Thursday, November 12, 2009

T.I. is in jail and someone has to maintain his popularity

Loyal reader(s)/anyone: we have something serious to talk about.

On last week's episode of "Gossip Girl' there was - prepare yourself - a threesome. Not just any threesome; this was a college threesome involving Hilary Duff (who really isn't as innocent as you might think). A bit risque, no?

Actually, no. All that happened is that we saw Duff down some type of alcoholic drink, kiss her boyfriend, kiss her boyfriend's best friend, then said boyfriend and best friend kissed. Big deal. I signed up for the controversial but still realistically awkward fumbling of clothes and a lot of What do I do?'s. Whatever, I'll keep watching.

I digress. What appealed most about this threesome was the song in the background - Anya Marina belting out a stellar cover of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like." Anya's sweet little voice seems a bit too innocent to be crooning the words "late night sex/so wet, so tight," but for some odd reason, it works. I can completely understand why this version was used - it's a little bit sexy and mysterious. If they had used the original, I have the distinct feeling the scene would have been a bit more... graphic.

In addition to "Gossip Girl," Anya is quickly gaining popularity through the loved/hated Twilight franchise. That's right - her song "Satellite Heart" appears on the "New Moon" soundtrack. Based on how crazed 15 year-old-girls are in terms of Twilight, count on people adding her to their list of favorite music. Also, I won't be surprised if she's the catalyst for a bunch of mopey teenagers to pick up guitars and start whispering about guys that dazzle them but break their hearts. You've been warned.

Anya Marina captures what I do like about chick rock. Lisa Loeb doesn't make me want to "Stay," I'm just a bit too young for The Indigo Girls and Jewel confuses me. Anya Marina, though? I'll allow it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If you like magic and music, you'll want to read this

This is a slightly belated report about what wonderful group was featured on what wonderful show, but not to worry - this still puts you way ahead of the game in listening to trendy music.

In last season's finale of "Ugly Betty" (skip to 5:08 for the fun and games), a little song called "40 Day Dream" had a big impact on me. The song, which I imagine could only be some type of miracle creation from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, is a piece of music that could demolish your soul due to its astounding sound. It's easily one of the songs I've been most enthusiastic about in the last year or two.

Led by Alex Ebert - yes, of Ima Robot - it's hard to pin down what the group's sound is. It consists of ten musicians and floats around from genre cloud to genre cloud. Sometimes, in the case of their song "Janglin" it's like Bob Dylan decided to make fun music that I can understand and actually enjoy. Put down your weapon - I mean no offense.

Essentially, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes is a band that produces what some might consider magical music. It's got layers of beautiful instruments, lovely harmonies, and whimsical lyrics. I mean, just read this: "She got jumper cable lips/she got sunset on her breath/I inhaled just a little bit/now I got no fear of death."

Just try to fight me on this. Just try.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A band that makes me want to cry

There is a song on my iTunes that has the ability to crush my soul and break my heart. That song is "To Build a Home" by The Cinematic Orchestra (featuring stellar vocals by Patrick Watson.)

Thursday night, the folks at "Grey's Anatom" were on their game in choosing to use the song "Breathe" by the aforementioned band (in addition to "Gold Guns Girls" by Metric - who are about to get annoyingly popular, I predict). I'll be honest in saying that typically, The Cinematic Orchestra isn't really my style, considering the fact that they're very jazz influenced. However, the most recent studio album, Ma Fleur, is brilliant.

"Breathe" features vocals by Fontella Bass, who is a soul singer. The song moves between subdued and soaring instrumentals, ebbing and flowing with Bass's heartbreaking voice.

Odds are, if you were to hear "To Build a Home," you would probably recognize it from one of the following places: "Criminal Minds," "Grey's Anatomy," "Friday Night Lights," "One Tree Hill" or "Ugly Betty." It's a piece of music that takes a "whatever" scene and makes it feel beautiful.

All music is beautiful in its own rite, but Ma Fleur is an almost perfect example of what makes up a beautiful and inspiring album. Add it to your collection - you won't regret it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Indie of the '60s

Because this blog focuses on up and coming bands, I think it's important to have a well-rounded education in music. Even if all you ever want to listen to is black metal from Finland, it might be a good idea to give a quick listen to some old school R&B or bubblegum pop.

The thing is, I fear that people are forgetting about classic rock. The stuff our parents grew up listening to. The music you'll still find played on the radio because people love it. And with good reason.

Now, get ready to have your brain melted, because there's a movie coming out that might be right up there with "Almost Famous" in terms of wonderful music, amazing acting and the warm, fuzzy feelings it gives you. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is back as a controversial radio DJ (though not as Lester Bangs this time) in the upcoming film "Pirate Radio."

The film features an all-star cast (Tom Sturridge, Bill Nighy, Rhys Darby, January Jones, and so on) and is about a fictitious pirate radio station in 1966 broadcasting dirty, devilish rock 'n' roll music to the UK. Smashing tunes, pop culture references and hilarious dialogue will absolutely ensue.

On to the music. After all, that's what this blog is about, right?

Upon checking out the tracklist, I almost passed out from sheer joy. "These Arms of Mine" by Otis Redding, "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues and "Let's Dance" by David Bowie are just a few of the songs featured. If you're not familiar with these already, get familiar ASAP.

What seems great about this soundtrack is that it doesn't focus on the classic rock that everyone already knows. You won't find Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" or "All You Need is Love" by (duh) The Beatles - they're both too obvious and too easy. "Pirate Radio" features the music people don't bother checking out. The indie bands of the 60s and 70s, if you will.

If you think knowing every word to "Kashmir" and the multiple personas of David Bowie (even though I'll bet you really don't know all of them) is enough, think again. Get the soundtrack, see the movie (no doubt it will be wonderful) and try out something new.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sashay! Shante! (Or something like that)

Typically, I post about artists that are gaining popularity, but for this post I'd like to take a moment to talk about an artist/band that has been around for roughly a decade and deserves more recognition.

On last week's episode of "Castle," trendily titled "Vampire Weekend," the song "Pure Pleasure Seeker" by the band Moloko (props if you get the cult movie/book reference!) was used. Moloko, although inactive for a number of years, was fronted by a lovely Irish woman by the name of Róisín Murphy.

Róisín Murphy is basically the cooler, more original, more indie Lady GaGa. If you require proof, look here and here! It's hard to pin down Murphy's style (be it solo or in Moloko). Oftentimes her music is based on making interesting songs and the use of clever, experimental lyrics. Perfect illustrations of her awesome, though slightly whacked out music are "Ruby Blue" and "Ramalama (Bang Bang)."

This might scare some people off, but Moloko is a little bit ABBA with groovy (for lack of better term) beats and the odd effect of making me want to wear powder blue, rhinestone-encrusted jumpsuits.

I guess what it comes down to is that Moloko and/or Róisín Murphy would appeal to drag queens, divas, fans of overly dramatic theatrical appearance, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, or RuPaul. If any of those listed apply to you, do yourself a favor and get on it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween treats!

A lot of people dislike Snow Patrol, and often not because of the music they make. Typically, it's because they're so popular. You can thank "Grey's Anatomy" for that. So, if you're one of those people, I have a possible replacement for you.

Enter Athlete. Their song "Don't Hold Your Breath" appeared on the most recent episode of "Ugly Betty" (which is such a good show, by the way!). They're from England, and they create those lovely, soaring songs that make you feel like you've stepped into a teen melodrama and something life-changing is happening.

Don't kid yourself, though. They're not exactly a new band. They formed in 1999 and are no strangers to being featured on TV. In fact, their song "Tourist" was featured on the greatest show ever" 'The O.C."

But let's not hope they get too popular. If they do, we all know it will be non-stop radio play followed by 18-year-old girls substituting "Thirstyyy Thursdayy!!" statuses for meaningful Athlete lyrics.

Consider this a Halloween treat, dear reader(s). I'm giving you not one, but two heads up in the land of music in this post.

'"Gossip Girl" (I know, I know, quit with CW) featured a kick-ass little band from San Diego called Delta Spirit. The song in question, "People C'mon," has received an absurd amount of plays on my iTunes over the last week. Matt Vasquez's raspy, raw voice paired with the beautiful fusion of piano and drums makes me want to stamp my feet and shout along with the lyrics.

Their debut album, Ode to Sunshine, is catchy, upbeat and probably something any in-the-know kids would want to add to their collection.

Monday, October 26, 2009

They play such good music in the 'Dollhouse'

Prepare for the biggest freak out that might ever occur at CineMUSic.

Two of my favorite things came together over the weekend: "Dollhouse" and Bat for Lashes.

Let's talk about "Dollhouse" first. The show, created by the wonderful and zany Joss Whedon, is about an organization that wipes people of their personalities and then uploads new, meticulously calculated personalities into them. And while the ratings might say differently, the show is brilliant and has tons of potential.

More importantly, Bat for Lashes. Natasha Khan, from Brighton, England, is incredible. If you're not listening to her right now, you need to. When I first heard her (I listened to a cover of "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon) I was hesitant. As it happens, I just didn't like her cover. But when my brilliant friend showed serious enthusiasm about her, I went for it.

Bat for Lashes has a whimsical sound, with a touch of Kate Bush, the stage presence of Karen O and the adorableness of a kitten. But looking past the cutesy descriptions, Bat for Lashes is one of the more innovative, eccentric and talented artists in music today.

If dream pop sounds appealing, do yourself a huge favor and check her out. Her first album, Fur and Gold, is a good one to start with as well as watching this video.

And if intellectual, moral-questioning sci-fi television shows that have serious potential to get cancelled sounds like your thing, start watching "Dollhouse." Then, once you're hooked, write Fox a bunch of letters telling them not to give it the axe. It's way too good.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trent Reznor will never stop... matter how married or retired he is.

This post is a slight deviation from what I normally write about. I simply want to share with readers an interesting little bit of information about a project between Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and the Fox show "Fringe."

First off, if you're not watching Fringe, you are out of your mind. It's the perfect blend of "The X-Files" and "Lost" with an added tidbit of intrigue. Plus, it was created by J.J. Abrams.

Anyway, after Reznor's song "Zero Sum" from the album Year Zero was used in a promo for the show, Abrams asked Reznor (apparently, they're friends) to collaborate and do a little somethin' somethin' for the show. And so, a version of "Zero Sum" plus lines from Leonard Nimoy's character has been born. And it's awesome!*

What I think is the best part of this whole thing is that there is a standing offer for Trent Reznor to appear on Fringe. Believe it or not, there are Nine Inch Nails fangirls (I myself am included) that would both love to see him on screen and then have something strange -- like his face melting off -- occur.

* For those that watch Fringe, Reznor has stated that the sound waves digitally reflect one of the glyphs used on the show. Figure that out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Noisettes are fun!

"One Tree Hill" used to be a good show, I swear. But then, someone (I don't even want to know who) thought it would be okay to let Chad Michael Murray write one of the episodes and this happened. After that train wreck, I was out.

However, that's not to say that I stopped being interested in what kind of music was being used on the show. OTH has featured some incredible indie bands - José González, The National and Band of Horses. Recently, Noisettes were used three times in one episode.

Noisettes are like The Supremes meets doo-wop meets Santigold. The band is fronted by Shingai Shoniwa, who plays bass and treats us with her unique vocals. Also in the band are Dan Smith on guitar and Jamie Morrison on drums.

Don't get too excited about hipster cred though -- they're not completely unknown. They've toured with TV on the Radio, Tom Vek, and Bloc Party. They've appeared on the Wendy Williams Show (this is both awesome and awful. If you're not sure why, please watch this and you'll understand). And perhaps the biggest of things was their spot as opening band for Lady GaGa during the European leg of her Fame Ball tour.

So despite my ruined relationship with "One Tree Hill," I'll suck it up and watch bits and pieces and look at the website to insure that it hasn't sabotaged itself in the musical department.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who doesn't love glam Canadian pop?

So, there’s this show on ABC. It’s still relatively unknown and I’m not sure if anyone will know what I’m talking about, but it’s called "Grey’s Anatomy."

Oh! You are familiar. How very cool of you.

If there’s one thing you should know about "Grey’s Anatomy," it’s that the music featured on the show almost always falls into two categories: quirky and upbeat or sad and mellow. It all depends on whether it’s a sexy/hilarious moment or if Izzie Stevens (played by the... interesting Katherine Heigl) is delivering a monologue that could never in a million years happen in real life.

On last Thursday’s episode, my little ears spied a band called Dragonette, an electropop group from Canada. They, unlike "Grey’s," are still very much under the radar and under-appreciated. The band is led by Martina Sorbara, who released two solo albums in the late 90s. She created this little gem which makes me feel like my life is a movie.

Back to Dragonette. If you’re into the likes of Little Boots, Metric, or CSS, you should seriously consider checking out Dragonette. Their sophomore album, Fixin to Thrill, was released on September 29 and has been getting positive feedback from the typically vicious world of online music blogs.

Intrigued? Check out “Fixin to Thrill” (the song, not the album – unless you want to just go for it!) and “I Get Around.”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Say what you will about "Gossip Girl"...

...but the majority of the time, the music featured on the show is better than what 90% of all human beings listen to.* This past week, a band was featured on the show that has potential to become a household name to those that stand between trendy and mainstream. Based out of L.A., The Broken Remotes are a little bit poppy and a little bit rock. In my humble opinion, I could see them opening for Spoon and the audience definitely NOT hating them. So if upbeat, indie rock with a little bit of sass sounds like your kind of thing, check them out!

I’m going to take a moment to plug the "Gossip Girl" Web site. There’s a section devoted to character playlists, and I have to admit, they don’t completely suck. The best part about it is it’s totally stereotyped. So if you identify with Serena – the wild but still sweet girl – you might find luck in the recommendations of The Ettes, PJ Harvey, Peaches, and Amanda Blank. Or, if you want to try getting into real, quality 80s music (as in, not just stuff from John Hughes movies), check out Rufus’ playlist. You’ll find Devo, Camper van Beethoven, and Aztec Camera.

In other words, the show might be clichéd and star less-than-stellar actors, but the music is good and even well-informed music nerds might find something new.

*Not an actual statistic. Just me being a pretentious jerk.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

If roller derby had a soundtrack...

Right now, I am giving major props to the music department of the movie "Whip It!" (Also to Drew Barrymore whose directorial debut was great!) If a Peaches song was used in the trailer, why would anyone question how good the soundtrack would be?

We’ve got The Breeders, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, Har Mar Superstar, Little Joy, The Ramones, and The Go! Team (among others). In other words, it’s sure to be every alternative, “I’m-stuck-between-the-80s-and-90s” kid’s favorite album to spin. Or import to iTunes.

Now, listen up, reader: you should know that I'm a sucker for "bad" (or what I consider great) mid-70s to early-80s rock groups. For instance, I'm a devoted Foreigner fan and I'm passionate about Hall and Oates. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I stumbled upon "Caught Up In You" by .38 Special on the soundtrack. Yeah, it was an absolute highlight.

It’s not just that the songs chosen are enjoyable, it also helps that they were used perfectly throughout. There’s nothing better than watching a film that’s good to begin with, thanks to the script and actors, but the music puts the finishing touch on everything.

Do yourself a favor – go see "Whip It!" and try to keep yourself from smiling when “Bang On” by The Breeders plays. If you manage this feat, then you are officially not a human being.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So much Kristen Stewart it's not even funny...

Lately, I’ve been noticing a major revival of Joan Jett. Don’t get me wrong, Jett is a bitchin’ woman and her music is great, but it’s surprising the amount of playtime she’s been getting. “Do You Want To Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” appeared in the season premiere of "The Beautiful Life”; “Cherry Bomb” can be found in the trailer for "Jennifer’s Body" and let’s not forget the new biopic devoted solely to her: "The Runaways," starring the ever-boring Kristen Stewart.

And now, a real reason for indie kids to be so apathetic...

I’ve saved the best (or maybe it’s worst depending on how you look at it) for last.

The track list for the "New Moon" soundtrack has been released. It manages to be mind-blowing in both a good and bad way. Good, because the songs and artists are good. Bad, because the fact that these bands are now associated with the Twilight series is just gross-tacular.

Hipsters, I warn you now, shield your eyes. The effect of this news will destroy like the sun destroys vampires.

Death Cab for Cutie, Thom Yorke (yeah, the Thom Yorke,) Bon Iver, St. Vincent, Muse, Sea Wolf, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Grizzly Bear and Editors will all be featured on the soundtrack. In fact, Death Cab for Cutie wrote a song titled “Meet Me On The Equinox” specifically for "New Moon." I have to say, that title is laughably melodramatic (even for them).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for sexy vampires (ha, get it? Sucker?) and of course I love cool indie music, but I don’t know if I can handle seeing Twi-hards at St. Vincent or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concerts. In fact, if this happens, I will find myself a vampire, demand to be turned and then feed on them.

It won’t be nearly as cool as Stephenie Meyer makes it out to be. But it will be extremely satisfying for me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Please Don't Hate on CW

A few nights ago, I was settling in to watch "America’s Next Top Model" when I heard a familiar track blasting through my television set during a commercial. Metric’s latest single “Help I’m Alive” was playing during a 30-second spot for the new CW show "Vampire Diaries."

I haven’t been able to get enough of Metric’s newest album Fantasies, and if 15-year-olds were paying attention to the commercial (which, I would venture to guess they were considering their fervent love for all things vampire), I think it’s safe to say that Metric might experience a major boost in radio play, downloads and illegal use in fan videos on YouTube.

I just want to admit right now that almost every single show on CW is a guilty pleasure of mine. I mean come ON! The plot lines are addictive, everyone is attractive and they use such good music.

Last night on "90210," a band by the name of Honeythieves was featured somewhat prominently. The song, “Reminder,” was actually an RAC remix and let me just say, it sounded good and totally catchy. After a search on HypeM with zero results, it seems that Honeythieves is still under the radar. So for all you hipsters out there, get it while it’s still completely uncooked and not at all hot.

On top of Honeythieves, during my "90210" sessions I’ve ear-spied “Rome” by Phoenix, “New In Town” by Little Boots, and “L.E.S Artistes” by Santigold. In other words, they know what’s what on the set of "90210."