Tag Archives: #musicology

Music Monday: Sylvan Esso

Despite the fact that their debut LP has been out since May, I’m only just now discovering Sylvan Esso thanks to a tip from a friend this morning. I was told “you need to hear this” and I did indeed need to hear it. So do you.

Sylvan Esso is an electro duo in the vein of Mates of State – albeit more subdued – comprised of two musicians with ties to two other acts. The vocalist, Amelia Meath, lends her honey-smooth vocals to Esso, coming from time spent with Mountain Man. The producer, Nick Sanborn, has a past with Megafaun (which is connected to Justin Vernon of Bon Iver in a 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of way.)

Together, this guy-girl indie pop project invokes the calmer sides of acts like Little Dragon, Chairlift or BANKS.

Music Monday – WhoSampled

Today I want to do something different for #musicmonday. For the first time, I’m not featuring actual music but rather a service. One that I have long needed and only just discovered. First let me preface why I needed the service so badly with a rather wordy rant:

A few months back, I was catching up on some of the newer episodes of The Tonight Show. Ever since Jimmy Fallon took over I’ve tried to stay current because despite his shortcomings as a comedian, he has turned the Tonight show back into a really fun hour (ok, minus commercials 42 minutes — and minus the bits that don’t work 34 minutes) of television. On the night that Demi Lovato was booked as a musical guest – I’m not a fan, I just remember music-related information more than anything else – The Roots were playing an interstitial piece of music during a return from a commercial break. It sounded extremely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.
Cut to: 2 months later, that 2.5 second snippet of music is still haunting me, albeit not as persistently, and during some random thoughts about Geri Halliwell’s first solo album, I suddenly remembered that artist who styled herself as Vitamin C. Everything was citrus-colored with her. At any rate, 14-year old me totally bought into her shtick, and I listened to that album often. The very last track on her debut album was especially catchy, but I was unaware of its musical pedigree. See, it turns out, nearly the entire musical portion of that song was lifted from an old song by The Clash. Don’t get me wrong, the musical education I received as a result of my parents’ album collections was indeed substantial. Furthermore, VH1’s Pop-Up Video and Rock & Roll Jeopardy furthered my musical education. But the one primary era of the musical past in which I’d never been tutored was punk. My dad was a fairly straight-laced fella, and my mom had a varied pop-alternative taste. There wasn’t really any punk influences anywhere. I knew the Clash hits that would become pop-culture references, “My Sharona,” and “Rock The Casbah,” but I didn’t know much else from that band or their genre.
Cut to: Last night. I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix (“Valentines Day Massacre” to be exact) and I heard that all-too-familiar drumbeat. It was back. And I thought, naturally, that it was the Vitamin C song (since, again, I did not have the reference point of the song from which the music was sampled) until I noticed that the vocals were not matching up with what I had been expecting. Since Grey’s is a very music-heavy show (all of the episodes are named after song titles that fit the theme of the episode but which are not necessarily featured) there are plenty of resources in which you can locate songs by scene descriptions. Turns out, the song which I’d been latching on to for months was a total surprise.
Final Verdict: The song I had been playing in my head was Vitamin C’s “Fear of Flying.” That song in fact samples nearly all of its music from The Clash’s “Magnificent Seven.” Ergo, that Tonight Show interstitial as played by the roots was actually them jamming out to some Clash instead of forgettable pop entity from the turn of the millennium.

And that musical journey is why I am recommending to you a website and mobile app called WhoSampled. It is a remarkable database that gives you any and all samples and musical references contained within a song. Myself, I have what feels like a musical venus fly trap of a brain; I absorb melodies, flourishes, basslines, guitar licks, et al. but my mental cataloging skills are often not adequate enough to file away all of the information that’s going in. I have a much more visual type of memory in that musical notes can trigger scenes in my head, which then may trigger pertinent information about that musical cue, but not always. WhoSampled, therefore, is essentially my new god. I now have the visual spiderweb database I’ve needed for a long time, and I’m really hoping that my sharing what I’ve found can help someone else out there who also has a hard time cataloging all of the music in their heads.

Visit the website  – – – Download the iPhone app for $2.99 (worth it.)

If you’re interested in the aforementioned music:

Vitamin C’s “Fear of Flying”

The Clash’s “Magnificent Seven” from whence much of the music came:

Music Monday: First Aid Kit NEW ALBUM ALERT

35921088_842_1500_06022014_17cdfd2074b66b78f2d5532a7cf8578e

It’s an exciting time in the ol’ music world these days. As you very well know, First Aid Kit is one of my favorite bands and they have released their third – YES THIRD – album, Stay Gold. These two haven’t even hit age 23 yet, and they have three albums, so if you’re trying to place what that emotion you’re feeling right now is, it’s inadequacy.

From covering one indie darling song to becoming indie darlings themselves, Johanna and Klara have done extremely well for themselves. It’s not just luck that’s gotten them this far, either — they have a ridiculous amount of talent for their age.

The phrase “silver lining” is overused and trite, but it is just so easy to work into a song. Hell, even Lykke Li has a track on her newest album that spins the phrase, called “Silver Line.”  No matter how many times the phrase gets used, First Aid Kit have still managed to work it into a fresh song. In fact, the phrase isn’t even the crux of the chorus, so a different title could’ve easily been picked. I’m spending too much time on the phrase. Just listen to the song, because it’s really quite good.

My Silver Lining

On their last album The Lion’s Roar, the girls sang a song called “Emmylou” which was a love song to the incomparable Emmylou Harris, but also a standard love song to a significant other, and moreover was even a bit of a love song to the bygone era of that strong streak of Americana Folk that used to dominate country music. Nowadays, country music is a sad state of affairs, mostly populated with focus-tested lyrics and pop industry rejects. The “Emmylou” era represented the post-Rockabilly, pre-Pop influence, and the newest single from Stay Gold called “Cedar Lane” is very much right in line with that genre. An official video hasn’t yet been released for the single, but they have provided a listening video.

Cedar Lane

As a bonus, here’s a behind the scenes look at the making of the “My Silver Lining” video:

To buy the album on iTunes, click here. To find out more about First Aid Kit, click here. The album can still be streamed – for now – on NPR by clicking here.

maxresdefault-2

Music Monday: Lykke Li

Lykke-Li-Paris-Blue-+-Get-Some

Guess who’s back, back again? It’s Lykke Li! (Pro-tip, it’s roughly pronounced “Luka Lee”) One of my favorite Swedish songstresses released her newest album a few weeks back, and it does not disappoint. Well, I do have one issue with it: I wish there was more of it! I could very easily stand to have her release a five-hour album, but that would just be silly and strenuous for the artist.

At any rate, clocking in at 33 minutes, this 10-track album is a great addition to her existing discography and rounds out a trio of LPs about love. “I Never Learn” deals more with love lost, where her last album “Wounded Rhymes” dealt slightly more with unrequited and not-yet-attained love.

I already mentioned a few of her singles from this album, from the striking and affected “Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone” and I pointed out a lyric video for “No Rest For The Wicked.” The official video for that song is now out:

My personal favorite (for today at least) is the title track, “I Never Learn.” Looking forward to an official video, but for now, here’s the audio track.

iTunesAmazonPhysical Copy

Music Monday: Soko

Did you see that strangers-first-kiss video that went viral a few weeks ago? It was appropriately titled “First Kiss.” Turns out the whole thing was commissioned by a small clothing label as a video showcase for their newest styles. The song used in the video was my introduction to Soko. She’s a French singer/actor who even appears in the video. (She’s the shorter of the two girl-on-girl kissers.)

Her voice brings to mind a more focused CocoRosie, or maybe a Julia Stone with more hurt imbued in her inflections. Soothing, but most certainly emotional. Especially in the song “Treat Your Woman Right.”  If you’re having a particularly emotional day today, don’t listen to it. TEARS.

At any rate, here’s “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow”:

Buy the album.

12_1soko_4

To see that viral video, watch it after the jump.

Continue reading Music Monday: Soko

Music Monday: Fruition

frutionlive

Fruition is a hybrid bluegrass band based out of Portland.

I say this upfront, because it gives you a chance to get out now. The thing is though, they’re much much better than what you’ve undoubtedly already assumed about them.

I mean, just on their album Just One Of Them Nights, they cast a wide net of musicianship. Wider than what I personally expected, and I already like this kind of music. After the first song comes on, you think you’re gonna be in for more of the same track after track. Turns out, though, the songs, styles and lead vocalists switch up every other song.

“Git Along”:

Buy the album.

Fruition-Seattle-May-2013Fruition-Logo-1-black-

 

Music Monday: Ingrid Michaelson

Ingrid-Michaelson

Ingrid Michaelson has become a bit of a perennial popster. Her songs don’t consistently reach the top 10, but the lady never. stops. working. Her husband, Greg Laswell, has the same kind of work ethic. When he’s not recording, his mixing sound & producing. He shows up on this album, pairing up with his wife on the track Wonderful Unknown.

If by chance you haven’t happened to hear any of her post “Be OK” music, rest easy. “Be OK” was cute the first time, and then it just droned on because every mom & every radio station in America thought it had to be played every hour on the hour.

Every album since then has been pretty solid though. This one is no different. In fact, there are plenty of duets on this album, if by chance you want a little break from All-Ingrid-All-The-Time.

Ingrid actually filmed & edited her own lyric video for that song she recorded with Greg. Lyric videos are largely a fan-made phenomenon thanks to YouTube, but when you want it done right, you do it yourself apparently.

The lead single, “Girls Chase Boys” is a direct homage to the Robert Palmer video for “Simply Irresistible.”

Screen-shot-2014-02-20-at-10.03.00-AM

Click any of the above photos, or click here, to preorder the album which comes out tomorrow.

Music Monday: Tove Lo

tove-lo-klapmag-2

I got a heads up from a dear friend this weekend to check out an artist named Tove Lo. Tove Lo is – surprise – a Swedish indie pop artist comprised of one lady Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson. If “Tove” hadn’t part of her name, I could’ve sworn that “Tove Lo” was a play on “Love To.”

Anyway, she released a short EP early in March. Her credits in the music business have preceded her solo effort, though. She’s written for summer-jam sensations Icona Pop and written with Max Martin, a pop producer who has been in the game for a long, long time.

The big single that has taken hold these last few weeks is “Habits (Stay High)” and its subsequent remix featuring Hippie Sabotage. They’re quite good and indeed catchy, but if you’re not quite feeling either of them, the good news is that the other songs on her EP are better. If you are a fan of Habits, then the good news the other songs are better. <evil grin>

Here’s the original followed by the remix. Scroll on down for my personal favorites.

As you can tell, she’s very much a part of this new wave of electronic pop that has taken such a firm hold in almost every aspect of popular radio play. The good thing is that she actually does it well.

First up, “Over” a song about, yup, a relationship being over:

“Paradise” which has nothing in common with Lana’s EP title.

This one, “Out Of Mind”, has an actual video. The song itself has some real nice aural allusions to some  late 80’s/early 90’s tunes in the same ilk as solo-era Peter Gabriel & Rusted Root.

If you’d like to make a new music purchase, you can grab Tove Lo’s Truth Serum EP at iTunes here.

tove-lo-klapmag3

 

Music Monday: Liza Anne

album cover

I just discovered Liza Anne via my preferred streaming music service, Rdio. Her first full-length album was just released last week and it sounds so polished, it’s surprising she doesn’t already have 2 or 3 under her belt. Yes, this is a singer/songwriter album about love, but I’ll be damned if it is not done up to perfection. There are a few love-gone-sour songs on here, sure, but do not make the mistake of dismissing them just because the topic has been so terribly overdone by Taylor Swift and her ilk.

Liza Anne’s voice immediately invokes the likes of contemporaries like Ingrid Michaelson & Amy McDonald, but I’d contend she sounds more like a combination of Jill Andrews, Priscilla Ahn and with a dash of an airier Shara Worden. (By the way, if you haven’t heard of any of those magnificent songstresses, go YouTube yourself into a music wormhole.) Certain inflections of hers also really remind me of a local artist I heard years ago named Erin Manning, albeit to a much lesser degree.

What I’m getting at is that Liza’s voice is a sweet, sweet instrument and I expect her to show up on the soundtrack of an episode of one of Shonda Rhymes’ shows at some point in the future.

Make no mistake though, she’s not just a pretty voice. Her songwriting is also something to be admired. “The Colder Months”, the title track, is the song where Liza flexes her music muscles. It’s full of restrained angst, a sparse yet driving drum beat, and some nice guitar reverb to set the mood. It’s also the track where her Shara Worden-lite vocality really shines through.

Here’s a small YouTube sampling of Liza:

The Colder Months – Official Video
http://youtu.be/P1vAywm7Mcg

“Wrecking Ball” – A Miley Cover

“Come On Back” – An original, with backup singers

Click photo below to view album in iTunes.

maxresdefault

 

 

Music Monday: The Neighbourhood’s PEEN

I’m not the biggest fan in the world of The Neighbourhood. The song of theirs that went everywhere this past summer “Sweater Weather” is okay and all, but I was disappointed to learn that despite the King’s English spelling of the band name, the lads were not in fact from the UK. They’re a group of guys from California. All that being said, they released a video for their latest single “Afraid” wherein the lead singer just wanted to be naked. Being the proponent of peen that I am, I present to you here, uncensored, the video for “Afraid”

Note – there’s actually only like one second of cock in the whole thing, but tbh, it’s pretty nicely sized for a flaccid wang. Screencap below.

IMG_8875

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 12.52.50 AM

And for good measure, here’s a pic of the lead singer’s bum as well as a gif of him being a total heteroflexible goober:

IMG_0239 IMG_6916

Courtesy of Roman’s reporting & research (aka texting me photos he found.)