Sunday, May 30, 2010

Harry Potter? No! Grace Potter!

I neglected to talk about the Almost Alice soundtrack because 13 out of 16 tracks are just awful. But I've recently happened upon the brilliance that is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I could just kick myself for ignoring them for the past few years. I offer my apologies in raving about them here.

They're not exactly my usual taste, but the lead singer - Grace Potter - has so much stage presence and an unbelievable voice. The band is a perfect mixture of blues, rock, and soul. And, even better news, they're coming out with a new album in June!

The song in question on the Almost Alice soundtrack is the band's cover of Jefferson Airplane's song "White Rabbit." It doesn't deviate much from the original, but it sounds a bit more ethereal, especially considering the fact that Potter's voice isn't quite as insane as Grace Slick's. Basically, their cover doesn't make me feel like I should have just dropped acid. I suppose that could be a good or bad thing depending on who you are.

For those of you who like the musical comparisons, the band is a little bit Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis, a touch of Neko Case, and a hint of The Black Keys. "Medicine," a track from their new album, is catchy as hell. "Ah Mary" is a great track as well.

Also, they're going on tour and will be in the Ohio/Pennsylvania area mid-June. Be sure to check them out if you're in the area!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Something new but still the same

Hi guys! I've come to talk about something before Zach Braff comes along and ruins it.

Broken Bells is a collaboration between Danger Mouse and James Mercer, The Shins lead singer. I've always enjoyed The Shins, though not to the extent that many people do. And I feel the same toward Broken Bells. Which makes me question myself: "Why are you writing about Broken Bells if you don't think it's totally super amazing?"

The answer is that I always recommend things that I love and that I think deserve a blog post, which is not to say that Broken Bells doesn't deserve one! I'm just trying to help out the masses here. And the masses enjoy The Shins.

Broken Bells is like a slightly electronic version of The Shins' album Wincing the Night Away. It's a little bit ambient (I suppose that's where Danger Mouse comes into play) with James Mercer's unmistakable vocals. To be honest, when I first heard that it was Danger Mouse and Mercer, I was expecting some crazy stuff but it's not a huge deviation from what one would expect.

So, the other night when I heard the song "The High Road," I thought that there are probably a lot of people that are jonesing for some new Shins material, which is not what you'll get, but it's not that far off.

Sorry guys. This isn't exactly a glowing recommendation, but seriously, check it out. It's nice and mellow, perfect for finals week which is, unfortunately, quickly approaching.

Monday, May 24, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things

Well, faithful readers/spammers, the school year is beginning to draw to a close. And as I've stated before, shows are ending and soundtracks haven't been all that interesting. Because of this, I'll be posting some of my favorite music/television/film moments. How does a few per post sound? It doesn't really matter - I'm doing it anyway!

1. "You Got Me All Wrong" by Dios Malos from "The O.C.", Season 2, Episode 1

"The O.C." was, is and will always be my favorite TV series ever. I credit the series with introducing me to a majority of my most loved bands. "You Got Me All Wrong" is a go-to, kind of depressing, a little bit groovy, lovely song. Plus, Ryan Atwood.

2. "New Day" by Kate Havnevik from "Grey's Anatomy", Season 3, Episode 9

Ah, back in the days of Doctor Burke... The song is intense. Kate Havnevik has such a unique voice and this song blends strings and electronica together so beautifully. As I watch this clip again, I long for the good old GA days. Everyone was much less annoying and not as preachy. And scenes like this existed. And as always, a beautiful performance from Sandra Oh.

3. "Hong Kong Garden" by Siouxsie and the Banshees from Marie Antoinette

Okay, okay. So, it isn't a new band by any means, but it is an awesome band to get into. To date, this is one of my favorite films - aurally and visually. The combination of 18th century garb and new wave music is amazing. The idea of haughty aristocrats dancing to stuff like New Order and Siouxsie Sioux just tickles me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Recommendations? What recommendations?

As I predicted, season finales have been crazy. What's even crazier? Lack of really great music. A majority of these shows have been relying on artists that are acoustically-driven and who use soft vocals. With the exception of a few artists (Damien Rice, Iron and Wine, Rachael Yamagata, etc), I really don't find those to be all that appealing.

So, instead of recommending something that I don't think is entirely worth your time, I'm going to give you a guys a quick preview of a soundtrack that I think will have you shaking and crying.

I've been trying to wrangle up some serious information on the Scott Pilgrim movie soundtrack. So far, this is what I have for you:

1. Beck is composing a ton of the soundtrack's music
2. An old Metric B-Side called "Black Sheep" is being used
3. There's going to be so much music, it might have to be a two-disc volume
4. 6 songs from the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series' playlist will be used
5. Broken Social scene might be contributing some stuff to the soundtrack as well

With two-disc potential and Beck apparently being heavily involved, this soundtrack will probably be amazeballs.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Taking a trip back to yesteryear

I recently started thinking about "Gossip Girl" and how, while it isn't what one might call a "critically acclaimed" series to begin with, it certainly has gotten a bit ridiculous over three seasons. So, I decided I ought to go back to when it didn't make me groan/roll my eyes for 42 minutes straight and start watching the first season all over again.

And what did I discover but a delicious little song hiding in the background of the pilot (skip ahead to 3:37 if you feel like watching the scene.) It was a song called "Space for Rent" by the Denmark-based band WhoMadeWho. They're pop-rock-indie-dance music-- I can't even decide which genre to put them under.

The bad news is: they've been a bit lacking in music updates and there isn't much info about them. They released their second album, The Plot, in March 2009. But their debut, self-titled album is a gem. It's like three guys who know exactly what music makes people feel good got together and just started riffing and jamming.

If you can find any of their stuff, I highly recommend it. It's a bit difficult to find. If you're going the legal, iTunes route, it's simple enough to acquire some of their stuff. If you're going the...not so legal route, happy hunting, my friends.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Who needs lyrics?

I'm going to take a bit of a different route with this post - hope you guys don't mind. I think you might enjoy it.

Clint Mansell. Soundtrack buffs might be nodding their heads and saying, "Yeah," but some of you might be thinking, "Come again?" Don't worry; I'll elaborate.

Clint Mansell is the man behind tons and tons of gorgeous music in soundtracks and movie trailers alike. "Lux Aeterna" is easily the most well-known - it started off as the main theme for Darren Aronofsky's 2000 film Requiem for a Dream before being used in practically everything ever. It was even re-recorded for the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers trailer and released as "Requiem for a Tower."

He is also the mastermind behind soundtracks for The Fountain, Smokin' Aces, The Wrestler, 11:14 and Pi (among others). But what brought up this post is actually Iron Man 2. I know, I know: "How did she get from Iron Man 2 to Clint Mansell when he had nothing to do with the movie's music at all?" I'll tell you how.

Iron Man 2 stars the amazing, attractive, talented and hilarious Sam Rockwell. Sam Rockwell starred in the 2009 independent film Moon. And who is responsible for the score? You're damn right! It's Clint Mansell! The score for Moon is creepy and claustrophobic and makes me feel anxious. That might sound terrible, but i
t's actually kind of wonderful. The main title is called "Welcome to Lunar Industries." If you're into that, dive right in and try out...everything!

Here's another fun fact with only makes him cooler: he provided back up vocals for Nine Inch Nails' 1999 album The Fragile.

Mansell's music is haunting, using everything from strings to electronic beats to piano. It's the kind of music that gets under your skin. And while it is instrumental, it's the kind of music that someone who scoffs at lyric-less music can seriously get behind. His music speaks volumes on its own. Get ready for goosebumps, my friends.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Season finales rocking my world

Season finales are happening left and right which is just an excuse to play some incredible music. Here is someone I've been wanting to talk about but I haven't had anything super up-to-date to use as a reason to talk about her. Now, that reason is her song "You've Changed"'s being used in the holy-shit-what-just-happened season finale of "The Vampire Diaries."

So who is it? It's Sia! Just to give you a few references, her song "Breathe Me" was used during the final scene of "Six Feet Under" - only one of the most epic television series and chill-inducing finales of all time ever. "The Bully" was used on "The O.C.," "I Go To Sleep" on "Dollhouse" and a handful of her songs have been used throughout six seasons of "Grey's Anatomy."

She is also a contributor to the ambient/trip-hop group Zero 7. And, let me tell you, girl can make some beautiful and sexy music. Please see "Destiny" and "Distractions" for reference/proof.

Her voice is a bit of an odd one. It sounds almost pained and sleepy, but it's a nice change from girls who sing in those soft voices that don't make me feel anything but bored. Her albums have a nice array of piano-driven pieces, some electronic-sounding stuff (think Massive Attack) and acoustic tracks.

If you're skipping a night out with your friends in favor of staying in to have an introspective night, acquire one of her albums in whatever way you see fit. I'll recommend Colour The Small One to get started with. Don't be surprised if some of the tracks move you to tears or almost tears.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Will my suffering never end?

In case my recommendations and commentary don't already make it apparent, I'll just go ahead and say it: I am a music snob. I don't like the general public becoming privy to the truly amazing bands that I enjoy so much. The general public likes trash like Nickleback, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and 3OH!3. So, when they start latching on to bands that have real talent and a strong, devoted fanbases that have been around for years, yeah, I get a little bit riled up.

And you know what isn't helping my irritation? The Twilight soundtracks. Today, the artists and track names for the new Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack were released one-by-one on the half hour. Here are all of the artists featured:

I am well aware that those are all relatively well-known bands. I am not stuck in a belief that they are little, independent bands that I can claim as "mine." But, for some reason, when
15-year-old girls who think that Twilight has Oscar-worthy writing and acting - a true love story for the times - start listening to them, it makes them sparkle a bit less (yes, that was an intentional play on the fact that the vampires in the realm of Twilight appear to sparkle in the sun).

That is not to say that I'm not looking forward to the soundtrack. It is comprised of new, original tracks from the artists, and I'm always excited for new music from some of my favorites. Beck and Bat For Lashes collaborating? I'm so there. The track is called "Let's Get Lost" and there is no way it won't be incredible.

But Twilight is a book/film series that glorifies a creepy, troubling, abusive relationship, portrays a heroine whose life hinges on whether or not some dead guy is around or loves her, and reduces grown women to having flighty pre-teen fantasies. I hate to be one of those people, but I just don't like the idea of bands that I cherish being associated with such a franchise.

If only this it a compilation/collaborative project like Dark Was The Night. But no. Naturally, it has to come from a series about vampires with glittery skin, young men who become buff and (I'm ashamed to say) kind of hot because they're actually werewolves, and a girl who has nothing of interest to offer as a human, and - yet - has at least three guys in love with her.

So, I'll be honest. I don't want to share a musical interest with someone who thinks that Florence Welch's voice is almost as good as Carrie Underwood's. But, any new material is a treasure for me. So, I guess I'll take it and just blog/whine about it/act like an arrogant fan.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

P. Diddy's blog. For real.

Hello world! I come to you today not with a recommendation but with something that I found too strange not to talk about.

Sean "Puffy" Combs, A.K.A. P. Diddy, A.K.A. Diddy, A.K.A. Puff Daddy, A.K.A. "Good Lord, do you have enough names yet? You're worse than Prince at this point," has released a trailer for his new blog. Take a second to really let that sink in. P. Diddy has released a trailer for his new blog.

Stranger yet, this trailer features the following things: Diddy speaking dramatically, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., Will Smith, M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, Obama, 300, Michael Jordan, and George Clooney. What really ties it all together is a sample of "The Mark Has Been Made" by Nine Inch Nails.

It is one minute of baffling, awesome, mind-boggling images, voice overs, and music. His blog is literally called "DiddyBlog." I don't know what his plans are for said blog. Based on that trailer, one may conclude that Puff is going to talk about minority plights, political ideals, social unrest, and causes he believes in - not counting Ciroc Vodka. But really, I would venture to guess that it will read something more like, "On the road in the bus, laying down some beats. The new album is gonna be sick."

Wait, when was the last time that P. Diddy was actually relevant?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The sun is out, the music is AWESOME!

I'm really into having just the right music for my mood, in case you guys didn't know. I'm not one of those people who can listen to sad music when they are having a great day, the sun is shining and their hair looks good.

Because of that, I am now offering to you a band with a lot of great summertime music: West Indian Girl. If you're walking around outside listening to them, you will feel like every step you take is being filmed and as if something epic is happening in your life. They're a little bit M83, a little bit Polyphonic Spree, and a whole lot amazeballs.

"What Are You Afraid Of?" is my feel-good, I-want-to-start-running-for-no-reason song. It's a bit electronic with soaring guitars and call-and-response lyrics (you know, I don't know if that's a real thing, but I wrote it and it sounded especially intelligent). As an avid "Veronica Mars" fan (R.I.P.), I was hooked the moment I heard it featured in the first season.

So, if you're looking for upbeat and beautiful music that will make you feel unstoppable, follow this link to a world of joy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No cold feelings here (ah, puns!)

So, I'm watching "Gossip Girl" the other night and I'm thinking, "When is someone going to get murdered a la 'Law and Order?' And can it please be Serena Van Der Woodsen?" because - let's be honest - she is extremely annoying. But then, while I was imagining taking her out (and I don't mean on a date), and then stealing her wardrobe, "Audience" by Cold War Kids started playing!

Then I got to thinking. Cold War Kids is relatively popular, but they just don't get enough love in my humble opinion. And I'm a lover, not a fighter (yes, I realize the contradiction in that statement based on the previous paragraph) I want to spread the love and the joy and talk a bit about Cold War Kids.

They're super cool: four guys from Long Beach, California making sexy, spicy indie rock for all to enjoy. If you want scrumptious bass lines, "Hang Me Up To Dry" will get the job done. You want to sing along -- or should I say howl along? "Something Is Not Right With Me" is ideal. And "Hospital Beds" has all the ups and downs you could want in a song.

Note: Florence + the Machine covered "Hospital Beds," and it's magnificent.

For once, I'm not here writing about female singers. Well, I almost got through a post without talking about one. I'm talking about something that's masculine and has more of a rock edge. It might not satiate someone who only listens to Pantera and Slayer, but it might do the trick for those that can't get into the boring drones of Beach House, Radiohead (I've said it before and I'll say it again) or Grizzly Bear.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Always with the lady singers

You guys, it's officially May. Which means that it's time for sweeps. Which means that a whole bunch of shows are down to their last handful of episodes. And for some, there are no more episodes until next season.

What I'm trying to say is that my recommendations for television and music alike might be a bit more sparse than you've grown accustomed to. Which means that the spam I receive in Chinese on an almost weekly basis... well, it will just have to go somewhere else.

Here's a quick blurb on someone I like: Correatown. Correatown is Angela Correa and she is a beautiful songstress (is that real word? I don't know, but I'm still using it!). Her song "All the World (I Tell Myself)" was featured on "Grey's Anatomy" seasons and seasons ago as well as on the "Ugly Betty" series finale.

"Sunset & Echo" was featured on this week's episode of "Grey's Anatomy" which was (finally) new. Her songs make me want to float on a cloud and wave my arms around in slo-motion while a camera slowly zooms in on my face. Did that make sense? Probably not.

Angela's voice is an interesting (but good!) mixture of old 1930's jazz, folksy drawls and feminine vocals that any emotional girl would want to sing along with. Go now and be swift!