November 2017


MUSIC&web29 Nov 2017 04:59 pm

If I’m not mistaken, Björk is one of Deneé’s favorite artists. She’s quirky, creative, and unpredictable (and yes, I played the pronoun game intentionally). So, with a new album from the Icelandic legend releasing, that seemed like an obvious choice. Our second album comes from Derek Minor, a friend of the show – if you don’t believe me, revisit Shoe the Doe episode # 125 and enjoy the discussion. Then, we travel across the pond to one of the UK’s most popular artists – one I’d never heard of before this week. And finally, we’ll all embrace our feelings and determine if an emo music comeback is really warranted in this day and age. Let’s get to it.

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Album 1: Utopia, by Björk (11/24/17)

You never know what to expect from Björk, and as we enter the environment of the opening track, ARISEN MY SENSES immediately feels like an appropriate title. It opens with a repeating electronic sound effect that sounds something like a spider being dragged across a windshield while struggling to get away and continues with a disjointed rhythm that showcases airy vocals, creative dissonance and atypical arrangements. I think by the end, she is singing an ode to IKEA, but I’m probably wrong.

BLISSING ME offers somewhat of a respite from the potential headache of the previous song, backing off to a light harp backing the vocals. It’s calm and it continues a theme of being known and loved for who you really are. Now she is adding more elements into the arrangement, but it’s fine. Somewhat enchanting. I think there may be some whales courting in the background of THE GATE and there are definitely multiple languages going on. This album seems to be determined to create an atmosphere and experience for the listener and it certainly does that. It’s just not one that I’m likely to return to.
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MUSIC&web27 Nov 2017 01:05 pm

Before I start, a brief note: Let me just remind/inform you that Taylor Swift’s new album is NOT ON SPOTIFY (yet). I didn’t just recklessly ignore the biggest release of the year (reportedly close to 1.5 million in first week sales). Calm down. I’m not a hater. When it IS on Spotify, I’ll probably include it that week. For now, we’ve got three other new releases to chat about and that’s just going to have to be okay. These three combined won’t sell as much as Taylor, but they are still quite worth giving a spin. Let’s see how a poppy-funk album stacks up against a funk-gospel and funky-rock. Yeah, there’s plenty of funk to go around this week, capped off by a tune du jour I discovered a few weeks back and still haven’t wrapped my head around. Deal? Okay, let’s go.

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Album 1: Into the Wild, by Manic Drive (11/7/17)

Three months ago, MIC DROP was the Tune Du Jour and I wasn’t entirely sure if it would grow on me or if I would find it annoying. Now it’s the first track on their latest album, which is odd considering the meaning of the phrase. (Maybe Canadians are too polite to walk out after dropping the mic). I still remember them as more of a rock band than a pop outfit – they toured with Stryper, after all – but as I revisited some of their earlier albums, I suppose the hints were always there.

As mentioned, MIC DROP and it’s already familiar to those who have been listening for a while, but for good measure, the song is driven by a funky bass line and upon that foundation they lay horns, claps, and vocals that results in a high-energy pop meets funk track. CEILING continues the groove aspect of it with prominent bass once again, but more of an airy, spacious feel to it – slightly reminiscent of THRILLER in the way it builds to the chorus. My favorite element of this song is the back half of the chorus, during which the music completely drops out and comes back in with a strong cadence. The third track is INTO THE WILD and stylistically, it’s a hard left turn with no turn signal. This is much more laid back and toned down, but it still has a nice rhythm to it and nice instrumentation that includes a lot of fun elements. I’m drawing a blank on the instrument right now, but it’s something of a pipe flute that comes in on the chorus.
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MUSIC&web14 Nov 2017 02:06 pm

It’s November and that means the scales are tipping towards Christmas albums when it comes to new releases in music. ‘Tis been the season since mid-September, but I for one am not ready to commit to Christmas carols just yet, so we’ll try to dig out the “normal” music for as long as we can. This week, we find a teenage ukulele prodigy, a New Orleans bred vocalist and rapper on the come up, and a boy band? All that capped off by a dance track.

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Album 1: Just the Beginning, by Grace VanderWaal (11/3/17)
I doubt there are many people more skeptical than I when it comes to the long term implications of shedding a spotlight on young, talented performers. I don’t watch America’s Got Talent, so I didn’t witness the rise of Grace VanderWaal en route to winning the crown (or whatever they hand out), but she won and now, at the age of 13, she has a full on debut album to her credit. According to her bio, she began composing music at the age of 3 and she’s listed as the primary writer on all of the songs here. AND, in addition to singing, she also contributes instrumentation on many of the tracks. Here’s to holding out hope that we can celebrate a young talent without creating a twenty-something nightmare ten years from now.

The first track, MOONLIGHT, features the ukulele and not much else, setting the tone for an album that’s not typical. The vocals are airy and light, but they don’t lack substance. SICK OF BEING TOLD hints at the songwriter’s age with a slight sense of a tantrum – or at least stubbornness. I’m tired of being told what I should know or do or be. Could just be assertiveness. BURNED offers a more mature sound, nodding towards a classical style on a ballad. This whole album actually seems to deftly balance extremes. Maturity and immaturity. Lighthearted pop and weighty soul. Complicated instrumentation and a simple, efficient presentation.
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MUSIC&web08 Nov 2017 05:00 pm

This episode is scheduled to air on Halloween, so I was obviously tempted to lean towards spooky songs, a la Thriller or Nightmare on My Street (yep, I’m *THAT* old). I managed to suppress those urges and pull up a slate of new releases that run the gamut of styles, but my Tune Du Jour kind of represents the theme of the day. More on that later, but first let’s dive into the music.

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Album 1: Pacific Daydream, by Weezer (10/27/17)

Now that it’s fall, it’s getting closer to sweater weather and, to fans of 90s alt-pop-rock music, that obviously means it’s a good time to listen to Weezer. Of course, I’m referring to the group’s very first single, which is unbelievably approaching its 25th anniversary. Yikes! Okay, how has the past two decades treated Rivers Cuomo and his crew of mighty melodious misfits?

It begins with MEXICAN FENDER, which begins with a ramp up to a nice broken rhythm deftly defined by an electric guitar… maybe a Fender, from, Mexico? Well, this is a fun song, though. It has hallmarks of the 90s, but it still feels completely fresh. I am literally bobbing my head. BEACH BOYS continues the frolicking romp through the proverbial sands of Southern California beachfront property. At least that’s what I assume based on context clues. I’ve never been there. Nice driving, spy-like bassline to underscore the icing on this well-layered cake. Finally, it FEELS LIKE SUMMER – even though Autumn has taken hold. I have heard this song before. It was one of the singles from this album. There are some elements of hip hop here, but mostly, this is just a fun album already. Lots of great things going on here musically. “Spiritual, not religious”. Interesting. He sounds slightly like Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) on the bridge there.
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