Monday, November 25, 2013

Matt Zarley - Hopeful Romantic

I've been a Matt Zarley fan for going on 4 years now.  He, unknowingly, helped me through the death of my boyfriend of 11 years in 2010 and since then he has been a mainstay in my record collection.  That being said, I implore you to find it in yourself to either contribute to this Kickstarter or share this with people that will because Matt has the ability to take things that you don't even know you're feeling at the time and put them to music.  His latest album, Hopeful Romantic will only get made if we help it get made.  When you think about it, if you're a fan of his music - you were going to buy the album regardless so why does this make it any different, only now; you get to say you had a hand in the creation of the finished product.  More than anything, he is a damn nice guy and he represents us, music fans, LGBT people, and everyone in between like not many other artists have.  I haven't gotten to know Matt as well as some of the other artists that I've reviewed over the years but trust me when I say the man is a genuinely decent human being with one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen.  So look at his campaign and watch his video and pledge something.  It's going to be worth it when the album comes out because I can already tell it's going to be beautiful and it will help me on the next part of my journey with a healed heart, and dreams in my eyes; I will be a Hopeful Romantic.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

John Kamys - I Want Some Sun

The most successful music artists in history have a way of reinventing themselves and pushing the envelope on their own musical process.  Jinx Titanic is no different; whether he is swaggering madly with the Super 8 Cum Shot crew or he's crooning with the Ladykillers, Jinx has no problem letting the public see what inspires him and showing different sides of his personality.  Trading in his punk heavy beats and his big brass band for slower tempos and more melodic productions, John Kamys' 2009 release of "I Wantt Some Sun" will certainly show you a side of him you've never seen before.  I have to say with all honesty and as much heartfelt sincerity as possible, it's one of the best albums I've heard in a long time.  It's one of those albums that will be known as "Critically Acclaimed" and I hope that it goes farther than that and that it's publicly loved as well.

For all intent and purpose, it would be easy to classify this record as a Country album but that's deceptive.  It's Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave and Porter Waggoner and Tex Ritter all rolled up into one package with amazing brass and strings and harmonicas but what it has mostly is so much heart and soul poured into an amazing record.  Over all the influences and beautiful production are John's gravely vocals that are just so distinctive and honest.  What he doesn't give away in his writing, you get in the inflection of each purposefully placed syllable.  The record is vulnerable and it's raw and it's earthy and it's a little bit of everything that makes American music amazing.  It touches us on a level that's accessible to everyone.  We are able to dig into our experiences and find meaning into each song.  So I don't think this is a country album, I think it's a John Kamys album.  Plain and simple.  It's not labeled, it is what it is.  It's love lorn and it's romantic and it's the gamut of feelings that can be accessed in 10 songs.

The songs paint pictures and build images in my mind.  When I hear the slow deliberate roll of "I Am Your Emergency", I see a car in slow motion flipping end over end in the most dramatic fashion ever.  The hopeful romantic in me sees a man in love sitting on a hearth as snow softly falls serenading the one he loves for the first time in "Boyfriend".  This song is going to stick with me for a long long time as it hits me right where I need it to right now. "Lilies of the Valley" just gives me a mournful kind of feeling because it's the end of something, whatever that something is.  His voice is just so soulful on this track and it makes me just close my eyes and stop what I'm doing and give the track my full attention.  Then when you fall into "Caught Between Two Worlds", you are taken to the Nick Cave place.  The deep dark place that runs chills up and down your spine.  And it doesn't really get too much happier after that because we are confronted with the doubt of what happens when the other shoe drops as John sings "Waiting for the Roof to Cave In".  Everything is going well and life is good, but how long does that get to last?

While his other projects have been playful and fun and sexy and dirty and all of the above rolled together, this album is 180 degrees from that.  It is one for the history books.  It's touching and it's hits you right in the feeling spot.  Don't get me wrong, "I Want Some Sun" and "Good Morning Wayne" are super fun tracks and they are fantastic but I am really in love with the more slowed down songs on this album.  They just stimulate so many emotions and I can really connect with them.  It's going to be on heavy rotation for a while because it came when I needed it.  I can't recommend this album enough and I hope you are able to get as much out of it as I have.

You can pick it up on Amazon for $8.99 and it's worth every penny in the self discovery you're going to do for yourself alone.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Logan Lynn - Hologram

Lately I've been doing a lot of introspection and a bit of retrospection as well.  I've been pushing myself to look at the world through different eyes to see what change I can effect opposed to what I can sit by and allow to make the changes for me.  It's important to realize that nothing is given to us and the important things in our lives are things that we have fought for.  They are what hurt the worst when they are ripped away from us because we have put forth effort.  If you just float by and don't stand for what's important to you then you're just going to fade into the background.  You're going to go unnoticed and you're going to simply passed over.

Portland, Oregon artist Logan Lynn posits a similar situation in his song, "Hologram".  It's been a while since this track was released but I just recently found him and that's all that matters.  If you've got no one that reflects all that is good in you, then are you actually there?  If you're not being challenged and reciprocated is there any purpose.  It's easy to get by on your own but when you have someone to share it with, it makes the process of simply being so much more.  Knowing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin/space is important but it's not much of a life if you're always alone.  Chunky, granola style beats and quirky melodic progression through this fantastic synth track bring out the independence in Logan's vocals.  It's brilliantly put together and it leaves you feeling a bit more introspective than when you started.

Logan on the Web
Twitter: @LoganLynn

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hayden Chance - Anatomy of a Wish

I know this has been primarily a music blog for a long time, but as I said a couple posts ago; it's now going to be about things that inspire me and nothing has inspired me more lately than the writing of independent author, Hayden Chance.  Hayden is a Chicago native and has surrounded himself with words his whole adult life.  Not finding the books he wanted to read on his local bookstore shelves, he decided to write them himself.  Here is the review I published on several book sites about his latest book, "Anatomy of a Wish"

There are too many authors in the world that write with far too much pretense. Hayden Chance isn't one of those people. What he set out to do in the beginning of this book is fully realized by the end. I picked up this book on a whim and I simply could not put it down. From the time I started it to the time I turned the last page, there was no where else I wanted to be. It's been a very long time since I had an author instill such a hunger in me (pun intended). He writes with a voice that is familiar and easy. You feel like you've known his characters and as an extension, Hayden himself for a very long time. These are people that you've encountered and you like them. You get to know and care about his characters quickly. I think if I had to pick a criticism, the book wasn't long enough. I didn't get to spend enough time with them. And that says to me there needs to be a sequel or four. I couldn't believe how quickly I fell for these people. There is an "a-ha" moment in the book and it actually made my heart soar when I read it. That's a quality that I also haven't felt in a long time. I lost all track of time as I was drawn into his part of Chicago.

I don't want to do a synopsis of the book, there are plenty of those out there. What I do want to say is this a story that I didn't expect to go where it went. There were honest to goodness twists and turns I did not expect and not once did I ever feel the ideas behind the writing were overworked or gratuitous. It's almost like every word put to paper was done because it needed to be there. It was deliberate but had a beautiful sense of ease to it. I gush because I am left with an amazing feeling after completing this book. And for that, I am grateful.

I found Hayden by chance on Facebook and started looking into his works and decided, what the hell. And I am damn glad that I did. I went ahead and bought Year of the Bull as a follow up because he has quickly found a place in my favorite author category. I am recommending and gifting Anatomy of a Wish to all of my friends who are readers because they will devour this book. I think if the rest of his works are as amazing as this one, Mr. Chase has cemented a place in my library as long as he continues to write.
If you're a fan of a little fantasy with your fiction, then don't miss out on this terrific book. There is so much I want to say about this but it's your turn now. Pick up the book and spend not near enough time with Griff, Jimmy, Reina and Hector. You'll be glad you did because it's worth it.