Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beautiful Soundtrack: Kilian Martin's "Altered Route"



I'm by no (absolutely no) means a skateboarding enthusiast, or even an avid watcher of short films, but last night, my friend showed me skateboarder Kilian Martin's gorgeously shot skating videos and I was kind of blown away. So much so that I drank my tea with a side of several more of his videos this morning. Aside from the obviously exceptional skateboarding tricks, the shorts are cinematically gorgeous and put to some pretty breathtaking music.

Just another example of how music enhances everything we see and do.

Take a look at one of the videos below, and listen for how Patrick Watson's "Adventures in your Own Backyard" sets the whimsical tone perfectly.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney: "FourFiveSeconds"



Well, this is a surprise in just about every way.

Rihanna released long-anticipated new music over the weekend and not only was the single itself a surprise, but the collaboration credits (Paul McCartney and Kanye West) and style (acoustic) were also out of left field.

The song, almost rootsy in all of its stripped-down, drumless glory, is a vocal back-and-forth between a raspy Ri-Ri and crooning Kanye that's carried along by McCartney's sunny strums. Coming two weeks after Yeezy released his own slowdown single with the old Beatle, "FourFiveSeconds" is said to appear on both Rihanna and Kanye's forthcoming albums. If things continue on this path, we might be in for a longer cue of mellow, uncharacteristic sounds assembled by two of pop and hip-hop's reigning controversy-stirrers, and the grandfather of pop-rock. I'm not sure how I feel about any of it yet, but I'm excited to hear more, nonetheless.





Friday, January 23, 2015

Best New Track: Natalie Prass' "My Baby Don't Understand Me"





Have you heard Natalie Prass? Unlikely. But you'll hear a lot more of her after this, because, somewhere in the sea of female-led electropop and pop-rock blossoms, there's also something of a lady folk-rock revival happening

Case in point: the likes of Jessica Pratt, Sharon Van Etten and now Natalie Press. Almost 10 years ago, we saw this folk-rock resurgence begin to happen with Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson and the return of Fiona Apple, but for some reason, it never really picked up the momentum I had hoped for.

Nashville singer-songwriter Natalie Prass, however, is more beautiful proof of the past year's bonafide revival of emotive, soul-infused female folk that all has the capability to move far past the indie underground and up to the forefront. Prass' full-bodied "My Baby Don't Understand Me" is packed with a swelling brass section, flutes, groovy guitar plucks and those delicate harmonies that have you hanging off every lyric. "Our love is a long goodbye" shakes out of Prass' tiny pipes, sounding a little Jenny Lewis (whose touring band she was once a part of) and a little Dusty Springfield in its melodic confessional. I'd like to think that, somewhere, Joni Mitchell is giving her thumbs up, too.






Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New José González: "Leaf Off / The Cave"



Some people get pretty razzed about a band or artist staying on a predictable course, but, I have to say that I usually have no problem with one of my favourite musicians maintaining the terrific ingredients that made me fall in love with them in the first place.

Despite what you might hear, such is not actually really the case with soft strumming, humming indie-folk artist José González, who's slow releasing new singles following his 6-year hiatus. Each new track folds in lush, evolved bits while still wrapping you in the musical shelter of warmth and solace that is his music. On the latest single off his forthcoming album, Vestiges and ClawsGonzález s easy chords and hushed harmonies are still there, demanding full attention from his listeners, but are spiced with a gentle clap beat that ticks the song along at a more mid-tempo pace than usual. It's great.

Vestiges and Claws is out February 17 on Imperial Recordings.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Belle and Sebastian: Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance



I've always liked Belle and Sebastian. No doubt about it. Active since the mid-to-late 90s, I became aware of their delicate indie-pop in the early millennium and found it undeniably pleasant - never purchasing a single or album, but always enjoying the easy hum they intermittently provided to the background of my late adolescence.

Leading up to the release of their highly anticipated ninth (!) studio album, the dribbles of singles released were constantly surprising me. Whether the accessible pop groove of lead single "The Party Line" or the full-bodied sway of ballads like "The Cat with The Cream," the rich intimacy and magnetism of this release barely (aside from Stuart Murdoch's recognizable soft croon) resembled the tunes I'd grown up feeling pretty indifferent towards. I finally feel like I know what Belle and Sebastian are all about. I get it. They just needed to get better with age, I guess.

Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance was released yesterday. Have a listen and be mesmerized.







Friday, January 9, 2015

New Iron & Wine: "Everyone's Summer of '95"



TGIF! I hope your holidays were lovely, and you had a nice time following along with my "Best Songs of 2014" list. I took the past week to have a blogging holiday, following what has been one of the best years of my entire life - professionally and personally. I attribute so many of my successes, and so much of my happiness, to this blog and what has gone in to it. And, all of the people who return with me, year after year, of course.

Anyway.  Sam Beam, better known as the hushed folk strummer Iron & Wine, has announced he will be releasing a series of archival recordings, beginning with Archive Series Volume No. 1, next month. The sixteen archived tracks on the release were conceptualized and recorded around the same time as his 2002 debut, The Creek Drank The Cradle. So, if you come by your I&W passion from the days of his debut, Garden State, The OC and all that early indie-folk goodness, you're in luck. Listen to the gorgeous first single, "Everyone's Summer of '95", below. Have a great weekend!





Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Songs of 2014: #1


#1. "Red Eyes" - The War on Drugs


At the end of this 25 song, year-end celebration, we're so obviously left with The War on Drugs. And, not just this song, but the entirety of their will-be seminal album Lost in the Dream and it's perfectly qualified collection. Lost in the Dream, and explosive tracks like this one, quietly moved rock forward in 2014. Not the blurry indie-rock, synth-rock, experimental rock landscape; Adam Granduciel's immaculate guitar trickery and handsome howl pushed real rock into its next chapter. His previous cult following moved into the critically acclaimed limelight with him. In all of it's rock purity and crisp production, Lost in the Dream is a grown, broken man, putting himself back together song by song, through all sorts of desolate heartland odes, riff-packed highway jams and retro rompers. While songs like the riotous "Red Eyes" start on familiar, maybe seemingly Dad-rock notes - following Granduciel's best formula, they never stay that way for long. They climb into grand territory, establishing themselves as some of the most formidable new classics in contemporary rock 'n roll. 

I doubt that in his own haze of self-discovery Granduciel knew this would be the case, but reflective collections like these plant seeds you didn't know you needed planted until they're blossoming. Because, similar to Springsteen, Young and Dylan's greatest work, these songs are just as blatantly melancholy, alive, confused and optimistic as the rest of us. I didn't know I needed to hear this album until I was hearing it, and after my first few listens, I was inexplicably invigorated. Which is probably how the 34 year-old felt when he completed this big, beautiful confessional - lost, and then 10 songs later, suddenly a little bit found. He's shamelessly all about the personal journey. And, between the powerful instrument use, obvious pulls from every influential music prophet of the past, and his own simple genius - Granduciel's gospel will leave you wide awake.


Standout tracks: "Red Eyes", "Under The Pressure", "Eyes to the Wind", "An Ocean Between The Waves"