Tag Archives: Hurricane

ALBUM REVIEW: The Fray – Helios

Just press Fray.

Just press Fray.

They call him the God of the Sun, driving his golden chariot across the sky with four horses at his side. He is Helios, one of the great figures of Greek mythology. Centuries later, Helios find himself as the name of the latest album by Denver rockers The Fray, the group’s fourth studio release since 2005 for their longtime home of Epic Records. Recorded during the summer of last year, Helios is the quartet’s most diverse album to date and runs the gamut from 90’s alt-rock (“Closer To Me”) to experimental (“Break Your Plans”) and even earthy (“Wherever This Goes”), hitting more musical flavors in-between. It isn’t bound to be a Top 40 Titan per se, but there are some sunny sounds amongst the polished gems and other decently crafted tunes that encompass the eleven tracks.

Highlights from the effort include opener “Hold My Hand”, which compares solidly as the “You Found Me” of Helios. Slade sings, “Escape is in my blood/Fear is in my bones/But I don’t wanna walk that road/Please help me.” Combining a Coldplay-esque piano tone, a memorable percussive line and an added gospel choir about halfway through, “Hold” is worthy of being a radio single, retaining the core of their sound while still expanding their horizons.

Third track “Give It Away” is also worth a listen, which bops to the more rhythmic, post-disco bounce of Maroon 5‘s latest material. It does work for the band in this instance, even if you can’t picture it at the moment. The pop jam also verges into Paul Simon and Graceland territory with more tribal sounding drums. “Love is free/C’mon and give it away,” says Slade. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be letting this get away from a commercial standpoint either. Track four, “Hurricane”, also follows a similar pattern, updating them into a more electro-pop groove. It’s not as successful to me as “Give” is, but it is an ear worm and you’ll be singing along.

As much as they try to fuse styles on their latest album, there are a few tracks on here that maintain the classic The Fray sound, going for a moodier vibe. “Keep On Wanting” taps into their inspirational side against a solid pop/rock sound, one of my favorites of the bunch. There is also “Shadow And A Dancer” and “Same As You”, the two closing songs, which also happen to be the longest. “Shadow” channels an early Peter Gabriel sound, while chronicling the ups and downs of an unexpected relationship: “The summer thrill is gone/But we’ve never been so in love.” “Same” finds itself on an echo-driven, almost spacey kind of ground, far different from anything else on here. Through the ending, the variety is there — but is there enough of an audience still interested in them?

With a single that’s stalled out at radio and a diminishing sales trend, this album obviously isn’t going to reach as many ears as their past three efforts have. There’s not a bad track on here, even if some are a tad more unremarkable than the obvious standouts. It does seem, however, that they sacrificed a few choruses, especially lyrically, and I do wish the emotive side of the band was more present on here. “Love Don’t Die” also feels like a lazy hit within the context of this album, and as much I like it, there are stronger options for singles releases and it can be easily dumped. That being said, there’s enough material to satisfy both old and new fans of the group and enough of an evolution without falling into a sonic trap as many other similar acts unfortunately have lately. They may not be the gods of mainstream radio anymore, but Helios proves that The Fray can still offer up some worthy artistic ambrosia to the masses.

Stream Helios on iTunes and pre-order the album, due on Tuesday (2/25).

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Girls, Girls, Girls: New Singles About To Pop

Before the Radio Report goes up tomorrow, here’s a few of the fierce females releasing new singles to mainstream radio in the next few weeks. From the straight-up sounds of pop to the electronic eargasms of tomorrow, here’s a few of my choices that you may see climbing up the charts this spring.

Ready or not, she's back.

Ready or not, she’s back.

BRIDGIT MENDLER – “Hurricane” (Radio Edit)

Former Disney kid Mendler made a successful transition into the world of mainstream music when her debut single, “Ready Or Not”, hit the CHR top 40 several months ago. Though it wasn’t the biggest of hits for the young singer, Hollywood Records is trying again with this second single from Hello My Name Is…, a song called “Hurricane”. It’s another rap-sung track from the singer, with the same sort of reggae-influenced vibe as Jessie J‘s “Price Tag” or Skylar Grey‘s “C’mon Let Me Ride”. “Hurricane” was co-written by Mendler, Evan Bogart, Andrew Goldstein and Emanuel Kiriakou and produced by the latter two gentlemen. All three previously worked together on Hot Chelle Rae‘s 2011 album Whatever. Mendler once again brings out the cringeworthy, juvenile lyrics. Remember “I like your face, do you like my song?” from “Ready”? This time around, it’s “I’m flopping on my bed like a flying squirrel.” I mean, I just don’t know what to do with that, so I’m going to move on and pretend it never happened. She’s 20. I guess I can deal with it. Otherwise, it’s a harmless and cute little song with a lot of vocal stuttering about a girl who compares her noticing a boy she really likes to “standing in the eye of a hurricane” because of her emotions gone haywire. Young girls can relate to it. It’s not the strongest song from her debut album, but the breezy nature of it could hold it on radio until the warmer months arrive. I would hate to see the effort go to waste just because the wrong single was selected.

Quicker than a Rae of light.

Far from “Over”.

CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Tonight I’m Getting Over You”

27-year-old Jepsen had a big breakthrough last year with hits like “Call Me Maybe” and “Good Time”, a collaboration with Owl City. Third single “This Kiss” failed to make a significant impact on the charts, so she’s dusted herself off and moved on to a fourth single from Kiss, “Tonight I’m Getting Over You”. The song has a long list of writers on it: in addition to Jepsen, there is Clarence Coffee Jr. (part of a production team called The Monsters and The Strangerz… jeez, who came up with that?) Lukas Hibert (German producer new to the U.S. market), Shiloh Hoganson (Canadian singer whose U.S. crossover failed a few years ago), Katerina Loules (German songwriter with her first big credit) and Max Martin (super-producer behind the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, etc.), with production duties handled by Hibert and Martin. The sound is a little more dance-driven than Jepsen’s other singles, with an unnecessary dubstep post-chorus that’s just grating on the ears. Nothing too hard to understand lyrically; the girl is gonna “keep dancing ’til the morning with somebody new” as she gets over her old flame. It’s a decent song, but unfortunately, it comes across as a throwaway track. I’m not quite sure how “Curiosity” got passed over again or even the duet with Justin Bieber, “Beautiful”. With everyone releasing lighter songs as of late, it would’ve fit right in. Alas, a video has been shot and the song’s been sent to radio, so I guess we’re stuck with it. Coming off a flop, I’m not expecting big things from it, but expect it to be a mid-charting hit before Jepsen moves onto recording a new album.

One step "Closer" to a hit.

One step “Closer” to a hit.

TEGAN & SARA – “Closer”

If this is going to be one of the first big Alternative crossover hits on the year, I approve. The two Quin sisters have been singing together since 1999 and are probably best known for their 2004 single, “Walking With A Ghost”. They also had a pair of minor chart successes in Canada as featured vocalists on singles by producers Morgan Page and Tiësto. Their days of dance have rubbed off on their new sound as found on their recent release, Heartthrob, expected to debut in the top ten on the Billboard 200 album chart, and this first single. It was written and produced by the Quins as well as Greg Kurstin, who worked on hits by Kelly Clarkson and Pink. The song itself is about the boundaries of a relationship, with the protagonist egging on her lover to “come a little closer,” but it isn’t just a sexual notion she desires. She explains: “It’s not just all physical/I’m the type who won’t get oh-so-critical/So let’s make things physical/I won’t treat you like you’re oh-so-typical.” This, combined with a glittering electro-pop beat, is the perfect combination for a great song with just the right amount of attitude. Will mainstream radio take a liking to the duo? I sure hope so. The song’s already been a top-20 national hit in Canada and it’s still in the top 100 on the overall chart on iTunes here in the States. It should also be their second song to make my personal chart in just a few weeks. The girls certainly deserve, but it’s up to programmers to decide whether to pump it or dump it.

Are there any other good pop tracks by the ladies that I should be listening to? Let me know! Post your thoughts in the comments or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.


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