Musings about music.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 2009

Playlist available here! Just click the album cover :)

Apologies

Sorry I have been so lax about updating the last week or so. I blame the holidays! Lots of stuff coming up though, there will be a December playlist up very soon, and I will be seeing Jenny Owen Youngs and Emily Wells this weekend, and Bess Rogers and Allie Moss the weekend after that. You can expect reviews of both shows and some upcoming CDs in the near future.

This remains my favorite winter song.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Florence + The Machine - Last Christmas

Her debut album was one of my top ten for 2009 and I love this cover of Wham!'s Last Christmas. Is there anything Florence can't do? I am so excited to hear more music from her in the future!!!



It would be great if she would do a studio version of this, the talking in the background is a bit distracting. This was recorded for BBC Radio 1.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aloha Fungi

So glad to see these two amazing ladies finally getting some decent exposure!

In case you missed it, here's Garfunkle & Oats on Leno.

Jenny Owen Youngs - Last Person

New video for JOY's song Last Person from her album Transmitter Failure, released earlier this year. I love this video, it's like a Gap commercial, but way cooler!

And, I love seeing Bess and Chris in it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lilith Fair 2010

Today they announced the first set of confirmed artists for the 2010 Lilith Fair Tour and I am so excited! I was waiting to get tickets until I was sure it would be worth going but there is no way I can pass this up! They managed to snag a ton of my favorite artists.

A Fine Frenzy
Ann Atomic
Ash Koley
Brandi Carlile
Butterfly Boucher
Chairlift
Chantal Kreviazuk
Colbie Caillat
Corinne Bailey Rae
Donna De Lory
Emmylou Harris
Erykah Badu
Grace Potter And The Nocturnals
Ima
Indigo Girls
Ingrid Michaelson
Janelle Monae
Jennifer Knapp
Jill Hennessy
Jill Scott
Katzenjammer
Ke$ha
Mary J. Blige
Meaghan Smith
Metric
Miranda Lambert
Nneka
Sara Bareilles
Sarah McLachlan
Serena Ryder
Sheryl Crow
The Submarines
Sugarland
Tara MacLean
Tegan And Sara
Vedera
The Weepies
Vita Chambers
Ximena Sarinana
Zee Avi

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Electric Eclectic’s Chrismahannukwanza Show – Dec. 19




December 19th is Electric Eclectic’s Chrismahannukwanza show and what better way to celebrate then having celebrated singer/songwriter Bess Rogers in-studio!?!?!

We’ll have the best holiday music starting at 9AM with Bess joining the Electric Eclectic crew at 10:30am. Bess will be performing some acoustic songs, talking about her upcoming 2010 release & her 2009 Travel Back EP, gossiping about being on tour & recording with Ingrid Michaelson & Jenny Owen Youngs, and more!

For more info check her website at www.bessrogers.com.

Check out Electric Eclectic with Ryan & Samantha every Saturday morning from 9am-12pm. And while you are at it join the Electric Eclectic Facebook page!

Jose Vanders - Literature Lovers



Literature Lovers is the third EP from Jose (pronounced Jo-Sea) Vanders and she just keeps getting better. Vanders gained some notoriety in late 2007 when Perez Hilton featured her on his blog but I hadn’t heard much about her in the states after that. I was pleased to find out two weeks ago that she had an upcoming 8 track release.

The lead track These Times instantly made me feel good. With her cheery light piano Vanders hooked me in and didn’t let go. I was completely amazed to find out that she is only 19, her voice and piano playing are strong and her lyrics have the maturity of someone much older.

I’m generally a big fan of females who sing with an English accent. Kate Nash and Lilly Allen are two of my favorites and Jose reminds me of them while still managing to stand out as a promising individual.

She channels Kate Nash particularly strong in the ballad Man On Wire.

In Fear Of… her voice reminds me a little bit of Julia Stone (Angus & Julia Stone) whom I adore. Also, anyone who uses elipses in a title is okay by me.

The catchiest track is probably The Numbers Game, but I would listen to the disc in order since Jose herself has said that's how she feels music should be heard. I agree with her there, sometimes the order of tracks is as important as the melodies themselves.

I can honestly say I liked every track on this album very much. It's perfect for fans of female singer-songwriters and well worth the money.

The Bravery - Stir The Blood


When The Bravery released their second album The Sun And The Moon I really wanted to like it. I liked their previous self titled LP and was hoping for something similar. It ended up being pretty far from similar, somewhat abandoning the synth-infused dance beats for guitars. I was not a fan of the change and was leery about picking up their new disc Stir The Blood.

In their third endeavor they've reverted to their original style electro-rock and the music isn't bad. I found myself reminded of a mix of Orgy and older New Order. The more upbeat tracks got me to move my head a bit. Unfortunately, that's where my praise of the album ends.

The lyrics are mostly just odd and uninspiring. At times the phrasing is down right misogynistic, I didn't really find anything of value here and at times front man Sam Endicott made me feel uncomfortable by what I was hearing. In the tracks I Want To Be Your Skin, Hatefuck, and She's So Bendable in particular.

For a band that consistently claims to be something original I don't think they have done anything remarkable here. By the time I got to the closing track Sugarpill the monotony of the songs was weighing heavy and I felt like I had been listening for much longer then I had. Which is too bad because it was the track I liked most on the album. It's got a Velvet Underground feel that I found myself fond of.

If you're thinking about purchasing this album I would pass on it. The lead single Slow Poison was a good choice, and fans of their first album will be happy to know that this is much more reminiscent of older work. I still feel like it falls a little flat.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Destry - It Goes On


In June of 2008 Michelle DaRosa announced her departure from Straylight Run to pursue a solo career. In late 2008, DaRosa began collaborating with Sam Means (The Format), Shaun Cooper (Straylight Run), and Nico Childrey and Tyler Odom (who played together in Cassino). Together they formed Destry and recently they released their first LP. At this time physical copies are only available from the band directly via tumblr, the album is also available on Itunes.

I was never a big fan of Straylight Run, I didn’t even know that Michelle had left the band, I came across this album because it’s recently been streaming on spinner.com in their full CD listening party. I didn’t expect much but was pleasantly surprised.

Lyrically the album is pretty solid, DaRosa has a beautiful voice, and the music is melodic and straightforward. The album was a little slow starting, I would have liked something stronger in the lead track, but the vocals are very easy on the ears and while things kind of blended together, it was enough to keep me listening.

I’m pretty keen on the change of pace with the bluesy ballad Trouble. The bass lines really stand out here, and DaRosa explores a lower range of vocals that work well for her. At many points while I was listening her voice reminded me of Jenny Lewis’s (Rilo Kiley) ballads. I enjoyed the lovely use of harmonizing on It Goes On, one of the stronger tracks. The album’s theme is heartbreak, there isn’t much inspiring here. This album is what Au Revoir Simone would probably sound like if they were Southern.

I’m particularly fond of the album closer Tearing It Apart. The percussion and the chimes in the back remind me of a lullaby and the song is really soothing.



I think Destry has a lot of potential given the circumstances of how the record was made and it turned out surprisingly well. The album was largely formed by band members sending tracks back and forth, I think it would have been stronger if they had spent more time collaborating in the studio. That being said, while I don’t find the album groundbreaking and 90% of it feels like something I’ve heard before, it’s still a really nice, relaxing debut that’s worth a listen (or two).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Priscilla Renea - Jukebox



21 year old Priscilla Renea has done what millions of Youtube hopefuls dream of. Getting her start by posting videos of herself singing in her Florida bedroom she quickly gained a significant following. This led to a record deal with Capitol and the release of her first album Jukebox. After hearing some hype about this soul pop ingenue I began following her channel and watching her older videos. It's really cool to be able to look back and see how she has developed as an artist.

Renea is fortunate to have some pretty outstanding and influential people on her team. Jukebox contributers include Atlanta-based production team Power Entertainment (T.I., Ludacris), Brian Kidd (Enrique Iglesias, Britney Spears, Nappy Roots), and legendary Danish duo Soulshock & Karlin (Madonna, Seal, Whitney Houston, Keyshia Cole).

The majority of her songs stress the importance of female empowerment without coming on too strong. Lead single Dollhouse is a stellar example of this accompanied by a super cute video in which Priscilla plays a real life doll with an unappreciative boyfriend.

Joining in homage to the girl power theme are Pretty Girl and Fixing My Hair, the latter explained by a personal story of Priscilla's which can be read on her blog.

My favorite track on the album is Rockabye Baby a hip-hop infused tale about the obstacles of an unplanned pregnancy that works surprisingly well.

Bacon 'N Eggs is a real foot tapper about a roving male. The addition of light piano in this tune really adds something different then anything else in the genre. As a whole Jukebox is an endearing, eclectic mix with plenty of single potential.

I really enjoy the simplicity of this album. That's not to say that it's unintelligent. Renea shows real promise as a singer/songwriter which in my opinion is a rare find in twenty something pop/R&B artists.

Already getting noticed as an MTV Discover and Download artist, I'm sure we'll be seeing more of her in the future.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster



Initially I was worried that The Fame Monster would be a lackluster duplication of 2007's The Fame. There's no doubt that there is a cloud of hype surrounding Gaga that causes extra scrutiny of her work. I heard the album's first single and lead track Bad Romance when the video debuted in early November. Since then I have been eagerly awaiting the full release of Lady Gaga's sophomore endeavor. Not only do I think the video is visually stunning but the song itself is nothing short of amazing.

Lady Gaga is one of the few recording artists that is really living up to the iconic personality she's created.

Alejandro gives us a glimpse into the theatrics that are becoming synonymous with her name. It's mysterious and dark while being reminiscent of both Ace of Base and Madonna.

I appreciate the irony of Monster, it manages to seamlessly blend disturbing mental images with a bubbly pop presence.

Popping up on the album at the perfect time is the brilliant pop ballad Speechless. After hearing some of her acoustic work there's no doubt in my mind that Gaga can sing and it was refreshing to hear her get a chance to really show how versatile her vocals are.

My personal album favorite Dance In The Dark somehow manages to tackle deeply serious issues like female body issues, starlet suicide, and tabloid notoriety while still giving me an irresistible urge to dance.

Telephone is truly a stunning superstar duet, I was leery about it after their previous collaboration on Beyonce's Videophone but my worries were squelched instantly. This song is everything a pairing of this magnitude should be. The only thing that could have made me like the track more is if I hadn't already heard at least one single from each of their albums every day for the past year.

The last two tracks on the album didn't stand out for me as much as the previous six, I actually feel that while Teeth is a good song it's completely out of place on this album. That being said it's odd enough that I'm not sure where it does fit.

The album came late in the year and wasn't on my initial 2009 Top Ten list, however it has easily wormed it's way into my brain and it very may well be the best pop album of the year. One thing is for sure, this release has solidified her into pop icon status.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Allison Weiss - Was Right All Along


One of the reasons I like Allison Weiss so much is because she is a 100% do it yourself artist. She manages herself, makes her own videos, writes her own music, and designs her own website and merchandise. I have a lot of respect for her perseverance which is equally matched by some amazing talent. In addition she manages to record and tour while still being a college student and she's uber dedicated to her fans. Miss Weiss does an amazing job of interacting with her fans via social networking sites, live chat, and even with live video performances.

Was Right All Along (out November 24, 2009) marks her first release with a full band accompaniment and it's a nice transition from her previous solo acoustic work. Funded with donations from fans via Kickstarter.com this album is a nice mix of honest, heartfelt lyrics and solid guitar. The lead track I Was An Island is a nice acoustic setup for an album that manages to seamlessly blend heartache with catchy melodies that make it impossible not to tap your foot.

I was instantly attracted to Fingers Crossed (which at times reminds me of The Cure's Lovesong) and I've had You+Me+Alcohol in my head so many times in the last week that I've decided it's downright infectious. On my personal favorite track July 25, 2007 she manages to pretty much break my heart with her words and for some reason, I like that. "But it's all good, cause I'm no good, and believe me, you don't need me. It's a big world and I'm old news to you."

Fans of female indie rock like Tegan and Sara, Jenny Lewis, and Jenny Owen Youngs will be particularly smitten with this album but the relatable lyrics make it an easy recommendation to anyone.

Bess Rogers @ John & Peter’s, New Hope, PA December 2, 2009

Ask me my favorite thing about seeing Bess Rogers live and I’ll tell you it’s that no matter who (or how many) are watching she never lets you forget that she plays because she loves music. You have no doubt that THIS is what she was born to do. I had the pleasure of seeing her at John and Peter’s in New Hope, PA on Wednesday night and once again she did not disappoint.

Because it’s been one of my favorite drinking establishments since stepping foot inside two years ago, I was thrilled to hear that Bess would be playing there. I’ll be the first to admit, it wasn’t a great night for a show. It was cold and raining, and the band that was supposed to play first cancelled. Despite this, Bess gave the middle finger to poor driving conditions, drove down from Brooklyn, and gave an intimate, first-class show.

The eleven song set was a blend of three new songs from an upcoming EP, all six songs from her Travel Back EP, one Flux Capacitor 80’s cover, and as per special request, one song from her first LP Decisions Based on Information. The previously unheard tunes left me certain that the new EP will be one of my favorites for 2010 and her rendition of Pour Some Sugar On Me left me craving the previously promised Flux Capacitor CD that I’ve been begging for for months. Bess has assured me that they are working on it, and hopes it will be released in early 2010.

Between songs she bantered with the small audience about driving in New Jersey, Raising The Bar, her mom, and her upcoming EP. The show lasted a little over an hour and she was gracious enough to play an impromptu song from her first LP which she remembered surprisingly well. After the show she stayed to meet with fans and sell some merchandise.

The turn-out was unfortunate, and I hope it doesn’t deter her from playing there again, I’ve seen it packed in summer months and she certainly makes a nice addition to the music scene in New Hope.

Make sure to tune in to Electric Eclectic on Saturday, December 19th to hear Bess live! Electric Eclectic rocks the house every Saturday morning from 9AM-Noon on 91.3 FM WTSR or streaming from www.wtsr.org.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2009 Top Ten Albums

Everyone else is blogging it so I'll jump on the bandwagon. My favorite 10 albums of 2009 in no particular order:

1. Sainthood - Tegan And Sara
2. Transmitter Failure - Jenny Owen Youngs
3. Lungs - Florence And The Machine
4. Noble Beast - Andrew Bird
5. Fantasies - Metric
6. It's Blitz - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
7. XX - The XX
8. Manners - Passion Pit
9. Grand - Matt & Kim
10. Hold Time - M. Ward

Honorable mention to A Book Like This by Angus And Julia Stone, it's US release was March of 2009 but it was released in Australia in 2007.