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Johan Rodrigues Discusses The Guitar That Started It All

We spend a lot of time covering the biggest pop acts here in the United States, but considering the fact OurStage welcomes artists and fans from all over the world we thought it would be fun to begin introducing a few world music new tidbits into the magazine as well. If you’re an international artist with a new song, video, or tour announcement, email jshotwell@ourstage.com with a link to your material. We cannot guarantee every submission will be featured on the blog, but we will reply to every message we receive.

In Portugal, if you’re looking for male pop artists you would be hard pressed to find a more notable person than Johan Rodrigues. His latest EP, Um, has been garnering praise the world over, and his latest single “Bad Girl” is so catchy it hurts. Johan recently took time from his busy schedule to discuss the gift that started his interest in music, the creation of Um, and developing as an international talent. You can read an excerpt from the piece below, then click here to read the full interview. (more…)

98 Degrees Announce New Album, '2.0'

Boys bands will never die, and those needing proof need look no further than the gentlemen of 98 Degrees. Their time in the spotlight was always secondary to the fame *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys achieved, but here we are more than a decade later and they’re still chugging along with a new album and tour planned for 2013.

Taking a few cues from future tour mates New Kids On The Block, the men of 98 Degrees have announced plans to release new album entitled 2.0 later this year. This will be the first album from the group since 2000’s Revelation, and it should help push a few more ticket sales for their upcoming “Package Tour” with NKOTB.

At this point, no single has been release from 2.0, so there really is no way to know what 98 Degrees have planned for us. So, instead of waiting around with nothing to do, click below and stroll down memory lane with one of their biggest hits. (more…)

ALBUM REVIEW: Ke$ha – Warrior

When sitting down to review Ke$ha’s latest album, Warrior, I found it impossible to resist digging into her catalog for research. Only three years have past since “Tik Tok” impacted radio waves around the world, but one look at the sales and popularity of this still young pop starlet and one might believe she’s at least hit the half decade point. The truth is, Kesha has only just begun to make her mark in pop music, and her latest effort proves there is much (MUCH) more glitter and innuendo awaiting us in years to come.

If you have never experienced Kesha outside of the radio singles, you need to be prepared for a slightly different experience when reaching for one of her albums. While the glitter-loving songstress is known for packing many potential singles on her releases, usually including some of her awkward attempts at rapping, each album is also stuffed with progressive material that makes it clear Kesha could do so much more with her career if desired. Warrior makes this more evident than ever, with only a handful of cuts coming across like disposable radio tracks, and I don’t want to get hopes too high here, but there is a cohesion to the glam pop queen’s efforts this time around that leads one to believe there is a much grander vision at play than we’ve been told.

Kicking things off by blending her newer sound with songwriting elements fans will find familiar, “Warrior,” kicks off Kesha’s new album with all the glory and pizazz a pop record deserves. The hook is huge, the rhymes about club life are intact, and the attitude is second-to-none. This is what I like to call “typical Kesha,” and it’s never executed more slickly than on Warrior. As you dig through the hit “Die Young,” as well as the early leak “C’Mon,” it becomes clearer and clearer that there is an evolution taking place within Kesha’s sound. She’s still very rooted in dance floor singles, and that will likely never change, but the focus on well-written lyrics and wordplay has never been stronger. Tracks like “Dirty Love,” “All That Matters,” and “Love Into The Light” offer more substance than Kesha’s entire debut album, and that’s on the extreme end of the spectrum. There is actual replay value to the whole, and I don’t just mean on the radio.

Warrior is real pop music, albeit complimented with a disposable facade, and it will sell to a ridiculous amount of music listeners with little effort. Some longtime fans will hate her new sound, and others will continue to not “get it,” but anyone listening to this album with an open mind is destined to discover a pop record that could go on to rival Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream in terms of lasting ability and pop cultural impact. 2013 will be the year of Ke$ha, and with a record like this there is no reason she shouldn’t find herself atop the Billboard charts for weeks, if not months to come.

 

If you enjoy Ke$ha, be sure to check out OS artist Casey Desmond!

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Review written by: James Shotwell

Exclusive Q and A: Eva Simons Talks Honesty, Touring With LMFAO, And Crazy Collaborations

It’s rare to see an artist go from piano lessons to party rocking, but Eva Simons is not your typical pop star. The 28-year-old Dutch singer-songwriter found her musical passions at an early age. Simons was classically trained pianist who graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Her monster dance hit with Afrojack, “Take Over Control,” which she also co-wrote, topped the iTunes dance charts globally, and has sold nearly a million downloads in the U.S. alone, while the video has racked up more than 10 million views on YouTube. Having already collaborated with big stars like will.i.am and Chris Brown, Simons is ready to introduce herself to the American pop scene at the perfect time, as electronic dance music continues to take the world by storm. We caught up with Simons to talk about staying true to herself, being on the Identity Tour with LMFAO, and her ideas for the future of her career. (more…)

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Party Patrol

DaCav5

Prepare to sweat your weaves out, people. Coming straight outta the city of brotherly love is DaCav5, an electro-pop band armed with its own party rock anthems. Like LMFAO, DaCav5 specializes in crazed, pitch-bent beats that burrow down into your brain and command your body to move. Dirty Style has a whiff of Party Rock Anthem, kicking off with a big, fat, bassy beat. Add defiant mantras like I don’t care what people say, Ima party anyway, with a sexy female refrain and you’ve got yourself a hit. David Guetta, eat your heart out. Party Started does exactly what it proposes to do. The track gets underway with orchestral pulses and edgy vocal stylings. Bitch get back, you know the kid got swag. The kid definitely has swag. Make that all five kids. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some partying to do.

 

House of the Rising Star

Sheila Star

Having the last name Star bodes well for a music career. Let’s see, there’s Ryan, Mazzie and Ringo to name a few. In time, you may see the name Sheila Star on that list of illustrious musicians. The San Francisco-based singer-songwriter is already active in Bay Area songwriting circles, penning lustrous piano pop that’s seductive and punchy. Keeps Me Alive starts with a somber piano intro before the beat snaps in and transforms the track into a sexy, soaring pop ballad. Star’s breathy vocals bring a feline quality to her songs. In Addiction she coos Every day and every night, yeah it gets me high, adding some headiness to the song’s squelching groove. Bad Dream is pure piano swagger where Star struts around in her bad girl persona: The devil himself he took the good out of me. We think there’s plenty of good to be found, especially if you like your good to break bad sometimes.

Pumped Up Kicks

 

The Kicks

One normally doesn’t think of Lowe’s as an arbiter of music, but you gotta hand it to them”they nailed it when they placed The Kicks‘ Good Morning in their Fresh Cut Grass spot. The sailing power ballad is catchy to the extreme, burrowing down into your brain and setting up camp. As great as that track is, it isn’t the only ace up the Nashville band’s sleeve. The Kicks straddle pop and Southern rock spheres, taking big hooks and roughing them up with a little grit. Hawk Eyes is a ballsy little rocker that slips into a garage rock groove, deft as Jet. But unlike the erstwhile Aussie band, The Kicks take their rock all over the place. The soulful This Feeling reads like vintage R&B, while Sore Thumb has an almost ˜80s attitude. Like Lowe’s, these guys never stop improving.

Globe Bopper

The Manuela

Let’s just get this out of the way first. Manuela has lived more places than you. She’s probably more cultured than you. And chances are, she can sing better, too. Born to Kenyan and Swiss parents, the soulful chanteuse has lived on all over the western hemisphere, but currently resides in Canada. But as multicultural as her background is, Manuela’s music speaks the universal language of pop. Her limber voice has an almost jazz sensibility, lilting up and down scales on the percussive piano bop of Circling Numbers or the decisive punch of keys and spinning chorus of Golden. On More Than A Friend the chanteuse shifts into a simple melody made out of a shimmering organ and acoustic guitar. Multicultured and multitalented. Some girls got it all.

Voices Carry

Natalie Major

Natalie Major is, if anything, well traveled. Raised in Chicago, the singer-songwriter moved to New York at nineteen, and currently resides in Los Angeles. But not all roads lead to major metropolitan areas. In Good Intentions she warns that the ones paved with good intentions can sometimes lead to hell. The song is a nice introduction to Major’s powerful vocals. Pared-down instrumentation”just quiet synths and drums”puts her torchy, soulful voice front and center. On Beautiful Life, Major could be Natasha Bedingfield, singing strident, feel-good mantras against shuffling, acoustic-laden pop. But on Monster she shows her bad side. Chunky, distorted guitars set an aggressive tone without eroding the song’s mainstream pop sheen. I’ve never really seen this side of me / Don’t know how to make it stop, she sings. Our opinion? Don’t.