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Let You Sleep Tonight (Young Empires)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on April 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

I was cruising my friend Laura’s blog last week and saw that she posted a song by Young Empires, that kick ass Canadian band that I posted about mid-January. Do you remember “Enter Through The Sun“? That song makes me move. BIG TIME.

“Let You Sleep Tonight” is the last track on their recently released EP, Wake All My Youth, which is available on iTunes, by the by. Once again, its got a great beat with some ethereal elements that always make me feel good. So to me, this band just makes me feel good, and I think that’s the best. That’s what the self-named “haute-rock” band wants, right?

If you like this track, I would totally encourage you to support this band. I’ve been listening to some tracks that I downloaded from birp.fm and also just by streaming them online, but I last week I went on iTunes and bought their EP myself…because its so great! And don’t you want to support small bands? Isn’t it the best? These guys deserve it…

For a little preview, take a listen to their EP here…

Stand Up (Mike Tompkins)

In current listenings, tracks to listen to on March 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Many of you have heard about the Bully movie, a documentary which goes hand-in-hand with a major anti-bullying movement that is growing worldwide. This film is particularly influenced by bullying in the United States, where the film was created. It was filmed over one school year and follows the stories of five youths. The MPAA originally chose to give this film an R-rating, preventing anyone under 18 from seeing this film. Obviously, this was a problem, considering that the film is a great opportunity to empower youth and foster conversation and actions to prevent bullying. After a lot of resistance, the MPAA changed the rating of the film to “Unrated”, which leaves the decision to play the movie up to the theatres. This is clearly better than an R rating, but it still means that many people won’t have an opportunity to see the film.

Many of you may have also seen some of the viral videos from Mike Tompkins, who is a beat-boxing, self-producing artist. Mike and I went to high school together, and although we haven’t kept in touch, I have been following his videos and watching his success. He is an incredibly talented guy and always stood out in our high school years as being a unique and creative thinker with exciting ideas.

Today, Mike released a self-written and self-produced song and video on YouTube called “Stand Up“. It is the official music video for the Bully movie and its inspiring to see him use his talents in such a great way. His single is available for purchase on iTunes, and you can out more of his videos on YouTube.

Please visit The Bully Project to find out more information about the film and the movement.

Allen Stone’s self-titled debut album

In albums, current listenings on March 1, 2012 at 10:44 pm


Allen Stone’s self-titled, self-released album from October 2011 is beautifully soulful and expressive. Only 24 years old, Stone has released three albums, including this one, and isn’t even sign to a record label. Allen Stone hit the R&B/Soul charts on iTunes with a bang, topping off at number 2 and subsequently bringing him exposure by major media outlets such as MTV, NPR, CNN, and The New York Times.

Track by track, Allen Stone’s third album has a mix of deep passion and a sense of humour and fun that adds excitement to the listening experience. The first track on the album, “Sleep”, is a great example of this, which has great spoken-word banter back and forth with his band of musicians. Most notable on this album is Stone’s smooth and pitch-perfect vocals, which sound effortless. Combine his groovy vocal talents with the gospel-style rock organs and the rest of his backup, and you have a sound that is reminiscent of James Morrison, Jamie Lidell, and even Stevie Wonder, while remaining unique and distinct.

His lyrics tell stories ranging from sleep problems in the first track, to just plain celebrating life in “Celebrate Tonight”, to the sexy-groovy tune, “Your Eyes”, where Stone and his instruments croon about a not-so-good relationship with problems that seem to become irrelevant when he looks into his lover’s eyes. And the instrumentation on the album is just as diverse as his lyrical abilities. Stone starts the album off with a punchy, poppy gospel-esque tune (“Sleep”), transitions into a slower groovier sound with a bit of dirty bass on “What I’ve Seen”, and then picks it up again with some “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”-era influences on “Say So”.

A friend of mine recommended this album to me, and it was a pleasant surprise. If you want to have a listen before you buy, check out Allen Stone’s website for a live-stream version. And if you dig it, pick up a copy on iTunes and support this unsigned artist (its only $5.99)!

 

Article first published as Music Review: Allen Stone – Allen Stone on Blogcritics.

#138 – Rejuvenation (The Meters)

In 150-125, Top 150 on May 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Oh yeah, this groovy album by The Meters makes me feel gooood. I’m just saying!

I thought I knew The Meters from somewhere, but had no idea where. When I got their album into my iTunes I realized that one of their tunes, ‘Liver Splash’, was on Jack Johnson’s Thicker Than Water soundtrack, and so I already knew The Meters! Incroiable!

So damn, this album has got some groovy tunes on it.

Rejuvenation Album Art (July 1974)

Track Listing

  1. People Say
  2. Love Is for Me
  3. Just Kissed My Baby
  4. What’cha Say
  5. Jungle Man
  6. Hey Pocky A-Way
  7. It Ain’t No Use
  8. Loving You Is on My Mind
  9. Africa

The Meters have some serious funk happening on this album. It reminds me of the movie Anchorman, to be honest. Which is hilarious, but a true fact. It’s got some guitar-riffs and heavy, driving riffs on the keys that are typical to a lot of music in the 70s! It screams Ron Burgandy!

The Meters are based in New Orleans, Louisiana, as I’ve read, which explains why there’s also a Nola flair to the syncopated rhythms and subtle, sexy bass guitar. It’s a great combo! And it’s a great album to listen to on a Summer day or when you’re feeling a bit wild and ready for a little bit of lovin’.

The album starts off with a quiet and funky electric guitar before some drums and equally funky bass guitar and keys are added in, building into a layered, driving, funk-combination. There’s also a heavy use of horns on this album, which adds a bit of sass into the entire sound (and again, reminds me of New Orleans). I actually also read that The Meters played some backing for other New Orleans artists, such as Dr. John the Night Tripper. And that makes perfect sense because Dr. John also played with another of artists. Ah, the connections between all this music are starting to make sense, aren’t they? Very cool!

Anyway, this is a fun album and unique to anything I’ve listened to on the list so far. Again, its so wild, because I went from Phil Spector’s Christmas album, to U2’s attempt at re-establishing their musical Greatness, to this radically free-spirited, but musically tight album by The Meters. I love the diversity on this list.

Give The Meters a listen. What do they make you think of?

Barton Hollow (The Civil Wars)

In albums, current listenings on April 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm

If you haven’t heard any of the music from this hauntingly-beautiful duo, then you need to drive yourself to HMV, or click yourself onto the iTunes music store and check them out.

The Civil Wars have only been known by that name for a year and a half. In fact, as I just read on their website, Joy Williams and John Paul White met at a call for country writers. Basically, they were in a room with a bunch of writers who were together trying to come up with a few new singles for a country band. From there, they connected really well (emotionally and musically) and started to write songs together. They aren’t married though! No White Stripes or anything.

Some of you may know their single ‘Poison & Wine’ from Grey’s Anatomy, and some may know their title-single, ‘Barton Hollow’, which has got a rockin’ guitar riff that drives the song with a mix of some seriously sassy vocal harmonies reminiscent of any sort of Alabama, Southern-U.S.A. music you might here. Their album is spectacularly simple: its just Williams, White and a guitar piano (and I guess bits of percussion added in too). Its a fantastic album to listen to, start to finish, because each song is a beautiful but secretive story that’s sung with conviction, passion, and emotional clarity that pours out of your speakers as you listen.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone who appreciates a little Nashville mixed with some really special vocal duets.

Oh, and I should mention: you can download a free live recording from their website, and its their second show ever. The album is Live at Eddie’s Attic, and I’m about to have a listen to it as well!

Enjoy, and special thanks to Alex Lepinski for another great find!

Album Art

Track Listing

  1. 20 years
  2. I’ve Got This Friend
  3. C’est la Mort
  4. To Whom It May Concern
  5. Poison & Wine
  6. My Father’s Father
  7. Barton Hollow
  8. The Violet Hour
  9. Girl With the Red Balloon
  10. Falling
  11. Forget Me Not
  12. Birds of a Feather
  13. I Want You Back (Bonus Track)
  14. Dance Me to the End of Love (Bonus Track)

Beginning

In musings on December 2, 2010 at 1:52 am
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Tim...

Image via Wikipedia

In the past, I’ve been amazed at some of my friends’ knowledge about music. I am a passionate listener, but I couldn’t tell you much about records before the 90s. I don’t know much about the Stones, or Led Zeppelin, or Santana, or Otis Redding, or any of the great musicians from the past 60 years.

Yesterday, I was listening to my iPod and walking to the bus stop, on my way to work, and had an idea. In order to satisfy my own cravings to discover more about the evolution of music from the 50s onwards, I need to listen to the greatest albums of all time, sit with them, enjoy them, whatever…and then record my observations, whatever they end up being. My immediate response was excitement. The inspiration actually came from a few sources.

As many people know, and many people don’t, iTunes does not allow artists to request full album only sales of their music. In other words, they can’t restrict people from buying single tracks. Some musicians boycott iTunes for this reason, saying that their music is created as an album and not as singles. Two days ago, I listened to the new Arcade Fire album (The Suburbs) and was inspired. It struck me that their album had a sound that didn’t seem to sit quite right unless you listened to the record from start to finish. I don’t know what their intentions were, but that’s the way the record came across to me. So between The Suburbs, and being reminded about the idea of a complete album, I decided that for me to get a better understanding of music, I need to listen to as many ‘essential’ albums as possible from start to finish.

I checked online to find that Rolling Stone magazine has a list of the top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time posted on their website. Now, 500 seems insanely daunting. Especially if I want to be able to do a bit of research and have time to sit with each album, if I need, to let it digest. So I’ve decided that I will start at 150 and work my way down to the number 1 greatest album of all time.

I’m excited for this project and don’t want to shape it too much ahead of time. Instead, I want to get started and clarify the process as it happens, answering any questions from myself or others along the way. One of my questions right now is how Rolling Stone came up with this list, so I’ll work on figuring that out.

In the meantime, the first album I’m going to listen to is Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’, released in 1978 and also number 150 on the list of  Greatest Albums of All Time.

Here we go.

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