February 27, 2013

Guilty Pleasure

More than a few of the biggest artists understand the power of a classic stoner track. In fact, Marijuana has served as the inspiration for epic mythical cuts in nearly all musical genres. Nevertheless, today I'm not talking 'bout weed, but pure fags.

Yep, it really seems that a ciggy brings to mind specific memories to our singers. Here you have some examples:

Two Door Cinema Club's front-man, Alex Trimble, met his (now ex) girlfriend at a theatre. Since Alex is an avid walking ashtray he went out for a smoke and met this lovely girl, then they started talking and things went on from there.

Múm's funny song title is more literal than some people could think, hinting that band members were kinda naughty kids playing pranks.

Beans On Toast have always been about wry social commentary and their comical narratives always include drugs or alcohol. Thus, these gruff troubadours didn't mince words when it came to writing a hilarious take on what was lost when smoking was banned in clubs.

But my preferred ones are those I would call metaphor songs, as far as smoking refers to sex and casual love (Chocolates & Cigarettes by Angus & Julia Stone), the charred remains to a relationship (Cinder & Smoke by Iron & Wine), the waste of time (Cigarettes by Russian Red), the rebelliousness (Cigarettes & Alcohol by Oasis), sexual abuse (Smoke by Natalie Imbruglia) or even the debauchery on more extreme levels (Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk by Rufus Wainwright).

February 20, 2013

Tangled Lineages

Some time ago, I brought you an article about the etymology of certain band names containing Spanish words, when in fact they proceed from other lands (click here). In today's post, we'll uncover the origins of some real singers names. You ready?

At the outset, we all could think that Paolo Nutini, Emiliana Torrini and Elvis Costello are Italian-born artists. Actually, they've got Scottish, Icelandic and English nationalities, respectively. By the same token, Maria Mena and José González are two fairly common (sur)names in Spain. Nonetheless, both were born in Scandinavian countries (Norway and Sweden). Finally, Brit singer Adele, who won six trophies at the latest Grammy Awards, has a French name indeed. Can you think of another one?

New Shoes by Paulo Nutini on Grooveshark
Daydreams by Adele on Grooveshark
Teardrop by José González on Grooveshark
Jungle Drum by Emiliana Torrini on Grooveshark
She by Elvis Costello on Grooveshark
Homeless by Maria Mena on Grooveshark

Special thanks to Yara, Alfonso, Juergen and Jose for their suggestions, in spite of having done just as I pleased, hehe.

February 18, 2013

Rockabilly Rebel

When someone has a dirty little secret, it's definitely worth sharing. Uhm, that's exactually what my old friend Uri should be thinking when he urged me to listen to Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside. Since then, I've been completely blown away. Oh, yeah! There could not be a better start to the year than discovering such a stunning band. I've got multiple arguments for why this outfit should be a regular slot on your stereo. 

First of all, they dish up eleven tracks, taking style notes from jazz, swing, country, blues, rock&roll, and somehow spinning them into one cohesive sound. It generates an air of nostalgia while still sounding modern, unique, dazzling and unexpected.

Secondly, the band's secret weapon: Sallie Ford's exceptionally powerful and emotive voice, which has elicited comparisons to classic jazz and blues icons, yet it's stoked with the fire of youth and rebellion, too. Okay, not everyone will go for her somewhat harsh vocal style, that's true. However, where most other singers try to hit every note perfectly and impressively, she opts for emotion over technique.

All of the songs on the record are entertaining, and most of them are a whole lot of fun. But Ford has a serious side as well. Her lyrics are, well, let's just say that if they were autobiographical, she would have led a disturbing life. On the surface, Dirty Radio may sound like a collection of '50s-style bubble-gum pop tunes, but upon closer examination, a depth of emotion and thought reveals its presence through this young Portland songwriter. 

This kind of music makes me picture nerdy girls in sundresses and cat-eyed glasses dancing and stomping enough to shake the walls. Seriously, this band has mojo and it's infectious. Dirty Radio is the kind of album where you come up with a new favorite song every time you listen to it. I love it. Absolutely love it. I'm trying to remember when a debut LP truly grabbed me like this... Alright, better judge for yourself since, as an added bonus, the full collection can be streamed below.

But first, check out the video for I Swear, an easy favorite track where she yelps about the current state of mainstream radio. Careful listening is required to make out the words. " When I turn on the radio, it all sounds the same ", she laments in the first line. " What have these people done to music? I just don't care anymore". If you're also sick and tired of commercial music, then have a listen to this bouncy song!

Ah, btdubz, if you are interested in fashion history, take a second glimpse at the clip!


February 3, 2013

Waiting Patiently

One of the major motivations for blogging is sharing stuff with many other people who feel the same passion for something as I do. AFAIC, I'm freaking happy for some loyal followers' contributions that have fascinated and inspired me lately. Nowadays, there's competition between us, in the sense that we always try to outdo each other. And once again, Anna is responsible for my weekly obsesion: folk inspired pop outfit, Busby Marou.

The Aussie band primarily consists of Thomas Busby and Jeremy Marou, however several other musicians perform with the duo in concert. They excel on just about every instrument they touch including ukulele, bass, drums and piano, however, it is their natural ability on the guitar that makes you stop and listen. This combined with their distinctly way of sharing stories has developed into a unique song writing flavour characterized by meaningful lyrics with a touch of romanticism without sounding contrived.

After their 2009 EP, The Blue Road, stirred considerable critical acclaim from music reviewers, they returned last year with their self-titled debut album. While the LP is absolute gold from beginning to end, there are a handful of standout tunes that deserve special attention. One of those tracks is Biding My Time, which is basically about hanging around the same spot waiting and hoping for a good thing to come into play. This is kinda ironic because it was the last song written for the album and it was penned in the studio in record time. Watch it below.

Ahhh, do not miss the super amazing cover song for Cyndi Lauper's anthem, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Not only are these guys the most incredible guitarists I've ever seen, but their voices... Holy shit, their voices. Simply epic!