Tunes of the Week Edition No. 2

Published 3/26/14 by:

The past few weeks I’ve had social commitments on Sundays – gasp! I know! Sundays for some people are reserved for worship, brunch, or in my case, grading. For whatever reason I’ve had a lot of requests to socialize on Sundays, and I’ve gladly accepted. As a result of this, I’ve been in my car driving for the past few consecutive Sunday mornings and it’s been a music revelation. Some of my favorite stations do “Sunday Morning Over Easy”, “Acoustic Sunrise” or my new favorite: “Sunday Morning Country Oldies”.  All three of these stations play music that’s either unplugged, rare, old or live. It’s been so fun hearing new renditions of some of my favorites, or a Lorrie Morgan single that I forgot existed. I encourage you to check out your local stations to see what they’re up to on Sunday mornings. I’m planning on making it a more regular occurrence in my own life. In the meantime, here’s what else I’ve been listening to this week. Enjoy, and please let me know if you have recommendations!

 

The Black Keys’ new single “Fever” – This is the first single from their upcoming album of the same title, which will be released on May 13th. It’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a bit psychedelic, but still has those grainy vibes that are so fun. I always find their upbeat tunes to be great highway driving music – that is, if you like to drive fast.

 

Indian Summer‘s  single “How Sad” – I discovered this band through a few bloggers who wrote about bands to watch at SXSW. They’re equal parts Bon Iver, MGMT, and Vampire Weekend. I don’t know much about this band, but the catchiness of this song, and the cleverness of the video made me a fan.

Granville Automatic‘s “Don’t Come to Tennessee” – Another discovery via SXSW, but this is much twangy-er than what I’ve posted in the past. Truth be told: I love country music. These gals are channeling Patsy Cline, The Dixie Chicks and Zooey Deschanel simultaneously, and it’s divine.

 

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On My Birthday: My 29 Song Soundtrack

Published 3/17/14 by:

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Tunes of the Week Edition No. 1

Published 3/15/14 by:

Listed below are the tunes that caught my ear this week. I’m constantly searching for new music via friend recommendations, iTunes recommendations, or from Pandora. I have to give a shoutout to two local radio stations as well, because they lend me some new ideas on a pretty routine basis: 92.9 WBOS and 92.5 The River. I’m hoping that if I can keep up a weekly post about new music that some of you may throw your new favorites out there as well. So, shall we?

Ray LaMontagne‘s new single “Supernova” – While Ray’s growly gorgeous voice still exudes from this track, the overall vibe of the song is something new for him. It has a tinge of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and just feels lighter than some of his other music endeavors. I’m looking forward to his new album “Supernova” coming out on May 6th, as well as seeing him in concert in Boston in May at The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.

 

 

 

Coldplay‘s new single “Magic” – I keep saying to my brother that this sounds like a Chris Martin solo project, but I’m not complaining. Coming from the same vein as “Up in Flames” this is a bleak track that features Chris’ stellar vocals with what sounds like a synthesized drum. Call me a Coldplay diehard, but I’m really enjoying hearing this on the radio. Coldplay’s new album “Ghost Stories  is released on May 19th, and I hope to see them on tour for my fifth time.

 

 

 

Ingrid Michelson‘s new single “Girls Chase Boys” – This may not sound like a compliment, but Ingrid is my favorite soundtrack lady. She has had music featured on so many TV shows and movies that I adore, and her voice captures the feelings being visually depicted in an absolutely perfect and eerie way. This new single from her upcoming album “Lights Out” which will be released on April 16th surprised me in a fantastic way. This is more pop than Ingrid has ever been, but she still is showcasing those beautiful intonations in her voice! I can’t wait to see her in concert for the first time in May at The House of Blues.

 

 

What is everyone else listening to in preparation for summer concerts?

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Album Round-Up For 2013

Published 1/8/14 by:

Album Round-Up For 2013

 

 Bottom line: in order for me to praise an album (as a holistic piece of art) I have to like more than three songs on it. Under the “hits” list are all the albums that meet that prerequisite. To be fair, the albums on the “misses” list are all people that have impressed me over the years, to my expectations for them are pretty high. The people in the “misses” category are people that I’m highly critical of because they already have so much for me to compare them to. I mean, let’s face facts: Gaga might never have another “Bad Romance”.

 

Hits

Lorde’s Pure Heroine – Practically every track has a unique beat that I can both drum on the steering wheel to, or shake my hips. She’s like a delicious cross between Stevie Nicks and Regina Spektor. I can’t wait to see how her artistry grows as she exists teenager-dom.

Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park – Half the tracks on this album ooze Sheryl Crow circa “Tuesday Night Music Club”. Yes she’s a Texan. Yes, she’s twangy. But here’s the thing: it’s believable, and catchy.

Blake Shelton’s Based On A True Story… – I’ll admit that this album isn’t for everyone, but it met the criteria aforementioned.

Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience – This album is completely versatile. I think that’s what dazzled me the most. It has beats that could be in the club, a stadium, a convertible, the beach, or a rave. Not a lot of albums that have that kind of variety are considered cohesive, but this album just has it.

Jake Owen’s Days of Gold – While this album is mainly for roadtrips, backyards, or barbecues, it definitely showcases Owen’s baritone voice more than his previous tunes. “Sure Feels Right” and “Good Timing” are not to be missed. Let Jake be your country music gateway drug.

Haim’s Days Are Gone – This trio of California sisters are the perfect cocktail of Cyndi Lauper, The Cranberries, and Wilson Phillips. You’re welcome.

Ariana Grande’s Yours Truly – I was blown away by the vocals on this album. Everyone is calling her a young Mariah Carey, and her voice definitely garners the accolade, but she’s got this R&B thing that seems a lot more effortless than when Mariah dabbled in it. “Tattooed Heart” is reminiscent of milkshakes and letterman jackets but Ariana somehow makes it suave. I hope she’s here to stay.

Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz – If you had told me a year ago that I would like more than one song on a new Miley Cyrus album I would’ve laughed in your face. Now I can’t stop because she’s a wrecking ball.

Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party – If Luke Bryan sang a jingle for a car commercial (Michael Bolton, anyone?) I would recognize his voice instantly. There’s something very distinct about it. He’s got some good kick up your boots and shimmy shake tunes on here, but the heartfelt “Drink a Beer” which is a hat tip to Bryan’s deceased brother and sister steals the show.

 

Misses

Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail

Katy Perry’s Prism

Lady Gaga’s Artpop

Kanye West’s Yeezus

Britney Spears’ Britney Jean

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2013 Year in Review: Concert Edition

Published 12/30/13 by:

You may or may not know this about me, but I love live music. I will go to any show, at any venue, except for heavy metal, or whatever category Godsmack falls under. Basically, if the lead singer isn’t screaming maniacally into the microphone, I’m there. The summer time is obviously the most popular for concerts in New England because outdoor venues can reopen their gates, but I try to make an effort to spread out my attendance to shows over the winter so that I don’t cry myself to sleep at night. Below you will find my list of shows that I saw in 2013, and the ones that were on my wish list. Please let me know in the comments who I should’ve seen, so I can be on the look-out for tickets in 2014!

 

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at State Theater Portland, Maine June 2013

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I went with a large group of friends to this show, and trekked up to Portland (about 2 hours North of Boston) for it. To say the expectations were high would be a fairly monumental understatement. The crowd ranged from older hippies to younger hippies. These guys (& gals) had been on my “to see” list for a few years, and I was thrilled to finally see them in action. Apart from the festival circuit, you don’t see a lot of bands of this size (at least a dozen people on stage) traveling on American tours as a headliner. Obviously bigger acts warrant a large back-up band, but this is a dozen people who are all part of the ensemble. It was pretty exciting. The State Theater is an awesome venue if you ever get a chance to check it out – it’s an old theater with a balcony, floor seats etc. and every show is general admission. For thirty bucks you could be in the front row, if you’re tenacious enough. I’ve seen multiple shows here, and I’m never disappointed. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros didn’t publish who their opening act was, and they moved the start time to the show up by an hour. We then endured a kind of sloppy opener, but we were confused because they looked like the Magnetic Zeros minus Edward. Could this be? Were we already seeing the headliner unbeknownst to us? Sort of. The rest of the band minus the two regular lead singers (pictured above) came out and did a 45 minute set that was kind of aimless, and the songs all blended into one another. There was a couch involved. It was bizarre. Then they took a 15 minute break, and Edward and the gang all came out, and rocked the house. They played every song I knew, and multiple songs that hadn’t been released yet. There was a lot of howling, swaying, moving and grooving going on – and that was just from the band. Edward Sharpe is what I imagine a rocker from the 70s to be like at his pique – he obviously enjoys the music he’s playing, and he feeds off of the audience. It was a shaky start, but they redeemed themselves.

Concert Grade: B

Taylor Swift with opener Ed Sheeran at Gillette Stadium Foxboro Massachusetts July 2013

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This marked the third time I’ve seen Taylor Swift play at a sold out Gillette Stadium. It’s pretty difficult for me to be unbiased about her because I absolutely adore her. It’s also hard for me to not compare this show to when I saw her on the Speak Now Tour because the girl literally sang, danced, and gazebo’d over the stadium in the pouring rain. That’s hard to beat. TSwift certainly gave it the ole college try, and managed to dazzle me by having a superior opener in Ed Sheeran. His vocals, covers, and wizardry with a looping pedal were phenomenal. I’m looking forward to seeing him again when he ventures out as a headliner. Taylor played all of my favorites, and I loved that she included a secret song in the #9 spot of her set list – meaning it changed every show to whatever she wanted it to be. On the car ride to the stadium I told my brother that I was hoping for “Tim McGraw” or “Fearless” as the secret song, and when she uttered, “There’s something ’bout the way the street looks when it’s just rained…” I started screaming like a lunatic. Other highlights included Carly Simon coming out to duet on “You’re So Vein” and Taylor waltzing around the audience to one of my all time favorites: “Sparks Fly”. 

Concert Grade: A-

Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen & Thomas Rhett at Fenway Park Boston Massachusetts July 2013

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Here’s the situation: my lease on my apartment was up on July 31st. During a mid-July packing extravaganza with my brother in our sweaty, un-air conditioned apartment, I jokingly asked, “wanna see if we can score some last minute tix to the Jason Aldean concert?” My brother, who is usually the cheapskate in our sibling duo, said, “sure, we deserve it!” So, on a muggy, overcast day in July, Brad and I bought tickets directly behind first base at Fenway Park, and picked them up in a restaurant 45 minutes prior to the show. I want to clarify for everyone that this wasn’t really a Jason Aldean concert (although he was the headliner). This was a country festival. Miranda Lambert easily could’ve been the headliner, and her set list certainly showcased that, and Jake Owen was absolutely stellar (unfortunately we missed Thomas Rhett’s set). Imagine sitting in America’s best ballpark (in my humble opinion), and hearing about 25 number one hits from country radio in one concert. It was absurd. The crowd was rowdy, but they were some of the best people I’ve ever done a sing-along with. While I love Jason Aldean, I was underwhelmed by his set – it wasn’t that long, and he didn’t play enough of his new album (something I’ve never complained about before because it’s usually the opposite – not enough oldies). I think Miranda played just as many songs, and she was more interactive with the crowd. Brad complained that Miranda was “too twangy” and that it made her difficult to understand, but I knew her songs well enough that I didn’t even notice it. The highlights of the night were “Night Train”, “Gunpowder & Lead” and “Anywhere With You”.

Concert Grade: A-

Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake at Fenway Park Boston, Massachusetts August 2013

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I don’t think I need to say a lot about this concert because it was legendary, and we all know it. The highlight for me was that there wasn’t one defined headliner – they took turns performing mini-sets of songs. Moment I needed to be fanned from fainting number one:: when Justin sang “New York, New York” Sinatra-style with just a spotlight on him, and it led into Hov belting out “Empire State of Mind”. Moment number two: when Justin covered Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” which led into “Izzo”. They closed the show with “Forever Young” together, and managed to get the entire audience in Fenway Park on their feet, waving their cell phones in the air. It was majestic.

Concert Grade: A

 

 

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