Showing posts tagged music

Listening Rainbow

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The other day I had a dream that I was at a job interview, and the only question they asked was, What are your top 5 favorite albums?, and I just started listing off albums titled after colors, like T-Swift’s Red. I woke up totally terrified that I didn’t get the job because they thought I was some oversize kindergartner who is obsessed with colors, or something. But then I realized that this is clearly a trend. Good albums just happened to be named after colors! Honestly The Beatles likely started it when their self-titled album became more commonly referred to as “The White Album”, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it’s fine by me.

So here you are, my favorite albums with colorful titles:
  • Red - Taylor Swift (2012)
    I don’t like Taylor Swift. I’m sorry- I just don’t. I mean, as a person. As a musician, however, she’s writes some damn catchy songs- perfect for long bus rides or confident struts around the neighborhood with your dog. We-eeeEE! are never, Ever, EVER, getting back to-gether (like ever). (The very fact that I had to write out those lyrics is a testament to how catchy that song really is)… And “22” is my JAM.
  • Channel Orange - Frank Ocean (2012)
    This is definitely my favorite album of 2012. Tracks like “Start”, “Fertilizer”, and “Not Just Money” add a back story to this album; they make it seem like you’re hearing these songs on a crackling radio. “Thinkin Bout You”, “Sweet Life”, and “Super Rich Kids” (feat. Earl Sweatshirt) flow with Ocean’s soulful voice, from one into the next, themes of rich-kid-ennui and wealth apathy weaving gently throughout. This thing is the total package; an ALBUM in the original sense of the word.
     
  • Blue - Joni Mitchell (1971)
    I wish I had a river, I could skate away on… *Sigh* This is one of the saddest and most beautiful albums I’ve ever heard. I love it so much I could cry. Put it on a playlist with Bright Eyes and Sam Cooke and literally sob away the next millennium. I swear to Joni that “Little Green” was written about ME. 
     
  • "The Blue Album" - Weezer (1994)
    This is the best Weezer album, imho. It’s got that soft surf-y vibe plus that perfect 90’s pop rock thing that isn’t at all like 2000’s pop rock. Can you tell that I am clearly an expert music talker-person? Anyway, everytime I hear that opening guitar riff on The Sweater Song I think of playing guitar hero in someones basement in early high school. But it’s better than that. That anecdote does not do this album justice. Whatever.

  • Purple Rain - Prince (1984)
    This album is just so EPIC. The title track just hits you like a baseball to the gut. To be honest, I avoided this album for a long time because I was never really into that 80’s heavy guitar ballad-y sound. But it’s a definite classic, capable of subverting genre and time. A little known fact: famed “I’m the worst” blogger, Ned Hepburn, loves this album more than life.
     
  • The Pink Opaque - Cocteau Twins (1986)
    I think I first heard the Cocteau Twins when Wax and Wane was on a playlist on 8tracks. They are Scottish. Think if Grimes and Sonic Youth adopted a ferret, and that ferret could play bass guitar— that would be the Cocteau Twins. The Pink Opaque is super dreamy and 80’s punk-ish sounding and perfect for overcast days and raisin toast (I don’t know). Listen to Aikea-GuineaLorelei, and Millimillenary
  • The Black Album - Jay-Z (2003)
    So many good memories of me and my white-girl friends “rapping” to 99 problems in the car… I’m so sorry Jay. Normally I would feel like such a lame poser, but I don’t care because this album is so hot and Jay-Z just seems so humble and down-to-earth, with that classic laugh of his. You’re crazy for this one Rick, it’s ya boi!! 
     
  • The Grey Album - Danger Mouse (2004)
    This is an amazing mash-up album by DJ Danger Mouse, where he combines the vocals from Jay-Z’s The Black Album, with the instrumentals from the Beatles "White Album". It’s just so cool. It’s like Danger Mouse KNEW I would be writing this article. Now if we could only get someone to mashup Joni’s vocals from Blue with the instrumentals from Purple Rain, to create a sound like you’ve never heard before… Blue Rain.

  • "The White Album" - The Beatles (1968)
    Isn’t this everyone and their Dad’s favorite album? Haven’t we all gotten into a heated argument with some college punk about whether or not this album is “highly overrated”? Nonetheless, this album is a marker of history, both musical and otherwise, plus it has like a zillion perfect songs on it. So much Beatles turmoil went into this record, you guys. “Back in the USSR”, “Blackbird”, “Helter Skelter”, “Revolution”…

Time for someone to make a great album titled “Yellow” or “Green”, because the Simpson’s The Yellow Album really was no Simpsons Sing the Blues, and Ron Carter’s Yellow & Green might be hard bop / post bop, but it sounds more like elevator music to me. Basically, all the yellow and green titled albums are by bands with names like, “Kottonmouth Kings”… (seriously). Now I’m starting to think there might be a curse on Yellow/Green albums to be purely stoner garbage or cartoon character trash. Best of luck to musician everywhere in beating the Curse of the Yellow & Green.

- Kellie Hogan, Creative Director

Everyone Should Just Learn an Instrument

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Really, what I mean is nobody should think they couldn’t learn an instrument. The world has never been smaller than it is today because of that endless resource of information and cavernous well of procrastination known as the Internet. It can be used as a powerful tool to get you over the hump of learning an instrument.

I don’t want this to just address all the creatively inclined people that are already into the idea of the creative output as a huge part of our lives in this overly accessible world: designing, or writing, or filming, or whatever they’ve got going on. It’s everybody else as well that I’d like to cordially and openly invite to the world of music making.

A common misconception when the question first arises, if you should learn an instrument, is that it’s not the perfect time to do so. It most certainly is. Anytime is the perfect time to set aside thirty minutes every day to get into something new and mind-blowingly rewarding. It doesn’t need to be any more than a hobby for you mentally, but the emotional pay out will grow exponentially.

So let’s lay this out, what are a number of steps you can take?

You should probably find an instrument.

This doesn’t need to be an arduous process, and your final decision is not final at all, and can be molded as you grow in your musical assuredness. Really, if you’re completely new to the concept of learning or playing an instrument, grab anything that strikes your immediate and whelming fancy.

There’s a good chance your town has a Guitar Center. That’s a good thing for you because Guitar Center is totally about newcomers to music, so everything there is hands on and ready to be tried out. It also isn’t even close to only being about guitars, which is another great thing. Depending on your town, they’re usually Wal-Mart warehouse sized buildings, so they can house a huge amount of gear. Other than a huge selection of guitars, they’ll carry basses, drums, and tons of keyboards. If it’s a good Guitar Center, they’ll also shelf a huge number of brass and woodwind instruments, which is awesome because maybe not everybody wants to be in Dokken, you know?

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Definitely turn to the Internet in your search as well, as it is an invaluable resource to budding musicians and there’s a huge number of online stores, including Guitar Center’s own, that will list tons of really fun instruments along with resources like books and DVDs for that kind of learner, one who maybe isn’t totally capable of doing it all by ear just yet. Check out Musician’s Friend, Sweetwater, Chuck Levin’s, Long & McQuade, WWBW, and definitely check out your local Craigslist. Ebay is also full of unique instruments that you wouldn’t be able to find from the more established brands.

Figure it out!

Once again, the Internet can be your best friend in this situation, but I think a much more valuable and worthwhile resource of musical knowledge would be another musician. There is a huge chance someone you know plays an instrument, and even if all your friends are in the same position as you, learn something together. Other guitarists or trumpeters or pianists can all help each other. If you still don’t know anybody, get to the high school in town and ask the band teacher, if he’s a loser and is a little too keen on the idea of “private instruction” turn back to our old friend the web.

There’s an incredible new website for budding guitarists called Instinct. It’s awesome. Check it out, and see if it lines up with how you learn. Also YouTube is overflowing with how-to videos, even something as simple as this overly-nervous-but-still-pretty-helpful video on proper saxophone embouchure can set you down the right path. This slow-talker trudges through holding the violin bow properly, and this mustached guy teaches how to play Joni Mitchell’s a Case of You on Appalachian dulcimer.

Do your thing.

It’s not about being an incredible player, it doesn’t matter if you never play for anyone. This is really about leading a more fulfilling life. The ability to express yourself either through learning parts by ear or on paper, or through coming up with your own musical ideas, will be all the reward in the world, whether you sell out the Royal Albert Hall or not. But please, please find people to play with. Sharing music was its original intention, and it always will be.

The hump, however, is your first biggest challenge - getting past your own hang-ups and being a beginner at something again. Remember learning to walk? Me neither.

-Mike Kerr, Staff Writer

Mike’s One Or Two Sentence Summations of Amazing Albums…

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…that came out this year that maybe you heard or maybe you didn’t, but that doesn’t really mean anything because every one experiences things differently and absorbs information differently or something- click through for links!

Shields by Grizzly Bear- There is such a beautiful, concise tone to the entirety of Shields. The craft of their songwriting has grown so deep, and it feels so much like they really composed together and universally love these songs.

Swing Lo Magellan by Dirty Projectors- This very well may be my favourite album of the year. Led Zeppelin and Al Green, or Black Flag and Robert Glasper, or any other combination of real experimenters- this is Swing Lo, a cacophony of insane ideas that flow so musically, and it is surprising how musical it all is, because if taken out of context many of the sounds and moments on this album would just never work by themselves; a true coalescing.

stop being on my side by Infinity Girl- Boston’s new gazers open minds to numbingly raucous noise, and startling quiet- all with shoes untied and glasses slipping off their noses. They achieve real beauty by shifting rapidly between the obvious and the subtle.

Barchords by Bahamas- Like a kid in a candy store, Afie Jurvanen can’t really turn anything down; especially his own ideas. He’s so excited to be in the studio making his own solemn, subtle, beautifully melodic music that every now and again the cheese slips through but fortunately for us and him, the heart-warming vibe and casual movement of these songs keep it an incredibly easy album to listen through.

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everything feels bad all at once by the human fly- I wish I had this album two years ago, for personal reasons. It feels like, at the same time that it is being completely honest with me, it is also hiding something. A darker magic keeps the album moving forward and you can’t pull one song out, or skip another, it sits all together outside of time.

The Keeps by The Keeps- If Edgar Allen Poe had the chance to write bluegrass tunes, I’m pretty sure The Keeps would say he stole from them. Their effortless transitions between real old time, and challenging new bluegrass is something to behold.

back 2 the high life by Walsh- The perfect album to play GTA III to. I forgot what year it was for quite some time.

Breakup Song by Deerhoof- A mind-blowing experience; this album fills me with such a deep joy, such a whelming sense of love for life and sound and human experience.

Lonerism by Tame Impala- The strongest vibes all year. You can’t not smile and feel a breeze in your hair, and you definitely can’t ignore how much Kevin Parker sounds like a certain bespectacled Beatle.

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Love this Giant by David Byrne & St. Vincent- One of the deepest sonic explorations to be achieved this year. I had to commit to listening to this album; I found myself trying to multitask while listening, and was soon wandering aimlessly around my house lost in the scape of this musical obelisk. 

-Mike Kerr, Staff Writer