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Wise Up Ghost (Elvis Costello and the Roots)

In albums, current listenings on September 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Elvis Costello and the Roots - Wise Up Ghost

Well damn, this is a sexy and exploratory hip-hop album from two music legends in their own rights.

I don’t actually know that much about Elvis Costello’s music, although I recently listen to This Year’s Model and enjoyed it. What I do know is that Elvis Costello is a sonically unique artist who has always ridden the edge of rock and pop music. His work seems to be just outside of any genre, but accessible and interesting to listen to. And then let’s talk about the Roots. Aside from being the coolest late night house band ever (for Mr. Jimmy Fallon), the Roots have their own epic success with hip hop tracks.

The collaboration between Costello and the Roots is sassy and funky. What keeps popping into my head is seemingly impossible visions of this album actually being non-stop creations of paint and canvas on a wall. It’s refined and unique. It’s intentional but exploratory. To me, it literally sounds like two artists coming together and collaborating on twelve pieces of art that make up one larger piece, but for some reason as I’ve listened to this album, what I really see happening behind all this music is painting. Perhaps it’s the depth and diversity of sounds in every track. There’s elements that are small and big – there’s moments of quiet sentiment and moments of sassy-funk. Some tracks start with a bold hip hop beat, and others start with short string movements.

What’s impressive is the ease with which Elvis Costello and the Roots combined their sounds. They are incredibly complimentary. Both artists have a sense of each other that allows for a smooth sound that is completely natural and completely enthralling to listen to.

Tracks to look out for on this album are “Refuse to Be Saved”, “Tripwire”, “(She Might Be A) Grenade” and “Viceroy’s Row”. Oh no, wait…sorry…the entire album is amazing.

You should absolutely listen to this album if you’re at all interested in exploring new sound collaborations. This will pique your interest and make you a happy music adventurer.

Appoet.org

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on September 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Friends and followers.

I am pleased to announce that earphone adventures has partnered with Appoet.org for a special guest post. We’ve released an Autumn 2013 playlist on the Appoet website, chocked full of new music from every inch of the music world.

To keep this short and sweet, check out Chicago-based Appoet.org and surf on over to the earphone adventures guest post.

Movin Slowly (Figaro)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on September 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

The trio calling themselves Figaro have released this cool and cleanly produced track, “Movin Slowly” and within the first few minutes of the tune, I knew it had something a little special to it. It’s got enough of an edge to have a great rock sound that references classic rock guitar riffs. But again, that’s all balanced with the clean production, a la Vampire Weekend.

Very cool sound, and definitely worth a listen. You can also download the track from their Soundcloud account!

Warm Water and Waiting Game (Banks)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on September 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

These quietly demanding tracks have a beautiful ease with underlying intensity. Her name is BANKS. This Los Angeles singer sets her sweet vocals over the smooth electronic sound, the first track, “Warm Water”, is produced by Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. The sound is simple and precise. It’s fantastic.  And with her newest release, “Waiting Game”, Banks has a different intensity, like an explosive, waiting to go off.

You need to watch this girl, because mark my words, she will be everywhere in the next two years.

Check out these incredible videos and let me know whether or not you agree!

Riptide (Vance Joy)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on September 6, 2013 at 9:25 am

The first time I heard this song was about a month ago, when it was part of the April 2013 Birp! release. I gave it three stars out of five on my iTunes. But when I heard it again today, it sounded like an old, familiar tune that struck a different chord than it did one month ago. So I changed that three star rating to a four star rating. And now, I’m wondering…

…did any of you have a chance to see Vance Joy at The Drake Hotel in Toronto last night? And if so, how was it?

Check this out. You’ll love it.

Paradise Valley (John Mayer)

In albums, current listenings on August 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

john-mayer-paradise-valley

When Born and Raised was released, I was unsure about the authenticity of John Mayer’s new sound until I learned of the involvement of Nash and Crosby, which seemed to bring understanding to his new sound. With Paradise Valley, Mayer has once again matured as a musician into a new phase of his depth and individuality. The folksy, country sound infused in Paradise Valley is bursting with playful nostalgia that makes this album incredible to listen to. But its not a surprise – every album of Mayer’s has landmarked his giant steps in musical evolution.

“Wildfire” starts the album, and I love it – the initial guitar riff echoes the Summer breeze of a lighter sense of ease in Mayer’s attitute. Post throat-surgery, and after a few years of widespread public criticism, it seems that the album is like a 3 month vacation in his own Paradise Valley, that the album is titled after – “cause a little bit of Summer’s what the whole year’s all about”.

Complete with that Summer is a little bit of Mayer’s public love-life in the last few years. Even though it sounds innocent enough, “Paper Doll” pastes light-heartedness all over the track…until he says “you’re like 22 girls in one”. And then you realize that this might just be a little jab right back at Taylor Swift, in response to her song, “Dear John”.

But Mayer keeps the album light with a great blues, country tune to blow into – “Call Me the Breeze” has a classic blues chord progression with a lighter country sound that keeps the momentum moving forward. It’s like he layered a song from Continuum overtop of a song from Born and Raised. But I suppose that’s what this entire album sounds like.

I was shocked to hear Katy Perry on “Who You Love”, mostly because I didn’t think that Mayer would record with Perry at any time because of their obvious differences in musical style. Katy pulls her weight – in fact she gained some credibility in my eyes. It’s a beautiful duet and a classic John Mayer love song.

Frank Ocean switches up the sound and lyrics of “Wildfire” completely on a second rendition of the track that sounds like it could’ve been recorded around a bon fire – a beautiful, one and a half minute poem of admiration.

The next two tracks pull on strong country, Western-style elements before finishing with “On the Way Home”, a track that brings the album to the end of Summer in this Paradise Valley, which could be taken as a metaphor for Mayer’s time away from live performance and music. As he says in the final lines of the album, “Hide yourself out like you know that I did, / And if you might find that your running is done, / A little bit of Heaven never hurt no one”.

This is a fantastic and beautiful album from John Mayer, reminiscent of Neil Young, which he might’ve even reference with the title of the last track – also the title of a Neil Young tune.

Regardless, you should absolutely check this album out. You’ll enjoy it.

The Civil Wars (The Civil Wars)

In albums, current listenings on August 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm

thecivilwars

After their debut album, Barton Hollow, the Civil Wars have released another record with beautifully sung stories and their characteristic southern, country-folk. On their second full length album, titled The Civil Wars, this singer-songwriter duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White have a darker sound, with the tone set by “The One That Got Away”. I noticed a completely different undertone on this album and I wasn’t sure why until I started reading more about what The Civil Wars have been up to lately. Much to my dismay (and I’m sure everyone else’s, including Williams’ and White’s, to a certain degree), they’ve had some problems and might be on a hiatus as a band. Based on the interviews I’ve seen with Williams and what I know about their music so far, I think it’s fair to say that this album is a reflection of their turmoil as a duo, perhaps elaborated into stories, but with elements of truth, nonetheless. And that’s what makes this album captivating, yet hard to listen to.

The cover image of black smoke on a white sky, full of intricate swirls and curved lines, evokes that same feelings of unease. Yet the clarity of the image creates introspectiveness amongst the turmoil. Just like the cover image suggests, there is some serious fire beneath the magic of The Civil Wars. As a duo, they’re living out their name.

“I wanna leave you, I wanna lose us, I wanna give up, but I won’t”. That’s some intense stuff. And these are the lyrics that we are familiar with because of their clarity of writing from Barton Hollow, but given the context within which the album is being released, these lines of poetry grab your attention and leave you anticipating what’s going to be said next.

To me, the album is lacking the same start-to-finish momentum that was found on Barton Hollow, but then again, I should stop comparing. This is a unique album, created in a unique place, from unique emotional situations. And I think what needs to be applauded is the commitment, bravery, determination, and honesty that it would have taken Williams and White to complete this album through whatever their own struggles have been, personally and as a duo. After all, their music has always been deeply emotional, in every regard. With that expression will come turmoil, and as Williams says, it will be possible to mend some of their issues, “if they both choose to do that”.

I love the sound of The Civil Wars. Their music is distinct and authentic. Their talents are complimentary, and their writing is able to transport you into twelve different stories in a single record. This album is another example of how special they are, and whatever they choose for their musical future, I wish them all the best as they muddle through what must be a challenging situation.

Yeezus (Kanye West)

In albums, current listenings on August 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Kanye-Yeezus

Once again, Kanye impresses and releases a supremely-produced album that positions himself far-out from any other artists – and I mean that both in terms of the music and his ego.

Here’s my thing, before I even start writing about this album. I love Kanye’s music. I detest Kanye. And I’m sorry, I can’t help but feel like I need to say that everytime I comment on his music. I don’t know the guy, I have no clue what he’s actually like, but he has a serious ego complex. The worst part is that his talents justify ego….but I don’t really think that it’s actually ever justified. Pardon the contradiction.

Yeezus is completely distinguished from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. While MBDTF was meticulously produced and super intentional with its electronics, it had a smoother feeling to the overall sound. Yeezus doesn’t even try to hide the undertones of angst, anger, and this unbelievable momentum of POWER. While both albums have these undertones, Yeezus takes you out of your current mindset by immediately impregnating you with acid synths and razor blade electronics that set the tone of the album. What amazes me about albums like this, and in particular with Kanye’s albums, is that they could so easily sound like chaos…but every track on Yeezus is like Kanye’s own twisted symphony – a mixed manifestation of what I see as the contrast between his driven artistry and his power-focused personal intentions. (Again, what do I know, really, about his personal life?)

“On Sight” starts with a track that brings you into Kanye’s world and is perfectly trimmed to 2 minutes and 37 seconds, exactly at the point you are hoping for a break from the sharp electronics. And it’s almost like you get a split second to breath, before moving onto “Black Skinhead”.

West always acknowledges his struggles with perceptions of him, and basically tells everyone to fuck off. As he says in “Black Skinhead”, “I’m aware I’m a wolf / soon as the moon hit / I’m aware I’m a King”.   He’s a ferocious hip hop King and you don’t want to cross him (look out, Taylor Swift)…

I feel like it wouldn’t be a Kanye West album without a track like “I Am a God”. Kanye is the King of samples, and this is the first track on the album that I notice it in. After the intro, he boldly recites “I Am a God”. And when he “talks to Jesus”, the big man says right back “What’s up Yeezus?”. God-complex – unabashedly so. How does he get away with this stuff?

Now look, the entire album continues with intensity, but there is such precision in the production that you can’t help but be completely wrapped up in what you’re listening to. Kanye has an incredible ability to create music that transports you to his (beautiful dark twisted) world. He is a master at creating sounds that are unassuming, unexpected, yet perfectly positioned to make you listen carefully and literally feel the emotion in your body. His music comes alive from the speakers of your computer, your record player, your headphones….whatever…and it transports you to the world of Yeezus. But to send you off, Kanye adds a little soul to the end of the album. Its almost like a way to ease you back into real life.

Check out Yeezus, you won’t be disappointed. And I want to hear your thoughts! How does this compare to Kanye’s previous albums?

In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery (Capital Cities)

In albums, current listenings on June 7, 2013 at 12:46 am

Capital Cities - In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery

Two years after I posted “Safe and Sound“, the electro-dance-pop-joy single by Capital Cities, they’ve hit the number one charts for Modern Pop and are selling out shows on their North American tour, including stops at Bonnaroo and Toronto’s Edgefest 2013.

And now their debut album, In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery, is out and I’m listening to it now. And clearly, I love it. These two dudes have managed to recreate the easy-breezy rock your socks off, Summer-synth sounds on every track of this album. Kick ass, right? From the main track we all know and love (aka “Safe and Sound”), the album starts with a bang. Everytime I hear this track I feel like I am going home, because of some great memories associated with it over the last two years. And then we run right into the light and airy “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast”, which is slightly faster but has less of an intensity. Its got shorter syncopations in the synths and an echoing, ringing high end chime or synth that makes this track feel like there’s a little more sunshine in the top end…mixed with the breeze you might feel if you were driving in a classic red convertible with the top down, along the West Coast (I picture a tall and imposing rock face on one side of the road, and a sharp drop off to ocean on the other).

What’s really cool about the album is that there is a sense of familiarity to it, partially due to the fact that they managed to keep their electro-dance-pop sound, as I mentioned before. Part of that is also because I know a few of the tracks, like “Kangaroo Court“.

The album has got enough dance to it that you won’t mind busting a move, but you can also rock out to this Summer album in the background while you’re bbq’ing some mixed veg and enjoying a Mill Street brew. In other words, its kind of like the perfect Summer album.

If you haven’t been following Capital Cities since I originally posted “Safe and Sound”, then shame on you! Just joking, but now is the time to get on board. This album might just be my favourite Summer album for 2013…at least that’s how it’s shaping up right now!

So check it out, support these two on iTunes and check out their shows if you can! I’m going to see if I can get to Edgefest. You can catch Capital Cities on Conan tonight for their debut TV performance, and in the meantime, enjoy their tunes and this live video.

27 Songs for Spring 2013

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on May 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm

It’s Spring. Everybody is seeking out new music. I always am! So here’s a list of 27 songs that you might love for Spring this year, if you haven’t heard them yet. And if you have, then great. Its an eclectic mix but I think you’ll love it. Highest rated are last, lowest rated are first!

27. Shine (Wild Belle)

26. Riptide (Vance Joy)

25. Diane Young (Vampire Weekend)

24. Love in 100MB (Sand Tiger)

23. Childhood’s End (Majical Cloudz)

22. Every Night (Lane 8)

21. On Your Own (Fryars)

20. Big Things (Fiction)

19. Float (The Ecstatics)

18. You Can’t Be My Girl (Darwin Deez)

17. Brown Bear, Brown Bear (Bronze Thesaurus)

16. Loh Dalum Bay (Baobab)

15. Close (Atu)

14. Light & Love (Teen Daze)

13. I’m Not Through (OK Go)

12. Made To Stray (Mount Kimbie)

11. Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me (London Grammar)

10. Cut To Black (Lemaitre)

9. Lady, You Shot Me (Har Mar Superstar)

8. Say When (Generationals)

7. If You Didn’t See Me (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.)

6. My Orbit (Coma)

5. Holding On (Classixx)

4. Little Numbers (Boy)

3. Ocean’s Deep (Born Ruffians)

2. Treehome95 (Tyler, The Creator)

1. Hard on Me (Robby Hunter Band)

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