Sunday, November 9, 2014

Swiftamine, I needs it.

A couple weeks ago, Saturday Night Live confirmed that I wasn't the only one who feels this way about Taylor Swift. There are many people out there who are like, "ugh, is this really Taylor Swift? Why is she so good?" The answer to that question usually is, I just don't know but that girl is a pop song writing factory and 1989 is no exception to this.


I first started really noticing her music when Speak Now came out. Before then, she was a little too Country for my taste. Speak Now was a pivotal album for her regarding her sound and her first huge commercial success. It sold 12 million copies worldwide and went seven times platinum. It's very rare these days for an artist to even go platinum, let alone seven times!

Anyway, I wanted to talk more about 1989, her newest album that's without question, the most different from her catalog. It's funny, when she was going around saying to everyone she's a "pop" artist now, I thought to myself, "girl, you've been pop for a long time now!" but now I get what she meant. It's not that she's wasn't always pop (because she totally was, the only difference is that the production had a little more country twang to her songs and Speak Now and Red were just softer sounding than 1989,) it was that her sound was going to be more of what you would typically consider pop - basically using pro tools more and her acoustic guitar less. Ya know, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, that kind of stuff. More dancey. The difference is, they're dancey and Swift went more creativey and synthy. 1989 sounds like it could come straight out of the new wave era. Both songs she starts her album with, "Welcome to New York" and "Blank Space" are perfect examples:

Taylor Swift - Welcome To New York by musicandother2014


Taylor Swift - Blank Space by aBzzzMedia

Rob Sheffield wrote a review of 1989 for Rolling Stone. Read it here. I pretty much agree with all of it, as usual, because Rob Sheffield is amazing.

Basically, go Taylor Swift for trying something new. I wouldn't call this selling out, as I'm sure some people reading this or anything else about Swift, would think. She's stepping outside of the box creatively and that's something any music fan can appreciate, I think. That's the reason why I think people gravitate so much to Taylor Swift. She is who she is, regardless if you want to punch her in the face with her perfect blonde curls and floral sundresses. She's in the business for the right reasons, and doesn't mind dating a One Direction member here or there, either. That's why you need Swiftamine...things like 1989 show you she's really trying to do something she thinks is special. The fact that she does it her way and is involved in most of the control of her career is pretty admirable in this era of pop music...damnit.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A couple of pop songs released lately have actually been good (good = interesting, creative)

Hey! Here's proof pop music can sometimes be different from the status quo:



Clean Bandit are normally linked to instrumental fare. The British synthpop quartet teamed up with another British artist, Jess Glynne and basically, pop music bliss was born. I really enjoy it. Haven't checked out their other stuff but I intend to.



Tove Ebba Elsa Nilsson (Yes, her actual name is Tove!) is a Sweedish songstress who is one of those singers that's been writing music for other people for years (Icona Pop, Miley Cyrus,) - and now she's finally in the spotlight with her newest single, "Habits (Stay High)". My only complaint about this song is the title - I absolutely can't stand it when songs have parenthesis in the title. A song title shouldn't be that complicated, it's either one or the other! And not only are parenthesis in song titles stupid, but using it as a way to include a phrase that should PROBABLY just be the song title irks me. Let's just get rid of "Habits" and stick to "Stay High", shall we? Since Tove Lo says it about 45-50 times in the damn song. Just sayin'.



Not sure if this would be considered "pop" since the popularity isn't necessarily there yet (there's still A LOT of time though, I have a feeling about this one, it's going to be a Hozier's "Take Me to Church" or a Macklemore's "Thrift Shop". Maybe.) but I really dig this song by Broods, a brother-sister music duo from New Zealand. Definitely an artist to watch.

And that concludes not only my last blog post of the day, but also this rendition of "A couple of pop songs released lately have actually been good (good = interesting, creative)"

Karen O: Crush Songs

“One, two, three, four...” Karen O begins her debut solo album Crush Songs, an album that I'll admit is way more impressive the third or fourth time you listen to it. Karen Lee Orzolek has always been a tenacious, intense song writer – so it's a nice change to hear her debut, that has literally been in the making since 2006, being a soft, emotional love letter to all of her failed relationships. You can tell just by her solo work that her songwriting on her own is way more tame than her songwriting with Nick Zinner and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which shows her plasticity for songwriting. I've always loved Karen O but the fact that she is so versatile and not only that, but can still hit you deep whether she's signing “Do I really need another habit like you?” or “I got a man who makes me want to kill,” is something special. It's something not a lot of musicians these days have. To be able to write basically however you want at any given time. A lot of bands and artists have their formulas, not Karen O - something I've always admired about her and I'm glad she's showing it off more these days (i.e. Where the Wild Things Are and Her soundtracks as well).

I had the pleasure of seeing Ms. O in New York City when Crush Songs released. She did a mini-NYC and Los Angeles tour to promote the record. She's just as fierce as you would think, just as fearless and just as captivating in person as she is on her recordings. I'll end this blog post with some photos from that night:




I highly recommend Crush Songs. It might sound uninspiring the first listen but her vulnerability and rawness will keep you listening. It's a grower, not a shower.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Valerie June

Doing two blog posts today, since I missed yesterday!

So let's talk about Valerie June. OH MY GOD.

I just heard her on the radio last night and I'm impressed.



She's like June Carter Cash, Erykah Badu and Bob Dylan mixed. It's weird, man. But I love her so much. I've been immersed in her music all night and all morning, listening to her debut album Pushin Against a Stone that she worked on with none other than Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. I am not surprised at all. Auerbach co-wrote some songs also produced this for her.

Originally a duo with her ex-husband (husband at the time,) Bella Sun, Valerie June is originally from Memphis, TN. (of course. Can she be any cooler?) Honestly, I feel like a duo wouldn't work for her - she's such a powerhouse, she needs to be a lone wolf, so in a way it was for the best that they broke up. In 2011, she raised funds through Kickstarter to record her first album in Memphis, earing $15,000 in 60 days! She is now signed to Sunday Best records, a British recording company that is founded and run by BBC Radio. I haven't found any information whatsoever as to how she got involved with a recording company from England. Like, how did that happen? Anyway, I'm ending this blog post with her Tiny Desk Concert for NPR's All Songs Considered.




Broken Bells & Foster the People

For NaBloPoMo, I thought I would update on what I've been listening to for the past year. I'm starting out with two bands that I really love, Broken Bells and Foster the People. They both came out with their sophomore albums - After the Disco and Supermodel, respectively.

After the Disco was recorded with the seventeen-piece Angel City String Orchestra from Australia and produced by Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse, who is half of Broken Bells with Shins lead singer, guitarist and all around creator James Mercer. It's definitely a great second effort, however it's kind of the same old thing. I wouldn't really expect anything else though, from a side project of two musicians who seem to have their input in a lot of different projects, or doing their own creative things most of the time. I think Broken Bells for Mercer and Burton is a way to work with this sound they've created and they don't have any intention of changing it. Their creativity for new sounds lie in different projects. Which is fine, to me. The sound they've created works! As long as it remains a side project, be the one trick pony that everyone loves! Although Mercer does seem to have a formula, that's for another blog post. Key tracks include: "Holding On for Life", "After the Disco" and "No Matter What You're Told".

Oh yeah, also check out the single of "Holding On For Life"  I got for Record Store Day this year:



Now on to my favorite of the two. Yes, I still like Foster the People and yes, I still think they are soooo underrated. And yes, I just wrote "soooo" in my blog post. While doing research for this blog post, I've found out that this is supposed to be a concept album - news to me. Although I would say the concept is still pretty light on the plot. Apparently, it's suppose to be an album about the "ugly side of capitalism" and the negative outcomes of popular culture as well as the "consumer ideology" our society has adapted. This is all Mark Foster's words, by the way, in the Paste article I've linked. The band definitely pushed themselves with this record and I like that. When a band tries to do something different, but still keep their roots, that's the best outcome. Especially for a sophomore record. I think FTP definitely did that with Supermodel. It's got a lot more going on than Torches - way more instrument work - a lot more strings and horns, it's not as "here's another pop song that only has three chords" - it's got DEPTH. Damn, I love Foster the People. I'm so bummed that "Pumped Up Kicks" song really gave them a bad wrap. Key tracks include: "Coming of Age" (obviously), "Nevermind" "Psuedoligia Fantastica" and "A Beginner's Guide to Destroying the Moon"

Also found this while I was researching Supermodel, check out this mural that was constructed and painted in Los Angeles in honor of the release.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NaBloPoMo

I've always been an avid fan and participant of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - but did you guys know there's also NaBloPoMo happening in November? That stands for National Blog Posting Month. I've missed the first four days of November but, screw it, I'm up for the challenge! It will be a little hard for me to post every day in November since I'm also moving to a new apartment soon and working on the novel I'm writing for NaNoWriMo, but I think this could be a good way to get me back into a blog posting routine. Basically, there are two reasons why I haven't blogged as much this year. Let me share them with you:

1) I got a new computer and when I moved all my music from my old macbook, (rip, I miss it so much,) almost all of my music copied with a duplicate, leaving me to manually delete almost 20 gb of music. I got the laptop in February and would you believe I'm still working on deleting my music? With all of life's craziness, I just haven't gotten around to it as much as I'd like. Because of the duplicates, I can't sync my ipod and because I can't sync my ipod, no new music can be synced...which is the main focus of this blog. New music. And I can't listen to it as much as I'd like. You see where I'm going here? It's a cause and effect. Hopefully this will change soon and I'll be able to sync new music to my ipod - it's a work in progrss.

2) I'm lazy. Not only that, working full time can be exhausting, especially when you're dealing with the public all day, every day, like I am. Whenever I get home from work, I just want to pet my cat, make dinner and watch Bob's Burgers...maybe have some social interaction occasionally. Again, hopefully this will change and I'll be able to get motivated. Hence NaBloPoMo...it all comes full circle!