Wreck Of The Day

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Anna Nalick is most well known for her first single “Breathe (2 AM)” and indeed, that was the only song I really knew by her until recently. It’s a great song, well written both lyrically and melodically, and I will always enjoy when it comes on. As I began to delve into more of Anna Nalick’s music, I thought of how this typically goes one of two ways: either the single I was aware of initially is nothing like the rest of their music and that is why it stood out, or it is exactly like everything else they’ve ever written and sadly it all sounds the same.

In this case, we lean towards the latter option, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I rather liked the rest of her music. There was a big influx of female singer/songwriter artists in the 2000’s however, so her music isn’t as unique or singular as I would like. She does distinctly fall into that category along with artists such as Michelle Branch, Vannessa Carlton, Missy Higgins, or A Fine Frenzy.

If I were to suggest just one song for you to listen to aside from “Breathe (2 AM)” I would suggest “Wreck Of The Day” It’s pretty mellow, but that is the style I tend to drift towards. Here’s an acoustic video if you’re interested:

Overall, I feel like she is a talented lyricist. So if you decide to listen to her music, pay attention to the lyrics, that’s where she shines. I feel this is especially true for “Breathe (2 AM)”.

Keep an eye out for my next post on Bossa Nova!

Obsession

Just a quick post for you today.

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When I started playing Animotion what I found was a sound that is the epitome of 80’s music. They don’t have a ton of music on Spotify, but I feel there was plenty to get an understanding of their sound. As a majority of pop music in the 80’s, this features heavily on the synth. In fact, if I were to describe synthpop or New Wave, this is a prime example for me to use.

Animotion had exactly one big hit, and I would say it is their best song. If you are not familiar with the song “Obsession” here is a video link for you to check it out. The video is almost even more stereotypically 80’s than the song, you really ought to watch it.

It’s got some nice elements to it, the synth is driving, and the guitar riffs fit really well into it. If you like it, maybe check out their song “I Want You” or if you enjoy lyrical humor in the same way I do, listen to “Bad Review”

All in all, This is the music I would expect to hear if I turned on an 80’s based internet radio station, so if that’s your thing, check it out.

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Love Is A Losing Game

So many people have written about Amy Winehouse that I have been really hesitant to get into this post. After all, her story is one that is frequently told: a highly revered singer and writer suffered and ultimately met her demise from things that frequently come with sudden fame: alcohol and drug addiction.

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I figure that’s not what this blog is about. This is about music. If you want to know about the tragedy of Amy Winehouse, check out one of the many articles/movies/etc. that have been made about her life. I watched the one called Amy and it was fairly informative.

One thing I did learn from the documentary that I want to share, however, is what influenced her. Amy Winehouse was a jazz singer, though her music is not what people typically think of as jazz. She said that she was influenced by the typical jazz singers you can think of, Tony Bennet, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and the like, but she also listened and sang to a lot of instrumental jazz. One name she mentioned that stuck out to me was Thelonious Monk, and as soon as she said that my reaction was “Of course!” Go listen to some Monk and then listen to some Amy, and you’ll hear it. A great talent, and an excellent source of inspiration.

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Amy’s first Album was a big hit in the UK where she is from. It really got her career going, and it’s not hard to understand why. That first album is full of raw talent. For me, I really enjoyed “Stronger Than Me” though most of the great of the album blended together quite a bit. Her talent is obvious throughout the album, and for that, I am suitably impressed.

Her sophomore release is what brought her fame to the US, as well as where I heard of her the first time. Back To Black is an amazing, yet heartbreaking, album. Like I said, I won’t get into her sordid life (though I will say a number of those songs are autobiographical), but purely on a musical consideration, it is a fantastic album. Amy’s vocals and writing were truly on point for this album, the songs have been extremely well arranged and produced, and it shows. It won multiple awards at the Grammy’s and has left a lasting legacy, inspiring dozens of artists.

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Back To Black had 5 singles, and most people have heard of at least three: “Back To Black” “Rehab” and “You Know I’m No Good” All three of those are great songs; powerful and haunting, they leave a lasting impression. As far as tracks you may not have heard, I recommend “Love Is A Losing Game” “Tears Dry On Their Own” and “He Can Only Hold Her”

Here’s a video of “Tears Dry On Their Own” for your listening pleasure

As for other tracks, there are a few tracks released on a deluxe version of Frank and what I believe is a posthumous compilation album as well as a few other bits and pieces here and there. Tracks I recommend: “Body and Soul” – a duet with Tony Bennet, “Valerie” which is actually a Mark Ronson song she was featured on, the Sam Cooke classic “Cupid”, and a truly fantastic version of “Someone To Watch Over Me” All of those are great, and a couple of them showcase her jazz influences very well.

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Amy Winehouse was a truly gifted artist. She may not have had a long career, but I feel that her music will continue to influence musicians around the world for years to come.

Rest in peace Amy.

My Paper Heart

When The All-American Rejects debuted their self-titled album in 2002 it was right at the time when I became interested in current pop music. Prior to that, I mostly listened to the music of my older siblings ranging from bands such as Depeche Mode to Cyndi Lauper to R.E.M. to They Might Be Giants to Harry Connick Jr. and … you get the idea (in large families there can be a quite diverse collection). But with the turn of the century came a change in the methods I was exposed to music. I started listening more from mainstream sources than I ever had before, heard about songs and bands from my friends at school, and started to look for what I liked. Turns out I liked most things, but the point here is when this faction of alt-rock/pop punk music aimed directly at teenagers hit the radio waves, I was all for it.

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That album was a game changer for me, and I remember it was one of the ones I always kept a CD copy of in my car once I got my license. I still know all the words to every track, and I am not at all ashamed to admit that.

Of course even 3 years later in 2005 when The All-American Rejects sophomore album was released (ironically it coincided with my own sophomore year of high school) I had hit another one of those  “I don’t like what’s popular” phases I was so fond of as a teenager and I found the hits from that album annoying and maybe a little trite. Some part of me believed that as I grew and matured they stayed the same, making the same music aimed at the same demographic. In essence, I grew out of it.

Now, however, I can listen a little more objectively. I maintain that the first album was the best one; infectious and fun, tracks such as “Swing, Swing” “My Paper Heart” and “Time Stands Still” made it a stand out record and really sent The All-American Rejects to the front of the line. Creative instrumentation and dynamic arranging are key features for the sound on that album, and I will never tire of it. I am under the impression many of those songs used electronic drum tracks, but I can’t seem to find a source for that information. That’s what it sounds like at any rate.

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As for the rest of their albums. The hit singles such as “Gives You Hell” and “Dirty Little Secret” are good tracks, exactly the kind of radio hit I expect. They were overplayed on the radio so my reflex is to skip those songs, but on the rare occasion I do listen to them I like them. For some other tracks you might not know, they had a song on one fo the Transformers movie soundtracks called “Real World” that was pretty good, and I enjoyed “Drown Next To Me” and “Bleed Into Your Mind – Demo” from the Kids In The Street” album.

I think one of the reasons it doesn’t resonate as much with me now as it did at first is the lead singers voice. It’s just a little bit nasally, perhaps even whiny, and it grates on me after a while. But that is a personal preference of mine. I also feel like the dynamic arrangements I loved from the first album didn’t show up on subsequent albums nearly as much

All together, they are a pretty good band and have made some notable pop-rock/pop punk music over the last 15 years. And yes, it has been that long. Kudos to you, All-American Rejects, and may you inspire emoting teenagers everywhere for years to come.

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The Sun Always Shines On TV

a-ha is one of those bands who just can’t seem to quit. No, really, They started up in the early 80’s and went until 1994 when they went on hiatus for 4 years. They released an album in 2000 and kept on releasing albums until 2009, and then decided to split up after one last tour (named the Ending On A High Note tour) the following year. But then they reunited in 2015 for another album and 2 more years together.

Scandinavian bands tend to flare in popularity in the US hot and fast. Until I started listening to their other stuff, I had assumed a-ha was just another one hit wonder from the 80’s. Not so, they have released no less than 10 studio albums and have been widely popular pretty much everywhere else in the world. They are even in the Guinness Book for largest paying audience. 198,000 people showed up to listen to them in Rio.

a-ha’s best years are arguably the first decade, when new wave was all the rage. And that’s definitely what they are: new wave. Also a little alt-rock and synth-pop, but I digress.

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How many of you know anything by a-ha other than “Take On Me”? To be fair, “Take On Me” is a fabulous song: fun, catchy, sing-able (even if that high note is nearly impossible for most guys), and it can really bring people together. Who doesn’t love that song?! Combined with an iconic music video, it’s a hit for the ages. Here’s a link to the video for it:

That will probably always be one of my favorite music videos of all time. However! We are not here to talk only about the music you already know, but also the music you don’t.

Three was so much more to listen to by a-ha than I anticipated, I had to spread it out over a week or so. Their sound changed a bit over the years, starting out your typical 80’s new wave with a few stand out tracks such as “Cry Wolf” and “The Sun Always Shines On TV” and “Crying In The Rain” though that last one reminded me a little of Talking Heads.

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One of the defining traits of new wave bands in my opinion is a strong synth keyboard sound. That sound is very apparent in the songs I listed above, but some of a-ha’s later albums (and here I’m talking mostly about the album Cast In Steel) the synth became more understated and the track became more orchestral in it’s arrangement. I was honestly reminded of Keane a number of times throughout that album. To anyone who is a fan of Keane, you should check it out for sure. My favorite from that album is probably the title track.

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There is a collection alum on Spotify titled Time and Again: The Ultimate a-ha that had quite a few good tracks on it. Firstly I would mention “Did Anyone Approach You” which was one of the songs that made me think of Keane. Secondly, there were some good remixes there, my favorite being “Summer Moved On.” It is kind of an epic song in the first place but the remix gave it a “2000’s cool” kind of vibe that really worked well.

Moral of the story here is that one hit wonders aren’t really just one hit wonders. I got on board the new wave train for this post and found some good tunes to add to my collection along the way.

‘Til next time!

Thank You For The Music

We will be backtracking for the next few posts, thanks to the music I added to Spotify this past week or so. So next up: ABBA!

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ABBA is truly a musical legend. As far as my young self can tell, everyone knew of and liked ABBA at some point since they started performing. They are one of the most successful musical acts in the history of pop music. Honestly, there are a lot of songs out there that have stood the test of time, but not many have done so as well as the music of ABBA. They are so well loved a musical consisting entirely of their hits was produced 17 years after they had disbanded. It was even made into a movie nine more years after that. I’m sure it is a favorite of someone you know, my grandmother and my aunt are both particularly fond of it.

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Arguably their biggest hit, “Dancing Queen” has been covered, adapted, parodied, and replayed more times than is possible to count, though Spotify has a running total for their service at 78,547,327 (at the time of this blog post). I am sure that is only a small fraction, since that only counts online streaming from one site and not  countless other websites, CD’s, tapes, vinyl records, etc. that have been played over and over again.

I have fond memories of listening to ABBA as a kid (we might have had a couple of cassettes, though I mostly remember a CD copy of ABBA Gold). I also have a memory from my teenage years when I was a part of my high school’s women’s choir; one spring we did an ABBA medley for our Pops concert. Fun stuff to sing along with at any time for sure, but it was especially fun for that concert, despite losing my breath during the part where I practically chanted “take a chance take a chance, take a take a chance chance, take a chance take a chance…” Go alto voices!

It’s just good, fun music. This is, for me, the height of disco (along with the Bee Gees, of course) and really epitomizes the genre for me. Even more than that, they have doubtlessly influenced hundreds of other artists in many different genres that have come after them and they have inspired at least one ABBA tribute band out there that I know of (the A-Teens). If any group out there has a strong standing legacy, ABBA does.

I heard a rumor the other day about ABBA reforming. Let me assure you: this is not true.

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What is true however, is that they are going to get together this year for a special virtual concert of some kind. I’m still a little hazy on the details, the different articles I looked at weren’t all that informative, but any ABBA fan should keep an eye out for that. After all, it is now 35 years since they disbanded.

I’m not gonna recommend specific songs (they are all pretty great) but if you want a nice comprehensive album to listen to, check out ABBA Gold. It is a collection of all their hits, from “Fernando” to “Waterloo” to “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and is really fun album to listen to.

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Check it out, and happy listening!

 

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P.S. Completely from left field here: So I was looking at that last picture above this and the expressions on their faces, and suddenly what came to mind were the characters from Frozen. I mean look at that picture up there: Brunette guy with a smirk, happy/laughing brunette girl, more calm yet still smiling blonde girl, and a slightly doofy looking blonde dude. This picture below doesn’t match expression at all, though the line up is right.

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And then I found this other one in my google search. Someone out there on the internet obviously had the same thought pop up in their head:

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Weird. Thanks for being on the same strange brainwave as me, Silvaniart at Tumblr!

Man, my brain is weird.

Squealing Pigs

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Admiral Fallow is quite obviously Scottish, so here’s a picture of Scotland. Some bands you can’t hear any native accent at all, but not this one. The moment the lead singer opens his mouth it is completely obvious, and I like it. In fact, I like their style quite a bit.

I don’t remember when I first heard them, which is weird, but I do remember liking them enough to recommend them to other people.

I have listened to all 3 of their albums, and I think I prefer their second album, Tree Bursts In Snow, the best. For their songs that just don’t seem to speak to me, there is a kind of legato feel, which can be very cool, but can get a little boring after a while. It’s their songs that have a little more drive in them that makes them stand out

Here is a list of my favorite tracks for your perusal: “The Paper Trench”, “Squealing Pigs”,  “Guest of the Government”, “Brother”, “The Way You Were Raised”, and “Subbuteo”

Here’s a link to their music video for “Paper Trench” for you since it’s my favorite song of theirs.

Well, I honestly don’t have much else to say. They are a good band, and I enjoy listening to my favorite tracks from them. The end.

Right As Rain

Story time!

Before she took over pop radio with her second album, I was maybe peripherally aware of Adele. Meaning I had heard a couple of her songs (“Chasing Pavements” and “Hometown Glory”) but didn’t know who she was. One morning I was driving into work listening to the local community radio station like the hipster I am when a song came on that hit home with me. You know how some songs you just have to finish listening to before you can get out of the car? Yeah, this was one of those. I remember being surprised and slightly blown away at the rich and heavy tones and drums through the repetitive phrases in “Rumor Has It”, and just sitting in the car listening spell bound. I really liked that song, and anytime I heard it on that station I always turned the volume up. I still have that vivid memory of the first time I heard that song and how much I loved it.

Lo and behold pop radio picked her up shortly after that and after a while she got a little overplayed for my tastes. Curse you, Top 40 radio!

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Anyway, after she got popular from her album 21, I looked her up on Youtube and really loved her video for “Rolling In The Deep”, you should check it out:

Adele has only 3 albums out, but she has been very popular since her second album came out, though many of you know her hit “Chasing Pavements” from the first album, 19.

Fun Fact! Her albums are named after how old she was when she released them (or recorded them, I’m not exactly sure). I can’t say for sure, but one of the reasons I like her might be because she and I are pretty close to the same age.

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All in all, she’s pretty impressive. She’s a good song writer, even if she seems to have a penchant for break-up songs especially, and she has great control of a rather striking voice. And she made an absolutely fantastic James Bond theme with “Skyfall”. Though I never actually saw that movie I was a fan of the song. Bonus points to her for winning an Academy Award with that song. Not that that’s the only award she’s received for her music. I mean just look at those Grammies!

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So I guess the moral of this story is Adele is a great musician. You don’t have to like all of her songs (a lot of them are pretty sad) but you should maybe look a little deeper into her stuff. I think my favorite track of all would be “Right As Rain” followed by “Rolling In The Deep” (I mean, really, that music video was rad!).

Bonus joke! I love this joke, I tell it all the time.

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And because I found too many good memes, here’s some more for your enjoyment.

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Don’t Turn Around

All I can think of when I hear something like Ace of Base (very much early 90’s europop) is just how hokey it is. That might not be quite the right word… oh well. But that is likely because of my age (born in ’89). Ah well, I still enjoy a couple of their hit singles on occasion. Rare occasion. Obviously I must like it enough to have it on my Spotify, but that might just be childhood memories talking.

When I turned on this artist for this I was surprised and kind of annoyed to find so. Many. Remixes.

Not even good ones. I’ll be honest, I didn’t make it through all of the songs for Ace of Base; their particular style just does not do it for me. And the fact that there are apparently albums worth of remixes each dedicated to just one song gets kind of hard to listen to after a while.

The songs I like are most likely ones other people are familiar with. Unless under the age of 20. The songs in question are “Don’t Turn Around”, “All That She Wants”and of course “The Sign“. 

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Pitch Perfect kind of ruined that last one for me though. If you’ve seen that movie, you know what I’m talking about. I liked the movie, because it is ridiculous and fun, but you know how one song can get overplayed on the radio, and over the course of a week or two you can get really sick of it cause you hear it so often? Pitch Perfect accomplished that feeling maybe half an hour into the movie. Hats off to them for that feat; now please never do that to me again. I can barely stand to listen to “The Sign” for more than a minute now.

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Ultimately, I don’t much care for Ace of Base as a whole. Kind of sad to say, but that’s the truth. None of their other songs mean anything to me, and it’s likely the only reason I like the ones I mentioned is they were around while I was growing up.

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Well, you can’t win them all. I guess I’ll stick with what I know on this one.