Archive for the ‘Pop’ Category

Maybe it’s because spring is around the corner, bringing its sense of new beginnings. Or maybe it’s a renewed sense of zen after taking a step back from reality for a little while. Whatever the case, I’ve decided it’s high time to just let things go. Grudges don’t help anyone out, don’t do anyone any favours. They really only affect you, occupying your every thought, impacting your every emotion. So if someone’s throwing shade your way, let it slide. Move on. Cut your losses. Because this can be a lot harder than it seems, here are a few tracks to help you rid yourself of all that drama.

“Shine” by Mondo Cozmo

This song from Philly-bred, LA-based artist Josh Ostrander, is about figuring out the right path to take, and finding one’s way through it. The music is hopeful and more than anything, it reminds us there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help.

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

A track from 1975, that remains relevant to this day. The sadness in Stevie Knicks’ voice, and the lyrics full of reflection, can’t help but make us think that no matter what happens to us, life moves forward. Sometimes, you just have to leave the past behind, be the bigger person, and focus on the future; as hard as it may be.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis

Wise words from these Britpop royals.

“Walk Away” by Ben Harper

Ben Harper has this magical way of using his voice, music and lyrics to convey the deepest of emotions, completely effortlessly. The track says it all.

 

“Let it Go” by James Bay

Typically, I don’t lean towards overplayed Top 40 pop music, but there’s just something about this one. Bay masterfully controls his voice, making you feel everything he does. The lyrics, though simplistic at times, are also real which helps the listener relate to Bay’s woes.

 

There’s a lot to be said about 2016, good or bad. Personally, I had a great 2016, one of the best years ever. Musically, however, I did not.

Aside from this blog, I’ve also been contributing to an online entertainment site, examiner.com for about 4 years. Anything from album reviews, concert reviews, new releases, etc. More of an objective journalistic approach to music writing compared to the much more subjective stuff I write here. The site got bought out by axs.com, and was going to shut down mid-2016. I assumed everything would be the same, just under a different banner. Obviously I was wrong, and by the time I figured it out, it was too late. Over 100 articles I wrote, vanished into thin air; gone, just like that, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

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Over the last 6 years or so, I’ve been taking guitar lessons. First on an acoustic, then gradually switched over to electric (which is way more fun/easy to play.) I started at a music school, then when my instructor had to move, we still managed to keep it up, even resorting to sessions over Skype. That lasted a while, but as life goes, the time for it on both our ends became less and less, and towards the tail end of 2016, I had to throw in the towel, which disconnected me from a part of music that had been in my life for some time. Now my guitars just sit in the corner of the living room, as decoration.

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My musical game also took a dive: my ear wasn’t as close to the ground as it has been in the past, and I’ve fallen behind on new music. During 2016, Torrent sites were constantly being shut down, so it was hard to get and sample any new music. If I heard a song I liked, my routine used to be: download the album, listen to it on repeat for a couple of weeks. Then go back and download earlier albums of the same artist (if applicable,) to create a well-informed opinion. Nowadays, singles drop left, right and centre. Some are on albums, some are bonus tracks, some are B-sides. It’s becoming more difficult to get everything in one place. Spotify is great, but like the mind of today’s younger generation, it also has no attention span. There’s no time to really fall in love with an artist, because every day, new ones pop up out of nowhere.

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Then there were all the musician deaths, particularly the ones that hit me most. David Bowie’s came first, in January, and it stung. I was never a huge fan, but I did know his music. His persona was also something to be admired because he was different; eccentric; fearless. Prince’s passing followed in April, and that hit much closer to home. I’d seen Prince live a few years ago, during a show where he played at least 7 encores. He was incredible in all aspects of his musicianship and artistry. Even my mom was even a huge fan.

On Christmas Day, there was George Michael, and I was stunned. I’ve had the privilege of growing up with older cousins and an older sibling, so in the 80s, I was always in tune with great music. I learned about U2, INXS, and Duran Duran; plus, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and George Michael. He was practically a household name. In fact, my brothers and I used to dance around the house, air-guitaring and  lip singing to “Faith.” I’m also pretty sure George Michael was the first sex symbol I knew (before actually knowing what a sex symbol was.)

When I got older, I found out he was also part of Wham!, and the genius behind “Careless Whisper.” He disappeared for a while from the music scene in the late 90s, but resurfaced with Patience in 2004, and this hit single – he was unstoppable. I don’t know a life without George Michael. I don’t know a music industry without George Michael.

If the musical chaos of 2016 is evidence of anything, it’s that everything changes. Leaders change, people change, life changes. Relationships change, work changes, you change. The lesson is: act now (well, after you finish reading this.) Don’t wait for the timing to be right, because it will never be “right.” You just never know what the future holds, so why wait?

Wild World by Bastille

This UK electronic/rock/pop band first graced us with their presence on 2013’s Bad Blood. A solid debut album showcasing their versatility both musically and lyrically.Lead singer Dan Smith has this innate ability to choose words so carefully and precisely, the listener can’t help but see all his emotions; he paints such a vivid picture. Wild World only continues to showcase their incredible talent, and his voice is as infectious as ever.

Wild World highlights their capacity to depict all life’s situations honestly, using several instruments, exploring all sorts of genres, and uncovering different sounds. “Two Evils” and “An Act of Kindness,” are dark and haunting; “Fake It” and “The Anchor” lean towards pop music, “Way Beyond” echoes much more electronic stylings. They use their music to reach out and connect with an audience, and it’s impossible to turn a deaf ear after hearing what they have to say.

Wild World shows how much Bastille has grown over the last 3 years; how much more they can give, and how far they can go. They’ve managed to stay true to their unique sound, without boring their listeners – a feat only few bands can accomplish.

22, A Million by Bon Iver

Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) is already a legend in my books. He is one of those artists that can’t be stopped. He writes, produces, sings, does it all – and does it all so well. 22, A Million is set to be released on September 30th of this year, but I managed to get a copy in my hands and I just can’t shut it off.

This album is an experience. A subtle sensory overload, causing mass confusion of the senses, as they’re all ignited at the same time, pulling you in every direction. Your skin tingles, your ears perk up, your eyes want to close so you can fully absorb it all, and your mouth waters because you can taste it. It’s all over your body, then somehow sneaks its way into the pit of your stomach, leaving it both in knots and relieved at the same time.

Vernon’s voice is as ethereal as it gets, even angelic. At first the music just sounds like noise, but when you pay a little closer attention, it hits you – something pretty magical is going on, which just speaks to his ability as a producer (services he has lent to the likings of Kanye West.) His lyrics are esoteric, often revealing layers and layers of meaning and complexity with each listen. Each track has so many elements, so many components, that it takes listen after listen after listen, to truly understand what’s going on, and even then you’re unsure.

22, A Million is one of the (ie my) most anticipated albums this year, and thank goodness Bon Iver is still in the game, creating works of art – we really need it.