Sunday, August 31, 2008

Remembering Katrina

Three years ago today, we all watched with rapt horror as a flooded New Orleans disintegrated before our eyes on live television. With another hurricane approaching the beleaguered city as we speak, I thought we should focus on the one thing in New Orleans that can't be destroyed - the music.

Sheryl Crow's "Love is Free" video was inspired by the survivors in New Orleans:

Marc Cohn's "Dance Back from the Grave" sounds like Tom Waits eulogizing the New Orleans of pre-Katrina:

And finally, here is Dave Matthews Band with Robert Randolph performing "Louisiana Bayou" live from the Weekend on the Rocks DVD: (RIP LeRoi Moore.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I was stranded in the middle of the night

Are you ready to fall in love with a new band?

Yet again I owe a debt to television commercials - this time it was Kenmore Elite that introduced me to the Silver Seas, by using their lovely "Imaginary Girl" in one of their ads. I instantly had to have their first album, High Society.

At times evoking the 70s baroque classic rock-ism of Poco, the intricate surf harmonies of the Beach Boys, the lush-pop wail of Rufus Wainwright and the quirky complexities of Ben Folds Five, this album goes by too quickly and begs for multiple listens. (You know I can't resist a band that makes heavy use of a 12-string guitar.)

Highlights include the unstoppably happy "Country Life," the Wainwright-esque "Imaginary Girl" and the layered harmonies of the sonically perfect "Hard Luck Tom," which, coming in at just 1:51, may be the shortest piece of pop perfection ever recorded. Listen to two of the three on the band's MySpace page.

Or, if you prefer, you can watch the band (formerly known as The Bees) recording "Country Life" in the studio:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not just another ordinary day

First of all: welcome back, Beth. It's been a long summer without you.

Secondly, have you seen the new ad for Bounce dryer sheets? Well that song you hear is "Ordinary Day" by Canadian folkstress Emilie Mover and it's a bright and happy folk-pop gem. Listen to the song and other, slightly sadder songs on Mover's MySpace page. ("No Hill Too High" is also upbeat and lovely.)

Or you can download the "Ordinary Day" mp3 for free at the Bounce Website.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Something's bound to happen

With the recent obsession with girl-power neo-soul from across the pond (see Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Adele), I thought we should give some credit to the American born, neo-soul-influenced phenomenon that is MoZella.

Born Maureen McDonald in Detroit (what are they putting in the water in Detroit lately? - there are so many talented and beautiful people coming from Motor City!), Mozella started gigging around coffeehouses when she was just 15. Her debut album, I Will, came out in 2006, shortly after Mercedes-Benz used one of her songs in their ambitious "Framed Portraits" ad campaign. Her songs have since been used in TV shows and more recently she has toured on the Hotel Cafe tour.

She has the jazz-tinged vocal quality of Nikka Costa blended with Norah Jones and the white-girl soul of Duffy thrown in. The songs are catchy and contemplative at the same time, and the overall sound blends soulful singer-songwriter with just a touch of electro-pop for a sound that is very fresh. Sadly, it appears she was recently let go from her record contract at Maverick/Warner, but you can keep up with her new stuff via her MySpace page - hopefully another label will snatch her up soon!

In the meantime, check out this live performance of one of my favorite songs on the album, "Killing Time," performed at one of the ubiquitous Coffee Beans in LA in January 2007:

Bonus: Because you know I can't resist Beyonce, listen to MoZella cover "Irreplacable" and then check out the rest of her YouTube series entitled "Under the Covers" for covers of Weezer, the White Stripes, U2 and the Fray, among others.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

He will make of you another believer

Found a hidden Rufus Wainwright gem in the Disney animated feature Meet the Robinsons, entitled "Another Believer":

And there's another lovely Rufus song that plays over the credits as well, called "The Motion Waltz (Emotional Commotion.)" The man can write songs, no doubt about it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Viva... Coldplay?

Ok, I'm not happy to have to admit this, but I honestly cannot get enough of Coldplay's latest single, "Viva La Vida." When Chris Martin sings, "The old king is dead, long live the king," the syncopated rhythm sends me into eargasms every time. Though I have never been a fan of theirs before, this time I am powerless to resist! If you're in a similar situation, you might want to give them a chance this time. And I say that begrudgingly, as I still very much hate this video. (It's too pompous and it lacks any wit.) So just close your eyes and listen...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I like how the day sounds through these new songs

While visiting my favorite music store in the whole world this weekend, The Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, I discovered the album Three Flights to Alto Nido by Greg Laswell. It's perfect for right now. It's a solidly-crafted singer-songwriter sound but with a little more attention paid to production and uniqueness. (He's even got a song in 9/8 time!)

At times quirky and confessional like the best of Death Cab, at times expansive and uplifting like the best of Coldplay (those are words I never thought I'd say, but you've won me over, Chris Martin, with "Viva La Vida"), Greg Laswell's music is a really appealing mixture of very of-the-moment sounds with the general energy level of Counting Crows at their angst-iest. (You have to love any musician who proudly describes himself as "music to not run to.") I'm not surprised that, according to his MySpace page, his music has been featured on some of the more music-savvy TV shows and he is now touring with the Hotel Cafe tour in California.

Highlights include "It's Been a Year," "The One I Love," and "How the Day Sounds," two of which are available on his MySpace page.

Have a listen and see what you think!