30 April 2010

Buy This: Melissa Etheridge - Fearless Love

One of my favorite musicians, Melissa Etheridge, has seemingly been everywhere in the past week. I spotted her on Dancing With the Stars, Good Morning America, and loved her sincere interview on The View this morning. Her new single, "Fearless Love", is one of her best songs to date in my opinion and now her entire new album is available for only $3.99 on Amazon.com. I don't mean to sound like a commercial but that's a ridiculous price for such excellent material, especially considering that each song individually is 0.99 so you'd be a fool to only buy one.

I'll give you an example of how much a Melissa Etheridge record can mean:

One day in the summer of 2007 I was incredibly depressed. There was a liquor store within walking distance from my house and I would occassionally stroll over and purchase a cheap bottle of wine to drink alone in my room. I had just moved home from West Virginia and was still pining over a lost love. I felt more alone and lost than I ever have in my life. Next to the liquor store was a ubiquitous Drug Fair that sold a stack of compact discs next to the register. Occasionally I'd peruse the racks but never actually make a purchase. On this particular day I was really hitting rock bottom and needed something to take my mind off the trouble I was going through. This was actually my first big breakup and as anyone who has been there knows - that is probably the worst feeling on earth.

I spotted the cover of Melissa Etheridge's Breakdown instantly with a woman (her?) laying in a field wearing something that looked like a Mexican poncho. The title and photograph combined made me feel like there would be songs on this album that I could relate to in that moment.

I was completely right.

Those songs helped me through that entire summer and has remained one of my all time favorite albums to this day. This same feeling happenend again when I got Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled. I couldn't stop listening to it and her voice took me to another place. Songs like "Come to My Window", "Like the Way I Do" and my personal favorite "I'm the Only One" are iconic. And it's not just her songwriting that is soul shaking, it's the magnitude of her voice. In her covers of Tom Petty's "Refugee" and Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart", she finds something within the songs that I don't notice in their originals - there's a genuine ache in the arrangements that's really stirring.

What Melissa Etheridge is capable of doing with her voice alone, many musicians aren't able to accomplish with an entire band.

Here's proof:

I highly suggest you purchase her new album and while you're there, grab a couple old ones too and have a good shout (or cry - whatever you're in the mood for).

Fearless Love Tracklist:
(samples of every song are available on Amazon)

1. Fearless Love
2. The Wanting Of You
3. Company
4. Miss California
5. Drag Me Away
6. Indiana
7. Nervous
8. Heaven On Earth
9. We Are The Ones
10. Only Love
11. To Be Loved
12. Gently We Row

Somebody to Love: Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright is an interesting artist for me. I've never been a fan but only because I was never exposed to his music. It took a friend randomly playing "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" in the car one night for me to finally recognize his talent.

Even still, it wasn't until this week that I finally downloaded the song for myself. I cannot stop listening to it! It's one of those realizations that come on so fast that I'm left wondering how that is the only song of his that I own. I need more.

I'm not even going to claim that I know anything about his albums but I do know this song is off "Poses" and I hear the rest of the album is equally superb. It came out in 2001 when Wainwright was supposedly addicted to crystal meth and living in the Chelsea Hotel. During this time, he reached out to Elton John who in turned directed him to rehab after a really ugly turn in which Wainwright temporarily lost his vision.

Wainwright, 36, has a biography that reads more like a suspense movie and I'm disappointed that I didn't know much of his story before. There's so much to say about this guy: his Wikipedia page states that he would dress up in red lipstick and stilettos while singing Judy Garland and is quoted as saying he wasn't originally a big supporter of same-sex marriage because he "loves the whole old-school promiscuous Oscar Wilde freak show of what 'being gay' once was". Crazy!

I will definitely be following this guy more closely in the coming months and hope to aquire a lot more of his music immediately. How did I not know?!

Rufus Wainwright Discography

Rufus Wainwright (1998)
Poses (2001)
Want One (2003)
Want Two (2004)
Release the Stars (2007)
Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall (2007)
Milwaukee at Last!!! (2009)
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu (2010)

29 April 2010

Video of the Day: Todd Rundgren - I Saw the Light (Live - 1974)

I love vintage Todd Rundgren videos possibly more than anything else on YouTube. This one is not actually my favorite but "I Saw the Light" is one of the greatest songs of all time, by any measure, and I couldn't stop watching this tonight.

Mr. Rundgren is absolutely underrated for his songwriting, musicianship, and style.

Please enjoy.

April Showers Bring May Music Sounds

I've been listening to so much good music lately. It's almost ridiculous. I haven't been in the mood to write a real post lately though - sometimes the pressure in my head gets to be too much and I can't handle my own words. Words are really powerful. I know you know that already but each one of them is a gift that doesn't need to be wrapped (but they can be rapped - my attempt at humor).

I'm in a library right now with my fantastic headphones in tow and listening to some songs I just downloaded from my beloved best friend iTunes.

Sometimes when I write sentences like the above I wonder if it makes me sound like a friend-less nerd. I'm not. My favorite thing on earth (other than music) is a good margarita. There is no other alcoholic beverage that is as delicious or beautiful. I'd like one right now. I'd like one before class or before work or before a doctor's appointment.

Anyhow, hopefully you're not here to hear about me, you're here to listen to some incredible music and I intend to give that to you.

01 Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
02 Ryan Shaw - Morning, Noon & Night
03 Brenton Wood - Gimme Little Sign
04 Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - Crimson and Clover
05 Ringo Starr - Photograph
06 Shania Twain - It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing
07 Julie Ruin - I Wanna Know What Love Is
08 Ruben Studdard feat. Rick Ross - Don't Make 'Em Like U No More
09 TV on the Radio - Crying
10 Band of Horses - Laredo
11 Jay & the Techniques - Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie
12 Martha Reeves & the Vandellas - (Love is Like a) Heat Wave
13 Damien Rice - Cannonball
14 B.O.B - Nothing on You
15 Elton John - Teacher I Need You

You can listen to these songs under the playlist "Maven Mix" and check out other mixes at http://8tracks.com/angelicadiamond

I wasn't able to find Julie Ruin on 8 Tracks but here is the song below from YouTube. This is the lead singer of Bikini Kill sampling tracks and cursing like a crazy person. I'm obsessed with it for some reason, this is not usually my thing but a good beat cannot be denied.

20 April 2010

Women Rock (Or I'm Not Very Creative With Blog Titles)

I was just on my new favorite site, http://8tracks.com/, and randomly decided to create a mix entitled "Women Rock". Yes, not that creative but it is full of songs that do not die: "I Love Rock 'n Roll" - Joan Jett, "Something to Talk About" - Bonnie Raitt, "I'm the Only One" - Melissa Etheridge, and the INCREDIBLE "My Favorite Mistake" by Sheryl Crow.

Actually, I'm not a big fan of female singers. That sounds bad but it is certainly not a conscious choice. It just so happens that my absolute favorite musicians always seem to be male. There is not a single female that makes it to my top 10 (well, Fleetwood Mac..).

Yet when I was going through a serious break up way back when, I immediately turned to Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow religiously. Once again this was not a conscious choice but for some reason I gravitated towards their powerful voices and strong lyrics. This was about the time (early 2007) that I really started to learn about their music inside and out. I would go on a stationary bike and scream the words to "I'm the Only One" like the person I was directing it towards was right in front of me. It helped me blow off a lot of steam and I'm eternally grateful for this amazing music.

It wasn't until recently (as documented in another post) that I re-discovered Bonnie Raitt, another incredible female voice, and fell in love with women rockers all over again. Tonight I found myself listening to Heart, Stevie Nicks, and Patti Smith all in a row and enjoying it more than I could've imagined. These are voices I've heard all my life - with mixed feelings - and they've become part of my personal landscape. They're probably some of the only strong female influences I've ever known.

My cousin, who is an intense music lover in her own right, is a huge fan of female vocalists (although she'll deny that she has a particular preference) but they usually fall more on the pop side of the spectrum. If you're in her car for longer than ten minutes you're sure to hear Natasha Bedingfield, Katy Perry, or Shakira. She seems to rarely buy full albums these days but these are three of the most recent purchases.

Although this strays very far from my taste, I don't think there's anything wrong with this of course. I just find it interesting that if you compare our personalities, she is actually very into having female friends. She is always telling me about a debacle with one of the women she works with or a friend that broke plans, etc. She is very into being around females. I am not. I have some of the most beautiful, intelligent, special girl friends - but very few. I can't stress how unconscious this is (I would love to have more female friends) but nevertheless I have never been a girl's girl. I'm very feminine and fashion obsessed but I'm usually not compatible with many females. They confuse me. Is that wrong to say? Probably but I don't mean it like that. I'm equally confusing and so is every guy out there. My female cat is a much less complicated person than anybody I've ever met. She also has great taste in music.

Point being, I wonder if there's a correlation between my cousin loving to be around girl friends and also loving female voices and me having few female friends and not particularly listening to female artists. I'm probably looking way too much into it but I find it an intriguing coincidence (and the fact that I usually like deeper, raspy voiced female singers).

Maybe I'm just high.

So, in celebration of you reading this post, here's a great list of some of my favorite songs by some incredibly inspiring and immensely talented females of all sounds and styles.

Stevie Nicks - Stand Back
Melissa Etheridge - I'm the Only One
Bonnie Raitt - Not the Only One
Sheryl Crow - My Favorite Mistake
Cher - Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves
Heart - Alone
Mary J. Blige - No One Will Do
Adele - Cold Shoulder
Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind
Audra McDonald - Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home
Jewel - You Were Meant For Me
Mandy Moore - I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week
Amy Winehouse - Valarie
Beyonce - Me, Myself, and I
Billie Holiday - Speak Low
Sharon Jones - Got a Thing on My Mind
Queen Latifah - Hello Stranger
Regina Spektor - Eet
Nina Gordon - Horses in the City
Rihanna - Rude Boy
Mary Wells - You Beat Me to the Punch
Alice Russell - Hurry on Now
Carrie Underwood - Last Name
Chrisette Michele - Best of Me
Corinne Bailey Rae - I'd Like To

Check out my playlists at http://8tracks.com/angelicadiamond

16 April 2010

Video of the Day: Phil Collins - Another Day in Paradise

Hopefully I'll get the ambition for a much larger post on Phil Collins but I want to send this out into the world:

No one sounds better on good speakers than Phil Collins.

I don't know why but it's a fact (in my world at least). I don't think I even like him much as a person from what I've read about him but his voice is like a pretty bird from a heavenly village of lovely singing creatures.

Also, I'm not sure if I'm the only who thinks Phil Collins looks like Kevin Spacey but that's for another time.

I can't speak for everyone but if you're around my age, this 1989 hit will surely bring you back:

Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie - You Were Young and So Was I

Music is such a strange animal. Although I was born in the mid/late '80's, I feel like I grew up with my mother and aunt's music more than my own. While it is true that I was obsessed with Paula Abdul and had a Michael Jackson button on my winter coat, it was the music playing on CBS FM 101.1, the "oldies" station, that I recall as the music of my childhood. I've probably said it before but it was Bobby Darin, The Spinners, and Bobby Vinton that I thought of as musical geniuses when I was younger. I remember getting so excited when "Beyond the Sea" would come on the radio. That song along with "Heat Wave", "I'll Be Around", any Chicago song, and another silly favorite "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" were the songs that would get me going. Between the ages of 3 and 11, I'm not sure that I knew any other music exisited. It wasn't until TLC and who knows what else that my friends in elementary school made me realize that it wasn't "cool" to like oldies.

Although I wanted to fit in, it took me years to finally appreciate new music as it came out. Maybe by eighth or ninth grade I got the hang of it (and I'm not too embarrassed to admit that I did like *NSYNC - I thought their vocal harmonies were excellent and I still do).

For a long time after discovering Pete Yorn, basically the artist who got me into the style of music I still most enjoy today, I let go of some beloved oldies tunes. I got so absorbed in new singer/songwriter music during my teen years that it wasn't of interest to me to listen to the same old songs I had been hearing since my youth.

Since high school that has dramatically changed. MOST of what I listen to today has harkened back to that time in my childhood when the only thing I wanted to hear was classic R&B. It's not the easiest thing to explain because my favorite musicians still are John Mayer and The National, but as a whole classic soul/R&B is my favorite genre to hear. While I can point to certain musicians like Sam Cooke, The Temptations, The Spinners, and Mary Wells specifically, it's really the songs like Jay & the Techniques "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" that bring me back to that certain time in my own history that was the sweetest. It was a much simpler time for sure but also might have been the best time of my life musically.

I just downloaded that Jay & the Techniques song onto my iPod for the first time today and I've been listening to it nonstop. It is such a classic and gives me this wave of nostalgia that I quite enjoy.

Also, I should give credit where it's due: this post sort of came to me after reading about Phil Collins' new album full of motown covers, trying to give homage to the music of HIS youth that he claims to love most of all. I adore Phil Collins and although I was hoping, like many others, to hear some new material, I'm super excited for this new album.

So give this song a listen - and don't forget to check out more classic R&B on Amazon, iTunes, or wherever you get music.

14 April 2010

Something to Talk About

I know I talk about John Mayer too much but this is my blog so who cares?

I've been an extreme John Mayer fan for almost a decade now and although I've gone through my fits of loving "Neon", "I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)", and "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room", I truly believe "Assassin" off his latest album Battle Studies is the absolute best of his career. For my ears it is one of the best songs I have ever heard. I am a huge lover of all kinds of music but this song has something so indescribably special about it. It is a sweeping, dramatic, dark, rock song with some of Mayer's best vocals and phenomenal guitar solos.

My absolute favorite part is when it breaks down in the middle with the bridge:

Suddenly I'm in over my head and I can hardly breathe
Suddenly I'm floating over her bed and I feel everything
Suddenly I know exactly what I did, but I can not move a thing
And suddenly I know exactly what I've done
And what it's gonna mean to me, mean to me
I'm gone

It is emotionally overwhelming. It's a perfect example of a song that goes outside the regular limits of a piece of music. It is not a song that stays within the confines of your headphones, it gets into your head and evokes a new feeling that sticks with you. A lot of John Mayer's songs do this for me but "Assassin" particularly has an inescapable net that gets me every time. There are so many different components all rolled into a nearly six minute song. It's an episode of a television show or a mini-movie.

There are a lot of biases that come with John Mayer's music for some reason and I'm aware of this. I know he's a love/hate celebrity and his voice is in that Conor Oberst/Bob Dylan category of such distinction that you either want to hear it all the time or think it's as bad as nails on a chalkboard but his musicianship cannot be denied. Even the biggest John Mayer haters recognize he is a brilliant guitarist first and foremost and his songcrafting skills are superb.

Forget "Say" or "Daughters" or any other schmaltz he has out on the radio, the real meat of any John Mayer album is in the deep cuts, the tracks you'll never hear on the radio (his best single, "Clarity", was rarely played after its release). Listen to a song like the bluesy "Come Back to Bed" off Heavier Things or my personal favorite "Covered in Rain" off Any Given Thursday and you'll hear the superior musicianship of a man far beyond his peers in terms of style, technique and ability. It's astonishing. This is a guy who has the nerve to cover "Bold as Love" and "Crossroads", two of the best-loved guitar tracks ever on his major label releases and actually pulls it off! (I don't completely understand his cover of "Crossroads" - chopping it up and making it jazzy but he makes it his own).

He is one of the only people I would EVER spend $100.00 a ticket on, let alone five times a year on some occasions. I may be a young female like the majority of his fans but you don't see a dude thirty times in a few years because he looks good - it is because he is a tremendous musician with the power and talent to put together some of the best concerts I have ever seen. His music is haunting, sophisticated, and sensual in a way that is usually reserved only for jazz. He is an absolute musical force. I don't care how dopey he is in his personal life.

There is a moment near the beginning of the new Tina Fey/Steve Carrell film "Date Night" where Tina's character is getting ready for a night on the town - "Heartbreak Warfare" begins playing and there is no dialogue during that time. When it came on, I immediately wanted to write a blog post about it: I completely fell in love with John Mayer's voice all over again. Embarrassingly I saw this movie alone (maybe because no one wants to be seen with a John Mayer freak?) and when the song came on, I felt like I was with an old friend. I probably would've felt this way about The National too but no other artist. Music is a faithful companion.

Embarrassingly once again, I can actually think of several times off the top of my head when John Mayer played at just the right time (during the written portion of my driving test, in the movie 'Serendipity', when I was sad in a supermarket..etc.). John Mayer and The National are probably better friends to me than most of my real life friends and definitely better than most of my distant family. And I believe if you all think hard enough about it you'll realize that your favorite musicians are the same way. Music is an all-encompassing, passionate art form that when used properly can take over every inch of your mind and body.

I'm in love.

(fan-made video that is really exceptional for John Mayer's "Assassin")

10 April 2010

Somebody to Love: Alex Lambert

Although this is the first season I have yet to miss an episode of American Idol (not the greatest accomplishment, I know) I don't particularly have a favorite yet. It's getting down to the top eight and really none of them impress me all that much.

This isn't to take away from the fact that any young person who can get on a stage in front of millions of people is amazing in one way or another but none of the music is really my cup of tea this season. Casey James and Crystal Bowersox have their moments of brillance (last week Casey had the best performance of the season in my opinion with "Jealous Guy") but it was Alex Lambert that has stood out to me as the real find of the year.

Eliminated right before the Top 12, Alex has recently been given a second chance at fame, getting a spot on the Simon Fuller internet reality series "If I Can Dream" documenting six rising stars lives in the Hollywood Hills. I watched the first episode with Alex in it and believe me, he is the only good part. This show is absurb beyond all measure but I guess it has semi-good intentions.

There is so much to like about this kid: his floppy, mullet haircut, shy demeanor, laid back personality, sneaky charisma, adorable smile, slight scar beneath his left eye, and most of all, phenomenal voice. This guy has a voice that is way beyond his 19 years.

Singing songs by some of my favorite artists throughout his time on Idol - John Legend, Ray LaMontagne, etc. - he was able to not only do them justice but bring a new flavor to them. More really is less sometimes when it comes to the simple, sweet songs Lambert was prone to choosing and unlike so many other young people who go straight to impersonations or overdoing the scatting, every performance choice felt like it was coming from his gut - he didn't seem to be thinking about it or going nuts with the showmanship - which could be why he was eliminated. Simon and the gang insisted on focusing on his lack of confidence instead of his incredible, natural gift.

I was hit with the desire to write this post upon hearing Lambert's brilliantly simple rendition of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" this morning at work. His voice does wonders for an already special song and I HAD to include my favorite of his performances, his own reworking of Mario's R&B hit, "Let Me Love You" which he did live on Ellen back in March.

I could go on and on about Alex Lambert but in fear of sounding like a pedophile, I think I'll just let you be the judge and enjoy these samplings. I swear, if I were an A&R person, I would sign him fast. He could really go places.

08 April 2010

Music I'm Downloading

Tonight, on a very slow night thus far, I got the idea to go through some of my cd's and rip some songs I have yet to transfer to my iPod.

Although there are some incredible songs I've been missing for a long time and have little excuse, my original iPod back in 2006 (I was a late bloomer in the iPod department) could only store about 1800 songs and I was suprised how quickly that went. For a long time prior to getting my new and improved iPod late last year, I was deleting really good songs off my old one to make room for new favorites. It was a sad day anytime I had to let go of some songs - I had a method in which I would arrange my entire library from "date last played" and delete the songs that weren't played in a long time in addition to only being listened to twice or less. I figured it was less of a loss that way.

Luckily it's the dawn of a new era and I'm in a position to continue adding another 2000 songs to my new iPod (hopefully not all at once or that would defeat the purpose) but I'm in a good spot right now, spacially speaking.
So far tonight I've been focusing on adding more Jimi Hendrix and The Clash (as inspired by a college course I'm taking on "Authenticity in Pop Music"). I had "some" of this music already including a few Hendrix covers but I have these entire cd's that I used to listen to and just now am getting inspired to go back to them. In addition, I'm revisiting Bonnie Raitt's "Luck of the Draw" and John Mayer Trio's "Try" which I've been meaning to add for a long time now.

I absolutely love Bonnie Raitt's voice and always recall John Mayer saying in an interview that seeing her live is a phenomenal experience. Apparently she knows exactly the right place to add a fresh word to a worn song and a little extra scat or emotional pause. She is pretty unbelievable over headphones too. "Not the Only One" is a song I should've been listening to consistently for the past ten years. It breaks my heart in the best way possible - and that is not even beginning to speak of the beauty that is "I Can't Make You Love Me" - holy cow. If you want to kill yourself, be sure to put that on the record player first. It's painfully elegant.

The Clash is a weird one for me. I will be honest and tell you that I don't know as much about them as I should. I know the titles of records and their biggest hits are my favorite of their songs. I'm not into the deeper cuts and "Rock the Casbah" was my ringtone right after high school. "Train in Vain" is one of my favorite songs ever and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" is really fun and a regular on playlists but other than that I can't claim to be a real fan. The only cd I ever gave a real, consistent listening to was "The Clash: The Singles" and I know that would be considered sacrilige to a true fan. Punk is something you have to grow accustomed to - like wine or Guinness. Oh but I must say "Spanish Bombs" is like a drug, I'm in love with it.

There's not too much you can say about Jimi Hendrix - or rather that I can say. I know some really die hard fans that would probably punch me in the nose for even trying to say anything about him. I really enjoy the sound of his music and I know he's a genius guitarist without being a guitarist myself. I can't read music and I don't know much about guitars beyond Guitar Hero but I LOVE - unabashadly love - the sound of good guitar playing. It's one of the most incredible things about music. Eric Clapton, George Harrison, John Mayer and Jimi Hendrix are all in my Top 20 favorite musicians of all time with the first three being in the top 10. I haven't given much time to thinking about whether or not it's generic to like those four but I will say I also love and greatly appreciate Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, B.B. King, and Robin Trower so maybe by proxy alone I'm not a total guitar idiot.

And of course there's nothing left to say about John Mayer. On April 12th the presale begins for his summer tour and you can bet I'll be at more than one of those shows although I've already seen him three times in the past five months. It's revolting, I know, but the greatest feeling in the world is being at a John Mayer concert. There is something about that music that feels like home.

03 April 2010

Music Video to Love: "Heartbeat Radio" - Sondre Lerche

The adorable Sondre Lerche wins once again with this clever video for his latest single "Heartbeat Radio" off his fifth album of the same name. The album was released on September 8 but just recently am I hearing a little more buzz about it.

Lerche is a brilliant singer/songwriter/guitarist with a knack for biting lyrics, humorous takes on serious topics ranging from love, death, memories, etc. and reinterpreting old standards in a whole new way.

This particular album didn't grab me in the way I wanted it to but Lerche is one of my favorite songwriters and luckily comes out with one or two albums a year. He's highly influenced by Elvis Costello whom he's toured with in the past and lives in Norway (two details I always think of with him).

As you may guess from the lyrics, I have never heard this song on the radio.

To learn more check it out here.

Heartbeat Radio Lyrics

Tell me what you think about this song?

Sue me if you reckon it's too long.
I wanna know how you really feel.

Tell me what you think this is funny?
Spending all my time and my money.
Trying to find
How you really feel.
The radio's perfect pitch makes me nauseous.
Oh, the Dimwits are digging a ditch
On my heartbeat radio.

Tell me what's the deal with the static?
FM has become automatic.
I wanna know, did the DJ drown
In a sea of reverb and compression?
Oh, but wait till you hear the refrain
On my heartbeat radio.

My darling, waves can't be replaced
But I will remember you.
I'd sell my soul.
Payola dole.
Still I'm not receiving you.

Tell me why you're changing the station?
What comes after heavy rotation?
I wanna know, am I coming through?
I wanna know, what I've done to you?

You're wearing out my favourite song
And everyone else's.
Oh, nothing but sad honky tonk
On my heartbeat radio.

My darling, waves can't be replaced
But I will remember you.
I'd sell my soul.
Payola dole.
Still I'm not receiving you.

Tell me what you think about this song?
Tell me what you're thinking of
Tell me what you think about
Tell me what you think about!

We laughed and cried
But don't ask why
My poor heart still beats for you.

My darling, waves can't be replaced
But I will remember you.
I'd sell my soul.
Payola dole.
Still I'm not receiving you.
Oh, my heartbeat radio

Ultimate Favorite: The National

I was having a small discussion recently with someone about "personal bands", basically a band that has so much personal signifcance to you specifically that it becomes Your Band. That group of music that is automatically associated with you and affects you like nothing else you've heard before. The one you become protective of and often crave more than any other.
The feeling some music gives off is so powerful that perhaps I'm not even old enough to understand it yet. It's not always easy to articulate something so meaningful and I know any other music lover - or lover of anything - knows what I'm talking about. We can try to dissect something to the death with our interpretations and analyses but it still doesn't do the feeling justice.

I have a lot of favorite music and although most of my preferences change from month to month, there are a few constants that all had different paths getting there but now remain ultimate favorites.

The National, my all time favorite band, is on the top of the list. Their music is overwhelmingly passionate, elegant, and haunting. These are the kind of songs that stick with you for a long time after the music is over. I don't know how they do it. Bryan Devendorf, one of the most unique drummers I've heard, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, multi-instrumentalists and geniuses in their own right, along with Matt Berninger, stunning lead singer and songwriter, and Scott Devendorf make The National's music seem otherworldly. I'm convinced they have found the perfect musical formula.

With the release of their latest single, "Bloodbuzz Ohio", and the live recordings of the brilliant "Runaway", another track off their yet-to-be-released album 'High Violet', I have found a whole new appreciation for their sound, something I didn't even think was possible at this point. Berninger's voice continues to get better and better with every recording and the band overall is at an all time high. My excitement for this new album is growing with every listen of these new songs and I felt an obligation to share them with anyone reading.

Please enjoy.

Bloodbuzz Ohio Lyrics

Stand up straight at the foot of your love

I’ll lift my shirt up
Stand up straight at the foot of your love
I’ll lift my shirt up

I’ll rest my eyes till the fever’s outta me
I’ll rest my eyes till the river’s in the sea
I’ll rest my eyes till the fever’s outta me
I’ll rest my eyes till the river’s in the sea

I was carried to Ohio in a storm of bees
I never married but Ohio don’t remember me
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe

I never thought about love
When I thought about home

I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floors are falling out from everybody I know

I’m on a bloodbuzz
Yes I am
I’m on a blood buzz

I’m on a bloodbuzz
God I am
I’m on a blood buzz

Lay my head on the hood of your car
I take it too far
Lay my head on the hood of your car
I take it too far

For more information on The National please visit their official site, http://americanmary.com/.

02 April 2010

Julian Casablancas - March 30, 2010

On Tuesday I was finally able to attend a concert at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, one of the best venues in the country.

My friend and I arrived with high hopes for the solo ventures of Mr. Casablancas, considering the brillance of The Strokes, his former/current band.

Unfortunately there was much left to be desired.

I'm a huge Strokes fan and immediately appreciated the singer's foray into unknown territory with his new music. Casablancas debut solo album, "Phrazes for the Young", clocks in at only eight official tracks, and while they're long enough for each to be cut in two and have double the songs, it's blantantly obvious that it's pretty short for a full length debut.
It's also obvious that this is not The Strokes Part II. Casablancas has his own synthetic sound that barely resembles anything on "Is This It" or even "First Impressions on Earth". Yet this is a difficult animal to tie down: although the recorded versions have more in common with Passion Pit, the live versions definitely bare more resemblance to the frontman's prior musical exploits - but not enough to satisfy an already meager audience.

I'd estimate there were about 500 or so in Tuesday's crowd that were dying for a little Strokes fix and receiving nothing in return (save for the one return of "Hard to Explain"). And it is 'hard to explain': people were yelling out "sing The Strokes" and a stranger standing next to me asked if I thought there would be any more in the set list. I responded "no" yet secretly hoped I was wrong. Why would we all be there supporting a solo artist's new material if all we were hoping for was more of the old?

Of course that's assuming the majority were like my stranger friend and me which hopefully was not the case. And this is not to say Mr. Casablancas was bad, in fact his voice sounded pretty great and he definitely puts on a good rock and roll show with his requisite black leather jacket and drink in his hand. The crowd and band were particularly on during the fantastic single "11th Dimension" which was the highlight of the night for me - and felt the most like he was fully succeeding alone.

Casablancas finished the night with the Saturday Night Live cult hit "I Wish it Was Christmas Today" and called it his "curse and blessing" to sing it every night, even out of season. That song seemed to get the crowd going more than any other but it wasn't enough to blow my mind. At only around 50 minutes, the concert was too short and I heard several people say that they wanted more - but what could be expected? Casablancas played almost the entirety of his album along with several "b-sides" (aka bonus tracks on iTunes) and a couple other random tunes to make his 12 song set as diverse as it could get considering the circumstances.

While The Strokes were a phenomenal band that I miss greatly, it's admirable to take a stand alone and make something different so I am respectful of that. It's just a little sad to see magic slip through the cracks.

Ludlow St.
River of Brakelights
Out of the Blue
new song
11th Dimension
Hard To Explain (The Strokes cover)
I'll Try Anything Once
Left & Right In the Dark
30 Minute Boyfriend

4 Chords of the Apocalypse
I Wish It Was Christmas Today