Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 25 Musical Happenings of 2012

It's that time again.  Every year I pick out my most favorite moments from the previous year.  It isn't necessarily a song or an album but something that has happened in the world of music that I feel has a quantifiable effect on the world in one way or another.  There has been a tremendous amount of news this year from the passing away of many beloved artists to formations of new groups and winners all across the board in various musical competitions.  This list is my way of wrapping up the year and giving a nod to everyone that made a difference in my life musically. Without further fanfare, here are the top 25 events in the music industry that have left an indelible mark on my life forever.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hurricane Love - Only Human

I've said it before but there is something about Sweden that cranks out amazing pop.  I don't know if it's the climate, the water or the politics but something has the ability to shape and craft groups that will just blow you away.  This six piece indie band from Malmö hasn't been posting music online for very long but what they have put online is incredible.  If you go to their soundcloud, there are 4 tracks available for streaming and their YouTube channel has 2 of those songs, "Only Human" and "Deep Under Water". Both the acoustic versions of the songs and the versions with the full production are brilliant.  They are so full and just fill up all the space with this incredible sound.

One of my most favorite elements a band can have are multiple vocalists and to have a male and a female vocalist adds so much interest because of the harmonies they can create or the stories they can tell.  With this track, "Only Human" the song is sung from the perspectives of the people involved in the relationship and there is so much emotion and power behind it.  It's an incredibly honest song and doesn't try to glorify the idea of a relationship, it's stripped down and bare and by the end of the song, you are just exhausted.

I highly recommend this group because they are simply, amazing.

Hurricane Love on the Web
Twitter: @HurricaneLoveHL

Thursday, December 13, 2012

MNDR - Feed Me Diamonds

I became a fan of MDNR when Amanda Warner was featured on Marc Ronson's "Bang, Bang, Bang" with Q-Tip.  I quickly bought their EP titled E.P.E and have waited patiently for more and more music from them so it was no surprise today when they released the second single off the album of the same name, "Feed Me Diamonds".  The video features Raven getting ready and then performing in a fantastic outfit and gorgeous wig. The song is incredible and the video is a perfect compliment to it.  Not gonna talk too much, I'll let Raven and Amanda do that for me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

HAIM - Don't Save Me

Sisters Danielle, Alana, Este Haim are creating a super cool vibe that would stand up beside so many other indie artists. A little Juice Newtwon, a little Ladyhawke and a whole lot of cool makes this trio a group to watch out for. Their harmonies are cool and their vibe is a bit Boho chic. Again, another thanks goes to The Middle Eight for the heads up on this awesome group.

HAIM on the Web


Twitter: @HAIMtheband

Lexy and the Kill - Rope Swing

It took less than a minute of this song before I was immediately hooked.  Lexy's voice is stellar and the song just has this really awesome vibe to it.  I have to give massive credit to the blokes over at The Middle Eight for turning me onto this up and coming Indie Pop group from Scotland and I am damn glad I took the time to listen to the song.  I think that they are going to be huge in 2013 and you should get in now so you can ride with them to the top.  Even better is that they are offering the track as a free download from their SoundCloud.  Go and like them on Facebook, twitter and all the other social media sites to let them know you want them to be massive in the coming year.

Lexy and the Kill on the Web
Twitter: @lexyandthekill

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jinx Titanic and the Ladykillers - Mister Cassanova

Jinx Titanic has never been one to mince words.  You never ever had to wonder where you stood with him, musically speaking as it were.  He has always been open and honest about his wants, needs and desires.  With the evolution from Super 8 C*m Shot to The Ladykillers you are privy to a more playful side of Jinx.  You still know where you stand but now, its to a more shagged out beat.  Throw in a little bossanova and dress it up with a mod sensibility and you're getting close to the new sound.  For those in need of a visual, think what what would happen to Don Draper and crew if they knew no one was watching.

It's one part Old Fashioned with a twist of burlesque.  The sex appeal just drips off this album but it never ventures into the realm of smutty or trashy.  It's sexy.  It's smoky. It's sultry.  It's probably one of the most enjoyable albums I've picked up in a long time.  The songs are all cheeky and will make you just have a good time.  For me, there are some stand out tracks even though they are all outstanding I am a huge fan of "What Turns You On" and "Dirty Little So and So".  I am also partial to "You Drive Me Wild" because I love surf rock and this track makes me want to be on a beach blanket bingo somewhere.

Jinx on the Web
Twitter: @JinxTitanic

DJ Chris Spear - Clarity (Remix)

I think what makes a remix special consists of 2 things.

1.) Paying homage to the original
2.) Bringing a new point of view to the track while breathing new life into it.

DJ Chris Spear has this ability to sound like he's been doing this for far longer than he actually has been.  In an electrohouse remix of Zedd's, "Clarity" he doesn't stray to far from the original arrangement  but what he does is fill out the track to give it a much larger sound.  He has added additional interest and has definitely made a case for his point of view that after you listen to his version against the original, you go..."Ok, I see that he did need to add that additional reverb there" or "Yes, you are correct.  There did need to be a little more added to this eight count to make it more robust".  He does have something to say and if you go through his catalog you can see that he is evolving into quite a producer and it would be really cool to hear him working with artists in the near future.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mike & Cody - Climax (Usher Cover)

When you start a cover with a sample from "Pure Imagination", you are immediately going to hook me.  Cover songs were what I got my feet wet with Mike & Cody and this one is incredible.  I love the spin they've put on the track while being honest and staying close to Usher's original arrangement.  Then they get all crazy and have this sax solo that is super sexy and cool at the same time.  Both of their vocals are great and the slight synth undertones just add another dimension of flavor to this incredible cover.  Just another reason why they are one of the best bands around, not just the D.C. area but all over.  If you aren't grooving along by the middle of the song then there's something wrong with you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Doug Baron - I Can't Wait For The Miracle

Today is World AIDS Day.  It's a day that should have more pomp and circumstance surrounding it because I don't think there is nearly enough awareness.  In the 80s and 90s when people were visibly ill and were dying at an astronomical rate, people took notice but now that people are living longer and healthier lives it doesn't seem as if there is enough of a fire under people to stand up and take notice.  Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying.  I am glad that people are experiencing longevity in the face of this horrible pandemic, but I don't think the public has enough understanding and enough of a sense of urgency to do something about it.  To honor the people that I've known that have died at the hands of this terrible illness, I would like to share one of the most amazing songs ever written.

Doug Baron is an American Singer/Songwriter from Louisiana that has this incredible gift for not necessarily how things are said but how they are written to best make the most out of the emotion or feeling he's trying to convey.  He says about this song, "I wrote this in a Chapel at the hospital of someone very dear to me. This is what was in my head, in my heart."  Listening to the song, there is no doubt how much of himself he poured into it.  For those of us that have lost someone, this song strikes particularly close to home but at the same time offers hope and an understanding of something that may not directly touch your life.  It's a song that makes you  stop what you're doing and listen to each and every word.  You pay attention because it and Doug deserve you're respect and attention.  Buy the song.  It's $2 or whatever you want to pay over that.  I think it's beautiful and heartfelt and deserves all the money.

The Overtones - Higher

The Overtones are one of those bands that will probably never garner commercial success in the United States because they are very difficult to classify.  Doo Wop, Pop, Acapella, Barbershop. It seems they have the ability to do it all.  I am a fan and think they are one of the classiest acts in pop music today.  They are always dressed to the nines and they have yet to release a video that was less than fantastically visual.  This song is just a high energy romp that will have you bouncing along in no time.  They sound amazing and look even better.  You can order their album, Higher now at all reputable media outlets.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jhameel - Shadow of a Man

This is the reason that music exists.  This song so eloquently describes the human condition in a mere 3:47.  There is a message, there is purpose.  But it doesn't preach.  Yes, it is a song about decisions and whether or not the ones being made are the best for everyone concerned but it's so much more than the moral at the end of the After School Special.  It's art.  It's evokes emotion and it makes you feel.  Jhameel has done that for me since day one of becoming a fan.  He makes transcendent experiences that take you out of the world for a piece and bring you back as something more than you were.

This song came from his Are You Free adventure and was one of my favorite songs from that set of tracks.  It's actually super hard to announce one favorite song because he is simply amazing.  The song on it's own is brilliant and the added visuals from the video take it to the next logical step and create something more than the sum.  I hope that you can watch this video and get a sense of what he is trying to accomplish with this track.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Super Water Sympathy - Uh Oh

In the storied tradition of powerful female singers, Ansley Hughes delivers a performance so thought provoking and honest you can easily draw comparisons to Dolores O'Riordan, Shirley Manson or Harriet Wheeler. This Shreveport, LA based quartet Super Water Sympathy are quickly making a name for themselves after recording with famed producer Cam Blackwood. They classify themselves as "Water Pop" and upon listening to a handful of their tracks, it's easy to hear how the music ebbs and flows like the Mississippi River as it empties into the delta.

In the video for their single, "Uh Oh", Ansley walks through what either looks like the aftermath of a meltdown at a mental institution or the potential post apocalyptic hallucinations of a river town. It's a fun video with clever imagery that flows easily. Much like most new artists that I run across, I will let you know what I find as I find it.

Dubelius - Sophisticated Cupboard Elephants

My pal from the United Arab Emirates, Dubelius is back with another amazing dubstep track.  What I can say and know for a fact is that if he continues making music like this, my faith in this genre is going to be quickly restored.  The glitch and the wobble in this track are sick and when it's pared with that vocal sample this track is elevated to something more than just simple dubstep.  He knows how to tack and build a track that is interesting without sounding too repetitive or making something simply for the sake of making a dubstep track.  I think if given the opportunity, he is going to make big things happen because he has an ear for it.  What I want to hear from him is a remix or two.  Take something that's out there right now and make it something totally new and fresh because I think he can do that without issue.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Walk The Moon - Tightrope

Cincinnati's Walk The Moon does a helluva job explaining why I don't go outside in their video for "Tightrope".  Simply....the outside is out to get me.  I know it is and this video is a manifesto as to how it would do it.  But seriously, it's a super fun video for a super fun track.  This was the first song that I heard from them which led me to get the album and I was instantly hooked.  Spin Magazine says they are "Art-Rock" and if that's the case then I am a fan of this genre.  The album is what I consider to be the perfect blend of Synth Pop and Indie Rock.  The lyrics are fun and the choruses are catchy but more than that, the songs are well put together and crafted impeccably.  Take a look at the video and see if you aren't immediately hooked. 

Edit: If this how they sound live....count me in.  I mean hot damn!!!

Daniel Bedingfield - Secret Fear

If anyone other than Daniel Bedingfield recorded this video, the nudity would have been done just for sensationalism but it's well documented how Daniel feels about his body and how this video is nothing more than an extension of the song and of him.  I think it's an incredible video that hows how the secrets he's been keeping from not only his lover but himself have created nothing but tumult in their lives and how if he continues to keep them locked away it's going to lead to disaster.  I think it's a beautifully shot video and the concept is great.  Watch it now on youtube before it gets taken down for the nudity.  This is one of my favorite tracks off his EP, Stop the Traffik/Secret Fear and I think the emotion it is able to evoke is amazing.  What do you think about this video?

Delta Rae - Dance in the Graveyards

Here's what I learned today from Delta Rae.  Do not watch a potentially emotionally charged video at work on your cellphone because when the emotion hits (and it will), you may break down and cry a bit.  This video struck me right in my gut.  In 2010, I lost the love of my life to pneumonia and this made me think of him so much.  Ian's attitude toward death is very similar to my own.  After Sean died in a time of perpetual self doubt and heartache, I had to come to the realization that there's no way in this world that I was going to walk it alone.  He is with me in everything that I do and I know that I have felt his hand driving me to better myself and to honor the life we had together.  So I know that when it comes time for me to say my goodbyes to this world, he will be there waiting for me to dance and celebrate everything that we had and everything that we are.

The video is a celebration in the style of Dia de los Muertos with the band donning sugar skull makeup and bringing the loved ones of the dead back for one more dance.  The make up is done incredibly and I hope that there are stills of them floating around the internet because they are awesome.  When Ian lowered his staff and summoned the widow's husband, I lost it.  Tears streaming, I had to get up from my desk and make haste to dry my eyes.  This video is clearly inspired and I will watch it with joy in my heart because it will be a happy day when I get to see all those that have gone before me.  Watch the video and see what I mean.  They are an amazing group with so much to give and I am eternally grateful for this gift they have given me today.

Much love, guys and gals.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Little Mix - DNA

Say what you will about Little Mix. When it comes to solid pop tracks, these girls have created two amazing songs that show off each and every one of their talents beautifully. I love their voices and harmonies and they all play so well off each other. I am very impressed with Perrie on this track. Her voice is so mature and full it just fills up the whole space. It's a great pop track with a driving bass line and a massive chorus. I am a fan and can't wait for the album to come out. I want to see where they go next and how a they really handle a ballad or two. If you want to hear an amazing cover, their arrangement of Katy Perry's E.T. from The X-Factor (Link) is just crazy.

Shiny Toy Guns - Fading Listening

My obsession with Shiny Toy Guns is becoming pretty severe. Like they are rapidly becoming a huge part of my musical go-to-artists, you know the ones that no matter how crappy you feel, as soon as you throw on a track; things start to look up. So their new album III came out today and from what I've heard on my first run through, the band is back to being the amazing group they were with We Are Pilots. When I initially started writing about them, I wanted to ride the fence between Carah Faye and Sisely but as time has gone on, it is clear to me that Carah Faye is the only way to go.  Season of Poison wasn't a horrible album but it was too different from their first outing and getting back to (what I feel they do best) what they do best, III is nothing but pure Synth Pop to the absolute max and I love every minute of it.  Here is a bit of a sneak to tide you over until I come back with my full write up.

It's a super cute concept for the video using the kids in place of the band but sometimes I need to see that band I am watching.  Carah Faye sounds amazing in this song.  She is channeling some serious Christine McVie meets Stevie Nicks and there is just a bit of Bryan Ferry in Chad's vocals.  I love every minute of this track and there are even more amazing examples of how this group has grown and matured.  I am so happy that Carah Faye is back behind this microphone where she belongs and I will have a full review of the album as soon as I am done with my second pass through.  Until then, enjoy "Fading Listening" and get ready for some amazing music from these guys.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rodney Noffsinger - Here I Am

I don't have a lot of experience with pop rock comparisons. So I can't say that Rodney Noffsinger sounds like so-in-so or I can hear an influence of whatshisname in this track. What I can say and know for a fact is that this is a solid track that has huge potential for massive airplay.  It's commercial enough to make you want to hear more but not cookie cutter.  And that's what I've done.  After listening to a ton of tracks on his youtube and reverbnation, I want to see him live and buy his albums.  They are a Nashville based band so you can hear a bit of Music Row influence to their music. If I had to make a stab at saying where I would place them, it would be somewhere in the vicinity of Shinedown and Staind. I don't know if that is an insult or a compliment but that's where my ear leads me.

Rodney is the son of a preacher and has spent his musical life running the gamut of styles and influences from Garth Brooks to Hip Hop to Grunge.  His voice has this gritty edge to it that helps create this cool vibe and you can really hear him shine on his cover of Godsmack's "Voodoo" (Click here but then come right back).  I think that with the combination of quality writing, his voice and good looks; they really have a strong shot of  being something great.  I would certainly buy their albums or vote for them on one of those talent shows.  If you're looking for something a little more rock than what I normally feature, then this is totally where you need to be.  Rodney Noffsinger and his amazing band have a great shot at being something big.  Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.

Rodney Noffsinger on the Web

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Imani Coppola - Ava Maria

"Whose shirt is this?  Is it his or mine or mine or his?"

Imani Coppola has been a musical pioneer for almost 20 years now.  When she wanted to do things her way, she released her albums independently with no backing from a label and now she has a new album coming out soon called The Glass Wall and from what I've heard so far, it's going to be crazy.  The third track to be released is "Ava Maria", a sort of tongue-in-cheek play on whether or not the potential man of her dreams is gay or European.  A mystery that has set the world on fire for years.  It's a great track with all the trappings of an incredible pop track.  It's got some bite to it and I think it's going to get a tremendous amount of club play.  The heavy guitar riff plays right off Imani's vocals and forces the song through while the hand claps make it super easy to just bounce along with.  It's cheeky enough to stand on it's own two feet without being cheesy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

P!nk - Try

This is one of my favorite songs off the new album.  I think the emotion in the song is only matched by Alecia's vocals.  I appreciate how much she's come into her own artist as the years have gone by.  From her work with Linda Perry to all of the other stops along the way on her journey, she has never left us out of her life, as it were.  This song to me is all about being responsible for carrying your own weight in a relationship.  Because if it is a partnership then it needs to be 50/50.  No ifs-ands-or buts about it.  The choreography is amazing and her partner, Colt Prattes does a helluva job supporting her when she needs it but she is amazing on her own and holds her own in this piece done by The Golden Boyz who have done amazing work with artists like Madonna, The Spice Girls, Brittney Spears and apparently every disco routine on America's Best Dance Crew.  So watch the video and hit me up with your comments.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Delta Rae (Live at 3rd & Lindsley)

I've been to a great number of concerts in my life and it takes a helluva show to crack my Top 5 and it takes an even greater show to make it into my Top 3 and after last night's live show at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, Delta Rae are now in that coveted position.  It's no secret that I am a fan of this band and I have been more than anxiously waiting to see them live because even though there are dozens of YouTube videos, the experience of seeing a live show will hands down beat any prerecorded broadcast.  The concert was sponsored by Lightning 100, Nashville's Independent Radio and Yuengling.  It was part of a program that Lightning 100 does where they broadcast concerts live on Sunday nights so both Wild Feathers and Delta Rae were simulcast to radio listeners.

Brigitte DeMeyer, a local artist lit up the venue with some amazing blue eyed soul mixed with a little bit of everything.  She threw in some folk and some Alt. Country and a healthy dose of New Orleans influenced soul. She has a similar vibe as Emmylou Harris so if you are a fan of her particular brand of music then you will no doubt enjoy Brigitte.  She played for about an hour and did a helluva job showing off what she's about and what to expect from an album.  Here is a video from SXSW of her song "Say Big Poppa" and it was as amazing last night as it is in this video.  Her voice is just so full of experiences and character you want her to sit around and tell you stories all night.

Up next was one of the most dynamic groups I have ever seen.  I believe they would fit into the Americana genre with a heavy twist of Alt. Country.  Wild Feathers is a band that has a unique take one what is classified as Rock and Roll and what isn't and throws it out the window in order to make up their own rules along the way.  What struck me as most awesome about this group was that they had 3 singers (Taylor, Ricky and Joel) that all shared duties on lead vocals.  And when these guys come together their harmonies are just mind blowing.  The vocals ranged anywhere from subtle and slight to straight on rock and roll.  By the time they played "Backwoods Company", I knew I was hooked.  My only question was where did I need to throw money at to support them.  I needed to buy a CD because they are that damn good.  I found out about them yesterday and I immediately wanted to buy the record.  Their set was loud and full on and didn't stop (well until it did).  I think that with the success of bands like Drive-by Truckers, The Avett Brothers and others that fall into this genre because no one else knows where to really put them, Wild Feathers is going to do exceedingly well for themselves.  If you go to their website and sign up for their mailing list, you can get downloads of "Backwoods Company" and "The Ceiling", both songs that will just make you stop what you're doing and pay attention.  Their set was an hour and by the end of it you needed a break from just partying.  Here is a video of them doing "Hard Times" (Not from last night but another show where the person recording did a bang up job)

After a quick breakdown and reset, our headliners were introduced to thunderous applause.  They do this thing when they are all on stage together that just fills up the entire room.  They have such stage presence and they don't even have to try.  It was really cool to watch them as one vocalist would sing, the others would stand quietly with their head bowed and it almost seemed a sign of respect and reverence for their fellow singer as to not draw attention or focus from them.  When it came time to harmonize, then they would do their part and go back to just being still.  We were sitting maybe 10 feet from the stage on Ian's side and with each song in the set, we were pulled further and further into the magic that is their music.  From where I was sitting, I could watch each member (sometimes Grant disappeared behind Ian, especially when he was playing the Upright) and I can honestly say, I  have never seen a drummer play with the intensity  that Mike McKee does.  There were times that it looked like those drums owed him some money and he was gonna get it back. lol.

From the minute that Eric started singing "Morning Comes" until the last bar finished on "Hey, Hey, Hey" you were just swept up in the experience and time just seemed to stop.  I've said repeatedly by now that I am a huge fan.  And as a huge fan, I sat and sang along to every song (not loud or obnoxiously or in a karaoke style - mostly I lip synced so that I never sang over top of them in my own head).  This turned out to be an act that I would later find out that did not go unnoticed.  Ian actually told me that it was cool that I sat up front and sang along because it helped with the energy in the venue and he appreciated it. I immediately became self conscious because he actually saw me singing.  From my experience watching their videos on youtube, I was ready for them to talk between songs and build rapport but because the set was being broadcast live and they only had an hour, I think they had to cut that out.  They still talked a bit but not as much as I had seen.

A friend asked me if they sounded as good live as they did on the CD and I told her that they were even better because you got nuances that just don't come across on a recording.  You could hear breath sounds and inflections that weren't necessarily apparent when the tracks are mastered.   They also played two previously unreleased tracks, "Cold Day" and "What You Thinkin Bout, Baby" which were just incredible.  Both of these tracks, like all of the other songs, have the ability to tap into your emotions and just hit you right in the feels.  The cover of "The Chain" is the absolute best version of that song next to the original and no one should ever sing it aside from Delta Rae and Fleetwood Mac.  "Bottom of the River" is the gateway drug that gets everyone hooked on them but if you want to hear Brittany need to hear her wail on "Fire".  That song should come with a warning label because it will knock you out.  My most favorite Delta Rae song is "Chain on Love" because of the message it holds and what it means to me and my life.  It makes me swell with pride to know how many allies we have in the fight for what should be so trivial and I had the opportunity to thank them for writing and recording that song and got choked up talking to Ian about it because of how important of a message they are sending with it.  I think I would have been a puddle of mush if they would have done it and I nearly made it to that state with "Is There Anybody Out There" - which is a very close second for favorite song of all time.  The rest of the set was incredible and they never once missed a beat.

They held the audience in awe for the entirety of the set and I was sad when it had to come to an end.  What I learned about  them last night that you can't really learn from CDs or videos is just how honest and genuine they are.  Humble doesn't begin to describe them.  Each and every member of the band was so grateful and thankful for us being in the audience.  They took the time out to thank up profusely for coming out and it amazed me because I did the same to them for bringing their music to us.  We got to hang out for about an hour after the show and talked to them and I am so glad that we did.  It might be a while before I see them again but I have a feeling they'll remember me.  That type of relationship between artist and fan can't be faked and is totally organic.  They are thankful that there are people out there that want to hear what they have to say.  I told the best friend that I was wish I had so much inside of me that in order to properly express it, I had to do it through song.  I am just so in awe of anyone that can do that and when they do it was well as Delta Rae does, I consider my self lucky to be in the presence of such amazing artists.

We left with a hug from Brittany and a 'Goodbye, Wes' from Ian and I think I at least made it to the car before I just became a babbling idiot about the time we just had.  I cannot express just how much of an incredible time we had.  It's a situation that I can talk about all day long but until you're inducted into the fraternity of people that have experienced them live, you just can't fully grasp the magnitude of their message.  This experience is hands down one I will be talking about to anyone that I can make stand in one place or any given amount of time.  I am honored to be a fan of this amazing group and I am certainly one that "enjoy's their song".

Delta Rae Set List

1. Morning Comes
2. Holding on to Good
3. If I Loved You
4. Is There Anyone Out There
5. Forgive the Children We Once Were
6. What You Thinkin Bout Baby
7. Unlike Any Other
8. Bottom of the River
9. The Chain
10. Cold Day
11. Fire
12. Dance in the Graveyards
13. Hey, Hey, Hey (Encore)


Brigitte DeMeyer

The Wild Feathers

Delta Rae

Photo Credits: Charles Cornett II
Delta Rae Set List provided by Ashley Mizell of the Unofficial Delta Rae Street Team (as my phone was dead and my waitress had stolen her ink pen back)

Ellie Goulding - Halycon

I fell in love with Ellie's ethereal vocals and amazing pop sensibilities way back when I heard "Starry Eyed" on the Chris Moyles show in 2010 and have been a huge fan ever since.  Both versions of her debut album, Lights and Bright Lights have a place in my music library so when I found out Halcyon was coming, I was very pleased.  After listening to it, I am able to say that this year has another great album to add to the best of the year.  She has taken chances on some of the tracks and has expanded her repertoire to include more experimental sounds like "Only You" or "Figure 8".  There are tracks that pair her with heavy drum and bass style beats and never once doe she get lost.  She commands attention and the producers do an amazing job of showcasing that.  "Halcyon", "My Blood", "Joy" are all very Ellie type tracks and do not disappoint.  "Explosions" is brilliant.  The choral style backing vocals and the strings in conjunction with her amazing voice create this atmospheric track that is so compelling it almost takes your breath.

I am a huge fan of what she has to offer and she has a knack of getting me to where I need to go.  The people she works with to craft this amazing music know how to make her shine.  Music is a very important part of my life and when you are able to have music like this as part of your life, it makes things better.  I think there is something very powerful in the quietness and stillness that Ellie can harness but at the same time, she has a subtle power that you can't deny.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ninthwave Records - Kiss My Lipstick Off (Track-by-Track)

This album does something incredible.  It takes these 11 songs that shouldn't work together and by the sheer nature of the project they all come together into this amazing compilation of anthemic empowering songs that will have you bouncing along before you know it.  This album could easily be imagined as a fall fashion line.  All the tracks have their own individual style and work great on their own but bring them all together and you have something more powerful and the individual parts.  I am a fan of everything about this album; the songs, the track order, the selection of artists... all of it.  I don't think a better album could have been created.

1.  "Kiss My Lipstick Off"
Georgia Haege of Liquid Diet kicks off this incredible compilation with the scorching title track, "Kiss My Lipstick Off".  It's an incredibly cheeky single and the perfect way to let you know what's to come in the next  40 minutes.

2.  "You Can Always Come Home"
England's Synthpop duo, Spray pick up the reins next with "You Can Always Come Home", an awesome reminder that no matter where you are in your journey there will always be a place for you.  The song kind of lampoons itself with a bit of sarcastic wit and self deprecation that adds a sense of honesty and it doesn't matter if things are the way they should be or if life has just given you the boot, there is a place for you.

3.  "Twisted"
Producer extraordinaire Stormby is up with "Twisted" featuring the vocals of Roz.  This is his second release with Roz and it's brilliant.  Much like "In Dreams" both producer and vocalist use their amazing talents to produce a track that for lack of better words, leaves you twisted.

4.  "XTC"
Liz Primo takes the album up a notch with this track.  The bass line throbs and pulsates behind her super sexy voice.  There's no way you're not moving along with this track.  It's a helluva dance track that adds a sense of danger to the album.  I have come to believe that's Liz's middle name, Danger, because she has a quality to her music that is a bit unsafe, like a bit of rough trade.

5.  "Next To Me"
The song that I want to play for the person I decide to spend the rest of my life with brings the album back from being dangerous follows Liz and reminds us that even a 20 year hiatus can't stop the magic that is Nathalie Archangel.  Her voice is as solid today as it was in the 80s and I feel as critically acclaimed as ever. This song is the musical equivalent of sitting on a porch swing with your love drinking coffee on a Sunday monrning.

6.  "Make You Sorry"
In what starts as a ballad-y type of track, Swedish rocker Teresia quickly throws that notion away and cranks up the revenge machine.  Karma is a bitch and now so am I because you pushed me to it.  The lyrics are as sharp as the blade she used to pop your tires and you better just back away slowly before you make it worse.

7.  "Baby, Run! Run!"
Another entry into the "Get the hell out of here" section of the album, Carina Lirola  is just giving you a friendly piece of advice and it's to your benefit to just run.  The amount of synth in this song is incredible.  It's Dale Bozzio meets Julie Brown and it's gorgeous.  Probably one of my favorite tracks on the album.

8.  "Rise of Venus"
Girl power reigns supreme on this track.  It's one part new age meets one part synth with a bit of astrology wrapped up in a neat little package.  This is Chelsea Chavis' first commercial release and if she continues this way, it shouldn't be her last.  With artists like Sky Ferreria, Grimes and Charlie XCX paving the way, Chelsea has an awesome place waiting for her. I could easily see her sharing the stage with Neon Hitch, in a very gypsy style concert like Nomads across America.

9.  "Frozen People"
We'll take a bit of gypsy pop and throw some glitch and wub in it to create something new with Doomsday Affair's addition to the album.  It's a bit dub and it's brings a bit of darkness with.  I am a fan of Darkwave and Olivia has a bit of Ellie Goulding to her voice that is totally set off by the strings and the electronica.  I am a fast fan of this group.

10. "Yesterday's Tomorrows"
My favorite chanteuse is up next and it's gorgeous.  I love Jane Badler and this mix, "Stormby's Drama Mix" takes a brilliant single and amps it up to Alexis and Crystal levels of drama.  Jane has such a presence to her that just draws you in and demands your attention.  When she takes the stage, you will watch her because she is dazzling.

11.  "Bubblegum"
The album comes to a close with Jamie Lovett's ode to being done wrong.  But it's not a cry in your drink song.  It's empowered and it's a bit angry and it's a great way to close things out.  I really dig her voice and want to hear more from her.

Kiss My Lipstick Off is available at all major music outlets or you can pick up the individual singles on Amazon or iTunes.  I say get the whole damn thing because you will be entertained from start to finish.  This is probably going to go into heavy rotation in my library because it all just works together in an incredible way.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Niki & The Dove - Somebody

Somebody (album version)

I just stumbled upon this track and I am ever so glad that I did.  This is one of the most infectious songs I've heard in a long time.  I immediately liked them on Facebook and then did a wiki search and surprise, surprise... They're Swedish.  That should come as no shock because it's great and I have yet to be disappointed by anything to come out of Sweden.  Niki & The Dove are a trio from Stockholm comprised of Malin Dahlström (vocals), Gustaf Karlöf (keyboards) and Magnus Böqvist (drums).  They finished 5th in BBC's Sound of 2012 poll and have since released their debut album, Instinct.  

This track sounds like something that Prince would have produced, like they are secretly a member of the Revolution and hang out with Vanity and Apollonia.  The vocals are amazing and the production value is super high.  Malin has a vulnerability to her voice that draws you in on her first lyric and holds you there for the entire song.  The middle eight is so Prince it's not funny and I love it!

I am going to listen to more and probably fall head over heels for them.  When I learn more, I will get back and let you know.  They are massive and it's going to be an intense love affair, I believe.

Niki & The Dove on the Web

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bo Benton - When You Say Nothing At All (Keith Whitley Karaoke)

I don't cover country music really.  I don't cover karaoke at all.  But I do cover local artists and when there's a performance like this, it demands to be seen.  This is Jasper Indiana native, Bo Benton performing "When You Say Nothing At All" by Keith Whitley.  I apologize for the shitty recording and the quality of the sound but all I had was my cell phone and I had to capture it.  Earlier in the evening he sang, "Long Black Train" by Josh Turner and we weren't sure if he was just camping it up or if that was his actual voice and when this came around I was made a believer.  This guy has a voice that needs to be recording records somewhere.  I talked to him for a minute after this performance and he is a pretty awesome guy with a tremendous amount of potential.  I am looking at you, record industry types... help me get this guy some publicity and we'll all be able to sit around and say, I knew him when...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Liz Primo - The Devil In Me

"The trouble with being chased is one always gets caught."

Truer words have never been spoken in a dance pop song.  Austin native, Liz Primo is kicking out the stops with this super vampy track.  I can see her casting spells and weaving magic in this girl power anthem for just saying screw it.  I'm gonna get mine and there's nothing you can do about it.  She doesn't oversell the track, it doesn't come across as oversexed or slutty.  It's sultry and sexy and would fit right in with a burlesque act.  The spoken portions by Maverick add a bit of camp to the track that allows it to not take itself super serious.  If you're looking for something to glam up your Halloween party or just something to make you tap your feet and move your ass, this is the track to do it.

Matt Zarley - Change Begins With Me

As fun as "Trust Me" was, and it was fun... this is why we pay the admission to see Matt Zarley.  When he is this vulnerable and this honest, you can get to the heart of him.  He is introspective and raw and has the power to just make you stop and listen.  His voice is so powerful and he has amazing control over it and when it's paired with this incredible message of self empowerment there is nothing better.  For me, this is a sermon.  I would go to this church and leave with my soul revitalized.  This is possibly one of the most difficult ideals for you to attain because everyone is so critical of themselves and if you just stop and listen, it can be just that easy.  You don't start from the outside, you have to dig deep and start with yourself.  When you do that, there is absolutely nothing you cannot do.

Matt has been inspiring me for going on two years now.  His music has helped me through some of the hardest times of my life and with him by my side, there isn't anything I can't do.  The gay community doesn't have enough role models and through his message and his devotion to equality, Matt is one of the finest examples of how to live your life not only for yourself but for others around him.  I know I'm gushing but he is important to me.  Plain and simple.

Matt on the web:

Gravitonas - Incredible

While I'm talking about new music, let me talk about the new single from Gravitonas.  If you don't know Gravitonas, you should.  Let's go ahead and get that out of the way.  Secondly, you should right click on this link and go read my interview with the super charismatic front man, Andreas Öhrn.  We'll wait........

Ok, now lets talk "Incredible".  This track is a bit of a departure from other releases from Gravitonas.  It's straight forward and direct and has no pretense around it.  It's probably one of the most radio ready tracks I've ever heard from them.  That's not a bad thing it's simply different from what you're used to.  They are known for challenging expectations and making you stop and think whether it's through amazing visuals or thought provoking lyrics, Andreas and Alexander are geniuses in the realm of mental exercises via auditory stimulation. Maybe that's where they are testing us.  They are forcing you to think outside of of their box by striking out at normalcy.  They are making you evaluate your ideals of what is different.

I love the song.  It's brilliant.  I know you were expecting me to say Incredible and it is just that as well.  I am a fan and will always be a fan because they are always moving and proving that music is about new experiences and new feelings.  Watch the video and tell me what you think.

Gravitonas on the Web
Twitter: @gravitonas

Mike and Cody - Monster Soul

Take 1 part Foster the People and 3 parts Mike and Cody, put it in a shaker; mix vigorously and what do you get?  You get Mike and Cody's brand new single, Monster Soul.  The track has all the trademarks of a huge single; a great backing track, incredible lyrics and top notch musicality. One of the things that I love about these guys are they aren't afraid to take chances and be who they want to be and not someone that a record label wants them to be.  They've released all their music on BandCamp and were actually named the #1 band out of the entire DC area out of 12,000 other artists.  They have experience in many different genres that allow them to push and pull in any direction they want to go.  They are able to make music that shows off the best of their talents without coming across over done or patronizing.  I think that if this track is able to get some traction, it could easily propel them into orbit.

The track is free so go to their BandCamp and get it and while you're there, grab their album Let's Go because you need it in your life.  It will make you a better person.  That much I am sure.

Mike and Cody @ BandCamp

Monday, September 24, 2012

Alphabeat - Express Non-Stop

This album should come with instructions. They would be something like this.

  1. Load Express Non-Stop.
  2. Press Play.
  3. Dance your ass off for the next 36:44.
  4. Go back to Step 1 if you are not euphoric (but that'll never happen).
I am so not kidding.  I haven't played a pop album in a long time that just made me this happy.  Listening to this album is the auditory equivalent to having a box of puppies dumped in to your lap.  I think it is physically impossible to not just feel so refreshed and uplifted by just the sheer joy this album produces.  I think this album personifies how they all feel about each other because there is no way that people that don't like each other could make this music.  Yes, I am gushing because it is so fan-freaking-tastic.  This album is going to be what I need in my life when I get down because it will immediately pick me up.

You would think that an album with this much energy would just burn out about half way through but it never does.  They never get to a point where it sounds labored or like they had to fight through the creation of a track.  Not many artists are able to maintain this level of energy but since day one, I think they are the epitome of just pure and simple joy.  

Express-Non Stop is made up of 10 tracks that just build to make sure that you get to where you need to go.  We start off with "The Beat Don't Stop" and it just comes out of the gate swinging and from start to finish, the beat doesn't stop.  "Love Sea", the next track is also the second single and it's super fun.  I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago.  You can read what I said here ------> {X}.  "Since I Met You" and "Younger Than Yesterday" slow things down just a bit and tap into some introspection. These are excellent examples of how you continue the party all while showing off the softer side of Alphabeat before getting ramped up again with "Mad About You", which is this super cool Grease inspired romp through the 60s (or at least that's what I hear).  "Express Non-Stop" has painted this image in my head of a funky train going through the European countryside where our main character is trying to get to his/her baby and everyone on the train is in their best 70s disco get up.  "Vacation" was the first single off the album and you can read what I said here.... {X}  "Brand New Day" is THE pick me up song.  It is the song that will chase every bit out doubt away from anything I do from this point on.  There will never be a situation where I can't win beause of the steel drums and the overwhelming posititvity in this track.  "Show Me What Love Is"  brings us back to the ballady portion of the album and these are ballads (Alphabeat Style). And the album closes out with "Love on the Line" which has this Sandra Dee meets Dancehall Lite vibe to it that totally works.  I can see Stine in a poodle skirt listening to Frankie Valli in the video while she makes puppy dog eyes at her boyfriends 8x10 photo.

It's an incredible album and it's available for worldwide download at there website.  I say go get it now because it's one of the best I've heard in a long time.  It's just amazingly good.  

Alphabeat on the Web

Friday, September 21, 2012

Titus Jones - After Shock

It's 12:30 and I've been fully immersed into the world of Titus Jones again. It's so easy to forget how awesome it is to be right in the middle of his art until you're there again and you don't ever want to leave. After Shock is his second release of mash ups and I use that term loosely because that's just the genre. What he does is more than just cram a handful of songs together. His music starts with a concept and he carefully selects tracks that tell his story and then he weaves them together with magic and bubble gum and string and at the end when it's all said and done, there is something new. Something that is so much greater than the sum of it's parts.

Let's look at the incredible "Fuckin' Power Rangers".  Who would have ever thought you could take the Power Rangers theme and use it as a backdrop for an empowered stand up and take charge song that features Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Ludacris & Destiny’s Child?  He just works magic and everything falls into place like it was supposed to be there all the time.  This is just one tiny example of how he does amazing things with beats and lyrics.  You never ever hear a seam where he stitched the tracks together.  It sounds like he has masters that he pulls vocals and tracks off of to work with.  It is truly amazing.

I love his selection of artists, from Ke$ha to Alex Clare to Adele to who the hell could ever think about taking Sweet Child O' Mine, Sugar, We're Going Down, Laffy Taffy and mix it with Sex & Candy?  I think he has become one of my favorite independent artists and I support everything he does.  This album is every bit as good and in most every case, better than Culture Shock.  He's taken his experiences and practiced with the the tools he has to become an amazing dj/producer.  Even though the album is a free download from his website, you should follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud and give him lots and lots of love.  He deserves it because he has taken the time to share his art and his love with us.

Titus on the Web

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mika - The Origin of Love

This week we've learned The Truth About Love and now we get a glimpse into The Origin Of Love.  My first thought when I heard the title of Mika's third album took me back to Hedwig and the Angry Inch to one of my favorite songs from that soundtrack and while there is a similar level of camp in both recordings... that's where the similarities end.  What you get each time Mika releases an album is growth and maturity but you also get a tremendous amount of experimentation that almost always pays off.  I have yet to be disappointed and this album is no different.  The album isn't out until October 16 and I can tell you it's going to be an almost unbearable wait until it's officially released.

The album is nothing short of pure infectious pop.  From start to finish, there isn't a song that doesn't just build and swell and you just get wrapped up in it and before you know it, you're bobbing along with the track and then it's on to the next one.  It is so easy just to forget everything around you with this album playing.  By the time you get to "Heroes", you are so invested it doesn't matter what the next track is and in this case, it's a helluva song.  Up until that point there are so many highs I don't think there was ever a lull.  From the sample from Wicked used in "Popular Song" to the push and pull of the tide in "Undertow" there are so many great tracks.  "Lola" and "Emily" are two girls that you would have a great time at a party with.  "Love You When I'm Drunk", "Overrated", "Celebrate" just are upbeat crazy songs that you never want to end.

It's an incredible album that I can't and won't pick favorites.  I will say it's a hard decision between which I like better, this album or Life in Cartoon Motion but they are both amazing albums.  October 16th is going to be a great day and I will be waiting on my download of this album.  It's going to be so great to have it in my possession.  Does the album stand up to my association with Hedwig?  Yes sir.  It does and then some.  I've said it before, 2012 has been an incredible year for music and it's not done yet.

Bright Light Bright Light - Feel It (Official Video)

"When the world falls apart, you're the reason there's still hope in my heart".

I don't think it gets clearer than that.  That's a lyric that makes you just swoon.  That's a lyric that you want said to you.  It's what a mixtape is made up of.  If this was 1992, I would be sitting in my room with a blank tape in my boombox waiting for the radio station to play this song so I could record it off the top 10.  I would then listen to it over and over until I had worn out the tape.  I don't think there is anyone of the cassette age that doesn't know exactly what I'm talking about.  It was that magical age before the internet and digital downloads when you went to Sound Shop or Camelot Music at the mall and bought the cassette single so that you were on the cutting edge.  When the invention of auto-reverse on my Sony Walkman changed the whole game.

Rod Thomas, aka Bright Light Bright Light, is hands down one of my most favorite performers of all time.  He is honest and he creates music that has an incredible way of getting straight to the heart of you.  He can conjure images and emotions with 8 bars and it's the most wonderous trip you've ever been on.  This video is for his new single, "Feel It" which is one of the most amazing tracks off his debut album and I think I've said it before...if this is just his debut...I can't wait to see where he takes us next.  But back to "Feel It".  

I'm going to make a gigantic profession.  I am going to throw caution to the wind and just say it.  You are the  person that I want to spend my time with.  You are the person that makes me feel all the feelings and if I don't let you know then I may just go crazy.

You know you've been there.  You know that you were going to make a huge ass out of yourself but you had to because the words were burning a hole in your chest and they had to come out.  This is what I'm talking about.  This is how I know that BLx2 is a genius.  He takes what I'm feeling and puts it into the words that I knew were there but didn't know how to express them.  There are only a handful of artists that I trust implicitly with my emotions and he is one of them.

The video is super fun.  There's nothing over the top or outlandish.  You don't need all that when the music speaks for itself.  What the video does have is a cameo by Rod's good friend, Del Marquis.  I want to see a side project that has the two of them and they make amazing 90s inspired pop and they have crazy guests on the album: Crystal Waters, Rozella, Company B, Cathy Dennis.  How fun would that be.  Someone set up a Kickstarter, STAT!!

Bright Light x2 on the Web

Twitter: @brightlightx2

Pink - The Truth About Love

I don't write about super popular music often because I feel like they get plenty of press and I like to route for the underdog but occasionally an album comes along that is just great and I want to throw my two cents in.  P!nk's The Truth About Love is probably going to be hands down, one of my favorite albums this year. The blend of song choices from ballads to uplifting honest pop song combined with the anthemic social commentary is genius and doesn't come across as preachy or overbearing.  She has kind of become a champion of the downtrodden and the forgotten and she does an incredible job of being a positive role model through her music.  One of the coolest things that she did with this album was release a lyric video for each of the songs on the album prior to the release.  I think this did a helluva job generating interest, even though she didn't really have to try.  She has amazing guests on the album.  Lily Allen, Eminem and Nate Ruess from fun.

The album opens with a barn burner of a track in the form of "Are We All We Are" and doesn't really stop. The opening of "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" reminds me of a Two Door Cinema Club song and it raises a clenched fist at a shitty relationship.  "Just Give Me A Reason" is her duet with Nate Ruess of fun. and the song is amazing.  It's a relationship song where the parties just aren't communicating and they are at different places in the relationship.  Their voices are great together and it's just a kick ass song.  "True Love" has Lily Allen sharing vocal duties but you don't get her until the middle eight.  Cause you know that's where everything changes.  The same can be said for Eminem on "Here Comes The Weekend".  The closing track, "The Great Escape" is probably one of my favorites.  It reminds me of "Glitter in The Air" and that's a helluva track.

The album is great.  It's pure P!nk.  It's rebellious, it's raucous, it's just a great mix of tracks.  If you're a fan of power pop or of Miss Alecia Beth Moore, then I suggest you purchase it from your favorite media outlet because you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kristine W - Everything That I Got

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing this woman in concert at Adonis in Cincinnati in 2008. She is the absolute living end and the hardest working woman in the dance industry. Not only did she sing and dance, she played the guitar and saxophone during the set. I have loved Kristine W for far too many years to make either one of us feel comfortable. She is truly an inspiration on top of being a top notch singer and entertaintress. "Everything That I Got" is the first single off her upcoming release, New & Number Ones and it should come as no surprise that this song gives you everything that is Kristine W.  It's fun, it's catchy, it's a bit over the top and more than anything it's honest.  Her voice doesn't sound modified or autotuned because she doesn't need it.  She is an artist above all else and I am proud to be one of her fans.  If you want a dance anthem, she's your gal.  If you want someone to raise your spirits, you can't go wrong.  The album is out on Sept. 25, 2012.  Make sure you get a copy because it's going to be hot!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Outasight - Now or Never (Official Video)

Huge fan of Outasight.  I love how he incorporates pop sensibilities into his music.  I love how he also generally has a very positive message in his music.  I don't think this video could be done any better to showcase the overall vibe of the song.  A bunch of people having a great time in different situations.  It's a fun video and makes you just feel good.  I don't think there's a lot to be said so I'll let the video do the talking for me.

Outasight on the Web


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Missing Andy - Generation Silenced

Way back in April I wrote a little piece about Missing Andy and said that they were a potential evolution of the boy band movement in London at the time.  I also said that if I ever got around to getting a copy of their album, I would talk about it.  I made the purchase today and I have to say that I am blown away.  My initial statement that they were a boy band only goes as far as being a general descriptor of their gender.  They are guys and they are a band.  That's pretty much as far as that goes.  What this band is, however is an outstanding pop band that has created one of the most solid debut albums I think I've heard in a long time.  This is one of the main reasons that I am so thankful that the music industry is global, it may take me a bit to find the music or for it to be released in the US, but I am damn thankful when it is.  There aren't bands like Missing Andy in the United States and I am ecstatic to be able to say that I own this album.

They were runners up on the Sky1 talent competition, Must Be The Music in 2010 and have done an amazing job separating themselves from the show and generating quite a loyal fan base utilizing social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.  When asked about their time on the show, lead singer Alex Greaves says, “The TV show kind of damaged us a bit, but good things have come of it,” says Greaves. “The bottom line is we will be at the top and we will take over the world so f**k the people that thought we sold out to go on the show”.  So they were able to take something that could have easily been perceived as a negative and made something exceptionally positive out of it.

The band has a sound that when you sit and listen to the album from start to finish you can hear so many influences ranging from Take That to Oasis to Madness and even some vocal stylings that are similar to Morrissey.  There's some ska and some punk and some pop and rock and the combination of all of these genres and styles come together to make this so much more than simply a pop album.  From start to finish there isn't a song that I don't like.  Every song, including the ones that poke fun at themselves, "Dave" and "Indie Kid" are great.  They are irreverent and show that the band can deliver when it comes to anything and everything.

One thing that has always amazed me about singers the UK is that when they sing, they lose their accent.  Alex Greaves, however seems to have control over when it comes and goes.  I think that's an incredible thing because it adds yet another layer of depth to the recording.  It sets his vocals apart from other singers.  Every now and then you can hear some of the same qualities that made Liam Gallagher brilliant.  Listening to Alex spit the lyrics on "Scum" is a pretty powerful thing.  The song is anthemic and when you listen to it, you go "Fuck Yeah.  I get it.  I understand what they mean".  With songs with clear social commentary like "Scum", "Kings of the Weekend", "Sing for the Deaf", "The Way We're Made" and "A Call to Arms" it's easy to understand this quote from Steve Rolls:  “The album is called Generation Silenced because nobody is speaking up for our generation. Nobody has represented our voice for too long. Not even Oasis at their height – great tunes, but did they speak out for anything? Not really. We do."

It's a brilliant album and I want to hear more from them.  Take some time and give them a listen.  I promise it's well worth it.

Missing Andy on the Web

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Overtones - Loving The Sound

Where do I even begin.  I guess I need to thank Paul over at Fizzy Pop for doing an incredible video breakdown which made me watch this video.  Secondly, wow....I mean wow.  This is incredible.  The guys in the group are lush, the sound is lush and this song is just over the top incredible.  These are the guys you want to take home to meet your mom.  They are the ones that you doodle little hearts around your names in geometry class instead of learning theorems.  They are amazingly classy young men that can actually deliver when it comes to the art of singing.  Not many people can actually do that anymore and for them to just hand you this amazing harmony and performance, I mean damn.  If you want to kill some time and not feel bad for doing it, subscribe to their Youtube channel and just watch the videos.  I think I have found my next big obsession.  

I have been a huge fan of doo wop and vocal harmonies all my life and to hear a modern band throwing a contemporary spin on the genre does a body good.  This is the music that you just feel good listening to.  It's the music that lifts you up and replenishes your soul.  It's fun, it's wholesome and makes you want to just step back in time.

The Overtones on the Web
Twitter: @the_overtones

Monday, September 10, 2012

Justin Utley for Suicide Prevention

If you've been with me for any length of time, you know that Justin Utley is one of my favorite singers of all time.  His honesty and candor come through his music without any hesitation and he has this amazing ability to touch every part of the human condition without trying.  You know that I had the opportunity to see him in concert and talk to him after the show and he shared stories with me about some of his songs and where the inspiration came from.  One of the songs we talked about is a track called, "Behind My Eyes" and when I initially reviewed his album, I thought the song was about a break up but he opened up and told me that the song was actually about his aunt committing suicide before her 49th birthday.  As soon as he told me the story, my whole perception of the song changed and I immediately became emotional.  The next time I listened to the song I was alone in my truck and actually had to stop because I was crying.  There is a lyric in the song where he says, "You said that you'd be a phone call away and I still got your number, just in case." and that just gets to the soul of me because I know what it's like to lose someone that you didn't have the opportunity to say goodbye to.  Even sitting here writing this, I am getting choked up because of the earnest quality of his voice and delivery.

Today is Suicide Prevention day and Justin has made the magnanimous decision to take all the proceeds from the sale of his album this week and donate them to the Trevor Project.  If you have been wavering on the purchase of his album, this week is certainly the week to do it.  I've talked about how incredible the album is and I've talked about how amazing he is.  He will continue to be a constant source of inspiration for me and for so many young people out there.  His story is one of perseverance and never giving up despite the epic proportions of shit the universe can heap on you.  The album is less than $10 and it's probably the most important $10 you've spent all year.

Justin on the Web


Newest Obsession: Shiny Toy Guns

I realize that I am very late to the party on this band. Almost too late to be considered fashionably late but I'm here and that should be all that matters. I don't know if its the mixture of rock and pop and synth mixed in with the male versus female vocals or if it's just the awesome synchronicity of them all but there is something about this band that is simply magic. I have a very difficult time picking a favorite female vocalist, Carah Faye or Sisely because they are both amazing in their own rights. I like to think that I can hear some Dale Bozzio and Terri Nunn in their vocals. There are so many positive influences you can pick up in their music but it's more than that. They have created their own sound out of the remnants of all these amazing components that make them so much more than a simple synth pop group or even an indie band. They are an amalgam of the best aspects of each genre.

To date, they have only released 2 albums but when it's actually boiled down, their first album, We Are Pilots, was released 3 times by different record labels.  Each time it was released the track listing was different and there were different amounts of songs each time. Carah Faye Charnow was the female vocalist on the first album and she is great.  She has amazing musicality and I love the earthiness of her voice.  I think my favorite track off the first album is "The Weather Girl" followed by "Rainy Monday".  Carah Faye is an awesome vocalist and seeing her in videos shows how much stage presence she has.

The direction the band went with the second album was just so different than the first album. It was more rock and roll than the first album.  There's nothing wrong with that at all, but if you were expecting to hear a similar sound, you would be disappointed.  Sisely Treasure is as different of a vocalist in comparison to Carah Faye as the sound is from album to album.  Where Carah Faye had a grounded quality to her voice, Sisely is just balls to the wall.  "Ghost Town", the second single hits the ground running and you have to keep up with it.  "Ricochet!" is another example of how the sound is just rock and roll.  Again, there's nothing wrong with the's just so different.  It's almost like two completely different bands.

After the second album, they recorded covers of Peter Schilling's "Major Tom" and Blue Oyster Cult's "Burning for You", both for commercials for the Lincoln MKZ and MKS respectively. Most people will recoginize their version of "Major Tom" from the commercial.

Shiny Toy Guns on the Web
Twitter: @shinytoyguns

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Parralox - Sharper Than a Knife

In what's probably the best lyric video I've ever seen, Australian pop group Parralox have recreated tons of classic album covers for their new single, "Sharper Than A Knife".  This song is so poppy and bouncy that you can't help but to get swept up in it.  You watch the video the first time through to get all the lyrics then you do it again and again to see how many album covers you can name.  I am new to this group but after this video, I need more of them in my life.  I will keep you informed when I learn more about them.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Meet Nik Miles

I've recently had the great pleasure to get a sneak peek at what could possibly be one of the next great things to come out of Sweden.  A recent transplant to Sweden, Nik Miles has already begun making a name for himself in the club and circuit scene around the world.  Working with visionaries such as Mary Brown, Jerry Bragin and Holli Ross; Nik is well on the way to stardom.  His unique vocal sensibilities set him apart from many other male pop artists as he is able to deliver on an emotional level that not many other artists can.  He has a genuine quality to his voice and demeanor that set these tracks head and shoulders above the rest.  I think a lot of that has to do with the Swedish influence that can be heard in the production.  I can tell you that this debut EP is going to blow the doors wide open for him and if handled properly, he will have the world at his feet.

There are no missteps in this EP and it's a HUGE EP (13 tracks and 2 remixes).  Each track builds on the previous one and Nik's voice is never overshadowed by the production.  There are super fun tracks and there are anthems.  I think the EP is an amazing showcase of what he can do.  It's got something for everyone and you are sure to find something that will pique your interest.  I have my favorites and when the EP is released, I will do a more formal review and talk about the tracks that I think are going to have the potential to be huge but until then I don't want to be a troublemaker.  

Trust me, Nik Miles is going to be huge.  You want to get in now so that you can say, "I knew him when".

Nik on the Web

Follow Nik on Facebook and Youtube so you can find out when the EP is going to drop.  When it does, don't be a dick and steal it.  Support the independent artists that support you.