Music Review: The Veronicas – Hook Me Up

Hi there…

Back in 2005, Australian twin sisters Jessica and Lisa Origliasso released their first electropop-rock album The Secret Life of…. The album quickly went multi-platinum and the girls were off and running. So when their next album, Hook Me Up was released in 2008, it also went multi-platinum spawing a couple of top 5 singles in Australia. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the United States.

On June 25, 2009, the sisters performed “Take Me On the Floor” on the hit summer dance show So You Think You Can Dance, but this was not their only TV performance this year. They were on the CW’s 90210 in May and NBC‘s Miss USA 2009 pageant in April. Their “Revenge is Sweeter” tour across the U.S. just ended on August 1st, though it appears they’ll be back touring our shores headlining some concerts as well as supporting Kelly Clarkson in her “All I Ever Wanted” tour starting in October after a few dates in Australia and the U.K.

The Veronicas have an interesting no-nonsense approach to pop that will complement Kelly Clarkson’s brash pop style well. They mix occasional harmonies and traditional electronics – keyboards and guitars mostly – with lyrics empowering girls to expect more from themeselves and their relationships.

Though I enjoyed their performance on So You Think You Can Dance back in July, I have to say I guess I’m not quite the target audience The Veronicas are looking for. I definitely don’t have a “teenage girl” vibe about me (shocking, I know). I found their songs a bit repetitive, but did enjoy a few tracks on the album, including “This Is How It Feels” and “Take Me on the Floor”. As a word of warning, there are explicit lyrics on this album, so you might think twice for younger listeners.

When they performed “Take Me on the Floor” on So You Think You Can Dance, it seemed very poorly balanced sound-wise between the two sisters. But the album version has no such issues, instead providing a dance-worthy track that for some reason is now stuck in my brain.

And “This Is How It Feels” has almost a Blondie-ish feel, about a girl fighting a stalker. Though I can’t imagine having a stalker calling incessantly and never leaving a message, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. This is a take-no-prisoners approach to young relationships, going from love to hate as those involved question every decision. And the driving beat, keyboards, and backing guitar keeps it lighter than the topic might deserve, which made me have to listen a few times before I heard all the levels.

Based on their TV performances, I think The Veronicas would be a great duo to see live. So if they come to your town, I’d definitely check them out. And pick up Hook Me Up at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer. For more info, check out their website and MySpace page to take a listen!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up The Veronicas’ albums at Amazon below!

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TV Review: Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone

Hey there…

In the 1800s, explorers were the celebrities of their day. Dr. David Livingstone was one of those celebrities, exploring the interior of Africa in search of the headwaters of the Nile River. Along the way, he was the first European to see the splendors of Victoria Falls, he lost an arm during a lion attack, and disappeared during the Nile expedition around 1870.

Enter Henry Stanley of the New York Herald who was sent to find him and eventually succeeded, greeting the Dr. with the immortal line “Dr. Livingstone I presume” on November 10, 1871. Unfortunately, Livingstone died two years later.

Now in 2009, a group of adventurous souls will brave the African wilderness to retrace Stanley’s footsteps from Zanzibar to the village of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania with a compass, basic maps, skills, and the will to succeed. Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone documents the trials of their 970 mile journey across swamps, mountains, salt flats, and a whole lot more.

At the core of the expedition is Pasquale Scaturro, Mireya Mayor, Benedict Allen, and Kevin Sites. Together they have an amazing array of skills from leading expeditions up Mt. Everest to reporting on the disappearing species of Madagascar, from surviving 1000-mile treks across deserts to reporting from the front lines. Each has a unique perspective on what it means to be part of this historic expedition, but their personalities may pull them apart far too quickly to succeed.

Scaturro has been exploring the planet for more than 25 years. In 2001, he led blind climber Erik Weihenmayer to the summit of Mt. Everest as he led the National Federation of the Blind 2001 Everest Expedition. Time magazine called it one of the most successful Mt. Everest expeditions in history. He’s also an experienced river guide, having led multiple trips on world-class rivers in South America and Africa.

 

For the last 10 years, Mayor, a Ph.D. in anthropology, has been reporting on wildlife and habitat issues for National Geographic Television and exploring the world. She has dealt with remote jungles with poisonous snakes, gone diving with great white sharks, been charged by gorillas and chased by elephants.

Allen has been touring some of the world’s most inhospitable places, writing about it, and been depicted in no less than 6 major BBC TV series. Where Scaturro has been leading expeditions, Allen has been immersing himself in locations around the world and surviving 1,000-mile walks, alone except for his camels, across the Gobi Desert.

And finally, Sites is no stranger to danger either. He’s spent the last 7 years covering global war and disaster as a multimedia journalist for several national networks. As a solo journalist (or “SoJo”), he brings his tools with him to record, write, edit, and transmit his reports from wherever he is. He’s also a certified EMT.

So to say this team has “mad skills” would be an understatement. Each of them possesses amazing knowledge and experience in a number of fronts. And it will be very interesting to see who survives the journey when the series ends.

Produced by Mark Burnett, who has created hits like Survivor (CBS), The Apprentice (NBC), Rock Star (CBS) and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader (FOX), Burnett knows how to make successful television. And for me, this series plays a bit like Survivor on steroids, played by professionals.

From the very first episode, the team is challenged not only by the elements and the sheer scope of the journey, but by personality conflicts within the team. And from that first meeting, you can see that Pasquale and Benedict will be butting heads with very different styles of expeditions under their belt. What’s amazing is that each member has something to contribute – but it becomes a question of who’s willing to listen before something bad happens.

The goal is to move 970 miles in 30 days. Will they make it? Who will survive the journey? Tune in to find out.

Expedition Africa begins on May 31, 2009 at 10pm EST on the HISTORY channel. If you’re a fan of Survivor, this is one amazing trip to follow. Be sure to check it out.

–Fitz

p.s. Also check out the Expedition Pack contest!!

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Good news for fans of NBC’s “Chuck”

Hey all…

I was a big fan of Chuck last year, so I’m excited to hear from Hollywood Reporter that it’s been given another order for 9 additional episodes for the season!

According to HR, NBC‘s executives like where the show’s creator (Josh Schwartz) and his team are going with the season, which is great news for all us Chuck fans out there!

I’m also geeked up to see promos for NBC’s series “Life” from last year. (You can read my article about it from last year here.) It was a cop show with a sarcastic streak a mile wide. I can appreciate that. 🙂

So let’s hope that NBC can keep some of these great shows alive through the season. I’m hopeful that Knight Rider won’t be as bad as I think it’s going to be, but who knows…

Are there any shows you’re excited about coming back this year?

–Fitz

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