Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back to Basics: Bring on Some Bach

Classical music isn't always people's first pick but it should be...ok, at least one of the top 10 picks! Classical music is saturated with theory, technique, and the finest form of music. I'm all for variety, and I believe true musicians have very eclectic taste because they appreciate the form and function of genres that are done well. I also think it's truly important to get some classical music into your system. Why? It will refine and enhance your taste as a musician or music lover, and tune you in to theory and technique at it's best.

I was driving to some lessons yesterday and it was a gloriously rainy, just right stormy day. I favor rainy weather, contrary to popular "sunny days chasing the clouds away" notions. My friends swear this is proof I'm vampiric in addition to my overtly white skin, but I say I just like moody weather. As I was savoring the sound and rhythm of the rain, J.S. Bach's cello suite came on my playlist, and I was in heaven. In my version of heaven, there's much rain and exquisite cello music. It reminded me all over again why I adore music from waaaaaay back in the day. Get in the habit of listening to a bit of classical every now and won't regret it! And, for such a cause as this, here are some great classical tunes:


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Music Fix Monday: Oh Indie I Love You So

Since I'm a terribly busy and somewhat important-ish person, I'm throwing this post together on a Tuesday due to my 3 day weekend that was jam-packed with fun. I love Indie-Alternative music. The more off the beaten path a tune is, the more I'll probably like it [hence my love for jazz. What melodies ramble along more than jazz only to resolve oh so perfectly???] So for your listening fix today, I put together some great Indie bands. Featured artists:

Arcade Fire: I loved them before they won their Grammy, went big and got became suddenly famous. There's so much to love about this band from Quebec, proving good things come from Canada. They have a fresh, unique sound all their own. Love it? Of course we do.

Metric: unintentionally keeping with my Canadian Indie rock bands, Metric is a group of musicians from Toronto. They have a great sound that I can easily get into.

Damien Rice: One of my all time favs for his gorgeous melodies and equally lovely lyrics. This Irish singer is just good at spinning out tunes. He's also a bit of a philanthropists, and his personal activities include musical contributions to charitable projects like Songs for Tibet, Freedom Campaign, and Enough Project. 

Back to the music! Here are some great chill Indie tunes to get you going as you recover from your Memorial Day of fun:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

In the Summertime and Other Hot Thoughts

It's Memorial Day Weekend and oh the wonderful, wonderful things you can do! I grew up in a household where we didn't just do holidays, we made them a festival that was mildly to moderately out of control (but not quite). So trust, when there's an opportunity to celebrate, I jump all over it! I always think of it as the official kickoff of summertime, which is a season saturated with nostalgia, a few mistakes, a handful of summer flings, and a heap of fun. To help jump start the holiday weekend, I've gathered together from various billboards the most requested songs of summer [ok, one caveat: I added two Oasis songs because I got so excited when I saw them. I couldn't help myself]. Now get out there and make it a weekend you'll never forget! Just make sure you have the essentials: friends, family, food, fun, and sunblock. Well, I'll have sunblock. You little sun-worshipers can face the solar rays at your own risk.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Album: Trespassing (You Just Might Want To)

Adam Lambert is nothing if not entertaining, but he also knows how to do music. Even though he's a product of the squeaky-clean, main stream show American Idol, he successfully broke the mold and did his own thing. Since his discovery on the show, his sound has developed something very closely akin to modern day Prince or Queen. I'm not saying he's on level with those greats---few are, let's be real---but he's holding his own for sure. In his new album Trespassing, his sound has a lot of club-esque, high energy, fist pumping tunes that make you wanna dance-dance-dance! There's more use of electronic undertones and sassy overtones than in his previous album, and it works. He successfully contrasts this NYC underground party with some very deep, emotional songs like Runnin', Chokehold, and Outlaws of Love.

Adam Lambert has proven he deserves his place in the music arena, and he's delivering tunes that make me want to keep listen. On the whole, I enjoyed the album. It's that summer album that I love, because it's perfect for cruising around with the windows down and jamming to a great driving beat, or for that boat party that needs some high intensity tunes. Songs I'm going for: Trespassing, Kickin' In, Runnin', Check out his album here:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Music Fix Mondays: New Wave Revival Bands

There isn't too much I love about Mondays. It's the slayer of my weekend activities, and the bringer of all things boring and responsible (like the work week). Today was craaaazy busy! Fortunately, I don't have to slave away at a 9-5/M-F job so I get to make unofficial weekend days on say, Wednesday, but that only makes Monday marginally better. This past week and weekend were crammed with all kinds of great events, so I suspect it will take a while to recover. The one thing I do like about Mondays: getting my music fix! I really crazy about the edgy, artsy sound of new wave/post-punk revival bands, so  here's my pick for today covering some stellar New Wave Revival bands.

M83 played a sold out performance last night at the Granada Theater here in Dallas. IT.WAS.FABULOUS! Props to both the band and venue for putting on a great show. This band is known for it's stellar mix of ambientpop and dance table beats that make you want to keep coming back for more.

Midnight City by M83

The Naked and Famous is one of my favorite electropop bands. The entire album Passive Me, Aggressive You is a compilation of winning songs. I mean, literally winning, like tiger's blood/Charlie Sheen style. Groooan! Lame joke. Couldn't stop myself. Back to their success story: In 2011, the band garnered six nominations at the New Zealand Music Awards for Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Best Group, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Best Alternative Album and the People's Choice Award. Not band for a newbie band, I'd say! Their music is innovative and pulls me in. 

Like Punching In A Dream by the Naked and Famous

Young Blood by the Naked & Famous

Temper Trap is a band I looooove, as in I <3 them in a big way. Another post-punk revival band, Random fact about the band:  The group was named The Temper Trap after their first choice, Temper Temper, was rejected due to its use by a United States band.I have no clue who Temper Temper is, and I think Temper Trap sounds much catchier anyways. All's well the ends well!

Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap

Bloc Party 
was introduced to me by my lovah Samuel, and I've been hooked ever since! They have a great sound! I have a thing for the Brits. Their music just sounds better to me and maybe a touch more posh.

Banquet by Bloc Party

Pioneers M83 Remix by Bloc Party

Just getting started with the New Wave revival? Here are some other bands worth checking out that are high on my playlist:
Cold War Kids
The Fratellis
The Killers (an obvious choice...but make sure you check out Brandon Flowers solo release album!)
Shiny Toy Guns
The Libertines
Teagan & Sara
Vampire Weekend
The Yeah Yeah Yeah's

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Noteworthy Artists Seryn: Indie-Folk Done Right

My boyfriend tells me I have a inner hippie that is barely hidden away, and he's probably right. I drive a hybrid, eat a completely organic, clean diet, and have a mad love affair with nature. I'm a complete dork, I absolutely know it, but I love keeping life simple and natural. As much as I love city life, there's a part of me that wants to roam about with no buildings in sight. I think people's personal tastes are mirrored in their music preferences, and so I doubt it's much of a shocker that I have a strong penchant for Indie-folk music.  Folk music has great origins. It was created by people who needed to tell stories to one another when no television sets existed; it carried heartbreak and high hopes for men and women who often didn't have the paper to write dear diary entries. There's something truly beautiful and a little haunting about today's folk music...when it's done right, that is. An Indie-folk song that doesn't stray too far from it's origins has the ability to evoke a strong emotional response in me.

Finding a great Indie-folk band can be difficult, but when I do, I'm hooked. Mumford & Sons rocked my soul and had a steady spot on my play list all last year.I've yet to find a band who captures the same wild, heartfelt, open air and endless hillsides feel of M&S...until I stumbled across the band Seryn. How can I put this...I have uncontrollable love for there music. It's achingly beautiful and simple, as folk music should be. The band released it's debut album in 2011 and was named a favorite at the SXSX that same year.

Happily, they'll be playing this Saturday at Live Oak Music Hall in Ft. Worth and also this Sunday at A Secret Living Room in Dallas. Because my man loves me, he's taking me to one of the shows. There is nothing hippie about him, so folk music is not his thing. He's gonna love the show (not)! But I will! I've included their entire album below for you to listen to. I recommend Track 1 So, Within, 5 Towering, Track 6 Our Love, Track 9 On My Knees.

Chelsea - violin, percussion, and bird chirps
Aaron - bass, trumpet, cello and bear roars
Nathan - guitar, guitar, geeeter, banjo, and guitar. And some mouth sounds.
Chris - drums, banjo, pump organ, guitar, accordion, bells, earthquake stomps
Trenton- ukulele, banjo, accordion, sings the sung songs

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Music Fix: I'm a Slave for You

The music scene has been all abuzz about Britney signing on as a judge for the X Factor.  I could come up with a few ways to spend her sweet $16 million paycheck, but the real question is does Britney have what it takes to judge musical talent? I don't think Britney is the most talented singer, and she's no performer like Michael Jackson, but love her or hate her, she has serious staying star power. It's no easy feat to make it big in the music industry like she has, and it's even harder to stay big. Britney has been the reigning pop princess since the late 90's, which a truly impressive accomplishment. She definitely understands how the music industry works, what it will praise or tear down, and she knows what how to deliver top hits.

I personally enjoy that cray-cray, lip-syncing, python carrying diva. I'm all about Britney circa late 90's when she was dancing around in a little school girl uniform [my own never looked quite so hot, although my girlfriends and I tried to vamp it up like Brit in our private school skirts] and singing songs like "Baby One More Time" and "Oops...I Did It Again". Starbucks owes Britney big time for all the free advertising they got as she famously guzzled gallons of fraps for the world to see. And the shaved head, umbrella wielding, mental meltdown Britney was beyond entertaining. She was like a terrifying and awesome upgrade on The Penguin from the old Batman series! Still, I'm glad Britney has gotten it together and is producing great dance songs like "Till the World Ends."  So, for your music fix this Monday, here's a little Britney flashback to help you decide if she's going to be a good addition to the X Factor. 

Baby One More Time (1998)

Oops...I Did It Again (2000)

Slave for You (2001)

Toxic (2004)

Gimme More (2007)

Till the World Ends (2011)

Want more information about Britney signing on with the X Factor? Check out this article.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Music News: Mad Men + Beatle Mania

Any other Don Draper fans out there? I'm a huge fan of the super sexy, scotch drinking, dark and brooding protagonist of the show Mad Men. It's one of the few shows I actually have time to watch (via my DVR...not enough hours in the day to fit in TV, people, not enough!) And just when you thought the show couldn't get any better, it DOES! In the latest episode aired this Sunday, it wraps up with a completely awesome Beatles song called "Tomorrow Never Knows." What?! Excellent plot and a song by one of my favorite bands ever? Too much! Or just right.

I LOVE THE BEATLES. I mean, love them. I've had Beatlemania since, well, probably when my dad listened to the world's most awesome rock band (ever, not subject to change) when I was a itty bitty fetus. That's how far back my love goes. But I digress. Awesome facts about this song:

* Mad Men produces paid a cool $250,000 for the rights to use the song in both the episode "Lazy Lazarus" and for the end titles. That's a significantly higher price than the going rate. So worth it. (You know that's change they have under their sofa cushions anyways!)

* This transaction makes the Beatles song the most expensive song the studio has used for any show.

* The Beatles Band has always been known for being purists. They don't typically allow television or film productions to use their songs, but the surviving band members plus Yoko Ono must also have a crush on Don Draper, because they gave their stamp of approval.

* The song is also featured in the film Sucker Punch. Unfamiliar with this great song? Here's your hookup!

"Tomorrow Never Knows"

Want more information? Check out this article or this link where I got my music scoop! 

Music Fix Monday: Concert Sampling

One of the great things about living in a city like Dallas is not only do we do just about everything bigger and better (in the opinion generated by our own humble, gianty bigger and better egos), but the music scene provides a steady flow of great artists touring through the Lone Star state. Summer lovin' in DFW is not only the season of overdone faux tans, crash diets, and pool parties (I annually participate in one out of those three and will leave it to you to guess which, but it's the option that requires shades and tons of SPF coverage), it's also the major kickoff of some fabulous concerts. Do I love it? Better believe I do! It's one of the things that makes our Dante's Inferno summers remotely bearable!

This month in May, we Dallasites have a great line up already ranging from classical to straight up rock. To satiate my own music fix, I've been listening to the music of these fab concerts I'm planning on attending and thought I'd share a sample of the may concerts in DFW. Many of you readers aren't here in Dallas, but don't worry! If you're digging the tunes, I've listed the tour dates of each artist below. Now start purchasing your concert tix!

5/16 Snow Patrol (SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS CONCERT) at the South Side Music Hall
"Called Out in the Dark" 

"Open Your Eyes"

"Just Say Yes"

"In the End"


"Chasing Cars"

5/10 Jane’s Addiction at the McFarlin Auditorium "Jane Says"

"Irresistible Force"

5/6 Mozart & Tchaikovsky at the Meyerson Symphony Center
Mozart's famous symphony number 40

5/11 Marilyn Manson with The Pretty Reckless at The Palladium Ballroom
"Beautiful People"

"Just Tonight" by The Pretty Reckless

5/11 Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Meyerson Symphony Center

"Fidelio Overture"

5/12 Miranda Lambert at the Gexa Energy Pavlovian

5/16 Drake, J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame at the Gexa Energy Pavlovian
"The Motto" by Drake

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Album: Little Broken Hearts

Maybe I have a bit of a maverick streak, but I really favor bands that are unknown and not on the top 20 Billboards. I consider Beiber Fever very closely akin to the Plague that wiped out most of Europe, and I'm still trying to figure out why Miley Cyrus is considered a singer. With that caveat, I'm going to throw at you super-star Norah Jones' new album "Little Broken Hearts". That's right, this is happening. Mainstream but fabulous! Let's get one thing straight, I loved Norah Jones before she was Norah Jones: sensation of the music world and winner of a giant heap of Grammys. Her songs have this quality of getting inside and rearranging my thoughts a bit so that life, love, and a rainy day make more sense. Her voice has that amazing vintage, soulful quality of Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, while still being completely contemporary and achieving her own style and sound.

Jones' new album just got released, and I listened to it non-stop on it's release date. It.Is.Fabulous. People who love her past albums won't be disappointed; rather, they'll be moved by the added depth and character Norah Jones has infused into her songs. The music is decidedly dedicated to more heartache than her past albums, but sadness suites Jones' music well. It turns out, she can do melancholy with the same comfortable beauty that she does a love song. You can listen to the whole album for free here. In the meantime, catch some of her songs here.
"Travelin' On"

"Say Goodbye"

"Happy Pills"

"Out on the Road"

"After the Fall"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Autobiography of the Month: Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is pretty much the man. Whether or not you're a country music fan (and I'm not), his ability to rock the music scene for decades remains unsurpassed. It's safe to say he's earned the right to be called a music legend. It should come as no surprise that this icon has lived a full life, and in his own words his autobiography tells the story of where he came from and where he ended up. It's a great all-American tale of a poor country boy striking out on his own to make it big. Only, Cash didn't just make it big...he changed the way music was played and how people listened to it.

Noted as one of the most influential musicians post classical music scene, Cash is easily recognized for his rich bass-baritone voice and his meaningful lyrics. Cash did music on his own terms. Somber, generous, and completely rebellious, he never forgot his simple country upbringing even when surrounded by bright lights and big cities, he had no problem bucking the system and being a complete rebel.

His music accomplishes the ultimate goal of all singer-songwriters: with his music, he tells a story, one that's often an autobiogrphay in its own right. His songs are ones we can relate to and love. He was a man marked by sorrow and pain, which is reflected in the depth of his music.

It should come as no surprise that his autobiography is full of fascinating tales of the evolution of rock, his interaction with other music legends like Elvis, and the circumstances that brought the insight and emotion that makes his music so deep and meaningful.It's an autobiography rich with stories not just of Cash revolutionizing the country rock scene, but also of the evolution of all rock. Cash spins out tales with the same comfortable, easy going tone that makes his music legendary, and his autobiography reads like an easy going conversation with a good friend. If, like me, you love a good autobiography, this one is a read you won't want to miss out on.

A music extra for my fellow addicts: "Hurt", which is my favorite Cash cover by 9 Inch Nails:

"Hurt" [my absolute favorite Cash song]