Friday, August 30, 2013

Noteworthy Lo-fi Artists: Summer Heart and Washed Out

I remember the good old days when music genres consisted of simple terms, tunes, and time signatures, when a song was either just called rock, pop, country or rap. We probably also walked miles to school in bare feet and came home to do farm work, because those days are thing of the past. Easily defined genres---along with my high-school CD collection---are merely archaic things of the past. Now we have new wave, synth pop, lo-fi, hi-fi, trip hop, acid jazz, hipster and indie...on and on and on it goes. Confused yet? I actually enjoy this musical mash-up of genres and sounds, because some truly great bands have emerged under this kaleidoscope banner of music. And let's face it, music has always been a reflection of society. We ourselves are a kaleidoscope of so many ideas, philosophies, and dreams so why shouldn't our music be the same way?

I really love the hipster-esque music scene. While living in NYC, I spent a lot of time hitting underground music venues and trendy dives, but tragically, I really can't pull off either hipster, emo, or indie at all. I've never owned a pair of Converse shoes, but I have a vast display of lovely sky-high heels that I love as dearly as some people love their children or puppy dogs. My heart is that of a hipster-emo-indie kid though, so that should count for something, somewhere to someone. The lo-fi bands have really been singing to my alternatively tuned heart, and two bands I'm feeling extra amounts of love for are Summer Heart and Washed Out.

Summer Heart has a relaxing, dream pop vibe combined with lush, mellow vocals. I didn't really realize vocals could be lush/mellow until listening to this band, but they CAN, my friend! They can! I know. Get a mellow way, of course. Track after track is so chill it's cool (I was told by my student to include this phrase, and I responded I would, if he practiced an hour a day. Promised honored, now practice some more my little minion!) and is great easy listening music. It's been my go to playlist while I'm cooking up new recipes or relaxing with a book.

Washed Out also falls into the dream pop/chill wave category (who comes up with these genres, I ask of you?) and they do their genre well. Lead singer Ernest Greene, a native to Georgia, earned a masters in Library and Information Science (yes, it is a degree, and I'm sure you're all clambering to sign up for that major), but failed to get a job. So, he decided to start a lo-fi band, which seems both like a the logical alternative to being a librarian and a very Georgean if you know what I mean. That's called sarcasm, kids. But hooray that he did, because Washed Out is pretty fabulous! He released Within and Without in 2011 and has a new album Paracosm that was just released THIS MONTH and was featured as a give-away on our facebook page! Yes I am excited! No I don't know what a Paracosm is!  My dictionary says it's an imaginary world. Like Narnia---which is debatable fictional. I prefer to believe my walk-in closet might hold a magic world in addition to my mini-empire of clothes and shoes.

New to the lo-fi scene? Sample it here and don't forget to find us on facebookinstagramor bloglovin to keep up with the latest! 


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Album Review: The Civil Wars

And they did it again! After releasing an amazing Americana album a couple years ago, The Civil Wars crafted yet another gorgeous set of beautiful tunes. This band is my not so guilty southern little secret and they need to be yours too! I'm on a mission...each one reach one! Chances are you've heard at least one of their songs. At the end of The Hunger Games ---a movie roughly everyone in the entire solar system has seen---the band pairs up with Taylor Swift to sing the end credit song "Safe & Sound." It is true I do not often enjoy Taylor Swift. I generally can't stand her, actually. I did like her song "We Are Never Getting Back Together" during the quick five-ish minutes my man and I broke up, but like my resolution to never again eat processed, chemically-ridden Craft Macaroni & "cheese" (which is irresistibly delicious and I will gladly fist fight someone over this truth), I simply was not able to be as resolute as Taylor Swift. So he and I got back together, thus ending my need for listening to her music. Fortunately, the song "Safe & Sound" lacks any of Swift's over the top cutesy, catchy nonsense that she often calls music and is a truly lovely song.

When the band was still relatively new on the scene, Noteworthy Music wrote a review about this indie-folk band, which you can read here. Truly, there are endless reasons to love The Civil Wars, and here are the top three in no particular order (which I am throwing together on the fly):

1. Their clever double entendre name. True, the band has a delicious, old Southern flare that hearkens back to a storybook time. I love our American era of fiddles and balls, of gowns and plantations, when the North fought against the South and both chivalry and corsets were in style. The band captures the feeling of these times with such authenticity, that I almost feel transported in time when I listen to their music. But even more than the band's tribute to our unique and fascinating American history, the songs are a rich tapestry of love stories, woven with lyrics so beautiful and sensitive that it's impossible to not relate to them. The true theme of The Civil Wars focuses on the interaction between lovers, and love isn't always civil. In the wise words of Pat Benetar, love is a battlefield and one that can leave us unrecognizable once the smoke clears.With great emotion and insight, The Civil Wars spin out one tale after the next about love lost, found, and redeemed. Nothing makes a little Libra happier than that!

2. The extraordinary vocal skills of singers Joy Williams and John Paul White. Oh.MY.WORD--->can these people sing or what?! Their vocals are simply stunning, and not in this over the top, all over the place kind of vocals like true music diva Maria Carey. The lack of audacious vocal craziness enhances the quality, tone, and message of the music. In addition to this, the harmony is pristine and near perfection. Seriously.

3. The unique sound of the album; it is SO not mainstream. Not even a little bit! Just when you feel like your ears are drowning in lame Miley Cyrus songs and the same top 10 overplayed hits of the summer, here comes a breath of fresh air! Do I love it or do I love it?! That should be an easy answer. I love it.

In their eponymous album The Civil Wars, the band continues their sumptuous blend of lyrics, melodies, and vocals. Listen to the entire album here. And don't forget to find us on facebook, instagram, or bloglovin. Now go do yourself a favor and walk away from the Bieber-fever tunes and indulge in some non-mainstream music. Your head and your heart will be so very glad you did.