Archive for May, 2011
By: Rob Brayl
Words cannot explain how much Bryce Avary’s music has affected my life. During every high and low I’ve faced over the past couple years since discovering his music, the sound of his voice has been there, creating a beautiful backdrop to the bittersweet bliss that has been my 20s.
I usually like every single record The Rocket Summer releases and play it on a loop for months on end. It’s incredibly honest and filled with a substance that makes ordinary pop seem lackluster: heart.
God bless you, Bryce! I freakin’ love your music!
Please never stop. Puhlease.
Watch a video from Bryce explaining the new free acoustic album + two of my favorite tracks from his previous discs — the stunningly heartfelt Walls + the music video for Do You Feel following.
By: Rob Brayl
When I first met Max AKA Freddy Marx Street, I was running late & pissed by the fact that I was waiting on the train. Then, I looked across the platform and suddenly felt the need to remove my headphones. There, against the tile wall underneath one of the busiest cities in the world, was a scruffy boy in his 20s, stroking his guitar with a voice and emotion so honest it cut like glass.
I struggled for change to put in his guitar case, but only found a piece of Orbit Maui Melon Mint gum. As I placed the gum in his case I asked for his info, and the rest is history. For the record, Max is a musician from the Ukraine who came to NYC to pursue his dreams, living off the money earned while playing the streets of New York City.
He is amazing and needs to be signed ASAP!
He is currently back in the Ukraine (damn you, rules of America), but should be back for his second round of NYC domination in June.
This is a look at his story.
[Sidenote: Please keep in mind that English is not his first language.]
ROB BRAYL: I have to say that out of the three years Iâ€™ve lived in New York, youâ€™re probably the best subway artist Iâ€™ve heard. No joke. Immediately, when I heard your music, I felt a strong connection to it. Would you agree that your music often carries an emotional weight?
FREDDY MARX STREET: Well, emotions and feelings are the power that makes me turn to music. Even more, music talks to me with the help of those emotions. For me, if there are no emotions then itâ€™s not music. Yeah, music exists to show the depth of feelings. Canâ€™t imagine anything else.
RB: Youâ€™re from the Ukraine. You dropped everything that youâ€™ve always known to move to New York to perform on the streets for a living. Can you tell us a little about what was going through your brain the day you left your country behind?
FMS: Tons of lie, there was just the lie in my head. I didnâ€™t and I do not want my mother and sister to know the entire truth about my trip to the US. So I needed to lie. They still think that I am an art-manager in one of the Ukrainian galleries as I was before. And we have some international projects in NYC. So my family has no worries about my living here. I hope so. Barely a couple of people in Ukraine are aware about my real trip.
And sure, at the same time with that lie I felt the truth: Ok, man! You have no shelter, no friends in NYC. Nothing! Just your dreams. And definitely itâ€™s not gonna be a movie. So I was a bit scared. But that was my choice. My decision. I was given some skills in writing and singing and not for wasting them. Feel that I need to prove that was a mistake. This thought is always with me, especially when I have hard times.
RB: I know weâ€™ve talked about the struggles youâ€™ve faced along the way, one of them being the times youâ€™ve crashed in Penn Station, but besides the financial aspect, have there been any other struggles youâ€™ve faced while being in New York?
FMS: Our Ukrainian terminals are not as safe and peaceful as yours. Oh, I have not been to Port Authority for a whole month already. Are they doing well? Must go and check. They are like my family.
And about strugglesâ€¦ Every day is the struggle. Even in my country, all the time I had to fight. I donâ€™t mean financial things, but music and dreams and the real purpose of my life. Why am I here? Why do I face all these problems? And it doesnâ€™t depend on what you are – musician, physician, or politician, thereâ€™s some truth everyone must find in his life. You can easily find this theme in my music.
RB: The fact that you moved here with raw talent and a guitar and just went for your dream, refusing to give up, shows incredible passion. Where do you think this passion comes from?
FMS: First of all I must believe, believe in my lyrics and music. If you donâ€™t this music will fail. And if you believe then itâ€™s true. And you are ready to fight for it for its truth. I guess the passion we are talking about comes from right here, from this truth.
RB: Itâ€™s apparent when you listen to your music that you pour out every ounce of your heart into it. Whatâ€™s the ultimate goal?
FMS: Sharing… I donâ€™t feel that all this music is mine. Sometimes I use other people’s stories, experiencesâ€¦ Letâ€™s call them co-creators. I mean, yeah, thatâ€™s my luck, that my skill is in music. But it doesnâ€™t make me better for you or for anyone else. We all are sisters and brothers. My music is my happiness and itâ€™s wonderful that Iâ€™m able to share it with people.
RB: So, youâ€™re leaving for the Ukraine soon to update your visa. Youâ€™re definitely coming back to perform in New York though, right?
FMS: I am. Thereâ€™s no way back. I must fight till the end. Hope to meet NYC in June again.
RB: I almost forgot, can you give us the scoop on the origin of the name?
FMS: Long time ago one guy in Ukraine found on my face some familiar features with Freddie Mercury. One letter was changed. Thatâ€™s how Freddy appeared. Marxâ€¦ My name is Max. We added one more letter to this word to make it, to make it not so obvious. During some years only FREDDY MARX was used as the band name. But I felt that there was a great lack of something. I was walking down the street one late night thinking about a new song. Got back to that street the next day to finish the lyrics. Suddenly all my songs’ characters rushed to that street. And they still live there. The name of this place is FREDDY MARX STREET.
RB: My friend recently joked, saying that we should all hope that Adele gets her heart broken again because her latest CD is a masterpiece because of it. How do you feel about pain and how it can create beautiful music?
FMS: Pain can easily get your heart, your real heart where you donâ€™t pretend and play no fake role. So pain gets your truth. And if you donâ€™t miss this moment, this truth will be in your music for sure. I feel music just wins from this.
RB: If I were to steal your iPod right now, whatâ€™s on your current playlist? Can you give us a few artists, songs, or albums? Any guilty pleasures?
FMS: Sigur Ros, Beyonce, Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Atmasfera (a cool Ukrainian world music band) and of course some mantras.
RB: And to wrap this up where can readers find out more/stay connected with Freddy Marx?
Listen to my favorite Freddy Marx Street song, the hauntingly beautiful Sorry, below.
By: Maria Ciezak
On the hunt for an epic tune to add to your playlist this summer? Consider Helena Beat from Foster the People, an up and coming indie act from Los Angeles. The single is free on iTunes this week, so be sure to pick it up. Pop tempos, twinkling rock and awesome handclaps take over here, with high pitched vocals from frontman Mark Foster that fit the mood the song creates. Itâ€™s unpretentious and entertaining, and will surely make you get off your feet and do the hustle.
Good music is in the air; feels like summer to me.
By: Rob Brayl
Album of the decade? Sorry, Gaga. That feat belongs to Adele. The whole CD for .99 cents? The label might as well put the damn thing in Happy Meals. No, this isn’t happening. I just liked the headline.
This might sound harsh (not the intention), but I’m strictly going balls to the wall with my opinion on Gaga’s overexposure & unapologetic shameless promotion. Why? Because I respect her. Because I appreciate the substance beneath all the starvation for fame. Because I think the way she’s crafted herself (shock value galore) is taking away from the music.
For the record, I actually like several songs on this album, especially You and I. No, I don’t like You and I, I fucking love it. That’s saying something since I’m not a big Gaga fan. I just feel like all this cheap promotion (including Gaga on Farmville, Grindr, Words with Friends & countless others) is extremely desperate. Hello!
Strip her of the hysterics & what is she? A seemingly manufactured pop star. A product that her label clearly has no problem pushing down people’s throats. Literally. (A friend recently told me about Gaga day at Starbucks. Oy!)
However, stripped is where I like her the most. Cue You and I, a more pop rock driven ballad in the vein of Elton John, but on a caffeine high.
This, to me, is where Gaga shines.
Without the layers upon layers of synth electro beats & repetitious slang.
Unlike Adele, who sells millions of albums effortlessly by being no one but herself, Gaga has to parade around and give birth to glitter on stage to get people to talk about what? Not her music. Her stunts. It takes away from her music big time. Genius? I disagree. Perhaps a marketing genius. Sellout is the term I’d label her at the moment.
Nothing wrong with using different types of media to market an album, however the .99 cent card is basically what record labels pull to ensure the album goes to #1. It’s basically cheating. Why? Because tons of people will buy an album for a buck, even if it’s not someone they would normally support. Why? Because it’s cheap. That’s the desperate part. I wish she would’ve earned it the old fashioned way. By selling actual albums at a normal price point. I think her label was scared due to the fact that there was a backlash over Judas and this was the easy route to breaking records the first week.
Good luck, Gaga. Just know (since you’re a businesswoman and all) that there’s a huge non-sequined chunk of people out there who just can’t swallow the contrived stunts you pull (Ã la eggs & meat), whom you’re abandoning.
With (tough) love.
[PS: I would kill to direct/conceptualize the music video for You and I. Yes, I’m serious! If you’re reading this Gaga, call me. No, seriously. Call me! Or email. Or send messenger pigeons. Rainbow smoke signals? Whatever works for you.]
By: Maria Ciezak
Music & comedy combined, thatâ€™s what I’m talking about!
Pop culture icons Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga made for quite the delight on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. Up first, watch JT/Gaga in ‘Liquorville’, where the pair (along with SNL great Kristen Wig) performed parodies of various songs, including Rihanna’s Rude Boy, DJ Khalid’s All I Do is Win, J-Kwon’s Tipsy, B.O.B’s Airplanes, Flo Rida’s Low featuring T-Pain, and Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’ Endless Love.
The first clip will leave you buzzed. The second, a clip that didn’t make the live cut, will keep the laughter high rolling.
By: Rob Brayl
When I first did a run through of JLO’s new album Love?, instantly I knew the record would be a hit, although I felt the approach was rather safe. But then it occurred to me, that one of the major reasons I like JLO to being with is that she’s safe. She’s relatable. Charming. Down to earth. Real. I highly doubt I would appreciate her any other way. And that’s when I realized the album fit her like a glove.
Besides the fact that she was recently crowned the World’s Most Beautiful Woman by People, Jennifer Lopez also manages to appear to be the most grounded in spirit as well.
She told People:
â€œI feel lucky to be an attractive person, but Iâ€™ve always felt that real beauty always comes from your heart.â€
Listen to my favorite track from JLO’s latest effort + a recent fan Q&A following.
By: Rob Brayl
Beyonce just needs a set of high heels & a fierce beat.
[Related Post: Beyonce Premieres Video For ‘Run This World (Girls)’]
Beyonce by yardie4lifever2
By: Caitlin Hoffman
People laugh when I say I like Christian Rock. They get this image about idealized Sunday school teachings crushed into awkward, archaic pop. Well, screw that! First of all, I think itâ€™s brave when a person is keen to rock out about their values, no matter what those values may be. (Unless, of course, their values involve kitten bashing or other uncool things.) Second of all, anyone who thinks Christian Rock sucks hasnâ€™t heard Hawk Nelson.
They will do whatever it takes to make you stand up and jump. They donâ€™t care if they get called geeks, and if anything, theyâ€™d use such a mantra to their advantage. Also, Iâ€™ve met them, and on a scale of sweetness from 1 to 10, theyâ€™re a 12.
I guess Iâ€™m a little late on this, but their latest album (released in February) totally blows my mind. Crazy Love, the lead single off the album, gravitates to a new sound that I didnâ€™t anticipate from them, which made it all the more fun. Itâ€™s much more dance rock than pop punk, but still had me headbanging by the time it was over. The chorus will grab you hard and refuse to let go until you start singing along. This is the best kind of song to dance crazy to in public, because who gives a damn what people think? Plus, theyâ€™re going to be at YC this summer, a youth conference that is the source of many nostalgic memories of mine.
Get a load of the cuteness in their video and then top off the cute factor with a potentially stoned Jason (their lead singer) philosophising on e-mail and butterflies.
By: Maria Ciezak
Always a BTB favorite, the boys of Parachute are back with a sophomore release, The Way It Was. Second time around is proving to be a real success for these Virginia natives, whose feel good, soul inspired music has paved a stable future for the band. They know how to make music for the masses, with a perfect blend of rockin’ guitars, sweet falsetto, and funky saxophone grooves.
You’ll find something new and fresh here.
Take a listen to Kiss Me Slowly below.
Raw talent and brilliant songwriting at its finest.
By: Rob Brayl
Bey is bringin’ out the big guns in the just-released music video for Run the World (Girls). The first single from her upcoming album 4, the clip premiered on the May 18th episode of American Idol.
The in-your-face video features pyrotechnics, wild hyenas (among other animals), and Beyonce flashing the middle finger, getting her sexy on in the sand. Directed by Francis Lawrence (Water for Elephants), the clip also features Mozambican kwaito dance group Tofo Tofo, who was sought out as inspiration for the video’s moves by Queen B herself.
Good to see you again, B.
By: Rob Brayl
Joke, people. Joke. (Kinda.)
22-year-old rapper Tinie Tempah (birth name: Patrick Okogwu) is a Nigerian South London-bred MC who has started his invasion of the states, on the quest to break into U.S. territory.
His fusion of hip-hop and dubstep helped to make his debut, Disc-Overy, a huge success in the U.K. The album (which was home to several top five singles on the U.K. singles chart) was just released here in America yesterday and I’ve got to say, it’s definitely grool-(I meant to say cool and I started to say great)-worthy!
The disc features a few new tracks for U.S. audiences including a collaboration with Wiz Khalifa.
Pick up this album. You will not be disappointed.
Tinie Tempah in tha hizzouse! NOM NOM NOM.
By: Rob Brayl
I’ve known of this band/song for forever but realized I’ve never introduced the group to BTB-Land, so I thought I’d give a little shout out. Seabird’s an indie pop/rock Christian band, who launched from the Cincinnati music scene with their second release, Rocks Into Rivers (released in early of 2010).
When I first heard the band, I immediately fell head over heels. Besides the fact that the lead singer is hella cute, there remains something incredibly deep beneath the aesthetic. Donâ€™t You Know Youâ€™re Beautiful is an ode to the natural cosmetics of the heart.
I love this song/video so much.
By: Rob Brayl
3AM, crossing the Manhattan Bridge this past Saturday in a cab, I listened to this song on my iPod. And it brought tears to my eyes. I think the world is so hungry for something real & moving. And Brandon’s music always brings me back to that space.
[Related Post: On Heavy Rotation: Brandon Heath]
By: Rob Brayl
I’ve always had a soft spot for Jordin Sparks. Besides her natural vocal abilities (saw the girl on Broadway in In The Heights & she killed it), she never comes off as a spoiled self-centered shithead and for that I’ve always had her back.
And back, she is — whipping booty & taking names!
This just in: 17-year-old Sparks is no mo’.
Yeah, get used to it! Haters.
Wowing the audience/viewers during her recent performance of new single I Am Woman on AI, Sparks debuted a svelte figure with bangin’ curves that would rival any of the Kardashian sisters, all backed with a scorching Ryan Tedder-produced beat.
Girl to woman, right before our eyes.
By: Rob Brayl
[Last March I was hootin’ & hollerin’ over BC Jean and her beautiful track I’ll Survive You…see rant below as taken from the initial post.]
Most songwriters cannot claim to have written a track as big as, oh you know, If I Were A Boy by Beyonce. But then again, most songwriters are not BC Jean. In a way to deal with heartbreak, Jean channeled all of her inner pain post-breakup to create a beautiful record and as most would be, was excited to get a phone call stating that Beyonce wanted to record the track.
But that’s besides the point…
BC Jean is emerging now as her own artist and has released a record just as heartfelt as If I Were A Boy, the emotionally soaked I’ll Survive You — another dose of post-breakup stress channeled through song.
Watch the just-released I’ll Survive You video below.