Tuesday Tunes: New York City

September 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 10.10.13 PMPhoto Credit: “New York City” – Among Savages

This week we are celebrating our new home–the iconic city that is New York.  It’s not an easy task to narrow down the hundreds of songs written about the infamous “Big Apple,” but here are some of our current favorites.  So take a look, and be inspired to sift through the countless songs that claim New York as their muse, and see just what kind of impact this city has had on music.

City Love” – John Mayer
Empire State of Mind” – Jay Z ft. Alicia Keys
New York City Cops” – The Strokes
No Sleep Til Brooklyn” – Beastie Boys
M79” – Vampire Weekend
Love and You” – The Avett Brothers
City” – The 1975
Seasons of Love” - Rent
L.E.S” – Childish Gambino
New York, New York” – Frank Sinatra
Harlem” – New Politics
Hey There Delilah” – Plain White T’s

Show Review: The Well Reds

September 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

IMG_3267

On Wednesday night, we made our way to Rockwood Music Hall in NYC to see Atlanta-based pop-rockers, The Well Reds. The venue was quite small, but this allowed for an intimate show. The Well Reds, made up of Sean Crawford on lead guitar, Rex Crawford on bass, Jeremy Ezell on acoustic guitar and a dominating, aged, grand piano, as well as lead vocals, and Torin Degnats tucked away on drums, created a presence that was inescapable, even if not for the confined space. The crowd was also surprisingly diverse, and it was a great turnout, considering there were other bands playing on the stage right next door.

We came just in time to catch the end of their first song, “6 More Months,” and segue into their introduction and second song, “Carousels.” Ezell was very excited about “Carousels,” explaining how The Well Reds recently released a video for the song, as well as its importance on their upcoming album, Volume, due out November 10, 2014. The song has a great beat, and we knew immediately that we picked the right show to attend.

One of our favorite things about TWR was their ability to convey themselves as old fashioned, while still utilizing new techniques and sounds. They did this so effortlessly, with the rustic piano, the acoustic guitar paired with the electric guitar and loop pedal, as well as their more carefree fashion sense that conveyed them as down to earth and not trying too hard. Musically, TWR achieved this unique oxymoron by subtly transitioning to old favorites such as Soft Cell and Bob Marley. The band brilliantly turned their “Hearts” into the ever-catchy “Tainted Love,” and later incorporated Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” and “Three Little Birds” into their song, “White Lights.” The transitions were carried out expertly, and were a great way to reach out to the small crowd.

“Violet” was a great song that showcased the talents of the band beyond Ezell’s vocals and Sean’s guitar skills. There was a focus on Rex’s bass in particular, and the significance of his relationship with Degnats’ drums. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the surface level music and not hear each individual piece, but hearing “Violet” live proved to be a unique experience to highlight the little things that bring The Well Reds together.

The last song, “BPM (I Feel Rhythm),” was an excellent exit song—a real showstopper. The energy was incredible, solidifying The Well Reds as an exciting band, and definitely leaving a memorable impression.

All in all, The Well Reds put on a great show, and we are more eager than ever to see what the band has to release in November with their album, Volume.

Single Review: New Navy – “Rosaline”

September 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Totally groovy and trance-like, New Navy’s new single “Rosaline” has hopeless romantics’ hearts fluttering.  Released from their upcoming debut LP, the Sydney three-piece have been busy in the recording studio, and this unconventional love song should be evidence of their hard work.

When you hear the phrase ‘love song,’ words that come to mind might be slow, melancholic, dreamy.  New Navy definitely has a trance-like sound, as evident from past releases (the Aussie group gained a following back in 2011 with the EP Uluwatu); but “Rosaline” presents a fun alternative.  Keeping in tradition with their organic-percussion sound, this single is a mix of tropical beats and the funkadelic harmonies of the ‘70s.  Lead singer, Luke O’Loughlin, sings without effort, receiving vocal back-up for the chorus and layering his own vocals in verses to create an echoe-y effect.

This love song is instrumentally dense, but the repetitiveness of the chorus and shimmering sounds never break the ceiling.  Just shy of the four-minute mark, “Rosaline” is ideal for two extremes of listening: mindless dancing and—dare I say it—studying!

New Navy will be touring this month around Australia, so for our readers in the States, you can keep up with the band on Facebook, or listen to their material on Spotify and iTunes.

Concert Preview: The Henry Millers Play Rough Trade NYC

September 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

the henry millers play rough trade nyc

Brooklyn-based indie-pop duo The Henry Millers will play Rough Trade NYC on Friday, September 26th at 8 PM with SWIMM. The duo is set to release their sophomore full-length album Posies, out September 16th. They just released their new single “Simple Thing,” which you can listen to HERE. The band has received praise from The Wild Honey Pie, Paper Magazine, and Nylon Guys, just to name a few.

Don’t miss out on this up and coming band! Hope to see you there.

Details:
WHO: 
The Henry Millers
WHERE: Rough Trade NYC – 64 N 9th St, New York, NY
WHEN: 
Friday, September 26th
TIME: 8 PM
TICKETS: $10; grab your tickets HERE

Interview: Sammy Rae

September 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sammy Rae

We recently had the chance to catch up with one of our favorite artists from MCU’s YouTube Artists series, the ever-talented Sammy Rae.  Sammy is as busy as ever (if not more so), with school and work and some incredible recording opportunities for her latest album, Work Real Hard.  Just as we love her music, it’s always a pleasure talking to and learning from Sammy Rae.  Read below to hear what she’s been up to, and all the exciting things fans have to look forward to in the near future:

Last time we spoke, you were just getting ready to release your sophomore album, Celebrate My Heart, and now a third album is in the works. What information can you share about the new album and what should the fans expect?

I know I said this last time but this is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. And I think it’s safe to say that’s how I’ll feel with every album from here on out. I’m living in New York City full time now, which makes it a lot easier to get into some of the bigger studios I’ve always wanted to experience. The quality of my recordings gets better every time because I’m making connections and working with some really talented engineers. There are a lot of new sounds on this album, a lot of bigger sounds. There’s bass, electric guitar, organ, a string session, big drum kits. There are a few ballads, a “you can do it” song, a few acoustic jazzy numbers, including a remix of “Dirty Brother” which was a popular one from Celebrate My Heart. And of course there are a few that follow more of a story line than anything. It’s kind of like a big collection of songs that don’t really fit together sound-wise, being held together by content.

How have your influences changed over the last year? Compared to Hopeless and Celebrate My Heart, how does this new album differ in terms of content and the recording process?

Hopeless as I said last time, was very much a “learning how to song write” project that I did in my bedroom when I was 15 years old. Celebrate… came from my freshman year of college, and had all of those “find yourself and love yourself” themes, which I very much believe in and will follow through to all of my music, I’m sure. But Work Real Hard is more of an “okay, I’ve found myself, now I’m here, what do I do?” type feel, if that makes any sense. The title track has a Latin rock swing to it, and it’s about living above a bodega in the Bronx and all the little frustrations that come with big city life. No surprises here! I think that this album is a little bit more frustrated, maybe [more] anxious than the last. It’s got the “why is my love falling apart?” track, called “Stop Time,” the “I’m not good enough” track, which is “Something,” and even the story of a fictional, 1950s-esque house wife who loses her husband to some secretary from his office, which is “Lady Next Door.”

But this album also has a lot more hope than anything else I’ve ever done. There’s a track on it called “Roof and Walls” which talks about the world being kind of rushed and scary, and everything crumbling around you, until you let relationships in. And how with other people we can be enough for ourselves and each other, and thrive in love. “Shine” and “Fall” are both about coming to terms with mistakes and overcoming them shamelessly. The big one, “Ashes,” kind of chronicles a relationship before it happens, and as it’s fading away at the end of a life, and it’s very much a song about hope. There’s one called “Birds” that’s got a line pretty much sums up the whole album:

“The thing about us, we just gotta live like the birds. The thing about birds, they don’t sing because they’ve got to. Proving nothing to nobody, they just sing because they want to.”

Just live with abandon, be vulnerable, work your butt off. Chase what you love and expect nothing but bliss in return.

You talked a great deal about your inspirations in our previous interview. Any new names making a mark on your musical heart lately?

I’ve had a real diverse playlist lately. For one, this year has been huge on jazz for me. I’ve been spending a lot of time looking into the history of jazz and blues and falling in love with some of the classics like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, [and] Sara Vaughn on a new level. In terms of new releases, I’m in love with Jack White’s Lazaretto and Kimbra’s The Golden Echo. They’re both risky and weird, which I love because you can tell the artist is writing for creativity, not for what resources are available to them or to get themselves on the radio or anything. Just for the art of it.

I’ve also been revisiting early Springsteen lately. He’s always been my favorite and my biggest inspiration lyrically, but I’ve been listening more closely to his structure and phrasing and vowel choices and tiny stuff like [that]. His lyrics never fail to amaze me, especially his early stuff that came from an age and place similar to where I am now.

You’ve been known to add some unique instruments to your recordings. Are you thinking of adding any new and crazy instruments to your repertoire?

I just bought a melodica! I’m not entirely sure why, I just thought it would be cool to have for videos and was a great $30 alternative to a keyboard for when I need to get a melody out and I’m at my apartment. You blow into it to make an accordion type sound. I mean, Work Real Hard is full of crazy instrumentation, from organ and electric guitar and drum sets, and one track called “Ashes” will even have a string orchestra on it. I can’t believe it either, but a producer heard it and wanted to take it over the top, so it’s happening. But those were all session musicians; I did vocals and keys on the album as usual. Nothing too weird on my part!

Work Real Hard Album Artwork

What about performing? Have you been playing more live shows over the last year and do you plan on touring in support of the new album?

I wish I could say I had the time, the equipment, and the funds to gig out often and even tour. Those things will come with time, I’m positive. But for now, I’m hoping to play a lot of open mic’s and coffeehouses during the year, and my job now that the album is done is to get it to the right ears, and in turn, a band will eventually form and gigs will start happening. That’s my hope! While I’m my happiest and truest when I’m in a booth, nothing compares to performing live. It’s bliss. « Read the rest of this entry »

New Album: One Direction

September 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Big news for One Direction fans this morning with the announcement of a new album, and a free download sneak peek!  The album is entitled FOUR, and will debut November 17, 2014.  The boys have already posted pre-order links on their website.

But that’s not all!  For TODAY only, fans can download a new song, “Fireproof,” for FREE.  Get this exclusive download here.

We are already digging this track, but, as always, let us know what you think of the new song!

Show Review: Jesus On The Mainline, Animal Years

September 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

jesus

Recently, I made my way out to the Music Hall of Williamsburg to enjoy a show with the ever-unique, 15-piece band, Jesus on the Mainline, supported by Animal Years, The Bone Chimes, and Bear Ceuse.

I had been trying nearly all summer to see Animal Years, so I was excited to make it to this show. My expectations were high, and Animal Years definitely lived up to their hype. Animal Years opened with “Meet Me,” and at first I was a little disappointed because the crowd was not fully engaged yet. People were talking over the performance and it was difficult to make out the songs, but once lead singer Mike McFadden started singing the higher, longer notes, the audience started to quiet down and even cheer. With attention and energy captured, I was able to enjoy and truly absorb the music.

I found McFadden to be adorably entertaining, and it was a joy to see how happy guitarist Matthew Indellicati was throughout their set. They seemed to be having such fun that I felt I not only had to join in, I also had to share, texting friends who were clearly missing out.

One of the highlights had to be the cover of Haim’s “The Wire,” which was one of two encores. Animal Years completely jammed to the song, and the crowd enjoyed it, as well, with lots of head nodding to the beat.

Other songs played included “Heart on Heart,” “Sun Will Rise,” “Let Go of Your Head,” and “Forget What They’re Telling You,” which has a pretty interesting video:

Jesus On The Mainline was a whole different story. I was not familiar with the band, and even what little I knew could not have prepared me for the experience of 15 individuals taking the stage and literally just making music. I honestly don’t know which songs were which, and I suppose that was mostly the point.

JOTM took their set as a time to purely jam out with their horns, drums, keyboard, vocalists, and absolutely insane electric guitarist. The atmosphere was just as crazy, and it did take me a little while to wrap my brain around what was happening. The talent was so evident, however, that it hardly mattered that there was no solid structure to the songs. The solos and the acoustic guitar especially blew my mind.

Another aspect that was different and exciting about JOTM was that for their last song, they had all the other bands come out and sing with them. Of course it added to the overwhelming sensation the 15-piece ensemble already created, but it also became a sort of concert within a concert. The other bands got to share in performing with their friends and fellow musicians in a way that mirrored the side of crowd participation they don’t often get to experience. It was a great bonding moment for all present, and an even better way to end the night.

That being said, the transition from Animal Years, who were extremely folky and indie, to JOTM’s full out funk, soul, rock sound was not a smooth one. It felt odd and a little disorienting. Though I enjoyed both sets, I was surprised by the lineup of this tour.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend you keep an eye out for upcoming dates to see Animal Years on tour, and if you’re looking for a new musical experience, definitely try to find your way to see Jesus On The Mainline.

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