Album Review: FOUR

November 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

One_Direction_-_Four

Four. Four years. Four albums. Millions of screaming fans. Who else could we be talking about but One Direction? Last week the group that emerged from the UK’s X Factor debuted their newest album, FOUR, named specifically to designate their fourth album. In only four short years, that is a true feat for any band.

The album opens with single, “Steal My Girl,” which has already captivated the world. It’s got a crooning beat, romantic lyrics, and that killer falsetto from Zayn, making it an instant 1D classic.

“Ready to Run” was one of the previewed songs fans received if they pre-ordered the album. It eases you in, with a soothing acoustic guitar that builds into a drum beat that carries you right along until you’re dancing along with the chorus. It is also a great song showing off the varied talents of each member of the band. There is something special when each has his moment in the sun, and “Ready to Run” is only the first of many on this album to do so. The message of being free and looking to the future is also signature One Direction, and it’s nice that they have continued this theme, but can present it in a new way each time.

“Where Do Broken Hearts Go” has a harsher, rock core that immediately sticks with you. The lyrical content is slightly reminiscent of the Jonas Brothers’ “What Did I Do To Your Heart,” and both songs are catchy, though One Direction certainly does not have that Southern twang the JoBros tested out. “WDBHG” has a heart wrenching element that pulls you in, and you can definitely see it being an anthem that fans will scream along to live.

Another pre-order song, “18,” is by far the most heartfelt song on the album. There’s no doubt why—it was penned by the master himself, Ed Sheeran. With that said, there is not much more that needs to be spelled out about this ballad. The lyrics are tear-jerker sweet, and the musical delivery is incredibly authentic. It’s as if Sheeran asked the boys to sing in their accents, making the song as genuine and natural as possible. “18” is a matured “Little Things” that shows how much One Direction has grown, and yet still holds them true to their roots. « Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday Tunes: Giving Thanks

November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

http://explorethedc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Thanksgiving2.png

While it’s the season for food comas and shopping sprees, it is also a time for giving thanks. With the holiday being a couple days away, we wanted to share the songs that remind us to be thankful. Check out our list and subscribe to our Spotify, and share your Thanksgiving-themed songs with us at @MusicCreatesUs!

Happily – One Direction
Take My Hand – The Cab
Wanted – Hunter Hayes
Don’t Forget Where You Belong – One Direction
Halo – Beyonce
Hometown Glory – Adele
New Soul – Yael Naim
Seasons of Love – RENT
With A Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles
Peace, Love, Happiness - G. Love & Special Sauce
Coming Home – John Legend
The Only Exception – Paramore

Interview: Animal Years

November 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

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We’re excited to start the week with a band that we have highlighted in the past and have truly come to love: Animal Years.  We caught up with the Brooklyn-based band to find out more about the recent shows they’ve played, including New York’s big CMJ Music Marathon.  If we’ve been successful in creating new Animal Years fans out of you, read below to hear more about what’s next for the indie rockers!

To start, can you update us on what the band has been up to recently?
We’re gearing up for our BK Bowl show and working on new material for a release in early 2015!

You’ll be playing The Brooklyn Bowl again in a couple weeks, and have graced several venues in NYC. How does it feel to have such strong support in your extended “hometown?”
It’s unreal. We are still a new band in our eyes so seeing fans come out to every show we’ve played has been amazing. We played a Rockwood Music Hall residency in September where the same fans came every weekend! We couldn’t ask for more.

You’ve also played a string of shows during this year’s CMJ Music Marathon. What was that experience like and what was the best moment of the festival?
It was a great experience all around. I think the best thing was playing in front of Adam Duritz in his apartment for The Outlaw Road Show. We love those guys!

It’s been a few months since the release of your debut album, Sun Will Rise. Now that you’ve had some time to perform most of the album, what’s your favorite song to play live and why?
I think “Rapture” is still a favorite. It’s tough to play the same thing all of the time but we do great 3 part harmonies there and strip it down so we can really hear each other. It makes us feel like we’re in an old folky band.

What themes and inspirations did you pull from when creating Sun Will Rise?
After 7 years of making music and failing, I had to create a mindset that one day things will work. Sun Will Rise was a perfect mantra. Basically I thought that if it didn’t work today I would try again tomorrow.

What’s next for the band? Any plans in the works for a full tour?
We’re making the trek up to Woodstock to record an EP of our best material. We’re working with the best and can’t wait to let you listen. No official announcements on touring but stay tuned!

Feature Friday: Halcyon Drive

November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Halcyon DriveFeature by Bailey Garno

How often do you hear the words “garage” and “pop” mixed together to characterize a music group? Not often, but that uncommon mix of music styles is exactly how the Australian Halcyon Drive describes themselves in their Twitter bio. The release of the single “Crusoe” has thrust Halcyon Drive into the indie music scene spotlight and has turned ears to their recently released EP, Cruel Kids.

Listeners may be surprised to discover upon listening to the selection that the immensely dense and complicated sounds are produced by the hands of just two individuals! Michael Oechsle is the lead vocalist and guitarist while Max Pamieta is on drums and contributes to vocals. Together, this duo manages to do it all. It’s quite impressive, although perhaps less uncommon these days with the technology that allows artists to create looping effects and dual drum segments. That is exactly the sort of work that Oechsle and Pamieta do in the studio and on stage. Despite all this effort, Halcyon Drive is still applauded for having wonderfully energetic sets.

The new EP lends its success to two other geniuses; Cruel Kids was recorded and produced by Steven Schram (San Cisco, The Cat Empire, Little Red) and mastered by Brian Lucey (Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys). To showcase the new tunes, Halcyon Drive is set to play multiple shows through the year. Notable acts include The Standard Bowl in Sydney and the NYE On the Hill festival.

Find Cruel Kids available for streaming, download, and purchase on SoundCloud and Bandcamp now!

Show Preview: Animal Years & Robert Randolph and the Family Band

November 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

Animal Years

An MCU favorite, Animal Years, will be returning to Brooklyn Bowl  next Friday, November 28! Check out some awesome music while you’re recovering from an impending post-Thanksgiving food coma and avoiding Black Friday mayhem.

The band will be opening for Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Over the summer we got to see Animal Years at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and you will not be disappointed by their performance.

Details:
Who:
Animal Years, Robert Randolph and the Family Band
When: Friday, 11/28 – Doors at 6 PM, Show at 8 PM
Where: Brooklyn Bowl – 61 Wythe Avenue – Brooklyn, NY 11249
Price: $20, get tickets here

Show Review: The Humble Grapes

November 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo: So much fun playing at The Bitter End last night! Thank you so much to everyone who came out. We can't wait to see everyone in December! NEXT SHOW: Sat Dec 20 7:30 Rockwood Music Hall #thebitterend #rocknroll #greatbeard

On Saturday night, The Bitter End came to life with a performance by The Humble Grapes, a NYC-based band.  Full of soul and exceptionally talented musicians, as the night went on The Humble Grapes were really able to hype up their audience.

The band is comprised primarily of lead singer, Brie Capone, and David Kaufman on piano.  It doesn’t feel right to even call Kaufman a keyboardist, his presence on the full-stage piano deserves much more recognition.  As does the backup band that accompanied Capone and Kaufman Saturday night.  The duo were supported by an incredible drummer, insane guitarist, bass guitarist, and unique background singer–a nice mix of girls and guys.

During their first song, “Save Me,” I was especially impressed by the background vocals.  It was a great touch to the live performance, especially for this relatively low-key band.  Capone truly becomes one with the music when she sings, and that sense of feeling the music became obvious throughout the band, particularly in the drum and electric guitar solos.  The band also made several attempts to make sure Kaufman’s piano was amped up high enough to showcase its importance in The Humble Grapes’ overall sound.

In their opener and throughout the show, I found that though their musical presence was sound and entertaining, there was not much to their lyrics.  It was a bit disappointing, though it is easier to get away with in a live setting.  The arrangement and atmosphere of The Bitter End itself was a little stifling for the band, as well.  The main area is seated, which I found really limited audience participation.  With a more unknown band it is also difficult to get the crowd excited, and even harder when they’re sitting.

The Humble Grapes found their groove when they busted out the perfect cover–Lorde’s “Royals.”  The song was a perfect fit for Capone’s sound and the spirit of her voice.  The familiarity sparked the crowd and The Humble Grapes’ momentum soon soared.

They followed with the crisp piano sounds of “Life, Love, and Pain,” where Kaufman could show off his chops.  Then they segued into “The Only One In Love,” which was my favorite of the night.  The instrumentals were fantastic from every member on stage.  Each person got to bring their talent to the forefront and showcase all the underlying layers of The Humble Grapes.  The lyrics also came through in this song.  I found them beautiful and relatable–The Humble Grapes were winning me over.

However, the next song, “24 Hours,” was not my favorite.  It seemed to be a turning point in the show, but something in the song felt like an abrupt switch that just did not sit well.  It was a lengthy song, and I will amend that it did turn into a jam by the end.  Capone packed on the power and was able to hype up the crowd.

They played a new song, “Heaven Help Me,” and an older song, “Honey,” which was unfortunately a bit like a retreating step backwards.  For a live show, “Honey” felt too slow.  However, Capone and Kaufman were clearly proud of it, making it a testament to who The Humble Grapes are.  You can’t begrudge a band that, and Kaufman’s talent was back redeeming the song on his piano.

Kaufman’s excitement fueled into the last song of their set, “Addicted.”  It was another upbeat tune, and as soon as Kaufman stood up to pound away on the keys, you knew it was serious.  By this time, The Humble Grapes had come full circle and had the room energized and feeling like we were in some old-fashioned, classic saloon.  It was a great time, and propelled the crowd to call out for an encore.  I was pleasantly surprised with this turnaround, but was slightly disheartened when The Humble Grapes decided to slow it down with a song called “Sleep.”  They promised to bring the momentum back up as the song progressed, and they did end on a good note, but it would not have been my first choice.

Overall, The Humble Grapes have an excellent stage presence and are clearly talented.  In fact, I much prefer their live sound and would encourage anyone to see them, if only to hear Capone’s rich, soulful vocals, and Kaufman’s captivating control over the black and whites.  The Humble Grapes will play next at Rockwood Music Hall in New York on December 20.

Tuesday Tunes: FOUR Best One Direction Songs

November 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s no secret that the MCU team’s not-so-guilty pleasure is One Direction. To celebrate the release of the boy band’s fourth studio album, FOUR, we decided to take on the difficult task of choosing our favorite songs from each album. Check out our picks below and tell us what your favorite 1D songs are at @MusicCreatesUs! You can also subscribe to the playlist here.

Up All Night:
Same Mistakes
More Than This
Stand Up

Take Me Home:
Magic
Over Again
Rock Me

Midnight Memories:
Strong
You & I
Happily

FOUR:
18
Stockholm Syndrome
Act My Age

 

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