Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 of 2015

10. Good Old War – Broken into Better Shape

This was Good Old War's first effort without the Old – Tim Arnold. He left the band right before they started recording Broken into Better Shape to focus more on his family and life in Philadelphia, which is also the other band members' home base. Unfortunately, they do loose something without the third member but it's more or less the same thing, so on my top 10 they shall still be. Some songs that are more rather than less of the same thing - “Tell Me What You Want From Me” and the self titled song, “Broken into Better Shape” which are also their key tracks on the band's fourth full length. They also switched labels – from Sargent House to a Vancouver based indie rock outfit, Nettwerk, that are also label homes to Family of the Year, Father John Misty, Guster and weirdly enough, Sinead O'Conner!

9. The Front Bottoms – Back On Top

Releasing their fifth studio album on their new label, Fueled By Ramen, the Front Bottoms, like Good Old War, did the same old thing but also added something to their pop punk literalness. Lead singer Brian Sella and his crew from Woodcliffe Lake, NJ (of course!) are in the highlight of their career so far, playing their first headlining tour this year and positive response to their major label debut. Key tracks include “Summer Shandy” and “West Virginia”...also “The Plan (F**k Jobs)” just for the song title alone.

8. Joanna Newsom – Divers


Before I made my first draft of this list, I forgot my girl Joanna came out with an album this year! Leaving my other girl Laura Marling on the chopping block. Honestly, I wanted to tie her and Good Old War for #10 but I don't really like ties on lists, I think it's kind of a cop out. So, Marling will be be a very very honored honorable mention.

Anyway, since Newsom's last album, Have One On Me, she married Andy Samberg, bought a house with him that also happened to be the former residence of Charlie Chaplin (it's actually a really cool house – pics here) and completed a new creative endeavor on her resume – acting in Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice which I wish was better than it seemed to be, but it wasn't (she was great though!). Newsom came back with her usual harp infused folk with a voice that you would think could surly only come out of a small child, no? Some how though, it works. Key tracks I really love include “Sapokanikan” and the self titled track, “Divers.”


7. Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface

Maybe the best lyric about tax dollars is said in this album. ALMOST topping B.O.B.'s “Baby you the whole package, plus you pay your taxes. And you keep it real, while them others stay plastic” from “Nothing on You.” ALMOST. This was a very pivotal album for this mid-western rap duo. “Tear in My Heart” (the song that has the line about taxes,) got pretty huge towards the end of the Summer and their Blurryface tour with Echosmith sold out some major arenas in the United States. Blurryface definitely brought them more fans but I'm not exactly sure why. Did Fueled By Ramen do a better job with advertising? Don't get me wrong, I like the album a lot, but Vessel, their debut full length released in 2013, was a better album. I'm just putting it out there. Blurryface sounded more “commercial,” I suppose. More pop influenced. More Pro Tools created computerized beats in the background. So that could be why. Also, maybe more hooks in their choruses, mirroring “Holding On To You” from Vessel. “Tear in My Heart,” “Lane Boy,” “Stressed Out” come to mind. 

I also really liked the whole “Blurryface” lore the attached to this album. I don't think it's ever been confirmed but fans are lead to believe that Blurryface is pretty much a symbol for the general public and/or the negative aspects of society. “My name's blurryface and I care what you think,” is the lyric that got peoples attention about this. I appreciate their attempts to make hip hop for the masses with some substance behind it. However, something I don't appreciate from this album – the voice modulation thing they did. I think that was supposed to be their way of showing Blurryface in musical form though. But still. Key tracks off of this album include, “Tear in My Heart,” “Stressed Out,” “Lane Boy” and “Not Today.” Also, if you haven't listened to Vessel yet, why haven't you? Go listen to that. Then you have my permission to listen to Blurryface.

6. Natalie Prass - Self Titled

This Disney Princess really surprised me with her old school country vibe – almost sounding like a young Dolly Parton mixed with a little bit of Graham Parsons' influence. I can't wait to see what she does next – I have a feeling she's going to ride out this album for a while though. If you want to check out my previous post on Prass, click here. It has a little more about my feeling on her music and her background. Key tracks include “My Baby Don't Understand Me” and “Why Don't You Believe in Me.”

5. Best Coast - California Nights

Bethany and Bobb's third full length album is their grown up album – it shows the most maturity not necessarily in their lyrics, but in their instrumentation and general vibe. Actually, some of their lyrics, I hate to say, are probably the weakest they've ever written - “California Nights” and “Heaven Sent” specifically and that could be why California Nights isn't higher on my list. However, it has some really good gems like “In My Eyes” and “Jealousy.” It's definitely an album to listen to if you've liked Best Coast in the past. Click here to read my article from Occur talking more about this album.


4. Frank Turner - Positive Songs for Negative People

Frank decided to push himself lyrically with his sixth studio album to write more positive. Funny thing is, I feel like he's generally positive in his music overall, he just usually has more of a “matter of fact” way of saying it and his lyrics appear to be more negative than they really are. At least that's how I take it. With Positive Songs for Negative People, he came up with “Get Better” and “Next Storm” which are reasons enough to make this my #4 album of the year. Both very inspiring, enigmatic songs with lyrics that will make you want to get out of your house and take a walk. Even in the dreary, rainy season we're calling Winter here in Upstate New York. Other key tracks include “Mittens,” “Josephine” and “Song for Josh.”

3. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I just sit and think and Sometimes I Just Sit...

Courtney Barnett is just awesome. That's all I could think of when trying to figure out how to start this. Coming from an A.A. Milne quote, author of OG Winnie the Pooh, “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits...” Barnett's album title pretty much sums up her music to me. Sometimes, she thinks with her pen, thoughts flowing out of her, her mind racing like a girl who just found the unmitigated benefits of going to therapy and then sometimes, she's very subdued in her lyrics and her verse sounds prepared, like it was intended to be a song. Should we look out to the suburbs for a house? I guess it couldn't hurt us. Let's go with the flow with Courtney Barnett (“Depreston” - example of a prepared verse) and then in the next song, we're freaking out about swimming and how she much prefers it to jogging (“Aqua Profunda!” - example of the unmitigated benefits) and then who knows where we'll end up with Courtney Barnett because her lyrics and music is fluid. Anything she thinks of, will become the next song you listen to. The greatness about Barnett is that no matter which Courtney you're getting, it's still poignant and intelligent. This, like The Front Bottoms, was Barnett's year of xposure – her official debut album gave her some serious Pitchfork and indie cred. Whether that's good or bad, I will leave that up to you. Key tracks include “Depreston” (might be one of my favorite songs ever, actually. It's a very beautiful song and there are a lot of “read between the lines” moments in the lyrics. I could be biased because it includes my last name but I doubt it), “Elevator Operator,” “Pedestrian at Best” and “Nobody Really Cares if You Don't Go to the Party” (“I want to go out but I want to stay home.” - everyone's life story at some point in their late twenties).

2. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell

Again, how do I start this? I'll keep it on the short side since I think people who read this blog know my feelings about this album already. Basically, I'm very happy that Stevens went back to what he does best – folk music that could be played at a funeral AND a school dance. Eerie but strangely pleasant. This album was very important for Stevens himself to make to cope with bereaving his late mother, and it shows that he put the work into it. 2015 was also the year that I got to see him live in concert for the first time. I wasn't disappointed at all and he's another artist I can check off of my “Artists I have to see before they stop performing and/or I die.” list.  Knowing Stevens, his next album will probably sound completely different and it will also be released in like, five years. I would ask for both of these things not to happen but I know I'm not in charge of that. Key tracks include: “I Should Have Known Better,” “All of Me Wants All Of You”, “Fourth Of July” and “The Only Thing.”

1. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love

Um, how could I NOT have No Cities to Love as my number one?! These bad ass riot grrrls came out of nowhere after breaking up (I know it was allegedly a “hiatus” but they pretty much broke up – if you didn't get back together within five years after hiating, I would consider that a bonafide break up, no? By the way, I know hiating isn't a proper form of hiatus, I just thought it sounded funny,) and were like, “HEY we made an album without anyone hardly knowing about it. Here it is.” and it was like they never left! LIKE THEY NEVER LEFT, GUYS!!!

Sleater-Kinney were one of those bands I thought I would never be able to see live. Their last album before No Cities was the uninspiring (at least compared to the other albums in their catalog,) The Woods in 2005 and I unfortunately got into Sleater-Kinney roughly five years after that. So I didn't really have a chance. Until 2015 when they just popped out of nowhere and were like, “hey remember that awesomeness we created? We're going to do that again and we're going to do it better than some of our other albums, what of it?” So not only did I get a really solid album from one of my favorite bands of all time, but I was also able to check off another band off of my list (see: Sufjan's blurb above,) and see them kick ass in the flesh. So thanks Corin, Carrie and Janet for that.

No Cities to Love brings me back to Call the Doctor or One Beat. Janet Weiss' drums crashing against bass that could be heard miles and miles away with unapologetic, raw guitar and smart, thought provoking, sincere lyrics. Their music questions everything, makes you think about society and the way you live. It puts you in a mindset that makes you want to change the crappy things about your life or maybe on a larger scale. Totally what rock is supposed to be. Key tracks include EVERYTHING. No, actually, “Price Tag,” “No Cities to Love,” “No Anthems,” “A New Wave” and “Bury Our Friends.”


Honorable Mentions:
Laura Marling, Short Movie
Bully, Feels Like
Fall Out Boy, American Beauty/American Psycho
Modest Mouse, Strangers to Ourselves
Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color
Drake, If You're Reading this It's Too Late (I like Drake, okay? Don't judge me.)

And notice Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly isn't on this list AT ALL. Could it be the only top 10 of 2015 on the internet or in print that doesn't have his name on the list? I think it might be. Because if I see another goddamn list with his name next to “Number One,” I don't know how I will take that. I just don't know! I also should probably be prepared that he will wipe the Grammy awards in February. I'm just shuddering at the thought. I didn't have anything against him until he became the freakin' Adele of rap. Just sayin'.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Playlist Paragraphs: President Obama's Summer Playlist: Day [Spotify]



Hey, did you know that THE WHITE HOUSE has a Spotify account? Well, they do. And apparently to inaugurate the account, President Obama made a playlist of his own.

1. Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – The Temptations
2. Live It Up – Isley Brothers
3. Memories Live – Talib Kweli & Hi Tek
4. Tombstone Blues – Bob Dylan
5. So Much Trouble in the World – Bob Marley
6. Paradise – Coldplay
7. Tengo Un Trato (Remix) – Mala Rodriguez
8. Wang Dang Doodle – Howlin Wolf
9. Another Star – Stevie Wonder
10. Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly & the Family Stone
11. Boozophilia – Low Cut Connie
12. Wherever Is Your Heart – Brandi Carlile
13. Good Day – Nappy Roots
14. Green Light – John Legend
15. Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones
16. Rock Steady – Aretha Franklin
17. Down Down the Deep River – Okkervil River
18. Pusher Love Girl – Justin Timberlake
19. Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
20. La Salsa La Traigo Yo – Sonora Carruseles


There are a lot of songs on here I actually don't know so kudos to you, President Obama. But this playlist overall seems like a relaxing Summer day - Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Sly & the Family Stone, Justin Timberlake. But it also has some surprises like Coldplay, Brandi Carlile and Nappy Roots. It's eclectic and there are a lot of genres represented here, which I consider to be a factor when you're judging a playlist. Also, Florence + the Machine! Now that is definitely a surprise for the President. And now I'm just picturing him reading the latest wacky bill that has been submitted to congress and he's in the oval office reading it, listening to "Shake It Out" and just shaking his head.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In Defense of Adele (Or maybe not...)

With Adele coming back and basically being everywhere, lately I've been thinking about her and what my opinion is of her - sometimes I'm like, "wow, 'Rolling in the Deep', 'Someone Like You'...she is pretty good!" and then other times I'm like, "Okay, she can sing. And her songs sound like she can be a little bit of a crazy ex-girlfriend. I'm not impressed." I'm not exactly sure why but I feel like I WANT to like her. I mean, she writes her own songs and they're actually good, she can sing ridiculously well and she doesn't seem to get caught up in the paparazzi-media drama, which is honorable and very hard to come by these days - you can tell she's in it for the right reasons - she's here for her music and her work. Not to be photographed on the red carpet and have everyone ogle over her designer dress.

Before I go on, let me share part of a conversation I had with a friend in the car about Adele after we watched her performances on Saturday Night Live (and I'm paraphrasing here because I don't quite remember everything):

"I get that she's "technically" a good singer, but I don't really feel anything when she sings. Like, I prefer John Legend's covers of her songs, because at least when he sings, it sounds like there's something else there." - my friend

"Yeah, I know what you mean! There's something missing with her - like, okay, your songs are good, your voice is good, I don't really mind you as a person, from what I can see...why can't I just accept her and be like, 'yeah! Adele!' like literally everyone else?" - Me

"I feel like when she writes songs, she can write stories, which is important but her lyrics are a little...jumbled? Like, 'Hello' doesn't sound like an authentic story - are you really leaving a message like that on someone's phone, Adele? That bothers me about her too." - my friend

"Yeah and also you feel like you relate to it but do you really? Like, would you really call your ex-boyfriend and be like, 'oh you've moved on, let me talk more about how bad I feel and revel in our bad relationship.'" -Me

"Exactly! I think we both just feel that she's good but there's not a lot there." - my friend

She's a little boring. That's my conclusion of why I have issues with the fact that everyone acts like she's God's gift to earth. And trust me, I don't want to say anything bad about Adele because I don't think she deserves it. She's a solid artist but due to the lack of diversity in her songs, I can't keep pretending that she's this second coming to music. Also, every song she writes is pretty much the same. It's either "my ex is an asshole" or "I'm an asshole for breaking up with my ex". And trust me, there are tons of people writing the same damn thing over and over again but the songs at least SOUND different. Enough is enough, Adele. Write something new. Then maybe I will see why the music industry has a huge hard on for you.

Another thing that's interesting though is that her mediocrity could be WHY she's so popular too. People can definitely relate to "my ex is an asshole" or "I'm an asshole for breaking up with my ex". In fact, I'm willing to bet that almost everyone on earth can relate to that. So if you add bonafide talent behind these simple songs, you got yourself a successful pop artist.

I absolutely hate the fact that it sounds like I'm bashing Adele - I like to think this blog post is more like calling her out and challenging her to do more with her talent. She's good. She's proven that but what is she going to do with this success? Write the same damn song? That's boring, Adele. You're better than that. There are many people out there who can write a good break up song. Do something more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Probably the easiest list I've ever made...



Top 10 2015 first draft

1. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love
2. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell
3. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I just sit and think...
4. Frank Turner - Positive Songs for Negative People
5. Best Coast - California Nights
6. Natalie Prass - Self Titled
7. Twenty One Pilots - Blurryface
8. Good Old War - Broken into Better Shape
9. The Front Bottoms - Back On Top
10. Laura Marling - Short Movie

Missy Elliott "WTF (Where They From)"

While you were watching the "Hello" video for the millionth time, Missy Elliott came back! Her new single is called "WTF (Where They From)" featuring Pharrell Williams (of course). The only information we know about her upcoming seventh studio album Bloc Party is that she's working with Williams and Timbaland (of course). No word on a release date yet.





Also, check this out, while researching what Missy Elliott is doing these days, I found out that Missy saw a 2,500% increase in sales of her music after her appearance with Katy Perry at this year's superbowl - 2,500% increase?!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Playlist Paragraphs: Best of 00's Emo [Apple Music]

Here's the first installment of a column I think I'm going to create on this blog called Playlist Paragraphs...it's pretty self explanatory...just read it.

Track Listing - Best of 00's Emo from Apple Music:

1. Dashboard Confessional - "Hands Down"
2. Armor for Sleep - "Car Underwater"
3. Coheed and Cambria - "A Favor House Atlantic"
4. Say Anything - "Alive with the Glory of Love"
5. Straylight Run - "Existentialism on Prom Night"
6. Piebald - "American Hearts"
7. All-American Rejects - "Swing, Swing"
8. Rival Schools - "Everything Has it's Point"
9. Thursday - "Understanding a Car Crash"
10. Jimmy Eat World - "The Middle"
11. Motion City Soundtrack - "Everything is Alright"
12. At the Drive-In - "One Armed Scissor"
13. Thrice - "Artist in the Ambulance"
14. Saves the Day - "At Your Funeral"
15. Brand New - "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad"
16. Elliott - "Calm Americans"
17. Death Cab for Cutie - "A Movie Script Ending"
18. Taking Back Sunday - "Cute without the "E" (Cut from the Team)"
19. My Chemical Romance - "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)"
20. Panic! At the Disco - "I Write Sins not Tragedies"
21. Hey Mercedes - "Quality Revenge At Last"
22. Paramore - "Pressure"
23. Cursive - "The Recluse"
24. Fall Out Boy - "Sugar, We're Goin' Down"
25. Saosin - "Voices"


This playlist is a warm welcome to anyone who wants to go back to 2003 for a little while. There are some bands on here that could be replaced by maybe Fenix TX, Sum 41, The Starting Line, New Found Glory or The Early November but regardless of that, the duds still have a place in pop punk (in my opinion: Elliott, Rival Schools and Piebald). What's cool is that they included some bands that are a niche in the genre - I'm looking at you, At the Drive-In! Not to mention Thrice, Straylight Run, Saosin, Thursday!? This playlist also chose to include some eclectic sounds from the pop punk genre - Thursday, At the Drive-In, again, are perfect examples, while balancing the powerhouses - Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Panic! At the Disco, Say Anything, Saves the Day, etc. By the way, whoever compiled this gets a gold star for including "Cute without the "E" (Cut from the Team)" because really, if you're going to include Taking Back Sunday on a "Best of 00's Emo" playlist (and why wouldn't you?), there's no other option than to choose that song.


Check out this playlist by clicking here. (You also need an Apple Music subscription but you get the first three months free so, why not?)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What's New These Days...

So, September flew by, didn't it? No? It was just me?

I went to Austin, TX in the beginning of the month and ever since we got home, it's just been a crazy, busy time for me. But here are some notable things I've been thinking about music-wise...

-Have you heard The Arcs, Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach's new side project? They're really good. They're also touring around Europe and the United States starting in November.

-I know everyone might know about this already but - RYAN ADAMS. 1989. IT HAPPENED. I like it a lot and I think it was a fun project for him to create in between writing songs and recording original material. My key tracks are "Style", "Bad Blood" and "Wildest Dreams".

-Courtney Barnett has been working with Jack White recently, which is kind of weird to me. I feel like they produce very different music and have very different philosophies on music. Barnett is young, wild and free and White is serious, wild and destructive. But she released a single he produced called "Shivers" and it will be on White label Third Man Records Fall sampler.

That's all for now, hopefully I get in the blogging spirit again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer Concerts 2015: August

The Summer is almost over and so is my summer concert series of 2015. I'm glad I decided to start this, because I have a feeling you guys wouldn't have heard from me all summer due to my crazy work schedule and personal life the last couple of months. The summer usually is that way for me. When there's nice weather in the North East, we do not mess around! Anyway, let's get started with Laura Marling...

Monday, August 3: Laura Marling @ Town Hall - NYC
Opening Acts: Marika Hackman and Johnny Flynn


This was one of those concerts where all the stars aligned - the openers were fantastic and Laura Marling was enigmatic but inspiring and amazing, as she always is, I'm sure. It was a great show. They all obviously love working together and collaborating on covers and whatever else they choose. Marika Hackman and Johnny Flynn surprised me in a good way (yes, I haven't heard of Johnny Flynn until now, but apparently he has a huge following, don't know how he slipped under my radar,) and their music has been on my "recently played" list ever since. Marling is an intricate guitar player, as she is a singer and songwriter. You will not be disappointed if you ever get the chance to see her. To the left is a video of her performing "I Feel Your Love" from her new album that released this year, Short Movie

Wednesday, August 12: NOFX @ House of Blues - Boston, MA
Opening Acts: WAY TOO MANY
Not all concerts can be sunshine and roses. And that's okay. Honestly, it was just a misunderstanding between us and whoever is NOFX's PR person (if they even have one?) because what they should have advertised this as is a festival. Because that's what it was. A festival. It wasn't just a light hearted romp for a couple hours, this was an all day and all night event. We're starting at 3 and we're ending at 3...AM. So when I saw this advertised, it had NOFX on the bill with 5 openers - okay, that's a bit much but it's for the 25th anniversary of Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chords, I can get into this. Then my boyfriend and I get to the show and find out from one of the bouncers that there are EIGHT openers. EIGHT. THAT'S A FESTIVAL. The thing also was, we are both in our late twenties and have full time jobs - we took Wednesday off and expected to be done around 6pm so we could drive home to Albany without issue and go to work the next day (Boston is about 3 and a half hours away). "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," is the famous quote, I believe. And that's exactly what happened. We ended up being there way longer than we expected and we were dead tired the day after at work. But we pulled through because we still need to maintain our cred. We may be slaves to the man but during our down time, we will prove till our dying day that we still aren't :)
 
Anyway, there were way too many bands to list and keep track of, so I apologize I didn't get all of their names. However, I was really impressed with a band called Bad Cop/Bad Cop and here's a video of them doing their thing.

Monday, August 24: Beach House @ Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park (Albany), NY 
Opening Act: Romantic States 

I just saw these guys last night! So it's very fresh in my mind. I listened to Teen Dream this morning in memory. Speaking of that album, which also happens to be my favorite, I feel like they didn't play the powerhouses from that album - "Zebra", "Walk in the Park", "Lover of Mine"?! This is what I wanted to hear and they didn't play them. I wish I knew about the "set list creator" option they have on their website - they let their fans pick the set list for each show on the tour. For some reason, Albany decided to pick some lackluster duds, in my opinion. Regardless of that, they blew me away. Yes, Victoria Legrand really does sound like that. The lighting they use for their show is pretty awesome too - it felt like a basement show. Very dark, pastel lights flashing here and there, a disco ball in the middle of the room, you know, the usual basement show. From what I've heard of their new album, Depression Cherry, coming out this Friday, (you can stream the album on NPR first listen, click that link,) I'm
 pleased with the new songs. It's a lot more Bloom than Teen Dream, but it will do. Legrand's use of keyboards and synthesizers and Alex Scally's guitar pedal work is insanely impressive to me. They bring the sound that they create on their records to the stage very well using these tools. The opener, I have to admit, was pretty much Beach House's less cooler cousin, who were also from Baltimore and also a boy-girl duo. I don't want to rip on them too bad, because they were good, just nothing very interesting. Because Beach House requested no video to be taken (although I admit, I totally took a tiny clip of them performing "10 Mile Stereo" because it was awesome, but that will be just for me since they don't want video posted,) here are some photos from the night. 

 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Young the Giant

Thanks to my Apple Music subscription, I've been listening to a lot of Young the Giant recently, a 5 piece from Irvine, CA. signed to Fueled by Ramen records (surprisingly. They don't seem like a typical FBR band). I've always loved their singles and "Apartment" is probably my best cover I can play on guitar. But recently, I've been listening to their entire discography and there's something there I didn't notice before. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia might be one of my favorite vocalists, in terms of timbre but I haven't decided if that's because I'm really into their music right now - time will tell.

They have two albums out, their first being their self titled and Mind Over Matter, which just released in 2014. Here's a song off of their sophomore album, "It's About Time":

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Concerts 2015: July

July 10: Say Anything @ House of Blues - Boston, MA
Opening Acts: Cymbals Eat Guitars, Modern Baseball, Hard Girls

This show seems like so long ago but I remember it being absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, I didn't get to catch a lot of the openers although I did see Modern Baseball's set and they were good - your typical pop punk band in khaki shorts and eating pizza. Say Anything's string accompaniment definitely added something and I'm glad they decided to do it for this tour. Believe it or not, Hebrews has grown on me. I wouldn't say it's my favorite or one of their best, but I can accept it as a solid effort that Max Bemis wanted to create. The last time I saw them, Hebrews just came out that week, I think, and the songs on that album sounded weird without the string accompaniment, since they were made to include that. The songs definitely had a different vibe this time. Say Anything are always a good band to see live - a lot of energy, heart and interaction with the audience. Video is of Say Anything performing "Woe".




July 11: Weird Al @ The Palace Theatre - Albany, NY
Opening Acts: None
This was my first time seeing Weird Al and I know I was in the minority at this concert. There were so many fans in the audience who knew the rhythm of a Weird Al concert - the polka, the costume changes, the skits he pre-records and shows on stage. Being 55 years old and still rocking out, Weird Al doesn't seem like he's slowing down any time soon and I think he and the fans are just fine with that. Here's a video of some of his polka he did in Albany.


 July 27: Motion City Soundtrack @ Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park/Albany, NY Opening Acts: The Spill Canvas

Not the first time I've seen Motion City Soundtrack, but they were way better this time around than the last. This was part of their Commit this to Memory 10th Anniversary tour so of course, they played the entire album from beginning to end. I did get a chance to check out the Spill Canvas and I hate to say it but they weren't the best. I feel like even with age, Motion City Soundtrack is a band that is still making good music. Well written lyrics and good melodies (like "True Romance"! I've been on kind of a kick with that song). Here's the Minneapolis five piece playing "L.G. Fuad" for a little while.

July 29: Interpol @ Upstate Concert Hall - Clifton Park/Albany, NY
Opening Acts: Hundred Waters 

This was my first time seeing Interpol and I loved it! It was also another chance to check off a band off of my "must see live before they break up or retire" list. Interpol have been comeback kids lately, with their stellar album El Pintor from last year, which was also their first effort that did not have founding member and former bassist Carlos D's influence (who had a huge role in their songwriting). Surprisingly, they delivered a well executed, Interpol-esque album and it's what they mostly played at Upstate Concert Hall, which was expected. They also weren't afraid to throw in some Antics songs either - including "Evil", "Slow Hands" and "Take You on a Cruise"




Shows for August include: Laura Marling, NOFX and Beach House!
One more month to go! Summer has gone by so quick.

Friday, July 31, 2015

People I Can't Stand at Concerts

So I've gone to a lot of concerts and seen a lot of live music in my lifetime. It's just something I enjoy and I make a point to do it whenever I can. I try to be a responsible, respectful and aware concert go-er. Unfortunately, not everyone tries to be and when I say not everyone, I mean hardly anyone. At least that's how I feel. It's very rare when I see someone actually apologizing for running into another person or actually realizing that they did it in the first place. It seems like some people think that being in a crowd of people gives them the opportunity to be an asshole without any thought or consequence. Sure, a bouncer will kick people out if they're really being a pest, I just went to the Interpol show at Upstate Concert Hall on Wednesday night and the bouncers sure were busy getting hot messes out of there. For some reason, Interpol brings out the alcohol consumption in people, who knew. But there are other people who aren't drunk that are still assholes - they don't even have the excuse that they're drunk! And they're not as overt as some people in the crowd who are even more problematic, so it doesn't get dealt with. Here are a few concert go-er's I see all the time that I just CAN'T EVEN anymore:

The person dancing when there's no room to dance.
Don't get me wrong, I love dancing and I don't knock anyone for dancing at a concert. But when you're at a sold out show and the crowd is packed in the venue like a case of sardines, that's when I have an issue with you. Obviously, you can't dance at this show. There are way too many people and you knocking into others around you with your arms and legs in the air is not appropriate. Look around you and stop. It's hindering the experience for other people, like you care though.

The really really tall people fist pumping and not looking down to see if they could potentially elbow you in the face.
Um, yeah, hey guy up there, that's great you're digging the music but your elbow is like, 2 inches away from my nose whenever you bring your arm down during the fist pumping motion. So please look before you fist pump. Which brings me to my next person...

Really really tall people.
How tall did you say you were, 6 feet? Oh, that's great! Genes have been really good to you. But guess what? I'm 5'3" and I'd like to also see the concert. You know, the one I traveled and paid for. I mean everyone has the right to a really good spot - I'm not saying tall people should be banished from the front of the crowd but if you see someone really short, don't just rush into the crowd and stand right in front of them. You have to know that you're not see through, right?

People who are in the front that always have to excuse themselves and come back to their spot.
You know the type. The one who you have to move for about 10 times during the opener because they have to go to the bathroom, they have to get a drink, they have to go to the merch table, etc. but they want to keep their spot up front so they'll keep going through the crowd and coming back to the front to squish themselves in (because you know someone already took their spot, so they're just going to MAKE a spot for them - GREAT.)

The people who barge into the crowd and stand right next to you, almost on top of you, until you move because they want your spot.
Hey, guess what? There's no room for you here. I had this spot first and just because you're too close for comfort doesn't mean I'm moving. I have moved in the past but now I know better and I see them coming from a mile away. Now, I just stand there. In fact, I lean against them to annoy THEM. Then THEY'RE the ones that leave and victory is mine!!!

The people who bump into or hit you and don't even apologize. What the hell.
When I was at the Interpol show, there was a girl who bumped into me and actually said she was sorry. I was shocked. I didn't even mind that she bumped into me. Please re-affirm my faith in humanity and bump into me again just so you can apologize and recognize that thing you just did. Actually, here's a story: the last time I saw Taking Back Sunday, the show was PACKED. Like fire hazard packed. And there was a girl next to me and my boyfriend who had a really shitty neighbor on the other side of her. He kept bumping into her, hitting her, almost spilling his drink on her. So when he went up to the front to "mosh" or whatever the kids these days call it, she straight up punched him in the back multiple times. HARD. The funny thing is, he didn't even look back! That's how accepted this behavior is at concerts. It didn't even faze him. She then turned to me and my boyfriend and very intensely said, "I know A LOT of cops. If he comes over here again I'm calling them and they'll be here in minutes!" ALRIGHT LADY. But it was still bad ass.

So yeah, next time you're at a concert, I know mistakes happen but I only ask that you please be aware of your surroundings. The band isn't just playing for you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We're No. 1

The A.V. Club is doing a series called "We're No. 1" where they examine one hit wonders, various forms of pop music that became mainstream because of a certain event, among other very interesting things to read about pop music. Check it out! This week's article is about The New Radicals and Gregg Alexander, who as I've always said, is one of the hidden gems of pop music.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Songs

This week I've been thinking a lot about what makes a song a Summer song to me and to other people. Here are some of my findings:

"It has to be catchy and has to make you dance." - Library patron, age 12

"I listen to a lot of upbeat songs in the Summer." - Co-worker, age unknown

"To me, a Summer song is a song that relaxes you." - Friend, age 34

Okay so it has to be catchy, make you dance, upbeat and relaxing. That sounds about right. Here are some of my favorite songs to listen to in the Summer!

Kid Cudi "Day 'N' Nite"

Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi can really do no wrong for me, especially in the Summer. The single originally released online on a mix tape Kid Cudi recorded in 2007. It became a huge hit on radio and after that, A Kid Named Cudi, the original mixtape, released as an album on Kanye West's label GOOD Music (alright, Kanye, that's quite enough with your label title). He's been making Summer songs ever since. I would say "Pursuit of Happiness" is also a great Summer song.

Justice "D.A.N.C.E"

This is from french electronic music duo Justice's first and break out album, † (Cross). Apparently they also think of this song as a tribute to Michael Jackson, who they're huge fans of. Definitely could hear that 80's Michael Jackson influence in this. It certainly makes you want to dance, is upbeat and catchy...so it obviously has a lot of qualifications to be a Summer song.

Little Boots ft. Phil Oakey of the Human League "Symmetry"
Really, a lot of synth pop songstress Little Boots' songs could be considered for this blog post but "Symmetry" is one of my favorite songs by her. Victoria Hesketh is a former full time DJ from England who just released her third album Working Girl on July 10. I can't say enough good things about her, if you haven't listened to her and are into dancey synth pop, you really need to! Plus, her cover of Hot Chip's "Ready for the Floor" is actually way better than the original. Sorry, Hot Chip.

LCD Soundsystem "North American Scum"

I've been listening to A LOT of James Murphy aka LCD Soundsystem lately. Ever since I watched Shut Up and Play the Hits on Netflix, I've been like "ipod, get to the L's like, nowish!" Like Little Boots, a lot of Murphy's music could be categorized as "summer" music. However, "North American Scum" is one of my favorites, partially because of the way he says "And if you think we're from England, we're not...no."

Let me know in the comments what your favorite summer songs are!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Checking In/Making of PSFNP Video

Hey all! First post of July! It's been a busy month so far. My boyfriend and I are just recovering from a night drive from Boston and I'm relaxing before seeing Weird Al in Albany tonight. We saw Say Anything and they were amazing, as always. More on that later though.

Frank Turner's album got a release date since the last time I posted - August 7! I also found a cool 5 minute "making of" featurette on his youtube, enjoy, if you like Frank Turner. Which, let's be real, you should.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Concerts 2015: Best Coast and Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World


Since I'm seeing a lot of concerts this summer - way more than normal - I'm going to update every month what shows I went to and write about them a little bit. First up is Best Coast and Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World!

June 12: Best Coast @ Paradise Rock Club - Boston, MA
Opening Act: Bully


Best Coast tend to be more impressive to me live than their album recordings, so Bethany and Bobb certainly didn't disappoint. They played a nice mix of new songs from California Nights and older songs from The Only Place and Crazy for You. Embedded is a video of them playing one of my favorites from their new album, "Jealousy". Seeing Best Coast performing live, you get a less polished, more raw sound than they usually produce on their albums. Definitely  worth checking them out if they play around your area.

The opening band, Bully, blew me away. It's not often that an opener can compete with the headliner but Bully made it worth getting to the venue earlier. It was the first time I heard them. Their debut album on Columbia Records, Feels Like, just came out this Tuesday. After researching them on the internet, I realize now they've had buzz for a while, especially from the hipster music figurehead, Pitchfork. However, they're better than the flavor of the week Pitchfork tends to produce these days. They have an early 90's rock vibe, lead singer, head lyricist and Feels Like producer Alicia Bognanno sounding like a female Kurt Cobain. Very honest lyrics, very raw, rock n' roll sound. I hope these guys go far. Here's their single from the album, "Trying":




June 22: Jim Adkins (from Jimmy Eat World) @ BSP Kingston - Kingston, NY 
Opening Act: Frank McGinnis
 When I saw where this was, I had to find more sources to check if this was actually happening in Kingston and if it really was the Jim Adkins I'm thinking of! No offense to Kingston but bands usually don't play there, they'll go to Poughkeepsie or Albany instead. Kingston also is only an hour away from me so we didn't have to travel the extra 40 minutes to Poughkeepsie this time, which was nice. The venue was very small but not small enough to where it was cramped. The opener was a local singer/songwriter who did well and had some promise. Jim Adkins came on shortly after and played a lot of covers ("Girls Just Want to Have Fun"!!!) and music from Jimmy Eat World's catalog. He actually played one of my FAVORITE Jimmy Eat World songs ever that I feel is also very underrated, "Polaris" from Futures. He also played some songs from Clarity, which was also a pleasant surprise. I saw Jimmy Eat World for the first time last summer when they played around Albany and they were stellar. Jim Adkins didn't disappoint solo either. It was a really small show and very intimate. For a performer like Jim Adkins that puts his entire self into a show (seriously, if you've seen them live, do you see how much he sweats?! I mean, not like that's a bad thing and I sweat a lot too when it's hot but damn dude, you are working it!) it's a great way to see him live. Adkins has to be one of my favorite song writers of all time and an amazing performer. Definitely go if you get the chance to see him or Jimmy Eat World!

That's all for now...July is going to be a much longer post - I'm going to 4 shows (Say Anything, Weird Al Yankovic, Interpol, and Motion City Soundtrack). All while running a Summer Reading Program at a very busy public library. Am I insane or just dedicated? We'll find out this summer!


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Apple Music will not Pay Artists Royalties for the first Three Months

So, Apple Music sounds pretty awesome and I might take the plunge and order a subscription when it comes out. It's a streaming service, much like Spotify, but is promising more options. And I believe them somewhat because they're Apple and they get shit done.

However, they've been getting some push back, most notably from Taylor Swift - read her Tumblr post here, since they've announced they won't be paying royalties to artists for the first three months. This will be the users trial period and they will be getting the music essentially for free. It's a way for Apple to get more users initially for this product to make them look good - that's what it sounds like to me, at least. For some reason, Apple has a legal explanation for this that can enable them to get away with it, that is unbeknownst to me.

Apple Music is available June 30, 2015. If Apple doesn't play nice with the record companies and artists, this could finally be the moment where Apple gets their comeuppances. I'll be interested to see how this plays out.

Do you plan on getting Apple Music? Tell me in the comments what you think about it!

UPDATE: Apple has agreed to pay artists during free trial. Read more about details here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Check out My New Article Published on Occur

LINK

Click link to read!

It's about my weird relationship listening to new Best Coast music. There are very few bands I feel can pull off this subtlety of being secretly amazing without the listener being able to recognize it right away. Vampire Weekend are one of those bands. In a way, I feel like Ryan Adams could also be another example of this for some people, although I didn't feel that way when I first listened (Gold was the first album I heard of his). 

On a somewhat related note, I'm seeing Best Coast in Boston tonight! So excited! It's round 2 with Bethany and Bobb. Last time I saw them live, was also in Boston. They really need to schedule a show in the Capital District.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dan Auerbach releases "Stay in My Corner" with The Arcs

Yesterday, Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach released a single with The Arcs - a side project he mentioned a couple months ago that he was involved in. They are also set to release a full length album, due out in the late Summer, called Yours, Dreamily. More information can be found here on Stereogum. Listen to the new single "Stay in My Corner" below - it sounds like a mix between the sound the Keys experimented with on Turn Blue - a more psychedelic blues, with the traditional Black Keys sound. Initial reaction: I like it! And the album cover art is pretty neat, too.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Preston Beat Stickers aka Promote my Blog!



The Preston Beat stickers are now available! Pay what you want. E-mail me your address: smpreston@theprestonbeat.com

The background is Black, by the way, and the font is a mustard yellow. For some reason, there's a Red tint to the photo.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Kathleen Hanna Interview on Pitchfork

Check out this extensive interview with Riot Grrrl extraordinaire Kathleen Hanna here. Very interesting read, if you're into her.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Cycling Instructor's Playlist

So lately I've been going to cycling classes and today I was reflecting on why I like it so much:

-It's a good workout, so it fulfills that requirement.
-Endorphins and all that fun stuff.
-It's not social. When I'm conducting in physical activity at a strenuous level, don't talk to me! In cycling, you can't really talk because you have to listen to the instructor and the music can be on the loud side. Fine by me.
-Which brings me to my last reason and my most recent observation: the music!


I think the fact that the classes always have music and instructors are the ones that pick the songs, is interesting to me. I'm always curious what the instructor will pick. What genres are they into? What's their favorite song at the moment? This stuff fascinates me. And I have to say, there are times where I pick instructors based on their music choices. "Oh, the Saturday one picks a lot of Keith Urban. I'll go to the Sunday class instead..." If only they knew there are people that do this.


Here are some songs my favorite cycling instructors play:



Iggy Azalea ft. Jennifer Hudson, "Trouble"
I'm pretty sure every damn cycling instructor at the cycling gym I go to have played this in their class. It wasn't even really on my radar until I kept hearing it during class. It's a good song to exercise to, it's very "girl power".



Foo Fighters, "The Pretender"
Many of you know how much I love the Foo Fighters and this is one of my favorite songs by them. They usually like to play this towards the end, when everyone is tired and can hardly see because sweat is in your eyes. It certainly gets me pumped and gives me an energy boost to finish the next song or so.



Selena Gomez ft. Zedd "I Want You to Know"(Oh, excuse me Zedd ft. Selena Gomez. Even though Selena Gomez sings throughout the entire song and Zedd just DJ's in the background. I can't stand that 'trend' of crediting the DJ before the singer. Like, why not credit guitar players, drummers, etc. before the singer then? ANYWAY...)



The Weeknd "Earned It"
Okay. Yes, I like this song. What I DO hate about it, is that it's affiliated with "50 Shades of Grey". Someone as respectable as Toronto born and bread Abel Tesfaye (otherwise known as The Weeknd,) should not be affiliated with that. But it's a great song and I've stopped trying to deny that fact. They usually play this for a "climb" - when you're supposed to pretend you're actually climbing a hill but instead you're just turning a knob to increase the resistance and you're still on a stationary bike. But whatever, I like doing it and it kicks my ass.


Imagine Dragons, "I Bet My Life"
Oh hey, remember these guys? I liked them. Or do I still like them? The instructors sure do because they play this like it's their job...but it kind of is, though. Anyway, Imagine Dragons - I want to like them but they're getting what I like to call "The Fray Syndrome". That song "How to Save a Life" by The Fray, released in 2009? Yeah, it was awesome until Grey's Anatomy and every damn car company got the rights to it and played the crap out of it to sell their product. It just became that song that had a super sappy positive message and then beat you over the head with it. Those two combinations don't exactly mix with me. I'm all for positivity but there's only so many songs like this I can take. And after "How to Save a Life," it became The Fray's THING. Well, that's now what Imagine Dragons are to me - these positive, uplifting ballads are now their THING. "It's Time," "Radioactive," "Demons," now this?! All great songs but they were great the last 100 times I've heard them. Let's move on and write a song about something else, shall we? Because you're way more talented than this and way more talented to get "The Fray Syndrome".
For now, I will say that I approve of this song though, especially because Dane Dehaan is in the music video and yeah...you get it.

#BeyonceAlwaysOnBeat

For some reason unbeknownst to me, the internet decided to post videos of Beyonce dancing to music other than hers...and people realized the dance and beat actually work with a lot of songs. It's pretty hilarious!

Billboard posted a few of the videos here, my favorite probably being the "Run the World (Girls)" video dubbed with a church choir song.

Another one that they didn't mention...the "Single Ladies" dance to the Duck Tales theme! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hey I'm Still Here/New Albums to Check Out (or not check out)

Hey! Remember me!? Sorry for the lack of postage lately but my job gets really hectic in the warmer months and my personal life in general has been really busy. BUT here are some albums that just came out that I either have opinions on or I think you should give a listen to - I'll elaborate later if I need to:

- Twenty One Pilots Blurryface - I have to say, I'm surprised with this album...and not pleasantly necessarily. It's an interesting effort and I get what Tyler and Josh were trying to create but I'm not sure if it works for them very well. I still support and love them but this album was strike two for me. In case you were wondering, the first strike was when they came to my area for a show and they were awesome live, albeit total dicks to the people that worked at the venue (one of the sound guys works at the library with me,) so that was pretty crappy of them. ANYWAY...

-Matt & Kim New Glow- Matt & Kim have been the same damn thing for a while...but I like the same damn thing and it works for them. From what I've heard of this, it's another energy fun filled dance party, like they always deliver. Like I've said before, if you do what you do well and you like the music you're creating, sometimes you don't have to change it up as much as people think you should.

-Best Coast California Nights- I'm very torn about this record. You all know how much I love Bethany and Bobb but something just doesn't feel right about this record. Last night, I was actually talking to my boyfriend about it and he said, "it just sounds way too over-produced for what the songs are. And the drumming is weird." And then that got me thinking, you know what, the drumming IS weird. I think that could be a factor as to why it sounds off to me. I know they usually hire session drummers since there is no official drummer of Best Coast and I think whoever they hired, was not the right fit. Key tracks are "In My Eyes" and "Jealousy" - they sound like Crazy for You Best Coast. Only if that album had way more instruments and less reverb. That's another gripe I have - I get it if Bethany and Bobb don't want to use reverb anymore - it's their music first and foremost and they can do what they want with it but they taunt their fans a lot..."maybe we'll use reverb again someday, maybe not!" I hate that! Anyway, it's a little all over the place but this album is worth a listen...because it's Best Coast and I'm obviously going to at least recommend you give it a try.


-Another interesting factoid I have to share is about one of my musical loves for life, Mr. Frank Turner. He's announced that his new album is called Positive Songs for Negative People. I love it. He's also released a lyric video for his first single, "Get Better". Here's more info about that as well as the lyric video. It should be coming out some time this year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

First Impressions: Ryan Adams, Blue Light (April 2015)

Ryan Adams has been running with this whole "I own a label and can release basically anything I want," thing and releasing a single a month on iTunes. You can also buy a 7" record of the song on his label's website, PaxAM. I really like the throwback to the single - as people have said in the past, the single has been kind of dead for a couple of years and it's a nice tradition to keep. Here's a first impression of his latest single, "Blue Light" which also features 2 other songs.



"Blue Light": This is very Love is Hell or Rock N Roll(if it had more electric guitar). It also reminds me of a single he released before this "Do You Laugh When You Lie?"

"All My Life": I actually think I like this song the better than "Blue Light". The guitar builds the finish very well along with Adams delivery of the lyrics. It sounds more Ryan to me than the other songs.

"I Lost My Fucking Mind": We're very blunt, aren't we, DRA (David Ryan Adams, fans call him this)?! People have said to me before they can hear The Cure's influence in this song and I can kind of see it but honestly, The Cure and Ryan Adams are like apples and oranges to me. Both really great but nothing alike. The way he says "I lost my mind" and "I lost my fucking mind" really lets you know he means it. And I would probably believe him even if he didn't sound genuine.

You can sign up for PaxAM's newsletter to get updates on the 7" singles every month on their website.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Article on Occur

Check out my new article on Occur here! It's the top 10 pop punk songs of the early 2000's.

Natalie Prass

I've been listening to Natalie Prass a lot lately. I discovered her since Ryan Adams can't stop talking about her on Twitter (and yes, I know the rumor that they might be dating). She also has been touring with him and tonight they're in the Arizona. So let's learn a little bit more about Miss Prass because I'm intrigued...

A protege of Jenny Lewis, Prass started in Boston at the Berklee College of Music, where she was a student for one year and moved to Nashville after that. It wasn't until an iPhone recorded demo that Lewis heard in Nashville, that she got her big break, playing keyboards in Lewis' touring band during the Acid Tongue years.
Her debut self titled album came out in January of this year and it's a 1970's soulful country throwback. It reminds me a lot of Dolly Parton in the beginning of her career, mixed with Dionne Warwick (one of her biggest influences,) or Gladys Knight. It's a very distinct sound, especially with Prass' Disney princess-like tone, which I love.

She's signed to Spacebomb records, an independent label coming out of Richmond, Virginia (where she's from originally,) and also has a distribution deal with Columbia records. Apparently, this album was made two years ago and was distributed locally by Spacebomb before Columbia picked it up for a nationwide release.

Honestly, that's all I can find about Natalie Prass right now but I encourage to give her a listen. Her debut is available on iTunes and Spotify now!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Carrie & Lowell - First Impressions

iTunes reminded me this morning that Sufjan Stevens new album Carrie & Lowell comes out today! So far, I'm very intrigued. I'm also very glad he decided to go back to his Illinois, Michigan roots and is playing the music (I think) he should and needs to play. This is Stevens first album in five years. Here's a rundown of the songs...

"Death with Dignity" - The one thing I take away from this are the lyrics - damn they're dark. This album IS about his mentally unstable mother and stepfather, after all (Sufjan really likes concept albums, as do I). "I forgive you, mother, I can hear you/ And I long to be near you/ But every road leads to an end/ Yes, every road leads to an end."

"Should Have Known Better" - Eerie but also strangely pleasant...sounds like Sufjan to me.

"All of Me Wants All of You" - The intro sounded a little Pink Floyd to me...and then he starts signing. Already after the third song, I'm sensing his lyrics are more honest than they've ever been before. I feel like he usually tries to tell a grandiose story in his lyrics, some of it coming from his life, some of it totally made up in his awesomely weird mind. But he's talking about masturbation in this song (which is totally taboo for him, he likes to stay innocent, Holden Caulfield style,) he's talking about the time his mom left him at the video store when he was little in "I Should Have Known Better". Is Sufjan growing up or what? The Pitchfork interview (that I linked above,) is proving to be very accurate. This is definitely one of his filler "A Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, but for Very Good Reasons" intermission songs he likes to do.

"Drawn to the Blood" - This one is good...the end is interesting. It sounds like the end of the Lawrence Welk show or maybe the end of Jurassic Park...they're interchangeable though, right?

"Eugene" -This is obviously about the summers he spent camping in Eugene, Oregon with his siblings, Carrie & Lowell. In the Pitchfork interview, Stevens explains that those trips are his best memories of his mother. He felt the closest to her during those camping trips. After every verse he says, "I just want to be near you." Again, I'm very surprised how brutally honest he is on this album - he never usually is. Also, here's a fun fact: Stevens actually TRAVELED to Eugene during the recording of this album, stayed in a hotel for a couple of days and recorded some of these songs on his iphone. Because he's crazy. But I love it.

"Fourth of July" - A song about his mother's death - she died in 2012 from stomach cancer. This was the catalyst for Stevens to create this album because when she died, he felt very empty and a lot of regret - "And I’m sorry I left, but it was for the best/ Though it never felt right/ My little Versailles" he sings what she told him about leaving his father and siblings when he was 1.Very dark. But very good.

"The Only Thing" - "I wonder did you love me at all?" he says. Another lyric that stands out - "The only thing that keeps me from cutting my arm/ Cross hatch, warm bath, Holiday Inn after dark/ Signs and wonders: water stain writing the wall/ Daniel’s message; blood of the moon on us all." SHIT. Basically, the entire song is terribly sad and very real. This is obviously coming from a dark period in his life, more than likely when he was suicidal (which he's said before that he was at one point, I'm not making assumptions here, it's all in the Pitchfork interview). "The only reason why I continue at all/ Faith in reason, I wasted my life playing dumb." *CRIES*

"Carrie & Lowell" - This sounds very whimsical and light - a touch of "Chicago" is in there. The lyrics are basically about his mother and stepfather's relationship. Another fun fact, his stepfather, Lowell co-runs Stevens record company Asthmatic Kitty. Lowell has always been somewhat of a father figure to him and a positive in his life. Even though he lived with his biological father most of his life, Stevens didn't get along with him, describing him as being conservative, religious and generally emotionless. It makes sense he would keep Lowell around, even though he and Carrie were only married for five years.

"John My Beloved" - I want to know who John is. I've tried to find out, can't find anything. If anyone knows, leave it in the comments. It could just be a reference to religion. This song is probably the most religious on the album.

"No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross" -"Fuck me, I'm falling apart," he says. Again, the cursing! The talking about masturbation! Who is this and what has he done with Sufjan Stevens? The Sufjan I discovered 10 years ago would never talk like that! Where's the soap...just kidding, I think it's awesome.

"Blue Bucket of Gold" - Very mellow, very Seven Swans. A good end to an amazing achievement for Sufjan (that is this album).

Hey! I wrote something for another website!

Check out my newest article for Occur by clicking here. I interviewed infamous Los Angeles guitarist Nikki O'Neill and talked about her new book and giving guitar lessons.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Have you checked NPR's First Listen lately?

Click here. They've got a lot of good albums coming out in the near future for you to stream as many times as you want! The only album they don't have is Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett...although that just came out yesterday...and I'm really digging it!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Mix



I live in the Northeast so obviously, I'm VERY ready for Spring. Here's a playlist I made to listen to in the park or on a bike ride! Happy Spring!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Albums will be released on Fridays starting in the Summer

Check this out: starting in "the Summer" (they don't give a specific date. Also as an upstate New Yorker, what is this Summer they speak of? I don't remember what that is...) albums are going to be released on Friday instead of Tuesday in the United States and Canada. This is an attempt to keep piracy at bay but let's be real, it's not going to. You thought I was going to tell a Pirate Bay joke, didn't you?

Nothing will until it's off the internet. Usually albums in Europe come out on Sunday or Monday, so they're thinking if it comes out in the United States before, it'll relieve piracy? When really, it'll just be the same problem, only Europe will be getting the sloppy seconds. More details here from the AV Club.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Drummers and Why I Love Them

So Sunday was the day I saw Sleater-Kinney in the flesh for the first and probably only time I will have the opportunity and they were amazing! I mean, I know every show review I've read about them says they're great live but I always like to reserve my opinions after I actually experience it. One of the thoughts I took away from the show was, "holy shit, Janet Weiss is on point!"

She is seriously the one beat (oh! Ya see what I did there?) of Sleater-Kinney. She's the glue that's keeping everything together. In fact, here's a video from the show so you can see what I mean (hopefully I won't get in trouble for uploading this onto the internet):
Weiss and her amazingness made me think of how impressed I usually am of a good drummer. You know why? It doesn't happen very often. I think a lot of times people who form bands focus too much on the guitar, the lyrics, the voice and kind of forget about the rhythm section. While all of those aspects of a band are also important, the drummer is what makes a band stand out from everyone else, especially live. A lot of bands can play guitar and make great songs but having a good drummer is becoming the exception these days.

So when you see a band live, notice how the beat is being kept. Look out for the good drummers.

Monday, February 16, 2015

New Sufjan Stevens Single

Sufjan Stevens released his first single off of Carrie & Lowell, his new album due out in March. It's called "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross" and you can listen to it here via Pitchfork. This sounds very Michigan and Seven Swans to me. I am pleased. (Also, holy shit, Sufjan curses in this! I don't think that's ever happened in any of his music, has it??)

While pursuing the website, I found Pitchfork did an interview with him that was published today, check it out here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

K.Flay @ Upstate Concert Hall 2.12.2015

Last night I went to a free show sponsored by a local radio station. One of my favorite local talents, Bells Roar and another local band called Titanics opened with K.Flay as the headliner. I knew very little about K.Flay coming to the show except that she made music with MC Lars for a while and was on Girls in Season Two. My boyfriend really likes her and since Bells Roar was also playing, I tagged along to check it out...and it was totally awesome! Her flow is very distinct - it reminded me a lot of that band Chronic Future in the early aught's. I also really like her lyrics and style in general. Here are some pictures from the event and a youtube video of "Can't Sleep"!






Saturday, February 7, 2015

Grammy Predictions

The Grammys are tomorrow night and honestly, I don't hold too much hope for these awards because it seems like they refuse to recognize, oh I don't know, 75% of music that's out there. But I'm going to predict who will win and who should win (sometimes those answers are different!) anyway because I'm a nerd like that.

Let's start with the Rock categories because they're my favorite:

Best Rock Performance:

-Ryan Adams "Gimme Something Good"
-Arctic Monkeys "Do I Wanna Know?"
-Beck "Blue Moon"
- The Black Keys "Fever"
-Jack White "Lazaretto"

Who will win: This will probably go to either Jack White or Beck. Ryan Adams could be the dark horse and that's not because I want him to win or anything. But seriously, his album has gotten amazing reviews and it's possible he could win.

Who should win: Ryan Adams. Duh. Arctic Monkeys also should be mentioned - AM was actually a really good album and "Do I Wanna Know?" is 100% them. I'm glad they got at least nominated; it's nominations like this where I remember why I actually still kind of care about this every year.

Best Rock Song:

-Paramore "Ain't It Fun"
-Beck "Blue Moon"
-The Black Keys "Fever"
 -Ryan Adams "Gimme Something Good"
-Jack White "Lazaretto"

Who will win: Okay, before I predict, this is why this award show is flawed. Between the two rock categories I just listed, there is only one difference. Again, probably either Jack White or Beck. They might give The Black Keys a pity Grammy but I hope not. "Fever" was a great song but they don't deserve it, as much as I love them. Maybe if they gave it to them again for Brothers or El Camino, I'd be okay with it. (lol)

Who should win: You know my answer! Also yay Paramore for getting nominated! Maybe if they were nominated for "Now" or "Still into You," I'd say they should win but "Ain't It Fun"? Not Grammy worthy, sorry guys.

Best Rock Album:

-Ryan Adams Self Titled
-Beck Morning Phase
-The Black Keys Turn Blue (REALLY?! I mean I love them but this was not a good album. So because they released an album this year, they're automatically nominated? Because they're The Black Keys? That's how it works, huh?)
-Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Hypnotic Eye
-U2 Songs of Innocence (Gag. Anyone with an Apple product was able to hear it this year so it must be good, RIGHT?!)

Who will win: Tom Petty could take this. Hypnotic Eye was a great album and Petty continues to produce consistent, great music, unlike a lot of older artists who need to give it up that also might be in this category as well. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Bono. Just go to Africa and never come back, please do me a favor. U2 could also win though because for some reason a lot of people deciding this stuff have a huge boner for them. Like, they aren't The Joshua Tree anymore, guys. They just aren't. Again, Beck also has a very good chance. He might even sweep the entire rock category. Ryan Adams again being the dark horse and having support from the music reviewing community, could win it too (I can only hope).

Who should win: Since my answer has been pretty consistent I will tell you who should not win under any circumstances EVER. U2. They've been horrible for a while. They're a joke hidden behind their legendary status. Stop nominating them. Maybe if we don't give them attention, they'll go away.

Best Alternative Music Album:

-Alt-J This Is All Yours (NO.)
-Arcade Fire Reflektor
-Cage the Elephant Melophobia (NO NO.)
-St. Vincent Self Titled
-Jack White Lazaretto

Who will win: Arcade Fire. 
Who should win: Arcade Fire is definitely well deserving but they had their moment with The Suburbs, let's give it to St. Vincent, shall we? She's had an amazing year and she really should be taking this.
  
Hey Grammys, where are Angel Olsen's nominations? She wouldn't win but I'm actually really surprised she wasn't at least nominated for Best Alternative Music Album. Also, I actually had to check to see if Bastille are eligible for being nominated this year - they are! They're only nominated for two awards and they have nothing to do with rock. Really? One of the biggest rock bands of the year are only nominated for two awards? Um, alright. They should probably be nominated for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song and/or Performance for "Bad Blood" or "Pompeii". Like, really? Did we just forget about them?


Moving on to pop...:


Best Pop Vocal Album:
 
-Coldplay Ghost Stories
-Miley Cyrus Bangerz (UGH.)
-Ariana Grande My Everything 
-Katy Perry Prism (UGH UGH.)
-Ed Sheeran X
-Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour

Who will win: Could be Ariana Grande, could be Katy Perry. I really could care less about either album but I would say they're the front runners.
Who should win: Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith! Both artists are way more talented and both albums had way more substance and creativity. It's kind of hard for me to choose between both of them but I'm kind of rooting for Sam Smith more, especially after the whole Tom Petty thing, he should get this. Regardless of the controversy, he's a great song writer and has staying power.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

-Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX "Fancy"
-Coldplay "A Sky Full of Stars"
-A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguleria "Say Something"
-Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande "Bang Bang"
-Katy Perry ft. Juicy J "Dark Horse"

Who will win: I would say it's between "Fancy" and "Bang Bang". I love Iggy Azalea, I think she's a smart and sassy Australian whipper snapper but "Bang Bang" was a really good collaboration. They'll probably give this to them and Iggy will get one of the bigger awards.
Who should win: For the first time writing this, who will win is who should win!

Best Pop Solo Performance:

-John Legend "All of Me"
-Sia "Chandelier"
-Sam Smith "Stay with Me"
-Taylor Swift "Shake it Off"
-Pharell Williams "Happy"

Who will win: It probably will be either Sam Smith or Pharell Williams. Taylor Swift MIGHT sneak in there and win it...not sure.
Who should win: "Happy" was a great song, even though it got annoying towards the end of its reign. But Pharell should win it. It would also be great to see Sia win it but I'm trying to be realistic here.

   
The "big" awards:
 
Best New Artist:

-Iggy Azalea
-Bastille
-Brandy Clark
-Haim
-Sam Smith

Who will win: Ugh, this is a hard one. I don't know Brandy Clark too well because she's country and I don't follow new country because well, come on now, but all of these artists are powerhouses and have had an amazing introduction into the music world. Iggy, Bastille, Haim, Sam Smith?! It's really a toss up. Even Brandy Clark could win for all I know. I'm thinking it will be Iggy though.
Who should win: Probably Bastille or Sam Smith. I feel they're the two artists out of all of them, that have solidified their place in music and they're not going anywhere any time soon.

Song of the Year

-Meghan Trainor "All About that Bass"
-Sia "Chandelier"
-Taylor Swift "Shake it Off"
-Sam Smith "Stay With Me"
-Hozier "Take Me to Church"

Who will win: Sam Smith or Hozier
Who should win: Sam Smith or Hozier! I would like to see Hozier take this one though. Sia is the dark horse in this category. "Chandelier" is a catchy song and Sia has been in the game for a while, I wouldn't mind seeing her win it. If "All About that Bass" wins, I might try to start a twitter war with the Grammys official twitter, just sayin'. 

Also, it's funny that Beck has gotten nominated for almost everything else except the nomination he probably deserves the most out of all of them - this one! "Blue Moon" is an amazing song. It's chilling and hopeful and everything else you want it to be. This award is supposed to award the writers - why not give him at least a nomination for one of the best songs he's released in almost a decade?

Album of the Year:

-Beck Morning Phase
-Beyonce Self Titled
-Ed Sheeran X
-Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour
-Pharell Williams Girl

Who will win: A lot of music news is saying Beyonce, maybe they know something I don't. I'm thinking either her or Beck.
Who should win: Other than Sam Smith or Beyonce, there aren't any artists and/or albums that particularly deserve the "Album of the Year" status. Beyonce's music is consistently good and Queen Bae definitely has the career to back up this title. But like I said with Arcade Fire and St. Vincent before, give this to Sam Smith. Beyonce has had her shining moment(s).

Record of the Year:
     
-Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX "Fancy"
-Sia "Chandelier"
-Sam Smith "Stay with Me"
-Taylor Swift "Shake it Off"
-Meghan Trainor "All About that Bass"

Who will win: Iggy Azalea!
Who should win: Iggy Azalea! This is her award. Record of the Year is kind of like "hit of the year" in my mind. "Fancy" was THE song of 2014.   

As far as the R&B and Rap categories go, Beyonce's "Drunk in Love" will probably sweep the R&B awards and Iggy Azalea will win Best Rap Album for The New Classic (glad to see Childish Gambino nominated but Because The Internet just didn't cut it for a Grammy win). I would LOVE (and yes, I had to put it in caps,) to see Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings win for Best R&B album. Also, apparently Chris Brown is nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album...good thing Beyonce will probably win it. Seriously, why nominate him? He's disrespectful when he's at the award show to begin with and doesn't deserve it - it only boosts his ego even more and I would think that's what we want to try to avoid.

The Grammys are on CBS tomorrow night, starting at 8pm! Of course, I'll probably be live tweeting them because that's just what I do. It's pretty much the only instance I use Twitter anymore. I'll be using the same hashtag I used last year too, #steflivetweetsgrammys