26 March 2014

26 March 2014 - Lorde - Team

Sure, everyone loved "Royals".  I loved "Royals".  I still do love "Royals". 

"Team" is not "Royals", but it's still a really good song, cut from the same working-class New Zealand cloth lyrically.  Musically, this is a far more upbeat tune, clearly showing Lorde's American hip-hop influence. This is a dense song, with an a capella portion at the beginning. 

However, in this live performance, you can see it's just keyboard and drums backing Lorde.  In other words, in all this density, the song and the sound are still sparse, carried almost completely by Lorde's voice.

I think this is what fascinates me about Lorde the most - her sound is, at its core, so sparse, and yet she finds a way to bring a lot of depth to it, without a lot of instruments or guitar solos. 

25 March 2014

25 March 2014 - Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights

Sports-related depression is a real, but mostly stupid thing. In that same respect, I'm a real, but mostly stupid person. I can relate. Not to go into the brutal details of Saturday night (suffice to say if you know me, you know what game tore my heart out) I found myself drinking beers and watching old alternative music videos on YouTube to cheer me up. Music saves.

After a steady stream of Belly and Velocity Girl videos I somehow ended up watching a bunch of Kate Bush videos. Let me start by saying I adore Kate Bush. Such a unique singer and songwriter. BUUUUUUUT (that'd be a big but), her videos are so unintentionally funny. I sent Tony a message the moment my eyes peeped the over-dramatic interpretive dancing for the Wuthering Heights video (always one of my favorite songs by her) which read: "Kinda drunk so it's up to you to remind me to post Kate Bush Wuthering Heights video on WGP. LMAO. Great song, the video . . ." To which he replied: "The video is epic." I knew I was on to something.

He never did remind me so I guess I was in better shape than I thought. Anyway, something tells me this won't be the last epic interpretive dance-laden Kate Bush video that I post here (there are some doozies out there). But for now let's enjoy the video for her first single from 1978.

24 March 2014

24 March 2014 - Pitbull (ft. Kesha) - Timber

Pitbull has a signature sound. A lot of people think all of his song sound the same.  I disagree completely, but that's not important, really.

So Pitbull decided to include elements that were not generally part of his signature sound.  For example, that's not a sampled harmonica sound.  It is in the style of the band War, but it is not Lee Oskar - the harmonica player for War - but a session player who is clearly familiar with the style.

Now, of course, Pitbull still sounds like Pitbull, and he does collaborate with another (female) artist, as he is known to do.  The resulting sound keeps Pitbull's Latin dance/hip-hop feel, but adds a little country feel, from the surprising source of Kesha.

Oh.  Yeah.  While we're on the subject.  Kesha.  Not Ke$ha.  Her choice. She's growing up.

Anyway, I tried to hate this song - as I do with most Pitbull music - but, once again, I just couldn't.  It's creative and interesting.

The two of them recently performed this song, which spent 3 weeks at #1 in the US, on the American Music Awards broadcast. I even think it sounds like they are singing it live!  At any rate, the live performance shows the energy that both Pitbull and Kesha bring to their art.

Yes.  I called it art.  Don't hate.

21 March 2014

21 March 2014 - Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street

The late 1970s and early 1980s were a great time for saxophone solos.  The greatest of all came in Gerry Rafferty's masterpiece. At its core, this song is a simple jazz piece with folk undertones, but its iconic saxophone solos make it a classic of modern music.   Even when it was new.  The song peaked at #2 in the US and was a hit worldwide.

The sax riff itself was played by a musician named Raphael Ravenscroft.  To this day, it's out of tune to his ear - it's flatter than the rest of the song.  Which isn't a surprise, since the intention wasn't for that to be a sax solo until Ravenscroft suggested it. And his tone was beautiful, even if his solo was flat. 

Everyone else thinks it's the greatest sax solo ever performed, by the way.

I really can't think of any more to say about this song that hasn't already been said by the music.

(It's not like Scott has the market cornered on corny closing lines)

(except, if you think I'm kidding about the out-of-tune reference.....check at about the 2:00 mark for the details)

20 March 2014

20 March 2014 - Madness - Our House

IT'S MARCH MADNESS BABY ! ! ! This is my favorite time of the year. Two weeks of yelling at the TV and screaming at the crumpled up piece of paper that was once a bracket with so much promise. I wouldn't miss it for the world (which is also why I have three TVs in my basement bar . . . the laptop will have the fourth game when such occurrences deem it necessary). So while I'll be watching the first few games today at my favorite saloon, most of the time I will be enjoying the Madness in Our House.

Please Note: I'd hate myself for that last line if it wasn't for the fact that it was the most clever sentence I've written here in months.

19 March 2014

19 March 2014 - Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX - Fancy

(Goddamn it, Tony, enough Charli XCX!!!!)

OK, but hear me out. Two young white non-American women have written and performed a song that has become a high-charting song on an American hip-hop chart! Co-written by Charlotte Aitchison and Amethyst Kelly - Charli and Iggy, respectively (why Amethyst Kelly needed to change her name to a different one for a stage name is beyond me.  Amethyst Kelly would be a great stage name!) - the song is an ode to glam, the video a tribute to "Clueless". 

But even this great, catchy, fun song wouldn't have been enough for me to ONCE AGAIN put Charli XCX on this blog - this is her 7th appearance - if not for Seth Meyers.  He had both of them on Late Night this week.  We'd love to have it here for you, but NBC isn't letting me post, so go here and see this really solid performance.

And, if you are too lazy to do that, watch their performance from SXSW.  It's clearly Iggy's song - she's the one in the murda bizness - but she's also clearly gracious for Charli's appearance, who knows what she's doing.

(Update: 10 June 2014) - This song has been #1 for the last two weeks. And you knew so long ago. Congratulations for being in on the ground floor.

14 March 2014

14 March 2014 - Soul Coughing - Circles

I think anyone with a decent Internet connection and a passing knowledge of mathematics knows that today - 3.14 - is Pi Day.

But, have you ever stopped to think what pi - the number, not the letter in the Greek alphabet - really is?  Well, this math major can tell you! Put simply, it's a constant number, equal to the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.  A circle is a funny shape - every point on it is equidistant from the center, so a constant like this is possible.

And since we're talking about circles, I think it is appropriate to use the greatest song ever written about this cool shape!

12 March 2014

12 March 2014 - Kristin Hersh - A Loon

I was a long time Throwing Muses fan (still am) but I still love Kristin Hersh's solo work, which tends more to the acoustic side of things.  It's hard to pick just one song as a favorite.  But this one - a song that really is, in my view, two songs - floats to the top.

The first half of the song is an angry, string-filled piece that seems to be a tribute to Kristin's bipolar disorder.  The second half, when the video switches to color, seems to be more reflective on the same subject matter.  At any rate, it is a masterfully crafted song.  Check it out!

11 March 2014

11 March 2014 - 311 - Down

This one seemed kind of obvious. So much so, that I wonder why I didn't think about it before. Anyway, let's celebrate 3/11 with one of my favorite 311 songs. Truth time: I actually liked their first and third albums and saw them in a small club before Down blew up. I can't say I've really liked anything they've done since, but that may have more to do with a change in my musical tastes. Seriously 311, it's not you, it's me.


10 March 2014

10 March 2014 - Charli XCX feat. Brooke Candy - Cloud Aura

I know what a lot of you are thinking.

"Enough with the goddamn Charli XCX."

The reason I am posting this anyway?  I mean, besides my undying respect for anything that Charlotte Aitchison touches?  It's the bravery in partnering with the intensely charismatic and immensely polarizing Brooke Candy, and not getting overshadowed.   Brooke Candy, to her credit, is far less in-your-face than usual.

Also, it's a lesbian love song.  Well, a lesbian break-up song, anyway.

So what happens when Brooke Candy isn't available?  It still works - Charli has some hip hop chops, if not the metal bra and absolutely insane hair.

07 March 2014

7 March 2014 - Bloc Party - Ratchet

Apparently, "ratchet" is a derogatory term nowadays.  Hell, in my day, it was a kind of wrench.

But Kele as a lead vocalist (we've heard his voice before) really makes this very energetic song work. It's different - are those minor chords they're using there? - but still dance music.  How can we go wrong with such a song?

We can't.  We can't go wrong.

06 March 2014

6 March 2014 - Janelle Monae - Dance Apocalyptic

While I'm not normally exposed, and thus not really that into R&B and Soul, the first time I heard Janelle Monae's Tightrope I was blown away. She's an undeniable force who definitely captured my attention with her fantastic debut The ArchAndroid and retained it with her latest album The Electric Lady. As I was listening to the "new" album last night I was immediately drawn to the frenetic Dance Apocalyptic and hoped beyond hope that there would be a video for it. Voila!

05 March 2014

5 March 2014 - Snow - Informer

By far, the most widely requested for this blog is "Informer", by Snow.  Apparently, there is still demand for Canadian reggee/hip-hop fusion.  Just not beyond this song.

Seriously, as much as people like to make fun of this song nowadays, but it spent 7 weeks at #1 in the United States in 1993.  Seven weeks, people.  It was a gigantic hit.  Probably because it was completely different than everything else that was on the radio at the time.  It would be his biggest US hit - its follow-up was a top 20 hit - and it endures today.

04 March 2014

4 March 2014 - Avicii - Hey Brother

OK, I know Tony wrote about Avicii in January, but hey, that doesn't mean I shouldn't have a say as well. Besides, I have a hook, which is usually not the case with me. We must embrace the hook. Embrace it!

Last week I received a cryptic message from my mom while on vacation: "Do you have A v i c i L cd?" Confused, I jokingly replied: "Do you mean Avril or Avicii because I have both. Now if it's some odd collaboration between the two, then no." Her response: "Avicii. Send it to me when you get home?" She's direct like that. I certainly did not expect that answer. Is the senior citizen-set now into EDM collaborations?

That also got me thinking about a couple things: First, does a 60-something mom wanting this CD make it a Wicked Guilty Pleasure? It probably should, but not in this case as I'm fairly certain that the on-the-pulse teens I coach probably dig it too (they seem to like anything EDM-related . . . kids these days). This record really is universal.

Second, I'm really curious as to what song she heard that piqued her interest? She does like pop music and country music as long as it's not "too country" (if you know what I mean). I suspect it was Hey Brother featuring bluegrass great Dan Tyminski as I know she has the O' Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack. That's why I picked it up, well, that and it was $3.99 at AmazonMP3. I suppose I'll have to ask her on our weekly phone call and maybe give her a pat on the back for liking good music.

03 March 2014

3 March 2014 - Marina and the Diamonds - How To Be A Heartbreaker

OK, folks, I'm back.  Scott has done a fantastic job supporting and embracing all that is Wicked Guilty Pleasures while I was off being obsessed with curling pants.  Seriously.  But I did do some posts, and I hope you go back and check them out.

Today, however, we are talking Marina Diamandis and the Diamonds.  Sure, she sees days of the week and musical notes in different colors - seriously, she does, thanks to a condition known as synethesia - so maybe that's why she makes such fun, interesting, different pop music. Sure, Scott has shown his love as well.  (Actually, so have I).

But, really, I want to talk about the absolute versatility of this amazing singer/songwriter.  First of all, listen to this version of the song, from the official video.   Although guitar-driven, there's a strong electronic aspect to this song.  And it's entertaining, to be sure, but it would be really easy to dismiss this as heavily AutoTuned. 

But now listen to this, a live version from The Today Show. It starts off as an acoustic ballad, and although it eventually reaches the tempo of the original, it stays acoustic. And sans AutoTune. Also, as much as I like Florence and the Machine and Katy Perry, I don't at all get the comparison.