Thursday, June 26, 2008

For the record

To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, no matter how bad things get, the music will still be wonderful.

Ok, full disclosure here: I am a HUGE fan of Mariah Carey, even bordering on superfan, in fact. Yes, I love her because she reminds me of my innocent, camp-filled adolescent summers, all Wet 'n Wild lipstick and Dreamsicles and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels. But as an adult, I've also grown to respect her as a songwriter, producer, and insanely talented singer. Ignore the train wreck that is her personal life. Focus on what really matters - the woman is gifted and she makes GREAT albums.

The superfan status, (at least as an adult,) began with her 2005 release, The Emancipation of Mimi, which brilliantly blended her melodic R&B with club and hip hop beats with truly inpsired effect. I consider that an essential album, and one you should definitely check out if you haven't already.

The total girl-crush adoration has only increased after hearing her newest release, E=MC2. A little less edgy than Mimi, perhaps, but again, amazingly solid pop/R&B songs fill out this album. You've probably already heard "Touch My Body" (check out the video for a Kenneth-from-30-Rock sighting!) and may also have heard "Bye Bye" on the radio, but inexplicably, the best song on this album isn't getting any airplay yet. There isn't even a video for my favorite song on the album, "I'll Be Lovin' You Long Time," so instead I will post YouTube audio here:

Grab a Dreamsicle and enjoy summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

LTF Playlist: Summer Punkish

So I think we can all agree that the "Midwinter Melancholy" playlist way overstayed its welcome. Time for something new, something fun, something... summery.

The "Summer Punkish" playlist (in the right sidebar) was created with California sunshine in mind. When the weather's warm, I love a soundtrack where kinetic punk meets shimmering pop. Somewhat reminiscent of the soundtrack of the OC or shows on the WB (may it rest in peace.)

Artists include Finger Eleven, Good Charlotte, Cake, Soul Coughing, Fall Out Boy, Green Day and the All-American Rejects - many bands I wouldn't necessarily choose to listen to on their own. But put them all together, and you've got the perfect soundtrack for soaking up some sun, driving with the top down, and just generally feeling like a teenager enjoying summer break again.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summerfest 2008

Why I love the idea of Summerfest: In the span of one hour on a random Thursday night during the biggest music festival in the world, you have to choose between Alejandro Escovedo, Ingrid Michaelson, and Marie Digby. Later that same night, you'll get to choose between Gomez, Gavin DeGraw, Lucinda Williams and the Plain White T's. All for a flat entry fee of $15.

Why I find Summerfest very trying in practice:
1. The crowds -(See pic)

2. The technical difficulties -

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Summerfest, Unplugged - Boom boom go the lights for almost three hours

3. But perhaps most importantly, the escalating beer prices! Grrr... -

WISN 12: Price of beer goes up for Summerfest 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hit the beat and take it to the verse now...

I first encountered Welsh R&B chanteuse Duffy while streaming the BBC online last winter. Already a megastar in the UK, her hit "Mercy" is starting to pick up speed on this side of the pond (on a recent trip to Ohio, I heard it blasting in a Ruehl so loudly that I was genuinely concerned about the welfare of the teenage employees. And wow is Ruehl a strange shopping experience, by the way.)

Duffy's US debut, Rockferry, is a short album, but there isn't a weak track on it - just good solid retro R&B that often sounds like it was unearthed from the Motown vault circa 1967. Comparisons to Amy Winehouse are a little overstated - Duffy has a softer quality to both her voice and her subject matter and she embraces the classic Motown sound more fully than Winehouse (who in my opinion is at her best when she combines classic jazz and modern club sounds into her brand of R&B, but that's a subject for another day.)

Highlights of the album include "Warwick Avenue," "Delayed Devotion" and, of course, "Mercy." Here she is performing "Mercy" live on Later with Jools Holland last November: