New Music from London (Where else?)

After work today I stopped in a few stores to purchase some organizing supplies. I walked out with a few white boxes--long, flat and pristine. As I (re)organized my shelves, again, I played my favorite new-old song: Third Eye Blind's "Never Let You Go." That is a beautiful song. It came out in the late nineties, but sounds completely modern. The secret to good music--lasting music--is the sincere emotion of the artist. "Never Let You Go" is sincere. I actually took the time to read about the band a bit, and they're coming out with a new album this fall. I'm actually excited.

Moments like earlier today, when I'm, well, cleaning and listening to great music, I feel a deeply resonating happiness. It's contentment. I'm thrilled I at least feel self-sufficient--that's the power of individuality. Controlling one's actions, feeling really really in control? Powerful stuff.

Was that a Carrie Bradshaw moment or what?

On to music. (Not much to say in the way of clothing. Until I get a job-job, The Sartorialist is my only indulgence.)

As music lovers, we should all bow down to Island Records. I love them. I really do. They have guts, releasing artists like The Killers back in the day, current artists like Annie, and all the while Capitol Records is shaking in their boots with Katy Perry. I mean, Perry's a sure-fire deal (beautiful, talented, kind of a dirty streak...). Just imagine how Capitol would feel signing Beck in the mid-nineties? Or Fiona Apple?

Scratching for every buck does not an innovative record company make.

Leon Jean Marie, hailing from the ONLY place for good music in the 21st Century (London, that is), is a creativity booster shot to the rear of R&B crooners Usher and Ne-Yo. Ironically, I downloaded Ne-Yo's new craptastical single this morning, thinking I'd dig the dance-y vibe, but I was wrong. This afternoon I found what I was looking for.

LJM's first (ahem) European single off Bent Out Of Shape, "Bring It On," is a multifaceted piece of work, stirring a bit of Justin Timberlake (sans Timbaland), Amy Winehouse, and even Sam Sparro into a rich, syrupy batter of darkly shimmering blips, lazily churned vocals, and a subtle yet essential horn track. I'm trying to lose the food metaphor (am I cooking pancakes? Brownies? I don't know), but the song is so smooth--like pouring warm butter in your ears.

(Admit it--that turned you off. Come on now, if it didn't you're a total pervert. Welcome to my blog!)

The song is--can I say this?--groovy, but has a tangible maturity to it. I've read an article that compared him to Lenny Kravitz, a comparison I agree with. I think Kravitz is a bit edgier than Marie, but "Bring It On" is a seriously thick track. Her Madgesty's critics say "Bring It On" is one of the album's weaker tracks, and if that's true...well, there's no stateside release planned as of now, so there are few legal alternatives...

Another artist signed to Island, also mentioned like three paragraphs up, is the hard-to-google Annie. I've been into her for about three years now, kind of phasing in and out of interest with each and every song on her last album Anniemal. (Download "Me Plus One" and "Greatest Hit," the latter featuring a Madonna "Everybody" sample.) She's talented, though, as both a DJ and a vocalist, and retains a sexiness throughout all of her work. Other female DJ-gone-pop stars, like the unfortunate and derivative Colette, can't always hold their own when faced with writing lyrics and performing vocally. How is it that Annie was so blessed to be born so freaking cool? She's hot, she makes music, and she's a DJ.

"I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me," Annie's first single off her September album Don't Stop, is pretty standard fare for Annie listeners. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun song--her vocals are saccharine-sweet, like some kind of musical candy (NO MORE FOOD METAPHORS!)--but it's been four years. I expected something a bit more future-sensitive, or at least more current. She's clearly heading for a more radio-friendly sound, so she might as well cash in on her good looks and position herself for super-stardom.

I'm being hard on her. "Girlfriend" is accessible pop. There's nothing wrong with that. As to whether she's still got the magic trifecta (coolness, hotness, DJness), we'll see in September for what I'm sure will be a full-album review.

[If you want to download LJM's "Make It Right," another song off Bent Out Of Shape, visit his Myspace and click the link. It's free if you (lie) and say you're British! Do they seriously think people will be stopped by a "U.K. Residents Only" notice??]