Monday, September 30, 2013

'Take on Me' : Volkswagen Riffs on the 80s

I generally avoid the 80s, but Volkswagen has harnessed the rolled-up blazer sleeves and the synth-y sounds of the decade with their new commercial featuring 1985's "Take on Me" by a-ha. Mid meeting, the guy in the commercial has dreamed himself into part of the song's original music video where he and his VW are in a black and white animation of a race. In the commercial, he escapes some bad guy fellow racers and gets to dance with a girl with appropriately poofy hair at the finish line. He's so lost in how great it apparently is to have a VW (and not pay for scheduled maintenance), that he doesn't realize he's been singing out loud. You have to watch/hear him hit that high note (if you've heard the song, you know what I'm talking about) to see why it's funny.... really though, check it out. It's the best edit I've seen in a while.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Music from 'Parenthood' : 'My My Love' by Joshua Radin

If you watch NBC's Parenthood with any regularity, you probably find yourself often wondering what is that breathy, acoustic song they're playing over this sentimental montage? I'm going to start trying to answer that question every week. On tonight's premiere the indie-fabulous song of choice was "My My Love" by singer songwriter Joshua Radin. Radin happens to be well thought of by Zach Braff and I remain unsurprised. "My My Love" is from his latest album Wax Wings, which came out in May of this year.

Now go listen to Iron and Wine or something.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review : 'Nashville' : 'I Fall to Pieces' [Season 2 Premiere]

Mess with Maddie and I will hunt you down. 
Oh man. I've missed you guys so much. This morning, this was basically how I felt about getting back to writing Nashville recaps:

It's been a long summer, so let's just get this going. When we left Nashville (Well... I've been here the whole time, har har) Deacon and Rayna flipped the car. This week, the episode opened mere seconds after the accident. Deacon wakes up in enough blood and awkwardly bent body parts to suggest a Walking Dead tie-in. He manages to drag Rayna out of the car, which magically cues FLASHBACK BACK Back back back back... A far less wrinkled Rayna and Deacon scope out their dream house and talk about how happy they are and how beautiful she is. Sadly, she's actually in a coma and thanks to younger daughter Daphne's expert exposition skills, it's been two weeks. This will be the first of many scenes at Rayna's bedside. Lamar even spends some time there, weirdly not in a suit. Tandy happens to walk in and it's awkward because Tandy quit last season. The TV is on and News 2's Ann Holt better be getting some extra scratch for delivering fake news about how weird it is that both Rayna and her mom were involved in car wrecks. Lamar laments not having been there when Rayna's mom died. In another flashback, Deacon proposes to Rayna. They get frisky on the floor because that's just the kind of rebel Deacon is. Funny thing, though. Turns out that Deacon was smashed when he proposed and Rayna realizes it the next morning. Meanwhile in the real world, Lamar basically tells Teddy he wishes Teddy had been spicier or something in order to hold the attention of Rayna so she wouldn't have gone back off with Deacon. BECAUSE THAT'S TOTALLY WHAT HAPPENED.

A bunch of alarms start going off and George Clooney rushes in with the crash cart. Not really. That would have been weird, though, right?

Meanwhile on Juliette's TV, Ann Holt is still talking about Rayna. Juliette is watching with her manager Glenn, the only character with a normal name, and she is so frickin' inconvenienced by the fact that the world is buying Rayna Jaymes albums and will probably continue to do so, thereby screwing with Juliette's soon-to-drop album. You know, the one that's supposed to establish her as an adult and an artiste. Let's move the date! No can do, Edgehill got bought out so Marshall's not the decision guy anymore. Also not around is assistant Emily. (Let's pour one out for assistant Emily, folks.) The possible new assistant is some fresh-faced dude and Juliette beds him and dismisses him faster than you can think of a Southern idiom to insert into your episode recap. Still watching TV, Juliette hatches a plan and orders 1000 candles. Fast forward to her release concert in front of the Parthenon. Before the show, Scarlett shows up to ask for a loan to bust out Deacon, who is in jail (more on that later) and Juliette advises her to let him go because once an addict, always an addict. That night, Juliette lays it on thick about how much she loves Rayna and then performs a Rayna song. Avery, who still moves like some type of wraith, trapped in a shadow world, doomed to look mournfully and knowingly at the actions of others, plays his guitar with a look on his face that says "I'm going to have to shower later to get all this bullshit off me." Juliette tells everyone to take their glow sticks (guess candles are too dangerous) and go pray in front of Rayna's hospital. Upon arriving, Maddie see Juliette and Juliette has to be a human for a hot second instead of walking straight out the back door. Maddie spills about Deacon being her dad. Juliette seems to gain some understanding and then gives Maddie her phone number in a hopefully sincere move. The poor kiddo blames herself for setting the whole mess into motion. At Rayna's bedside, Juliette tells Maddie that she and Druggie Mom used to listen to Rayna's music all the time. It's possible that Juliette's actions have merely been 70% self-serving. Rayna flashes back to telling Tandy she's pregnant while Deacon drinks and prowls in the house like an angry cat. Later, Juliette cries with a Rayna CD and calls Scarlett to offer help with Deacon.

Speaking of Deacon, he's decided to claim he was driving and go to jail for possibly 10-30 years if Rayna dies. Why? Because males on television do stupid, self-flaggelating things like this. Luckily, his court-appointed lawyer is like CUT THE SHIT. He is snippy with everyone, including niece Scarlett, who is made from one thinly-cut sheet of balsa wood. "I'm no good to anyone!" he wails. She tells him he's been like a father, and he freaks out and tells her to get lost. At this point, this episode feels to me like this:

All this soap is getting in my eyes. Later, Deacon's lawyer, who does not care about your self-assigned hell, figures out that Deacon wasn't driving because of some CSI-type trajectory/cuts/bruising/can you run ballistics/ evidence from a hospital report. OBVS, he was not driving. She tells him, were you reckless? Yes. Did you commit a crime? No. But sad Deacon is sad.

You know what else is sad? How much I don't care about the Bluebird brigade. In short, Scarlett said "no" to Gunnar's proposal and moved out, leaving him and Luke from the O.C.  Luke wants Gunnar to party away his heartache, but Gunnar tells him "I can't party my feelings away!" (After having a party, almost making out with a girl, and then setting the couch on fire because that couch was the first place he and Scarlett *COUGH* Anyhoodle. Luke had a weird-ass scene in the laundry room with some guy who was at the party. After the party, Gunnar goes to the shindig that the Bluebird is throwing for Scarlett because she's leaving. They wind up performing and that either does or does not mean something. Avery stares moodily from the back because someone always does.

Toward the end of the show, the doctor takes Rayna out of the coma. No brain damage. She recognizes the fam. The next day on the roof of the hospital with Lamar, they talk of moving forward, which probably means that Deacon's burned her for the last time. Though, she does confirm he wasn't driving.

And there you have it. Nashville moved its characters far forward, but sadly we didn't really get to see it. We just met up with them on the other side. But that's ok because in the teaser for the rest of the season, seems like it's going to be hella stressful. Maybe we'll get some stuff done this year. Stay tuned!

Stray Observations: 

+ Lamar might have killed his wifeWHAT?!
+ Peggy miscarried but is pulling a GLEE and not telling Teddy about it.
+ Does Teddy live under the bridge by the stadium? He's ALWAYS there.
+ So... What did you think?

Five Reasons 31 Elton John Albums Aren't Enough

Roll with me. The British music icon released his 31st album this week, The Diving Board. In honor of the new record, I wrote a new Five Reasons for Consequence of Sound arguing why John isn't finished. Check it out below, but also check out Joseph Gordon Levitt lip syncing to "Tiny Dancer" with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Merchant. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Women According to Country Music

There's one woman in country music. That is, if you spend a week listening to your local country music radio station, you'll keep hearing about a particular girl who lives in both the lyrics of some of the most popular songs right now, as well as the nightmares of gender studies majors across the country. This woman is simultaneously your dirty dirty secret and the future mother of your children. She's a sweet little lady who is also still trying to get all the hay out of her hair from that last visit to the barn.

I went through the top 15 most popular songs listed on the website for Nashville's WSIX and pulled from the lyrics some of the most common attributes of this country girl. Here's her dossier. 

She wears:  Jeans (preferably tight, points for holes), or cut-offs, no shoes.

She drinks: Beer, moonshine, whiskey, or rum

Activities you can do with her:  Drink, dance (preferably on a table, or in the dark, or under moonlight), make out, watch trains, watch her cook, get drunk and park on her lawn, have babies

Places you can take her: Bar, secluded rural area, truck (riding shotgun)

In this day and age, it feels weird to think that Keith Urban can sing about how he wants a chick who will cook for him while, Chris Young wants blue jeans painted on, or Florida Georgia Line want a boozed up girl with a "sugar shaker" and no one feels queasy. We usually take issue at everything. But I guess it goes back to the old idea that if you don't like it, you don't have to listen to it. The country music audience seems to be fine with a narrow and antiquated idea of women that fills one of the most troubling stereotypes– the woman who is infantilized and sexualized at the same time. 

Not that other genres don't dabble in misogyny– I cringe every time I hear "Blurred Lines"– but I couldn't help but notice this one specific spin on females that's congealed in country. It's 2013. The farmer's daughter owns the farm these days.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Q&A With Said the Whale's Tyler Bancroft

Photo: Vanessa Heins

The day before the release of Vancouver band Said the Whale’s fourth album hawaiii (out Sept. 17), one of the group’s singers, Tyler Bancroft, checked in with The Musically Inclined from Lancaster, Penn. If you’re on the East Coast, you might run into them on tour. If you’re in Canada, you’ll definitely bump into them on the Canadian alternative radio chart where their first single “I Love You” grabbed the top spot earlier in the month. The new album is a wealth of slick vocal harmonies and kinetic guitar riffs as the band blends styles from West Coast rock, to folk and pop. From track to track, they’ll keep you glued. Here’s what Bancroft had to say about writing songs, pushing 30, and giving the band’s phone number to fans.

I don’t think I’ve ever talked to an artist on the eve of an album release, how are you guys feeling about it?

We’re all really excited, we definitely think this is our best album yet. A lot of people have heard it already because of the album stream, so that pressure is off, in a way. You’re always nervous for people to hear it. Then again, we also haven’t had a lot of official reviews yet. Those are the scary thing because people who are fans of our band generally like what we do, so it’s about trying to win over the new people and see the reaction from people who are critics– which is something I hate thinking about, but it also determines how the next couple of years are going to play out for us.

So, you guys read the reviews? I’ve talked to some artists who try to ignore them.

We definitely read them because you’re putting art out into the world and you want to know how people are reacting to it. A lot of reviews can be really insightful. It can actually make you understand your own music a little bit sometimes. Of course, there are other times where it hurts to read something negative, but you’ve just got to take that with a grain of salt and feel proud of your own art. By the same token, you also have to take really positive reviews with a grain of salt, as well. You’ve got to keep a level head. I think the most important thing is that we’re happy with it. There’s no denying that from a business standpoint, the more positive reviews that you get from more publications, the busier you’re going to be, and that’s a good thing for a band that needs to stay active and on the road, and keep our heads above the water.

I read somewhere that you went on a writing retreat for this album. How did that come about? What was involved?

It’s the first time we’ve ever done something like that. We went to this arts school called the Banff Centre. It’s in Banff, Calgary, which is a really beautiful little mountain town. It’s a big ski destination for people in the winter, but it’s also home to this amazing school with the most incredible facilities. We had played there a couple times before because they’ve got a pretty cool campus bar. When we played there last, one of the head guys of the school offered us to come and do some writing and be creative for a while, so we took that opportunity. It was me, and Ben [who splits vocals with Tyler], and Spencer [drums], and we each got a little hut out in the forest in the snow in February. We spent 18 hours a day writing music. They have a huge buffet-style cafeteria there, so we really didn’t have to think about eating– just go eat whenever you’re hungry, and then just be locked in this cabin for a long time, working on music. It ended up being really productive. A lot of the songs on the record were written that week. It was amazing. I hope we can do it again.


Said the Whale recorded the album a little differently this time, working on two or three songs a week, versus blocking off months of studio time, how do you think that affected the sound and feel of the album as a whole?

I think because we did it in such a split up way, there wasn’t a huge amount of consideration for how the final product would be displayed or flow, and for that reason, the track listing became super important because it was almost like track listing a mixtape. Because [the songs] are mixed by the same mix engineer they sound cohesive, but stylistically I think we covered a lot of ground on the record. We have several different groups of fans– fans that have heard our stuff on the radio, which tends to be more rock-based stuff, then we have the fans who are more folk inclined. I think this record has a bit of both of those elements.

Did you have any particularly memorable moments during the recording process?

We had somebody play harp on the record for the first time ever. That was pretty cool. I recently got totally obsessed with Game of Thrones, so I felt like I was in King’s Landing watching this person play harp

One song that I come back to a lot from hawaiii is “I Could Smoke,” could you walk me through how the song came together?

The song is about getting to an age approaching 30 and seeing all of my friends that I’ve grown up with start to settle down and have real lives. People are getting engaged, people are getting pregnant, people are starting to have normalcy, and steady jobs, and stability in their lives. Whereas, I am being a starving artist, driving in a van all over North America for very little money. I’m never home to hang out with my friends or be with my family or my girlfriend. It’s a song like, “What the fuck am I doing with my life?” And feeling very adolescent at a time when a lot of people around me are beginning to act more adult-like. Production-wise, it was a song that we tried a few different ways. It started out as a rock song and then at one point it was an 808 bass, electronic-y song, and then we mixed the two elements after a couple jams and that’s where that came together.

I saw on Twitter that you’re mailing postcards to fans from the road, and you’ve also got a number where fans can call or text you. I was wondering what makes you guys want to be that accessible.

Having such personal access to artists that you’re into– I think it makes fans feel more invested in your success as a band and it makes them feel like they’re a part of the whole process. You hear bands wanting to maintain rockstar mystique, but that’s not really who we are. We’re fairly open and friendly people. And our fanbase is still manageable enough that we are able to reply to people a lot of the time. Also, we’re just bored in the tour van a lot of the time.

What’s the strangest or most interesting call or text you’ve gotten?

Sometimes we solicit jokes, and those are by far the most entertaining.

Photo: Vanessa Heins

How’s the tour going so far?

It’s great. We had five days at home between the last leg, which was a month long, and then this leg which is almost three weeks. So, we’re feeling rejuvenated and happy to be out on the East Coast.

Since you’re on tour right now, tell me about your live shows. What are they like? What can folks expect?

I’ve never seen Said the Whale play live before. [Laughs] It’s going to be us playing our songs. The volume will be much louder and you will have no control over it.

Connect with Said the Whale:


Monday, September 16, 2013

Daft Punk Release 'Lose Yourself to Dance' Video

Daft Punk is not finished with you yet. The French electro-pop duo put out their new video for "Lose Yourself to Dance," off May's Random Access Memories. In said video, we find Daft Punk & Co playing a top a spinning mound of devotees. It's like World War Z in a disco. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cover Up: Kings of Leon and The Gregory Brothers

You like a good cover song, right? Thought so. Here are two that are worth your time. First up, Kings of Leon, d-bags or not, performed "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn for BBC1's Live Lounge. Their version is less dance floor, more slow flowing mascara and clutched flask. Unrelated: Caleb Followill looks increasingly like my 4th grade gym teacher.

The second cover comes from The Gregory Brothers who turned "Wrecking Ball" by [She Who Must Not Be Named] into an infectious bluegrass tune. Points to them for keeping their clothes on, too.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Two New Songs From Casa Castile

Casa Castile might be the coolest musical project (masterminded by musician Andrew Nabuco) out of Nashville that you haven't heard. Back in 2011,  I blogged about Umbra, his second EP, according to Bandcamp, which sounded a lot like Brian Wilson's dream pop phase that never was.

Well, happy news via Twitter. Casa Castile has two new songs out via Check out "King of the Night" and "Leslie Fixes Dinner," which expand Nabuco's the pop-y, tightly layered sound.

You can also get a very brief glimpse of Casa Castile's forthcoming album Mountain of Cement.

Stay tuned, folks.

Five Reasons Janelle Monáe Isn't Your Average Sci-Fi Fan

Here's another entry for my Five Reasons feature on Consequence of Sound. This week, in honor of Janelle Monáe's new album The Electric Lady, I took apart the different aspects of her penchant for science fiction. I'll stop here and let you read on, partly because if I type "android" one more time, I'll blow a circuit myself.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Up Stream: Hear New Albums From Said the Whale and San Fermin

There's a lot to sift through in music this week– Arcade Fire's "Reflektor" sort of fell on us this weekend, and folks seem to be pleasantly surprised that the new MGMT album isn't crap.

That's all well and good, but there are two album streams out today that I'd like to direct you toward lest they escape your attention.

Said the Whale :  hawaiii - Hailing from Vancouver, BC, Said the Whale makes a brand of addictive, youthful, summery indie pop. Blog regulars might remember "Camilo (The Magician)" from TMI's last Mixtape Philosophy entry. Their new album hawaiii is streaming courtesy of Nylon Magazine. It's great fun. In interviews the band said they worried less this time around about making sure every song perfectly fit together, so the result on hawaiii is a collection of very strong individual songs... and it makes for a strong record. You can pick up the album in real life September 17 via Hidden Pony.

San Fermin : San Fermin - If you wish The National had fewer Y chromosomes, you'll probably dig San Fermin, the project of singer songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. It's a chamber-pop record whose lead vocal duties are split among three singers, including Allen Tate, who sounds a lot like our man Matt Berninger, and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessing from Lucius. San Fermin has some really nice, nuanced moments, as well as big emotional bursts. And if you like what you hear now (via NPR Music), you can also catch it September 17 via Downtown Records.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stream Janelle Monáe's 'The Electric Lady'

It's always rough coming back from a three-day weekend, but at least we had a few musical bright spots on this Tuesday-that-feels-like-Monday. Perhaps most notably, Janelle Monáe's brand new album The Electric Lady is streaming courtesy of VH1.

If you're unfamiliar, Monáe's discography to this point revolves around a fictional future dystopia where androids are oppressed by humans. Her alter ego, an android named Cindi Mayweather, is a time traveling savior whose story is told through the slickest fusion of pop, funk, R&B, and hip-hop out there. Besides an active imagination, Monáe has a genre-bending musical sensibility that makes her albums feel like an event you should probably witness.

The story might already be in progress, but it's worth jumping on board anyway. Stream the album below. The Electric Lady is in stores September 10.

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