Saturday, June 30, 2012

Welcome to the Jungle! Spotlight on Hairbands

Cuz mama likes to rock you like a hurricane, I thought I'd throw some 80's hairband music your way. Here in Dallas, we have a steady tour of 80's greats, and nothing makes me happier than rocking out to what I consider some of the best rock ever! I don't care if it's a cover band or the real deal, I <3 the 80's. Whenever I have students who are interested in branching out to the rock genre, I encourage them to immerse themselves in some 80's rock. Some of the most impressive guitar riffs, drum solos, and extreme attitude come from Hairband rock. I love the hardcore cheesiness of Hair Band rock and can't get enough. You'd better believe I karaoke it out to Don't Stop Believing like no other!

Maybe you <3 the 80's too because:
~You remember playing with shrinky dinks (super safe toy---color on plastic sheets and throw it in the oven to watch them shrink into awesome hard shapes. Genuis idea for kids) and cabbage patch dolls.
~You really did dance on the hood of Whitesnake's car.
~You recognize that Beiberfever can never compare to love being like bad medicine.

If so, here are some tunes to get you through your Monday! Get excited. No really, drink some coffee and get excited!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Music Is Love: Dominican Republic trip & Wedding Music

As many of you know, we recently got back from the Dominican Republic and it was a-maaaaazing! It turned out to be the best trip I've ever had, and I'm no stranger to world-wide travels;)  I've always had mad wanderlust, and I usually take a trip once a month. It doesn't have to be a fancy-pants trip, and I can have as much fun roughing on a camping excursion as I can traipsing around Paris. It's not the event that counts, but making memories with the people you love that matters. I was surprised that I had many readers request pics of the trip, but I guess there are some fellow kindred spirits out there who love traveling too! So here's a quick synopsis of my vay-cay and some love songs for you to get sentimental over:)

Ahh! Paradise:)
Samuel dealing with an unofficial photoshoot
Basically like a monkey-child;)
This trip was extra special since one of my dear friends had a destination wedding in the oh so gorgeous Punta Cana. A big group of our friends went, so it was one giant celebration from start to finish! We stayed at a lovely all inclusive resort that spoiled me and makes me feel I should have constant maids and room service. Yes, I packed some hardcore sunscreen, which was instantly confiscated at the airport. I tried to argue that they would never take a diabetic's insulin or a cardiac patient's pacemaker, so they shouldn't take away my ability to survive in the tropical sun, but they didn't listen to me. Boo airport security!

With the groom.
One of the things I loved about the wedding was the music this wonderful couple selected. It wasn't your traditional classical mix or collection of swoon-worthy love songs, but instead included bands like 311 and Incubus. It perfectly symbolized THEM. It got me thinking about how powerful love songs are, and how we connect to them as individuals. Songs have the ability to express what we ourselves have trouble communicating sometimes, and they are the perfect way to say I love you.

Think back to some of the love songs you claimed and how much meaning they had or have. All you singer-songwriters, play on playahs play on. Your music has the ability to touch our hearts and teach us to say what we wish we knew how to put into words.

As for my trip, here's a little sample of pics and some love songs worth loving:)

Glorious day of playing on the beach:)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thriller: MJ Remembered

MJ is called the King of Pop, and for good reason. Few musicians have enjoyed the overwhelming success or have become a musical phenomenon like Michael Jackson. Though his personal life was wrought with scandal and oddities, his music created a worldwide sensation like no other musician before or after him. Guinness World Records hails him as the most successful entertainer of all time. Who am I to argue with GWR? I must concur. I mean, who could make a gold plated military jacket and a glove as iconic as MJ? Answer: no one, in case you were wondering.

It's hard to believe that it's been 3 years now since MJ's passing. His death literally triggered a global outpouring of grief, which to me proves the power of music. While people didn't know Jackson personally, in many ways they felt like they did because of the incredible connection they felt via his songs. Regardless of what one might think of the man Michael Jackson, he has rightfully earned place as one of the greatest musicians of all time. Today, we take time to honor his life's work and music, because music never dies. It lives on long after we've all passed on.



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Music Mix: And All That Jazz!

There's something subtle and powerful about jazz. No other genre of music can express a true-blue mood of sadness or longing like jazz can. On the flip side, jazz can achieve such lighthearted tones of happiness. One of the things I love about jazz is how it's ours. It's a genre that originated in the United States during the early 20th centruy, and it's infused with all the panache and swagger of the flapper era. Like all music, Jazz tells a story of us, and how America has grown both musically and socially. 

There are numerous branches of jazz, but in case you haven't taken that oh-so-fun History of Music 101 course or forgot all your learned when you put down your pencil and handed in your final scantron, here are some of the main categories: New Orleans jazz is the original jazz of the early 1910s. The 1930s and '40s saw the development of the nonstop fun big band swingKansas City jazz and Gypsy jazz styles. During the mid 1940's, bebop took over the scene and caused a wild rumpus and a bit of footloose times! While jazz might sound like a free for all, it actually requires more advanced theory and technique than any other genre, and jazz musicians who have mastered their art actually stand at the top of the game. In addition to require extreme improvisational skills, jazz musicians have to instinctively feel what their fellow musicians are going to play, which is no easy task. Despite the skill level required to play jazz, there's nothing more exciting than getting together with a group of jazz musicians and falling into the rhythm and soul of a great jazz tune!  

Jazz is one of those "love it or hate it" styles of music. Some people can't stand the wandering melodies and discordant tones, while others hear the exquisite beauty in music that is so clever, it literally paints a picture of life. After all, we all wander through life and face times of disarray, but like jazz, life has a brilliant way of finding a beautiful, harmonious melody at just the right time. Whether your a lover or hater of jazz, open up your heart and try a little here and there. You just might find yourself in the mood for all that jazz.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Music Mix Monday: Beatles Mania

From the group that told us all you need is love, it's safe to say that we have crazy love for the Beatles. I don't think I've ever met even one person in my entire life who didn't like the Beatles. They're a band all in their own category of phenomenal. I adore the Beatles for not only their amazing music and longevity, but also how timeless they've become. They've produced songs that are loved by people across the world, and that span multiple generations. Music like that doesn't come around often. There's something magical in that kind of music. Before the Beatles, the having a rock group produce the hysteria like Beatles Mania was unheard of, and the power of rock was still subdued. After the Fab Four took over the world with their rock music, they changed the way people not only listened to music, but reacted to music. It became a very personal connection to both the music and musicians.

Though the band played together from 1960 to 1970, their music lives on. And today isn't just music mix Monday, but also Sir Paul McCartney's birthday. The Beatles music is so awesome, it can get you knighted, how about that? I don't know if McCartney can slay a dragon, but he's rocked the music industry for sure. Happy birthday McCartney!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Noteworthy Artists: Of Monsters & Men

Their name reads like a folklore or the beginning of a bard's tale. Their music flows just as whimsically and reaches out to tug on your heartstrings. Of Monsters & Men is perhaps one of my favorite Indie-Folk/Indie-Pop artists of this year, because their sound is deceptively simple yet powerful. One of my friends was playing their album My Head Is An Animal during our recent over the top camping/road trip excursion, and I fell in love with this band all over again. Maybe it was the combination of wild, wide open spaces and mile high skies blending perfectly with the gorgeous melodies, but I found myself greatly moved by each song.

According to the band's website, "Of Monsters and Men is an amiable group of day dreamers who craft folkie pop songs. But last year, the normally mild-mannered six pack transformed into total rock stars after stomping out their competition during Músiktilraunir, a yearly battle of the bands in their native Iceland.“We just kind of…won,” recalls co-singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir. “We weren’t expecting it at all. So I said, ‘Everybody come to my place!’"

The group has blossomed into being sought after for worldwide tours, but they keep their homeland at the heart of their music. "Iceland can be a very isolated country and that translates to the music," Nanna says, adding,"We get stuck in our little world." Whatever influences their writing, they've come up with an album you won't want to miss. Well, I'm off to vay-cay in the Dominican Republic, but enjoy some music and summer fun in the meantime!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spotlight on Concerts/New Albums: The Temper Trap

Now, here's one new wave music band who will get you hooked to their sound. First, The Temper Trap is from Australia which instantly make me love them by merit of accent alone. Second, they've got a unique style, great vocals and a stellar blend of musicianship in every track they produce. Their last album Conditions was their debut release in 2009, and they completely won me over with their single "Sweet Disposition." I was eager to hear more from them, and at last! At last! They finally produced and released their latest album The Temper Trap.

The verdict is in: I'm a fan! The band hasn't strayed from their original sound and keeps a great mix of both electronic and Indie-rock throughout the album. Unlike many electronic influenced bands who rely more on the power of the beat to produce impact than the quality of the song itself, The Temper Trap has a range of depth via lyrics and melody as well. There are some slower songs like "I'm Gonna Wait", "Rabbit Hole" and "Dreams" that are nothing short of beautiful.

If you live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, get excited because The Temper Trap is playing at our very own House of Blues. If you haven't purchased your ticket, go go go and get one! I'll see you there!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Singing In the Rain: Music Mix

After going out tonight to meet up with friends, Samuel and I got some coffee. We drove around Dallas listening to tunes and enjoying a rainy drive together as we sipped on our coffee. Rain + coffee + music=bliss! Driving around and listening to music is one of my simple pleasures that I can't get enough of. Since I excel at navigating (I'm basically like Goose from Top Gun...minus the ability to actually know where I'm going, so I'm actually pretty worthless at this task), I was an excellent co-pilot. Kidding. No one should ever take directions from me. But I am awesome at car karaoke/DJ action, so we had a fabulous time singing in the rain. Wiki-wiki-wah! That's how I do it!

We came across some perfect tunes for a rainy night! I hadn't heard them in ages and had practically forgotten about them, so it felt like finding twenty dollars in a pair of jeans. Just in case you need a little music mix for wonderful rainy night, you can share some songs from my playlist:)


Monday, June 4, 2012

Spotlight on Music Album: The Head & the Heart

Oh Seattle, there's so much to love about you: a glorious skyline, outdoor fun, artsy people, and a great a downtown scene that makes you want to stay and play for a bit. Ok, so maybe Washington is known for its overcast skies and fictional residents like the Cullens, but it also has a fabulous performing arts scene. Proving its worth in the music industry, Seattle has recently delivered yet another great band called The Head & the Heart. These relatively new artists met up in 2009 and self debuted their eponymous album The Head & the Heart. Their sound is decidedly Indie folk-pop (quite a mouthful, but an accurate description), and it's as heartfelt as it is innovative.

The group of artists create their sound with a gorgeous mix of piano, violin and vocals, and they enhance their melodies with deep lyrics that will make even the most romantic heart happy and the intellectual head rejoice. The use of percussion is subtle and never distracting from the music, making for the perfect easy listening soundtrack. What I love about this group is that they do indeed mesh together that perfect balance of all that makes the head and heart work together. According to the band, "So many decisions in life and in the music we love can come down to a critical tug between the logic in our heads and the hot red blood beating through our hearts. The Head and the Heart live authentically in that crux, finding joy and beauty wedged there. Our music pulses effervescently—both explosively danceable and intuitively intelligent. With Americana roots and strong vocal harmonics that swell like a river, this band finds its anchor in solid songwriting that has even the jaded humming along by the second listen."

If you're unfamiliar with The Head and the Heart, expect to hear more of them as they continue their speedy rise to becoming a well-known name. The band has hooked up with other Indie Musians open for Vampire Weekend, My Morning Jacket, Death and other great artists, but they've gained more attention and now headline for themselves. Be sure to check out their album here, or their tour dates to catch their latest show!