rich breeding ground for exciting new pop music . After introducing you to newcomers like Kitten, Y LUV, Blondfire, ZZ Ward, Meg, Capital Cities, Youngblood Hawke and DWNTWN, synth-pop duo Parade of Lights is another hot act that is quickly emerging from Los Angeles' thriving music scene.

Parade of Lights is the teaming of Ryan Daly and Anthony Improgo who describe their music as "equal parts rock, new wave, and shoegaze to create a unique blend of 80's influenced pop drawing on inspiration from artists like U2, Depeche Mode, M83, and even Madonna." The group just released their new EP, titled "Born To Live, Born To Love," that perfectly details their distinct musical vision.

The group's official bio describes that shortly after meeting in 2006, Daly and Improggo formed the band Polus. Together they released an EP that get them noticed in and around LA, but the duo had to put their artist project on hold due to their busy scheduled as touring musicians. But despite spending time apart, the two stayed in touch and continued to work on new songs via email. Daly and Improggo officially resumed their partnership in 2010 as Parade of Lights, finetuning their sound opening for acts such as Imagine Dragons, Marcy Playground and Rooney across Southern California.

Parade of Lights' freshly-released "Born To Live, Born To Love' is an impressive new EP that puts the duo in pole position as one of the brightest new alt-pop acts to pop up this year. The five-track effort is filled with intensely atmospheric, beautifully crafted mid-tempo cuts that paint a sweeping soundscape. It's the perfect backdrop for the group's poignant lyrics about living, loving and letting go of whatever stands in the way of both. 

The EP kicks off with the peppy lead single "Just Give It Up" that music supervisors sure are to salivate over for placement in commercials and television shows. The group gently switches gears on the synthastic "Only Human" that serves up comfort and encouragement with lyrics like "hold on, hold tight, you can't always be right" in the pre-chorus before crashing into a gloriously soaring chorus featuring Daly's candy-coated falsetto. It's the kind of stuff that pop aficionados will instantly flock to.

The group segues into the escapist dance jam "Flash of Light" that is ruled by a combination of a contemporary electro and an '80s styled sax solo that keeps it on the right side of nostalgic. The radio-ready "Talk To You" further emphasizes the duo's finely-tuned knack for bubbling synths and powerful pop melodies. The EP concludes with the down-beat "Wild" that neatly balances between shimmering verses and a hook-laden chorus, telling a tale about the "jungle outside" is "keeping us apart" but "we can be wild out in the open."

It's a fitting finale to a terrific new effort by a promising new band that you should keep your eye (and ear) on. Highly recommended. Five out of five stars. (Support new pop and download Parade of Lights "Born To Live, Born To Love" on iTunes.)

September 30, 2012 | Permalink

[VIDEO] Nelly Furtado Reveals New Album Inspirations, Performs Exclusive Set of Hits for Walmart Soundcheck

9-28-2012 11-05-06 AM

The next best thing to enjoying Nelly Furtado performing her music is to hear the pop star talk about what inspires her songwriting. Her songs are loaded with encouragement, positivity and a relatable sentiment that comes from a very real place. Her excellent new album, titled "The Spirit Indestructible," is a great example of that. It's one of Nelly's most personal records to date that showcases an artist who is not afraid to experiment and freely speaks her mind. 

In addition to performing a set of new album tracks and fan faves, Furtado sat down with the fine folks at Walmart Soundcheck to talk about her new LP. "This is my fifth studio album and I'm really excited about it," Furtado smiles. "It has an adrenaline, a rawness to it. I describe it as a friendly punch in the face. It's not violent, but it's aggressive and has an immediacy to it. But it's also friendly because the themes on the record. are quite spiritual, quite positive and uplifting."

Furtado talks specifically about how the title track of album came about. "'The Spirit Indestructible' started as an idea for an album title before it became a song," she explains. "It came from a book I was reading and the phrase jumped out at me. It's about the fact that we're all indestructible, whether you talk about today's times or about history where people have overcome things. The song has many meanings and those meanings continue to evolve. That's what I like about songs like that. It becomes different things to different people. I love that."

The Canadian songstress also talks about new track "High Life" that has a very personal meaning. "You dream of success as a child, but it is not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that you swim in," she explains. "Success is about balance, friends and family, and having self-love. 'High Life' talks about that in a very poppy way."

She adds, "They say you have your whole life to write your first album and for me that is "Who Nelly!' But I feel like I have lived a whole other lifetime since then. It's 2012 now and "The Spirit Indestructible' feels like my debut again in a way. Probably because it's really eclectic."

Make sure to check out Nelly Furtado's entire video interview with Walmart Soundcheck and also watch her live performance of "Meaneater," "Big Hoops, "Spirit Indestructible," "Turn Off The Light," "Be OK" and "Parking Lot" that was filmed on a sunny day in downtown Los Angeles. Furtado is looking absolutely stunning and her glow matches her terrific performance.

September 28, 2012 | Permalink

The Daily Crunch: Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Azealia Banks, Kelly Clarkson, Alanis Morissette, Adam Lambert

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arjanwrites_bullet_small.jpg (7×7) Follow Arjan on Twitter 

September 28, 2012 | Permalink

British Newcomer Foxes Unveils Video For New Single "Echo" [Review]

9-27-2012 11-12-53 AM

Foxes makes a joyful noise on her terrific new single "Echo" that comes along with an equally compelling new video that premiered this week. Set to a peppy beat and interspersed with sunny imagery of Los Angeles, the video for "Echo" shows the young British singer going out on a date with a crash test dummy. Things are fun and flirty at first, but after spending the night together things go horribly sour as soon as a mannequin enters the picture. It's a fun, quirky video that is a perfect match for the left field pop stylings of "Echo" that showcase Foxes' arresting vocals.

"Echo" is taken from Foxes' forthcoming debut LP that follows the release of her "Warrior" EP earlier this year on Neon Gold Record. Foxes is the artist moniker of Southampton-born Louisa Rose Allen who first hit the scene back in January with "Youth" that instantly captured our attention with its electrifying combination of her soaring delivery with industrial percussion and resplendent synths.

The songstress explains in an interview that her music is still evolving and can't really be put in one, single box. "I don't have a certain sound I guess it's experimental pop," she tells Swide Magazine. "I want to have a career that has time to breath and develop through time, I want to be walking the line between the commercial and innovative. I love making a good anthem to dance like no-ones watching to but also love a tune that makes you go what?"

Foxes first popped up on the thriving London music scene after she followed her big sister to the big city when she was 18. "I was saved from doing a beauty course by my sister who dragged me up here," she smiles. "I literally made the decision in about a second to the song 'Stop Me' by Mark Ronson. I packed my suitcase lived on some sofas for a couple of years, went to music school by dropped out after a year and a half of music theory as it felt like learning Chinese because all I really wanted to be doing was writing and singing loudly on stages."

"Youth" was her very first claim to fame that topped the Hype Machine charts earlier this year and garnered comparions to early Marina & The Diamonds and Ellie Goulding. But Foxes skillfully serves up a distinct sound of her own and this new "Echo" is solid proof of that. No release date has been set for the release of her debut album, but expect it next year via Sony Music.

September 27, 2012 | Permalink

A Few Words About Rihanna's New Single "Diamonds"

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Whether you love Rihanna's new single or you're still warming up to it, I think we can all agree that the pop star needs to be applauded for surprising us with a song that unveils a tone we have not heard from her before. It would have been very easy for her to phone it in and crank out another dancefloor slammer that without a doubt would have hurried up the charts in no time. But Rihanna defies the burden of expectation and decided to do things differently. She teamed up with her old pals of Stargate, Benny Blanco and singer/songwriter Sia to craft something a little more unexpected, yet still extremely potent.

It's the very first piano chord of "Diamonds" that captures the bittersweet sentiment that lingers throughout the track. The glowing M83-ish opening leads straight into Rihanna's singing bit that highlights a vocal inflection we haven't heard from the singer before. I wouldn't be surprised if Sia (who wrote the song's melody) was in the studio with the pop star and coached her to give that memorable "shine bright like a diamond" a bit of a quirky delivery to help anchor the chorus. Following the opening, the song further develops into a shimmering mid-tempo ballad that is a proper piece of pop euphoria (or "vision of ecstasy" if you will) from start to finish.

"Diamonds" doesn't have that jaw-dropping element of surprise like "We Found Love" did when it first premiered on radio about a year ago. Rihanna's teaming with Calvin Harris was a marriage made in dance-pop heaven and blazed a trail for many others to follow. Plus, that brilliant line, "we found love in a hopeless place," conveyed everything the track was all about and made it a pop classic. 

But regardless of Rihanna's past accomplishments, this new "Diamonds" is an incredibly well-crafted pop gem that introduces another exciting phase in Rihanna's ever-evolving career. Refusing to take a well-deserved vacation, Rihanna is tireless and simply unstoppable if she keeps serving up tracks like this. Also kudos to her team for keeping this single so tightly under wraps and serving it to radio in a very well-orchestrated campaign while making it available on iTunes around the world the second it was first played on radio. It's an impressive execution all around. (Download Rihanna "Diamonds" on iTunes.)

September 26, 2012 | Permalink