Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Introducing Jhameel

Ephemeral, airy, elemental, primal.  These are just a few descriptors to adequately classify the music that Jhameel creates.  It's like mercury in your hand as he slips and moves from one song to another.  A crash of cymbals or a thundering piano solo, this music is so different than anything else you've listened to.  It has an organic quality that allows it to be what you need and what you want in that explicit moment in time.

I ordered his entire discography off his website because it's amazing music and he deserves to be supported.  I can't say enough how cool the two albums (His Self Titled Album and The Human Condition) I've received so far are. (I haven't received the third because it's not been released yet ^_^).  His voice is so distinctive with a quiet power that at any minute could just shift and become something full of power and resonance.  At some times his music is strictly art and lives in a place where it transcends musical boundaries and fully embraces the avant garde and at other times it can touch you in places totally unexpected.  I am glad I have had the opportunity to get to know Jhameel's music and I can't wait until his next project so that I can be more inspired by him.

He's done a series of covers on youtube and I chose his cover of T-Pain's "Buy You a Drink" because I think it is an amazing showcase of his talent.  His story is pretty amazing to read, transforming from a very conservative Christian into an Indie Pop Star all by the way of a US Army Scholarship to Berkeley.  So excited to have another new artist I can listen to, especially one that helps me challenge what I believe in.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top 25 Musical Happenings of 2011

Last year I made a list of the top 25 different things in the music industry that made me stand up and take notice and I feel like I should keep the tradition going.  I don't really like picking strictly albums or singles because I don't think that's representative of what's happened in the industry.  I want to do more as far as live music next year so that I can post more about concerts so that's in my plans.  This blog has been a great part of my life and it's allowed me to hear music I might have never heard in the first place and I hope that you are able to learn about new artists as well from this blog.  If you've been reading my blog, you know I can be all over the place and this list is no different.  These aren't just albums or singles or anything in particular, just things that were pretty amazing.  Music is a super important piece of my life and I hope it's part of yours as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Garcon Garcon - Stay in Touch

I've had so much luck lately with Australian music.  Amy Meredith has a new single.  I've fallen in love with Rogue Trader and now I've been exposed to Garçon Garçon.  This Synth Pop duo made up of Nathan Mahon and Nick Tsirimokos hail from Sydney and has had some pretty major success so far in the remixing game.  They have an EP coming out in early 2012 in Australia and I hope it is going to be available overseas.  They have successfully stepped into the world of Synth Pop with vocals so dreamy and melodic that you are immediately brought in and held in place throughout the whole song.  The video for Stay in Touch is so visually stunning it is a perfect compliment to the video.  I am a fan of this group now and look forward to hearing more from them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Elephant's first live webchat

I've posted about them before on here and they are pretty amazing artists so you need to join in the action tonight if you can.  Join gay identical twin rappers Elephant at 11PM ET for their first ever live web chat here: http://www.stickam.com/elephantwave

They're raw, their hardcore and more than anything they are honest and tell it how it is.  If you want your conceptions to be changed about queer hip-hop, tune into this webchat.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fitz and the Tantrums - Don't Gotta Work It Out (FREE)

Just wanted to throw this out there again. If you haven't listened to Fitz and the Tantrums, you need to. As an incentive to get new listeners (which you shouldn't need any prompting, you should just do it) they are giving away "Don't Gotta Work It Out" for free. I hope it's like a drug and you have to go back and buy the album to get your fix because they deserve your support and you deserve some pretty groovin music in your life.

http://www.fitzandthetantrums.com - The download link is right on the front page.  Just go do it because I say so.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Levi Kreis - Live @ Joe's Pub

Soul, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Pop, Rock...all these could be used to describe Levi Kreis.  You could also throw in Tony Award Winner, Television Celebrity, Soundtrack Contributor and a whole host of other descriptors but what they all don't seem to do is properly define who/what Levi Kreis is all about.  If you want to do that, then you need to listen to this album to get maybe a 10th of a percent of understanding about this man.  This is where Levi is at his best, when it's him and a piano.  You don't hear people talking or singing along which tells me they were so enamored with the performance they couldn't do anything but sit and listen.  It's very easy to see how they are mesmerized because he is so engaging and charismatic and those are not things that can be bought or sold.  His voice is pure and unfiltered on this recording and it just makes you feel. 

Live @ Joe's Pub was recorded on February 28, 2011 at his last stop on the SidexSide tour where he performed along with Eric Himan and and Jason Anton.  I don't know anything about the venue but from the mastering on the album, it sounds like a small tight club where everyone was able to have their own experience with these artists in a manner that larger venues can't provide.  Levi takes you on a trip through his rise to popularity at this show and you get a glimpse into his process and how he became the artist he is today.

One of the first things you'll hear in this album is humility and honesty.  He speaks from a place that can only be described as heartfelt.  Being someone that had to come to terms with how a small portion of his life was going to affect his chance at his dream, Levi is exceptionally frank throughout the retelling of his past.  This type of honesty can only come from someone that has made peace with his parts and is totally all right where he is in life.

So much could be said about his music but the thing that always comes back to me every time  I listen to an album is how I feel like I've been taken to church and had my faith refilled a little more from each and every track.  I've talked about honesty and I'll throw integrity into the mix.  His voice speaks from a place of sincerity and makes you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself.  It helps you understand that you aren't alone in your struggles and that no matter how alone you are, there are people that have been there too.  I have so much respect for Levi I can't properly express it.  His message is about acceptance and love and that's something that we all could use a little more of each and every day.

Here's a video clip from the performance at Joe's.  It's a cover of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"

I've talked about it over and over. Don't steal this album. Go buy it on iTunes or Amazon or eMusic. Don't be a dick. It's the little guys that make a difference and help artists like Levi continue to do the work they do that makes our world a little bit brighter.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2Cellos - Smooth Criminal

For what this is, it's pretty damn amazing. It's 2 cellists taking a classical instrument and infusing new life into it and giving it some pretty far and wide stretching mass appeal.  I think it's amazing the talent these guys have but I don't know if  I could sit through an entire album much less a full concert.  They would have to get together will like some rock violinists or other members of the rock orchestral family and make a huge rock opera.  People online are saying they look like the Winchesters from Supernatural and I can see how they would say that.  The "Rock Face" they give during harder parts of the song cracks me up, but what else are they gonna do?  It's a fun track as is their cover of Guns and Roses, Welcome to the Jungle.

Go Radio - Lucky Street

Generally Alt-Rock or Alt-Pop isn't my bag to review on this blog, I'll let other bloggers do it much better than I can because they can make better generalizations and correlations between other groups but I'm going to make an exception for Tallahassee based musical group Go Radio's debut album Lucky Street.  I first heard this when I saw the video for "Goodnight Moon" and was immediately hooked on Jason Lancaster's voice and his vocals.  I started doing more research and found the video for "Any Other Heart" and again, was smitten.  One of the things that impressed me the most and was mostly entrancing was I thought he was Irish.  If you listen to the way he enunciates words on "Any Other Heart" there is some definite brogue coming through and being as much as an anglophile as I am, I had to hear more.  Color me surprised to find out that the ex-guitarist/ex-vocalist of The Mayday Parade was an American, born and bred.

This album is full of high energy and it is easily sustained throughout all 13 tracks with an ease that most seasoned acts have a hard time pulling off.  There are a number of ballads intermixed throughout the set and it all comes together to make a pretty cool album.  The track, "Forever my Father" is pretty great considering it has Jason's siblings accompanying him on it.  It's a pretty emotional song and it's done really well.  "Goodbye Moon" is probably my favorite song on the album because it full of emotion and is just a pretty sweet song.

I'd recommend this album to anyone that is looking for a bit more rock in their pop collection.  I'd go see them in concert without hesitation.  They've made a spot in my MP3 player and they'll be there for a while.  Plus Jason's a ginger and I have a huge soft spot for gingers :)

Cher Lloyd - Sticks and Stones

Placing 4th in this year's X-Factor, Cher Lloyd got a recording contract from Simon Cowell on his SyCo label. I don't care what you think about Simon Cowell, he knows music and has had remarkable success propelling acts to the top (Leona Lewis anyone?).  Her debut album, Sticks and Stones is full on twee-pop realized.  What sets her apart from other "Twee-pop" acts like Eliza Doolittle or Lily Allen is that she is also a pretty talented rapper.  On several of the songs she easily transitions from rapping to singing like most of us do putting on our clothes.  She's got some pretty impressive guests on the album in the form of Busta Rhymes, Carolina Liar and Mike Posner.  It's a super fun album and from start to finish and doesn't really offer anything new to the game.  She takes what she knows how to do and honors those standards.

If you saw her on X-Factor, then you'll probably be a fan of the album and what she has to offer.  New fans are going to take a little convincing to come around but I think it's not going to be to terribly hard.  The singles that have been released so far are "Swagger Jagger" and "With Ur Love". Swagger Jagger is an interesting song in that the chorus and the hook are nothing more than the children's song "Oh My Darling Clementine" and for me this took away from the song and made it more difficult to like.  However, she redeemed herself somewhat on "With  Ur Love" because it's more of an all out Pop song.  My favorite track on the album would have to be "Grow Up" because I like hearing her rap and the cameo by Busta Rhymes is pretty cool.  "Dub on the Track" is supposed to be her harder side but to me it just kind of tries to hard.  The repetition of "I'm the kind of girl that puts dub on the track" doesn't really do it for me and makes me ask, who are you trying to convince?

The album isn't perfect but it takes what it does and does well with it.  It's fun and playful and you can dance to it.  The remixes of the songs are going to be killer and will probably sound amazing in clubs.  Give it a listen on Spotify and see what you think.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Ice Choir - Two Rings

Picture yourself right in the middle of the Nu-Romantic movement in London in 1982. You could wander into any club and hear this track pounding from the speakers while the patrons look maudlin and pine over love lost and love yet to be had. Somewhere there is a raven haired girl sitting in the bar with a copy of Wuthering Heights or something by Sylvia Plath. People talking about Morrissey and the new album by The Cure. This song is so moody and melodramatic and it's awesome and more incredibly, they are a Brooklyn based band. This new synth pop movement has made me so happy because it all appeals to every sensibility I have. I look forward to hearing much more from these guys.

Little Boots - Shake

So I'm a bit late to the game with this but I'm damn glad I showed up for the party. Listen to the throbbing bass line and the crazy ass breakdowns. I am so impressed with Little Boots on this I can't properly express it. It is so big and mindblowing. It's a bit different than her first album only because it has more of an ass shaking vibe to it. It's a super hot track that would sound amazing to hear in a club. Big ups to LB on this track!!!

Penguin Prison - Penguin Prison

There are times when you can just sit back and trust an artist.  It's these times when you don't mind turning all control over to them and letting them do what they do best.  I wish these moments came more often but when they do happen, you cherish them because they are all the more special.  As corny as those two sentences are, when talking about the debut album from Penguin Prison, every word is true.  He knows what he's doing and there aren't many people that can work their way around a synthesizer like he can.  Chris Glover grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and had some pretty diverse musical influences ranging from Johnny Cash to Aaron Neville.  Being in New York City, he was influenced by the city and the culture and everyone around him.
Those influences have made a huge impact in his musical career and you can hear them coming through in his music.  Over the past handful of years, he has been releasing single after single and finally has compiled them all into an amazing album that is nothing more than pure synthpop magic.  From the opening beat in Don't Fuck With My Money to the outro of Someone Got Everything, this album defied every expectation I had of it. The first single I heard a year or so ago was Fair Warning and I immediately fell in love with his talent and the message he represented in his music.  The album doesn't reinvent the wheel but it takes the best of the genre and makes the best possible use of all the tools available.  There isn't a low point in the album and it's one of the only albums in a long time that I can just throw on and listen from start to finish.  A Funny Thing is one of the high points in the album and I think it's probably one of my favorite tracks.  The video below is an exclusive video performance he did in Paris of A Funny Thing.   Take a minute to listen to it and then go buy the album.  It's well worth it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Justin Utley - Nothing This Real

Since I found out this CD was going to be released, I have been eagerly awaiting it.  I fell in love with Justin's story and his music and his message and became a huge fan with his first album, "Runaway".  With Justin, there is something about him that is so familiar.  It's not that he's the "boy next door" per say but he seems to be the conglomeration of all the boys next door all across the country.  He's the guy that is always doing a solid for someone else and mending fences when no one else is willing to.  He's the guy that always has a smile for you even though he's probably not having the best of day because he doesn't want to burden you will his issues.  The best art is born from tragedy and life experience and it makes me feel for Justin because he is someone that has had more experience that most people in the world will have in a small portion of their lives and this album seems to be born from those experiences in his life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penguin Prison - Don't Fuck With My Money

I can make all kinds of statements about this video being filmed at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration but all I'm gonna say it was a damn smart idea. It's totally socially relevant and it is going to be a cause that their fans are already behind so it's like two great tastes that go great together. The song is a pretty awesome track off their self titled album. Chris Glover, aka Penguin Prison does an amazing job on the vocals on this track and the video is really amazing. Chris says this about the song/video:
“I wrote and recorded “Don’t F*** With My Money” some time before the Occupy Wall Street protest began but I felt that some of the lyrics reflected the sentiments that a lot of people have right now, ” Glover says. “Inspired by OWS and by the other protests that have sprung up all over the world, I decided to film a video for ‘Don’t F*** With My Money’ at the Occupy Wall Street March that went from Zuccotti Park to Times Square.”
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/penguinprison
Twitter: http://twitter.com/penguinprison
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/PenguinPrison

The Good Natured - Skeleton

Upon first listen, "Skeleton" by The Good Natured is a super infectious synth pop album with track after track that will get stuck in your head.  But when you listen right below the surface, you'll hear a bit of darkness trying to get out.  Not a lot of darkness, think of this more as "I Can't Believe It's Not Siouxsie and the Banshees".  It's Darkwave-lite.  It's 80s goth culture with training wheels.  Now I realize what I just typed and how hokey and gimmicky that can sound, but if you give it a shot, you'll probably not be disappointed. To some extent, even some of Sarah's visuals are evocative of Our Lady of Melancholy, Miss Sioux, herself.  This is an outstanding way to introduce people to this type of music because The Good Natured make it very ground floor.  You can step right into their sound and you won't feel intimidated.

There are quite a few things about this EP that I like.  Each song has it's own personality and they are all a bit different from each other.  There is an overarching theme through the entire record so it's not disjointed and you have a good sense of who The Good Natured are by the end of the 6 tracks and a remix.  Skeleton,  the single, not the album title, was an amazing choice by the band.  It's more mainstream and has more mass appeal than songs like Hourglass or Be My Animal.  It's an earworm of a song and the chorus will get stuck in your head without trying.  Sarah's vocals are another thing I really like.  Most British accents fade away but not hers.  It is loud and proud and gives the album more depth.  It's one of those things where people say even a British accent can class the joint up and it does.  I dig this album and know it's going to stay in heavy rotation in my library for quite some time.  Do yourself a favor and pick it up because it's super fun and it'll have you digging out your Concrete Blonde and Bauhaus albums before you know it.

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/the-good-natured
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thegoodnatured
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGoodNaturedVEVO

Monday, November 14, 2011

Matt Zarley - Perfect

Matt's follow-up single to W.T.F. is Perfect. a song about finding the "perfect" person.  Perfect takes on a very subjective meaning because the song isn't about physical perfection or mental well being or any of that.  It's about realizing that sometimes perfect isn't about traits and features, it's about those imperfections that you see and bring someone closer to being who they should be, not what you want them to be.  It's about meeting that person and realizing that outside of all their own perceived faults, they are the person that helps to make you, well...you and you help them to see they are everything they need to be in order to be a better person.  We aren't all lucky enough to find this person in our lives but when we do, it's a magical thing that can really never be duplicated.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Matt has an uncanny knack for taking everything that you feel and distilling it into an amazing piece of art.  The video for the song echos the sentiment laid out in the track and the visuals are pretty amazing.  Everyone looks amazingly happy and it just gives the song an injection of positivity that helps propel it to a higher plane.

Matt's next single is going to be Trust Me,  a super sexy anthem about letting your guard down and trying something new.  I hope that the video for that has a treatment as outstanding as what has been done for the previous two singles because it's one of my favorite songs on the album.  And Matt is quickly moving up in my estimation of my favorite independent artists.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turning Page - Sleeping at Last

Not only can I not wait for this movie to come out, I can't wait until the day when I feel these feelings for someone again. This song is beautiful and it is so full of emotion. Edward and Bella may not be the most appropriate example for a stable, loving relationship but this song makes me feel things that I haven't felt in a while. Don't misunderstand me, I still miss Sean...I miss him every day but sometimes that loneliness can be a bit much to bear so I want to feel these feelings again. I need to feel these feelings again.  This is a gorgeous example of a fan made video and I applaud the creator.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sarah Burgess - Sassy

Every now and then a song comes along that is nothing more than cotton candy but if you're super lucky, that cotton candy has a bite that you weren't expecting. On the surface you could perceive Sassy as nothing more than that; a super poppy bubble gum track that leaves you still wanting more but if you dig a little deeper, Sarah's vocals on this track give it a much needed infusion of depth.  I love bubble gum pop more than most people and this song does not let me down.  From the beginning to the end, you just want to bob your head and move your feet.  Sarah is another in the long line of artists from American Idol that actually has talent and should be more in the spotlight than she is.  And with a track like Sassy, she needs mainstream radio play.

Amy Meredith - Pick Up Your Tricks

The new single from these hot alt-rock boys from the land down under was released today. Pick Up Your Tricks shows a new sound compared to their previous release.  It has more of an electronic/synth vibe to it but I think it really stays true to their sound.  The chorus is big and over the top and Christian's vocals just shine.  The video shows the band members and I assume their girlfriends showing their tricks.  It's a super fun song and the video matches the vibe of the song.  I can't wait until the full album because they are by far one of my most favorite bands.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lana Del Rey - Video Games

The voice that comes out of this 25 year old woman is damn near criminal.  I just don't understand how something so old and so soulful can come out of someone so young.  It's just blows my mind.  Her voice is so comfortable and easy that it just slips over you like a warm blanket on a cold winter day.  It's just perfect.  She gets her stage name from combining Lana Turner and Ford Del Rey because her manager felt her musical style was reminiscent of the old style Hollywood glamour that escapes us today. This song is so dreamy and melodic that you can just close your eyes and drift through the track.  I purchased her EP and both tracks showcase her voice beautifully.  I hope that she works with amazing producers because there's the potential she could eventually become one note.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Samantha Newark - Something Good

Most people won't have a clue who Samantha Newark is because you've never really seen her face.  Her voice, however spoke to millions of children growing up in the 80s and for me; it's a voice that brings back so many memories of simpler days and much more of a carefree attitude.  A time when you would wake up at 6 AM on a Saturday morning with a bowl of your favorite cereal and sit in front of the television until noon and then you were kicked outside to go play.  During that time, one of the greatest of things in the world was Jem.  I am going to make my one obligatory, "Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous" because she was.  The cartoon was so far ahead of it's time and it had something for everyone.  It was full of amazing music, action and adventure, love and romance and most importantly friendship.  The stories were actually pretty mature without being preachy and they were just fun.  To this day, I consider myself a Jem Boy and I will be until I die.  Samantha Newark was the speaking voice of Jem and her civilian alter ego, Jerica.  If you aren't familiar with Jem, you can find her all over the web so I won't go into it.  I'll post some links at the end of this post to give you head start if you need it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Colton Ford - Let Me Live Again

Yes, Colton Ford is smoking hot. Yes, he was a former porn star. Good...we've gotten that out of the way. Moreover, Colton Ford is a hell of a vocalist. I've been a fan of him ever since his single Everything. I own physical copies of both of this CDs and they stay in heavy rotation in my library. His covers of "Ashes to Ashes" and "With Every Heartbeat" are in my top 50 songs of all time. I love to hear his voice and I think he can do amazing things.

However, I want to hear his voice. I understand that some digital clean up may be needed every now and then but I want to hear him, One of my most favorite videos has done was for his cover of Alicia Key's "No One" because it is stripped down and pure. I get that in the music industry you have to make yourself marketable and the tracks that have been pumped up with super energy and bigger than life dance beats are going to give him a place on the circuit scene but I want more for him. I want him to be more than a dance artist. I want him to be an artist that can flow easily from the shores of Ibiza to a quiet evening at home. I know that he has the vocal talent to pull it off, I just wish his production team felt he same way.

"Let Me Live Again" is a super danceable track that actually has a point of view and some clear cut emotion behind the throbbing base.  It's intentions are there and it makes you want to get up and dance but it's actually a super sweet song that you want it to be sung to you.  It reminds me a bit of "Music Again" by Adam Lambert in that it is a song of empowerment that can only be realized through someone else's eyes.  How many times have you had a moment where you wish someone could see themselves the way you do.  That's the vibe I get from the lyrics.  Things were going ok, but now that I've met you...I have something to live for.  I love the energy of the song and I hope that it gets a ton of airplay and club play and maybe people will be able to judge Colton as an artist not as a commodity.  Again, super freaking sexy....but he's so much more and I am glad to see the inner parts of him that he lets us see through his music.

Osvaldo Supino - When I Think About Sex

I have truly become a fan of all music from all over the world.  Some of my most favorite bands are Swedish or Australian, so when I get the opportunity to open up a new country and have a new experience, I do so with the same excitement that I did as a kid on Christmas.  This was the same kind of energy I had when I came across Osvaldo Supino who hails from Italy.  I haven't gotten to add an Italian artist to the mix and this is a pretty awesome place to start.  The majority of his website is in Italian and I don't speak it so it's hard to learn about him from there.  What I do know is he is generating some steam and has a bit of controversy in his bag of tricks.  I like that because it makes him a bit unpredictable and exciting.

The track that I picked up on youtube (and is featured below) is a teaser for the release of the full song on iTunes.  I however came late to the party because it was released today and I didn't get much teasing. (ah ha, you like that...how I threw a sexual innuendo in a review of a track about sex)  I think that when I get to hear the whole track I am going to be giggling like a school girl because the teaser is fun and full of promise.

The lyrics are so cheeky and just make me smile ear to ear because they are not only tinged with a bit of naughtiness but there is an innocence that comes through his voice that gives the song an added layer of sex appeal. And plus who doesn't want to be the object of someone else's sexual fantasy.  I think the validation that you are that person has enough universal appeal that this song could be a huge club hit.  Not only that but there is enough bass pounding through the track to vibrate you in places you hadn't thought about.  I can't wait to hear the whole track so that I can talk more about it because I think you are all going to like it.

It always amazes me when artists that use English as a second language sing in English because when it's good and they are on most of the time it doesn't sound like rote memorization or muscle memory.  This is the same with Osvaldo, you can hear his accent bleeding through...like Sergey Lazarev or Maja Ivarsson from The Sounds and it gives the track another added layer of flavor and dimension.  Give the video a shot and let me know what you think.  I want to hear more from him and I hope his career is taking off in Italy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kids at the Bar, K.Flay, The Limousines and The Sounds at The Mad Hatter in Cincinnati

Last night was possibly one of the most amazing concerts I think I've been to.  I've not been to a lot of concerts but a wide variety so this is another amazing entry in my book.  First and foremost; the venue, The Mad Hatter was one of the best I have ever been in.  All 4 acts were heavy on synth and electro so by nature of the beast the bass was going to be heavy all night long and the speakers and the acoustics in the building never once felt overwrought or full of distortion.  There was enough room for everyone and I really didn't feel too crowded.  We stayed right around 20-25 feet from the stage at any given time so we were able to be right near the acts.  Drinks were priced about the same as any other venue that caters to live bands like this type of show.  So now onto the show itself...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alex Clare - The Lateness of the Hour

I was curious when I read a tweet from Blake Lewis about this amazing album was so I immediately started researching him.  This man is one of the most talented artists I have found in quite sometime.  If you take a soul singer and give him some of the most powerful lyrics I've heard in some time then you give him producers like Switch and Diplo and you have a style of music that is new, innovative and thought provoking.  Alex Clare, a native Londoner has brought a level of sophistication and style to the musical community that I haven't experienced in a long time.

The album comes out of the gate swinging with a Dancehall inspired power anthem in the form of "Up All Night".  The song is a raucous adventure that builds and swells through the entire 3 minutes and leaves you exhausted at end of the track.  This song has some pretty amazing use of Alex's voice as it is fast and shows how he can keep pace with the ragga feel laid down by the producers.  The rest of the album is a showcase of where he can go and what he can do.  "Treading Water" is so full of passion and remorse of a man confronted with his past indiscretions when he sees a woman that reminds him of an ex.  The beat throbs and pushes the song forward at almost breakneck speeds that only add to the over all feeling of being overwhelmed.  Hummingbird is another example of how versatile Alex's vocal range can be.  For me, this song is actually an auditory illustration of  a Hummingbird in mid air, it darts and weaves all over the place and everywhere the song goes, you have to follow it.  I think other shining examples of the range on this album come from the super sexy, "Hands are Clever" which is a totally different vibe than anything else on the album.  This track is more of an earthy, doing your thing kind of track that would make Earth, Wind and Fire proud to call it one of their own.  It's more on the funky side of soul and it's not out of place on the album at all.  "I Love You" is a stripped down vocal exercise in tenderness that Alex belts out with ease and effortlessness.

The album is outstanding and the only problem I have is that it's not actually available for purchase in the United States without buying an expensive import.  It's my issue that I wish would be corrected.  I think because of the internet, the music industry needs to realize that they really aren't dealing with a localized national market and from the go they need to make the music available internationally because that's the influence the internet has created.  Watch his videos on youtube, fan him on Facebook and maybe they will open up the records sales to America so that I can patronize him and give him my money as well, because I want to support him and his endeavors.

Track Listing

1. Up All Night
2. Treading Water
3. Relax My Beloved
4. Too Close
5. When Doves Cry
6. Humming Bird
7. Hands Are Clever
8. Tight Rope
9. Whispering
10. I Love You
11. Sanctuary
12. I Won't Let You Down

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fitz and the Tantrums - Pickin up the Pieces

Sometimes you need to throw an album on and groove.  You don't need high energy beats or melancholy moods, you just want to sit in a chair and get grimey with it.  Just get down and let the music handle all the hard business for you.  In their debut release, Fitz and the Tantrums do just that; from the opening bass and organ salvo of "Breakin the Chains of Love" to smokey, sultry laid back forlorn vibe of "Tighter" the over all feeling on Pickin Up the Pieces  is one that will just let you float along bobbing your head.  Some things that impress me the most about this album is the use of the organ, the lack of guitar and the baritone sax.  These instruments aren't necessarily forboden in the world of pop music but they just aren't your standard go to instruments.  I think that if you take everything that was great about the Motown sound, wrap it up with the sensibilities of Daryl Hall and John Oates and spin it with a modern message, you will have everything that Fitz sets out to do.

I think that they haven't reinvented the wheel, just added a much needed injection of soul into it.  Today's music scene is so littered with samples and overwrought production, that when something like this comes along, it makes you feel good.  It's like a palate cleanser that takes all the excess junk and washes it away.  I don't really think there is one song on this album that I don't like.  And it's one of the handful of records that I have gotten my hands on lately that I am damn glad I bought.  The combination of Michael Fitzgerald and Noelle Scaggs on the vocals add so much depth of character and flavor it just gives the album a ton of body.  I don't think the band would do as well if it were just Fitz or Noelle, it has to be both of them in order to work properly. And work properly it does.  The singles that have been released are "MoneyGrabber" and  "Don't Gotta Work it Out".  Both are perfectly fit to be singles and they have a similar enough vibe to make them a cohesive unit off the same album but different enough for them to stand on their own.

Just to prove they are awesome, here's a live version of MoneyGrabber with Daryl Hall. I mean how much cooler can you be. It's an awesome album when you need a break from all the other chaos and noise that the music industry is throwing your way. I've said it before with other albums, do yourself a favor and pick it up. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Aqua - Meglomania

So before there was a Katy Perry or a Lady Gaga there was Lene Nystrøm and the boys in Aqua.  Their brand of feel good, up tempo, quirky pop has filled the airwaves for over a decade and they have a super strong international following to prove it.  I feel like a total tool because they released an album this year and I had no idea until this week.  I am a fan, have been, always will be and I was super pumped to listen to this project.  I ran to youtube first and searched for videos from the album and found 2, How R U Doin and Playmate to Jesus.  They are the first 2 singles released from the album and I sat and watched enthralled because again, I am a huge fan.  I was not let down by either video and felt they were both worthy editions to the Aqua discography.

How R U Doin is in the same vein as the majority of radio type songs that Aqua has released, a super catchy pop song with back and forth vocals between Lene and Rene.  The video is a post apocalyptic car chase between Lene and Rene and it's a pretty awesome companion to the song.

Playmate to Jesus was an outstanding choice for a second single because it is in direct opposition to the video for How R U Doin.  Not many people think of Aqua as being a band that makes music that is thoughtful and even.  If you look at songs like Turn Back Time you would know they can make music that isn't poppy and bubbly.

Track Listing

Playmate to Jesus
Dirty Little Pop Song
Kill Myself
Like a Robot
Viva Las Vegas
No Party Patrol
Come n' Get It
Sucker for a Superstar
Be My Saviour Tonight
How R U Doin?
If the World Didn't Suck (We Would All Fall Off)

I love all the songs because they all have a point of view.  Lene's voice has never been stronger and the production values are on par with any other pop album released today.  The only song on the album I wasn't totally in love with was Viva Las Vegas because I'm just not a fan of songs like this that are more like a song that was created by the Nevada tourist board to get people to come visit beautiful Las Vegas.

Like a Robot, Playmate to Jesus, If the World Didn't Suck (We Would All Fall Off) are my favorite songs and I think they have the biggest point of view.  Like a Robot totally took me by surprise and I won't spoil it for you if you take the opportunity to listen to it.

It's a great pop album and an outstanding addition to their discography.  I wish everyone liked them as much as I do because they deserve to be respected as a real group and not just a novelty act that released Barbie Girl.

Son of a Kid - Destroy, Destroy

Destroy, Destroy by Set Fire Run

Every so often I have to post a song by Son of a Kid.  This was created back when they were still Set Fire Run but it is an amazing song.  Probably one of my most favorites.  I think you should give this a listen then you should follow them on all social media outlets possible.  Their music has so much depth, not only in the melody but in the artistry behind it as well.  The vocals are always top notch and the quality of the recordings are spot on.  This band needs to be signed by a record label so they can tour and bring all this amazing energy to the world.

Yes, I am a bit biased because I love everything they do.  An act with this much passion for the creation of art should be on the top of everyone's list.  Listen to the track, you'll dig it....I promise.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Young Professionals - 9:00 to 17:00, 17:00 to Whenever

I come in from school one day to see a media mailing envelope on the table for me with a return address of Tel Aviv. That's in Israel for those of you that may not know. Israel, man. I mean...wow. At first I didn't want to open it because I was so excited and I didn't want to destroy the envelope. But I wanted the CD inside more than not opening it. So open it I did.

Concept albums can either go one of two ways. They can be amazing and leave you awestruck or they can just be horrid wastes of time that no one but the artist get. 9:00 to 17:00, 17:00 to Whenever is the former. This album is so amazing I can't begin to fully express how awesome it is. The album takes you through the day of a young professional. The official release says, "The album sports an original concept, with each track designated to accompany an hour in the day of a Young Professional - from barely awake email check, to morning coffee, a drive to the office, lunch break to dinner, straight through to the bar, club and after-party."

The first two singles off the album (D.I.S.C.O and 20 Seconds) come from the 17:00 to Whenever portion of the album and as soon as the album makes the switch from work to play, you can tell. The beats are harder, the tempo is faster and there is a no holds barred attitude that come along with the tracks. Ivri Lider has an amazing grasp of the English language and I think it was a bold move on their part to release it as an English language album. There are more notable tracks on the album than forgettable. With Me is clearly the best choice to open the album and it is probably my most favorite of all the tracks. It is a slow, melodic track that eases you into the day in the life of a Young Professional. "I know I might take you home and watch you fall asleep", Ivri says as he is opening himself up to a chance at love. Dirty Message is a cheeky take on sexting between Ivri and his boyfriend as he sneaks off to the bathroom to take dirty pictures. Fuck off Berlin is a bawdy track that took me by surprise and I love it.

I think what amazes me the most is how honest this album is. I think I was naive about what this type of album would sound like and each and every expectation was shattered. I have since researched Ivri Lider and he makes some of the most amazing music. I don't know how much the cultural difference plays on my enjoyment of his music because I know there are sentiments and values that are different when dealing with what I have been exposed to and what he has been. This is probably one of the best albums you'll purchase. That I can guarantee. Support the independent artist because they are amazing and you will not be disappointed.


Drive Soundtrack

It's been a long time since a movie soundtrack encompassed everything set forth in a movie and the soundtrack to the movie Drive does just that.  I don't know if this movie will be up for Oscar contention but I think it is hands down one of the best movies I've seen this year.  I had an expectation of what I thought the movie would be about and I was totally wrong in the best way possible.  The movie is gritty and dirty with a Spaghetti Western type of feel.  Ryan Gosling plays The Driver and like other protagonists from films of the genre, he is a man of few words but much more action. The album is both the soundtrack and the score in one disc.  The first 5 tracks are the songs used through the movie and the remaining tracks are the score.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Justin Utley - A Primer

You are raised by your parents and taught wrong from right.  Some families attend church and spend time building their faith and through that faith, they find a place in this world.  But what happens when your faith begins to falter and lets you down?  I remember when I moved back to Tennessee at the age of 18 to live with my mother she wanted me to go to church with her so I could make friends.  This seemed like a valid argument so I did.  We started going to a Church of God and I did start meeting people my age and I even joined the youth group.  I attended meetings and pot lucks and even went on camping trips with these people.  It wasn't until I started having problems reconciling my feelings about being gay and what we were being taught that I realized something wasn't fitting right.  The pastor at the church was a super friendly, young man that just exuded charisma and you had no choice but to like him (and I did).  So I decided I needed to talk to him and maybe try to come to some balance between my budding faith and my sexuality.

I had been told that there are 3 people you can talk to in life about your problems; your preacher, your hairdresser and your bartender.  Since I wasn't old enough to go to a bar and I didn't have a steady hairdresser I figured the best thing to do was to talk to my preacher.  I shared with him the feelings that were causing so much conflict in my life and magically after that conversation - he really didn't want to have much to do with me anymore.  He didn't want to offer additional counseling or offer conversion therapy, he simply didn't want to have anything to do with me.  So I quit the church and never looked back.

Unlike my experience, Justin Utley experienced something far more heinous and sinister at the hands of the people he placed his faith in.  Justin was raised in the Mormon church and did everything he could to be an active member of his congregation.  He used his music as part of the church and sang as a contemporary Christian singer.  He went on his mission for the church and spent 2 years away from his family and friends.  Being the best Mormon he could was so important to him.  He began to have issues with the church when his sexuality and religious beliefs started conflicting.  Again, trying to be the best Mormon he could, he repressed his feelings and continued his service with the church.  It wasn't until his Bishop urged him into joining a same-sex reformation program called Evergreen.  He stayed at Evergreen for two years undergoing different treatments in order to get the gay out of him until he met Brent and they both left the treatment program together.  He was happy in his decision until Brent passed away from a heart attack 6 months later.  He went back to his church because he needed comfort and his Bishop told him that the heart attack was God's way of punishing Brent for his impure lifestyle.  At that point in time, he realized that the church did not need him.

In 2005, Justin took all of his experiences up until that point and crafted his debut album, Runaway.  This album is easily one of my top 10 albums of my life.  It is always in heavy rotation and never leaves my iPod.  The album is one of the most honest, laid bare, albums I've heard in a long time.  The tracks are crafted in a way that touch every part of me.  There are a few artists that have the ability to fully harness their experiences and put them out for all to see.  This album is deceptively simple.  There isn't an over abundance of production and for an artist like Justin, you don't need vocoders and autotune.  Just Justin alone with a guitar is enough.  For that matter, I think he could sing the phone book and deliver it with honesty and integrity.  So the album is made up of 10 tracks that range from pure pop to alt country and everything in between.  From the piano driven, Apology to the market ready Little White Lies, this album will speak to experiences that you didn't know you had.  I have sat and listened to this album from stat to finish and I cannot find one misstep on his part.  I think Crash and Burn and Goodbye Goodbye are my 2 favorite tracks but I love Hold You for the dash of saccharine he has sprinkled on the lyrics.

Justin has a new album coming out soon and I think that you should go to his website and at least listen to the tracks posted there.  He has had the opportunity of traveling around the country and even internationally playing for people.  He was at Pride in Stockholm, Sweden this year and he destroyed the audience with his song, Stand for Something.

Better yet, please go buy Runaway. You won't regret it if you are a fan of honest, American music.  He is wonderful and I hate the fact he has gone through the things that he has but I am glad he has put it out there for us to have.  I don't know how many times a song has come on that echoed what I was feeling at that point in time.  Buy this album and then get his next album and the ones after that and support independent artists because they need to be supported.

Website:  http://www.justinutley.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/justinutleymusic
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/justinutleymusic
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JustinUtley
Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/justinutley

Scott Fernandez - I Speak London Very Best...

I Speak London Very Best... by Scott Fernandez

Here's the deal.  What you're listening to is 4.26 minutes of pure unadulterated artistry on a 4 string bass.  That's right.  There are only 4 strings that he used to do this.  I am now in utter awe of his talent.  I don't know many musicians that can do the things that Scott does with his bass.  This song to me is very appealing right now because it's very frenetic.  The layering he's done and the overlapping of  the 2 almost separate tracks gives this piece a very schizophrenic feeling.  It's moody and a little bit manic in places.  The song has a point of view and it makes damn sure you know about it.  It's a bit all over the place but it takes talent to do that and mean for it to happen.  I don't want to attempt to sound all educated about technique and style but I know that this man has skill to do what he does.  It's got a car chase feeling to it, like from a Guy Richie film.  It's action oriented and even has a Spanish influence like our hero has been driving across Europe and now things are winding down in the streets of London.

Give it a listen and actually listen to it.  Don't just hear it but listen for the subtle nuances that Scott has layered into it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Adamski Kid - I Dance Alone

The Adamski Kid is a loud, raucous electro riot that assaults all your senses at once. In this first release, he comes screaming out of the gate at a breakneck pace that if you don't keep up will leave you in the dirt. The first time I listened to it, I really didn't know what to do with it because it is a bit jarring but after a couple of listens, it's a track that you have to ease into slowly and once you get settled into it, you can appreciate the subtle nuances that are layered upon themselves to make such a huge sound in this track. There are so many influences in this track that all come together to form a seamless piece of artistry that makes you listen to it again and again. I hear PiL, I hear the Clash, I hear about of Boy George and I hear something altogether new. The visuals are stunning and everything from Adamski's red kicks to his African inspired head wear all lead to the overall feeling of frenetic energy the video expresses. You're gonna listen to it over and over because it's mesmerizing and you want to know more. I am a huge fan of The Adamski Kid and I have hopes that he will get the proper attention he needs.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kendall - Do You Know How Sexy You Are

Kendall's latest video for his track, Do You Know How Sexy You Are was released today on YouTube and it takes you on a whirling dervish of a ride through Roy's Campground in Collins, Georgia.  The song is an ode to the person in your life to let them know just exactly what they mean because sometimes it is an awesome thing to remind him that yes, in fact he is the one that makes your heart go pitter pat and makes you want to frolic through the camp.  What I think is most incredible about this video, second to the song, are Kendall's eyes.  I've known they were pretty amazing all along but they are so freaking blue in this video it's all I could look at.

Throughout my relationship with Sean, he would remind me over and over that I was not only sexy but a sexual being and I think those are things that we really can't see in ourselves and it is a wonderful thing when someone tells you and it does feel good to know that even in old PJs and house shoes, even when you feel like utter hell on a stick, there is someone that can look past all that and see you for you and know that you are the most important thing in the world.  This song is a 3:08 reminder of that and I for one would like to thank Mr. Kelly for that reminder because more often than not there are those of us that could use it every now and then.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Son of a Kid - Run Sucker Run

"Run, Run, Run before I lose myself and hurt someone", Alx says in this powerful ode to infidelity.  He has been cheated on and he is now issuing a warning to the man that has caused this grievous harm.  He's generally not a jealous man but this time, he's through.  I have been a fan of this band for over a year now and the music they are consistently putting out needs to be heard by as many people as possible,  I've heard that getting into the Swedish music scene can be daunting but for the love of Pete, someone give them a record deal.  There aren't many groups in the world today that are as capable and as competent as Son of a Kid and I would put my musical future well within their hands because they are going to take me where I need to go.

This single is so good and the musicality in conjunction with Alx's lyrics are just top notch.  Listen to this group, fan them on Facebook, watch their videos on Youtube and make everyone you know aware at just how amazing they are.  You will not be disappointed and I want a full fledged album from them.  Be a fan and show amazing amounts of support.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Matt Zarley - Change Begins With Me

Every so often, there is an artist that has a sound that just wraps you up in comfort and warmth that you feel like you've known each other for years. Matt Zarley is one of those artists. I stumbled across him when I found his video for Had I Known on Youtube after my boyfriend of 11 years passed away. The first time I watched the video, I felt as if I had been hit by a truck because the lyrics resonated so deep with me. The song is directed more toward someone during a break up but it parallels the feelings I had after Sean passed away. The song is about the regrets of not knowing that things were going to come to an end and if he had known, things would have been done very differently. That regret and guilt was so overwhelming to me because I didn't know that he was going to pass away and I didn't know that I wouldn't have time for "a real goodbye". So after I picked myself up off the floor and process what I had just listened to, I proceeded to track down all the information and music from Matt that I could. I went back and bought his entire library and immersed myself in his music.

His new release, Change Begins with Me, is an album that will speak to every part of you. The cheated on part, the broken up part, the resilient part, the new love part, the grateful part. There is something honest and good about his music. The first single to be released was WTF which is an absolute fun ride of a song that takes a subject that is pretty serious in the form of infidelity and gives it a danceable beat.  The video for the single is big and splash and full of beautiful men that make you tap your toe and root for Matt as his new beau gets his comeuppance.  The album is put together so well and the songs and their placement in the line up are so thoughtfully arranged.  If you are having a bad day, there is a song that is there for you.  If you are having an awesome day and want to express how you feel about that person in your life, there's a song for that.  It's been a long time since I could put an album on that from start to finish, touches every part of me.

Matt has announced the next two singles as Perfect and Trust Me.  Perfect is and incredible ballad that expresses a feeling that most of us have probably had.  Even though you may not think so but there is someone out there that thinks you are perfect in every way.  Trust Me is a super sexy, sultry song about trying something new and letting your guard down with your significant other.  I can't wait to see both videos because they are going to be spectacular.

The album is so worth it and I am so glad that I took the opportunity to bring it into my life.  Matt Zarley has a beautiful heart and he has an uncanny knack for expressing feelings and emotions that we've all had at one point in time or another.  This isn't just a pop album it's a statement of caring and love and you can feel everything that has been put in to it as Matt has laid his soul bare for all to see.  Take the opportunity and pick up this album.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I got a present!!

I started writing this last night but was just exhausted so I had to finish this morning.  I checked the mail yesterday and to my delight I found a mass media envelope all the way from New York, New York. Inside the envelope were the above CDs which I was super thrilled to get. A songwriter friend of mine sent them to me to take a bit and give them a listen. And to be able to type that a songwriter friend makes me pretty impressed with myself and where my career as a blogger is leading me to. Because I was already familar with Kyle's track, I immediately put in Ballroom Remixed because I have been a huge fan of Melanie LaPatin ever since I first saw her first number way back in Season 4 where she and Tony Meredith choreographed Courtney Galiano & Gev Manoukian to Wishing on a Star by Rose Royce.

This album was put out as a challenge to a set of producers (Ricardo Autobahn & Richard Hymas) to take modern dance type tracks and give them a ballroom spin. The artists range from the amazing Gravitonas to the so beautiful Elousie and super robot boy, Simon Curtis. Being a gigantic Simon Curtis fan, I was immediately drawn to this track and was not let down in the least. Simon's voice and musicality never let you down and there is something so organic about the mechanical feeling behind his music that draws you in without you ever knowing it happened.  Kyle Brylin's track, I'm a Man (Not a Piece of Meat) is a totally awesome song and if I could do a cha cha, I would be all about it.  Nick James over at Alien Hits introduced me to Gravitonas a while back and I am becoming more of a fan with each track and this one (Fun and Games) is no exception.  Other notable tracks are New Star by Neo, Body Heat by Linda Teodosiu.  I am not super familiar with all the artists but I think that's one of the most exciting parts of a project like this because not only are you showcasing new talent, but you are exposing the public to artists they have never heard before.  I am totally going to keep track of most of these people because there is always room for more awesome music in my life and because these CDs were sent to me by a songwriter, I've actually paid attention to the lyrics instead of just getting swept up in the movement of the rhythm and I can say that I am in awe of people that can put pen to paper and for 2.5 to 6 minutes tell a story or express emotion like no other.

The CD is just full of fun dance tracks that will have you tapping your foot and bobbing your head before you realize it and I believe the Melanie has come up with a total win with the challenge she laid out before the production team.  I think that this is one that is gonna go into heavier rotation in my playlists to help pick me up.

Kyle Brylin's Committed maxi-single is pretty brilliant as well.  The mixes are awesome and they all have such a varied sound and formula that make it sound like a different track.  I am new to Kyle but I dig what he has to say.  I think my favorite mix is Chameleon Musique Extended Remix because I dig the bass line and how it starts out low to begin with.  So many songs have huge build ups, which I am a fan of, and then they drop it.  I like how this track already starts low and sort of flips the script and comes at you from a different angle.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Foster the People - Helena Beat

It's kind of weird for me to be actually blogging about an American band since my musical tastes have become so varied and most American music just isn't as good as I want it to be but Foster the People have blown me away. In this video the guys find themselves trapped in a dsytopian society where the kids are a cross between the Wildlings of Thunderdome and the children from Lord of the Flies. The imagery used is stark and cold showing how in this world, the kids running it are no better than animals. There is even a scene where a boy is riding a hobby horse with a pig head instead of a plastic horse's head. The song is an amazing blend of indie sensibilities with pop subtext thrown in for good measure. The chorus and hook are very catchy but not as memorable as the one from Pumped Up Kicks. This track is one of my favorite off the album and I think it's a good solid release.

The Young Professionals - 20 Seconds

They blew me away with the video for D.I.S.C.O and this video and song is no different.  There is an underlying Arabian sound mingled in with the throbbing baseline that makes this song just resonate with power. It's a little dubstep, it's a little pop and it's a lot of electro.  Ivri & Jonnie are creating music that isn't Israeli or Euro, it's just music.  This song is all about the first impression and how you only have 20 seconds to come across in a manner that you will forever be remembered by.  It's a super catchy song with a great hook and I think it is actually breaking some boundaries.  I think the contrast of not only the women dressed in the burqa's versus the belly dancers but Uriel as the main cleric is an amazing piece of social commentary about women and how they are perceived.  I mean, here I am...a blogger in Kentucky talking about it so that mus mean something.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am super excited. Not only am I going to 2 amazing concerts this fall but I am going to them with awesome people. First up is Adele in Nashville at the Ryman. It's the make up show from where she had to cancel her tour due to laryngitis. Second is a concert I only found out about yesterday. The Sounds, Natalia Kills, The Limousines and Kids at the Bar.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ryan Lill - Not Like the Movies (Katy Perry Cover)


James Leon - Never Been Cool

Every now and then an album comes along that is deceptively simple. The production isn't overworked, the lyrics aren't meant to talk down to you and the songs aren't there to open a gigantic philosophical discussion that will lead you through the rest of your life. It's albums like this that you can just throw on and let them take you where you need to go. If that is a place of carefree frivolity where cotton candy and bubble gum fluff are the main dietary necessities or somewhere hopeful and romantic; James Leon's new album, Never Been Cool is the road map you need.
I'm not going to say this album is overly ambitious because it's not. Everything it sets out to do, it does. It makes you feel good and gives you something to think about with some of the tracks but more than anything, it's a solid first release from a burgeoning pop icon. I think this album has an overall feeling of camp to it and with that being said, I would more than happily stand this album up beside anything Andy & Vince or Neil & Chris or even Marc Almond and call it a welcome addition to that club. It has solid sensibilities in 2011 and pays homage to those great artists from the past. It's not a dance record, is a pop album and it is good. A good friend of mine once told me that if you can listen to an album 10 times in a row and not be sick of it, then it's a good album. This is one of those.

There is something that is a bit wonky on the album and that increases it's level of hipness and it intensifies the overall feeling of actually being cool. The songs are poppy and sick with you for days after listening to them. This is definitely an album that is going to be there when I need a pick me up. I mentioned to James that I loved the cover art and noticed how his bow tie is a bit of kilter to which he replied, "Kind of like me" There is a bit of gold on his cheek and that to me is a tribute to David Bowie on some level and it is also a small bit of glamour.

Purple Heart has always been my favorite track ever since he first sent it to me. I love the emotion behind the track and it reminds me of myself in a lot of ways.

With it's driving beat and orchestral movements, The One Before Me has enough scorn and righteous fervor to say, "What are you doing! We have a good thing and you are going to lose it if you don't stop what you're doing".

I want to get lost in the crowd at the Club with No Name. Just to be in there spinning around and around with the beautiful people. I bet Keith Harring, Leigh Bowery, Grace Jones and Toyah would all be there.

I look forward to hearing more and more from James. I think he has a brilliant career in front of him and I am glad to be a fan. I did read that this album was self financed so don't be a dickhead and steal it. It's £6.99 or $8.98 USD on Amazon either in the UK or the States. And if this album represents what it means to Never be Cool...then I don't want to be cool either.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jessie J - Who's Laughing Now

I bought into Jessie the very first time I heard her. I think she's an amazing artist and has a killer voice. Her song writing skills are brilliant and I appreciate everything she does. If I could find one thing that I could complain about, it's her stutter she does on certain consonants. She doesn't do it in this song and it's better for it. The actress playing young Jessie is amazing and throws a mean bitchface when it's called for. I think this is a super empowering song about getting through adversity and making a better life for yourself in the long run. Love the song, love the video!

Meet Ryan Lill

This is Ryan Lill. He shared with me on Google + and I've been listening to him this morning. I am a HUGE fan of guitar/vocal type music. Jay Brannan is one of my all time favorite artists and Ryan reminds me of him a bit. This is Ryan's cover if "Hometown Glory" by Adele and while his arrangement doesn't stray too much from the original, his voice brings subtle nuances to the song that make it his own. Hometown Glory was the first song by Adele that I ever heard and it's probably my most favorite of all of her songs. With a voice like his and the passion he puts in his music, I want to see him go far. I am going to continue to follow him and support him because I feel he is well worth my time. Give him a listen and see how you feel about his music.

p.s. here is his cover of Landslide....another one of my all time favorite songs.

Elephant (Opinions and Attitudes)

So here's the deal. Elephant isn't going to hold your hand and tell you everything is going to be ok. They are going to say things that won't necessarily sit will with everyone but they are things that need to be said because the gay community is made up of so many different people and those people think and feel differently from everyone else. I've been spending some time with their music and it is raw and will potentially strike a nerve with those people with delicate sensibilities. That being said, they are one of the more impressive independent artists I have come across lately. They have performed with gay icon, Josie Cotton on an updated mix of her seminal classic, "Johnny, Are you Queer?" and are releasing music that is going to make you think.

The production values of their music is high and it doesn't sound like something that was recorded in a basement (unless it's supposed to and then they doe that flawlessly as well). The lyrical content is thought provoking and both brothers have amazing flow that can only come from people that deserve to be in the rap game.

They aren't looking for your approval and they don't seem to care if they hurt your feelings. That's not their job. They are here to give you their perspective on life and if you can find meaning in it, that's all that matters. I suggest you head over to youtube or facebook and check them out. Support our independent artists because when it all comes down to it, they are the ones on the front lines telling the stories that need to be told.


Crazy, Stupid Love

Charles and I were going to go see Fright Night last night but because our stupid little town only had it in 3D (a technology I cannot get behind), we decided to see this instead. I knew the general story of the movie from the trailers but what they don't tell you is how much heart the movie has. They don't tell you that there is a potential to get invested in the characters and want to see how it all ends. The movie is pretty formulaic on some levels within the Rom-Com realm but there are some things that it does really well and there are actually some plot twists that you would never expect. To me, it had the "Little Miss Sunshine" kind of vibe to it and that's a pretty good thing, I think. If you enjoy the genre or any of the actors that all do an amazing job in this movie, I say go see it, you won't be disappointed.

Those little things

Relationships have been weighing relatively heavy on my mind lately. The relationships you have with your family, co-workers, friends and lovers. I've started a new job and with it come the stresses of meeting new co-workers and establishing boundaries and begin building those relationships. Being a gay man that is "passable", I always have a horrible time when these new relationships are formed because not only do I have to worry about whether or not they are going to like me because of my work performance and my sparkling personality, but I have the added layer of potential judgement for something that is so minor it shouldn't even be a consideration.

So I meet these new co-workers and begin to worry, almost immediately, if they are going to have issue with my sexuality. In order to gain some reassurance, I turn to social media and ask my gay friends across this great country how they would deal with the situation. My answers were not from those people that had experienced this but from straight friends that wanted to help me practice my self esteem skills and be able to say, it doesn't matter....they are going to love you for you. If you have never been put in the situation where you are going to be judged silently or otherwise, it's very difficult for you to have an opinion on the subject, unfortunately and as much as I appreciate your words of assurance....it doesn't do me a whole lot of good. I left the conversation with not really getting much advice but what do you do.

Let me back up for a minute and talk about being passable. To me this is a horrible Catch 22 because it means that when you look at me, you don't immediately know that I am a gay man. And throughout the course of our interactions, unless I want you to know there is more than likely a high probability that you will never know. This doesn't mean I am "straight acting" but it does mean that for all intent and purpose I can step back into the closet and pull my screen door shut and all is well. This is a skill that can come in handy but it makes meeting new people unbearable sometimes because you end up having to come out all over again. When people ask me how old I was when I came out, I have to explain that it's an almost every day occurrence and it's something that I will always have to do. This leads me to another point where people tell me, "It's none of anyone's business". That's all well and good until people start asking me about my personal life or guys start in on the objectification of whatever female may be close at hand.

Sure, I agree, it's no one's business but I don't want to be a liar either when people start asking these questions. I don't want to have to worry about making sure I say the right pronouns and make sure that I am gender neutral enough not to offend some one's sensibilities. I just want to be me and part of that is who I sleep with. So it becomes their business and I have to eventually share otherwise I spend all my time being miserable.

I've made comments in the past stating that I wish I was "gayer" than I am and by that I mean more obviously gay or flamboyant so that I didn't have to worry about coming out all the time but I know how closed minded that statement and sentiment can be as well and it's not allowing me to be who I am either.

I've rambled on enough in this post and I intend to come back and do it some more about other relationships I am proud to be a part of and relationships that I am happy to be on the periphery of looking in as they are growing and changing, so it's not all gloom and doom.