Archive for January, 2011
By: Rob Brayl
If the rumors are correct, it looks as if Beyonce’s next album may be headed down uncharted territory. A little dosage of indie electro explosives to be exact. Rumor has it that BK has been working with Brooklyn power duo Sleigh Bells, whose 2010 debut was one of the year’s most acclaimed indie albums.
Sleigh Bells spilled the beans via their Twitter in a post that has since been deleted, stating: “yeah damn beyonce on it was intense track may not get finished (?) but we finished the rum off at least.” Soon after, producer Diplo stated he had in fact been working with Beyonce in a message posted to his blog: “Me and Switch was in [the] studio in NYC tryin’ to make tracks with Derek and Beyonce last week after we played [Beyonce's] team [the Sleigh Bells] album. Dunno if we gonna manage to finish, but [it] was good times.”
Diplo, Switch and Sleigh Bells have shared creative juices in the past, all producing songs on MIA’s last record. We can only imagine that MIA, who has openly proclaimed her support of Beyonce in the past, would be all about their collaboration with Beyonce. In 2007, she stated in an interview: “In our lifetime, Beyonce will be a classic, like how people talk about Aretha Franklin.”
(We second that and cannot wait for the album!)
[Sidenote: Jay-Z has also noted his respect of indie rock in an interview w/ Rolling Stone last year, saying it's more rebellious than hip-hop.]
Not familiar with Sleigh Bells? Dive in below.
By: Rob Brayl
[McGraw quit drinking three years ago]
Watch an interview (gettin’ a lil’ down & dirty) via Chelsea Lately below.
By: Maria Ciezak
Talib Kweli recently dropped his latest album, Gutter Rainbows, a title inspired by Catcher in the Rye, to assorted reviews and wide expectations. If youâ€™re a fan of hip-hop, and respectable music in general, I suggest purchasing this record. For over ten years, Talib has tried a successful variation of sounds, and this mounts the norm. Being his first independent release in several years, firm fans will find something new here; I am sure it will become part of their rotation in dash.
There are moments on this album that show songwriting genius in my opinion: suggested tracks are Cold Rain and Palookas. Talib exemplifies artistic independence in all figures and forms. Iâ€™m not here to review the album, just to bring to your attention to a release that is noteworthy.
In the words of Kweli himself, consider it an â€œExperiment in freedom, but it ainâ€™t free!â€
By: Caitlin Hoffman
What do you like your Cake with? After lovemaking, before a protest march, during a lazy afternoon? Do you like Cake with tea, with pineapple icing, with herbal cigarettes or coffee with Baileys?
I like Cake with anything. Theyâ€™re moist, scrumptious, low on the sugar and high on the flavour, like any dessert should be. Simply speaking, theyâ€™re stylish. Stylish, smooth, calm and cool, and delightfully f*cked up. If theyâ€™re known for anything, itâ€™s their ability to tweak and twist. Theyâ€™re the aftermath of hallucinogens, when the colour has receded and the truth becomes clear.
The most awesome thing? Theyâ€™ve been around since the nineties and (drumroll) they havenâ€™t broken up yet. Members have dwindled here and there, but as a whole, theyâ€™re still standing. Committed to the long haul, unlike oh so many flash in the pan indie types we get on the radio. People seem to forget that building a band isnâ€™t just about talent or creativity, but the ability to stick to your guns.
If you didnâ€™t hear about them before this year, you have now. Not just from my rambles, but from the fact that their 2011 album hit number one on The Billboard website. Donâ€™t know how these guys would take mainstream appreciation. Probably with a furrowed brow and stiff upper lip, Iâ€™m guessing.
After pulling through Showroom of Compassion, I felt relieved of expectation. Listen up, and maybe theyâ€™ll do the same for you.
By: Maria Ciezak
Lady Alanis is back. Her voice is stunningly distinct, yet never seems to disappoint. Itâ€™s been quite some time since Ms. Morissette has embraced fans with new music, but today the wait is over with the newly released track Professional Torturer. The song is taken from the soundtrack Radio Free Albemuth. Although this is not a single, it’s sure to make an impact on the music scene. What a beautiful piece of music — somewhat similar to her old stuff — leaving listeners relating to her lyrics.
Listen to Professional Torturer now.
By: Rob Brayl
Don’t ask me how this started. I told you not to ask! Ok, fine. Basically it started with me listening to Enchanted on a loop and I somehow ran into this awesome cover by Allstar Weekend. And it dawned on me that a post about boys singing Taylor Swift would do the heart some good and perhaps melt away at some of the hard rock ice that’s taken fort around New York City.
Watch Allstar’s Enchanted cover + Matt Beilis’ take on Innocent below.
[Related Post: I Wrote You A Poem, Taylor Swift]
By: Caitlin Hoffman
You heard me right. Itâ€™s official enough to be tweeted. One of my sweetest guilty pleasures is grabbing the musical industry by the horns and throwing up their fourth album in March. People have been all sorts of dizzy about this news, wondering what this fun-loving, brutally honest band is going to come up with next. I kept hearing about it but wanted to stay on the cautious side, until it was officially official. Lo and behold: the songs are done, and all they need to do is patch up some recordings before setting sail on their brand new tugboat. Long anticipated, Dirty Work should be released before their tour of the same name. Their first single (hopefully piping hot off the burner) is titled I Feel Like Dancing. Though I canâ€™t imagine them topping Weightless, Iâ€™m sure itâ€™ll live up to its name.
Watch Alex as he gabs it up about the album with BVTV.
By: Rob Brayl
ROB BRAYL: So I know that â€˜Caged Birdâ€™ is your genuinely personal song with regards to domestic violence. Has music always been a cathartic release for you, a safe space?
ASHLEY ARRISON: I wouldnâ€™t necessarily call writing music my safe place, but rather my most vulnerable place. I am not super prolific, writing songs all of the time. I really envy people who can do that, but songwriting is too emotional of an act for me to be able to pull my innermost thoughts, like water from a well, out daily or weekly or on command. I have to be feeling extremely vulnerable to say what I need to say. And when that moment happens, my thoughts come out fairly clearly, and that is the most cathartic feeling in the world.
RB: Youâ€™ve worked with numerous artists but two that stuck out for me were Kelly Clarkson and Lindsay Lohan. There has to be something interesting to say here, no?
AA: Both are complete hookers. [Laughs] Just kidding. Okay, just Clarkson. Okay, not really. Something interesting? Well, Lindsay Lohan hates bananas but eats them for their â€œproteinâ€, so she says. As for KC, all I can say is I have been privileged enough to have listened to her sing in hotel rooms and living rooms, as well as in the studio and on stage and never once have I not thought to myself, â€œOkay, there has to be a God.â€ Because her gift knows no limits and it just seems other-worldly. Having Kelly sing backgrounds vocals on your track is a humbling experience! I know people love her and think she is incredibly talented, but I donâ€™t think the world knows just how far her vocal and writing talents stretch. If you havenâ€™t seen her live, you are missing out on seeing a talent that no one else in the world can match. However, I have seen a homeless man reject her when she tried to give him a homemade Easter dinner.
RB: What I love about your music is its honesty â€“ which is a shame itâ€™s not seen as often these days, since most pop stars are viewed more like mechanical puppets/products. How has your music evolved? Was it always driven by depth?
AA: Man, I feel you. Iâ€™m not saying I wonâ€™t shake my booty to ‘Only Girl (In The World)’, but itâ€™s such a shame that so many songs on pop radio are fluffy goo written by the same â€œteamâ€ of writers. When the same song could stylistically be sung by Rhianna, Britney, Katy, and now Pink, I think that sucks for many reasons, but mainly for the art of songwriting itself. In those artists defense, I know for a fact that labels will force them into doing songs written by certain people and force them to write with certain â€œteamsâ€ or they just wonâ€™t put your album out. Iâ€™m sure some artists are happy to play the game, but I know that some artists arenâ€™t, but get their hands tied behind their back. Itâ€™s a scary time in the music world and major labels want to play it safe or their job is at stake. I like a catchy song as much as the next dude, but I still canâ€™t help but feel sad the generation after me has pop stars that have to show their ta-taâ€™s and sing kitchy drunk hooker songs to be in the game. I have nothing against drunk hookers… but my coming-of-age artists were Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos, Alanis, Jewel; original writers who let us into their private worlds. You canâ€™t tell me Sheryl Crow didnâ€™t live ‘Strong Enough’, that Tori Amos didnâ€™t live ‘Silent All These Years’, Jewel and ‘Foolish Games’, and obviously ‘Jagged Little Pill’ was as raw and real as they come. Feeling like I had a window into other peopleâ€™s souls was so powerful and that was such a gift they gave me as a teenager. Those kinds of artists helped define me as a person and still do. Anyway, thatâ€™s the point of music for me and always has been: to speak honestly, even when that means showing the cracks and vulnerabilities — which are the things I find endearing in other artists.
RB: You may hate me for this but Iâ€™ve got to ask about the infamous performance clip with Justin Timberlake, where you two as lilâ€™ tater tots performed â€˜Opposites Attractâ€™ by Paul Abdul. Whose idea was this? Do you still watch this and have a good laugh?
AA: Aww, shoot. Well, first of all, my lifeâ€™s goal at 10 was to be Paula Abdul. Justin and I were always looking for songs we could do together because we performed a â€œJustin and Ashleyâ€ show all over Memphis for years. Hospitals, malls, competitions — you know, we were big time -â€“ but the idea to do that song came from the Mickey Mouse Club. I used to tape the show every day for us to watch on the weekends when we would hang out and practice. (He didnâ€™t get the Disney Channel at his house.) We would emulate everything the show would do. So I have to credit the MMC for giving us the idea to change the lyric â€œI donâ€™t like cigarettes, but I like to smokeâ€ to â€œI donâ€™t like comedy, and I like to joke.â€ Um, and yes, I have to laugh. And then I take a cold shower and cry â€œWhyyy?â€ all alone, as I consider the hammer pant/puffy painted suspender look that we so proudly sported.
RB: Your latest album â€˜Hearts On Paradeâ€™ is completely solid. Is there a standout track for you, a personal favorite? (â€˜The Hard Wayâ€™ stand outs to me for some reason.)
AA: Thank you very much. I think my personal favorite is the track Hearts On Parade. It sings like Iâ€™m just speaking about one person, but each line is fairly specific to the few different relationships Iâ€™ve had and the ways I was trying to bend and conform to try and make someone happy. Itâ€™s liberating to be so literal.
RB: Whatâ€™s your biggest influencer with regards to writing songs?
AA: My biggest and only influencer to date is love or the lack thereof. Itâ€™s usually the lack thereof.
RB: Any vices while dealing with life & the creation of music?
AA: I probably wonâ€™t turn down a Xanax if you offer me one, although Iâ€™ll only take half so I can make it last. See, thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m not an addict. [Laughs] I love reading blogs by people I donâ€™t know for inspiration. Iâ€™m addicted to Words With Friends, NPR, and vanilla tea latteâ€™s from The Coffee Bean.
RB: Random but I know we share the same fascination with bizarre shows like A&Eâ€™s â€˜Hoardersâ€™ â€“ have you seen the new series â€˜My Strange Addicitonâ€™? Itâ€™s insane. Do you have any strange secret addictions you want to air to the entire internet world? [Laughs]
AA: Donâ€™t even get me started on ‘Hoarders’. I recently caught the “Animal Hoarding” episode and I will never look at bunnies the same. Bunnies? Ruined. I havenâ€™t seen ‘Strange Addictions’ yet, but I heard some girl eats Clorox or something. Iâ€™m going to love it!
I donâ€™t have any super weird addictions. I do have this magnifying face mirror that makes your pores just look God awful that I really need to do away with though.
But what really comes to mind is something that happened recently and it involves LeAnn Rimes. Her twitters were eating me alive. Hereâ€™s the deal, I donâ€™t give a ratâ€™s if she cheated and broke up a marriage â€“- those things happen, sadly â€“- but it was/is fascinating to me the way she keeps talking about it! And she knows the ex-wife is literally losing her mind (because sheâ€™s in pain), but she keeps twittering about her time with the womanâ€™s kids and fighting with her over twitter. She doesnâ€™t even enjoy a vacation with the new guy cause sheâ€™s twittering so much about their love and the weather in Cabo, etc. Itâ€™s like she has something to prove and itâ€™s like watching a train wreck! I just found it absolutely fascinating, baffling, and strange. And I kept looking. And I kept thinking as I was falling asleep at night about how LeAnn needed a twitter intervention. At that point, I realized I needed a LeAnn Rimes intervention. So, I did what I had to do. And it wasnâ€™t easy. But I hit the â€œunfollowâ€ button.
RB: Whatâ€™s your favorite song right now on pop radio? Any other singles/albums you canâ€™t get enough of?
AA: ‘Animal’ by Neon Trees is probably my favorite. I want to try that as a cover… ‘All The Right Moves’ by One Republic has such a good chorus that I canâ€™t get enough of. ‘Back To December’ grew on me â€“- that verse melody is fantastic. â€œI havenâ€™t seen you in a whi-iii-iii-llleee.â€ I love ‘Dear John’ on the new album, too. ‘Fearless’ is my favorite album of hers, though. I love her and I canâ€™t fight it.
Beyonceâ€™s ‘If I Was A Boy’ makes me hurt-so-good. She throws down. I love ‘Why Donâ€™t You Love Me’, too. Side note: My manâ€™s car is named Beyonce, mine is Leona.
And speaking of Leona Lewis, I can always hear ‘Better In Time’.
Of fairly recent albums, I canâ€™t get enough of Matt Nathansonâ€™s album, ‘Some Mad Hope’.
RB: Good talking to you! And finally, what would be your hook to get BTBâ€™s readers to give your music a big fat spin?
AA: Your question just took me back to 5th grade when I was trying to get my class to vote me as their class representative for the schoolâ€™s Student Council! Pretend I have a fancy poster board with pictures of myself with big bangs glued to it:
If you like lyric based, emotionally charged songs infused with pop elements and honest charm, my album ‘Hearts On Parade’ is waiting for you in iTunes.
Was that weird?
What Iâ€™m trying to say is this: If you like Japanese Death Metal, you are going to love me.
PS — I won the 5th grade election!
It was great talking with you! Iâ€™m honored to have been asked your great questions!
Ashley will be opening for Graham Colton at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on Feb. 11. Until then, you can get acquainted with her beautiful videos for ‘Trying To Help You Out’ & ‘Caged Bird’ below + for shits and giggles, take a time machine back to the hilarious ‘Opposites Attract’ performance clip mentioned above with Justin Timberlake.
By: Rob Brayl
In the just-released video premiere for Pink’s empowering F**kin Perfect, P!nk dives into the dark bloody waters surrounding the issue of suicide. The outcome showcases what any loyal Pink fan has known from the start — that Pink’s music may sometimes express a side of herself that is confectioned and strobe-light-ready but there’s also the other side of the switch, the side that exposes the heart and guts inside this magnificent artist.
F**kin Perfect is an incredibly powerful song set against an incredibly powerful story.
Directed by David Meyers, the man behind Katy Perryâ€™s Firework video, the message centers around the abusive and chaotic life of a young girl (played by â€™90s child star Tina Majorino).
A Personal Note From P!nk:
Iâ€™m sure my newest video for â€œF**kinâ€™ Perfectâ€ will be much like some of my other videos, which basically means I expect it will ruffle some feathers.
My favorite books, art pieces, films, and music, always have something jarring about them. I want art to make me think. In order to do that, it may piss me off, or make me uncomfortable. That promotes awareness and change, or at least some discussion. That is my intention.
You canâ€™t move mountains by whispering at them.
Cutting, and suicide, two very different symptoms of the same problem, are gaining on us. (The problem being; alienation and depression. The symptoms; cutting and suicide). I personally donâ€™t know a single person who doesnâ€™t know at least two of these victims personally. A lot of us have seen certain starlets showing off their latest scars on a red carpet somewhere, usually right before they head back to their favorite rehab.
It’s a problem, and it’s something we should talk about.
We can choose to ignore the problem, and therefore ignore this video, but that wonâ€™t make it go away.
I donâ€™t support or encourage suicide or cutting.
I support the kids out there that feel so desperate/numb/powerless, that feel unseen and unheard, and canâ€™t see another way… I want them to know Iâ€™m aware. I have been there. I see them. Sometimes thatâ€™s all it takes.
Making this video was a very emotional experience for me, as was writing this song. I have a life inside of me, and I want her or him to know that I will accept him or her with open and loving and welcoming arms. And though I will prepare this little munchkin for a sometimes cruel world, I will also equip this kid to see all the beauty in it as well. There are good people in this world that are open-minded, and loving. There are those that accept us with all of our flaws. I do that with my fans/friends, and I will do that with my child, whoever they decide to be.
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit TWLOHA.
Wow. What a passionate, courageous, and beautiful message!
Watch the new video (not for children) for F**kin Perfect below.
[Another source for suicide prevention: The Trevor Project.]
By: Maria Ciezak
Listen to Bruno Mars stunning, stripped down rendition of Katy Perryâ€™s California Gurls. Maybe it’s just me, but I somewhat adore this version more than the original. This is unforgettable!
By: Maria Ciezak
Remember the boys who took us for a whirlwind down Ocean Avenue, while telling us we were the Only One? Yellowcard is back from their hiatus with a vengeance on the release of their new single For You, And Your Denial. This song touches all the treasured pop punk angles of Yellowcard that we have grown to love. With the powerful opening violin solo by Sean Macklin being backed up by Ryan Key’s ultimate powerhouse vocals, fans will quickly adore the rejuvenated lyrics and sound.
Get your fix now before the album embraces the world in March. After all, there’s nothing more exciting than a comeback.
Take a listen to a live version of For You, And Your Denial now.
By: Rob Brayl
Her inescapable hooks are drenched in danceable beats, trippy soundscapes and her own urban spin on Electropop. Her ambition to succeed was clear from the start. Somehow, aged 19, Nenna convinced her mother into loaning her the money to build her own home studio and locked herself in there for the next 3 years, while still attending school, to develop her style and her technical ability.
Nenna says that her songs have a way of finding her: â€œThe songs will come in forms of poetry, conversation, letters and novels. The best part is that there is no wrong or right way to create. You have a clean slate, a blank canvas and you start to use all your natural instincts to find yourself in the music. It should always flow naturally and freely.â€
With influences ranging from The Supremes to The Donnas, Yvonne’s taste in music is both diverse and distinctive, carrying a strong heritage of female ambition and drive.
â€œSometimes people have this misconception that music is hidden when it never actually is. You shouldnâ€™t have to dig too deep to find a good song.â€ And first single Go Around is the perfect example of this very sentiment.
A pulsating, floor-filling statement of intent of whatâ€™s to come in the months ahead.
Welcome to the world of pop, Nenna.
By: Rob Brayl
[Sidenote: All the photographs seen above were taken via my mobile phone, so exsqueeze the grains. Kthanksbye.]
If you ask someone about Sarah McLachlan, the general consensus is that her music is depressingly beautiful. The good thing about that heavy description is that I kinda/sorta breathe beautifully depressing music (and I mean that description as a compliment). I don’t mean depressing as in something that makes you feel bad — it’s just that McLachlan’s music helps to bring you down, down to what truly matters in life: love, connections, and the emotional pulse between our lives.
Late last week, I had the pleasure of seeing Sarah McLachlan in concert at Beacon Theatre. I was pretty stoked to see her perform live, especially since for the majority of my high school career, I was stuck in an actual depressing bubble, one that Sarah’s music helped to pop.
Sarah McLachlan & Friends (Butterfly Boucher & Melissa McClellan) is a show that delivers.
A day or two after the show (during dinner with friends), I was surprised that not a single one of my friends knew the story behind McLachlan’s huge hammerdown of a smash Possession. When I told them the story, it seemed to have trumped the utterly sexy and intimate vibe that they had once imagined. The truth is, Possession was written about a person obsessed with someone to the point of violence…
Long story short: McLachlan was sued in 1994 by Uwe Vandrei (an obsessed fan from Ottawa, Ontario), who alleged that his love letters to her had been the basis of Possession. This lawsuit never made it to trial as Vandrei committed suicide before the set date.
Three years later, McLachlan told Rolling Stone that writing the track was quite the release: “And this one person wasn’t the only guy… there were a lot of letters from other people saying the same kind of thing. Writing the song ‘Possession’ was very therapeutic.”
A tragic tale — yet out of the darkness came Possession, which remains my favorite SM track, so I was happy when she performed the number during her set. (And I’m getting off subject, I just found the story underneath the song to be incredibly fascinating and thought I should share for those unaware.)
The show ran for approximately three hours, which may sound like overkill but in all honesty, it felt like half an hour. McLachlan, who sang lead & backup during the show also took rounds shifting from the guitar to the piano. And blah blah blah, basically the show was filled with all of McLachlan’s hits and each number hit the spot. (Sorry for cutting this short with the triple blah remark, but the length of this thing is already getting way out of hand.)
Butterfly Boucherâ€™s songs were generally girl punk-esque, except one track in particular (featured on Greyâ€™s Anatomy), which was more bittersweet and heartfelt. Melissa McClellandâ€™s sound seemed to fit alongside McLachlan’s well, meshing with an acoustic country rock vein.
The Sarah McLachlan & Friends tour continues through March 26.
Watch my favorite performance of Possession below (the host cracks me up with that pronunciation) + the powerfully humane World On Fire vid following.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
We all have our weaknesses. For some itâ€™s chocolate, for others itâ€™s neck rubs… for me, itâ€™s Brit boys with attitude. Specifically, You Me At Six, another group with all the makings for mainstream popularity. Delish pop rock has a habit of hailing from Surrey, and thatâ€™s where these fellas first started strumming.
If you care to remember, they actually were on a hot list around 2008 with hits like Save It For the Bedroom and Kiss And Tell. Almost three years later, and have they faded into the black? Gone back to humble ways? Not if they have anything to say about it.
Last album celebrated some successes last year (ranking #5 on the UK charts), and thereâ€™s no doubt that their songs landed on your party playlist. Like any poppy, rocky elite, they can swish from cute and shallow to acoustic and sweet. Theyâ€™re accessible, simple, bright, bubbly, alive. They fizz like soda, sparkle like glitter, and pull it all off with an inconceivable charm.
I can only imagine what kind of energy they have on tour. Smashing lamps, shooting water guns, and basking in their boyish spirits.
Best way to break these guys down? Think Boys Like Girls and All Time Low, plus accents. Sounds good, doesnâ€™t it? But as usual, I donâ€™t want my readers to be sheeple, take a look for yourself and voice your own opinion.
Liquid Confidence walked away with the award for Best Single at the 2010 Karrang! awards. I think it was deserved. Do you?
By: Rob Brayl
Back in September, The Script released their 2nd studio album Science & Faith. And although only two singles have been released thus far, a brand new remixed track recently surfaced online of the band entitled Walk Away.
The new version of Walk Away features rapper B.o.B and throws the usual sound that The Script delivers into a hip hop rock blender. We all know B.o.B can take a track to a new level when he dives headfirst into a collaboration and this go around is no different.