A Crazy-Loud Rock Record

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“11 bullshit-free rock songs about getting past the bullshit in your life”

Being one of the biggest Andy Hull fans out there, you better bet I’m pretty excited about today.

If you’re not exactly sure who Manchester Orchestra is, you might want to take a second to get comfortable because you might end up falling in love and then subsequently facing heartbreak. Bear with me.

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Five Recently Discovered Semi-Recent Artists

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I’ve come across a lot of new music through a few friends of mine. “New” of course is quite relative, since for the most part the songs I’ve discovered were released months or years ago. The genres vary greatly, artists have little in common, but all give off excellent vibes and are all tunes that I would highly recommend to others. Without further ado, here are the top five artists I’ve been enjoying the past couple weeks.

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Keeping Up With the Joneses

http://www.bhmpics.com/view-norah_jones-wide.html
http://www.bhmpics.com/view-norah_jones-wide.html

On this day in 1979, one of America’s most beloved singer-songwriters was born. Through her down-to-earth voice and introspective lyricism, Norah Jones has been a powerhouse in the music industry since her multi-platinum debut album, Come Away With Me, was released in 2002. Her nine Grammys demonstrate how Norah Jones has been able to create a name for herself.  However, this name is not the one she was born with. Her birth name is reflective of a very musical genealogy, but probably not from a source that would be your first guess. Or your second.

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Nashville’s New Country


Many of you have probably seen this popular video posted by Grady Smith reminding us how mainstream and non unique country music was in 2013. What most of you probably don’t know is why this video exists. This video was actually made in response to the negative comments on his top 10 country album list that readers penned “not mainstream enough.” I don’t think his goal was to bash mainstream country music, but to open listeners eyes to songs they won’t hear every 5 minutes when stuck in Nashville traffic at rush hour. I have always loved some of the lesser known, genuine, country crossover artists, but didn’t realize how big of a genre they were becoming until my dad pointed out a Reddit post to me last week. Someone started dissing country music and one clever Reddit user retaliated with a Spotify playlist full of the best country songs he could find that aren’t about girls, trucks and beer. This playlist, featured below, includes some of my favorite new artists in Nashville that really have the potential to change country and triple A radio.

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5 Famous Songs That Are Actually Covers

Most people are familiar that Johnny Cash’s famous “Hurt” is actually a Nine Inch Nails song, that Led Zeppelin took much of their catalog from early blues recording, or that all of the various recordings of “Hallelujah” owe themselves to Leonard Cohen’s original.  But what about those song’s that we associate with one artist entirely when they are actually the creative genesis of another artist entirely?  These five songs fall in that category; that a listen to the original versions.

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Rap for a Reason: A Conversation with Shadower

Shadower is a Nashville-based rapper who released his single "Bully Me" last Tuesday.  All proceeds from the single will go to charity.
Shadower is a Nashville-based hip-hop artist who released his single “Bully Me” last Tuesday. All proceeds from the single will go to charity.

It’s safe to say that regardless of whether or not you think Kendrick Lamar got robbed at the Grammys, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis accounted for a significant shift in the scope of issues dealt with in mainstream rap music.  Into a culture dominated by the elegant hedonism of Kanye West and Jay-Z was infused a dose of reality–”fifty dollars for a t-shirt” (or, as famously offered by Yeezy, $120) is beyond the fiscal considerations of most Americans and shouldn’t be a standard to which ordinary folks are held.  The challenges that The Heist issued to the industry’s status quo opened up lines of dialogue that had been confined to the independent outskirts for much of the past decade, particularly regarding the materialistic, misogynistic, and heteronormative culture that has dominated mainstream rap.

In this rapidly changing paradigm, any social issue can be captured and crystallized into a song with the potential to move millions of affected listeners and inspire the unaffected to take corrective action.  With his new single “Bully Me,” Nashville hip-hop artist Shadower attempts to take the serious issue of childhood and adolescent bullying and preach empathy as the cure.

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Music and Memories

“Taxman” always makes me think of this. (Photo courtesy of Zachary Willis)

I’ve read over and over again that olfaction is the strongest sense at evoking memories. I think it has to do with the amygdala or something — hey, I’m not a neuroscience major. There are certain smells that bring up memories for me, some specific and some general; the smell of pine and sugar cookies makes me think of Christmas; the smell of “Midnight Pomegranate” hand soap, weirdly enough, makes me think of playing Call of Duty 4 back in 8th grade. Growing up in the plains of Northern Indiana, I always looked forward to the first day of summer — not June 21, but rather some Saturday in late April or May when I’d wake up, open the window, and smell the first faint, sweet, loamy scent of soil carried across the fields on the constant breeze. Every once in a while I’ll catch a brief whiff of it in Nashville and it still makes me excited.

Despite all this, one sense evokes more memories than scent for me: hearing. Specifically, hearing music; nothing else so vividly conjures up the events of my life as it does. [Read more...]

8 (+1) MORE Songs That Are Hauntingly Beautiful

Photo courtesy of kicswila.com
Photo courtesy of kicswila.com

So, my friend Lucas did a post on this same subject a while ago; I liked the idea so much, I wanted to create my own spin on the subject of hauntingly beautiful music. Many sources define “haunting” as “remaining in the consciousness” or “not quickly forgotten;” however, the significance of this term surpasses its somewhat shallow definition. Music that is haunting doesn’t just remain in the consciousness for a long time, it transforms it. The moment this music enters our ears, it lifts us to a higher plane of existence. We begin to contemplate, as The Shins put it in one of the songs I will reference, “the bitter mechanics of life.” We forget how and why we exist. The only thing that matters, in that moment, is the music that is filling us, and we are forever changed by it.

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