Friday, November 29, 2013

TGIF: Guilty Pleasure Cover

All of my close friends find my so-called music "knowledge" questionable, because although I try to keep my finger on the pulse of as much music as possible, I'm usually the last person to hear an overplayed Top 40 hit. I wouldn't say I avoid Top 40, but I don't seek it out the way that I seek out other, more obscure and eclectic types of music. My friend recently walked away from me in frustration as I explained this pumped-up "new" Katy Perry song ("Roar"). I always discover the addictive Rihanna hits one year after they sweep the Grammys. I heard my first aggressive Avicii song maybe a month ago.

With the (slightly degrading) Billboard smash "Blurred Lines," I only first heard it the night of the infamous Miley twerk. And, as I'm sure everyone realized long before me, it's just catchy as hell. I'm the first person to shamelessly two-step to it, which is why I was thrilled to find that one of my favourite bands, Vampire Weekend (who bred one of my favourite lead singers), put their own funky spin on the mainstream hit - making it that much more acceptable for me to love it.

Who doesn't love a little Ezra on a Friday night?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Twin Shadow Covers "With Or Without You"

I've previously endorsed Brooklyn's George Lewis Jr., AKA Twin Shadow, and his amazing online series of live covers called UNDR THE CVRS - and I'm happy to say that his latest instalment might be one of the best spins yet. While all of the songs (ranging from Lou Reed, 10CC and Springsteen singles) have so far possessed a similar atmospheric undertone to them - his moody synth and vocals sound bang-right-on when infused into U2's classic heartfelt ballad.

Have a listen/look:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Röyksopp Releases "Running to the Sea" on Arts & Crafts


Accomplished Toronto record label Arts & Crafts has acquired the talent of longstanding Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp, who have sold more than two million albums worldwide, earned Grammy and BRIT award nominations and scored three entries on Pitchfork’s list of the Top 500 tracks of the last decade. Experimenting with innovative sounds since 1998, Royksopp released their breathtaking single (featuring acclaimed Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør) "Running to the Sea" on A&C yesterday. The song, which has already topped the charts in their native land, boasts an arresting combination of Sundfør's piercing howl and a sparkling beat that quickly pulses into anthemic electronic territory.

Congratulations to my favourite Canadian label and their new addition - what a huge accomplishment.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Billy Jo and Norah: Foreverly


While I've never been overly partial to Green Day's Billy Jo Armstrong, and have at times lost track of Norah Jones' work, their recent (and unexpected) pairing to cover Everly Brothers' country classics is something I can get very on board with. Their first album together, Foreverly, is a compilation entirely comprised of songs from the Everly Brothers 1958 album Songs My Daddy Taught Me. Between Jones' famously jazzy rasp and Armstrong's boyish pipes, the harmonies come across as crisp, but soulful, throughout the collection of twangy Americana classics. Like a modern Johnny and June, the superstars' voices effortlessly sway together while the piano and guitar waltz behind them - leading initial skeptics like me to admit it sounds just fine after all.

Friday, November 22, 2013

TGIF: Doses and Mimosas

Three cheers to the glittering years#stockholmsparklingvodka #stockholm #sparkling #vodka
Happy Friday! This song is equal parts addictive and ridiculous. Perfect for all types of weekend dance parties, "Doses and Mimosas" is also provoking some serious office chair grooving right now.

I hope you and your pals choose to two-step your worries away to some of this electropop ear candy soon; it sounds like the soundtrack to one of those unavoidable all nighters.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Last Night: Jadea Kelly Live at Hugh's Room

There are some artists that just deserve to be so much bigger than they are. While Canadian folk singer-songwriter Jadea Kelly has been picking up steam with her 2013 release Clover, she most certainly deserves to be heard much louder, and much farther, than she's already been.

The Whitby native has been making her way across Canada since the spring release of her astounding third album and landed at the intimate Hugh's Room in Toronto last night to celebrate Clover's vinyl release. Although the set was carried by Kelly's achingly sweet vocals (which pack much more punch than her small frame suggests), her precious guitar and piano melodies go hand-in-hand to complete the charming folk repertoire. Throughout her set, the live audience was completely awestruck and hushed while Jadea's effortless pipes and sweet strums washed over the dimly lit room, providing the best kind of warmth from the cold outside.

Pick up a copy of Jadea's Clover today - I can safely that this record has something for everyone.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Case You Haven't Heard: Eleanor Friedberger's "Personal Record"

Although indie-rock goddess (and former one-half of The Fiery Furnaces) Eleanor Friedberger recently stepped into the limelight with her chic Gap clothing campaign, I've been totally enthralled with her refreshing demeanor, wordplay and musicality since her solo inception a few years back. While her 70s-reminiscent enunciated vocals fall somewhere between Patti Smith's grungeless side and Joni Mitchell's spoken word - it's her clever lyricism and and diverse melodies that are so effortlessly fabulous, and worthy of a re-visit.

Friedberger's gracefulness and shockingly sub-radar songwriting aptitude have easily secured her as one of my contemporary female music obsessions. I just can't get enough. And, with this past summer's (more accessible) release, Personal Record - an album that ranges from blue-skied, groovy balladry ("Stare at the Sun" and "She's A Mirror") to the insightfully wordsmithed confessionals ("I Don't Want to Bother You", "I'll Never Be Happy Again" and "You'll Never Know Me") - her cool stock skyrocketed in my books.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Are Scientists Cover "Take My Breath Away"

Tom Cruise was one of my first crushes (shameful), Kenny Loggins' "Playing with the Boys" is still a treasured classic, and Goose has been the long-decided, widely accepted name of my future weiner dog. It's safe to say I'm a big fan of Top Gun.

I also feel like the "birds and the bees" conversation with my parents might have been prompted by the film's famous love scene in which this 80s ballad played. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped to hear that one of my favourite New York indie-rock bands We Are Scientists decided to put their spin on Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" - a slow dance classic that the group apparently held in just as high a regard as I did during my cassette days. Not surprisingly, the boys did it every bit justice; keeping the pretty melody in tact and trading the 80s-cheese elements for their handsome vocals and the long twangs of a pedal steel guitar.

Read what led to their covering the Top Gun hit (as described to Paste Magazine). I don't agree with their opinions of Clapton, but it's hilarious nonetheless:

“We had Top Gun on VHS when I was a kid — we’d watch it three or four times a week. My dad would always play tasteful pedal steel whenever Kelly McGillis was on-screen. That’s kind of where the idea for it started,” says Chris.

Keith continues: “Chris and I first watched Top Gun together on the tour bus a few years ago, and I remember Chris kept singing these really lovely ambling pedal steel parts under his breath when Kelly McGillis was on-screen — well, I thought he was doing a trumpet at the time.”

Later, in the spring of 2013, the band decided to record a cover along with several other tracks that would ultimately land on the forthcoming Business Casual EP (Oct. 14). Chris volunteered that he had always wanted to do a version of “Wonderful Tonight,” by Eric Clapton.

“Man, that song’s a total piece of shit,” Keith told him.

“Ha. I guess you’re right,” said Chris. Then, as was his habit during moments of tension, he began quietly humming an improvised pedal steel part for “Take My Breath Away.”

“Wait, you realize that’s pretty much the same chord structure as "Wonderful Tonight," right?” Keith said.

“I… huh?”

“That Top Gun sex song — it’s pretty much just Wonderful Tonight without awful Eric Clapton. Let’s just cover that.”

They had found a solution that would let everybody win except Eric Clapton. The next day, they brought in multi-instrumentalist and occasional Scientist Max Hart, whose extemporized pedal steel part — both lilting and playfully reminiscent of Top Gun’s brazen sensuality — outdid even Chris’s gilded memory of those childhood recitals. When Andy Burrows’s pounding drums drop into the mix, the evocation of blasting jet engines and throbbing adult desire is unmistakeable and timeless.

“Everybody wins except Eric Clapton,” says Keith, “which of course is what everybody except Eric Clapton wanted.”


Monday, November 18, 2013

Pretty Beats: Goldroom's "Embrace"

When asked which genre is my favourite, it's obviously fairly easy for me (or anyone who reads In The Round) to pinpoint the ones I dabble in most (hip-hop, indie-rock, neo-soul, etc.), but to be honest - I hate answering that question, because I love bits and pieces of them all. There are so few, if any, that I won't even touch.

EDM, or electronic dance music, is one that people constantly assume I'll pass on. I suppose I don't always subtly scoff at the crowds of glowstick-waving, Molly-popping kids who've encouraged mass-produced, candy EDM - sometimes bringing a once fascinating underground culture to a seemingly less meaningful (above ground) place. But, that's not all of it - and that that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the good stuff.

This disco-dance track from LA producer and DJ Goldroom is clearly far from anything resembling contemporary trance-heavy EDM hits, but it's glimmering, emotive melody are exactly what I would want to hear blared from stadium-sized speakers. In my opinion, it's the kind of accessible, contagious dance sound that brings people together. Guest singer Ariela Jacobs' delicate vocals, paired with the lasery effects, soaring synth and feel-good beat are all the right things of a lively festival or dance floor anthem - and if they commit to ditching the glowsticks and white tanks, I think the kids could get on board.


Friday, November 15, 2013

TGIF: Magic Man's "Paris"

Magic Man - Paris

Good luck listening to this song just once. In the jungle of synth-pop, it's not uncommon to feel like all of the sounds and new outfits blend together - breeding little-to-no originality and becoming quickly forgettable after their five minutes of Pitchfork fame. A sunny melody, however, and a grand beat - can go a long, long way. Which is why, during one of my scans of the blogosphere, I was so happy to stumble across Providence's Magic Man and their shiny new single "Paris," which is completely irresistible in its Passion Pit meets Fitz and the Tantrum anthemic dance sound.

Have an excellent weekend! This tune is a great way to start it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hannah Georgas Covers Rihanna's "Stay"

There's something really special about the universe throwing you a bone. Especially when it's in the form of one of the most respectable Canadian female artists taking a favourite guilty pleasure hit and making it her own; therefore, making you suddenly feel unabashedly comfortable when blaring the sugary gem on repeat.

In this case, Rihanna's popular sob anthem "Stay" was recently twisted and re-recorded by the lovely Hannah Georgas during her iTunes session - taking what has been one of the BC native's live staples to a really gorgeous and polished place. Since hearing about the studio recorded cover, I've been relishing in the heart-melting glory of the new beat-induced version and eating up every second of Georgas' milky vocals.

Have a shameless listen below.

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Music: Wise Blood's "Alarm"

As I've mentioned before, there are a few elements of a song, musical twists and instruments that always manage to tickle my fancy and secure my allegiance to a song or band. Often, you don't hear them enough - like a good whistle solo, a little xylophone or a hand clap. In the case of this groovy, infectious single from Pittsburgh artist Chris Laufman (aka Wise Blood), I was immediately hooked when I heard the kick-ass saxophone loop that punctuates the woozy electro-pop track. You just don't get enough saxophone tossed into the mix anymore, and I love a hearty sax solo.

Off Wise Blood's debut album id, which was released this past summer, "Alarm" is my new favourite bit of working background noise that I've so far had a hard time taking off repeat. I'm not yet sure if the rest of his LP would be my cup of tea, but this one's a scorcher.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Bruce Cockburn

If you read this blog often, you know I'm always more excited to talk about Canadian artists than any other kind of artist. Of course I appreciate the beauty and talent in all artists, but I have a strong allegiance to my own folk and the sounds they produce - and therefore, they win, always.

On the first day this week that it hasn't looked like midnight in the middle of the morning, let's throw back to a cheery folk-rock classic from legend (and Ottawa-native) Bruce Cockburn and his 1979 Billboard hit "Wondering Where The Lions Are." Similar to all of Paul Simon's Graceland and America's Heart, Cockburn's album Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws is a friendly folk staple in my music collection, always managing to insert a tiny bit of sunshine into otherwise gloomy days.

Enjoy the happy strums and Cockburn's gentle croon - they're made for golden Thursdays like this.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Music: Three Neo-Soul and R&B Goodies

Torontohenge: Photos from Twitter #GTA #weather #sunset #city
After moving and nesting all weekend, I’ve spent the beginning of this week in the most glorious of slow motions – strolling home slowly from work, writing from underneath my covers, drinking hot drinks and getting full night’s sleeps. During all of this, I’ve learned exactly how dreamy my new home and neighbourhood are when explored at this pace. As I’ve mentioned one hundred times before, I’m such an advocate of the resurgence of the whole neo-soul movement; the slow-cooked, jazzy balladry that’s made its way back into the indie spotlight via talented artists like Quadron, James Blake, Blood Orange and Rhye. This week, my playlist has been loaded with glimmering soulful goodies, namely Michael Milosh’s (of Rhye) solo singles and music from Israel’s Garden City Movement and Sydney trio Movement. These sultry, barely-there tracks are exactly the recipe for winding down a good day.


(Milosh's new album is apparently all about his love for his wife -
this is her in the video. Sweet, right?)

(The original is better) 
Photo c/o The Toronto Star

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Broken Bells: "Holding on for Life"

Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse and The Shins' James Mercer are back as Broken Bells with "Holding on for Life"- the first of the duo's groovy, highly anticipated follow-up to their critically praised 2010 debut self-titled. In what might be Mercer's most falsetto, Bee Gees-akin vocal yet, the new track is a welcome psychedelic instalment in their experimental indie-rock repertoire, and is fittingly part of a new release titled After The Disco. The mid-tempo first listen ends the hiatus that both halves of Broken Bells took after the wild success of their first concerted effort; one that saw Danger Mouse collaborate with Black Keys and Jack White (to name only a few) and Mercer return to his faithful Shins family with the release of last year's Port of Morrow.

If the rest of the January 14 album sounds anything like this sexy little disco number - I'm even more on the Broken Bells bandwagon than I was three years ago. (I was very on board three years ago).


Friday, November 1, 2013

TGIF: New Dum Dum Girls

Channeling Heart, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and a dash of mid-90s Veruca Salt, the Dum Dum Girls have teamed with H&M to release their newest single and video for "Lost Boys and Girls Club." The girls, who are easily one of my very favourite groups of lady rockers, normally favour more drone-caked dream pop, but on the latest have swayed towards an anthemic rock 'n roll sound that buzzes its way into more user-friendly, stadium-ready territory. Regardless of this more mainstream experimentation, however - Dee Dee Penny's voice is flawlessly in the same league as longstanding female rock legends and the gothy leather-clad girl posse still rock harder than most of the boys. I dig it.