Album Review: Katy Perry – Prism [2013]

Posted on by Ricky in Albums | Leave a comment


I don’t know why, but I like Katy Perry. This is her third album and it’s called Prism. So many NSA jokes. Most indie blogs would laugh at the concept of listening to a pop album, but we have no shame. It’s an interesting time for Katy Perry. Does anyone ever refer to her by her first name? Her contemporaries have really gone off the edge recently in terms of well, being Rhianna/Lady Gaga and now she’s gotta fend off Miley. While both those artist seem interested in pushing the boundaries further and further, Katy has stayed within her comfort zone and produced another completely non controversial album. Who will win? who knows. Who cares actually.

Here are my thoughts as I listened to Prism for the first and maybe last time.

Everyone’s heard this song about 100 times already. It’s probably about Russell Brand, and probably one of those rah rah songs that girls have at their chocolate ice cream Ben & Jerry parties whenever one of their friends has a breakup. This song is incredibly catchy and primed for some stadium sing alongs.

Legendary Lovers
First off, anything with the word Legendary in it has to be delivered Barney Stinson style. This track has some bad pseudo rapping that I thought only Robbie Williams was capable of. Is that a sitar in the background? This sounds like song that Pink rejected for some reason. The high notes that Katy attempts in this song sound awkward and painful. There’s some sort of tribal interlude in this song that makes me think the music video will feature Katy Perry on some sort of Native plains dressed as pocahontas or something. That’s not too bad, now that I think about it.

Katy dials it back to the 80’s with this song. This song is most definitely going to be played at a lot of teenager’s birthday parties this year. It’s a really good strategy to write songs around things that you know will happen yearly. I mean, let’s look at 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”, everyone still does the “go shorty, it’s your birthday”. If you told me this song was from 1987 and was on the Facts of Life show, I would totally have accept it to be true. “It’s time to bring out the big balloons” I wonder what that is referring to.

Walking on Air
Enter the club track. Shoulda hired Calvin Harris. He might be expensive but he delivers. The buildup/breakdown is just not there. This sounds more like a track you hear on Chris Sheppard’s pirate radio. This could actually be a Love Inc. cover.

Very awkward chorus as Katy tries to make “Unconditionally” work. Stop trying to make “Unconditionally” work, Katy. It’s an awkward word. Run of the mill slow ballad that is made worse by the odd usage of “unconditionally”. Worse track so far on this otherwise decent record.

Dark horse
Who the fuck is Juicy J? Why is he introducing this song. When Rihanna has a rapper introduce her, it’s Jay Z. Katy’s gotta up the guest spot budget. This sounds like an exploratory voyage in to hip hop pop. With slightly darker beats and random hip hop elements. “She eat your heart out/like Jeffrey Dahmer” Way to divert attention to serial killer cannibals! Let’s glorify violence some more!

This is How We Do
This song should be “This is How We Do it” and it should of been a Montell Jordan cover. Sadly, it is not and Katy hired the guy who sang “it’s our party we can do what we want” part in We Can’t Stop to sing “this is how we do” part. “Grab a taco/checking out hotties” and “Getting our nails all did Japanesy” does not sound like lyrics written by a 30 year old women, unless it’s one with a severe case of arrested development.

International Smile
This song reminds me of Teenage Dream, only not as good. She’s kind of bragging about flying worldwide, which I don’t think many people can relate to. But then again, how many people can relate to Katy Perry.

Love Me
Forgettable track but also sounds pretty good. Something you can have in the background and be completely a-ok with it. Kind of like the whole album. Maybe that is the key, not to be great that you can to focus on the music, but not awful so you have to turn it off. Then somehow the music gets absorbed subliminally and the next thing you know, you know all the lyrics to this track. Check with me next week.

This Moment
Just the title sounds like it’s epic and sure enough the chorus sounds primed for a stadium anthem. Katy tackles the whole “what is life about” theme with this track, doesn’t really break new ground, but no one’s expecting her to give a TED talk about life any time soon. Of all the songs on this album, this one is most primed to be remixed by house DJ’s just for the build up potential of the line “All we have is this moment/tomorrow is unspoken” line. I can already see lasers.

Double Rainbow
Does anyone even remember Double Rainbow guy? Why write a song titled after a meme? Is Grumpy Cat or Sad Keanu going to be on the next track? Is the Double Rainbow guy guest singing on this song? Nope

By the Grace of God
Clearly the solo portion of any concert, with her in a blazing evening gown and a singular grand piano. Bring out the lighters.

Overall, a reasonable effort but seemingly devoid of a mind numbing catchy hit like Teenage Dream or Hot-N-Cold. It’ll sell a bazillion copies regardless.

Album Review: Random Recipe, Kill the Hook (2013, BONSOUND)

Posted on by Thierry Cote in Albums, Music | Leave a comment


Three years after the acclaimed Fold It! Mold It!, Montreal quartet Random Recipe return with Kill the Hook, a second full-length that refines and improves on that album’s inventive blend of rock, hip-hop, folk, soul and electro in almost every way, with often spectacular results. While mentioning rock and hip-hop in the same sentence could conjure up memories of some of the worst music ever recorded, as anyone who survived the late 1990s can attest, Random Recipe have come up with an engrossing, addictive sound that recalls and updates the genre-hopping, kitchen-sink pop of Bran Van 3000, Moloko or–most of all–Imani Coppola’s unjustly forgotten and underrated debut.

On the striking “Hamburg”, Fab’s singsongy rap verses contrast sharply with Frannie Holder’s gentle vocal and the eerie, postmillennial indie rock instrumental backing provided by Vincent Legault and Liu-Kong Ha. “Dimples”, with its cheap analog synth hooks and bouncy playground rhymes, kicks the tempo up a notch and is followed by first single “Big Girl”, whose huge, sugary-sweet chorus bursts out of the speakers and rivals The Go! Team’s catchiest moments. Both are early album highlights, but it is on a trio of tracks on the second half of the album that Random Recipe’s eclectic fusion fully takes shape. On “Beautiful Connection” the different ingredients come together in dramatic, dazzling crescendo featuring Fab’s beatboxing, spooky operatic backing vocals and Holder’s moving voice. This is followed by “Sultan”, an urgent storm of nervous beats, anguished vocals and multilingual rapping courtesy of Fab and Japan’s UHNELLYS that somehow is also one of the album’s most irresistibly danceable moments. “Joy” begins with a simple, spare arrangement that once again alternates between Holder’s sung verses and Fab’s raps, then adds disorienting layers of steel drums, guitars, Fab’s playful “tack tagadagada” hook and choir-like male vocals.

Kill the Hook does not always hit the mark–Houston rapper Fat Tony’s lusty guest verse on the too-brief, underdeveloped “Traffic” in particular feels like a missed opportunity–but there’s more than enough here to suggest a group that has firmly found its footing and is just beginning to explore its boundless potential.

You can watch the video for “Big Girl” below and stream the full album on Random Recipe’s Bandcamp page. You can also check out my review of Rouyn-Noranda’s Festival de la musique émergente where they played a secret show for TFO’s BRBR.


Album Review: Noah And The Whale, Heart Of Nowhere (2013, Mercury Records)

Posted on by halley in Albums | Leave a comment











History is full of dangerous duos. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Bert and Ernie. Thelma and Louise. But none may have a more epic story than Noah and the Whale – and the band of that title lives up to their namesakes’ greatness. The English group has long been wowing audiences with their indie-rock bluegrass sound and the team’s latest disc, Heart of Nowhere, exhibits a maturity and quality their fans have come to love and appreciate.

The entire album is a very solid artistic endeavor, but a few of the tracks really stood out to me. “Lifetime,” for example, opens with the beautiful string sound N&TW have perfected and, in my mind, trademarked. The lyrics, too, speak perfectly to the young adult angst of commitment, freedom, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life??? we all (or am I the only one over here?) experience or have experienced. The refrain, “Are you ready to make that call?/It’s going to be a lifetime” makes me want to listen to this song all day. Such a good question! “There Will Come a Time,” too, is an especially catchy track with a light-hearted narrative of pursuit of the ever-elusive seemingly-perfect female. Moral? You might catch her, but it won’t be tonight. Of course, the title track, “Heart of Nowhere,” is also well worth a mention. Cue the strings again – and the inspirational message this time around. The song urges, essentially demands, an escape from the cautious lives of our ancestors and an embracing of all that is great about youth: life, love, and liberty.

This is not only an album for tried and true fans, but also any music lover looking to expand their repertoire. Definitely worth a listen!

Tour dates:
Oct 12 – Austin, TX @ ACL Official After Show
Oct 13 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Festival
Oct 15 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
Oct 16 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Oct 17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
Oct 19 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Theatre
Oct 21 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
Oct 22 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza

Song of the Day/Album Review: Toussaint Morrison – Can’t Relive the Party

Posted on by Celeste in Albums, Song of the Day | Leave a comment


My sister and her work spouse are acronym SMEs (subject matter experts). Some examples include:

JFA – Just Fell Asleep, as in ‘I’ve spent the past hour churning this organic homemade ice cream and it’s still the consistency of soup. JFA. I’mma go buy an ice cream snickers.”

BGCM – Big Green Check Mark, as in “This farmer’s market has free samples? BGCM.”

and my personal favorite:

JVOM – Just vomited, as in “He spent an hour recounting every mile of his triathlon. JVOM JFA.” (Double points for double usage).

However, a new usage of JVOM has come into being with the recent discovery of Toussaint Morrison, a hip-hop artist out of the Midwest. After seeing this video, the consensus is that a person might JVOM after experiencing something so incredibly adorable:

After over-indulging in the extreme dosage of “holy crap that’s adorable” of Toussaint Morrison’s “Can’t Relive the Party” I checked out his bandcamp and found that he’s more than just a pretty face and golden pipes – the man a) oozes creativity and b) has a story to tell. A winning combination for an artist.

His most recent album, Fast Times at Trillmont High, tell the story of Juice, a tutor at a fictional high school in the midwest, giving a tour to Ms. Day, a visiting teacher from a school in South Korea. According to his Facebook, the album was inspired when Morrison was hired on to teach spoken word poetry at a high school in Minneapolis. To publicize, he went classroom to classroom performing rap and spoken word poetry about the class, racial disparity, drop-out rates, and stratification in Minneapolis, which led to huge student enrollment, and a dismissal the next day.

While this might seem like a hugely depressing subject matter for an album, Morrison incorporates it well – forming likable characters, a comprehensive story-line, and even creating stories within stories in the album. True to his roots as a spoken word poet, listening to Fast Times at Trillmont High is more akin to listening to live lit or a radio serial back in the day than listening to an album. And while he does focus on racial and social disparity in this fictional high school, he also keeps it light with stories of swim-offs, prom and hulking out. On top of breaking genre barriers and bringing forth delicate issues of race and gender and social status in a meaningful way, Morrison is just a plain old talented musician, merging hip-hop, soul, R&B and indie rock into some super catchy tracks. Give it a listen: