2014 March

Honey & I by Haim

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“Honey & I” is a more mellow song, and I really enjoy the overall vibe on this track. The guitar that plays in and out of the song has a really great sound. The rhythm is a little more complex on this track which also adds some punch. And then I really like the chorus as the drums come in harder and the guitar fills in the gaps between the vocals. Danielle also does a really nice job singing on this track. Finally, when the girls ramp up the speed and intensity in the last minute of the song and then pull it back down to a lower intensity, the contrast works really well and helps keep the song interesting all the way through.

Bleeding Out by The Lone Bellow

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The Lone Bellow is a band that was formed in Brooklyn, NY. Upon one of my trips to NY, my friend introduced them to me. To be honest, I really don’t know much about the band and how they formed; but what I do know is that they are a trio, with the two male members (Zach and Brian) knowing one another from college and the female member (Kanene) was added prior to the signing of their record deal. The band released their self-titled debut album in January 2013, with over 50% of the songs being written by the lead singer Zach; to the bands credit, of the 11 tracks on the album, only 3 were written by members outside of the band. Their musical style has been penned as folk-rock and they have a strong comparison to bands like Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and The Civil Wars. Their debut album was considered a success, thanks to reaching #64 on the Billboard top 100 charts. What I enjoy most about this band is the fact that not a lot of people have discovered them. They aren’t globally big like Mumford & Sons or The Lumineers, so they have an advantage with the production of their new album to surprise the listener. This song that I’m bringing you today really sums up the band and their sound. It’s very folky, driven by the guitars and some string instruments; as most folk songs these days, the chorus is filled with the harmonic voices of all members and ramps up the song to another level. The whole vibe of the song is melodic and composed nicely with the combination of the vocals and instruments. I also appreciate that the video showcases Brooklyn (most of the locations I’m familiar with). This is definitely another band that I’d suggest checking out a few songs on iTunes. Enjoy!

My Song 5 by Haim

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Haim is three sisters out of Southern California who you’ve likely heard of by now if you follow music at all. They were one of the most talked about artists in 2013, especially regarding new artists. Their debut album “Days Are Gone” was just released in September, but it seems like it’s been out for a year. I think part of this is due to success on both the pop and alternative charts, creating a very wide fan base. The sisters actually grew up playing in a family cover band called Rockinhaim. So they’ve literally been playing music for most of their lives. The three sisters (in order of age) Este (bass/guitar), Danielle (guitar/vocals) and Alana (guitar/keyboard) garnered a lot of interest when they focused on their band. Alana dropped out of college to focus on the band. Danielle had toured with both Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas. After opening shows for several different acts, they landed a record deal after playing at South by Southwest in 2012. They released an EP and actually had more initial success in the UK. In 2013 they appared at Glastonbury’s main stage and were selling out their own headlining tour. So they had a lot of momentum going their way when “Days Are Gone” was finally released in September. The songs I’m featuring are not their biggest singles, which are “The Wire” and “Days Are Gone”. But they are the two songs that made the biggest initial impression on me.

I was not a big fan of their album the first time I listened to it. I liked a few songs, but overall I was pretty nonplussed. I didn’t understand why they were garnering such large amounts of praise and press. I chalked it up to them being too “commercial” and “poppy” for my personal taste. But thanks to Spotify, I kept listening to the album a few more times. The 3rd or 4th time through, the music started connecting more with me. Instead of only liking a few tracks, I was enjoying the majority of the album. So I just want to remind everyone to give albums and artists a chance to resonate with you. What you may not be a big fan of the first time through could end up growing on you. This is true for many of my favorite albums. I would have not been able to enjoy so much of the music that I now love if I had only listened to it one time and then dismissed it. There is something to say about the rewards garnered from patience and persistence!

“My Song 5” is the song that sounds the most different from the others on “Days Are Gone”. I love the beat and rhythm on this song, the distorted tuba sound that is used extensively throughout and the great sounding guitar riff on this track (sounds slightly sinister). This particular track definitely adds an edginess to their pop sound. Vocals are also stellar throughout. Great song, I would love to see something like this top the pop charts. I can’t see it not appearing on my best of 2013 collection.

Old School Love by Lupe Fiasco Ft. Ed Sheeran

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I’ve dropped a few Lupe tracks before but he consistently is putting out good music ,so I can’t help but drop another one. A quick rundown of Lupe, he jumped on to the music scene is 2006 with his debut album and since then he has released 4 studio albums, with each having at least a hit or two on the Billboard charts. He just currently wrapped his latest album ‘Tetsuo and Youth,’ which will be released in early 2014. The song I’ve listed is the first single from this album and to be completely honest with you, when I first heard the song I thought it was an Ed Sheeran song; the reason being is because upon first listen to the song I caught the chorus, which is sung by Ed. For those of you who don’t know him, Ed Sheeran is a British sensation who took America by storm in 2013 with his debut album ‘+’ (I must say it’s probably my favorite album of 2013). Ed’s voice is very soothing, and I enjoy the fact that he doesn’t hide his British accent when he sings. The combination of Lupe and Ed is a very smart move and the song flows very nicely. Enjoy!

Thinking About You by Calvin Harris Ft. Ayah Marar

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Some of you may not recognize the name Calvin Harris, but I bet most of you have heard a lot of his music. He has been making a lot of noise in 2013 with the release of his 3rd studio album ’18 Months’. His album features many of today’s top artist, including: Ne-Yo, Rhianna, Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding and various others. Harris is a Scottish DJ, therefore incorporating other artist to collaborate on his songs is a must. Harris has been making music since 1999, but he really started to take off in late 2012 when his single ‘Let’s Go’ with Ne-Yo came out. Ever since then, he’s been dropping hits after hits. This song is his most recent single and honestly one of my favorites. What I appreciate most about the song is Ayah’s voice; it’s initially what drove me to give the song a second listen. Upon hearing her voice, I was intrigued to find out more about her and I found out that she’s a big success in the UK. She has been featured on numerous DJ’s songs and has also written and produced a couple of songs herself. She just recently released her first album in October, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from her. Enjoy!

Fall In by Cloud Nothings

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“Fall In” is a bit poppier, but has a nice contrast between more aggressive, punk-sounding verses and the poppier chorus. Plus there’s a nice little guitar solo at the 2:00 mark that then blends right back into the song after raising it up a few notches.

Separation by Cloud Nothings

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Cloud Nothings was founded by Dylan Baldi. They released their second album “Attack on Memory” last year, which was produced by Steve Albini who helped give them a much rougher and heavier sound. Albini has produced albums for Nirvana, The Pixies, PJ Harvey and Helmet, to name just a few. This new harder sound won them many new fans and a lot of critical success. I’ll admit this album initially got lost in the shuffle for me when it came out in January. I listened to it a few times and then moved onto other things. But I’ve recently come back to it and it’s a really nice effort. Any band that can grab me with an instrumental has some positive things going for them. So yes, I am going to include the one instrumental on the album, but I’ll also include a song with some vocals so you can hear what that sounds like as well. “Separation” just crushes as a song and doesn’t need any vocals to keep it interesting. After a very brief intro, the song kicks right in with a solid guitar riff and then the rhythm section just takes off from there (really nice bass lines). There’s some nice tempo changes before the band goes back into the initial riff again. They pick it up again harder, each time through they get a little more aggressive and louder. By the final minute, they are pounding away on their instruments. The last 45 seconds are like a runaway train that could derail at any minute. I bet this song absolutely kills when they play it live.

Bonus: There is a live clip of “Separation”. It’s at a radio station, but you still get a good idea of the energy.

Berserk by Eminem (explicit)

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That’s right, Marshall Mathers is working on a new album, a follow-up to 2010’s surprisingly good “Recovery”. “Berserk” is the first single and it caught my ear for some obvious reasons – samples from the Beastie Boys and William Squier (aka Billy Squier) and production from Rick Rubin – how can you mess that up? The beats and samples deliver, but Eminem backs it with some quality lyrics and rapping as well. In the first verse, he inserts some Beastie Boy samples perfectly into his lines. In the second verse, he mocks some of the current popular rappers who put little work into their lyrics and wordplay by rapping like they do and ends the verse by asking “Question is are you bozos smart enough to feel stupid, Hope so”. Plus, he has some great lines, including “So sick I’m looking pale, oh that’s my pigment”, “So baby make just like K-Fed and let yourself go, let yourself go” and “All I know is I fell asleep and woke up in that Monte Carlo, With the ugly Kardashian, Lamar, oh sorry yo, we both done set the bar low”. It’s a well-crafted piece of pop.