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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:41|
Jay Brannan - Rob Me Blind
Jay Brannan's third album was not one I was originally looking forward to, or even going to review. My review of "Greatest Hits" spoke of Brannan's ability to write raw lyrics to an acoustic sound. I didn't particularly like "Greatest Hits" as a song when I first heard it (and to be honest, it's still one of the weakest songs on the album), and when I heard that reworked version of "Beautifully" (an original song that first appeared on his last album, a collection of covers), I was convinced that this latest album was slapped together so Brannan could continue to tour with new material.
I was wrong. There's a lot going for this album, and I find that I love it just a little more with each listen. "Beautifully" in its new form actually works so much better than the acoustic version I'm so used to. It's also a radio-friendly pop song, but as with nearly all of Jay Brannan's great songs, appearances are deceiving; it's actually quite a depressing song, but one that just seems to click for me. The title track "Rob Me Blind", has that raw quality that "Greatest Hits" has, but done in a more poignant, and almost nostalgic way (Brannan is an incredible lyricist-- see "Housewife" from his album Goddamned for another great example).
So as I sit here, eating crow and finding myself heaping praise on an album that I didn't think could truly impress me. Rob Me Blind is an excellent album, and if Brannan ends up in your town while on tour, go check him out!
Recommended Tracks: "Beautifully", "La La La", and "Rob Me Blind"
Madonna - MDNA
It's likely that I'm going to be quite unpopular after this review; MDNA, at best, is an average Madonna album, and a mediocre pop album. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about the album as a whole. In typical Madonna album fashion, she gives us all the goods at the beginning, and the second half of the album just happens to meander around until it a) finally ends or b) you turn it off in boredom.
MDNA ultimately suffers from too much pre-release hype, and an awful lead single. "Give Me All Your Luvin'" is quite possibly the worst song this woman has ever released, and that's saying a lot considering other gems like "American Life" or "4 Minutes". MDNA does have some good moments though, such as "Gang Bang", my personal favorite track (it should come as no surprise that this is a favourite, since it is a William Orbit-produced track). "I'm Addicted" and "Some Girls" are also catchy tunes, barely saving this album from flop status. While it's no American Life, or thank god, Hard Candy, it's certainly no Ray of Light; ultimately, MDNA is somewhere in the middle of Madonna's creative output...let's call it her Music album for 2012, but like that album, it's going to be largely forgotten within a year.
Recommended Tracks: "Gang Bang", "Girl Gone Wild", and "Some Girls"
Marina & the Diamonds - "Primadonna"
The lead single to Marina & the Diamond's sophomore album is being praised for sounding like nothing that Marina has done before. I have a couple issues with that statement from the general music press. To start, it's not that much of a departure, and second, she's released one album and one EP previous to this...hardly enough material to gauge a full comparison by.
My criticisms of the music press aside, "Primadonna" is a little more electro than what we're used to from this Welsh songstress, but it works, and rather well I might add. It's a catchy pop number, and if anyone knows how to write and sing a great pop song, it's Marina Diamandis. With a successful North American presence opening for a touring Katy Perry last year, "Primadonna" and the upcoming Electra Heart could very well push Marina & the Diamonds into the mainstream music consciousness. It's about time, I say. Download "Primadonna"; I would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't find this song at the very least catchy.
Patrick Watson - "Blackwind"
While I know of Patrick Watson, I have to honestly say I don't think I've ever heard anything by him. This track was an iTunes Free Song of the Week feature, in promotion for his upcoming album, so I thought I had nothing to lose, and downloaded the track. Perhaps I was in that right state of mind when I heard the song, because I really enjoyed what this song had to offer. I can't say I really knew what to expect, but it had a gentle, very laid-back feel to it; in fact, this is a song that I would love have playing in the background during a rainstorm. The beat of the track, and the subdued instrumentation throughout feels as soothing as a mid-summer rainstorm. Considering the title of the album this track is on, the recently released Adventures in Your Own Backyard, I have a feeling that perhaps that was exactly the mood that Watson was trying to evoke. Quite honestly, it is an exceptional piece of music.
An Ottawa native, Mike is a public servant by day, and a self-professed music and comic book junkie the rest of the time. He also contributes to the Local Tourist Ottawa blog (http://ltottawa.wordpress.com) and his random music, comic book and culture musings can be read on /scribbles (http://rockingthemike.tumblr.com)
Tags: arts, blackwind, fall of legends, illumination, jay brannan, madonna, marina & the diamonds, may, mdna, music, patrick watson, primadonna, rainy day music, reviews, rob me blind, rocking the mike, worst single ever