2014 November

Neverminders by In The Valley Below

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is another standout track from “The Belt” that immediately grabbed my attention out the first time I heard it.  A pretty straightforward guitar/synth driven song, highlighted by alternating vocals during the verses and an easy to sing along chorus of “Neverminders, Neverminders, Neverminders coming for your crown”.This track has some retro elements, I hear just a sprinkle of The Human League in there.  Special thanks to Quesadilla Boombox for posting this song on YouTube since the “official” video wasn’t appropriate for this post.

Ghost by Ella Henderson

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Ella Henderson – “Ghost” – Ella comes to us from England, where she has been singing since she was 3yrs old for her family.  At the age of 5, she taught herself to play the piano and began putting on Christmas performances for her family every year going forward.  Thanks to these many performances, she was encouraged by her family to pursue music and ended up winning a scholarship to Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Hertfordshire; she was only 11yrs old when she won the scholarship.  In 2012, she decided to try out for The X Factor in the UK, using an original song that she wrote.  She made it on to the show and finished 6th; but Simon Cowell liked her so much, that he signed her to his label anyways.  In 2014, Ella released her debut album Chapter One which features numerous collaborations with popular song-writers and producers.  Her first single from the album, “Ghost”, was co-written and produce by One Republic front man Ryan Tedder. The song feels like a mash up of Adele and Leona Lewis from a vocal and genre standpoint, but the lyrics read like something that Taylor Swift would write (basically about a failed relationship). What I like about this song is Ella’s voice, it’s very powerful and commanding right from the opening line when she says “I keep going to the river to pray”. You can her the power in her voice and she hasn’t even presented us with the full breadth of her vocal capability. I’ve heard a number of different variations of this song, from the album version to a few stripped down versions.  I’ve provided you with both the album version and a tamed down version in which you can hear her voice more clearly.  The first 15 secs of the album version video has some noise that’s part of the music video and not the actual song. Enjoy!
Album Version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA8AfQaUnXM
Tamed Version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66yLHmmVPYI

Stand Up by In The Valley Below

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In The Valley Below
is a duo comprised of Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail.  The two met in the Hollywood music scene, and their debut album “The Belt” which was released a few months ago shows a great deal of potential.  They share songwriting credits and vocals and the two really mesh together very well.  It’s great to see a musical partnership click like that.  They sound great harmonizing or trading off vocal parts.  For their live performances, the two even utilize a dual iron microphone stand.  They also complete their united front with asimilar stylistic vibe – a traditional contemporary lookwith Jacob wearing a white shirt, dark pants and suspenders and Angela’s vintage white dresses and dark hats.  It’s a different look for a band, and they even use a patchwork quilt design for their album cover.  They definitely have spent some time working on their image.  Their music has a kind of a synth pop sound, with sometraditional influences thrown in, like guitars.  Interestingly enough, when the two recorded their debut album, they had no intention of ever being a touring band.  However, the songs were so well-received that they needed to go play them live.  They’ve toured in the US and Europe, appearing at the Reading and Leeds music festivals in the UK, Rock en Seine in Paris and have appeared on David Letterman’s show.  Not only do these two collaborate well on the musical front, they also brew their own beer which they sell on their website (and have a “beer blog” as well on their site).
“Stand Up” is the first song I heard by this band and it immediately caught my attention.  It’s a great pop track, thechorus is so well done the way the music stops and starts, how it provides a release from the tension in the verses, the tinkling synth sound and the heavy percussion.  I also like how the song immediately kicks off with the chorus.  This track shows how well they harmonize together, as well as trading off vocal duty.  I also think it’s cool to see how the group carries off their music live, so I’m including a clip from a performance they did at The Echo in LA.  Sometimes this type of music doesn’t translate as well live, but not in this case.  You can also see how well they sing, their vocals hold up really well.  Plus Jeffrey throws down a little guitar solo that works well in the song, amps it up a bit.

Blame it on me by George Ezra

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George Ezra – “Blame It On Me” – I discovered George while I was touring the UK a few weeks back.  Almost every morning when I turned on the radio, a song of his was playing. Upon hearing his most popular song, “Budapest”, I was sold on checking out his music.  To his credit, George has released 2 EPs, Did Your Hear the Rain? in October 2013 and Cassy O’ in March 2014; his debut album, Wanted on Voyage, was released in June of this year. George is well known in the UK, primarily due to playing in many festivals and also for being a contestant on the BBC Sound of….2014 (he finished 5th).  The single I’m bringing you today is the 4th single that was released from Wanted on Voyage, and it’s my favorite track from George.  What I enjoy about this track, is the guitar line that leads the song and carries it all the way through to the end.  I also really enjoy George’s voice; the bluesy raspy-ness of it is very infectious. I do feel like the chorus drives this song as well, especially near the end of the song when he ramps up his vocals.  Instead of providing the official video, which has a lot of background noise in it, I provided the lyrical video (George is in the video). If you like this track, I’d definitely suggest checking out a few more tracks from his album (Budapest, Cassy O or Listen to the Man). Enjoy!

Cool Kids by Echosmith

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Echosmith – “Cool Kids” – Echosmith is band made of 4 siblings (Graham is 15, Sydney is 17, Noah is 18 and Jamie is 21) from Los Angeles, whom have been making music together since 2009. In May 2012, the band was signed to a record deal with Warner Bros. Records. Prior to being signed to their record label, the band was posting covers songs from ColdPlay, Adele, Mumford and Suns, and Ellie Goulding on their YouTube channel. The siblings enjoy making music together and consider themselves to be an indie-pop band, with some 80’s flare. They grew up listening to U2, Fleetwood Mac, ColdPlay and numerous other bands, that influenced them to form a band. They have performed on the Vans Warped Tour in 2013 and 2014; they also were the opening act for Owl City back in 2013. The band released their debut album, Talking Dreams, back in October 2013; from this album, they dropped 4 singles.  Of the 4 singles, “Cool Kids” is by far their biggest hit; it peaked at number 13 on the US music charts back in 2013.  The song has just recently began to get radio airplay again, due to the band performing on the Conan O’Brien show back in June of this year. The song is about a boy and girl who just want to be noticed.  The song is led by Sydney’s wispy voice, which gets some added help from the synth-y infused melody during the chorus.  The chorus is very catchy and it’s probably the songs leading driver; the tempo of the track speeds up as soon as the chorus comes on, bringing the song to a new level. Enjoy!

Mountain by Meatbodies

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Meatbodies released their self-titled debut album last month. The band is primarily Chad Ubovich, a guitar guru who has played bass with Ty Segall and guitar for Mikal Cronin. Ubovich plays all the instruments (except for drums) on about half of the songs on the album, and on the other half he’s joined by musicians Cory Thomas Hanson, Erik Jimenez and Riley Youngdahl. However, for his touring band he has three different musicians he’s playing with. The SoCal/NorCal band has a big psychedelic/garage/punk sound, and is differentiated from some of their peers by the quality of the guitar playing and the quality of the sound recording on their album. Their debut record is definitely a ton of fun, and not so much based on singles but by the overall quality of the album as a whole. There’s a lot of great music throughout, and even just within one song you may hear the band mix it up several different times. The album was recorded in San Francisco with Eric Bauer, and Ubovich said he really loves the city, its culture, mystique and magic. Bauer has also recorded albums by Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and many others. The record also features some great psychedelic artwork that is a good match for the music contained within.

“Mountain” is the third track on the album and it’s a beast of a song. It features a massive twin guitar sound and a rumbling bass. The track is one big shot of adrenaline. Good beat, loud guitars, some harmonizing and then a big close over the last minute of the song. Unfortunately the sound quality isn’t top notch on the link, but it’s adequate.

Wrong Side of Heaven by Five Finger Death Punch

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Five Finger Death Punch’s Wrong side of Heaven is my choice this week because of the recent Veteran’s day holiday. This video touches me with it’s grippling stats about our homeless, along side it’s moving political lyrics. I love when artists use their influence in a positive way to shed light on our current events, especially as our American new media is doing such a lousy job. I absolutely LOVE the message in this song…without further ado here is Five Finger Death Punch’s, Wrong Side of Heaven!

Baby Don’t Lie by Gwen Stefani

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Baby Don’t Lie by Gwen Stefani

I have been a Gwen Stefani fan since “Trapped in a box” emerged as No Doubt’s first single. Needless to say I have been watching the evolution of this artist for over two decades! Which is why I am more than pleased with the delivery of sound occurring on this single. “Baby Don’t Lie” has that something fun, special and catchy that you expect from the same artist who brought us “Hollaback Girl” and other up-beat singles. I love her look in this video—classic Gwen being shown here, red lips and all. You can’t help but get excited and start to dance as the beat intro builds. The visuals in this video remind me of something I would see at a Rave, but, that is why I can’t help falling in love and watching it on repeat. Put this song on while getting ready to go out this Saturday (you can thank me on Sunday) it is sure to set the stage for a great night! I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do!

Like Real People Do by Hozier

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Andrew Hozier-Byrne, otherwise known as Hozier, comes to us from Ireland. He is fairly new to the music scene, becoming established in 2012 when he started recording demos for Universal Music. He was raised by his father, whom was a musician himself, and Hozier developed a love for music at an early age. This love of music transcended into adulthood and Hozier enrolled at Trinity College in Dublin to pursue a degree in music. Sadly, he left college halfway through his first year in order to chase his dream of making it big in the music industry. Thankfully, he began recording demos for Universal Music; this eventually led to Hozier releasing his first EP Take Me to Church in 2013. This EP was fueled by the release of the single ‘Take Me to Church.’ This single became a viral hit on YouTube and Reddit, which catapulted the single to number 1 on the Irish iTunes singles chart and number 2 in the Ireland music charts. The success of his first EP, encouraged Hozier to release another EP in 2014 titled From Eden. Although the second EP didn’t have a lead single driving it forward, it did enable Hozier to cut a record deal. In June 2014, he announced that he will be releasing his debut album in September 2014 (the 19th to be exact). The single I’m bringing you today comes from his first EP, and I must say it’s probably my favorite song out of all the tracks on both EPs. The song opens with a banjo playing for about the first 30secs before Hozier’s voice comes in on the verse. To be honest, the entire song kind of floats along on a melancholy cloud with simple instruments and vocals driving it along. It’s an extremely simple song that is primarily carried by Hozier’s voice and the strong plucking of the banjo. Enjoy!

Hunter Eats Hunter by Chevelle

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This may be a track that really makes you start thinking of another band they sound like…who is that? Oh yeah, it’s Tool. I immediately heard similarities, and their producer has also worked with Tool so it’s not surprising. Some of Pete’s vocals sound very much like Maynard’s vocals from Tool, so yeah, not surprised about that comparison. On this song, you’ve got another great guitar/bass sound going. I also like how Pete is singing right on his guitar riff during the early verses. Also, at the 3:30 mark there’s a great instrumental breakdown with a nice anguished yell thrown in there.