Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cover Stories



I really enjoy this more updated version of the 1983 song from the Australian pop-rock band Cold Chisel, called "Flame Trees". I've written about Aussie sweetheart Sarah Blasko before, and I have to say, everytime I hear her pixie-fairy like little voice - my heart flutters. She really knows (judging from this cover) how to put a special and feminine contemporary hit on a stale tune.

Listen to the unpredictable flow of the song, it really is quite all over the map - but somehow it still works wonderfully. Enjoy!

                           
                                                         Sarah Blasko - Flame Trees




image via

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Welcome to Paradise


Coldplay's latest album cover looks like the new songs sound...

The new Coldplay song "Paradise", while following in the same upbeat and likeable footsteps at its predecessor first single "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" - proves in sound, not lyric, to be much more. It's triumphant-sounding - and with a little pop beat and a melange of pleasant instruments it almost resembles some of their earlier Rush of Blood to the Head melodies - only with speckles of new-age decoration. Slightly more futuristic in its sound, I find it to be completely beautiful. With each new song released, I'm more excited to hear what the rest of the album sounds like. No, this song is not revolutionary - I've already put aside the hope of a lyrically advanced album; but yes, every tune I've heard out of this new release is so far lovely, and fun for everyone.

Despite my love for their original Brit-rock sound, I'm so far enjoying Coldplay's sonic experimentation heard in the tastes of Mylo Xloto. These aerial sounds have proved to be the way of the present and the future; everyone wants to get their paws on the funky retro zaps of emotional synthesizer and danceable balladry.

"Paradise" starts with soaring organ keys, not hesitating long before allowing in a group of movie-score-sounding whimsical violins and crashing in to the full-bodied swing of the song. Chris Martin's famously sweet falsetto rings prettily from behind the boom of the instrumental arrangement, and flashy new sounds blend as the seconds pass on. Something else worth mentioning, is that I can't wait to hear when the first hard-hitting hip-hop remix stops by. I can already hear 101 places in which a contemporary hip-hop superstar would interject.
Looping between the ethereal, spacey moments and the undefeated-sounding orchestral essence of the whole story, you don't need to decipher the meaning of Chris Martin's not-so-interesting songwriting, because aside from that - "Paradise" really sounds the part.



Mylo Xloto hits stores October 24th, 2011.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comeback



 I've expressed heavily, since the beginning of this blog (which was one year ago last week - wahoo!), my true and undying love for Mr. Ryan Adams. His ability to attempt any genre - whether it's by growling on the guitar or stroking at the acoustic, yelping into the mic or crooning quietly - he, to me, is the epitome of contemporary alt-country genius. And, he's back with another.

I already detailed a little about the first single from Adams' newest release Ashes & Fire called "Lucky Now" - but now that the album is streaming online, I really feel like I've struck the pot of gold. I simply cannot stop listening. Softer than some of his previous releases such as Jacksonville City Nights and Cardinology, this album has a little bit of Easy Tiger in it - thanks to the soft, rolling melodies that are meant to soar down the open autumn roads. Nothing says fall to me, like Ryan Adams.

The album is pleasantly honest, after his nearly two-year hiatus when he sought means of self-discovery and rest thanks to both good and bad developments - an uplifting new marriage to pop singer/actress Mandy Moore, and also the discovery of Ménière's disease. This disease of the inner ear is known to be excrutiatingly painful, even moreso when its aggravated by a rock star's debaucherous ways, and can affect hearing, sound absorption and balance. So, imagine the rest this star needed after coming to terms with his symptoms.

But, nonetheless - he's an artist. And he's returned with contagious country messages to warm even the coldest of hearts. His voice is relaxed, his message is love, and his legacy lives on. I can't wait to put this on the loud speakers on October 11th, and not move until the whole song list has played through twice. Here are the beautifully arranged favourites of mine, which I believe might contribute to this being his best album yet.



I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say - Ryan Adams

          
Dirty Rain - Ryan Adams


Other songs that are already favourites but available in video format are "Chains of Love" and  "Do I Wait". Listen to the rest at NPR.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

RIP R.E.M



After nearly three decades together, R.E.M has disbanded. "As lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band," the band said. "We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished."

And my, how they've accomplished so much. As one of the most influential bands in North American alternative-rock rock n' roll, the wildly popular and socially-aware group have won three Grammy as well as a slew of MTV awards, Brit Awards, Billboard Awards and a place in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. They left a wonderful legacy, and will not be forgotten as legendary and industry-changing performers. Cheers to Michael Stipe, and all of his weirdness. Long live R.E.M.

           

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oh Yes It's Ladies Night

Not quite...
 Last night I had three of my wonderful best gal pals over to celebrate...well, nothing. Actually, I take that back - we were together to celebrate a weeknight, in our overstuffed, multi-disciplinary, sweaty busy schedules, when we were able to line up our agendas and find four or five hours that jived. Now, you might think - how busy could we be? We don't have kids, some are single, some are not, most have graduated. Wrong! Sometimes I look at my apartment, as the other ladies do too I'm sure, and wonder why it looks so unfamiliar to me. Not because I've only been there for a month (I'm used to the place and how much I adore it), but more likely because sometimes lately, I only see it from the inside of my eyelids, when I come home and go straight to sleep in it. We are busy chickitas. Masters, full-time jobs, more than one job, animals, boyfriends, dates, homework, business lunches, business travels and tasty Vietnamese restaurants too close to our houses are some of the many reasons we find it hard to get together.

So, with that rant over, I'll get on to it. We needed the perfect mix of tunes to guide us through our celebrated and overly infrequent hang-outs. Step-by-step, here's what blared in the background of our special little evening:

Activity: Hugging hello, cooking, drinking from new stemless wine glasses and playing initial rapid-fire catch-up. There's nothing like finishing up in the kitchen while your house guests, and best friends, are relaxing and chatting with you from your nearby dining table. Cooking made interesting, in its finest.
Tunes: Blues, baby. I had one of my favourite CD's entitled something along the lines of "The Essential Blues Album" (or something like that...), pumping some gritty, sexy, upbeat blues jams to set the mood. The hard-working growls of the sassy blues singers and the thumping beat behind them were the perfect pairing with my sweat blood and tears  in the kitchen as I put the finishing touches on homemade mango/jalapeno salsa and garlicky gambas with chili peppers and roasted almonds. Also, people like James Brown, John Lee Hooker and Eric Clapton are meant to be savoured with some equally delicious full-bodied red wine.

                            
                                       Night Time Is The Right Time - Ray Charles


Activity: Setting the spread on the table, re-filling the wine glasses, diving into the array of M&M party-pack carbohydrates and sampling my awkwardly spicy (but tasty) creations. Eating, talking, and spitting food out to die of laughter.
Tunes: John Mayer, surprisingly. Something mellow but pleasing at this point in the night, because we wanted to munch loudly, bellow laughter and yell overtop of each other. Noisy or distracting music is not ideal for this part of the meal. Continuum, you ask? No - too mellow. We opted for a little upbeat and jolly throwback called Room for Squares. Much more polite and much more compatible with our screams ...which will have definitely lead to my being exiled by my neighbours.


                              
                                                         Back To You - John Mayer

Activity: Piling the dishes into the kitchen without a care, clearing the food (but leaving some of the snackies out for when we inevitably get hungry again in four minutes), and making room for a hilariously girly activity of which I don't feel comfortable naming on the internet. I adopted it second-hand, you can't judge me, and it was the MOST fun. *cough* Sex and the City Trivia Game *hack*. Note: We actually never play boardgames, which is sad - we really should. And we certainly like to think we might do cooler things than play an estrogen-caked game like this, but who cares - it was a glorious mixture of cherades, my friend Kate screaming unecessary expletives at the rest of us, and the relaying of outrageous pick-up stories back and forth. Throw in some pillow-fighting and flower speckled cotton pajama bottoms, and we could have called it a night.
Tunes: Old school hip-hop jams. Enough said. Beats to pump us up for our ferocious battle of the single woman game and beats to wind us down when we tackle the mound of dishes.

                        
                                          Concrete Schoolyard - Jurassic 5

All in all, it's not in the tunes. The tunes were a wonderful contribution to what was predicted to be a perfect little girls night in, but it was the girls themselves who made it so fabulous.



The hoodlums


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New York Times

This song shuffled onto my playlist last night as I was strolling to the downtown core for an evening of birthday burgers and beers, and I have to say, it was just the loveliest touch to a rainy September walk. As a favourite of mine from my high school/Carrie Bradshaw-obsessed days (I suppose that hasn't changed too much, actually), this tune is an absolute vintage classic which deserved to be unlocked from its dusty trunk and left to shine on top of some skyscraper where it belongs. If not there, it definitely deserved some long overdue quality time with my iPod and earphones.

Isn't it just the most enchanting song? It's amazing, that a song that hardly refers to the actual ingredients of New York City and Manhattan, can evoke such strong imagery from its famous piano loop and Billy Joel's soulful croons. I hear it, and immediatley think of damp beds of coloured leaves pinned underneath designer heels along the sidewalks of the busy streets. I think of happy, dressed-up couples dashing out of Brownstone rowhouses to make their reservation at the sexiest new restaurant. And of course, I can't help but hear distant cranky honks bouncing around Times Square throughout the sea of yellow taxi cabs. What a wonderful thing - all of those feelings coming from the most basic of song ingredients. That's the joy of not forgetting the classics! Here's an ode to the city of infinite possibilities, and one of my favourite places on earth.






Monday, September 19, 2011

Love and War



Firstly, I apologize for being so unbelievably MIA last week in terms of the posting! I am usually a daily blogger, but last week there was just no way I was able to get around to it - with my last two days of the week spent at workshops, and the days leading up to it being used for preparation. But hopefully, the special little gems I'm going to put forward will start your week off properly, and I'll be forgiven...

I want to expose a band who at this point is creating large waves in the Americana and contemporary folk-rock pool - so much so that they're most likely nothing new to music appreciators everywhere. I've been following this band for about eight months now, watching them evolve, listening to their debut tunes and observing the buzz as it grows wildly. Perhaps it's because their folky fall tunes have re-entered my life this September, or perhaps it's because everything they stand for musically is everything I adore - but I felt today was the perfect day to put them out there for you to hear.

The Civil Wars are a folk, country and bluegrass combination consisting of co-vocalists Joy Williams and John Paul White - a pair who met in 2008 only to discover that their southern drawl and vocal ability are divinely interconnected and meant to resound together. As two pals married to other people (something they consider a plus in their writing process), they embarked on a recording journey that included their first (and in my mind, most beautiful) song called "Poison and Wine", which was released in 2009 to rave reviews. They continued to put their music to disc with Barton Hollow, their debut album and indie smash title track - which lead to an opening spot on Adele's tour, features in Spin and Rolling Stone Magazine and nominations at the CMT and Americana music awards.

Their perfect harmonies - so connected it's shocking the two aren't twins, family or longtime lovers - are flawless and pleasing in every sense of the words. Sentimental picking of the guitar, rolling countryside keys and the occasional soft violins make up the beautiful elements of this Southern anomaly - and I always return to their debut album when I need a flow of sublime music and lyrics that speak straight to the heart.

                                
Here are the songs it's essential you get ahold of:


Poison and Wine - The Civil Wars: Both of their undeniably heartbroken vocals are speaking the same language on this unforgettable love song. A ballad about the severe conflicts of the heart, a not-so-lost love and the ongoing struggle that comes with the real deal - it's almost perfect in every way. Slow piano and the heartbeat of the guitar strums paired wth statements like "I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back" and "I don't have a choice but I still choose you" are the essence of one of the most honest and beautiful songs I've heard in some time.



Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars: I've featured this song before, as one of the most phenomenal stomping Americana story told this year. It's raw, vocally superior to anything else I've heard lately, and features that little bit of heat the country and western music scene needed.



I've Got This Friend  - The Civil Wars: I think this is just the sweetest song. It's all about hesitations and holding on for what you believe in - which is communicated perfectly through their milky vocals and sugary plucking guitar.

            

Dance Me To The End Of Love - The Civil Wars: Covering a classic Leonard Cohen favourite of mine, they both take swings at the haunting, waltzy ballad - modernizing and romanticizing every second of it with their smooth as butter voices.


 
        

20 years - The Civil Wars: With rolling strings and another effortless harmony, Joy and John Paul howl alongside a classic country melody and an eventual twinkling xylophone that sparkles like the fading Southern sun.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Look To The Wooden Sky



The end of August heard a lot of The Wooden Sky resonating from my headphones and bedroom speakers - because I've certainly been spending plenty of time slowly familiarizing myself with their amazing discography. This Canadian alt-rock group have bits and pieces of everything woven into their meaningful indie tunes - whether it's Ryan Adams-esque romance (like this one), contemporary Arcade Fire-sounding melodies or their own folky twists and turns. They really are an effortless sort of Canuck treat - and lately, their channel on CBC Radio 3 always has me smiling with the discovery of new hidden gems of theirs. If you haven't already checked them out and fallen in love, take a listen to lead singer Gavin Gardiner's country howls combined with sweet highway harmonies and slide guitar. This in particular is the perfect song for fall, and I can already mentally bump a few songs from my September roadtrip playlist to make room for their special ditties. This one will be first.

Wake up you're getting old/ I've been dreaming about mountains/ And you've been dreaming about gold/ And if I ever make it home/ To find my key won't open the door/ I've been thinking about selling off every shirt I own/ Just to stand out here naked in the cold/ Just trying to make it out on my own/ Well, oh my god it still means a lot to me/ Oh my god it still means a lot to me.

A pretty girl said to me/ "You've got to take all the little pieces/ Put them in one big box/ And just throw away the key/ No don't you ever show it to me"/ I've made that mistake before/ And came home to find my life just spilled out on the floor/ She said she was trying to make some room for more/ Well, oh my god it still means a lot to me/ Oh my god it still means a lot to me.






image via 

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Gangster Nancy Sinatra


Move over aspiring indie pin-ups, the bizarre and trendy underground has just made a whole lot of spotlight room for Lana Del Rey after the release of her second single. Also known as the pouty and pretty 24-year old Lizzy Grant, a New York state-native with more personal style than Teen Vogue could ever coach, Del Rey is moving towards international acclaim at the speed of light.

Some fads in pop culture are easy to ignore, but as someone who tries to keep her ear close to the music scene's cigarette, tight pant and empty cup-covered ground, I'm finding it difficult to ignore the buzz garnered by Del Rey. Already an artist heavily spotlighted in the blogosphere and underground music scene, this Old Hollywood lookalike is both classically sensual and new age experimental under her Lana Del Rey moniker. Her mysterious cat eyes, exaggerated lips and wavy speakeasy hair could easily land the young thing on the pages of a magazine, but instead - through self-directed videos, sold out preliminary shows and vintage (yet innovative) sounds - she is the front runner in the footrace towards the limelight. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to yesteryear crooner Nancy Sinatra (she's self-coined her reputation as the "gangster Nancy Sinatra") both in her sassy sound and dangerously pretty appearance, Del Rey mixes her old-genre glamour with samples of Lykke Li's modern and dark indie-pop, as well as Cat Power's raspy honesty.

Her first single, "Video Games", is haunting and ghostly in its end-of-movie-sounding composition. Heartwrenching yet almost mocking in its powerfully beautiful arrangement, the song is obviously dedicated to the bored and both underly/overly stimulated young generation we live amongst. Referring to day-drinking, video game savvy couch-sitters, Del Rey juxtaposes that underachieving imagery by asking her subjects, "Heaven is a place on earth where you tell me all the things you wanna do - I heard that you like the bad girls, honey, is that true?" Del Rey most likely smokes her targets bang-on with this slowed-down jam, because they encompass everything the song and its fluttering harp strings do - blatant sexuality mixed with a youthful allegiance to the life of leisure.


Her latest release, the video for "Blue Jeans", is another flashy pop culture montage featuring shots of the coy poster girl cooing big-lippedly in the background. The song, a sexy ballad with a hint of urgency and desperation, resembles a millennium female version of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" in its tortured and melodic chorus. A little more beat-driven than her first tune, this piece has the ingredients to splash further and wider on the indie airwaves, therefore securing Del Rey as the most entrepreneurial and forward-moving new girl on the block with two hits that she seemingly stirred together at her kitchen sink.

Her DIY videos, usually featuring her own go-go-styled self alongside grainy flashes of dated film clips or news footage, feel like they should be rolled into action by hand at the local cinema. Instead, they're more likely to be buzzing towards the MTV airwaves. (If MTV decides to intermittently play those "video things" again anytime soon). And I'm fine with seeing her there; I'm fine with watching a realistically talented female grow from such obscure and organic beginnings to revolutionary. One thing is for sure, unlike the void subjects of her beautifully hollow hit, nothing about Del Rey, or Lizzy Grant, is idle. She, very clearly, isn't waiting for anything.


Video Games - Lana Del Rey
 



Blue Jeans - Lana Del Rey



Diet Mountain Dew - Lana Del Rey



Double A-Side single Blue Jeans/Video Games available  October 16th.

The Bright Side

Happy Friday! Hope you can keep your eye on the bright side with this tune. What a cheerful pick-me-up. Also, how beautiful are these photos? I think my dream dinner might just be under that willow tree!



                             


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quiet Time


This makes me excited for a quiet, rainy, leafy fall.

 This chilly week was made even colder by a small injury I endured. Well, I suppose it's not overly small - seeing as I'm on crutches for a few days - but it feels small because it's forcing me to live small, act small and do little, tiny things with my time. I'm not in grave amounts of pain also, which could contribute to my downplaying it. After a week of what I consider to be immense self-sufficiency - I've been forced onto a couch for a whole day, forced to sit put at my work desk and rely on the mobility of others when it comes to my Bridgehead coffee and triple berry muffin addiction, and forced to go home, make a simple meal and just stay put. I mean, I can do that. I actually love quiet time, despite the fact that I'm rarely ever at home. But it really is refreshing to have time for myself and time with a good book or magazine or pen and paper. But that being said, I only require a little bit of company. Which is usually where some nice songs come in. Here are the friendly companions I've kept by my side so far during my time on the sidelines. I hope you find some quiet time to spend with them also! They won't disturb you, they're very hush and respectful, I promise.

Here are some nice images that remind me of being silent. What do you like to do on your quiet days?


I'll Be Seeing You - Billie Holiday


                                        Love is Simple - Akron/Family



Falling Awake - Gary Jules


                                                       Lodestar - Sarah Harmer


Goodnight Moon - Said The Whale





Find time to be quiet in the fall, there's no better season!
images via

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pitter Patter


...Goes my heart. This song makes me melt, and so does everything about Canadian indie-folk crooner Matthew Barber and his magically sweet songs. This one in particular got a whole lot of plays this weekend; it was the kindest and warmest melody while I puttered around my apartment and hosted friends.

Not sure if there are too many songs cuter than this. Not sure if there are too many songs that could actually make working away, back at the grind after a long weekend, seem almost enjoyable. Happy Monday Tuesday.


You and Me - Matthew Barber



image via

Friday, September 2, 2011

Coldplay Cheer

Coldplay warms my heart. So much so that I've had a lyric of theirs tattooed on me for almost eight years now. Everything they sing, their heartfelt little strums, their adorable connection with the audience and pretty commentary about the wonderful things in life - it's all too much! You've just got to love these Brit-pop gentleman, even if it isn't your genre of choice. You'd invite them home for dinner with the parents, because they mean well. And so do their songs.

Here is their newest leaked track, which I can't wait to hear in all of its studio perfection and clarity:



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just Me And A Chair


It's just you and me, chair.
I have nothing in the living room of new apartment. My bedroom is set up, but with no lamps (yet). My living room furniture and dining table are being delivered this weekend. So, it's just me and a chair. Just one chair in the living room, that yesterday I sat in, cross-legged, staring at the wall, eating Vietnamese with a tall cup (yes, cup) of red wine. And the biggest smile on my face. Pictures of the disaster zone unpacked apartment will be coming, but in the mean time - this is what I listened to with my current best friend, my one chair.

   

Fall Creek Boys Choir - James Blake and Bon Iver



Everyday - Dave Matthews Band

Tenderness - The General Public


All My Little Words - The Magnetic Fields