Saturday, September 13, 2014

Album Review: "Welcome To The Jungle" by Neon Jungle

Neon Jungle's debut album was released earlier this year in the UK and will bless American ears soon. As the first recipients of the Future Smash Hit section of the blog, Asami, Jess, Shereen, and Amira had a lot to live up to and thankfully they deliver. Welcome To The Jungle is the most fun a girlband has had in a while and the album benefits from 3 things: the girls' attitudes, excellent music taste, and dream collaborators.

Ever since they came onto the scene last year with "Trouble" (still amazing), Neon Jungle set themselves apart from the crowd by constantly supplying electronic bonkers pop that you just don't get from music these days. Most of the album follows that logic, incorporating pretty epic electro production to match the girls' spunky rebellious personalities. The closest comparison you could make is 4 Rihanna's coming together to make a classically ingenious pop album. Doesn't that sound great?

Don't get me wrong, the album has its problems. The first four songs happen to be the singles, making it a little top heavy and the rest of the songs have #trouble living up to the standard set by them. Furthermore, these songs have a tough time keeping Neon Jungle from veering into other stars territory, with "Can't Stop The Love" sounding a little too much like a Black Eyed Peas single. The girls also put in too many covers on the album, with Hozier's "Take Me To Church" and Lorde's "Royals" making the cut. Along with that, the girls still haven't mastered the whole balladry and acoustic thing as "Louder" and "Waiting Game" really detract from the inherent fun of the album. Ultimately, this seems like a tough sell on creating material when the Jungle didn't have enough songs.

*Side Note: There has been much controversy surrounding Neon Jungle covering "Waiting Game" by LA singer BANKS and putting it on the album without BANKS knowing about it. BANKS has taken the time to air her grievances and Neon Jungle has not made a statement. It's a little sad as the girls really should have made more songs instead of adding their Youtube Covers to the album. However, it seems a little unfair to drag the album as their version is far different from BANKS's and will ultimately, bring her a lot of attention. So it might be hard to hear someone receiving praise for your song, but BANKS will benefit in the long run and her album is sure to be amazing as well.

However, we have to remember that this is Neon Jungle's first album when their first single came out less than a year ago. That's faster than other bands like M.O or Mutya Keisha Siobhan who have been around for a lot longer and still haven't gotten around to releasing material as monumental as Neon Jungle. And that does go for every song on the album: MONUMENTAL. The girls sing, belt, rap, sneer, and laugh their way across songs like "Braveheart" and "Bad Man" which shows just how much personality matters in songs (love the Japanese Asami). It may be their first album, but they hold their own throughout.

The album also has the best collection of writers on a pop album in 2014. First off, Anita Blay and Benjamin Berry were the masterminds behind "Trouble". If their names don't ring a bell, you may recognize them as Cocknbullkid, responsible for the incredible Adulthood album, and Fear Of Tigers, who are known for their bonkers electronica. Cocknbullkid also worked her magic on two bonus tracks. The first is "Future X Girl" which is arguably the best song off the entire album. With that "These boys can't step to this, so take a seat cuz I'm that bitch" rap and hand clappy rhythm, the girls solidify their status as the coolest band since Girls Aloud. We can also attribute this amazingness to the co-writer being Aminata Kabba, otherwise known as A*M*E, one of the BEST popstars in the making. It's not over though.

The second single written by Cocknbullkid is "London Rain", the best ballad from the album. It was written with Uzoechi Emenike, aka MNEK one of the best pop singer-songwriters on the planet. Like this dude rivals Sia and Gaga with his writing ability. Seriously, I'm dying. BUT WAIT. Joining the ranks on Neon Jungle's collaborators is "Boom Clap" hitmaker, Tumblr enthusiast and one of my all time favorite people in music, CHARLI XCX. That's write, "So Alive", the second to last song on the album (so unfair), is a bonafide bouncy electro belter written by Charli XCX!!!!! If that song isn't released as a single, I may have to have a word with Neon Jungle's management (it's really good guys).

Basically, these girls strut like they own the world and the self-praising single "Welcome To The Jungle" announces their arrival to pop as the new queens in town. Now I don't say this lightly, but Neon Jungle have officially joined the ranks of Girls Aloud, Spice Girls, and The Saturdays to represent the best of British girl pop. And if this album was good, just think how good the next one will be! Don't get in too much #Trouble till then girls.

Best Listened: In your car, shamelessly belting and rapping with the Jungle
Best Songs: All the singles, So Alive, Future X Girl
NSOTP Rating: 8.9/10

Friday, September 12, 2014

Song Of The Day: "Giant In My Heart" by Kiesza

Kiesza is blowing up at the moment, and has become the face of the 90's house movement, mainly because she isn't afraid to show her face unlike the DJ's. Her breakout single "Hideaway" didn't really impress me on first listen but ever since that amazing video came out, I've been playing it non stop (totally deserves a VMA also). So it was up to her second song to see if Kiesza can live up to the hype.

Thankfully, her second single is even better than her first! "Giant In My Heart" is another late night pulsing banger that has Kiesza singing her heart out before the beat kicks in and has you moving and voguing like it's 1991. And that WOW- DO DO DO DO DO DOW hook is brilliant. If La Roux can break into America with their take on 80's music, Kiesza can surely do the same with the 90's. Now excuse me while I choreograph a dance routine to Giant In My Heart.

Next Big Thing: MAUSI Are The Euro Pop Saviors Of The Summer

This mysterious but not that mysterious group is MAUSI, Europe's newest synthpop band and recent subjects of a pretty awesome oral presentation in my Italian class (which I aced if you were so curious). They are Italian, so it's not too weird, but also English as brother and sister Daisy and Thomas Finetto moved from Italy to Newcastle to attend university and create the best band this side of the 2010's. Inspired by pop dabbling artists like Phoenix and Breakbot, the band's vision was to create a soundtrack of a young European's travels during the summer. And they have done just that.

Their first single basically gives you all the sunny summer feels and promptly set them apart from other bands as they fully embraced the pop glory they truly deserve. MAUSI didn't stop the fun either, releasing their second single Move which can pretty much be summed up like this.

They properly got going in 2013 with "Body Language" catching the eye of many tastemakers, including Perez Hilton, and they instantly became the most exciting band in the world, at least in my eyes. Their recent mixtape can be downloaded for free from their Soundcloud, and includes amazing covers of classics like "Losing You" by Solange and "Music Sounds Better With You" by Ziggy Stardust. You can also follow them on Twitter to learn some fun Italian like this.

Since 2014 started, their upcoming has been more and more tantalizing, especially after the release of their most recent single "My Friend Has A Swimming Pool." The epitome of what every summer song should be, Swimming Pool captures all the youth and happiness that every person should experience in a sunny party. Seriously, just try not dancing to this song. Really, MAUSI is amazing, their album will definitely be amazing, and summer has been amazing.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blast From The Past: "S Club Party" by S Club 7

There is nothing more exciting in life than when a beloved band from one's childhood decides to reunite and make more music, even if it's for a brief time. When the original Sugababes came together to create Mutya Keisha Siobhan, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief (although they should really get on and make new music). And let's not forget the amazing moment when the Almighty Girls Aloud decided to bless us with their last (and final *crying*) album Ten after a long hiatus.

So in honor of the impending S Club 7 reunion, let's take a walk down memory lane and look at the iconic
"S Club Party." It takes serious balls to put your name in a song title and only a select few have managed to pull it off, including The Spice Girls and Neon Jungle. S Club Party has given Millenials like me so many amazing lyrics that most of us can't even recognize, like "there ain't no party like an S Club Party" and "Wave your hands in the air, like you just don't care." They represented everything late 90's from the fashion, to the cheesy video, and really should be given a Grammy every year for being amazing after 10 years. It's one of those songs that makes you nostalgic and ecstatic at the same time, and nothing feels better than that.