Posts Tagged ‘Stars’

We’ve all been there, it’s happened to each and everyone of us: the good old heartbreak. Whether from a significant other, a family member, even a friend, we’ve all been down the treacherous self-loathing path of why is this happening to me? I’m the misery-likes-company type of person, so when I’m down in the dumps, I need some friends to help me feel it all; here are some I’ve found along the way. (Note: in an attempt to broaden horizons, I’ve distanced this list from well-known artists, so don’t freak out.)

10. “I Hope Your Heart Runs Empty” by Neverending White Lights feat. Scott Anderson

Okay, so this track dates quite a few years back, but still has a way of getting under my skin. NWL is actually a one-man band of Daniel Victor who writes, performs and produces all his music, then gets quasi-known singers to provide vocals. In this case it’s Canadian punk band Finger Eleven’s lead singer. He has such a harrowing voice, it just crawls all over you.

Best line: “Stole a look away from your eyes, stole a look and finally paid your price”

9. “Cup of Coffee” by Garbage

Although it’s one of the lesser known tracks from this fantastic rock band, it’s also one of their most moving ones. It’s frustrating and angering, and so disheartening. Shirley Manson’s voice is heavy but tender; the music is both harsh and eerie. When someone ends things with you and you feel blindsided, this is probably how you’d feel.

Best line: “It took a cup of coffee, to prove that you don’t love me”

8. “Run” by Snow Patrol

From the initial guitar hook, to the aura of defeated in the vocals, this track had me instantly. This band has put out a lot of great tracks, but this one just has something special about it. It’s tragic, but it’s also heartfelt. It’s about two people who need to separate (geographically, it seems) and are having a tough time with it. Who can’t relate to what’s happening here?

Best line: “To think I might not see those eyes, it makes it so hard not to cry”

7. “Walk Away” by Ben Harper

The classic tale of knowing when to let go, even if you’re not ready to. If a relationship has ended due to circumstances or timing (and not because the love has faded), this is your jam. Harper has this insanely telling voice, full of so much expression and each and every intonation possible. His words cut deep, hit hard and make you want to cry all over. It’s a true lesson in doing the right thing, even though it hurts. A lot.

Best line: “But I would rather be locked to you, than live in this pain and misery”

6. “Personal” by Stars

One of the best ways to truly depict troubles in a relationship is to use both male and female vocals. You get to see/hear both sides of the story and feel even more immersed in the emotions. This track actually makes you feel like you got punched in the gut. Girl likes online version of boy, boy likes online version of girl. They decide to meet in person, but one of them decides they don’t like the real-version of the other. It shatters your heart in so many ways, addressing all our insecurities and how we think others see us.

Best line: “I was sure you saw me, but it wasn’t meant to be”

 

5. “Lost & Found” by Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas needs more credit: she’s phenomenal. She’s part R&B, part singer-songwriter and all soul. There’s a bit of a naiveté and innocence to her voice, which makes her sound even more relevant. It’s like she’s experiencing all these things for the first time. She’s exploring the world and finding out that sometimes it’s painful and it sucks and it’s confusing. This tune is part introspection, part crushing, and all therapy.

Best line: “You broke me and taught me to truly hate myself”

4. “Angels” by The xx

The xx are one of those bands that understand music and sounds so incredibly well, they know exactly how to bring all elements of a song – instruments, vocals, production – in perfect harmony, so that the track is felt from every direction. When Romy isn’t singing, the instruments and music do it for her, taking the listener on a continuous journey. This track is all about finding that elusive connection we all seek, and how overwhelming it can be we it’s found.

Best line: “You move through the room, like breathing was easy”

3. “9 Crimes” by Damien Rice

Damien Rice has such a delicately refined voice, able to hit all the lows and reach all the highs. What makes this track so engaging is it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on. It’s dramatic and heavy and ominous. There seems to be some sort of adulterous situation going on, there are guns involved, and the male and female vocals both talk about bad timing and being horrible people. I have yet to identify 9 actual crimes, but man, this is a good one.

Best line: “Leave me out with the waste, this is not what I do”

2. “About Today” by The National 

I’ve written/spoken about this track time and time again. It should be a staple go-to track in everyone’s life. It’s one of the most real and honest tracks about the dissolution of a relationship. It’s awkward and tense, and you feel the constant knot in your stomach growing and growing, until you find yourself audibly sighing, because you know where this is headed. It even sounds like the violins are crying. If you don’t find yourself crawled up in the a fetal position by the end of it, you have no soul.

Best line: “You just walked away, and I just watched you; what could I say?”

1. “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars

This song pulls at each and every heart string one by one, and letting every single one echo for what seems like eons. It’s so full of pain and hurt and despair. It’s melancholic but folky, and sung with so much precision and sadness, you can’t help but feel all the dread in the air. This couple is on 2 completely different pages, and take turns expressing their inner monologue. Every line is full of contradictions, just like so many relationships. Ugh.

Best line: “I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you” 

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Osheaga Music Festival took place this past weekend in Montreal. Parc Jean-Drapeau was once again host to the epic series of live performances. Sadly, this year I was only able to attend one day of the festival (I blame my age) but boy was it a great day.

The first band I made it for was Stars. They were playing to a hometown crowd and the fans were eating it up. Lead singer Torquil Campbell did spend a little too much time going off on Prime Minister Steven Harper which was a bit of an unnecessary buzz kill. Next up were darling twin sisters Tegan and Sara. From outfit to hairstyle to accessories, these girls decorated the stage with their immense talent. Their latest album Heartthrob has made huge waves for them. Well done ladies.

The next artist was supposed to be Miguel. He was a last minute addition to replace Frank Ocean who bailed due to damaged vocal chords. I was dying to see Miguel, having fallen head over heels for his album Kaleidoscope Dream, and I was in the mood to swoon. However, at the very last minute he also cancelled due to scheduling conflicts with his band. Who substituted him? K-Os. Normally this would have been fine. But K-Os actually had a slot the day before, where he took a hissy fit and stormed off stage when the sound system wasn’t co-operating. Not cool buddy. The few minutes I did witness him rocking a Jays’ hat, trying to remind the crowd why he was still relevant, weren’t all that impressive. Therefore I will not post any footage.

Imagine Dragons came on after and completely saved the day. The band was happy the entire time. Smiling, dancing, singing their hearts out, playing their instruments like they were having the time of their lives. The energy was contagious and there wasn’t a single person standing still in the crowd. Lead singer Dan Reynolds was dynamic, entertaining and the only one I’ve ever seen who plays a massive bass drum. I kind of want to be friends with them. What a great performance.

It was time. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were about to hit the stage and I couldn’t contain my excitement. It started to rain (thankfully I was well equipped with a bad ass poncho) but that wasn’t stopping anyone. The crowds had been gathering all day to see these guys and although I was tempted to worm my way up close, I knew it was going to be a battle and I wasn’t in the mood to fight off drunken 19-year-olds. So I stayed back where I wouldn’t be succumbed to the smoke, smells and sweat from being pushed up against someone. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis did not disappoint, they were off the hook. He did an acapella version of “Otherside” and during “Same Love,” a track about equal rights for homosexuals (damn right he supports it) he treated his fans to a beautiful moment in music: he called on Tegan and Sara to sing the chorus. They are darling twin sisters who are also both lesbians. It was just perfect.

And then this happened during “Can’t Hold Us”:

 

The main headliner was 90s rock legend Beck. I was unable to make it long enough to watch his set, but heard that it was fantastic. Here’s a look.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’ve never been to an outdoor music festival you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s just something about that environment that causes some sort of strange euphoria (not the drug-induced kind) that makes everything better. Try it, you’ll see.

There are so many different combinations of singers out there. Solo artists, duos, boy bands, girls bands, even families (oh Hanson). One of the best combinations out there is when a band has one female lead vocal and one male lead vocal. It was successful with Sonny and Cher. We’ve seen it work wonders for bands like The White Stripes and Lady Antebellum. Here’s a list at some of my current favourites.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The xx put out arguably one of the greatest albums of 2009, entitled XX. From England, lead singers Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft offer a perfect dynamic between male and female vocals. Her voice is light, airy and pretty. His is deep, slow, almost like a crooner. The result is two completely different vocal textures that contrast in such a way that they end up balancing each other out. They create a sensual harmony and each track is then given a male and female perspective. Some songs come across as conversations where the vocals are alternated; while others come across as expressions of shared inner thoughts, where the vocals are present simultaneously. Throw in their incredible sound and lyrics and what you have is musical genius.

The Naked and Famous is a New Zealand band who released their first album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, in 2010. Lead singers Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith have similar sounding voices, hers is high pitched and strong; his has a feminine quality to it but is also strong. Their voices tend to complement each other more than oppose each other with the end result being a much fuller and amplified sound. One acts as a supporting singer while the other one takes the lead, and it changes from one track to another. Combine these vocals with their electro sound and what you get is  some kick ass music.

Stars is a Montreal based band who released their breakthrough album Set Yourself on Fire in 2004. Also consisting of a male lead vocal, Torquil Campbell, and a female lead vocal, Amy Milan, both who are also members of Toronto band Broken Social Scene. Their voices are soft and effortless but full of emotion. A large number of their songs are more like duets and conversations so we clearly get the female and male perspective. Though the similarity in their voices enhances one another’s, what sets them apart lies in their delivery: the emotions they’re feeling are so distinctly heard in Amy’s and Torquil’s voices that the listener knows exactly what they’re going through. This again highlights the contrast between the male and female perspective because both sexes often feel differently about the same thing.

It’s clearly no secret that this blending of male and female voices intrigues the listener to the extent that they gain a better appreciation for the music because they can understand it better, relate to it better. These bands not only accomplish this with flying colours, but they also add incredible music and lyrics so that their overall sound speaks for itself. Boys like it. Girls like it. You’ll like it.