Just the other day I was making the seemingly endless hike from Kissam to Blair when I put my iPod on shuffle. Yes, times were desperate. My battery was running low and Spotify refused to connect, so I was listening to music that I had actually purchased off iTunes (talk about a throwback.) A U2 song came on and I suddenly realized that the lyrics were speaking to my very soul. You see, second semester senior year is not easy. Whether or not you know what you’re doing after graduation (guess which category I fall in), it’s a confusing and emotional time. But don’t worry, Bono, The Edge and the two other guys are here to empathize with you. The following playlist is a bunch of U2 songs that are a reflection of the struggles of being a second semester senior. Hopefully, this will help motivate you to power through the next month – or at least entertain you as you procrastinate until the bitter end.
Quilt, the band, not the blanket, released their third studio album Plaza last month. Along with their new album, this quirky trio released a commentary album, which you can find on Spotify. Bandmembers Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler and John Andrews talk about the meaning/influences of each song on Plaza, giving a rare insight into their creative processes. So far, “Roller” is my favorite track of the album. The music video (see above), like Quilt’s music, is both fascinating and puzzling.
On Sunday March 13th, Ra Ra Riot graced Nashville with an lively performance at Exit/In. The crowd cheered the band into a two song encore, causing the show to end well after midnight. I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had on a Sunday night in quite a while. Opening for the band was PWR BTTM, a queer punk duo (their words, not mine) and Sun Club, a psychedelic indie band which describes themselves as “a group of buddies playing happy music.” Both were great, but I particularly enjoyed PWR BTTM (I suggest you look up their single “I Wanna Boi.”)
As you may know, last Friday, Ron Pope & The Nighthawks played at Mercy Lounge. But you may not know that Ron Pope brought with him Truett, an up-and-coming blues-rock artist and a fellow Georgia native. I had the opportunity to interview Truett the morning of the Nashville show. He told me about how he and Ron go way back, first meeting when he was practically still a kid. Truett’s sister made the introduction, because she and Pope went to same high school. Recently, Truett signed to Brooklyn Basement Records, the label Pope owns with his wife.
The creative lyricism of Tom Petty was thrust upon me at a young age. My mother used to sing “Free Fallin” as she reminisced about living in California in the 80s. When I was about 15, I imported all eight CDs of the complete Tom Petty collection onto my iPod. But, not all Tom Petty albums were created equal. For me, Full Moon Fever takes the cake. Released in 1989, Full Moon Fever was Tom Petty’s first official solo album – he previously performed with a band as “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.” This album is about love, break-ups, loneliness and achieving international stardom. Most of these we can all relate to. The point is, no matter where you are in your personal life, Tom Petty’s got you covered.
1. Free Fallin’
This is the #1 song to play at max volume while you’re driving down a deserted highway. It arouses feelings of nostalgia and the lyrics are perfect for a sloppy sing-along. Watch out for the awesome guitar solo at 3:19.
Heads up, the John Mayer version sucks. This is a prime example of a cover that should never have been attempted. Stick to the original.
“All the vampires walkin’ through the valley, move west down Ventura Blvd. And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows and the good girls are home with broken hearts”
Allow me to introduce you to The Oh Hellos. Siblings Tyler and Maggie Heath (center) formed a folk rock duo in 2011 and have since released three albums. Today, as you can see, they are supported by an army of musicians. The Oh Hellos are an independent band, meaning they are self-funded and do not belong to a record label.
Before you say “oh no, not another indie folk band,” hold your judgment and watch their NPR Tiny Desk Concert from December.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Before we all stuff ourselves in the spirit of celebration, here’s a belated concert review/interview.
Hibou & Metric – 11/18 – Marathon Music Works
When’s the last time you went to a concert and the music started ON TIME? That’s what happened last week when Hibou opened for Metric at Marathon Music Works. I wandered in around 8:02 thinking I was early but the band had already begun. I don’t know about you all, but waiting for a concert to begin is my personal hell. Thank you, Hibou, for your punctuality; I promise the audience appreciates it. Hibou played a solid set of songs from their debut album (also called Hibou). I definitely recommend “Above Us” and “Shutter Song”. The group certainly has a lot of energy. Michel, in particular, likes to spin around in circles with his guitar. Above all, they seemed to really enjoy themselves, which I think is the most important thing. After their set, I walked over to the singer and arranged an impromptu interview with the band.
At just 19, Julien Baker exudes a maturity beyond her years. This singer-songwriter has created a unique debut album, with tracks that are not quite sad nor joyful but something in between – accurately portraying the ups and downs of life itself. Above all else, Sprained Ankle is raw. The album is essentially nothing more Baker and her guitar. This simplicity is refreshing; it allows each lyric and tremor of Baker’s voice to be heard. Her musical style can be described as a quiet introspection scattered with bursts of emotion. These songs are so revealing, so confessional, that listening feels almost like an intrusion. It’s as if the lyrics have come straight out of private diary.
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about France. For those of you who do not know, I studied abroad there last year, so naturally I adore all things French. Though I am a bit biased, I believe the French music scene is undervalued outside of Europe. While everyone has heard of Edith Piaf, few Americans know any modern French artists. It’s true that most of them do not get a lot of air time in the U.S., so I thought I would show you all a few of my favorites.
Without further ado, here’s a list of French songs you need to listen to right away:
Tous Les Mêmes – Stromae
Stromae is not actually French; he is Belgian. However, he is really popular artist in France and Europe in general. No francophone artist list would be complete without him. On a personal note, I cannot emphasize how much I love his music. His album Racine Carrée (translation: Square Root) is one of my favorite albums ever. Stromae’s songs are easy to dance to, yet his lyrics are quite serious. Each song tackles a social issue. Tous Les Mêmes, for example, describes the expectations of men and women regarding relationships. One lyric “les hommes sont tous les mêmes” translates to “men are all the same”. This is an especially cool video because Stromae plays both a man and woman. How many American rappers have you seen dress in drag?
Anyone who knows me well is aware of my reverence for Eddie Vedder. The above picture has been the focal point of my dorm room decor since my sophomore year. More often than not, people who visit my room ask me “who is that dude holding the ukulele?” Even worse, some of them have never heard of Eddie Vedder and I am forced to condense his brilliance to a mere sentence or two. If you are unfamiliar with Eddie Vedder and still want to be my friend, this post is for you.
Here are 10 reasons you should love Eddie as much as I do:
- Lead singer/guitarist of Pearl Jam since 1990. A quarter of a century later and Pearl Jam is still performing and producing great music. Check out this awesome footage of them playing at the Pinkpop festival in the Netherlands back in 1992
(note the extreme 90s hair).
Nashville-based indie band Bully is bringing back grunge and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
It’s so so so refreshing to have a band that kicks it old school. Do you see the irony there? Don’t get me wrong, I love the new, alternative electro-genres of alt-J, Glass Animals, Purity Ring and many others. But, I’m getting a little tired of experimental music. All you really need in this world is an angry singer and a killer guitarist, amirite? We are in the era of live mixing and technobeats. Garage bands, who have nothing but instruments and mics, are what this generation needs. Without being derivative, Bully is reinstating this old style of music (yes, 1990 was 25 years ago so I can call it old). They take their personal stories and express them with the frustration and rebellion of the 90s grunge era.
If you’re not sure what I mean, check out this in studio:
On Monday evening, City Winery Nashville was graced with the presence of Ben Sollee and Mother Falcon, who performed the second show of their collaborative tour The Fall Migration. Ben Sollee, cellist, singer, composer extraordinaire, took the stage with a “super-band” of 14 (ish) musicians: himself, drummer Jordan Ellis, and the members of Austin-based orchestral band Mother Falcon. Together, they opened the show with “Something, Somewhere, Sometime” a track off Sollee’s 2010 album Dear Companion. In addition to being a talented musician, Sollee is a passionate environmentalist. The aforementioned album, Dear Companion, is entirely dedicated to the problem of Mountaintop Removal coal mining.
Ben Sollee and Mother Falcon performed their 90 minute set with a conversational fluidity. It seemed as if these acts had been playing together for years; it was incredible how such a large group of musicians could be so perfectly in sync. The “super band” lived up to the name, producing a full sound which filled the cavernous room.
Though a large portion of the show had both acts on stage, each took their turn in spotlight. A highlight was when Sollee played a few songs solo, accompanied by a drummer using a wooden box as an instrument. Even on a seemingly empty stage, Ben Sollee is a captivating performer – his charismatic personality translates to his music. He kept the crowd engaged by telling stories between songs. From following a redhead to California to crashing a karaoke bar with his bandmates, he created a personal connection with his audience. The crowd even convinced Sollee to reenact the night in the karaoke bar by playing their reggae cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry”.
This Thursday, October 8th, you have the opportunity to see an incredible live performance. Glass Animals will be playing at Marathon Music Works. I can assure you this is a show you don’t want to miss.
I saw Glass Animals this summer, back home in DC at the 9:30 club. It was the night before my 21st birthday and I look back fondly, knowing that was the last time I ever had to wear unsightly X-es on the back of my hands. Glass Animals really brought their A-game that night. I often use the term “high-energy” to describe exciting concerts, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it. This British band relies heavily on synthesizers, creating a dream-like atmosphere at their shows. Dave Bayley, the lead singer, is the stand-out member of the group. He gets so into the music, the intensity and passion are just infectious.
If you haven’t heard of Grace Potter, you must be living under a rock. This Vermont native has been the frontwoman of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals since 2002. Together they’ve released four successful studio albums, most recently The Lion The Beast The Beat (2012). Potter is particularly praised for her powerhouse vocals and high-energy performances (which I experienced myself two summers ago – it was a blast).
Grace Potter is also recognized for her diverse solo projects. Disney fans may know her from “Something That I Want”, the song from the closing credits of Tangled. She has collaborated with big name country singers such as Kenny Chesney, rock legends like The Rolling Stones and Grammy award-winning producer T Bone Burnett. In addition to singing, Potter plays guitar, piano, keyboards, organ and the tambourine. Thirteen years in the music business and this multi-instrumentalist shows no signs of slowing down.
*Check out this video of “Empty Heart” (posted just last August)