Friday, September 25, 2009

A thousand hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs

Scanning the Red Eye today, I saw that Grey's Anatomy darling Kate Havnevick was opening for a band called Owl City last night at Metro in Chicago. Intrigued, I headed over to Owl City's Myspace Page and was quickly blown away.

Bright Eyes-style, Owl City appears to be the name of a one-man band, and that one man is Adam Young, a Minnesota native who creates the perfect poptronica sound I've been hoping for in other bands like Phoenix, Mute Math, and Passion Pit but have always been slightly disappointed by. Until now.

Among Young's listed inspirations are Imogen Heap, Sigur Ros, Cary Grant and optimism, four of my favorite things, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that I love every single track I've heard so far. Young has a very similar voice to Ben Gibbard's (of Death Cab and Postal Service, among other indie exploits), but unlike Gibbard, Young uses his child-like, speak-songish tenor to perfect effect, balancing it with clean, light, happy, major-key electronic pop arrangements that get in your ears and bounce around happy in your brain for hours.

Further research revealed that Owl City's major-label debut album, Ocean Eyes, has a perfect five-star rating from 73 reviewers on Amazon, and the show at Metro was sold out last night, so the secret is out on Young, and yet somehow no one has ever heard of Owl City yet, either. If you fall into the latter camp, do yourself a favor and fix that situation.

Check out this witty video for "Fireflies" (it features a Speak 'N Spell!).

If he wanna rock, he rocks; if he wanna roll, he rolls...

One big benefit to Conan taking over the Tonight Show is that the musical guests seem to have come up a notch. I caught Eric Hutchinson there, on an otherwise unremarkable Friday night a couple of months ago, and fell in love so instantly and totally that I went out and bought his album without hearing another track on it. I was not disappointed.

On Sounds Like This..., Hutchinson combines the neo-Rat Pack vocal stylings of Michael Buble or Jamie Cullum with an irresistible, acoustic singer-songwriter pop sound with hooks that don't quit.

Favorites include the album opener "Ok, It's Alright with Me," a musical Zen meditation that hints at the difficulties Hutchinson faced in putting out this album (hint: it took over five years and three labels,) "Food Chain," and "Rock & Roll", (which in my opinion would make an excellent soundtrack for another obsession of mine, "Gossip Girl.")

Don't believe me? Watch the video for "Rock & Roll" and fall in love yourself.