I’ve been tough on Lady Gaga’s new album, ‘Joanne,’ but there’s no doubt that it’s peppered with powerful tracks, one of which is “Million Reasons,” which Gaga sang for Howard Stern in one of the best live performances I’ve heard on the show. According to Gaga, she wrote the song for women all over the world, and it’s origin can be attributed to finding a million reasons to leave a relationship, but being lured back by only one good reason to stay. We can all relate. In fact, Robin Quivers related so much she was crying at the end of the song. Listen below.
It isn’t difficult to predict the rise of Joe Gregory, whose ethereal sound is just catchy enough to sustain his artistic integrity while also being an enjoyable listening experience. The Seattle-based artist sounds a bit like The Killers, which makes sense since he’s working with mixing legend Mark Needham, who has worked with The Killers, Fleetwood Mac, and Imagine Dragons. Joe will be playing the Barboza Stage at the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle, on Sunday, July 24. Listen to “Rare Poisons” below.
Just who is Diana Ebe, and how did she achieve her hypnotic sound? The Stockholm native got an early start in the music industry with piano lessons at age four and classical training with the esteemed Swedish musical theater performer and producer, Andreas Eldeen. Her fittingly titled, “Elusive Pleasure” video takes you through startling lyrics about love against the backdrop of haunting images and alluring landscapes. According to Ebe, her works is about expressing the “lonely and longing feeling of love and life.” Watch the video below.
If there’s anything of which we can be sure, it’s that Pink can write hits. She co-wrote her new song, “Just Like Fire,” for the new film, ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,” which is a sequel to 2010’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Though I think the song is a little too predictable, it’s worth a listen.
I’m curious to see the new direction in Kesha’s career absent Dr. Luke’s influence, especially since their collaboration was under the cloud of his alleged sexual and physical abuse. She recently worked with Zedd on “True Colors,” and according to the musician, Dr. Luke gave permission for its release, since she’s still under contract with his label. Needless to say, this will get ever-the-more interesting.
There are many reasons the music industry’s top songwriters give their hits to other artists instead of actually singing them for themselves, and some of which involve not having a strong enough voice to execute their vision. In Sia’s case, it has nothing to do with that. And in case you’re wondering whether that’s true, listen to her recently released Spotify Sessions, which features six stripped down versions of her songs, including “Bird Set Free,” “Elastic Heart,” “Space Between,” “Alive,” “Chandelier,” and “Broken Glass. According to Just Jared, the sessions were recording at The Village Studio in Los Angeles. Enjoy!
Should you ever forget Adam Lambert’s dominance of the American Idol stage, he returned last night to remind you, and his new single is epic enough to fit the standout star. Co-written by Laleh who joined him on stage, the twosome might have finally created the kind of music Lambert should have done at his peak, so perhaps this will provide the necessary jolt for a resurgence. Watch below.
Andrew Bird’s new record will be released on April 1, and judging by his track with Fiona Apple, ‘Are You Serious’ will be a welcome follow up to last year’s ‘Echolocations: Canyon.’ Listen to the strikingly beautiful song with Apple below.
When Gallant released his single, ‘Weight in Gold,’ in Beats 1’s first “World Exclusive,” he immediately drew attention. The NYU graduate and Maryland native has been fighting conventions since he began, when the powers-the-be tried to box him into more of a pop sensibility. But that all changed when he moved to Southern California and began to self-market online. His debut EP ‘Zebra’ was produced by college-friend Felix snow, and its positive critical reception drew attention from the right music-industry insiders, whose hands off approach lets Gallant creatively flourish. Gallant has since launched a new video series entitled, “In the Room,” where he showcases original work from his inspirations. In his second episode, he performs his hit with Seal, who is equally inspired by the young musician, calling him an “incredible, meteoric talent.” Watch the mesmerizing performance now.
Los Angeles is flooded with secret clubs, restaurants, or underground hangouts, but never before has there been such an cool concert experience with the greatest live sound in town. Hosted by the very talented music influencer and sound engineer Adam Labov, the intimate outdoor experience takes place around a bonfire with tasty food and free drinks (guests are also encouraged to contribute to the laid back experience by bringing your own beverages and bites). Labov’s busy touring schedule limits the exclusive Firepit experience to just a few days each year, so this event is not to be missed. While I cannot reveal the musical act, you can watch previous performances below to trust that Labov has unprecedented musical taste and connections with just about every band in town. If you’d like to attend the top-secret shindig, then simply send an email to Info@TheDishmaster.com with the subject line “Firepit Sessions.” If you win the tickets, I’ll send you the address and information for the show on February 28.
In an effort to gloat, I will take a moment to highlight Top 14 ‘American Idol’ contestant Mackenzie Bourg, with whom I previously shined a spotlight on during his stint on ‘The Voice,’ despite the fact that he prematurely got axed from the rival NBC show.The 23-year-old singer-songwriter from Lafayette, Louisiana sang “Pumped Up Kicks” on ‘The Voice,’ and his tenacious efforts to showcase his talents landed him on FOX’s final season of Idol. Watch below. I have a feeling he’ll go far in the competition, and if he wins, you can expect that I will brag for eternity.
Known by her stage name “Emmy the Great,” London based singer-songwriter Emma-Lee Moss has performed with Indie favorites like Noah and the Whale, but she began releasing solo material in 2006 and her debut album, ‘Virtue’ was released to critical acclaim. Her third record, ‘Second Love,’ will be released March 11. Listen below to “Swimming Pool.”
There are few disrupters in mainstream music, and Kendrick Lamar makes the list. On the heels of Beyonce’s kick-ass ‘Formation’ video, Lamar graciously performed at the Grammy’s, proving that even though that awards show doesn’t deserve him, he will give his consistent 100% amidst the night’s many non-contenders. Watch below to see Lamar perform “Alright” off his sophomore album, ‘To Pimp a Butterfly.’ He won five Grammys, and was nominated for seven.
If her hypnotic debut single is any indication of things to come then Seattle-based singer/songwriter EMI is on her way to something big. In just two days, her SoundCloud track has amassed 20,000 listens. Because it’s produced by Rex Kudo (Post Malone, Mac Miller) and Sevn Thomas (Rihanna, Drake, Kanye) it’s likely this is a little more calculated than meets the eye.
Adam Labov has an eye for musical talent, and the Los Angeles native cultivates his keen awareness by giving back, with an intimate concert experience around a firepit in his personal backyard. The relaxed vibe provides the perfect setting for food, drinks, and a sound quality that far surpasses any Los Angeles venue. You’d think the garden setting would only warrant an exclusive folksy vibe, but Labov knows how to present the perfect amalgam of genres, and even rock musicians have their place in this one-of-a-kind setting. For his latest Firepit Session Session, King Washington performed, and their incredible harmonies are worth sharing with the world. The humble group has been at it for over eight years, and they deserve everything coming to them. Listen below.
It’s difficult to define Shaprece’s sound because she defies boundaries. The up-and-coming Seattle artist graced The Hotel Cafe with her smooth vocals and groovy vibe, against the bold backdrop of an electric cello and ambient electronics, courtesy of Phillip Peterson and IG88, respectively. Her style feels both plotted yet experimental, effortlessly moving between each song in such an enchanting fashion, you might feel as if you’re lost in space. In fact, she sings each lyric with such ease, it’s easy to forget the force of its meaning. Catch her on tour, you won’t regret it.
It’s tough to find an act I like, so when Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats came across my desk via Ian Imhof of Xavier MGMT, I was elated. The Denver-based folk rock group is about to enter superstar status, which is good news for its members, which include Nathaniel Rateliff Joseph Pope III, Patrick Meese, Mark Shusterman, Luke Mossman, Andy Wild, and Wesley Watkins. Their self-title album will be released on August 15. Watch their performance on Fallon below.
Ray LaMontagne graced The Greek with one of the tightest, most memorable performances its stage has seen. The Grammy winning singer-songwriter is somewhat akin to an athlete, moving quickly from one song to the next, with limited audience interaction and a fixed, center-stage presence. I have little information on LaMontagne, but my uneducated guess is that he’s a shy perfectionist. His band is flawless, his staging and styling were crisp, and the live mix was perfectly on point. It’s clear from the song lineup that LaMontagne was there to promote his new material. Instead of sprinkling his hits throughout his set so as to aid anticipation and distraction, he strategically placed his most-loved tunes in the center of the show, offering an acoustic rendition for fans to get a new take. In a rare, vulnerable moment, he even advised the audience not to clap too much for the hits, because it would “hurt his feelings.” There’s something understated and magical about Ray LaMontagne. He deserves every ounce of the success he’s acquired. I came to watch a good show at the Greek, and I got it.
With a devoted underground following and impressive mainstream success, Delta Spirit has become one of the most in-demand live shows to see. Originating from San Diego, the five-piece power group are promoting their fourth full-length Album, ‘Into the Wide,’ and their live performance at The Satellite beautifully balanced their well-known Americana elements with the modern rock transition of their most current material. Delta Spirit’s shift in sound is largely influenced by their move to Brooklyn, a transition that created just enough moody tension to incorporate city angst into their heavier record. Seeing Delta Spirit live at the Satellite confirmed their status as music’s must-see act, most notably the incredibly impressive drumming of Brandon Young, who captured my attention for most of the evening. Listen to ‘Live On’ below, and purchase their record on iTunes.
I could sit and analyze the intentions behind Macy Gray’s new record, ‘The Way,’ by addressing her target audience and dissecting its genre and then monologue about the music industry’s changing tide — or I could simply tell you it’s good. I’ll choose the latter.
I’ve interviewed Macy Gray, and she’s a delightful, unapologetic performer with an unwavering vision. She’ll change for no one, and that’s a good thing. The first three songs on her record are by far the catchiest, starting with “Stoned,” a dynamic tune that’s true to Gray’s signature sound, with her voice taking center stage. And though she might “Miss the Sex” on song number four, she also wants to find “The Way” on her title track, where her vulnerable lyrics are met with a choir, a trumpet, and a ukulele.
This record makes me want to put on a slouchy, off-the-shoulder sexy knit as I dance around my apartment while occasionally looking in the mirror to ensure I’ve got just the right amount of seductive sass. Enjoy some tunes below.
Willis Earl Beal has a lot to brag about. Born and raised in Chicago, he’s released two albums (Acoustic Scorcery and Nobody Knows) under an independent record label, and both are stellar examples of his talent. But despite this success, Beal has since exited his label in an attempt to exclusively control the entirety of his career. According to Under the Radar, Beal resented promoting his music as a product, dismissed touring, and didn’t want a backing band. He had already “traveled the world with a reel-to-reel machine as his only musical accompaniment,” and he wanted to return to the “very simplistic outlook as to what [he] could and couldn’t do.” Beal will take his talent to the silver screen for his starring role in Tim Sutton’s upcoming film, ‘Memphis,’ where he “portrays a strange singer with “god given talent” who resembles but doesn’t equal Beal.” The movie will feature his new release, Experiments in Time, which is a hypnotic, moving departure from his previous work. To learn more about the complicated artist who is worthy of wide recognition, check out his interview with Under the Radar. It’s clear from his complaints that he needs to get out of his head and into his music, but like many artists before him, sometimes internal discord drives talent, and perhaps that’s the case here. Watch the trailer for Memphis below, and check out the second video for one of his best songs, “Too Dry to Cry.”
Melissa Etheridge’s latest studio album, ‘This is Me,’ is set for release September 30. Etheridge had a hand in penning every song, along with “some amazing collaborators who really helped craft songs and an album that is truly representative of where [she is in her] life at this moment.” Fans of Etheridge can take part in the process by contributing their personal photos for a mosaic on the album cover. For more info, visit the BE PART OF ME website. Fans have until June 27th to submit images for consideration.
In what can only be described as epic, Crash Kings visited The Bootleg last night for an unforgettable event. The high-energy band is led by lead singer Tony Beliveau, who’s joined by his brother, Mike Beliveau, on bass and Tommy Roslak on drums . The power-trio’s unique sound is largely a result of Tony’s very cool vintage clavinet, which the modern rockers use in place of a traditional guitar. According to Tony, “There’s quite a learning curve to playing it and bending all the notes correctly,” but that’s [his] baby and [his] go-to keyboard.” As one of the only rock bands to forgo a lead guitar, their unrivaled style is equally matched by their live performance. Tony is a mesmerizing lead, often changing his style to accommodate the venue, the crowd, and his dedicated devotees who will always get a fresh, live show.
While waiting for the concert to start, I ran into a loyal fan who commuted from Fresno to see her “favorite band” whom she discovered after a friend sent her a link for “Mountain Man,” a number one song off their successful debut album. It’s not surprising that she’d be unfazed by such a long commute. To see that two hour show again, I’d drive double the distance.
Crash Kings is currently working on their third album, and judging from the live material they played last night, it’s going to be good. Visit the Crash Kings website for more information on the band, and listen to “Mountain Man” below.
Combined concerts always confuse me, especially when the two leads expose each other’s limitations rather than add to their strengths. Though Sting and Paul Simon are formidable titans in their own right, their attempt to align had some small issues. Simon’s sweet tone gets swallowed by Sting’s powerhouse voice, and Sting’s inability to achieve Simon’s vulnerable, quiet conviction leaves him exposed.
The duo began the show with a brief introduction into their attempt, with Simon telling the audience that by the end of the tour, he hoped to “have the body of an Adonis,” and to have sex for “hours on end.” Sting’s audience interaction was less jovial, with the mysterious music man confessing his humble respect for Simon shortly after Simon exited the stage, along with his rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America.’ Unfortunately, that was extent of their audience engagement.
While I might have picked someone like James Taylor to be Simon’s touring partner, there’s a few easy fixes that might make this a more cohesive collaboration, rather than what felt like a competitive showdown of living legends. First, because Paul Simon and Sting are simply unable to effectively harmonize together, they should exchange verses in each other’s songs and severely limit the harmonies. This tactic was more widely used in the second half of the show, which made it exponentially better than the first. Second, if each artist is going to sing each other’s song, then the arrangement should be changed to accommodate their individual vocal style. Sure the audience expects the original, but there’s plenty of picks in their solo set to fulfill that expectation. It was; however, extremely interesting to see Sting sing, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ given its intense vulnerability and the simple fact that it’s an Art Garfunkel vocal staple. I desperately want to ask Sting if he felt tremendously challenged by the idea of taking a different approach to his larger-than-life style. It was certainly an exercise in restraint. Lastly, the live mix had problems. While Sting’s voice can be easily heard among his band, Simon’s cannot. This can be easily rectified, but it’s something that should be taken into consideration with two vastly different voices.
Despite these aforementioned issues, this show is certainly worth seeing. Absent some collaborative conundrums, the thirty plus song set gives you two for the price of one, with Simon singing his legendary staples, including, ‘Graceland,’ ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,’ ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,’ and many more. As for Sting, he tore the house down with ‘Message in a Bottle,’ ‘Roxanne,’ and ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.’ It’s not often that two of the world’s most iconic artists share a stage, so take advantage of the momentous milestone in history and purchase your ticket. For more information visit, Sting’s website, Paul Simon’s website, or their tour website.
North American Tour Itinerary 2014
Feb. 16 Anaheim, CA Honda Center
Feb. 17 San Jose, CA SAP Center at San Jose
Feb. 19 Seattle, WA KeyArena
Feb. 20 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
Feb. 23 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center
Feb. 25 Chicago, IL United Center
Feb. 26 Detroit, MI The Palace of Auburn Hills
Feb. 28 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
Mar. 01 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
Mar. 03 Boston, MA TD Garden
Mar. 04 New York City, NY Madison Square Garden
Mar. 06 New York, City, NY Madison Square Garden
Mar. 07 Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Center
Mar. 09 Hershey, PA Giant Center
Mar. 13 Washington, DC Verizon Center
Mar. 15 Ft. Lauderdale, FL BB&T Center
Mar. 16 Orlando, FL Amway Center
I’ve had my eye on Aaron Embry for some time now. He’s a quiet force, and you’d have to see him live to truly appreciate his magic. Watch ‘So I Turn’ below.
If you have yet to discover Joe Purdy, the time has come. The American folk singer/songwriter is widely known for producing music at a record speed, and Eagle Rock Fire is no exception. The album was recorded in just five days on analog equipment, which will be immediately apparent when you hear it’s warm sound. Purdy has generously released his album for early downloads via noisetrade, which you can find below. Catch Purdy at The Bootleg Friday, June 6th, or check out his tour schedule for more information.
Saddle up for Tim McGraw’s SUNDOWN HEAVEN TOWN TOUR! The tour kicks off this May at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and it celebrates the release of his album, Two Lanes of Freedom. Since the new year McGraw has tallied up two GRAMMY nominations and seven Academy of Country Music Awards nominations including Album of the Year, Single Record, and Vocal Event. His lead single “Lookin’ For That Girl” debuted at #10 on Billboard’s Country Digital Songs chart.
“This last year was unbelievable, and I don’t have any plans to let off the gas now. We didn’t want to waste any time getting new music out,” said McGraw. “With every album, my approach is to push a few of my own boundaries and try things I’ve never done before. It was hard to choose a lead single off this project because I really felt like we had six or seven good options. I kept coming back to ‘That Girl’ because even though it may be a little different for me sonically, I couldn’t get it out of my head!”
On the tour, Tim McGraw will be joined by rising star and season 3 winner of NBC’s “The Voice,” Cassadee Pope. Since the release of her album, FRAME BY FRAME, Cassadee has over 1.7 million tracks sold to date. Tickets for the SUNDOWN HEAVEN TOWN TOUR go on sale next Friday February 14 at 10 AM and will be available at ticketmaster.com and livenation.com.
After being dubbed as one of the “Top 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now” by Rolling Stone, L.A. natives need to make room in their calendars to see the Dave Matthews Band in their single L.A. area performance on Saturday September 6th at the Verizon Amphitheater. The band will perform favorite hits from throughout their entire career in a two set per night called “ A Very Special Evening with Dave Matthews Band.” Tickets go on sale this Friday February 7 at 10 AM on ticketmaster.com and livenation.com as well as via charge-by-phone at 800.745.3000. Dave Matthews Band has been ranked as the biggest ticket seller worldwide of the past decade having sold a collective 37 million CDs and DVDs combined. Keep an eye out for the band’s new album with producer Rob Cavallo coming out later this year.
By an overwhelming demand, San Francisco natives, JOURNEY and the STEVE MILLER BAND have added a L.A.-area show at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Saturday August 2nd in addition to their concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Not only will the bands be performing a second show but Tower of Power will also appear as a special guest.
“We are all so looking forward to playing again for you in 2014 with the great company of the Steve Miller Band and Tower of Power,” said the members of JOURNEY. “It’s going to be a San Francisco musical delight from the past and present, moving full speed ahead into the future!”
Tickets for the newly added show will go on sale Friday February 7th at 10 AM and will be available through ticketmasker.com and livenation.com.
Debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts, singer-songwriter Jack Johnson has announced his 6th studio album titled From Here To Now To You headlining a world tour including performances in South America, Australia and Europe. Throughout the tour, Johnson will be joined by artists such as Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Amos Lee, Michael Kiwanuka, ALO, and Bahamas. Since founding the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation in 2008, Jack Johnson has offered solutions to support sustainable local food systems as well as plastic free initiatives by collaborating with over 125 community groups across North America through his All At Once campaign. With this campaign, Jack Johnson had offered to match donations up to a total of $2,500 per group. Concert-goers can also participate in his global green effort by taking environmental action with local non-profit organizations, sharing environmental commitment photos, and can even enter to win a chance to watch Jack Johnson’s performance the from the stage. For more information about his green efforts or to buy tickets to see it all in action, visit jackjohnsonmusic.com for more details.
Though I’m always thankful to live in Los Angeles, there are moments when that gratitude is exponentially multiplied. And those moments usually occur when I have the pleasure of seeing a great local music show at a small venue when the quality is worthy of stadium seating. It’s the kind of thing one can only experience in this city, and I had the fortunate pleasure of seeing it first hand at Zoey’s Cafe where Brother SAL, Joe Purdy, and Brian Wright performed together. Joe Purdy has been on my radar for quite some time, and Brother SAL randomly got my attention at a local Los Angeles venue named Piano Bar, where the guy brought down the house. As for the third performer, Brian Wright, this was the first time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him play, but his two buddies circumvented his humility and called him “one of the greatest songwriters [they] know.” In short, it was magical.
There’s nothing better than when a popular band generously brings attention to an up-and-comer. And this week’s gold star goes to The Lumineers who killed it last night at The Fonda. During their set they covered a song by a man named Sawmill Joe and encouraged the audience to look him up. So I did. And the guy is just as good as I anticipated. He’s got a country blues grit in his voice that makes him sound as if he’s been doing this for a million years, only he’s shockingly younger than you’d think. He lives in Denver, and he works a day job at a sawmill (get it?), which likely explains the authenticity behind his music. Listen to his music below, and click HERE to find him on Facebook.
I’m constantly getting sent new music from independent artists looking for exposure, but it’s rare to find something that moves me. The video below is an exception. Watch to see Jades Goudreault cover Missy Higgins’ ‘Secret.’
I don’t know much about Michael Kiwanuka, except that he’s brilliant, and that’s really all I need to know for now. I discovered him via the recommendation of another Dishmaster favorite, Monsters Calling Home, and I’ve officially fallen in love. Listen below.
There’s no formula for what makes a performer uniquely great, but I sure do know it when I see it. And I see it in Josh Jove. He fronts a blues band in Los Angeles, and if my prediction is correct, they’re on their way to massive success. He started playing guitar at age 11, and he’s self-taught. If you see him perform live, you’ll understand just how impressive that last detail is. According to Jove, he practices an “embarrassing amount of hours per day,” which isn’t surprising. He’s damn good. Plus, he’s one of the nicest, most humble guys I know. Have I also mentioned he’s easy on the eyes? Listen below to hear a demo of his blues band cover JJ Cale’s “The Woman That Got Away.” The demo was recorded at Brick & Mortar Recording in Los Angeles.
I don’t know much about Sean Hayes, but I know he’s good. I discovered his album, Alabama Chicken, on my Brett Dennen Pandora station, and I am eternally grateful for it. He’s released four albums, and his most recent is called Flowering Spade. I can’t find much information about the guy given that most interviews with him involve excessive questions about his love for the banjo. I’m just gonna have to fix the problem and commission him for an interview. Watch two of his videos below.
Finding a new band to love is akin to discovering a twenty dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans. I didn’t know it was there, but I sure am glad to have it. Today’s discovery is Alabama Shakes. They originated from Athens, Alabama, and their members include: Brittany Howard (lead vocals), Heath Fogg (guitar), Zac Cockrell (bass), and Steve Johnson (drums). Judging from their media attention, I’m late in the game. Their album debuts April 8, 2012, and you can get a sneak peak here. And if that’s not enough, they’re performing on Letterman on April 12. Watch below to see their video for “Hold On.”
When I launched my blog, I had the dream of finding and promoting undiscovered artists. To be fair, a lot of the new artists I hear were actually discovered by KCRW, a popular public radio station in Los Angeles. Today’s artist is ‘Hazel‘, and upon doing further research, I know absolutely nothing about the band except that it is made up of: Angelica Garcia (lead vocals); Ivan Pyzow (vocals, piano); Luka Douridas (guitar); and Lukas Frank (drums). It doesn’t help that when they selected their name they didn’t account for Google, considering that my search for “Hazel ” returns a lot of results about color. Did I mention there is another band with the exact same name? If only these guys would have consulted with The Dishmaster before releasing their album. Enough about my internet expertise — listen to the song below. I love it. And you can download it for free from their site.
Max McElligott, also known as “Wolf Gang,” has yet to release his debut album, entitled Suego Faults, but he’s already receiving a fair share of internet buzz. When my friend pointed me to the song below, I was blown away. The acoustic version of Back to Back is actually better than the studio version, which my musician tells me is an impressive feat. If I could give Mr. McElligot any career advice on his way to the top, I’d tell him to quickly change his band name. He’s impossible to Google, and my attempts were met with a lot of Mozart information. In the age of online media, it’s important to be easily found. If you like the song below, I’d encourage you to buy his EP. You will not be disappointed.
This band blew me away. I was rudely mid-conversation when they took the stage, and their music shut me up immediately. “Who are these guys?” I said to my friend. “Why aren’t they hugely famous? Why aren’t they selling out venues?” The group is called Monsters Calling Home, and it has six members, including Alex Hwang (lead vocals, guitar), Daniel Chae (Guitar, Violin, Bass, Keys), John Chong (Drums), Jennifer Rim (Violin), Sally Kang (Keys, Guitar), and Joe Chun (Bass, Guitar ). After doing some research, I found that they are “inspired by stories of immigrant families and the wildly appropriate 90s children TV show Aahh!!! Real Monsters.” The members met at their church and began playing local venues before performing together at the Kollaboration entertainment competition at the Nokia Theater, a competition that promotes Asian Pacific American talent. Considering their incredible stage presence, I was shocked to discover that they have only been together for six months. I’m told by their frontman Alex Hwang that before they release their first EP, they want to “get comfortable on stage, play the songs that we have to their best potential, create as much content for people to look for online and be good to our fans.” When he said that I scratched my head for a moment and thought, “you’re out of your mind if you think your stage presence needs to be more developed. You guys are ready. Get on it.” But his attitude is likely the reason they will be successful. Self-criticism can be very valuable. Watch their video for “Growing Up” below.
I discovered Beirut on NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk Concert‘ series, and I’ve been listening to their album, ‘The Rip Tide’, ever since. The band is currently comprised of six members, including Zach Condon, Perrin Cloutier, Nick Petree, Paul Collins, Kelly Pratt, and Ben Lanz. When researching the origin of Beirut, I found that my limited musical knowledge made it difficult to explain their musical influences. As a result, I’ve deicded to completely rip off another website’s description. Here goes: “The music combines elements of Eastern European and Balkan folk with Western pop music, fusing the American mainstream and indie-rock culture and the World Music market.” And there you have it. Listen to their performance below.
I’m always searching for new, non-mainstream music — and it’s no easy task. While listening to Florence + The Machine on Pandora, I discovered the very gifted Kate Nash. Nash’s lyrics are so literal, I find myself amazed that she gets away with it in such an effortless way. Alright — I just vomited at my music review. Clearly I wasn’t born to write for Rolling Stone. How about this — she’s fucking brilliant (and yes mother, sometimes I curse). Nash was born in Ireland and grew up in London. Her incredible album, Made of Bricks, was number one in the UK and went platinum. I’ve posted two songs below. Foundations was a huge hit, and if you’ve ever been in a failed relationship, I would encourage you to listen to it. It’s a post-breakup-anthem. The second song I posted, Merry Happy, didn’t chart well, though I think it’s one of the strongest songs on the album. Enjoy!
When you live in Los Angeles, you’re often exposed to a wide array of douchebags that lie about their accomplishments. So when you meet someone genuine and talented, you can’t help but root for their success. One such talented individual is a Mr. Aaron Barnhart, who I had the pleasure of watching perform at a fantastic Los Angeles venue in Koreatown known as ‘R Bar.’ He was joined by his “Revelators,” which included Robert Columbus (drums), Josh Jove (guitar), and Sam Skolfield (bass guitar). In addition to Aaron’s original material, they played some great blues music, and I looked around the room to discover the crowd feeling the groove. Aaron is about to release his sophomore album, and judging from what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to be damn good. Listen to a tune from his debut album below.
I recently discovered Vampire Weekend, but I’m told by musician friends that “they’re huge.” After looking them up, I seem to be the only person that didn’t get the memo. Their debut self-titled album reached #17 on the Billboard 200, and their song, A-Punk, was voted the fourth best song of 2008 by Rolling Stone magazine. Their second album, Contra, reached #1 on the Billboard 200. The indie rock band formed in 2006, and its members include: Ezra Koenig; Rostam Batmanglij; Chris Thomson; and Chris Baio. Perhaps I like them so much because the lead singer, Ezra Koenig sounds strikingly similar to Paul Simon. I told this to my musician friend, insisting that my discovery means I have a “musical ear.” He shook his head in disapproval saying, “it’s pretty obvious they sound alike.” Listen to White Sky and Holiday from their second album, Contra, below.
My musician buddies are constantly introducing me to new, unique artists, and this process usually entails me feigning an understanding of their technical terms. Every so often though, they reject the shop-talk and use the term “stoner music.” That doesn’t help much either, seeing as how I don’t do drugs. I therefore find myself questioning the occasion for such music in my own life, and the other day — it hit me. Stoner music to them is yoga music to me! Having said that, I’d like to introduce you to Jonsi, an Icelandic musician that is most known as the lead singer of Sigur Ros. His second solo album, entitled Go, was voted best rock/pop album of 2010, at the 17th annual Icelandic Music Awards. Listen to one of my favorite tracks, Around Us, below. Feel free to do downward dog while doing so.
My friend invited me to Jenny O.’s performance last night at Diane Von Furstenberg’s store, and I embarrassingly canceled at the last minute to attend the Paley Center’s American Idol panel. I’m told by my drummer friends that Jenny O. was very good. Watch the video below and judge for yourself. It’s excellent.
When I first watched the Eat Pray Love trailer, I became so obsessed with the title song, I immediately Shazammed my television screen (yes, I’m that tech-savvy). I discovered the song is Dog Days Are Over, by Florence + The Machine. It never occurred to me that the the entire album would be just as great as the single. I assure you it is. If you don’t believe me, go to Grooveshark, and listen to the all of the Lungs album — I promise you won’t be disappointed. The “group” is actually composed of one member, British indie rock vocalist — Florence Welch — with other artists backing up her voice. Listen to two songs below.
I’ve recently discovered my affinity for Swedish musicians. First, Erik Hassle, and now Lykke Li. Sure, they have much different musical styles, but perhaps Sweden is churning out some really good musicians. As per my usual routine, I discovered Lykke Li on Pandora through my Florence + The Machine station. I then went to Grooveshark and listened to her entire Youth Novels album, which is incredible. She has yet to achieve mainstream success in the United States, with the exception of her appearance on Last Call With Carson Daly in 2009 (yes, Carson Daly is still alive) and a performance at the 2009 Lollapalooza Music Festival. Listen to her music below. I recommend Little Bit.
I’m always looking for new music. I dig through Pandora and Grooveshark looking for an artist that I won’t immediately get tired of. This week, Erik Hassle joins Kate Nash and Florence + The Machine as my new find. He’s from Sweden, and his debut album, Hassle, reached #2 on the Swedish pop charts. He actually sounds a bit like Maroon 5, which I regret to admit, considering I find Adam Levine to be incredibly annoying. In fact — the less I know about Hassle the better — because everyone annoys me eventually. I’ve attached some of his songs below for your enjoyment. I recommend Don’t Bring Flowers.