Friday, May 30, 2014

Magic Man - Out of Mind

Not going to do a whole lot of talking about this other than to say that Magic Man is simply one of the best Indie Pop bands around. They are constantly evolving and adding new influences to their sound to show how incredibly mature they're overall understanding of their music and their art is.  This is the lead single off their new album, "Before The Waves", that will be out in July.  It's an amazingly summery song with a strong bass line and superb synths that just make it soar.  Being around artists like Walk the Moon and Young The Giant has certainly rubbed off on their music and it's for the better. 

Philip Bonneau - Once Upon a Time

Starting this portion of the audio mix for his mixed media project, Brave New Secrets; with Lana Del Ray's lovelorn version of "Once Upon a Dream" sets the tone for this piece. It's haunting and it's a bit broken up but it's still a very hopeful song about that chance meeting so there's a sliver of a silver ling shining through. We then progress into "One Step Too Far" by Faithless with the gorgeous Dido on vocal duty.  This song almost seems like Philip is leading us down a path through a forest of his imagining.  We are looking for that person that is going to come along and sweep us off our feet but we are getting to the point that waiting for them is becoming problematic and almost not worth the effort.  Missed Connections.

Coldplay always brings the emotion and the drama.  Continuing the waiting, the longing.  The pang of loneliness and sadness coloring the edges of the mental images.  A short interlude brings us back to the empty path in the forest where the trees loom too heavily and the air is too thick and we find ourselves all alone.  And even though we are alone and our breath is too shallow, there's still a resolve that can't be quashed.  If we look into ourselves and steel our reserve of self worth and courage, we can make it to the other side of this.  And when we do, the forest opens up to a glade where all manner of Fae and creatures are dancing and frolicking in the moonlight.  With a soundtrack provided by Bastille.

Philip is building an allegory about the human condition through visuals and auditory stimulation that is simply brilliant.  The feelings that he's able to invoke through his musical selection are incredible.  He paints these images with a brush that's so colorful and infectious that it's impossible not to see what he's building.  Stick with him on this journey of self reflection and you may just learn something about your own experience.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Kendall - It Ain't The Rain

There's never been any type of secret about my love affair with Kendall Kelly's music.  Doesn't matter if it's performance art or hip hop to pop or dance, if this man creates it; we are guaranteed that it's going to come from a place of importance to him.  I don't think he's ever done anything superfluous or just because he could do it.  I strongly feel that everything he's done in his career has been calculated perfectly to not only affect healing within himself but to his friends, fans and family. 

And as much as I love esoteric Kendall, this minimalist, Spartan Kendall is my favorite iteration of his persona.  When it's just him and a bare backing track, you really get to see him for who he is and what it is that he's been going through.  You are then able to take that in hold it up against your life and find reflected in his performance some truth about your own existence.  We've all been at a point in our lives when we realize that for better or worse, there are times when we just have to give into the plans the universe has for us.  Doesn't matter what we were thinking about at the time, when it comes down on us; and it will, in buckets or droves... we have to submit to it and let it wash over us.

How far do we let ourselves go, though? If we submit wholly to it are we ever going to get ourselves back or have we gone too far? Is it enough to lose our sense of self to let this change happen? Are we conscious enough of our decisions to be able to be able to find our way back if we have to?  Kendall has this magic about him that causes these questions to be asked and it's then our responsibility and our right to do enough self reflection to answer them.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cars and Calories - To The Extreme

At first I was hesitant about this track because the title made me relive the 90s and Vanilla Ice but I got over that once I heard Jim Bergsted start to sing.  The falsetto he commands is incredible.  He's been compared to Owl City and it's easy to see that.  So if you're a fan of Owl City or The Postal Service, you are going to have an exceptionally easy time sliding into this track and this group.  These two gentlemen from Oslo have a sound that's more pop/rock than EDM so I think that's going to give them an edge over some other artists that are coming out of this area but that being said, Scandinavia is one of my favorite places for music because for whatever reason, more consistently good artists are created there than anywhere else in the world.  I don't know if it's the water or the climate but something is helping mold these incredible pop stars. I want to be there when they blow up because they're going to do big things.

This song is just so catchy and easy to get into.  There isn't too much production and it doesn't sound overworked.  Between the lyricists and the production team, they have created a track that focuses on the best qualities of everyone.  There's no way in the world you're going to get the chorus out of your head with anything but a crowbar or a song from the Frozen soundtrack.  The way the instrumentation swells during the chorus and the hook just pulls you right along with it.  It's got all the elements to just own not only dance charts but pop charts as well. It's fun song that will have you listening on repeat for quite a while.

This was my introduction to Cars & Calories and after going back and listening to the other tracks, they have a consistent quality to their music that assures me that they aren't simply a flash in the pan.  Their particular brand of pop music just builds into this huge ball of energy that can't be denied.  Because they're so high energy, it wouldn't be unheard for them to play huge stadiums or smaller club style venues with everyone in the audience just partying their butts off.  I think the consistency between their three tracks bodes well for a fantastic debut album.  I want to say that they've tapped into two of my favorite things, Cars and Calories.  But I now have to just add them to my list of favorite things too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pentatonix - Love Again

This song. This song. This song. I just.... Firstly, their makeup is SICKENING!  Mitch looks so good and Ari is killing me.  I've been a fan since they were on The Sing Off and they are growing every time they release a new track.  I actually forgot on several occasions through this song that they were an acapella group and the only instrumentation is done with their voices.  I just cannot express how much I am in love with this song.  Ari and Kevin have one of the heaviest low ends in music today.  I actually had to turn the volume down because I was getting distortion from how deep the bass was hitting.  And don't get me started on their range as a group.  Scott, Kristie and Mitch don't slack on their end of the arrangement at all.  For this being an original track, I say stop with the covers and give me more of this.  With songs that are this good, they could easily dominate the charts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Shadowboxers - Not A Bad Thing (Justin Timberlake Cover)

This is a cover of Justin Timberlake's "Not A Bad Thing" from "The 20/20 Experience".  To be honest, this was my first experience with the track and I can honestly say, unless JT's version is mind blowing, I don't want it.  I had the opportunity to see The Shadowboxers as part of the Communion Tour with Johnny Stimson.  These Atlanta boys know how to build an amazing song, cover or not.  Their harmonies are inspired and their musicality is bar none.  They know exactly how to work with each other so that they aren't competing for lead at any point in time and they know what it means to be part of a team.  It's honestly incredibly refreshing to hear the cooperation in their vocals.  It makes for such a full song.

I'm going to be covering them a lot more because they are simply stellar.  For now, run out and grab their debut album, subscribe to their youtube channel and support them.  The more support they get, the more amazing recordings they'll bless us with and the world needs more of their art.

The Shadowboxers on the Web
Twitter: @theshadowboxers

Kiesza - Hideaway

Nothing makes me happier than 80s Nostalgia.  I love the Freestyle movement and I love how this taps into everything I need it to be.  She is giving me Cathy Dennis and D-Mob.  She's giving me the Running Man and the Bus Stop and she's done it all in one take.  A Calgary native, Kiesza started out as a folk artist before realizing that she had a penchant for house music.  Recorded one hour before getting on a flight, "Hideaway" shows her flexing her considerable vocal muscles in one of the most inspired throwbacks I've seen in a long time.  It's a super fun song and it makes me happy to listen to it.  Will be back with more Kiesza info as I get it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Foxy Shazam - Tragic Thrill

People are so fickle.  If something doesn't match the predefined ideals they have laid out in front of them, it has to not be good.  "Gonzo", Foxy Shazam's latest album is nothing like their previous outings and I, for one, am grateful.  This album shows so much growth and maturity.  It's stripped down, it was recorded in one take, from start to finish and it shows that Eric Nally and crew have the ability to reign in the chaos that makes their stadium rock so big.

So it doesn't surprise me that the video for the first single, "Tragic Thrill" also shows that same restraint and forethought the album does.  It's simple, it's not flashy, it's just easy.  Whatever it was that was pushing the guys through the creation of this album resonates with me because life isn't always loud and rawkus.  It's got sharp edges and is pointy sometimes and causes hurts and times of healing.  If you're a fan of the message Foxy has been giving all along, you can set aside all the petty bullshit the internet gives you and appreciate this album for the lighter side it gives us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kevin Zack - Wanna Go

Leave it to a Swede to make amazing pop music.  I don't know what it is that enables them to make music this good but it's mind blowing.  Kevin Zack is my newest Swedish obsession because his music just leaves you feeling good.  With his piercing blue eyes and boyish good looks, this young man has amazing potential to easily become a matinee idol.  When he's in front of a camera, he gives it all he has and you'd never know he was new to the music scene.

If you listen to his cover of "Be Still" or "God Bless the Broken Road", you can certainly hear he has the ability to deliver the emotional caliber these songs call for but then when you jump into his latest single, "Wanna Go", you are able to hear that side of his voice but the overall pop potential of the track takes over and makes you dance along with him.  I think he has the power and ability to become a massive star if he continues to work with the right producers and has the right people in his corner.

"Wanna Go" has a little JT swagger to it and it's got a bit of a hard edge to his vocals that make the song just a little dangerous.  It's got a lot more depth to it than a lot of pop songs and when the chorus hits, the song just explodes.  It's the dichotomy of the slow jam style of the verses against the uptempo chorus that gives this song it's bite.  It's a beautiful mix of hard and soft that keeps you easily interested through the whole track and the thought of hearing this on the radio or in a club is massive.

Kevin Zack on the Web
Twitter: @KevinZackAustin

Lovestarrs - Get Your Sexy On

In one of the most catchy, uplifting songs I've heard in a while; the newly branded Lovestarrs (formerly The Good Natured) do an amazing job of creating an atmosphere of fun and sexiness without pandering to the listeners.  Sarah's voice is deliciously amazing and the production provided by Hamish and George provide her the perfect vehicle to help all the couples in the video find love.  It's just a fun track that will stick with you for quite some time.  For some reason, this is the second time the video has been uploaded to Youtube and I'm ok with that.  I know the original video had over 50,000 views and now we just have to help this one get up there too.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tom Kiesche - I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

Actor, Performer, and Closet Singer Tom Kiesche first appeared to me as Clovis in season 2 of Breaking Bad (which I am currently binging) and even though his appearance in the show is minor compared to other actors, there was something that drew me to him.  I then checked his IMDB and his Facebook and was pleasantly surprised when I came across this video.  His version of Elton John's, "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" is simply amazing.  He gives more in the 3:50 of this song than most modern pop artist give in an entire album.

When you watch him sing this stripped down, bare version of the track and you see the expression and emotion on his face it's near impossible to not have an emotional response to what he's giving.  You see on his face that he's pulling from somewhere, there's someone that he's singing to and he means every word that comes out of his mouth.  Every nuance of his performance is purposeful but not forced.  He's not acting, he's just being.  When the edges of his mouth curl into a smile at "laughing like children, living like lovers" you see that means something to him.  You know that there is a connection to a memory and that comes through in his gorgeous masculine voice.  I listened to this track earlier today and it's been with me since and it's more than likely going to be with me for quite a bit longer.

Some people have made a "Brokeback" reference based on the denim shirt that he's singing with/into which is an easy mark to make and if that's what sells the song for you then so be it.  It's the emotional depths and authenticity he's willing to dive into that make this video everything to me.  I got to know more about Tom Kiesche in this video than I will ever get to know many pop stars.  It's an emotional vulnerability that so many people, men especially, are terrified to let out.  The look of longing in his eyes, the way his voice wavers; this is what pop music should sound like.  Don't get me wrong, I love my dancing girls and synth pop but an album of this would sustain me for so much longer.  I guess it's like comparing cotton candy for dinner versus a porterhouse.  They both taste good in their own right but one is going to stay with you for a lot longer and you'll be more satisfied in the end.

All I know is whoever is the focus of this song is a lucky person to have someone be this honest with them and to that person, You have a damn good man.  Don't fuck it up.