Monday, April 18, 2011

songs for: lying around


my friends and i were hit by a drunk driver the other night, and while we're all fine (thankfully!), i've been spending a lot of time in bed thanks to my newly busted-up leg and brain that feels like scrambled eggs. obviously this calls for plenty of music to occupy me, so i want to share my playlist of songs that help me not feel bad or lazy for chilling out and lying in bed. put it to good use! and also, don't drink and drive like that dummy!


1. "january" - headlights

2. "all or nothing" - au revoir simone

3. "northern lights" - bowerbirds

4. "irene" - caribou

5. "flightless bird, american mouth" - iron & wine

6. "land locked blues" - bright eyes

7. "nantes" - beirut

8. "rill rill" - sleigh bells
 

9. "i will possess your heart" - death cab for cutie

10. "baby's arms" - kurt vile

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

humpday track

broken bells


broken bells released their self-titled debut almost exactly a year ago. now the dream team (james mercer of the shins and famed producer danger mouse) are back with a new EP, Meyrin Fields



at only 4 tracks and 11 minutes long, it's far too short, but a signal that the two aren't slowing down or falling prey to the sophomore slump (if you can call it that, since both guys make music outside of bb). this mini follow-up has me excited for what's next for them. i keep changing my mind about which song is my favorite, but right now i can't stop listening to "an easy life." it has broken bells' distinct, catchy sound and great production. accompanied by a calming beat and mercer's unmistakable voice, it simultaneously makes me want to listen in bed on repeat all day...or jump up and run around.

give it a listen.

BROKEN BELLS, "AN EASY LIFE":


Monday, April 4, 2011

partyPARTYparty


hey nerds!

since it's monday i'm obviously thinking about parties...? i think the perfect party playlist doesn't stick to the same genre - it mixes pop, dance, rock, hip-hop, basically all the essentials. luckily, some insanely amazing party music has been released in the past few days/weeks.

here are my absolute BEST party music choices as of late: 

1. new peter bjorn and john, finally! the trio exploded onto the scene with their whistle-filled pop in 2007, and they're back with Gimme Some. catchy tracks "Dig a Little Deeper" and "Second Chance" are perfect party songs. also add "Tomorrow Has To Wait" to that - with lyrics like 'it's the time of your life so tomorrow has to wait / tonight's tonight and tomorrow is a million miles away,' it's a perfect addition.


2. oh land is the Danish beauty that everyone's been talking about lately. her self-titled release is full of great songs, and the best for your next fiesta are "Sun of a Gun" and "We Turn It Up."

3. britney Spears, DUH! Princess Brit's latest album, Femme Fatale, came out last week, and my favorite so far is "Till the World Ends." its synth-pop beats are perfect for a little later on in the party when everyone's ready to dance (even the manliest of dudes will dance to britney once they're drunk).

4. mikey jukebox's self-titled album is full of 80s-inspired rock/pop that's perfect for a party. try "baby, baby, baby," "come on along," and "we don't stop 'til the kids R dancin'"


hope y'all enjoy these party tunes. make a playlist with these new releases, add some black keys, lil wayne, passion pit, jay-z, phoenix, and rolling stones and you're set.

xo

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

humpday track

  
peter bjorn & john



remember the epic whistle-filled pop of swedish trio peter bjorn & john? i played their 2007 album to absolute death, and while their 2nd album wasn't my favorite, i'm LOVING their third and latest release, Gimme Some. PBJ's catchy indie-pop draws you in, but they've deviated slightly (but successfully), adding a more rock-infused, retro/1960's kind of sound. so, today's humpday track is "second chance," my favorite of the album so far. also...is that a cowbell in there? gotta love these guys. take a listen and bounce your way towards friday!


PETER BJORN & JOHN, "SECOND CHANCE":


for more peter bjorn & john, check out "dig a little deeper" and "eyes" from their latest album, as well as their classics "young folks" and "let's call it off." enjoy!  

xo

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"every new day is a gift, it's a song of redemption"


(from the first lines of "jejune stars")
conor oberst (bright eyes)
whatever you’re thinking about Bright Eyes, stop it now and listen to The People’s Key. yeah, yeah, conor oberst is the crowned prince of the emo teenagers or the next bob dylan or whatever his latest “title” is, but really, this album speaks for itself.

the 30-something always has lots of side projects going on (and good ones at that), but he always comes back to his original, bright eyes. oberst's latest offering, released last month by saddle creek records, is simultaneously the usual brilliant oberst combined with bouncy beats and almost 80's-reminiscent sounds. the standouts for me are "jejune stars" and "ladder song".

check. it. out.  you'll be glad you did! and if you get a chance to see oberst in concert, take it - i saw him 5 years ago, and it stands out in my mind as one of my favorite concerts.

xoxo.

 


Thursday, March 17, 2011

album review - alex winston

alex winston
awhile ago, i talked a bit about how much i liked alex winston's song, "sister wife." well, i recently reviewed her whole album for my school newspaper here. so in case you're curious, here's what i've got to say about the detroit-native's latest release:

  
Twenty-three-year-old Alex Winston’s new album, Sister Wife, is characterized by Winston’s fresh pop sound, clever lyrics, and unbeatable hooks that you’ll be humming after the first listen. In 2009, she released Basement Covers, an album featuring covers of Mumford & Sons, The Rolling Stones, and three others. It was literally recorded in her basement with Alex playing every instrument, and record labels started paying attention.  Her latest, Sister Wife, at just over twenty-one minutes long, is a perfect primer in Winston’s unique style that has her poised to become an indie darling. 

The Detroit native and classically trained opera singer wrote all of the album’s songs in addition to playing all of the instruments on the recordings.  Most of Winston’s songs stay in her signature high-pitched, almost girlish tone. Her Joanna Newsome-esque sound may seem like it could be unappealing to some, but she does it all so well that it’s incredibly charming and highly addictive. 

“Locomotive” starts off the album with a driving beat and Winston’s characteristic undeniable hook that gets in your head and stays there. It features a slight twinge of electro-pop while still avoiding an over-produced sound. Next, the title track, “Sister Wife,” is an irresistibly catchy song and a twist from the usual “love gone wrong” theme of many songs.  Her play on the term “sister wife” is obviously easily understood by the listener and is like a cultural time capsule of Americans’ current fascination with those FLDS guys that have a bunch of wives. She hilariously declares with gumption, “Hey there, Sister Wife / Get the Hell out, it’s my night / You don’t know the way to his heart like I do”. The song shines as one of Winston’s best.

“Sweet James” is reminiscent of She & Him’s sixties girl group-influenced love songs. It’s a bouncy tune similar to Zooey Deschanel’s cheery, clever songwriting. “Sweet James” is a modern cousin to the Motown-style tunes about innocent affection between girl and boy, complete with Winston’s endearing “ooh oohs” and loving declarations that this James fellow is “nice as nice can be” and “true blue.”

The one blunder of the album is “Don’t Care About Anything.” It seems to be meant as an emotional, stripped-down change of pace from the rest of the album. However, the track mostly comes off as strangely saccharine wailing until the relief of a somewhat redeeming chorus and violin solo.

“Choice Notes” is the album’s second single and is upbeat with great production that isn’t too over the top. Its fresh sound and happy beat has helped the track get grabbed up for some commercials in the UK, where Alex already has a dedicated following.

Sister Wife is a strong release full of charm, originality, and authentic talent. From this release’s strong songwriting and the fact that she plays every instrument on the album herself, Winston has quickly proven that she is a talent to look out for. And it is obvious that as she heads this week to perform at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival in the music mecca of Austin, Sister Wife is only the beginning for Alex Winston. 

for more on alex, visit her website


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

television: a foray into mainstream consciousness for musicians?

i definitely can credit some of my music discoveries to tv. when a show that i like plays a great song i don't recognize, i go straight to google or the "featured music" clips at the end of the show.  it's pretty normal to hear people say something along the lines of, "yeah, i'm awesome, i find all of my awesome music through pure genius, never through lame tv shows." well, maybe not really like that, but i think a lot more people find great new artists through tv than will admit to it.

the cast of gossip girl.
these days, lots of musicians are getting into the spotlight once they're featured on tv shows. remember when death cab for cutie and the killers exploded after being featured and talked about on The OC? don't hate, i know you watched it too! and other bands, like snow patrol, found major mainstream success after several albums of indie success once they were featured on a grey's anatomy episode - the very next day, their song was the most-downloaded track on itunes. 

and lots of these shows (the oc, grey's anatomy, gossip girl, etc.) that are sending indie bands into the stratosphere of popularity have one thing in common: music supervisor extraordinaire, alexandra patsavas. she knows how to pick a great song, that's for sure.

the OC's adorable seth cohen (played by adam brody) helped shoot death cab for cutie and others into mainstream popularity during the show's heyday.

when you think about how music is changing and reaching ever wider audiences, do you think about music featured on tv shows? it's definitely interesting how much music has changed television in the past few years. for example, many shows now feature songs and artists at the end of the show or even on the bottom of the screen during shows. most people think of online promotion and other new-ish forms of media as the jumping-off point for unknown artists, but television is providing this access to the public as well. 

so, do you find some of the music you listen to from tv?


xo!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

humpday track

the gorgeous lykki li

if you know of swedish singer lykke li then you probably remember her awesome debut, youth novels, from 2008. in the past few years she's gathered a big following and now she's back with a brand new album, wounded rhymes, released yesterday.



this week's humpday track is "i follow rivers," which is my favorite from the album so far. it's got lykke's smooth vocals, a tribal beat, and a chorus that pulls you in.

for more lykke li, check out "dance, dance, dance" and "i'm good, i'm gone" from her last album.

LYKKE LI, "I FOLLOW RIVERS": (song starts at about :30)



enjoy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

sunday quickie

yeasayer
so, yeasayer's got a new music video for their awesome song "i remember" from their album Odd Blood

get this: it's a bizarre combination of an old dude with a confederate bandana riding his motorcycle through the desert plus crazy, glittery pink smoke with a strange, porn-like ending. there's also a clay head sculpture mixed in. 

and even if you hate it, it's a great song! 
watch the craziness. 

YEASAYER, "I REMEMBER":

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

humpday track

Chazwick Bundick aka toro y moi

everyone loves toro y moi! released monday, his latest album is called underneath the pine. "still sound" is my favorite track so far, and its fun electro-dance beat (and killer music video) will have you dancing towards friday. take a listen and go here to find out all the latest on toro y moi's latest album.

TORO Y MOI - "STILL SOUND":


enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

coverage.

i love the way that a good cover of a song can infuse it with all new life. sometimes they don't work out too well, but if they're good, they're REALLY good. 

here are some of my absolute favorite covers by indie artists:

1. local natives - simon & garfunkel's "cecilia":


2. the watson twins - the cure's "just like heaven":



4. jose gonzales - joy division's "love will tear us apart":


3. bat for lashes - kings of leon's "use somebody":



4. she & him - ricky nelson's "fools rush in":



5. fanfarlo - neutral milk hotel's "aeroplane over the sea":


enjoy! what are your favorite covers?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

humpday track

alex winston

alex winston is a classically-trained opera singer from detroit. her first release, Sister Wife, was released last week...and i'm unabashedly obsessed with this girl! so, this week's humpday track is the title track from alex's EP. all the songs on the 6-track EP are fresh, happy pop, but "sister wife" is my absolute favorite. once you get to the first chorus, i promise you won't be able to stop listening. so, make it to the weekend on this one! 
xo.

ALEX WINSTON, "SISTER WIFE":

Monday, February 14, 2011

love for the grammys

shockingly, the grammys were pretty enjoyable last night! normally filled with performances that elicit a resounding "eh" from viewers, the musicians definitely impressed this time around and the indie world had some big wins. here are the big ones:

1. arcade fire won ALBUM OF THE YEAR!
arcade fire and their well-deserved grammy

talk about a serious accomplishment to get this kind of mainstream recognition. the canadian band's album the suburbs topped just about every "best of" list for 2010, but who knew that the grammys would pay attention?


2. mumford & sons were nominated, didn't win, but put on an AMAZING performance.
mumford & sons
nominated for Best New Artist and Best Rock Song for "little lion man," (they were robbed!), mumford & sons performed and demonstrated the fact that they SHOULD have won! check out the gorgeous foursome's epic performance below: 




3. the black keys' album Brothers won Best Alternative Album (!!!), and their bluesy-pop tune "tighten up" won Best Performance By A Duo/Group.

the black keys


lots of love for the indie world at the Grammys this year, hopefully next year will bring more of the same.

xo.

Friday, February 11, 2011

born this way

lady gaga

so, as of today, our reigning princess lady gaga's newest single "born this way," has been released to the world. i have yet to read any reviews of it, but (and this will probably be considered blasphemy) i'm just not feeling it! maybe it'll grow on me, but i've listened to it several times now and all i can think is mid-80's-remixed madonna. 

what do you think?

UPDATE: perhaps i should eat my words? as of this afternoon, "born this way" broke iTunes history to become iTunes' fastest-selling single ever (in 5 hours) and is currently #1 in 21 countries! wow.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

humpday track

michael benjamin lerner
this cutie is michael benjamin lerner, also known as telekinesis. his eponymous debut album made a lovely splash in the indie music world in 2009, and now he's back with more!

telekinesis has an awesome sound filled with bright, catchy hooks and great lyrics (for example, one of my favorite songs from his debut was "awkward kisser" - check it out). 

 
 so, for today's humpday track, here's the first single from telekinesis' second full-length album. "car crash" is a bouncy song about love and has telekinesis' bright, punchy sound and witty lyrics. 12 desperate straight lines, his upcoming album, is to be released next week. so, dance to this to make it to the weekend!


ps: for more telekinesis, check out my favorite tunes, "coast of carolina" & "great lakes."


TELEKINESIS, "CAR CRASH":


Thursday, February 3, 2011

bits of music news.

1. no more white stripes!
the white stripes

meg & jack are officially no more. the duo announced yesterday that they are splitting, though it's only to "preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and to have it stay that way." however, jack always has lots of side projects going on, and i guess we'll just have to wait and see what's in meg's future. ultimately, lots of indie children have lost their first indie band love, so it's a sad day!

ps: LA Weekly made this semi-funny list of the "top 10 bands that should have broken up instead of the white stripes" (what's with the best coast & smith westerns hate?)


2. SLEIGH BELLS!
sleigh bells (alexis krauss and derek miller)

the amazing brooklyn twosome alexis krauss and derek miller (aka sleigh bells) have released an official video for their track "rill rill" (easily one of the best on their album, Treats). check it out below:



3. the go! team releases their latest album

my favorite cheerleader-meets-rapper, dance-infused group has released their latest, Rolling Blackouts. filled with great tracks, check out "check yr voice," "ready to go steady," and the title track, "rolling blackouts."

Monday, January 31, 2011

to keep an eye on: hugo

hugo
hugo has quietly begun gaining some serious momentum in the past months leading to the upcoming release of his first album, old tyme religion (being released by roc nation).  his first two singles, "bread & butter" and a cover of jay z's "99 problems," are a great primer in hugo's sound: a bluesy, rock, hip hop-tinged combination.  

i almost fell out of my chair at the movie theater watching natalie portman and ashton kutcher's new movie, no strings attached, when hugo was featured in a pretty major way with a live performance.  undoubtedly, his audience will grow even more quickly from the movie.  

old tyme religion has yet to be released, but his first two singles have been available on itunes for about 6 months, so go have a listen - you won't regret it!  several tracks from hugo's album are also available to listen to on his website.  



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

humpday track

here's a song to help you make it from from your humpday to the weekend...
smith westerns

 
"Weekend" by Smith Westerns is the opening track of the group's newest release, Dye It Blonde. "weekend" is aptly titled for a happy guitar-driven jam to help us make it through the next few days, don't you think? these guys from chicago aren't even old enough to drink yet, and Dye It Blonde is their second release in two years. talk about some serious achievement.



"weekend" is an irresistible, catchy tune. enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

are you ashamed to like mainstream music? i used to be.

don't hate! i used to be embarassed to have mainstream pop in my music repertoire, but hey, there's some awesome stuff out there!
lady gaga

lady gaga, our reigning princess of pop, has said that even though "pop music was considered to be annoying or corporate or unimportant," she did it anyway.

gaga has a point! while indie music is undoubtedly my favorite the majority of the time, i'm no longer embarassed to LOVE pop.

so on that note...
britney spears

anyone who knows me knows my love for Princess Britney Spears - she was my first concert after all! anyway, girlfriend is back and kicking everyone's butt already. "hold it against me" is killing it on the charts (it debuted at #1), and the release of her album will no doubt be epic.

ps: anyone notice the seriously amazing dubstep situation happening in "hold it against me"?

katy perry

my girl katy perry just announced north american tour dates for her California Dreams tour (hooray), and EVEN BETTER, her opening acts are: swedish pop star robyn (awesome) and marina and the diamonds (i just wrote about marina last week!)

yeah, i love ke$ha! so what?

long story short: there's lots to love and lots happening in the mainstream pop world - have an open mind and find your thing.

Friday, January 21, 2011

the latest precious she & him video

she & him's zooey deschanel and m. ward

she & him (aka everyone's favorite indie duo, M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel) has released their latest music video from their second album, volume two, released last year. "don't look back" is another sweetly sung vintage-style song from the twosome, showcasing zooey's voice and matt's guitar skills. as always, zooey looks even more adorable than the last time we've seen her, and matt displays his usual overall laid-back coolness. 

check out the "don't look back" music video here.

and another video of the two doing an amazing cover of "fools rush in" that i have played non-stop since it was released by the levi's pioneer sessions several months ago.

and for good measure, my favorite beach boys song covered by she & him at the LA Times food and wine festival. 

hope you have a music-filled weekend! 
xo

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a rockstar & her wardrobe


a musician's wardrobe can be a defining characteristic of their persona (lady gaga, anyone?). i love when musicians have a unique sense of style that can be observed on stage but also in their everyday life. at the moment, i'm loving every outfit that i see on Marina and the Diamonds (aka marina lambrini diamandis). marina's debut album, the family jewels, was released last february, and word is that she's working on a second album to be released sometime around october 2011. marina has one of those amazing stage wardrobes full of colors, sparkles, and craziness that only could be pulled off by a performer. then, her more casual looks are reminiscent of a laid-back hipster who manages to have that perfect amount of messiness. for a burst of indie pop-danciness, check out her tracks "oh no!" and "are you satisfied?" and maybe next time you go out, grab a sequined and shoulder-padded 80's blazer, neon lipstick, and think marina.

Monday, January 17, 2011

to keep an eye on: freelance whales

gettin' it at a bedford avenue subway platform

i discovered freelance whales via a friend while interning in nyc this summer. the group is from queens and they're known for playing the streets/subway stations of the city along with their stage performances. with 5 members playing a wide array of instruments (everything from the banjo, bass, synthesizer, glockenspiel, and everything in between), the freelance whales released their debut album, Weathervanes, in april 2010. steadily gaining momentum and a following, they're now touring europe.


check them out online or on itunes, freelance whales will no doubt become a much more familiar name in the future...

suggestions from Weathervanes: "generator (second floor)" and "the great estates"

nyc street corner performance

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

musician couples alert!

my absolute favorites, johnny and june.


i think music couples are fascinating. what is it though, exactly? obviously people naturally are interested in famous people, but there's more to it when they're two musicians. something about the immense amount of creativity between two musicians in a relationship makes me wonder what kind of brilliant conversations they might have. add to that the highly attractive factor of most of these couples, plus the potential for explosive emotions/breakups, and you might find yourselves wondering about what their lives are like together. my all-time favorite music couple is johnny cash and his wife, june carter cash. there's no guarantee that any music couples today will be as wildly popular, prolific in their music, or even last as a couple, but they sure are cute....



Ben Gibbard & Zooey Deschanel

i absolutely love this couple. i'm semi-obsessed with zooey and her torch-singer voice (and gorgeous hair/clothes), and have been a fan of ben since my pseudo-emo high school days. ben, of death cab for cutie (among other side projects), married zooey, of she & him (with m. ward) in 2009 and they have kept an impressively low-profile ever since. they're rarely seen out, which is probably good, but i still wish i could see more of them!


Johnathan Rice & Jenny Lewis

johnathan and jenny are on their way to becoming indie royalty. jenny already is known throughout the indie world as an amazing songstress, the vocalist for the band rilo kiley, as well as a solo artist. johnathan is also a solo singer-songwriter. these two have been dating for awhile now, and their newest project is together, as the band jenny & johnny. they released their album i'm having fun now in august and are currently on tour. their first single "big wave" was one of my favorite songs of the summer. check them out at http://jennyandjohnnymusic.com/

Monday, January 10, 2011

sufjan & marzuki stevens documentary

Sufjan Stevens & Marzuki Stevens
              

anyone know when this documentary will be released? it features my boy, indie superstar sufjan stevens and his brother, marzuki. the two are traveling with filmmaker kaleo la belle to see sufjan and marzuki's estranged father. i haven't found much information on the film, but from the looks of the trailer, it's something i don't want to miss:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YME3x3-uKwk

music monday.

well, every day is a music day. but i couldn't resist the alliteration...that's what it is, right?
anyway, i realize that 2010 is over, but i had to make a teensy list of the best of the best of '10!

twenty-ten's BEST OF THE BEST:

1. sleigh bells, "treats":
these two put on an absolutely EPIC show. i saw the brooklyn-based duo live a few months ago, and the energy that alexis krauss (vocals) and derek e. miller (guitarist, songwriter) put into their shows is outrageous. they've been called "noise pop," but that just doesn't do sleigh bells justice. the attractive twosome have created an 80's dance-punk-rock-indie sound that's all their own. clearly, people are catching on, as their track, "kids," has recently been featured on a preview for mtv's new version of the british television show, skins. just turn on "riot rhythm" and prepare for the energetic jump-dancing that will no doubt ensue.

2. the black keys, "brothers":
they've released five previous albums, but these ohio cuties have shot to fame since the release of "brothers" in may. the duo's (dan auerbach and patrick carney) bluesy-rock-with-a-twinge-of-funk sound has a simultaneously vintage and modern feel that has attracted a multitude of fans. the whole album is amazing, but if you don't trust me, they made the cover of spin magazine's "best of 2010" issue. make sure to check out "the only one."

3. two door cinema club, "tourist history":
i'm not exaggerating in the least when i say that i literally danced to this album ALL summer long. i probably embarassed myself by bouncing along to the album on the subway all the way to my internship everyday. this trio of boys from northern ireland haven't made a huge splash in terms of garnering attention, however, slowly but surely (starting with a mention on kanye west's blog) they're gaining the massive number of fans they deserve. i can't help but smile at the amazing dance electro-pop that these guys (alex trimble, sam halliday, and kevin baird) have created. if not the whole album, make sure to at least listen to "do you want it all?" and "what you know."

4. mumford and sons, "sigh no more":
these four inexplicably grabbed me by the heart from my very first listen. i almost can't even verbalize the emotion that marcus mumford, country winston, ben lovett, and ted dwane evoke with every listen to their folksy, initially delicate then passionately bold musical story-songs. this west london group has exploded onto the scene and has now been nominated for two grammy awards. "winter winds" and "white blank page" are my favorites. 

5. crystal castles, "crystal castles":
so, i'm kind of obsessed with ethan kath (producer) and alice glass (vocalist). embarassingly so, actually. there may or may not have been an event where a dj played their track "vanished," and i started screaming, "ohmygod crystal castles!!!!" to the embarassment of several of my friends...anyway, the toronto electronic duo's music has been described by the BBC as covering "a nuanced emotional territory that dance music never covered before." i guess you'll just have to listen for yourself. just get ready to dance like never before! "vanished" and "magic spells" are absolute necessities. 




here's hoping that 2011 will bring us even more incredible stuff.