Archive for February, 2010

GP: Anything by Boys Like Girls

February 26, 2010

Being an overall music fanatic, it’s presumably a good idea to be as diverse and accepting of as many different styles of music as possible.  I do believe I’ve managed to succeed for the most part in that regard, having gone from a strict rock ‘n roll diet to a bountiful buffet of not only rock, but also country, bluegrass, folk and many other genres that I may focus on in this blog at some point.

It is with this statement that I would like to continue furthering my musical range and profess my unwavering interest in powerpop/rock quartet Boys Like Girls.  These guys are probably best suited for the J-14/tween crowd, yet I find myself drawn to their unbelievably catchy songs.  We’re talking the most sugary, highly produced music you can think of, and I love it.

On their eponymous 2006 debut, the band enjoyed a wealth of album sales and a growing fanbase, thanks to the appeal of singles like, “Hero/Heroine, “ and, “The Great Escape.  “  2009 saw the release of their follow-up Love Drunk, which sets the tone immediately with the could’ve-been-an-N’SYNC-song, “Heart Heart Heartbreak, “ and the giant guitars/layered keyboards/backing vocals of the album’s title track.  Despite being labeled a bunch of heartthrobs by the masses, the group has managed to complete numerous tours with the likes of The All-American Rejects, Motion City Soundtrack, We The Kings and even Avril Lavigne, all the while teaming up with producers who might not necessarily cater to their genre (Brian Howes for Love Drunk, best known for his work with Hinder and Puddle of Mudd) and artists who perform a completely different genre altogether (country superstar Taylor Swift, who sings backup on, “Two Is Better Than One”).

I could go into further detail about the band and their music, analyzing their songs from the drums to the lyrics, but doing this to music that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously would be beyond silly.  It’s hard to care when you’re having so much fun.

Random song post, Volume 3

February 25, 2010

A few recently added songs to my iPod:

Ace Enders And A Million Different People – “Bittersweet Symphony” (2008): As guessed, this is a cover of the 1997 classic by The Verve (which itself borrowed heavily from an orchestral version of a Rolling Stones song).  However, in the hands of the uber-talented Ace Enders and a slew of guest artists (including Mark Hoppus, All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth, Relient K’s Matt Thiessen and many more), this song captures the exuberance of the original while breathing new life into it at the same time.  Easily the finest cover you’ll ever hear of The Verve’s best song.

Death Cab for Cutie – “Cath…  ”   (Narrow Stairs, Atlantic/Barsuk, 2008): A bit of a departure from Narrow Stairs’ somewhat darker mood, “Cath…  ”   serves a reminder of good ol’ pre-O.  C.   Death Cab with it’s bouncy drums and quick, punchy guitar riffs.  The chorus is nothing short of classic Death Cab, and the lyrics, which revolve around a woman in love with a man who’s watching her own wedding ceremony, fit frontman Ben Gibbard’s voice perfectly.  When Gibbard utters, “Soon everybody will ask what became of you, ” during the chorus, the music instantly soars up to a level from which it never comes down.  A true Death Cab masterpiece.

Songs I’d forgotten about, or overlooked, but now can’t stop listening to:

Cheap Trick – “Dream Police” (Dream Police, Epic, 1979): A powerpop anthem that, along with groups like The Cars, would eventually influence modern-day powerpop artists like Motion City Soundtrack and Do You Feel-era Rocket Summer.  The greatest asset to “Dream Police, ” is the synthesizer, which drives the song, however Bun E.   Carlos’ drums have never sounded better and frontman Robin Zander’s voice successfully carries the unusual lyrics.  For a real treat, dig up a recording of the band performing live at Alpine Valley in 1982, which boasts an astounding version of, “Dream Police, ” that clocks in at just shy of eleven minutes.

Jeff Kummer – “Your Best Alternative”

February 24, 2010

It wasn’t long after highly underrated band The Early November parted ways in 2007 that the respective former members would branch off into projects of their own: frontman Ace Enders would eventually release music under the Ace Enders And A Million Different People moniker (featuring former TEN bassist Serg Anello as well), guitarist Joe Marro would take a stab at solo life with Joseph Marro And The Hum Drum (before joining Hellogoodbye as their keyboardist/guitarist), guitarist Bill Lugg would become ensconced in other projects, both musical and otherwise, while drummer Jeff Kummer would form Your Sweet Uncertainty, a group which featured former members of The Early November and a more pop/rock sound.

In 2008, Jeff started releasing solo music online, mainly in preparation for a solo album he hoped to put out at some point.  The new tunes, especially the upbeat, “Make Plans, ” showcased a side of this musician many may not have realized-catchy songwriting, both in lyrics and in music, and a great voice captured many an ear, instantly building anticipation for what could potentially be a fine record.

The remainder of 2008 and into 2009 would see Jeff continuing to work on new material and fine-tune already existing songs before entering Portrait Studios in New Jersey for a reunion with longtime TEN producer Chris Badami and an official start to the recording progress.  Thanks to video and text updates on Myspace and Twitter, fans were able to see the album come to fruition as time went by, and in 2009 the album’s title Your Best Alternative and cover were revealed, along with several new songs.

As the decade came to a close, the album was finally released.

Needless to say, it was worth the wait.

On Your Best Alternative, Jeff has established himself a welcome addition to the world of pop/rock, with a record full of songs that recall 90s-esque groups like Third Eye Blind as opposed to the cookie cutter emo that so many musicians seem to be producing these days.  Opening track, “Grace Period, ” may only be a minute-and-a-half long, but the fast tempo and overall excitement make it the perfect intro (Grace Period was also the original name of Jeff’s previous band Your Sweet Uncertainty, an interesting reference).  “Make Plans, ” make a return appearance, but the album version is a far cry from the 2008 demo, with big guitars, tight drums and incredibly solid vocal harmonies.  “Safe To Say, ” and, “Write Me Off, ” could easily become singles-two unbelievably catchy songs that continue to further the upbeat pop/rock flow of the record.  “Joanna, ” sounds like Weezer finally recapturing that Blue Album-era sound, while, “This Makes Perfect Sense, ” the album’s finest song, brings forgotten groups like Lit and Everclear to mind with the appealing lead guitar and a sing-along chorus.

I can say with all honesty I didn’t want Your Best Alternative to come to a close.  One can only hope the rising talent that is Jeff Kummer will release more new music soon.

GP: Forever

February 23, 2010

That rascally ol' Drake

The artist that would come to be known as Drake actually got his start on the Canadian teen serial Degrassi: The Next Generation (thank you Wikipedia), and has since then established himself as a formidable hip-hop/R&B talent in a crowded sea of other talented hip-hop/R&B artists.  “Forever, ” successfully combines staccato orchestra hits, huge beats and a weird siren noise, along with Drake’s diverse vocal range, which goes from melodic during the refrain to a style in the verses that sounds like P.  Diddy finally learning how to rap properly.  With guest appearances by Lil’ Wayne and Eminem, and that cocky opening line of, “Last name Ever, first name Greatest, ” it’s difficult to stop listening.  Furthermore, any song that can be performed at the Grammy Awards, suffer from CBS’ ever-present censor, and STILL come off as one of the standout performances of the evening, has to be doing something right.

System Error.

February 23, 2010

It has come to my attention that my recent post, “A few songs recently added to my iPod:, ” should’ve been titled, “Random song post, Volume 2.  ”  My bad.

This Makes Me Like OK Go even more

February 22, 2010

As a fan of not only music itself but the videos that accompany this medium, I found the following article quite interesting.  It’s an interesting look at both music videos and the music industry as well, written by Damian Kulash of OK Go.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/opinion/20kulash.html?emc=eta1

GP: Fireflies

February 21, 2010


This gentle tune from breakout act Owl City, combining a healthy dose of piano, electronic wizardry and frontman Adam Young’s Ben Gibbard-esque voice, is an instantly catchy song that at the very least warrants a listen.  Of all the disposable pop songs dominating our collective consciousness at the moment, this one may have some staying power.  Time will tell.

Thanks Ribs!

February 20, 2010

Just wanted to extend a thank you to Kevin Boger/Ribs over at Ribs’ Ramblings (ribsramblings.wordpress.com) for the shout-out.  As per his request, I’ll be taking a look at Matthew Shafer, a.k.a.  Uncle Kracker, best known for his 2001 summer anthem, “Follow Me, ” in the forseeable future.  The thing is, there’s far too much to say about this unrivaled musical genius, so where does one limit themselves?  Ah, choices…  🙂

A few recently added songs to my iPod:

February 20, 2010

Mae – “Seasons” : An astoundingly beautiful piano-based instrumental, one that not only harkens back to Mae’s ealier indie rock days but could easily accompany any number of movie scenes, be it a high school graduation, a funeral, or simply a shot of someone staring wistfully at a large body of water.  It’s an uplifting little song that deserves to be heard, and don’t be shy about donating a dollar or two to purchase-last fall, Mae was the unfortunate victim of a theft that robbed them of their van, trailer, instruments and many personal possessions.  Although they were able to track down the van and trailer, their instruments and belongings remain MIA, which would unquestionably be a greater loss for any musician.  Head over to http://www.whatismae.com/ to hear the song and make a contribution.

Songs I’d fogotten about, or overlooked, but now can’t stop listening to:

Hidden In Plain View – “American Classic” (Life In Dreaming, Drive-Thru, 2005): The musicans that consisted of Hidden In Plain View displayed a great deal of talent on their 2005 debut full-length Life In Dreaming, with, “American Classic, ” easily leading the pack in terms of quality and substance.  The frenzied intro seemlessly flows into the rest of the song, with Spencer Peterson’s tribal drumming perfectly matching the dual vocals of Joe Reo and Rob Freeman.  The chorus couldn’t be anymore catchy, with the vocals continuing to carry the song, and by the time the bridge rolls around, the song yet again changes course, slowing down the tempo while turning up the chuggy guitars & heavy drumming.  It may feel a bit like a combination of several different songs, but by the time the outro rolls around (which is actually a reprise of the fantastic intro), it’s hard to care.

Thursday – “For The Workforce, Drowning” (War All The Time, Island, 2003): One of the most exhilirating songs this band has released to date, the gentlemen of Thursday completely hit the mark with this furious audio assault.  The instruments have never been tighter, frontman Geoff Rickly’s vocals have never been better (especially his signature screams), and the unexpected breakdown during the bridge propels the song forward, all the way up until the very last note.

Jimmy Eat World – “Bleed American” (2001): Though some may refer to the album this song comes from as Jimmy Eat World, and some may refer to it as Bleed American (a title which was changed following the September 11th attacks), either way this opening track is a total rush, beginning with drummer Zach Lind’s massive flams.  This sets up the verse, where things are brought down a few notches, until the chorus seemingly comes out of nowhere to grab you with its unspoken command to shout along (just to avoid any confusion, the first few words are, “salt sweat sugar”).  The appropriate guitar solo and the abrupt ending add a few extra pieces of flair as well, helping to push this song into the stratosphere of unforgettable rock and roll.

Jimmy Eat World – “Big Casino” (Chase This Light, 2007): Another huge Jimmy Eat World opener, “Big Casino, ” plunges us listeners head-first into 2007’s Chase This Light with soaring guitars, drums, and vocals, especially during the intro and refrain.  Their lower-key verses are once again present, and the bridge, while somewhat short, helps keep the momentum going.