Monday, December 30, 2013

'Shipwreck' : Thom Donovan ft. Ruby Amanfu

Just a quick dispatch today. While driving to work the other day, I caught the end of a song I knew I'd want to hear again. Luckily, I'm a ninja with Shazam and managed to get an ID just after I'd parked. It was "Shipwreck" by Thom Donovan ft. Ruby Amanfu, off his 2013 album Love Out Loud. Amanfu lives in Nashville, so it seems the song is getting some decent local play on Lightning 100.

The way the song starts reminds me of a sparser version of "Holland" by Sufjan Stevens, but that's really not the song's main vibe– it's a lot hooky-ier. If you're low on patience, scrub about a 1:30 forward. Take it for a spin.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Musically Inclined's Top 10 Finds of 2013

As you find yourself inundated with year-end lists, you’ll no doubt be ready to swear off every little bit of music that came out this year in favor of whatever shiny, new bands and albums 2014 will offer. I sympathize. However, this isn’t your average “Best Of” list. Whereas you might find the likes of Kanye and Arcade Fire elsewhere, you won’t find them here. That, folks, is my gift to you.

The premise of The Musically Inclined’s Top 10 Finds of 2013, as it’s been running for the past six years, is the following:

1. Any artist or band TMI hadn't listened to before January '13.
2. Songs have to have a stick factor to survive the year. Catchy? Bouncy? Quirky? Sure, but mostly they just have to be solid. Doesn't hurt to be fun and mildly screwy, either.

Somewhere on this list is a song you hopefully haven’t heard yet. And as for the ones you have? I can guarantee you haven’t burned through them the way you have “Get Lucky.”

And speaking of listening to these tracks, the Spotify playlist is right here. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Enjoy the rest of 2013 and scroll on at your leisure.

1. Sonsick : San Fermin

I have to give the top spot to San Fermin’s “Sonsick” for a few reasons, the first being that when that song hits the chorus, I still get a chill from the enveloping sound of horns and harmonies. When the album (San Fermin) came out, I joked that if you’ve always wanted a few more X chromosomes in The National, this is the band for you. That stands, but San Fermin is a lot more than The National with girls (from Lucius, no less). The album is dynamic, and most impressive in the way it tackles both sonic bombast and delicately built layers. If you haven’t already heard it, let “Sonsick” be your entry point.

2. I Love You : Said the Whale

In truth, the Said the Whale song that really belongs on this list is “Camilo (The Magician),” but since it came out in 2009, “I Love You” serves as a very apt surrogate. Coming off their September album hawaiii, “I Love You” was at the top of the Canadian alternative music charts this year. The punchy rock tribute to family ("You're kind of rough but I love you!"), didn’t quite make it stateside, but it should have– hawaiii was one of the most enjoyable albums of the year for the fact that it followed its own whim style-wise, promising something fresh with every track change. “I Love You” is one of the strongest examples of that on the record. Check out my interview with STW’s Tyler Bancroft.

3. Rouse Yourself : JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

The music video for this song stars Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Recreation, and Jake Johnson from New Girl. That could be reason enough to give it a chance, but beyond some sure-fire casting, “Rouse Yourself” is an infectious bit of neo-soul (which also happens to include that “poc” sound you probably heard this year on Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie”). I digress. One of the song’s best features is the simplicity of the words in the chorus: “If we are forever, I hope we just get better.”

4. Shout it Out : Mikal Cronin

Some of the best West Coast garage rock that came out this year, came courtesy of Mikal Cronin. While that particular genre can come off a little one-dimensional at times, Cronin’s music is fuller with better developed melodies and arrangements than anyone has the right to ask of a style that’s supposed to sound somewhat half-assed. “Shout it Out” shows off Cronin’s strong tendencies for songs upbeat and summery. It might be the dead of winter where you are, but it’s still warm on the coast.

5. Royals : Lorde

The ability of a 16-year-old New Zealander to seemingly appear out of the primordial sludge and dominate the pop scene made us gawk this year, but the mystery thins out when you consider a song like “Royals." There’s something very internal about the song– the realization and acceptance of a stunted social station could be cold if not for the sparse heartbeat-like drums. Not only did Lorde acknowledge the gap between “us,” the un-moneyed and un-glamorous, and those of a certain lifestyle who make a lot of the music and media that we consume, but she torched the idea that aspiration is what necessarily connects us to our iPods.

6. Q.U.E.E.N. : Janelle Monáe

I’ve learned that Janelle Monáe is almost always worth paying attention to, whether it’s catching her RIDICULOUS performance on David Letterman or spending some time unpacking her continuing tale of android revolution. There were more than a few songs on The Electric Lady that could have made this list, including “Dance Apocalyptic,” but “Q.U.E.E.N.” wins out for its sheer groove. Then, there’s that one part in the song that sounds like “Cloud Nine” by The Temptations. Done deal, folks.

7. Hey, Doreen : Lucius

In a way, this is Lucius’ second appearance on this year’s list (see San Fermin), but it’s really not surprising. The ladies from Lucius are powerful and precise. “Hey, Doreen” is a knock-out– hooky and energetic– and let’s not forget it’s high about time someone wrote a lyric about mis-buttoning your shirt.

8. Nakamarra : Hiatus Kaiyote

If you’re looking to stick a toe outside of alternative pop and rock, Hiatus Kaiyote is a solid way to go. You’ll find them in the spaces between jazz, R&B, and hip-hop. “Nakamarra” is all the explanation you’ll need for why the Melbourne band is up for the Best R&B Performance Grammy.

9. The Wire : Haim

Haim could win an award for most-hyped band of the year. Luckily, there’s something behind all the chatter. “The Wire” is my favorite track on Days are Gone. There aren’t enough girls with guitars out there, so I get particular satisfaction out of how gritty some of the playing on this song is. Plus, it is friggin' catchy.

10. San Francisco : The Mowgli’s

Rounding out the list is this rollicking sing along by The Mowgli’s. It’s all out good vibes. If you’re not the type who’s “in love with love,” the song will at least make you a believer in large groups of people (they’re an 8-piece band) having a really good time together. And that's really the only reason they can get away with a line like "Do you feel the love? I feel the love," without coming off like total cheese balls. Yes, Mowgli's, we feel the love. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'Tomorrow Never Comes'

I bet you spent all week in knots over who wasn't going to make it out of the mid season finale. Turns out we might have a two-for on our hands. Here's what happened.

The episode centers around the Music City Music Festival. As everything gets underway, the story about Juliette and Charlie that that little weasel Layla spilled breaks and you can't swing a cat without hitting the paparazzi. Juliette gets increasingly wound up about figuring out who leaked the story, and what to do about it.

But then she kind of realizes it was Layla… like, really. Who else would it be? But in confronting the life-size Bratz Doll, Layla is too bitchy for even Juliette. Evil Boss Man Jeff overhears that Juliette thinks it might be Layla and I just stopped caring mid sentence. Dear reader, it's like we're in homeroom  and I'm catching you up on what went down in study hall while you were out with mono. Whatevs. There's no proof so far, but Jeff puts Layla on notice. Charlie pops up a couple times. Nothing interesting happens. When Juliette finally takes the stage, however, the crowd is… vocal? A smidgen hostile? Sure. Juliette sees a GIANT banner that says "Homewrecker" and partially melts down, slinking over to Avery who picks up the slack on the vocals and does the equivalent of a mountain climbing guide telling you not to look down. KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME JULIETTE.

Afterward, she yells at Glen. DAMMIT GLEN. ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE TRAITOR ON A PIKE. Once again, Avery talks her off the ledge. He should really charge a retainer for emergency psych support. After one last chat with Charlie, similar to last week's where she and Will talked about how the person you're with should make you the best version of yourself, Juliette turns up in a STATE at Avery's front door, ready to confess her love, only to see that Scarlett's there because she lost her pants and friggin cannot find them.

Speaking of Scarlett, let's just get that out of the way real quick. She's mad at Gunnar and Zoe.

Okie. Whilst talking to Luke, Rayna finds out that Jeff is still planning on releasing that awful greatest hits album that basically should be titled Buy My Record Because I Almost Died. Talks with Tandy reveal that there is a way to come up with that $20 million if Tandy kicks in $3 mil to be a business partner, and Rayna sells everything except her hair products.

She relays this back to Luke who "doesn't get it" and my family has decided he's definitely dirty– the Wormtongue to Jeff's Saruman, if you will. SORRY. The Hobbit comes out Friday. Anyway, Jeff presents Rayna with some market research saying that focus groups of her fans aren't totes digging the new material, plus there's not really a single on the album (What about that one song about hitting ground? Remember that?). Oh. But all that's after Rayna shows up at Jeff's place to confront him and he happens to be naked in his pool with a girl. Awkward. Also awkward is how Luke gives her the old "I'll see you when I see you" after realizing they won't be touring together to promote that duet from last week.

All this brings us to Deacon and (sort of) Gunnar. When Deacon finds out that he's been taken off the lineup, and Gunnar finds out that the showcase Jeff promised him is next to a line of portable toilets, they team up. Deacon, being the suave, well-connected, urbane gentleman he is, knows a guy who owns a nearby parking lot, and they decide to play a show there. Deacon makes the arrangements, Gunnar tweets about it. Teddy is pissed. Maddie is stoked. Rayna is back to giving Deacon longing looks.

After the show, Rayna talks to Teddy for a second about her upcoming departure from Edgehill and they have another weirdly amicable moment together… right before some guy walks up to Teddy and tries to shoot him. There's a struggle, the gun goes off, and when everyone checks to see if his bathroom buddy is still there, the camera shows Peggy dead on the ground. I'm battling some serious schadenfreude here.

But that's not the craziest thing that happened. The fact is, we know Peggy's dead, and I honestly can't imagine anyone is too hung up about it. But what about a more likable character, a big-hearted but sexually confused puppy dog of a person, perhaps? This episode, Will struggles with staying in the closet. Brent finds out the guys Will beat up were the guys harassing him and his then-boyfriend. Will spends his performance looking between Layla and Brent. After, he actually winds up in bed with Brent. But when Layla comes home, she finds nothing but rumpled sheets because Will's somewhere out there about to step in front of a train. We hope he changes his mind before the season starts back up Jan. 15.

Stray Observations:
+ Deacon should sing more.
+ I don't like Peggy, but offing her in a parking lot is a pretty lazy way to get rid of a character who is clearly not going anywhere… but that seems to be show policy.
+ So, does this mean Teddy is going to be back in play? Because Rayna has stuff partially started with him, Deacon, Luke, and Liam. #Playa

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'Christmas in L.A.' : The Killers ft. Dawes

Last year I complied a list of the most depressing Christmas songs of all time. The Killers' 2013 Christmas single benefiting (RED), could easily make that list. "Christmas in L.A." features Owen Wilson as a struggling actor, wondering how mush longer he can stay in a city that seems just about impossible to call home. Dawes co-wrote the tune and also play on it.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'I'm Tired of Pretending'

I think I've seen this scene before...
On tonight's episode of Nashville, Rayna sported the worst hat ever. And then a bunch of other stuff happened. Let's get to it.

When I think about how unlikeable Juliette was once upon a time when she was the teen tart flavor of the month, it's ridiculous how much I rooting for her to put Layla in her place. When Layla gives herself  an encore on night, it starts a tic for tac mini war between the two that involves flipping sets, scheduling revenge duets, and then cutting in on that duet. Point, set, match, Juliette. Still, JB can't seem to win since she comes off like she's picking on a child. Juliette also tries to sort out what the heck to do with Charlie, who shows up around EVERY FRIGGIN' CORNER. She wonders if he's serious. He divorces his wife. So, there's that. But here's the thing, Juliette hasn't been persuaded. When the tour breaks and Juliette et al. go back to Nashville, she has a serious talk with Charlie, telling him that he doesn't really love her. He loves the challenge of her. He should get back together with Olivia. Probably true. Of course, if you think that's the last of it all, you're wrong. Layla calls TMZ and tells them that Juliette is the reason why "Charlivia" split. Crazy child.

Meanwhile on the Bluebird side of the tour, a super weird 4-way phone scene where Scarlett is talking to Avery while she's standing near Gunnar, who is talking to Zoe, who is standing near Avery back in Nashville, results in Avery and Zoe road tripping it to St. Louis to see Scarlett. Scarlett spends the whole visit picking up weird vibes and feeling like she's lost her place in the group. The best part is the conversation between Gunnar and Avery that goes like this, "So, you and Scarlett…" Yup. Long story short, Scarlett catches Zoe and Gunnar smooching and then holds her breath until she passes out whilst clutching her rag doll.

Will's best moment this episode is where he gets super drunk at a bar and stage dives onto the floor.

That's basically all you need to know on that front, other than something is bound to happen with Brent. Whether it's a hook up or back stabbing, I do not know.

 Speaking of hook ups and back stabbings, let's talk about Rayna and the Jaymes/Conrad clan. Most of the tension this week surrounds Maddie wanting to spend more time with Deacon (like taking guitar lessons from him) and Teddy getting prickly about it. Maddie invites Deacon to her kiddie open mic show thing performance at Two Old Hippies, and Teddy is all WHY IS HE HERE, even if Rayna could be saying that about Peggy, who insists on hugging her like they're BFFS. Maddie calls Deacon up on stage to sing with her, and Teddy gets WAY pissed and confronts him on the street.

Rayna has to sit the boys down and instruct them to share. Deacon looks remorseful, Teddy just goes back to the office and removes his rival from the lineup at the Music City Music Festival. Mature, Teddy. Real mature. Even Peggy was all WTF was that squabble about? When Peggy is not the least rational person in the room, you've got BIG problems.

Since we're on the topic of big problems, Lamar is still in jail, in case you forgot. When Tandy fails to show up and testify on his behalf that he wouldn't flee the country if they allowed him to go on house arrest, Rayna ends up taking the stand… to no avail. It does feel like Rayna's going to find out about Tandy, though, and soon.

Stray Observations:
+ Re: Mid-season finale. "SOMEONE WILL DIE."

+ I had my first Nashville cast member sighting this week. Avery ventured into the Brent'hood and for about five seconds, I tried to remember which class I had with him at Belmont. OH WAIT. Not former classmates.
+ I am so Team Juliette lately, it's dumb.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Get to Know the 'Charm' of Brazos

Brazos' Martin Crane. Photo: Ben Sklar; Dead Oceans
It's not too late to discover one last album to love as 2013 winds down. I recently came across one such record called Saltwater by Brooklyn band Brazos, released this summer. If you're local and have been keeping up with things here at the blog, you'll know what I mean when I say Brazos could be cousins with Nashville's Casa Castile– if you're into warm tones and dreamy pop with plenty of soundscapes to wander, you'll dig this.

To get an idea of Brazos' range, which can tip the scale from Mikal Cronin to Andrew Bird, check out the two videos below. "Longshot" is a tune both serene and honeyed with finer guitar and piano work.

For something a bit bolder, there's "Charm."

What really sold me, though, was the ebbing, shimmering melancholy of "Deeper Feelings." By the end of the track, it's ceased being a song and grown into a mood you won't want to shake.

Brazos will be performing at The End here in Nashville on Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. Check 'em out if you can.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Just Another Girl" : The Killers

Now that the Killers are hyping their greatest hits collection Direct Hits, there's a certain obligation to look back at the past decade and consider the ways the band has changed. The Internet demands it.

In the video for their new song "Just Another Girl," we get something of a retrospective on the band told vis a vis Glee's Diana Agron dressed as Brandon Flowers, strolling though some of the Killers' more identifiable moments. She sports feathery epaulets, eyeliner, a mustache, and leaves you feeling like the past ten years stretch so much farther back than they actually do. Take a look.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Music from 'Parenthood' : Big Deal, Night Beds, Josh Ritter

This is week it's "Election Day" on NBC's Parenthood. Here's the rundown on the stand out tunes from the show.

First up, we've got "Little Dipper" by Big Deal off their recent album June Gloom playing during the awkward doomed relationship chit chat Ryan and Amber had about Chinese food and being late.

While Kristina and Adam voted (woo for democracy or something), we got to hear Nashville's own Night Beds, specifically "Cherry Blossoms." Speaking of Night Beds, if you're in town, they're playing at the Stone Fox on Dec. 11.

Finally, you probably didn't have to Shazam the last song. "Joy to You Baby" by Josh Ritter played out Kristina's bid for mayor of Berkley.

That's all I've got, folks.

Humming House Launches Kickstarter

A few weeks back, I contributed to a piece for Consequence of Sound that compiled stories from staff writers about the longest distances we’ve traveled for a concert. I wrote about Nashville band Humming House. Granted, my friend Ben is the bassist, but my honest feeling is this: Even if he weren’t a pal, I’d still want to see their shows. Humming House plays Americana with Irish folk influences. They have a real knack for the kinds of warm, upbeat songs that can draw an audience into an all-out sing along.

What I’m working up to here, is that they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a second album. Check out the video below, which includes some of their credentials such as love from NPR and American Songwriter Magazine. They also had a song placed on season four of the FX series Justified, to list a few accomplishments.

These days bands with Kickstarters are multiplying like rabbits, but Humming House is solid bet. If you decide to throw a few bucks their way, you can know it’ll be used well.

Anyway, take a spin through some of their incentives, like a digital version, T-shirts, signed copies of the album and so on, or head on over to Noisetrade where the band’s first album is on offer for free and get convinced.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'Hanky Panky Women'

Cozy, no?
This week's episode of Nashville highlighted two important sides of the music industry: disillusionment and legal problems. I'm going to try and keep it brief this week since I've got an early morning, loves.

As Rayna packs for a weekend with Luke Wheeler at his tour stop in Tampa, her girl talk with Tandy about Liam v. Luke gets interrupted by the fuzz looking for her masters at the behest of the Evil Boss Jeff Fordham. As she goes to the safe, we wonder where that pyro Avery is when you need some masters burned or something. This will be the beginning of the terrible, horrible, no good, bad day.

Everyone is in Tampa since Scarlett and Gunnar joined the tour (Scarlett was totally like So.... what're you doing on this bus?). Deacon even shows up to deliver his niece her pillow. Rayna spars with Jeff, Jeff psyches out Scarlett, and ultimately it leads to Scarlett freezing on stage. She'd been complaining about her monitors being screwed up and the sound guy wouldn't fix it. Within seconds, the arena crowd starts chucking crap at her (does that happen?) and Rayna has to grab her by the hand (not for the first time that night) and drag her back out there and chastise the audience. I feel like between Rayna's defense, and Deacon's front-row-sitting-pillow-delivering self, they're basically parenting the pink-haired waif. Oy. Afterward, Scarlett melts down big time, as you would. Rayna gets into another jam with Jeff, who wants to release her album with some hideous album art (which is totally a bluff). Anyhoodle, all the stress and fighting interferes with Rayna and Luke having sexy times. But then they hear Gunnar and Scarlett singing together outside by the pool (remember the time Gunnar and Scarlett had an important convo by a pool that moved along their relationship before everything got real weird? No? Okay.) Gunnar's been struggling to write for Luke, whose fans are apparently only interested in songs about beer and trucks...

Sounds about right. 
That's right folks, once you get to do what you want to do, you don't get to do it the way you want to.  Life lessons from Nashville. Luke and Rayna like the song, though. They learn it for the next night's show and perform it. It's not bad, even if the phrase "ball and chain" is a little tired. Speaking of the next night, Scarlett somehow (probably because of beaucoup pep talks from EVERYONE) manages to come off like a seasoned professional instead of a child's torn dress, drifting down the street in the wind after a tornado demolishes a neighborhood. (Sorry.) Later, Scarlett will curl up alone on her hotel bed. The upshot of the duet is that Rayna is able to strike a deal with Jeff. He can have that duet, which will be massively successful, if she can have her masters back and he's like Ok. Maybe they'll be BFFs now since bullies WANT to be stopped, according to Rayna.

As for Juliette, remember last week when Olivia Wentworth showed up and kissed her on the mouth? Turns out the Wentworths are into threesomes.

Juliette is like Hell no. Later on, Avery is like CAN I B FREND?? TELLZ ME Y U SAD. She does, and the biggest surprise is how he doesn't tackle him into bed after he delivers one of his signature Avery Barkley Feel Better Speeches. She tells the Wentworths to shove it. Later, Charlie shows up and says he might be in love with her.

OH. And then Peggy bought a tub of pig's blood or something and faked a miscarriage after Teddy said he wanted to go to the doctor's office with her.


Stray Observations:
+ "Steel is forged in fire."– Inspirational thing Rayna said that Watty said. WHERE IS WATTY, ANYWAY?
+ "I ain't dead and I ain't done." – Inspirational thing Deacon said about himself
+ "I might not be cut out for this." – True thing Scarlett said

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Music from Parenthood : CCR, Dawes, Ofelia, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

Adam got blindsided.
Tonight's episode of Parenthood ("The Ring") offered more than the usual helping of solid musical selections. Here's what they were.

First up, Zeke enjoyed his new-found pseudo-bachelorhood to "Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Next up, while Jasmine and Crosby talked about son Jabar's ballet classes, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound sang "Rouse Yourself." You might remember them from an earlier post this summer. Best line of the song: "If we are forever, I hope we just get better."

Making a return of sorts to Parenthood, is Dawes song "Just Beneath the Surface (Reprise)" in the background while Zeke Skypes Camille, who is hanging out in Italy.

And finally, our ending montage song was "Hawk Fly Tiger Run" by Ofelia. Not a whole lot out there right now on this female artist from L.A. Maybe we'll hear more form her soon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'She's Got You'

If your pea-picking little heart missed watching Nashville last week, this week's episode had all the ridonkulous drama that's feeding your addiction. (Or at least, I assume you're addicted at this point, because I'm not even convinced I would have stuck with it if I weren't A) from here B) TOTALLY committed to writing your recaps, loves. Let's get started.

Rayna may or may not be leveraging her *ahem* emotional grip on Luke Wheeler, shall we say, to makes sure Scarlett gets a spot on his tour. Once the papers are signed, she says she'll go hang with him. Business first, booty later, folks. Remember that. So, she ships Scarlett off and has to deal with the fact that Teddy, a breathing loaf of Wonder Bread, is getting married the next day and wants Maddie and Daphne to sing. Maddie doesn't want to. Teddy and Rayna have a scuffle. Maddie continues to harbor some serious stress about the whole I-have-two-dads thing. God bless. Teddy is not nearly creeped out enough that Peggy is insensitive to Maddie's reluctance because COULD JEOPARDIZE CONGRESS. Also, every time Peggy says something like "We can be a real family" and references their non-existent baby, a crayfish dies. And in case you didn't know, they are endangered and indigenous to Nashvegas.  Anyway, Rayna visits Deacon and basically tells him Maddie's been asking for him and no one needs to get hurt here, especially Maddie, so fly straight. The next day, Rayna goes to hang out with Luke on his massive tracts of land and talk about exes getting re-married and sharing custody. He offers advice: You need to find a coping mechanism. Quick cut: They're shooting guns at beer bottles, you perv. Gosh. The pillow fort shenanigans come later. Meanwhile at the wedding, Maddie decides to sing after all, but still feels sad watching Teddy dance with Daphne. She calls Rayna to come get her. She asks her mom if Deacon will ever look at her the way Teddy looks at Daphne.

Me, basically. 
Rayna apologizes for all the pain and vows to make things right. Maddie seems assured, for now at least.

To back track a bit, Deacon had a crap morning the day before. He walked into his own friggin kitchen to find Avery sitting there, having recently banged his niece and polished off the last of the milk. Deacon gives him a look that vaporizes Avery...

and we never have to worry about him again. Well, not really. Later on Deacon enlists Avery to play guitar for him at an open mic at some dive in Murfreesboro. They practice together. Avery sort of helps.  I just don't think the writers totally know what to do with him, so he keeps turning up places. Long story short, they find out that Shotgun Sally's is now a comedy club, but that's okay because Rayna calls about Maddie and everyone winds up a the Bluebird. Deacon performs and then gets to chat with his daughter. She feels better. He feels better. The Bluebird feels better. I feel better.

Over to Juliette. I've never liked her more. Upon launching her tour and having to deal with sketchy radio people, she does right by the female population. There's a creepy dude nicknamed Santa (don't ask) who likes to grope starlets. She explains quite fervently the situation (being female is not easy in a world of jerks) to Charles, who has surfaced once again and he gets Santa fired. Juliette wants to fight her own battles, but figures out a way to let Santa know that she controls his employment status so he better not be feeling up any more girls. Then the weirdest thing ever happens. Charles' wife shows up and says the following: "I know you're sleeping with my husband, what I don't understand why you're not sleeping with me." And then kisses her.



I am drained. Rabbits Gunnar and Zoe apparently don't leave the house. Jeff still wants Gunnar's song. Gunnar makes a desperate fool of himself in front of the label head, trying to get a deal. He gets offered a mentorship with Luke (which puts him on the bus with Scarlett) and a chance to perform at the Music City Music Festival. So, basically intangible stuff and no money. Will gets into a fight with some jerks who were bullying Brent and his boyfriend in the hotel bar/restaurant. Then he goes and sleeps with Layla who is A GEM. Not really.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Mixtape Philosophy : A Bad Sense of Humor


It's been a few months since my last contribution to Mix Club, but I'm happy to report I've got something new to offer. The mix is called A Bad Sense of Humor and started off with "Modern Girl" by Sleater Kinney. I found the song a few months back and decided very quickly that it was going to be the seed for a mix. "Modern Girl"is from Sleater Kinney's 2005 album The Woods. When the all-girl punk trio from the 90s put out the album, it was supposed to be their Led Zeppelin album, a foray into big, loud, pure-blooded rock. It's a great album, but sadly, it seems to have been their last. No matter, "Modern Girl" retains more of a punk sound than some of the other tracks and is my favorite cut. It served as a template for the songs I chose for the mix– punk-inflected 90s rock. Those three identifiers show up in some form on most of this mix, even if the songs only sound that way. Two good examples are the opening and closing tracks, "Baby C'mon" by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and "Stay Useless" by Cloud Nothings. The former is from 2005, and obviously Malkmus is from Pavement. "Stay Useless" came out last year. Both have a particular kind of fuzz on the guitar and the kind of vocals that seem to want to prove that it doesn't matter if you can actually sing. "Love Police" by Sleeping in the Aviary is the same way. It would be a mess if it were any looser and louder.

As for the songs that stray from this style somewhat, "Hey Doreen" by Lucius is one of the strongest songs I've heard all year. One of the singers contributes to Brooklyn group San Fermin. I love the power in the vocals. My two mood-balancing songs were "Worlds are Made of Paper" by Ben Taylor and "The Box" by Johnny Flynn. Both are great lyrics songs, but the latter in particular is far more reflective and even a little melancholic than you might notice if you don't pay attention.

Speaking of paying attention, if you heard my last mix, What We Trade Our Hearing For, you might notice that Said the Whale is making a repeat appearance. Why? Because I remain in love with their September album hawaiii. Check out my interview with frontman Tyler Bancroft, if you have a moment. "I Love You" is like a two and a half minute caffeine rush. It was also the last song I added.

Making this mix presented a few challenging moments in that I originally included several songs that I love, but don't fit. A mix should be an experience, not a haphazard collection, so I had to be cold about my decision to cut out the more pop and dance-edged stuff. It was weirdly difficult to trim them, but I think the result is more cohesive. Plus, the upshot is that sound might be the focus of my next mix.

The last song I want to talk about is "She Takes." It's by a band from the 90s that you probably never heard called This Way. They put out one record and I only know about that because the universe put their song "Nice" in my path while in high school. Until recently, their album was unavailable on Spotify. More on them later.

Anyway, that's that. I hope you take it for a spin.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Music from 'Parenthood' : Bob Dylan

You can't say Parenthood doesn't like Dylan. If you were watching tonight's episode "Speaking of Baggage" and wondering what that last song was, it's "I Threw it All Away" by the afore mentioned Bob Dylan off 1969's Nashville Skyline.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Five Reasons 90s Nostalgia Sucks

Here's a new installment in the Five Reasons series. Fellow Consequence of Sound writer Amanda Koellner and I dug up the bits of the 90s still lurking in the corners, including Scott Stapp. Enjoy.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'It Must Be You'

God speed, Luke Wheeler.
I don't have the mental or emotional fortitude to write an intro. Let's just dive in.

Rayna sit down with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts because SYNERGY. The interview is hard hitting, setting up for such answers as I'm focusing on important things. When asked about her love life, she said, "No comment." After the interview, she has a casual kitchen meeting with Buckey and Scarlett about what's happening next for Scarlett, including a small show at the Bluebird where there will be critics. Critics are the worst, Scarlett thinks to herself. She leaves, Rayna plots how she's going to get her little paper mache flower on someone's tour and how she's going to scrape up $20 million to buy out Edgehill now that all of Lamar's assets are frozen. Tandy suggests they hit up the Belle Meade Polo Invitational where rich Tennesseans pretend to be British. I don't think that's a real thing, folks, but I could be wrong. Google turned up no results. Anyhoodle, she and Tandy get out their big hats, Crest White Strips, and hit that joint up. Their shilling is unsuccessful, though at one point some old guy rips Tandy about how she was Lamar's right hand man. I don't know if he's upset she sold him out, or what, but nevertheless, he's like J'ACUSE! Rayna brings it up later like, that's not true..... riiiiight? And Tandy's like:

Tandy and Rayna aren't the only ones at the polo event. EVERYONE is there. You'd think it was scripted or pre-arranged or something. Wait...

Anyway, Deacon goes with Lady Lawyer Friend. He'd been playing the piano while she buttoned up her shirt, presumably from hanky panky, when she was like, Hey, wanna go to this polo thing with me that I have to go to for work? He was kind of a jerk about it because he's such a salt of the Earth everyman, but then she insinuated that she might take someone else and he caved. At the event, he has conversations with Rayna (briefly) and Luke (bro-ly). We find out Luke is divorced and likes to spend his time casting longing looks at Rayna from afar. And who doesn't?

Juliette is at the match too. She got a secret invite from that rich guy Charlie Wentworth who wants to hook up since he's playing in the match. She rebuffs him, he persists, he seemingly wins her over through the pure and merry hearts of his stable crew who sing songs instead of being pretentious rich people like she thinks Charlie is. Charlie manages to rope her into some deal with Teddy, who is launching the Music City Music Festival to attract people to Nashville. Side Note: Good Lord, Teddy. Please stop. We do not need anymore people getting "attracted" to Nashvegas. The traffic is a nightmare. I digress. Rayna quickly zeros in on what's happening and offers Juliette a bit of a warning that country's female fans aren't into cheating/homewrecking ladies. Juliette is like:

Later, she sees Charlie fighting with his wife and somehow feels this justifies an affair (which will only last the duration of the planning for the festival). They come to this agreement when she meets with him at the Hermitage Hotel. He suggests they have a planning meeting right then, upstairs in the penthouse, and I go OH MY PLANNING MEETINGS ARE VERY DIFFERENT. While they schedule appointments, his wife walks in unbeknownst to them and sees them. She exits with a look on her face that says I will destroy everything you love. 

This happens at the same time as Deacon gets lucky with Lady Lawyer Friend. Hey, wanna sleep over? he asks. We can braid each other's hair! Also happening: Scarlett performs at the Bluebird. My dad suggests this montage is a little like the end of The Godfather where everyone gets whacked, except everyone is doing hanky panky (my words, not his).

I'm not even going to waste much time on the Bluebird Brigade. Zoe and Gunnar are like We can't! I am a super slutty bad friend! (Her words, not mine.) Nevermind! Scarlett sleeps with Avery after playing video games. He says he's a changed man, but his facial hair suggests otherwise. He tries to be  supportive and describes her performance as "lightning in a bottle." Everyone stares at each other moodily while she sings.

The best part of this episode, though, is how in the parking lot of the Bluebird when Luke Wheeler kisses Rayna and she's like:

Devastating. Oh well! I'm sure her cold-ass response won't deter them from hooking up later on. This is Nashville, of course, the show that has no problem with starting with finishing relationships with no weight or lasting meaning.

That's all I've got, folks. Next week the CMA Awards are on, so take five and meet me back here in November.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five Reasons Shaquille O'Neal's Rap Career Never Took Off

I know it's kept you up at night.

Please enjoy my in-depth analysis of the circumstances behind Shaq's fizzled rap career. It was a definite learning experience. I know more about Shaq than I ever thought I would. And now I share that bounty of knowledge with you.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Music From 'Parenthood' : Elvis and Junip

Let's Be Mad Together - 10/24/13
Parenthood went classic on tonight's episode. During a scene where Crosby takes a drunk Joel home, they sit in the car and talk about what a song "Burning Love" by Elvis Presley is. Indeed, fellows. Indeed.

The other big musical moment was during the last scene where Ryan goes to talk to Sarah and make his case for why he loves Amber and will not be the worst mistake she ever made. Gently manipulating our emotions in the background is "After All is Said and Done" by Swedish folk rock group Junip.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'Don't Open That Door'

Sabotage! Betrayal! Post jam session hook ups! Yes, folks, that's life in Nashville, or at least, Nashville. Here's what happened on this the fourth episode of the season.

Juliette gives a press conference about the launch of her new tour. She deflects questions about Rayna's voice like a pal. Shorter thereafter, Layla asks her about doing some kind of an interview for some kind of mini doc thing on Layla, and Juliette brushes her off. Since we'll learn very soon that Layla is no innocent little flower, do not feel sorry for her. Juliette, sensing that Layla is basically the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, wants to limit her presence on tour. Juliette has a meeting with Jeff where she proposes adding another act to the tour, preferably male because too much estrogen, you know? Right? She even offers to add an Edgehill artist if Jeff gives her more money. Jeff agrees. Later, she goes to visit Deacon to see if there's any way he'll come back on tour. He can't. He wants to pull away from music because it hurts too much to not be able to play. She lets it slip that Rayna can't sing and he's like:

He's had quite the day so far. When he and Lady Lawyer Friend were coming out of the bedroom in the morning, Scarlett was there and he was all bashful. Deacon, you dog, you. There was also a random scene where he was at a guitar shop looking to buy part of the shop (?) and help find and sell guitars or something like that. Anyway, this information about Rayna will lead him to let himself into her house and ask her if it's true that she can't sing. She's all, Dunno, bro! My vocal therapist says healing is halted by anxiety. They basically realize that they are one sorry-ass pair, soon to be shipped off to the island of misfit toys, and make a promise that neither of them will walk away from music.

But as for that anxiety, it might have something to do with how Jeff wants the masters of her album, like yesterday so that they can put out Rayna Jaymes' "last album." This prompts her to say to manager Buckey, "I think it's time that Jeff Fordham met the Wyatt side of Rayna Jaymes." She asks that lovable scamp Lamar for $20 million to buy out her contract and the masters. He agrees. This is a bad move. Rayna's also been tasked with inviting Juliette to join the Opry at a benefit concert hosted by new Edgehill signee (but veteran country artist) Luke Wheeler. This is going to confuse the heck out of me because I've been calling Will "Luke from the O.C." and I'm sure someone did this to me on purpose.

Anyhoodle, the reason partnering up with Lamar is bad news is because Tandy turned over a whole flash drive of evidence against Lamar to the Feds and has just made an immunity deal as long as she doesn't warn Rayna or Lamar. Obviously, this is going to jeopardize her recently cozy relationship with Rayna when she inevitably finds out. More on that later.

I can basically split up the Bluebird brigade into winners and losers. In the losers category, Gunnar and Avery have made a music baby together. The song is an indie happy little ditty that totes would be better with a female voice in there, the way Juliette's tour needs a bro to get the ladies crazy. Avery is like, Hey, let's ask Zoe. Gunnar is like She probably knows everything about us since she's Scarlett's best friend. Avery doesn't care and it turns out Zoe won't care much either. The three meet at the house to work on the song together. It's one of those scenes where my radar malfunctions and I think there might be something brewing between Gunnar and Zoe, but all of a sudden, I can't read the situation. Avery seemed a little concerned too. Well, erm, Gunnar and Zoe... you know. On the floor. Scarlett is going to be so pissed, much as she is at THE INDUSTRY in this episode. She has to go into Edgehill for media training since she's going to be at the benefit concert, walking the press line. They want to use "real facts" to craft a "compelling story." Scarlett is uncomfortable. Downstairs, she runs into Will and Layla. Layla gets weird jealous that Will hugs Scarlett and calls her the prettiest girl in Nashville. Also unhappy with Will is Jeff because of the whole thing with Gunnar's song. Assistant Brent will smooth things over and get Will a performance slot at the fundraiser. It's also an unofficial audition for Juliette's tour.

The day of the benefit rolls around. Scarlett and Layla talk whilst getting hair and makeup done. Layla advises Scarlett to be herself. Makes your heart feel warm, don't it?

After Will's rehearsal, Juliette invites him to go on tour. I wonder if it's really that easy to land a spot on tour with the likes of Juliette Barnes. There are bigger worries, though. When Scarlett goes on the press line, she MAJORLY blows it. She says she didn't originally want to be a singer, she brings up that she's Deacon's niece, she stammers at questions about the car wreck and Jeff pulls her off the line and basically sends her home. Will looks at Scarlett, looks at Layla, looks at Scarlett, back at Layla and divines that this was sabotage. Scarlett goes home in a tiz, going on about how she wants to be herself and how this whole thing is horse hockey.

Pictured above: Scarlett O'Connor after the concert. 
Deacon's playing piano. He stops but she's like PLAY, B*TCH. They write a song together. His three-note plinking sounds suspiciously like "Tubular Bells." They write a song together. Maybe Deacon will be a great piano player! Who knows? What he does know, is that she can't walk away from the biz because it's basically like drugs... those sweet, sweet drugs. *Cough* Sorry 'bout that, Deacon mutters.

After Will performs, he confronts Layla about what she did. Juliette pops up to tell Layla she's got to cut her set to make room for Will. JUSTICE. But wait– Jeff tells Will later on that he needs to fake date Layla because they're TRENDING ON TWITTER! He has to agree because he's already kinda goofed with the song.

Anyway, Juliette performs at the show too, and after her song, Rayna comes out on stage and invites her to the Opry. Juliette initially looks car sick, but seems genuinely moved. Luke Wheeler then asks Rayna to sing a song and won't take no for an answer. She's shaky, she looks like she's in pain a couple times and has to stop. Luke looks like he's unknowingly participated in a cruel experiment engineered by Jeff and tries to sing with her... and then the whole crowd starts singing along with Rayna because she clearly is struggling. BUT THEN magic happens! Much like Santa, whose sleigh can only achieve flight through the power of the belief of small children and those who are pure at heart, Rayna sings! After the show, she tells Jeff she's splitting the label. Also after the show, Juliette hears Luke tell Rayna that he thinks Juliette is a flash in the pan. Feeling betrayed by Rayna, she goes to make amends with Avery. He can't come back on tour with her, but she does apologize and she gives him access to her studio while she's on the road.

Elsewhere in town, the Feds finally come for Lamar (and his assets. Sorry, Rayna.). When Tandy goes to see him in prison, he tells her that he thinks Teddy is behind this and that Teddy will pay.

Stray Observations:
+ Last season I complained that all the characters were too isolated. Now, everyone is up in everyone else's business, crossing plot lines and whatnot. It's great.
+ Did you catch the Luke Bryan joke? "Hey Luke, thanks for letting me crash your party." You didn't? Good for you.
+ Let's talk about ABC's hashtag #WelcomeBackRayna. They know she's not real, right?
+ At one point in the episode, Lamar smiled, and it was the creepiest thing I've ever seen. I don't think he has the muscles in his face to actually form a decent smile. It was more like he just bared his teeth and grunted.

Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones Cover the Everly Brothers

I never would have pegged Billie Joe Armstrong for an Everly Brothers fan. Apparently he is. And so is Norah Jones. The pair are teaming up for an Everly Brothers cover album called Foreverly, out November 25th. Instead of Billie Joe chewing up the words like you might be used to, he sings them straight and blends very well with Jones. The combo is unexpectedly sweet. Check out their cover of "Long Time Gone" below.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Five Reasons Fans of The Who Might Prefer 'Quadrophenia' to 'Tommy'

It's not a popular opinion. It's not even one I hold, but dammit, I made the argument. Quadrophenia is a fine record. Check out my latest contribution for Consequence of Sound on why fans might prefer the rock opera about a quadrophenic mod boy to Tommy.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'You're No Angel Yourself'

Parents, amma right? They're either having each other whacked or lying to their kids about paternity. Here's what happened this week on ABC's Nashville.

Things kicked off at a cemetery where the Jaymes women gathered for Rayna and Tandy's deceased mom's birthday. Maddie is busy having an attitude and listening to Deacon's record on her iPod. If Rayna thinks she's going to defrost her daughter, she's been misinformed. Later, Rayna goes to Juliette's to tell her she's got to cancel the tour. Rayna puts most of it on wanting to stay with the family after all the crazy shit that's happened. She doesn't mention that she can't sing anymore. Juliette freaks out and storms off saying, "This sucks!" This reaction will closely follow the theme of Juliette becoming a more mature person and artist. At another point in the near future, Rayna, Tandy, and the girls go to the Nashville Symphony gala. Maddie is still unhappy and complaining about her dress and what not. Teddy's there too. So is Peggy. But not together. Not really. But kind of yes, because earlier he told Peggy he was thinking about running for Congress (redacted political joke) and he gives Peggy an engagement ring to avoid scandal... and do right by her whatever. That means she's basically gotten what she wanted. Home wrecker. Despite their agreement to keep it under wraps for the time being, she wears the ring around her neck to the gala. Follow me? So. Maddie, Rayna, and Teddy talk for a sec. Peggy sort of sidles up like it's not at all awkward to chat with the former wife of the guy you stole. She gets touchy and weird with Maddie, like WAY too familiar PLEASE GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY FACE when Maddie notices the ring and is all "That's Not Yours! Why are you wearing my grandmother's ring?!"

Maddie unleashes some choice words and then storms off. Teddy tells Rayna that Peggy's pregnant and she's mostly annoyed with a dash of incredulous. Not long after, Daphne turns up crying that Maddie's run away. Lamar chews out Teddy and tells him to channel the city's full resources to find her. Teddy is like DUH. The cops show up. Rayna is like MY CHILD! And then Peggy awkwardly offers to help... like haven't you done enough?? Lamar basically says that but worse and Teddy has the audacity to be like Peggy's going to be part of the family! Don't even, bro. Don't even. Just then, I bust onto set and punch him int he face. Rayna goes to Deacon's place thinking Maddie might be there. He is entertaining Lady Lawyer Friend. Earlier, he went to apologize for being an asshat and thank her for getting him out of jail. He tries to pay her and she's like No. He's like Yes. She's like No. He's like Yes. She's like Take me to dinner. He's like Buh? They go to dinner and find out they have stuff in common like pent up feels. Her husband got murdered. She had to learn to forgiver the kid who did it. Deacon could learn a lesson about not holding on to the past. They go back to his place for couch talk and a little light smooching when Rayna turns up and asks him to be on the look out for Maddie. Instead of wrecking the evening, he and Lady Lawyer Friend have Somber Adult Coffee Time and talk about his situation. Probably healthy he's talking to someone. Meanwhile at a gas station somewhere in Nashville, Maddie– a tween in evening attire– calls Juliette (because remember that one time Juliette gave Maddie her phone number? Boy. Those writers and their unfailing foresight.) and J. Barnes comes to pick her up and take her back to her place. Maddie spills her stress. Juliette talks her down and tells her Rayna really does love her, and then calls Rayna. While Maddie sleeps on the couch, Juliette also has Somber Adult Coffee Time and talks to Rayna about how Maddie needs to talk to her and they come to an understanding about the tour. She also reveals to Rayna that she knows about Deacon being Maddie's dad and her lips are sealed. Then they do a few trust falls. Anyhoodle, the next day, Rayna and Maddie talk a bit about Deacon and generally make up. When Rayna leaves the room, Deacon calls and Maddie picks up. They have a short conversation where he says "A lot of people were worried." Read: Me, your bio dad. He asks her not to run off again. She says "bye," hangs up, and calls him "Dad" to herself.

Later, Daphne goes to Maddie's room and demands, "Why would you leave me?" Precious. They wind up singing a Deacon song that Maddie taught herself. Rayna stands in the hallway looking like her face is about to melt off.

As far as the rest of Juliette's doings this week, she's mainly struggling with how to save her tour without catering to the tweens or downsizing the tour. Long story short, she gets Layla to open for her and doesn't even let her in the house when they have the conversation. I kind of enjoyed it.

What I did not enjoy was basically anything that had to do with the Bluebird Brigade. Scarlett and Will do a photoshoot. Scarlett is not that into being sexy and alluring in front of the camera, especially after some p.a. reaches in her dress and adjusts her boobs. That's a NO ZONE. Edgehill wants Will to cut Gunnar's song since EVERYONE is talking about it. Gunnar is ugh. After a weird pow wow with Avery, who now works at the Bluebird, he decides he's going to cut the song himself because it's going to be a hit. He and Will have a cat fight. I think the bee in Gunnar's bonnet is that he doens't just want to be a songwriter. He wants to be a performer. Don't we all? Scarlett finds her friend ZOE I LEARNED HER NAME IS ZOE singing alone in a random church because in Nashville, everyone can sing. That's a lie. They have girl-talk-reminsciences and at some point Zoe is like, even though I'm a preacher's daughter,

They go to a bar, sing a duet, and some guy asks Scarlett for her autograph. She is put off, which makes me wonder what she thought she was getting into when she signed a recording contract.

Speaking of legal stuff, Tandy essentially figures out Lamar killed their mother. No solid proof, but it looks bad. She hands a ton of incriminating evidence to the DOJ.

Stray Observations:
+ Points to Juliette for blasting Lucius in the car.
+ Lamar gave a speech at the gala and referenced how he and his wife used to go there all the time. It's funny because the Schermerhorn opened in 2006.
+ I really dislike Peggy.
+ A lot.