"This Will Be Our Year" was the first OK Go song I ever listened to. It was the first track on a popular indie compilation album from 2004 entitled The Future Soundtrack of America. The compilation was chock-full of brokenhearted music, but OK Go sounded different. Their song emitted warmth, solace in love, and hope. "This Will Be Our Year" was instantly lovable and infectiously catchy.
In subsequent releases, in spite of the heartache their lyrics displayed in "OK Go" and "Oh No," the warmth and optimism remained. Just check out "Get Over It." There's anger there, sure, but the conclusion is positive. You might be alone, in a lot of pain, but this isn't forever. Get up, lift your head, and face tomorrow. OK, go. Behind these lyrics are some of the tastiest licks in all of rockdom, featuring multi-layered songs, complex keyboard and bass lines, and hooks that would make your grandmother tap her feet.
If you don't know Mission of Burma, then you're also unaware of the huge influence they've had on music today. Without the Mission turning rock on its head in the early eighties with a raw, complex, innovative post-punk style, the alt-indie scene that's buzzing from New York to L.A. today would have never come this far. Luckily, last Thursday night I got to witness the historical Mission live at the First Unitarian Church.
When did the music industry become so complicated? I'll tell you when: when record companies started losing big money because the public figured out that it no longer had to pay for music. In an age where everything is digital, music is more accessible now than it ever has been; you can own an album, upload it to the website of your choice, and millions around the world can download it for free. Twenty years ago, this was nowhere near possible, and the record labels have begun to feel the effects, so they're looking for any way to make money off their investments.
YouTube became a primary target for industry titan EMI. For example, with the success of OK Go's music video for "Here It Goes Again," with views in the tens of millions, EMI came back demanding payment for their streamed material. (The band's lead singer/guitarist, Damian Kulash Jr., wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times on the situation. You can read it here. Also, you can embed their video for "This Too Shall Pass" via Vimeo.) YouTube agreed to pay the record company a tiny amount for each stream, but - here's the crux of the problem - they pay only when the videos are viewed on YouTube's own site.
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down opened the show on Febryart 11th at West Hollywood venue Troubadour. Hailing from Virginia, the alternative pop-folk band, which includes Thao Nyugen on vocals and guitar, Adam Thompson on bass guitar and Willis Thompson (no relation) on drums, has an energy that had the entire crowd dancing and singing along. Thao Nguyen, in a striped sundress and cowboy boots strutted onto the stage with a coy smile and immediately launched into their first song, ‘When We Swam.' As she sang, she swung her hair around and danced back and forth across the stage. In fact, the entire band had an energy that was nearly palpable and it wasn't long before they had the entire room dancing and clapping as well. The band's obvious passion for their craft makes their performance one of my favorites so far this year.
Alkaline Trio This Addiction
All Time High Friends In High Places
Dan Black ((un))
David Broza Night Dawn: The Unpublished Poetry of Townes Van Zandt
Michelle Branch Everything Comes And Goes
Brian Jonestwon Massacre Who Killed Sgt.Pepper?
Cassidy Problem Is Back
Fan Death A Coin For The Well [EP]
David Byrne and Fatboy Slim Here Lies Love
DJ Khaled Victory
Fang Island Fang Island
Free Energy Stuck on Nothing
Jaga Jazzist One Armed Bandit
Lifehouse Smoke & Mirrors
Daniel Merriweather Love & War
After giving much ear to the new sweet Swedish sounds of the upcoming album Work by one of Stockholm's most credible indie bands, Shout Out Louds, I have only been able to draw one conclusion: that everyone is, in fact, going through an existential crisis! Scheduled to debut this upcoming Tuesday, February 23rd, Work will surely reinvent your most necessary rainy day mix tape.
The third and most melancholic album, Work, may be received by audiences as a bit of a dispiriting effort. However, Shout Out Louds are letting you in on their feelings about feelings and suggesting that “If you're going to break, then let it break.”
The day of do-it-yourself broadcasting is now upon us. Kudos to our fruitful obsession with technology: the average Philadelphia Joe can now conduct, produce, direct, and even host his own television or radio show, without ever leaving the couch.
Let's face it. In recent years, the Philadelphia music scene has been on a slippery slope, with a lacking local fanbase that doesn't cut it. Blame it on the smoking ban, the poor economy, or any other cultural strain: the scene is on its way down the tubes.
Instead of fighting technology, as some musicians tend to do, the musically inclined should be finding ways to embrace and manipulate it to their advantage. A couple of Philadelphia producers have taken the bull by the horns by creating "Philly Indie Bands Local 191", an internet radio program that features live shows by many of the areas most talented musicians. The band selection ranges from established, well-known bands, to undiscovered, up-and-coming talents.
A single piano and a background of strings gives way to one of the most electrifying voices of the current Boston music scene. The words work their way to a climax accented by thriving harmonic progressions as well as a strong rhythm section, which gently fades away again leaving the listener in stunned silence from the beauty of the moment. This is "You Told Me You Loved Me", the first track of Aika's (Aika Hirahara) self-titled single.
"You Told Me You Loved Me" originated out of Aika's desire to record a song about relationships. She asked collaborator Nicolas Farmakalidis (NeilaProductions) to help with the piece and the outcome is a tribute to the pair's incredible teamwork. The final touch was added by Grammy award-winning mix-engineer Dave Reitzas who gave the song depth that shares similar distinctiveness as the famous "I Will Always Love You" also mixed by Reitzas.
When on the website for singer Jimmy Hopper you see that his most recent escapade is entitled Journey of the Heart, "a journey through powerful and enduring music...where song and emotion take flight. Where your body will move. Your inhibitions will forget. And your heart will find its voice." You read all this while listening to a recording of Jimmy performing a song entitled "Nasty Girl."
That, my friends, is Jimmy Hopper.
Veteran Vegas lounge performer Hopper is famous for his range, referring both to his vocals as well as his song choices. Last Sunday, Hopper debuted his weekly residency at the Palms with a song selection from Andrea Bocelli, Muse, Bon Jovi, Black Eyed Peas and Green Day. Or at least, that's the idea.
The boys from England seem to be extremely busy these days, Thom Yorke recently announced on the band's blog Dead Air Space that he will performing a "low key solo thing at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on the 25th of Feb." Mr. Yorke explained the significance of this intimate concert, "It's because a friend of mine Tony Juniper (who used to be head of Friends of the Earth and who I went to the Copenhagen Summit with) is hoping to become one of the first Green Members of Parliament in the UK. And I wanted to help him out somehow."