31 December, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

Check this out: http://music.aol.com/artist/o-zone/310147/main#

Watch the "Dragostea Din Tei" video and laugh your ass off!!


19 December, 2006

"The Best Way of Spreading Christmas Cheer, Is By Singing Loud For All To Hear!"

I’m a fan of Christmas music, mostly because, by and large, it’s happy music. People don’t usually write Christmas music about broken hearts, deceased family, and war (although it isn’t unheard of; “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” and “Last Christmas” are two popular examples.) The month of December is one time of year when you’re allowed to be silly and happy, instead of the usual required cultural attitude of jaded and ironic cynicism.

I do have Christmas music likes and dislikes. I’m a big fan of laid-back jazz Christmas music. The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” album is an example of one of my personal favorites, it’s classic without being kitschy, and it has the added benefit of being music that can be enjoyed throughout the year. I also like the standards, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole; all great voices with character. Stevie Wonder, lends a spiritual and soulful feeling to all of his music, so when he sings “What Christmas Means to Me” you know he’ll make it meaningful.

You’ll find a few oddities in my collection, but nothing less than genius. Take for example, “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC. It’s the only holiday rap song that I know of, although I don’t pretend to know everything. Being punk (and Jewish) didn’t stop the Ramones from making a Christmas song, and “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)” certainly takes three-chord punk to a different level. Also on my list is the classic “Father Christmas” by the Kinks, which is a rocking packet of holiday-flavored social commentary.

Of course, you can also find some closet Christmas music in my collection. I’m an unabashed fan of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas Is You”, Destiny’s Child’s “8 Days of Christmas”, and Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” My new favorite Christmas song is from The Polar Express soundtrack, “Believe” by Josh Groban, and I’m not sure if it’s the lyrics or Josh’s voice that make me tear up (from an overabundance of happiness) whenever I hear the song.

A couple of Christmas songs I dislike? Well, “Dominic the Donkey” is pretty annoying and “All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” gives me a headache. The worst Christmas song, in my humble opinion, is “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong . I don’t dislike it because it’s country music, I dislike it because the story is sad, sappy, and contrived. Rudolph and Frosty don’t bother me in the least, but indie Christmas music kind of creeps me out. I don’t have any good reason for disliking indie Christmas music, it just gives me a weird feeling. I guess it’s like emo kids trying to be happy, it just feels wrong.

Merry Christmas to all my readers! Leave me your thoughts and personal Christmas favorites. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, pick another holiday themed song or even a song centered around the winter season and share with your favorite blogger (me)!

12 December, 2006

I Love Alliteration!!

Which makes me love Tally Hall's album, "Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum" even more. Once in awhile, maybe every year, I come across an artist that just makes me think 'Wow, was I under a rock? How did I miss these guys?' Usually, I'm just a little bit ahead of the game and I get to watch (and sometimes help) these artists grow in popularity, spreading their beautiful music to the masses. Lately, it's been Apollo Sunshine, Zox, and Gogol Bordello and, I'm hoping it will now be Tally Hall.

"Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum" reminds me quite a bit of Apollo Sunshine's "Katonah." I think this similarity is due to the fact that both bands experiment with their sound throughout the album. Tally Hall's opening tune, "Good Day" includes robotic/operatic vocals, piano, rock guitars, and some random blasting sound effects that caused me to believe my headphones were broken. Not to imply that it is anything but fun to listen to "Good Day", it initiates you in the odd Tally Hall world, while making your ears happy. The second song, "Greener", is almost more jolting than the opener, given it's tendency to sound "normal" at first listen. When you really listen to "Greener", it's becomes obvious that it's only normal in the world of Tally Hall where random instruments make unexpected appearances every day. By the time you reach the third song you know you've really found something different! "Welcome to Tally Hall" is a rap song, with horns, all kinds of percussion, and a carnivalesque atmosphere that surrounds your ears.

The whole album makes me happy, and at this time of year it's a nice alternative to, well, anything on the radio. I've been informed by a good source that their live show is amazing. I would definitely take a listen to these boys if I were you. They've been spinning non-stop in my CD player for the last week, and I only got their album a week ago.

05 December, 2006

The Many Faces of Modern Folk

Folk music is an interesting thing. You can trace it through the years; from campfire songs shared by tribes to ballads sung for kings. It stretches far and wide in music, influencing every genre imaginable and taking the form of musical poetry. Folk is the music of the storyteller, and the lyrics are generally more important than the instrumentals. Folk is very diverse, all of the songs take a similar form, but similarity is relative. Flowers are similar, but no one would say that an orchid and a dandelion are basically the same thing. Take a listen to the stories these musicians have to tell, they are the stories of our times and they are as similar to each other as orchids and dandelions.

“Fidelity” by Regina Spektor

From Regina’s latest masterpiece “Begin to Hope,” the melody is deceivingly simple. Lyrically, this song is about heartbreak, it’s about trying to hide yourself in music, trying to protect yourself, and failing miserably. In the event of real-life heartbreak, Regina’s voice is really all the music you need and her lyrics are comforting and genuine. Regina Spektor knows where you’re coming from.

“Moon Over the Freeway” by the Ditty Bops

Their ridiculously catchy music sounds like something that could’ve been played on the radio in the ‘40s, or earlier. Their new album is an escape from modern living. This song is extremely lighthearted, and although it may sometimes feel more like swing than folk it is so evocative of an era and a certain front porch feeling, that it pulls you into a different time and place, telling you a story.

“Weather Report” by Bright Eyes

It’s always a story you hear when Conor Oberst sings. I hate to commit musical sacrilege, but his lyrics in “Weather Report” remind me of Bob Dylan. It’s not just an overall revelatory story, it’s a story that shows you something about yourself, or about your culture, or about your world in every line. For example:

“And the time clocks keep waving their hands
Doin all that they can
To get our attention
But the days fly away down a clean interstate
I’m staring drunk at a map...”

It’s sad, funny, and true. How do we value our time? And, even when we’ve been told “time is of the essence” do we listen? It’s one small part of a song that can tell you a lot if you take the time to listen to the lyrics.

“Lullaby” by Jack Johnson & Matt Costa

From the most amazing “Curious George” soundtrack, Jack and Matt sing a lullaby. My favorite part of Elliott Smith’s music, will always be his ability to make the listener relax and let down their guard. Mr. Smith also crafted, beautiful and sometimes unbearably sad music. What Jack Johnson does is similar, but different. Johnson creates a song, like a lullaby, that lulls you into relaxation, then he peppers your daydreams with “Banana Pancakes” and “Constellations.” It’s really beautiful, and the fact that he can celebrate happiness and truth through folk music, easily sets him apart from his contemporaries.