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Friday, August 26, 2011

Tove Styrke - Call My Name

"I'll be waiting over the border"

I am so proud of Sweden for embracing Tove Styrke. She was so obviously the highlight of her year of Swedish Idol, but my favorites don't always become the country's favorites. In this case, even though she finished third, she's carved out quite a nice little career for herself. Her debut (despite being uneven) spawned three hits, and now we're ready for round two. If this (I'm assuming it's the lead single?) is anything to go by, then I am very excited for the new album. She's gone just a bit rockier with this track. Gone are the icy, experimental electronics that characterized many of the older tracks. Instead, this is pure, BIG pop music. It's built on a repetitive hook but doesn't rest on it. In fact, the verses may be my favorite part. Like most Swedish pop songs, they just get it right.

Tove Styrke - Call My Name by NOiSEiT

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the first album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Top Five Movies of Summer 2011 (+1)

Summer is a terrific time for movies. This year, I counted the "summer season" as starting on April 29th with the release of Fast Five. Between then and now, there have been six movies that I've absolutely loved. Of course, there were a handful of disappointments as well (Transformers, Cowboys & Aliens) and train wrecks (Green Lantern), but overall I'd say the quality level was above average in 2011. None of these (except maybe one) could be described as anything but summer tentpole films, but there's nothing wrong with that. The awesome indie movies are waiting just around the corner for Fall. As for Summer entertainment, here were my favorites:

1. Super 8/Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Pt. II
I just couldn't pick between these two. One was the finale of the greatest film series ever made and, because of that, was impossible to separate from the excellent movies that had come before it. The other was the most refreshing, exciting, and nostalgic film of the summer. I'm obsessed with both. Dangerously obsessed.

2. X-Men: First Class
I'm a massive fan of this franchise, and this reboot/prequel ranks among the best in the series. The cast was wonderful, the story was gripping, and the choice to set the action in the 60's was inspired.

3. The Help
The only genuinely triumphant "serious" picture of the summer, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time (funny, since this is the only film on my list that couldn't be described as an "action" movie). Best acting of the summer, and very powerful.

4. Fast Five
I've never been a fan of this series, but I took a chance on this one and was so glad that I did. The action sequences... my god the action sequences! Forget the acting, forget the storytelling. This was one of the best "popcorn movies" I've ever seen. That scene at the end? Craaaazy.

5. Captain America
It actually shocked me how much I liked this one. I wouldn't have pegged it as having a chance to be on my list, but good old fashioned adventure storytelling made this something very special. Great cast, too.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Le Kid - Escape

"I gotta undo the damage done"

After what seems like forever (and a million push-backs in release date), Swedish pop band Le Kid's debut is about to be released. I've heard it (honestly, I had heard most of the tracks months ago) and it's Swedish pop the way Swedish pop should be done. Big, glossy, sassy. It's really, really good. One of my favorite tracks that I haven't highlighted yet (fav tracks will always be America and We Should Go Home Together) is the gorgeous Escape. It really represents everything I love about Le Kid. It's lush, melodic and the perfect mixture of uplift and bittersweet. In other words, it's a model in Scandinavian pop writing and production. I can't tell you how much you've gotta get this album. Oh, and check out the new single We Are The Drums. It's pretty awesome, too.

Escape by roxyrecordings

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Skyship Academy: Available Online NOW!

As of this morning, a number of online retailers received SKYSHIP ACADEMY: THE PEARL WARS (my debut YA sci-fi/adventure novel, if you're a new reader) and are ready to ship it. Online purchasers should receive it before it's even in stores. Aaaghh, it's a real book now!

Here are a few of the places it's available today:
Barnes & Noble (still displaying an old cover)
And around the world, for preorder:
Amazon (UK)
Amazon (Canada)

And here's the back cover summary again. Also, don't forget to read the first three chapters online for free!

A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.

Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

"A definite must-read!"—JAMES DASHNER, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner


Movie Review: Fright Night

Fright Night

Fright Night was not a movie I was planning to see a few weeks ago. But then I started hearing such great things from critics and others that I had to give it a whirl. Plus, each year around this time there seems to be a supernatural-type film that makes no money at the box office but becomes a personal favorite (last year it was the brilliant Let Me In, still one of my favorite movies of the past few years, and before that it was Jennifer's Body). I was hoping this would follow suit, even though I knew nothing about the original. I was going into this one cold. Honestly, that's kind of how I left the theater, too.

The main frustration I had with the film is that it kept reeling me in only to let me down. It was like the peaks on a roller coaster. One moment I'd be all excited, the next I'd be slouched back in my seat, daydreaming. To compare similar movies, in 2007 Disturbia managed to keep me hooked throughout. It's a hard thing to do. The problem with this one is that tension isn't allowed to build because the big reveal/mystery is pretty much spoiled in scene one. We know the creepy neighbor's a vampire, so what follows is basically your standard teen suspense film.

However, the action sequences are frequently inspired, particularly an encounter on a dark Vegas highway and a scene in the middle of the film that, without giving too much away, subverts audience expectations and ends with a wonderfully sick surprise (and I'm not easily surprised). Colin Farrell makes an incredibly unnerving villain, and when he--and others--vamp up, they look pretty damn awesome. These aren't your friendly, sparkly vamps. There's a constant danger surrounding the film. The supporting cast, filled with familiar faces, is pretty strong too.

I was less impressed with the casting of the lead. I've liked Anton Yelchin in Star Trek, Charlie Bartlett and Terminator: Salvation, but for me he was totally miscast in this role. I don't feel like he carried the film the way that he needed to, and I felt no connection to his character. It's crazy, because I really like this actor. Something just didn't click. David Tennant (of Doctor Who fame) is much more effective.

Still, for the action sequences and a few clever little plot points, I'm going to give this a very mild "go." A good one to rent around Halloween, maybe. C+


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Nero - My Eyes

"My eyes follow you around the room"

I've been trying to get into this whole dubstep thing. I'm all for it in theory. I love the heavy, sleazy nature of the electronics and I find it very interesting how the genre has worked its way into the pop world (I mean, when Selena Gomez is using elements of it, you know it's gone mainstream). My biggest issue with straight-up dubstep, though, is the lack of melody. Melody is the biggest thing for me, even before lyrics. That being said, I've found myself interested in the new Nero album. The singles are all amazing (and get better the more you hear them), but apart from the brilliant Promises, the music seems to favor production over melody. Still, I'm delving in and willing to be won over. My Eyes is a step in the right direction, a moody--almost cinematic--track that offers the first vocals on the album. It's not on par with the singles, but it's a nice track to ease into Nero's sound.

Nero - My Eyes by azurochka

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.