Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Q&A with Atlanta Artist of the Week: Jon Secada

Along with Gloria Estefan and Julio Iglesias, Jon Secada paved the way for the future Latin explosion that is still on fire today. With worldwide smashes such as “Just Another Day,” “Angel,” and “Whipped,” Secada went on to become a music icon. In the past years, Secada’s career has still had steam, writing solid hits for other artists like Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Mandy Moore, and Gloria Estefan. Now, after a handful of cover albums, Secada is ready to spin back into the world of Latin pop, with his first proper LP since 2005’s Same Dream. Otra Vez, along with its first single “Dejame Querete (Mi Secreto)” have already set the Latin charts on fire, making Otra Vez the album Atlanta needs to own of the week.

Eric Chavez: First of all, I just want to congratulate you on “Dejame Querete,” it sounds amazing!

Jon Secada: Thank you brother, it is the new single from my first Spanish CD in seven years. It sort of reminds of my first CD and I’m really anxious to see if people are really going to like it.

EC: You have done so much television lately, especially on Mire Quien Baila. Do you think the exposure from those shows will help push the new disc?

JS: That’s why the CD means so much to me, because it’s been a while since I’ve done something like this. This all started back when I was doing a television show. I did the Latin American version of American Idol years ago. It kinda got the ball started on this CD.

EC: It was all over the news that you got seriously injured while on the show, Mire Quien Baila, how is your recovery coming along?

JC: I’m hanging in there brother! When I look back on the video, I realize how bad the fall was.

EC: Now in terms of the music on the new disc, how would you define the sound?

JC: This CD will be very pop-oriented and dance-y/fusion, but still from a Latin angle. That’s my thing, to try to always combine styles and make them my own.

EC: Now you have written some amazing songs for other artists, such as Mandy Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan. Has there ever been a song you gave away that you wish you hadn’t?

JC: Not really. Well, that’s happened to me sometimes, like with “She’s All I Ever Had.” That was a huge hit for Ricky Martin. I wrote that for myself, but he heard the demo and fell in love with it and one thing led to another and I ended up giving it to him. At the end of the day, my career started as a songwriter and I’m proud of that, and I can always record versions of the songs myself.

EC: You have worked with Gloria Estefan for so many years, what is it like collaborating with her?
JC: It was wonderful. She’s a star in every since of the word. Working with her was always a pleasure. [She’s] very talented and knows exactly what she wanted. I can never say enough. She’ll always been a very important part of my career.

EC: Now the Latin explosion of the late 90’s has turned into a mainstream kind of thing. How does it feel to have been part of the early 90’s Latin scene, making way for future artists?

JC: It feels great to see what’s going on in the music scene. I’m proud that I was a part of the Latin scene in the early 90’s. Before me, Gloria, Julio Iglesias, and Santana did it and it’s a blessing to be on that list of artists.

EC: You’ve had so many hits, but if you were to put a song in a capsule for future generations to hear, what would it be?

JC: It’s all about “Just Another Day.” It was the first song I wrote for that record, the first song the record company heard, first single I recorded in both languages, the first demo of mine that anyone paid any attention to. I will never forget the day I wrote it. That will always stand out because it was truthfully the first of many things.

EC: Recently, you did the whole Chippendales thing, how does it feel to be almost 50 and still a sex symbol?

JC: I love it! I’m almost 50, but I’m also in the best shape of my life!

EC: And lastly, has there ever been a question you have always wanted to be asked, but no one ever asked you?

JC: At this point, I think most of my career and life and the kind of, I guess, artist I am,
the minute people talk to me, they find out what I am all about. What you see is what you get, so to speak. I am a working musician that got lucky and successful at another level. I started my career as a working musician in Miami and I’m still a working musician! Friends and people in the industry, when I come across then, I’m still Juan Secada!

Otra Vez was released on February 8, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Better Than Yesterday

In the past 20 years, no other female pop star, aside from Madonna, has had such an impact on the world of music. From “I Should Be So Lucky” to “Word is Out” to “Spinning Around,” Minogue has had hit after hit worldwide. In the U.S., though, aside from her Fever-era singles such as “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and “Love at First Sight,” Kylie hasn’t had much commercial success. She has, however, managed to attract quite a following here in the States.

Her most recent LP, Aphrodite, with its disappointing first single, “All the Lovers,” and its second, “Get Outta My Way,” which is quite possibly the best pop-dance track of the past five years, has shown her fans and the world that Kylie is back.

This time around, on her third EP from the bunch, Kylie dabbles with an electro-pop/country-pop fusion. Sounding like Wynonna Judd-meets-Soft Cell, “Better Than Today” shows the singer stretching her talent both lyrically and sonically. It’s not the first time Minogue has experimented with the country sound: both 1997’s “Cowboy Style” and 2007’s “Sensitized” have seen Kylie in this area before. But now, gone is twangy two-step of her previous country-flavored track; in its place is a more standard, modern take on country, watering down her sound just a bit and replacing the sass with sugar.

To mix things up, the EP features a few dance remixes by Bills & Hurr, the Japanese Popstars, and Monarchy, none which would make one too impressed. To be fair, though, Kylie hasn’t had amazing remixes since her Light Years-era. The final track on the EP, a lounge version of “All the Lovers,” shows some improvement from the original, but all the production that was done after, it can’t save this song from the sappy trap it’s in.

“Better Than today” is perhaps not the best choice for a third single; Aphrodite songs such as the euphoric “Everything is Beautiful” or the eery “Closer” would have been much more colorful options for a release. It’s never too late, though, the momentum of Aphrodite still remains strong, both here in the states and across the pond.

Even with its faults, “Better Than Today” remains a stronger, better written, sonically diverse track than anything out there by Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, or Britney Spears have put out in the, well, ever. Proving once again that Kylie is still only second to Madonna when it comes to the perfection of pop.

Let's Get Loud

Good music not only requires amazing influences, it demands it. With such influences as The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Face, and The Jam, it is only destined that The Booze become a noteworthy rock band in their own right. And so they do. With their LP At Maximum Volume, the band has seemed to have groomed their sound to not only let their influences come through, but let a little of their own unique brand of music shine as well.

The final cut, “Borderline” may be, dare I say, their “Gimme Shelter.” The most haunting and stunning track on the LP, “Borderline” lets the juices from The Rolling Stone seep deep into their sound the most. Even the touch of gospel soul lies beneath the rugged production lines. But don’t be mistaken, every second of the track also let’s the personalities of Chaz Tolliver and Randy Michaels break through.

An Atlanta-based band, the dusty sounds of southern rock does spike up every now and then, sounding more Lynyrd Skynyrd or Ray Parker Jr. than anything else, making the perfect soundtrack to a lone bar in the middle of nowhere. This sound comes out more than usual on the tracks “Straight to Hell” and “The Scene,” songs that belongs on a jukebox.

“New York Women,” another Rolling Stones-esque track, doesn’t quite catch as much magic as “Borderline,” and that’s most likely because it sounds as if it could have been written by Mick Jagger himself. There’s nothing original about it, making it sound more like an homage than something new. But the band does get their most exciting on the track “Wild One,” and even though it sounds like it was written while listening to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (The Rolling Stones version, not the Aretha Franklin one!) it still has its own spirit.

Blogger Perez Hilton calls the band “equal parts Winehouse and some lo-fi garage band down the street," but anyone who actually listens to the record knows that simply isn’t true. Lo-Fi isn’t really how one should label their sound, and they are about as far from Winehouse as one could get (their better).

At the end of the day, this album is for rock purists who miss the old sound of bare bones rock. Luckily the sound of the neo-rock/punk/pop is no where to be found along the tracks on At Maximum Volume. If you want to hear something raw, exciting, punk without the pretention, and something completely real, it’s time to play The Booze’s new LP at maximum volume.