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.