Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mashup Germany - One Starry Memorie

I don't usually do mashups. I rarely download them so there are few and far between hiding out in my music collection so I started compiling a list and I think there just might be an end of year mash-up playlist. But one mash up that really stuck out was this one. You've got Kid Cuddi vs. Ellie Goulding which is like a dream come true. Starry Eyed is one of my favorite songs of the year, especially the Theophilius London version. But these two together work just as well.

Mashup-Germany - One Starry Memorie (Ellie Goulding vs. Kid Cuddi)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Wishlist of Things I Don't Need

Here is what I am putting in my online shopping cart today and pondering over for a few hours before deciding I really don't need or want these items. Depending on how you look at it I am a horrible shopper, but I am also really excellent at talking myself out of purchases. But some of these sure look cool.

1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy $3.99 MP3 download via Amazon
I really don't care if I have his music or not but for $4 it seems like a deal. I could always find the album for free on the internet but then I have to deal with renaming tracks and making sure the quality is good, and more importantly I don't like stealing music, even from someone at Kanye's level. In the end, I probably won't have any of his music for the next three months until I cave in. But the sale on this album ends soon, so if you want it go get it. But on the other hand, $4 will also buy you two smoked sea salt caramels, which sounds slightly more enjoyable than Kanye to me.

2. Pro-Ject III Turntable  $400
Now I haven't sufficiently done turntable research and I am open to any suggestions. This is just one of the ones on my list but I heard Stanton makes some good entry level ones as well. I really want a vinyl collection. But I have a few issues with it.

First of all, reciever? phono jack? moving a rubber belt that sometimes breaks? USB connections? This all sounds too complicated, I don't understand it well enough. I'm not really settled and plan to move a lot in the next 10 years which means I will probably break this and find it a pain to move around with. My second problem with vinyl is that I should have a large record collection--about 500 records--from my parents. However, in the 90s, at the height of C.D.s and when MP3s were just a glimmer in Steve Jobs eyes, my sister was a toddler and broke the needle on our turntable and nobody was selling replacements at that time. Apparently this was enough for my dad to decide that records were obsolete and threw out the entire collection. When I got really into music as a teenager and went looking for the records only to find them gone, I was devastated. Now the thought of starting a collection from scratch is just too painful. The last problem I have is that a turntable is like a gateway drug. You get one, then you start spending all this money on records, then you realize you need a new speaker system, and then when you are broke you wonder why you didn't just embrace MP3s like the rest of the world.  Plus, by that point, you are so addicted you want to upgrade your turntable and the money sucking cycle continues. *Sigh*, despite all that I still want one badly.
3. Focal XS 2.1 Speaker system $599
Obviously that brings me to speakers. Now here is something I have actually done research on. At first I wanted tall stand-mount speakers, I was even willing to settle for bookshelf speakers, but like I said, I will be moving around a lot. It's just not practical right now. So then I figured a sweet computer sound system would be perfect and I fell in love with this french company who is better known for making outrageously expensive speakers. I love how sleek this system is, it all looks so easy and subtle, yet the sound would be more than enough for a small apartment. If you want a well compiled list of impressive speakers under $2,000 check out this Gizmodo list. The comment section also offers invaluable advice and is where I initially started my research and then got sucked in. Now I lust after a different set of speakers every day.

4. Assorted instruments: Accordion, Musical Saw, Keyboard ($0-$8,000)
These are the three instruments I want the most. The only one I can actually play is the keyboard. Like my dad, my mom also saw some obscure need to get rid of the one musical instrument in our house, and when me and my sister went to college she gave our (my) piano away to charity. While it is probably living a much more useful life now, I really miss being able to sit down and bang out a few notes, play Beethoven's Ode to Joy from memory, or figure out how to play the piano part of Matt & Kim's "Daylight", whenever I am home. However, I have dreams of busking whilst playing an old funeral dirge or a sad old french song on an accordion. The musical saw is pretty sweet, and little bit more rare for a busker to play. Yet it seems simple enough to figure out. These instruments are probably what I want the most from this list.

5. A new super computer capable of holding at least 100,000 songs while running at lightning speed with multiple open applications
It should be clear to you by now that I am no tech guru. Maybe this computer exists, maybe it doesn't. They are building a super computer at Syracuse University to try and detect the sound of celestial black holes. That sounds like technology a music blogger could really put to use! Plus my computer is basically a black hole. I currently use two computers just to blog. One holds all my songs, the other holds all my pictures. Both have memories that are at capacity, all my documents are stored online, I can't even run word on either computer, both run painfully slow. Yes I have a back up hard drive. But when I  go to play songs from it, it duplicates them in itunes and messes up my computer. I always back up, but I insist on having all my songs in one location, I just prefer it to be organized and accessible that way. Help in the form of a super computer (and maybe a permanent socially pleasant IT guy at my side)? Yes please.

Ok, now that I have gone way too far in this wishlist, what do you hope to get for the holidays? What musical gear are you lusting after?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harry Potter Songs

So I don't really care for the movies as much as I do the books. But my sister on the other hand, who finally started reading this blog, could probably crush the most devoted fans at Harry Potter movie trivia. In fact, every time there is a Harry Potter movie marathon on ABC Family, I seem to catch her watching it, even though I think she owns all the movies. Oh yeah, she's also 21. So this post is really for her benefit, but maybe you'll find some of these songs as amusing as I do.

This is really the best I've got. This uses some auto-tuned audio clips from the movie. You will be able to recognize it and it makes me laugh. This is one of my more favorite things out there, as the rest of what you will find is painfully amateur.

Like this one...which toes the line of being painful using "Feelin' fly like it's Quidditch" instead of "feelin' so fly like a G6" a song that bothered me from the very beginning. But with half a million views, I guess some people like it.

Then if you are tired of seeing the trailer, why not spice it up a bit by using Hans Zimmerman's score for Inception as the soundtrack. It works brilliantly and made me remember how much I loved driving with that song blaring this summer.

Zach Hurd - Till the Morning (Sides A & B)

Official | Myspace | Facebook 
Sometimes all a song needs to be good is to play at the exact right moment. I woke up earlier than usual today, anxious and agitated, with my ears still ringing from last night's concert. I checked my inbox and pressed play and ambled through the rest of my morning routine. Before I knew it, I was smiling and sipping my coffee feeling much more relaxed and ready to start the day. Had I heard this any other morning, it might have fallen by the wayside, but not today.

In most of Zach Hurd's songs, the shimmery acoustic guitar pop tends to give way to melancholy lyrics. That little glimmer of hope and optimism that comes through in the hand claps, various layers of sounds and vocals, as well as ahhhs and ooohs, keep things bright. These songs are the perfect bittersweet pill that the doctor prescribed for when you wake up in a hazy fog of stress and discontentment, it's sure to mellow you out.

Till the Morning (Sides A & B) I really liked, especially the notion that people can be "all filled up like a bottle of gin" as Zach sings in the opening verse. Go here to stream the full album.

The Powder Kegs [Concert Preview]

I posted about Philadelphia based The Powder Kegs a few times. I came across their song, "Mariposa", and listened to it almost non-stop for much of April. I put down some money for their Empty Side EP (name your price for the EP on bandcamp) and have been thoroughly pleased with it. Now they have a full length album in the works expected to be released in 2011. They are sharing one of their new tracks, "When the Body Tricks the Mind" which you can preview below.

Tonight at T.T. the Bear's Place in Cambridge, MA they will be playing with Dan Baker, Robert Blake, and Streightangular and I expect it will be a fun show. I am glad this show was able to a spot in Boston after Harper's Ferry closed (where the concert was originally booked) because I think that weird cavernous room would have appeared too empty on a Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Hopefully the turnout tonight is a good one and that the pumping bass from the "Crunksgiving" dance party in the club below will be easy to ignore.

Even if you can't make the show tonight, check out the songs below. Click the down arrow on the Mariposa song for a free download.
The Powder Kegs - La Mariposa (Empty Side EP) by thepowderkegs

When the Body Tricks the Mind by thepowderkegs

Monday, November 22, 2010

Viva Viva, a must-see local band

As a small music blogger, I spend a good chunk of time reaching out to bands when most bloggers have it the other way around. But I kind of like that I am in control, and need to actively search for bands to feature on the blog.

Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to send an e-mail to local rock stars, Viva Viva. Part of the problem is after some drinks one night, I wrote a draft letter to them that started with "I basically want to promote the shit out of you." and I haven't been able to take myself seriously since. But now Viva Viva is playing a show tonight at the Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge and I still want to "promote the shit out of them" even though we haven't talked yet.

Everything I have heard about this band is phenomenal and I've heard that their live show is something I have to see. The last time they played at the Middle East Upstairs, they managed to rock out until 2am. Something rather unheard of in Boston. So I started listening to their music on bandcamp and I absolutely love their debut album. People outside of Boston need to hear about this band. They have a great sound, I'm not even going to try and describe it, just take a listen. That is all I ask. Hopefully a live review will be on its way. Here is one of my favorite songs from their album, "Dial Tone".

Stream the entire album on their Bandcamp page.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday's Cozy Sweater

When autumn Sundays roll around I often feel like I should be reviewing the comfy sweaters instead of music. I am not the type of girl who obsesses over shoes or purses, instead it's sweaters and jackets that get purchased a little too often. On Sunday mornings I get excited to put on one of my many sweaters with a favorite pair of jeans or leggings and let the day unfold in epic laziness, possibly a brunch, and later appetizer making and beer purchasing for the football games ahead. It is just what I do, probably one of the best routines ever, and is why I much prefer a Sunday afternoon to a Saturday night.  The really essential piece of this routine is that feeling of all day comfort from a warm, over sized sweater.

I'm not sure if I explained that quite right, I could write a 2,000 word essay on cozy sweaters and then some, and maybe only fellow sweater  aficionados would understand. But alas, this is a music blog so maybe I should tell you how certain songs have similar characteristics to my favorite sweater. Sunday songs must pair well with making spinach artichoke or chipotle black bean dip at noon on sunday. They also must have that familiar aspect that oozes with comforting lyrics and melodies. I don't know if I can make this a regular sunday feature but I can try.

So today's song that makes me feel almost as good as a grey waffle knit sweater is an old one from Seattle's Cataldo (he is originally from the same Idaho town as Josh Ritter). It is simple and beautiful, I highly suggest familiarizing yourself with this artist if you haven't already. The opening lyrics say it all, and oh my is that a banjo I hear? "It's been five years coming and one thing I can attest are the simple songs of hope I wrote have always been my best."

(via Fuel/Friends blog)

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Arcade Fire Video for The Suburbs

This video for "The Suburbs" was done by Spike Jonze and unsurprisingly  it is very well done with an interesting story line. I like how one of the messages of the album is about the darkness that lies beneath the suburban facade and how that was used and turned into a story in this video.









Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Widowers - Central Discount [Album]

Something very strange just happened. I just listened to this whole album very mindlessly, and not until the last song ended was I able to decide I liked it. 98% of the time I can decide right away how I feel about a song but this album was in murky middle ground. But when I realized I just listened to the whole album, and was willing to listen to it again, it clicked: I like this. Plus, my toes were involuntarily tapping along.

Their voices work well together and the straightforward manner of their songs is something I really appreciated. There is no mystery, no fancy recording tricks, in fact a few of the songs were recorded with just one mic on a dusted laptop. Central Discount is a group of guitar driven songs, with some pretty good little riffs thrown in. In the modern mess of all these fuzzy indie bands, it is refreshing to hear some good old indie rock with a twinge of punk. Most of the songs use the same formula and there is little variety between them, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as it makes Central Discount a cohesive little package that I am about to go ahead and listen to for a third time. Check them out on bandcamp or stream the album below.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's my birthday and I'll blog if I want to...

The title pretty much sums it up. I've been on the fence about continuing this blog for weeks now. The only way I want to move forward is if I make the blog better, make some drastic changes, and take it to the next level. Otherwise, it is too depressing to take the blog seriously when I am doing what hundreds of other (better looking) blogs are doing. But frankly, I don't have the time or energy to do this 100% and I hate half-assing it. When I realized my blog was approaching it's first birthday, a magical milestone that months ago I had told myself would be the day I decided what to do with the blog, I knew it was decision time.

Here is the verdict: I love it too much to stop.

A year ago today, I wrote my first post about Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, I didn't know Hype Machine existed, and I spent the first three months posting you tube videos. Now, 400 posts later, I know a little bit more, but there is still a long way to go. Thank you to everyone that has read and continues to read, and a huge thank you to all the music makers out there. A love for music, a passion for sharing, and an unending quest for new music is the only reason I do this. So it's my blog's birthday and I'll blog if I want to...I'm pretty happy to say I'll stick with it for another year.

Johnny Flynn @ T.T. The Bear's [Concert Review]

Where/When: November 15th, T.T. The Bear's Place, Cambridge, MA

Expectations: I expect a sweet faced english boy to sing me some songs, that is all. 

Concert: A sold out crowd came to see Johnny Flynn, a solo man with his guitar, stand on stage and sing some songs during his very last show on this particular tour. An absurdly simple set up, it provided a nice contrast from his recorded sound, and gave us something entirely different to listen to, which felt like a special treat. It was wonderful at first, he was completely endearing, and the crowd was swooning. By swooning I mean no less than five "I love you"s were shouted out from the crowd at various times--not to mention many giggles, oohs and collective awwws. But as he went from one song to the next, his eagerness to be done with the tour was palpable, and though he told the audience he was sad for the tour to end, there was no reveling in the moment, no one song that felt like he was really giving it his all. 

I can hardly blame him for wanting to get on a plane and be finished (he did have a late night bus to New York to catch after all), but you know when you are at a bar and someone buys you a drink and they chat you up, and they are charming and they give you a sweet smile, but then you catch them looking around at the crowd and you realize that "charming" is just a thing they do? Well, the "charming" act is what musicians have to put on every night and it has to be believable, but I feel like I caught Johnny Flynn in that looking for an escape moment. 

I am probably one of the few that feels that way because for the most part the show was fantastic. Flynn made it a pleasure to watch him play effortlessly, especially when the entire sold out room was focused directly on him. It was impressive to think that everything we were hearing was coming from the man and his steel guitar. The crowd sang along in a restrained and respectful manner that had an almost angelic effect. At times the choir of the crowd was unbelievably gorgeous and the absolute perfect accompaniment to the singular man on stage, the kind of sound that you can never quite capture on a record. The closing song, "Tickle Me Pink" was a great upbeat moment to finish the tour with as the crowd clapped and sang along. 

Concert Afterglow: Like Johnny, I was rather looking forward to heading home myself. Despite the fact that some of the concert felt routine, slightly rushed, and tired, there were plenty of uplifting moments that balanced it all out. But there was none of that after concert elation for me. 

Recommendation: Catch him if you can, he is on the rise, and next time he comes back stateside he might even bring a full band. He is more than capable of drawing the crowds. 

Song: Kentucky Pill
This is his big promo song and the teaser song for his new album, he did not play it last night. He may not have enjoyed playing it by the end of the tour, but I still enjoy listening to it. 

(Photo by me)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lykke Li - Get Some [video]

A few weeks ago the quirky and absolutely wonderful Lykke Li graced us with her new song "Get Some" and now we have her latest video for the song. It happens to be spreading around the blogosphere like wildfire so be sure to check it out. It can only make you love the song more than you already do. Enjoy.

Cheyenne Marie Mize - Best

First I have to ask you a small favor. Please vote for my fellow and highly accomplished blogging friend, Lydia of Sunset in the Rearview, for a grant that she is in the running for, along with three others. It is fantastic to see a fellow music blogger gunning for a grant like this, let alone one that I occasionally contribute to. I'm really excited for her so please, please, please, take two seconds to vote. You don't have to enter any personal information, you literally just click a button to vote. Thanks so much. CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Now that you have voted, here is a song. This one is from an artists that other notable bloggers are already putting on their "Best of the Year" lists, so I figured I should probably check her out. You can too at her official site or stream/buy her album over at bandcamp or download her daytrotter sessions for free.

She has one of those voices that is hard to forget while simultaneously sounding like some other of my favorite songstresses (Regina Spektor, Emiliana Torrini, Allie Moss, Brooke Waggoner) that first grabbed my attention. But then there is so much more. There is a rawness to these songs that makes me think "this is how Norah Jones sounded when she first started writing songs, before they were ever recorded." They are the kind of songs that you want to listen to while sitting by the fire, drinking a warm cup of herbal tea, being introspective. Cheyenne Marie Mize sings slow and quiet songs that wear the disguise of background music, but once you get thirty seconds into it, you can't help but delve in whole heartedly. Suggested listens: "Rest" and "Kind"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Boy & Bear


I was going through my archives and realized that in 4 days it will be this lil' small fry bloggy-poo's first birthday. (Yes, that is my pet name for the blog). I only realized this because I was looking up an old post from last year on my favorite song by the Australian band, Passenger. This is my roundabout way to tell you that in the process I stumbled across the song, "Shape of Love" hiding out in my itunes library. But I am now officially obsessed with the other Australian band, Boy & Bear, and I have been playing their few songs on repeat. They are already a pretty big deal in their homeland after touring with Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, impressive for a debuting band. Unfortunately, their debut EP is not available to those of us stateside until December 8th, but I can tell you that it is one I will definitely be purchasing.

Their music is instantly attractive, much like Mumford & Sons and Local Natives were the first time I heard them. It has that right mix of indie, rock, and a mysterious dark side that makes me want to play their songs over and over. There is not really much for me to say here, because this is music that absolutely speaks for itself. You'll see what I mean. "Because the shape of love is the only shape that fits my heart. "

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Peter Bradley Adams - The Longer I Run

Official | Buy
About two years ago this was my theme song. I loved it so much that I ignored all the religious overtones and reveled in the lyrics, song craftmanship, and Peter Bradley Adams' soothing voice. I vividly remember driving back from a wonderful winter weekend in the Alps with my friends with this song playing in the background as I navigated windy dark roads back to the city. Even though I have played this song hundreds of other times since then, I love how music connects itself to one specific moment in one's memory.

At the time I was in a funk, one that I seem to still be stuck in today, where I am obsessed with physically moving in order to avoid any real responsibilities. As one of my favorite quotes goes, "Bending over backwards to keep from having to go forwards" (via Brian Andreas) I have been known to do some pretty snazzy tricks to bend backwards, but recently, I can't even muster the strength for it.

So here I am after returning from a last minute trip to far off lands, feeling like I'm right back where I started. As I slowly put myself back together, I find the one thing that helps are epic playlists with lots of lost and lonely traveling voices to put me at ease. One of the first songs I went to was this one. If there are lots more like this posted in the near future, now you will know why. The lyrics of the first verse captivated me from my very first listen and always seem to give my heart a little jolt hearing a part of my life articulated in this song.
When my blood runs warm with the flow of red wine
I miss the life that I left behind
When I hear the sound of the black bird's cry
I know I left in the nick of time. 
Well this road I'm on is going to turn to sand, 
And leave me lost in a far off land. 
So let me ride the wind 'till I don't look back, 
and forget the life that I almost had.

Hey Marseilles - Cigarettes [New Video]

It's no secret that I love this band, they are practically on all of my mixes from the last year. How could I not love this band when their album is all about traveling, leaving and coming home, and not to mention they also play all my favorite instruments and then some. I play their album on a weekly basis and fall in love with a new song, or a new lyric every time. Now they are debuting a video they did on the road for their song "Cigarettes" and here it is.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Things to do during long layovers in the most boring airport ever...

1. Buy overpriced internet access. I hate doing this times a million, but sometimes it is necessary. I'm of the belief that life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and free internet are rights every human deserves. Finland knows what's up.

2. Pick a person in a duty free shop and follow them around for a while. People do remarkably strange things in there and purchase even stranger things for outlandish prices.

3. Dance party. Often times, especially in an international terminal, there are long stretches of hallway with no one in sight for hundreds of meters. Use your headphones or use your computer speakers like I did and play something that keeps you awake and moving before you begin your long seated journey. You'll thank me for this. Sometimes you make friends this way too.

4. Build a playlist that is exactly the length of your flight. I just made an eight hour 112 song playlist that I am very excited to queue up. I also caught up on all my favorite music blogs and downloaded some new wonders like this one, an Edward Sharpe side project, that I hope to share with you.

5. Eavesdrop. I know it's rude or whatever but doesn't everyone do it? Well, I do. Then I try and guess where they are going and if it is for business or pleasure. Every once in a while I get up the courage to actually ask. If you play this with another person it is a fantastic game and you can keep score. 

6. Play spot the American. If this is too easy, I also enjoy Spot the Frenchie, Russian, or Italian.

7. Write the most meaningless blog post of your life but be too tired and bored to care.

In the past six hours I have done all of this and so much more. Like watching Cubans inhale some of the sketchiest barbecued chicken I have seen in a long time. I know they were Cuban because I also like to play read people's passports and airline tickets. I have excellent vision. Eight of them also cut me in line so I didn't feel bad about staring.

 But the part you probably care about is the music. Well, it's coming. Starting tomorrow I will go back to posting regularly. And with the one year anniversary of the blog around the corner get prepared for some BIG surprises. Now that you all think I am a freak just keep these activities in the back of your mind for the next time you are at an airport and I promise you, you won't drain your phone battery by texting meaningless conversations or playing tetris while you wait. If you read this all then kudos and thanks for checking in with the blog.

NSFW! El Guincho Video

This new song "Bombay" is kind of amazing. It has these fantastic steel drums and a trippy atmospheric vibe that makes you feel like you are in some sort of mid-tempo dream land. Then there is this crazy video that you absolutely can not watch at work because there are lots of boobies and LOTS of other kinky randomness going on. But that is just a warning and not the main focus of the video or the song. There is plenty of other interesting stuff going on in the video that is incredibly well done (read: tasteful) and endlessly interesting. For instance, I am currently watching it in an airport on repeat with plenty of people walking by and I don't feel that weird about it. But then again I like watching people do the double take of "what are you, young girl, doing watching that video with all those tatas?". This is just one of my many airport games to keep me entertained. There will probably be more on the way. Many thanks to Amber for introducing me to El Guincho!
EL GUINCHO | Bombay from MGdM | Marc Gómez del Moral on Vimeo.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lykke Li - Get Some

Official | Myspace
Lykke Li never ceases to impress me. I have loved her quieter side with songs like "Little Bit", "Tonight", and "Dance Dance Dance", I guess in reality I like everything she has to offer, but this brand new song is something else. It has a great drum beat that reminds me of Emiliana Torrini's "Jungle Drum" but then it gets paired with some racy lyrics true to her form. Except these lyrics are pretty in your face "I'm your prostitute / You gonna get some". I love how she does that, and then you have this irresistible sound, that I can't stop listening to. Oh Lykke Li, you saucy minx. If you sign up for her mailing list you can get this song and another new one for free. Go get some.

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