Review: Palette by IU

Palette by IUIU is definitely obsessed with age, or at least growing up. It’s a theme she’s tackled in many of her albums. Her last single starts with the words “I’m twenty-three”; her new single has a hook that goes “I’m twenty-five”. But don’t take that as proof that Palette is a rehash. IU has made changing sounds seem natural rather than a knee-jerk reaction, from her slightly dreamy early releases, to the bubblegum pop of Growing Up, to the overblown swing of Modern Times. This time she jumps from her last full-length’s embrace – traces of which were still around on her last release, the mini Chat-Shire – and goes urban and low-key. The title track, which features G-Dragon, captures the sound: understated, modern, and, well, grown-up. (The reference to Corinne Bailey Rae on the music video to “Palette” is not a throwaway one.) IU resisted the urge to indulge her whimsical side – or, perhaps, decided it’s no longer the time to do so. Apart from the last few tracks being more straightforward ballads – and “Jam Jam” being that one concession to her pop side – the record reveals a new, or perhaps unrevealed, side to the singer. “I’m twenty-five,” as she would say. [NB]4/5

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earthings! 2015: My ten favorites of the year

We’re closing up shop for another year, which means our obligatory look at the year that was – and, like in the past two years, it’s in the form of ten songs, arranged alphabetically by artist. And it’s been an interesting year, indeed. Pop music was, once again, no longer a guilty pleasure. The much-anticipated comeback of guitar music did not happen, but we had some genre-pushing, if not outright weird, alternative anyway. We’ve seen new acts make a legitimate splash, but it wasn’t for the sake of a new voice. We’ve seen old acts make triumphant returns, but nostalgia wasn’t the biggest thing. Things have not settled down to the way people want it to be (and that could mean anything depending on who you ask) but things have never looked this good in recent years either. It is weird. Interesting, but weird.

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How to collect Korean pop music, part two: the essentials course

How to Collect Korean Pop MusicLast week we kicked off this seven-week series of blog entries exploring the Korean pop scene, under the pretense of (more or less) curating a K-pop playlist for a trip to Seoul at the end of the year. The reaction we got was… well, there was some confusion as to why we’re devoting all this time to K-pop. It wasn’t a lot, thankfully. But we’re here now, and we have to continue. After looking at Seoul’s intricate musical ecosystem, part two of seven will focus on five acts who should be on your K-pop playlist, no matter what – as recommended by this blog’s resident K-pop expert, Rainy.

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Swap week two, day four: Niko takes on Ulala Session

Swap Week 2015“Anxious Heart (Summer Love)” by Ulala Session featuring IU | Ulala Session’s a boy band. I know Rainy doesn’t like boy bands (save for Super Junior, for fangirl-y reasons) so this must be something special. The back story somewhat is: the band won TV talent show Superstar K3, during which they battled allegations that lead singer Taq’s having stomach cancer is a particularly elaborate (and fake) sob story. He sadly passed away a couple of years ago, leaving behind a wife and a newborn daughter. This song was recorded before his death, and only resurfaced after some compilation project last year. I initially wasn’t feeling this song – I notice that I tend to feel inconsistent around IU’s stuff – but then it clung to me. And I played it again, and it clung to me deeper. It’s too jumpy for my liking, but there’s an irresistible energy. And then I learn that the music was written by the same guy who did SoYou and JunggiGo’s “Some”, the very song stuck in my head at the grocery a few months back, and the very song that was stuck in my head before writing this. Dammit. [NB]

earthings! Fantasy Festival, part two: the Fairylights stage

earthings! Fantasy Festival: the Fairylights stage

If we’re disappointed with the acts coming to the Philippines, then why don’t we make our own music festival? It doesn’t have to really happen – it can all be in our heads. And thus, the earthings! Fantasy Festival was born. Today, Rainy Martini imagines her own music festival stage, inevitably featuring Asian acts – but not the ones you’d expect to come here, because, in her words, she doesn’t want her stage to be like just another episode of Music Bank.

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