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.


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.