If you were looking for something to melt your heart and make you smile . . .
What did you think of Paperman? What was your favorite scene? Which Disney animated short is your favorite? Tell me in the comments!
There is no second album slump for Sara Bareilles
I’ve now had a week to process this. The lyrics are almost completely memorized. The melodies are now individually recognizable. And I’m trying to figure out which song is my favorite (This is proving rather difficult). I’m confident that I can give you an honest review. I think that this album can be summed up in one word: amazing. Yes. Amazing.
I’m looking at other reviews, to see what everyone is saying, but I find that this second album debut from pop singer Sara Bareilles is only being compared to other artists who have already established themselves. Why can’t we compare Sara Bareilles to Sara Bareilles? I think she has earned it. With Kaleidoscope Heart she has popped out of the sophomore box and has given a special gift: her music.
With rich pop/rock songs like Gonna Get Over You (This song is currently in contention as my favorite), that has a slightly dark subject matter but presented in a happy stylistic manner, I feel confident in saying that this album trumps her first album, Little Voice.
The first single off Kaleidoscope Heart, King Of Anything is basically her reintroduction into the pop world. It’s fun, it’s peppy, but it really doesn’t compare to the rest of the album. Consider this song just an appetizer to a delicious meal. The real standouts on the album are her heartbreak and love drenched ballads, Hold My Heart, Breathe Again, and my personal favorite, Bluebird. And her powerhouse voice can keep up with the likes of the biggest of names with her rock infused fast-paced songs like Let The Rain, Uncharted, and Machine Gun.
Jack’s Mannequin. Do I really need to say anything more here?
“I consider myself a person like everyone else, and I take my time writing my records because I feel like it captures more of who I am. You have a much greater chance of hitting on themes and points…that could play into someone else’s life in a larger way.” – Andrew McMahon
When I started thinking about what I wanted to do for Press Play Fridays, I not only wanted to introduce you to new artists and music, but to artists that I love or artists that I can reintroduce you to. So, for Artist Of The Month, I want a celebration for the artist. To send the streamers and paper confetti flying! Not only will we be celebrating their music, but what makes them, them; their voice, their style, their attitude toward their music, etc. To begin this journey, we’re going to get to know the artist a little bit more. It’s going to be fun, you’ll see.
And for this first Artist Of The Month, I could think of non-other than a person and musician that I admire and love. His name might be Andrew, and he might be a real flesh and blood human, but he is still Jack’s Mannequin.
This is Behind The Music (Insert some awesome background music here): Jack’s Mannequin.
After being the front man and piano man of three Something Corporate albums, Andrew McMahon decided that it was time to bring it back home to southern California. In an attempt to slow things down and get back to his roots, Andrew starting writing songs for what would be Jack’s Mannequin debut album Everything In Transit. “I just wanted to get things off my chest. I wasn’t planning to do anything with these songs except record them” (Source).
Then as the writing process was ending, Andrew was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Though caught in the early stages, this specific type of leukemia was rare for someone of Andrews age. Over time, Andrew received different treatments, including a stem cell transplant from his sister Katie. In December of 2005 the transplant was deemed successful and Andrew began to perform again after several months. Andrew remains in remission today.
At the same time Andrew was dealing with his diagnosis, Everything In Transit hit stores in August of ’05. “From spirited songs about living life to its fullest to gut-wrenching ballads on hopeless despair, Everything in Transit explores the complete emotional spectrum, taking you along on a journey that will make you both smile and cry, sometimes even in the same song” (Source). Songs like The Mixed Tape, M.F.E.O, and Dark Blue have become songs of a generation (Well, I think of them that way). “Everything in Transit is one of the best pop rock records I have ever heard, and is further testament as to why Andrew McMahon is the one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. Everything in Transit is an album that will make you laugh, cry, and truly appreciate life . . . ” (Source).
* “Hey! Don’t crowd, mister! Can’t you see an elephant or do I have to paint her red?”
** Side Note: Think of this as a Doc Jensen column. It might be long. It might take a side trip. But, it’s all worth it in the end.**
When you go into your favorite Borders or Barnes & Noble, where do you find most of your books? Do you go straight to Fiction? Or Non-fiction? How about right to the Self-help section?
Wherever you look, I bet you find yourself scouring the rows and rows of freshly pressed books for that specific piece of literature of which you simply can’t remember the author’s name. So, you stretch and crouch, walk back and forth, until you find it. Your so happy and exhausted from the long search at this point, you dart right to the cashier, club card in hand, cash already on the counter, completely passing the best place to find a new read.
What? What is that you said?
Yes. As soon as you have exhausted yourself looking for that one book and are ready to go pay for it, you pass right by the elite treasure trove for paperback and hardcover delights: The clearance table.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. The clearance table? Isn’t that where they have the reject books? The ones that have poorly written storylines and cheeky callous characters? Nope. It’s not. It used to be. But, it’s not anymore. Today, it’s a wonderful collection of reads that usually score high marks with reviewers. Reading has become . . . hip in the last couple years. So, the book sellers are getting with the times and marking down prices (Maybe only for a short time) of amazing books.
How you ask, does this relate to Water For Elephants? Well it’s more of a caution tale, really. Late last year, I came across a book. This book, at the clearance table. I can’t remember the exact price, or why I wanted to exactly read it. But, I remember it being in my price range and the story sounded interesting. Now this is where the tale comes in. I put the book down. I know! Why? Why would I do that? I wanted to read it. It was cheap. So, why did I put it down? I have no clue. And as the story always goes: I forgot about it, for a long time. Until, that one day, where the memory popped open and I found myself a new book to read.
The point of this long, long story: Don’t pass up the bargain table. It’s really the gateway to wonderful books that you’ll probably love, once you read them. And now, since I lost most of you, let’s review this book!
Sophomore artist Charlotte Sometimes is in the spotlight for this Press Play Friday
“I want to make sure that whole emotional connection is in each and every word and in each and every note of my songs, because if that’s not there, then what’s the point in music? Music is supposed to transport you somewhere. It’s supposed to make you feel connected to something.” – Charlotte Sometimes Source
Do you remember a time when music channels still played music videos? I know it’s hard to think back that long, but channels like MTV and VH1 were actually dedicated to music (Weird, I know), not cheaply made reality dating shows with questionable characters. I remember one very exciting year (2001) where John Mayer‘s No Such Thing and Jason Mraz‘s The Remedy came out around the same time. That was a very good year (Sigh).
Up to 2008 music still played on these channels. And one of the last videos I remember watching on an actual TV (Not my computer) was Charlotte Sometimes‘ How I Could Just Kill A Man.
With her brutally honest, broody, and beautiful sound and lyrics, Charlotte Sometimes is one of my favorite artists. She distinguishes herself from the rest of the alternative-female group (Fiona Apple and Kate Nash) while still paying homage to their creative sound.
Her debut album Waves And The Both Of Us arrived in 2008. One of the standouts on the album is the heartbreaking song Build The Moon, which combines nothing but an acoustic guitar, a few stings, and the sound of Charlotte’s unique voice.
We’re bringing out the synthesizers for this Press Play Friday with Freelance Whales
With any new emerging band, fresh from releasing their first album, you will always have to ask, “Are they going to stick around long enough, so we can see what they can really do?” For Freelance Whales, there is no doubt in my mind that they will definitely be around for a while.
Their debut album Weathervanes is a mix of synth pop, alternative rock, and good old-fashioned catchy songwriting. What sets them apart from most bands, is that they take their time to set up each song with pops of bells, strings, and synth; to make sure you are paying attention to their well crafted songs. At first, I was kind of dumbfounded by this. Why the break? Give me more! But, when you step back and look, actually look at what they were trying to accomplish, you will see the set up for a ballad of different harmonious sequences, not just an album full of songs.
With songs like The Great Estates and Broken Horse, it’s clear that there is more to this synth-pop-rock-folk band. Both have a bluesy, rustic feel that seem to tell tall tales suitable for any campfire. While, funky songs like Kilojoules and Location have unheard phrases and lyrics that make it easy just to sing along and still think about their meaning in the process.
You already know that I’m a fan of their song Starring (Previously mentioned in a Press Play Friday) with its beautiful chorus and melody. But, we still haven’t heard from my favorites in the bunch.
It’s hard to pick my absolute favorite because I love them all (I say that a lot, don’t I?). So, let’s begin with the first song I ever heard of Freelance Whales: Generator ^ 2nd Floor. The opening string solo breaks way into the main melody that makes you want to jump up and sing-along.
For my first book review, we’re starting with an semi-oldie but a goody.
Looking For Alaska is the 2005 Printz Award winning debut of author John Green (Remember him?). And I must say, that out of all of his novels, this has to be my favorite.
The story is centered around Miles “Pudge” Halter who is fascinated by famous last words. He finds himself sick of his non-eventful life in Florida. So, he seeks out what poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” He want’s to experience life by getting into a little trouble and having a lot of fun. To seek out his “great perhaps,” Miles leaves for boarding school in an attempt to ditch his former boring life and friends.
At Culver Creek, he meets several odd-ball characters like the Colonel, his roommate and consequently his best friend, who never seems to have money to supplement his cigarette habit. Takumi, a wannabe rapper. Lara, who becomes Miles’ girlfriend for all but one eventful day. And Alaska Young; a moody, beautiful girl whom Miles can’t help but love.
Alaska is his catapult into the “great perhaps.” In a year filled with pranks, moments of great insights, cigarettes, and too many bottles of cheap strawberry wine, Alaska Young changes Miles’ life in more ways than one.
John Green’s characters are realistic, smart-alecky, funny, and have just the right amount of sentiment to them. He brings you on an emotional roller-coaster, that has you laughing on one page, then crying on the other. He constructs a beautiful labyrinth of emotion and heart that will have you questioning life after you read it.
When I read this, I find myself caught up in the characters lives and stories so much, that it’s hard to put the book down and go to sleep. I think that as an author, that is something you always want to achieve. You don’t want your audience to put the book down. You want them staying up until one o’clock in the morning reading until they can’t read anymore and pass out from sleep deprivation. All of John Green’s books have that effect.
I’m not going to lie to you. You’re going to tear up. You’re going to laugh. You’re going have a great time reading this book. Looking For Alaska is a witty joy-ride that might leave you in a ditch crying in the end, but getting there is so much fun.
Have you read Looking For Alaska? Or any of John Green‘s books, for that matter? Will you read them? Tell me in the comments!
There is only one word to describe this band. Epic.
“I’m trying to get people to surrender, to give them a sense of hope and acceptance with our music. I want to tell a story that transports you somewhere else.” -Steven McKellar
Source: Civil Twilight.com
The greatest thing to happen to a music lover, is the act of stumbling upon a song or a group completely by accident, and discovering how much you love their music. The truth is, this is how I usually find my music. You either hear one thing or another from someone else, or find a free song on a website (Hey iTunes!).
One of the greatest things that iTunes does, is give away a couple of free songs a week. And one week, they gave away Letters From The Sky. I usually listen to the thirty-second (Which is way to short) preview of the free song and make my quick judgement. Sometimes it pays off (ex. Love Song by Sara Bareilles) and sometimes it doesn’t (Too many to count). This was one of those times where it definitely paid off.
Civil Twilight is a band that creates beautiful epic ballads. They tell a story. They create a separate world, apart from your own. Much like Florence + The Machine, they take you to a different place.
I really believe that the deserve their own genre. Epic rock. They don’t fit into any other category.
Their first single Letters From The Sky is really the definition of epic (Civil Twilight is epic). A story about two separated lovers, who imagine living in a world where they can be together, is the gateway into the Civil Twilight world of perfectly dramatic and passionate songs.
No. You are not seeing double. Today, I need to give an honorable mention to the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack.
When it comes to movies, the soundtrack is usually my favorite part. A piece of music can either make or break a scene. It can enhance the story and add additional emotions that you probably didn’t think were possible. But, you know all this already.
The songs on this particular soundtrack are mostly older ones that you can find other places. But, the selection and placement of these songs are reminiscent of one great mix tape.
Immediately, you a thrust into the story with Us by Regina Spektor. This is definitely one of my favorites on the album. The opening piano sequence and Regina’s unique style and voice make it a perfect choice for a quirky movie like this.
For this Press Play Friday we get some new music
This Press Play Friday we are going into the deep depths of iTunes to find some new music. While some bands are new and others are old, it’s all about discovering what you didn’t know was out there.
First up, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Most of you have probably heard this song already, but it’s one of those songs you can listen to over and over again. For example, this song is officially on my ‘favorite songs of all time’ list. Up From Below is the debut album from this folk/rock band from Los Angeles. With a kind of 60′s vibe, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros bring their unique sound without being stereotypical of that era. This song is called “Home.”
Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: