Tag Archives: Never Trust A Happy Song

ALBUM REVIEW: Grouplove – Spreading Rumours

Ready, set, "Go".

On the Rumour patrol.

They were itchin’ on a photograph just a few years ago and now they’re itching to get their newest material out. Southern California band Grouplove are entering the all-important sophomore era with the release of Spreading Rumours, their second full-length album following 2011’s Never Trust A Happy Song. It will be out digitally and physically (both on CD and vinyl) on September 17. Produced by band member Ryan Rabin, the set is a fun and playful affair in an Indian Summer setting, carrying that transition from the hot summer days of electro-pop rhythms to the cooler nights of acoustic guitar. It’s glossy, but often experimental, and gives the band room to grow into not just the rock outfit we saw on their debut album. Though sometimes peculiar, the range of styles, both musically and lyrically, are necessary to balance out this album and wrangle up all of these Rumours; now, to spill the tea on their album and some of my favorite talk-worthy tracks.

Opener “I’m With You” is a sizzler with its pulsating and jungle-like drums, almost sounding like an Elastica or Garbage record out of the mid-90’s. It’s a pretty enticing way to lead you in. Lead singer Christian Zucconi sings, “What else can I do? / I’m with you / This is all I do know,” and he does know best when it comes to jamming out to the beat of this one. Following that is “Borderlines And Aliens”, which finds its strength in a bit of wordplay: note all the mentions of “black cat” in the verse followed by the “ari-ari-arigato” in the pre-chorus, arigato meaning “thanks very much” in Japanese but gato meaning cat in Spanish. At least I think it was intentional. If not, then, I’m reading too much into it as sometimes seems to be the case. It’s a decent album cut, but nothing more than that.

The band is at their best when they’re bouncing around on songs like first single “Ways To Go” with its catchy beat and simplified and intriguing lyrical choices. Same goes for “Shark Attack” with its insane melting pot of genres from steel drums to a trip-hop drum shuffle, and the occasional spaced-out solo. They sing, “I met somebody in the sea of people / That’s just what I believe in.” Well, count me in too. This has future single written all over it. I also feel the same way about “Raspberry”, which, for me at least, is the “Tongue Tied” of this album – it’s familiar, it’s poppy, and you can’t get the “Raspberry, on the ferry / I was feeling kind of seasick on that boat,” line out of your head. I guess you could say that “Ways” is technically the “Tongue” of this album given its almost certain crossover potential, but sonically, “Raspberry” does it for me more. I also have to give praise to “Sit Still”, with a poppy piano and lighter instrumentation, and “Didn’t Have To Go”, showing off the vocal prowess of Hooper, from Spice Girl in the verses to saucy rocker in the chorus.

While there’s plenty of good to be said about the album, there’s also some elements that are just flat-out weird. Sure, it makes them quirky, but not all of it works in their favor. “Hippy Hill” is, for a lack of a better term, different. I’m not a fan. Luckily, it doesn’t go for too long and spoil the whole thing. The following track, “What I Know”, also suffers from the same sort of problems despite a Green Day-esque guitar part that I really like. Overall, the second half of the album lacks a little bit of oomph that’s all over the first six tracks, but doesn’t completely fall off to the point that it’s unlistenable. It’s more pleasant than anything, particularly on a song like “News To Me”, which isn’t groundbreaking but I can appreciate all the work that went into it and the rest of the tracks. It’s a solid record that will ultimately keep them on the Alternative airwaves for at least one more era. After that, it’ll all depend on how the followup singles manage to place.

Spreading Rumors is ultimately released on one of the more packed weeks for new releases in months, though I think it will be able to hold its own against competitors like Avicii and MGMT and debut in the top ten on the Billboard 200. I have no doubt it will be the biggest sales frame of their career; it’s just a matter of what that number is. Buyers aside, it’s the quality that counts, and Grouplove delivers. Their audience has stuck with them through “Ways To Go” and I think they’ll manage to pull in a lot of them for the album. Save the party for them; it’s only just starting to jump off.

Listen to Spreading Rumours on NPR First Listen. / Pre-order Spreading Rumours on iTunes.


Filed under Album Reviews

Start Spreading The News: Grouplove Have A “Ways To Go” With Second LP

Their name's on the tip of my "Tongue".

At least their fans will be Happy.

They were one of my top discoveries last year with their biggest U.S. single to date and now, they’ve returned with a potentially new sound. That would be Grouplove, the rock band out of Los Angeles. The beginning of their second era is dawning on us and expectations are high for the band to deliver another solid record. Well, at least my expectations are. Before their new stuff makes its way onto the ‘net, I’ll be providing you with some dates and a little information on some things to come. First, a little bit of history.

The group formed back in 2009, putting out a self-titled six song EP in the summer of 2010 and opening for several big acts before gaining the attention of Atlantic Records and the sub-label Canvasback, most notable for a few other indie acts. After signing with them later that year, their EP was re-released and a single from it, “Colours”, gained some minor attention on Alternative radio, peaking at #25 in the fall of 2011. That could’ve been it for them. However, their big break came last summer when the group’s “Tongue Tied” was featured on an episode of the television show Glee at the same time that it was climbing in airplay. That resulted in a #1 on the Alternative chart in June. It also achieved a top ten peak at AAA radio (#6), while become a moderate crossover on both the Hot AC (#18) and CHR (#20) radio surveys. Followup single “Itchin’ On A Photograph” moseyed its way to #10 by November at Alternative, but didn’t seem to catch on anywhere else, and that was the end of the era. Luckily, the group’s been on tour since then, and they have a few dates planned at festivals and other events through the month of June. Next month is when we’ll also be having our first taste of some new music from the quintet.

This first popped up under the radar about two weeks ago, so it came as a surprise to me when I heard about it. In another two weeks, we’ll be able to hear Grouplove‘s leadoff single from their forthcoming effort, titled “Ways To Go”. It’ll be on iTunes on June 11 and goes for adds at Adult Alternative and Alternative radio two weeks after that (though it’ll likely pick up a lot of action pre-adds date.) There are a few videos of the songs on YouTube from their concerts this past spring, with this one being a more recent clip of the full song. On first listen, the song seems to be a little more electro than some of their prior stuff, which was more straight-forward rock. I don’t think we really need another MGMT or Passion Pit at the moment, but let’s face it, every band is having their 80’s synthfest phase: Fitz & The Tantrums, Neon Trees, Phoenix, etc. There’s nothing wrong with it, but that being said, I wasn’t expecting it from Grouplove. I guess we’ll see if anything changes when the studio version comes out. It does seem like it could be a catchy song. I’m putting it in my “OK” category for now just because of the overall sound and the repetitiveness of it. (If you don’t know your name by now, you will never never never know it. Woo-ooh-ooh.)

The band’s second full-length album, Spreading Rumors, will be in stores on September 17 on Canvasback/Atlantic. This comes nearly two years to date from the release of their first album, Never Trust A Happy Song, released on September 13, 2011. Coincidence? Perhaps. I haven’t really seen any news on the direction of the album, tracklisting, and other general information, but a date is good enough for now. A pre-order for the album should hopefully be available soon. Sounds like the label is invested in it if there’s a three-month window from the single premiere to the album release. Let’s hope for the best.

Start marking your calendars up because time will fly and pretty soon, “Ways To Go” and Spreading Rumors may just be flying up the charts.

For more news on your favorite artists in the pop and rock world, follow the blog below and find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News

ADAM’S TOP 100 OF 2012 – #10 to #08 (Post 8 of 11)

From now until New Year’s Eve, I’ll be counting down my top 100 songs of the year. Every week, I make a top 40 list, and each position gets a certain amount of points, plus, I add in some extra points for weeks at #1, which goes towards their yearly total. The survey period is from December 4, 2011 to November 25, 2012. Ties are broken by (1) peak position, then (2) weeks at peak position, and then (3) number of weeks on chart should it go that far. Well, this is where we start to slow it down. We’ve made it to rarefied air, people. These are my top ten songs of the year. Out of the 177 songs that spent at least one week in the top 40 this year, these ones are the ten biggest among them. Let’s get to ’em.

Their name's on the tip of my "Tongue".

Their name’s on the tip of my “Tongue”.

010. GROUPLOVE – “Tongue Tied”
ALBUM: Never Trust A Happy Song // LABEL: Canvasback/Atlantic
PEAK: #1 for two weeks // WEEKS ON: 27 // POINTS: 785

Greece is the word, it’s got groove, it’s got meaning. Take two New Yorkers, three Californians, have them meet up in Crete for the female singer’s artist residency and wha-la, you have Grouplove, the quintet with their very first hit on my chart. After releasing an EP in early 2011, they released their full-length LP, Never Trust A Happy Song, in September of that year. The first single, “Colours”, didn’t do a ton of a damage on the charts, but it was the next single that really got things rolling for the band. “Tongue Tied” initially made the In The Mix section back in December 2011, staying in for five weeks before disappearing. It was featured in an iPod Touch advertisement around that time, and though I liked the song, I didn’t think it was anything outstanding and I had no intention of charting it. Fast forward about three months and the song is a top five hit on Alternative radio, so I reconsidered it with a blank slate and I guess that was all it needed. Reappearing on April 8, 2012, it took just two weeks to make the top 40, and by June, it was firmly in the top ten. Never did I think it would hit the top spot, but it did, for two weeks in early-to-mid July. It descended the chart from there, exiting in October after a 27-week run. Followup single “Itchin’ On A Photograph” failed to chart, though it made the top ten on Alternative radio. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more new material from the band in 2013.

She sets fire to the reign.

She sets fire to the reign too.

009. ADELE – “Set Fire To The Rain”
ALBUM: 21 // LABEL: XL/Columbia
PEAK: #1 for two weeks // WEEKS ON: 27 // POINTS: 787

What can you say about Adele that hasn’t been said? She’s a Grammy winner, a Diamond-certified recording artist, and a new mom. It’s her world and we’re just living it. 21 was still a massive seller into 2012 and we can at least partially attribute that to the success of this single which wasn’t going to be the third release at first. A few early stations came on board for “Rumour Has It” back in October 2011, but a statement from Columbia Records was issued stating, in part, that more radio programmers had a better reaction to “Set Fire To The Rain”, and thus, the choice was changed about a month later. Meanwhile, I was already charting “Rumour Has It”, so quickly got that off while preparing to enter this one. It was an instant impact record, debuting at #31 on the chart dated November 13, 2011 at #31, bypassing the Next In Line and In The Mix sections. It hit #1 in its twelfth week on (January 29, 2012) and stayed on top for two weeks, marking the singer’s third number-one single on my chart. It was in the top ten until late March and fell off in mid-May after 27 weeks on the chart. 2013 will likely see no new music from Adele, though “Skyfall” will be charting into the new year and make the year-end chart in 2013. She deserves a break, though, so take it, girl, and for pete’s sake, can you let us know the name of your newborn already? Inquiring minds want to know…

Pretty "Young" things.

Pretty “Young” things.

008. FUN. featuring JANELLE MONAE – “We Are Young”
ALBUM: Some Nights // LABEL: Fueled By Ramen
PEAK: #1 for two weeks // WEEKS ON: 27 // POINTS: 788

A few years ago, I had an internship with another girl who was a big fan of a band called The Format. I wasn’t familiar with them, but she played me a few of their songs, and I thought they had some potential. What I didn’t know at the time was that the band had broken up and one of the members had gone on to form another band, which turned out to be a trio, which we today know as Fun., featuring ex-Format member Nate Reuss on lead vocals. They had a seasonal release called “Believe In Me” out a few years ago which I heard maybe once or twice, but nothing happened with the song or them, until late last year. “We Are Young” was another one that started off just as “Tongue Tied” did. It too made my In The Mix in December 2011 after it was featured as the closing number on the Glee episode “Hold On To Sixteen”. The show really hadn’t broken any new acts at that point, so it was a surprising choice to be performed since very few had heard of them, but it was the song’s sentiment that resonated with a whole lot of people. On January 8, 2012, it hit the Top 10 Next In Line and stayed there for six weeks, climbing, then reversing direction, then holding, and finally climbing again before debuting on my top 40 at #38 on February 19. One of the things that finally sold me on debuting it was when it was used in a commercial for Chevrolet during the Super Bowl. It was clear then that it was destined to become a hit being an exposed to an audience of more than 100 million people, and it did. It spent its first of two weeks at #1 on April 29 and found itself in the top ten until the end of June. By the middle of August, it was exiting the chart, again, after 27 weeks. Four weeks into the new chart year, “Carry On” is in the lead for the top song for 2013, but there are another 48 weeks to turn things around.

We knock down another three on the update tomorrow. Be sure to look out for it.

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Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Personal Charts, Playlists, Top 100 of 2012