Friday, July 22

A Hot Crustacean Band

100 degree+ weather working at summer camp calls for cool, indoor movie time. That's when I was reminded of how fun and clever this tune is from the Disney classic A Little Mermaid. It depicts an underwater world in which mermaids have coveted singing voices and every sea critter is a talented musician. Nowadays, at least we got squids on clarinets.

The newt play the flute
The carp play the harp
The plaice play the bass
And they soundin' sharp!
The bass play the brass
The chub play the tub
The fluke is the duke of soul!

The ray he can play
The lings on the strings
The trout rockin' out
The blackfish, she sings.
The smelt and the sprat
They know where it's at,
And oh that blowfish blooooooowwwww!

Saturday, July 16

Beantown Bliss

Now that I'm on a Boston streak, I may as well go ahead and commemorate how much I miss this city with a video that BU friend Misha recently re-sent me. Created by members of BU's Howard Thurman Center for tolerance & diversity, set to the lively sounds of popular french indie band Phoenix, and modeled after the trend-setting video of compiled dance scenes from the Breakfast Club, this video really gets to me. When I think "Boston", I picture young people dancing on rooftops in the sun-- no joke. It perfectly captures the feeling we have of being young and free in the best city in the world. BU kids will understand completely.

Whatup Rhett.

Friday, July 15

Some Snow Would Be Nice

You may recognize this song from hearing it play in the A&P as you picked out the lowest-calorie orange juice (as was the case with me). I got to see up-and-comers Augustana play this and other ballads at 107.1 The Peak's annual Pleasantville Music Festival, Sat July 9th. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jared, the bassist, after hanging around sidestage like a misplaced groupie at the super kid-friendly, outdoor concert. Dan's voice sounded older and more raw during the performance, which grounded the sappy hit a bit. And the breeze blowing through the boys' hair really complimented the music. I was feeling it, swaying alongside my good friend and fellow BU student Leora and mouthing along to the lyrics, "I think I'll go to Boston". Forget NYC... Looks like Beantown's the latest runaway destination.

Guitar Sex.
My fav.

Saturday, June 25

Gilad Shalit: 5 Songs for 5 Years in Captivity

At 19 years old, I'm free to enjoy summer with my family and friends. The sun in shining, music blasting, life is good. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be Gilad Shalit, who at age 19 was kidnapped by terrorist group Hamas and has since been held hostage in an unknown location, denied contact with the outside world since 2006. Who knows what kind of mental and physical abuse he's been facing?

Today marks Gilad's 5th year of torture. In his honor, I've put together 5 songs that try to help us understand the idea of captivity, desperation, and descent into darkness. Please keep Gilad in your mind and heart as you listen to these lyrics.

Amazon - M.I.A.
Stockholm Syndrome - Blink 182
One - Metallica
Climbing up the Walls - Radiohead
I Was a Lover - TV on the Radio


I'm sure there are so many songs out there that would better fit this list. Please comment with a song that's explicitly about being held prisoner or makes a good attempt at explaining the feeling.

Sunday, June 27

Can You Discover?

Discovery, the new project by Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot, capitalizes on music editing software and the electro sound that is the shifting focus of current music. The LP features catchy electro-pop songs with clean, often 80's reminiscent beats and quietly love-torn lyrics sung by the boys' sweet voices. The duo proves to be fond of cutting vocals and making use of vocal tuners, but only in the best possible way, in the spirit of this electro revolution.

Examples of Electronic Fails:

1) Many rappers opt for the digitalized effects of auto-tune in order to stay relevant. I suspect that some also use it so that they can sing their own choruses and take credit for all vocals of the song... but maybe they shouldn't. Ex: Best I Ever Had - Drake
2) Singers who regularly use auto-tune are accused of having no talent. Ex: Blah Blah Blah - Kesha
3) The U.S. is finally catching on to the electro-dance genre that's already taken over Europe and Australia. Ex: Love is Gone - David Guetta. But Pop in general is totally going electro, trying to keep up. Unfortunately, combining digital music, auto-tune, and simple lyrics makes for the dumbest pop music yet. Ex: In My Head - Jason DeRulo

Electronic Wins:

1) Pop sensation Lady Gaga's music is electro themed, but her vocals are generally untouched by tuners.
2) Electro Dub, a new love of mine, is a new spin on dub that replaces traditional up-stroke guitar chords with MIDI notes and manipulates vocal samples that contribute to the overall feel of the music. Ex: Elders - Clouds
3) MIA sometimes uses auto-tune in more digitalized songs, such as my favorite, 20 Dollar.
4) Animal Collective, a band that marks the age of the New Psychedelic, and is arguably one of the most creative and incredible bands of our time, relies on samples and synthesizers without compromising the sophistication of the structure and lyrics of songs.

Wednesday, June 9

Covers Done Right

Covering a song, especially a popular one, is all about making it your own. Covers allow different artists to put their special spin on a song and bring out emotions in it that you didn't even know were there. Here's a comprehensive list of creative covers that pay homage to the original song while giving it a whole new feel.

I Want You Back (Jackson 5) - Discovery
From soul-pop to electro-pop.

Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye) - Ben Harper
Motown to acoustic.

Hey Ya (OutKast) - Matt Weddle
Hip hop -> acoustic

Rock the Casbah (The Clash) - Solar Twins
English punk -> electronica

What You Waiting For (Gwen Stefani) - Franz Ferdinand
Pop -> rock

LoveStoned (Justin Timberlake) - Kaki King
Pop -> solo-artist rock

Mister Grieves (Pixies) - TV on the Radio
Punk -> a'capella

I'm Real (Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule) - The Starting Line
Hip hop -> punk

Hurt (Nine Inch Nails) - Johnny Cash
Rock -> acoustic

Across The Universe (Beatles) - Fiona Apple
Classic rock -> solo-artist alternative

Frontin' (Pharell Williams) - Jamie Cullum
Hip hop -> jazz piano

Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns & Roses) - Vitamin String Quartet
Classic rock -> classical strings

Chop Suey! (System of a Down) - Richard Cheese
Metal -> comedic lounge

Toxic (Britney Spears) - A Static Lullaby
Pop -> hard rock

Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Motown -> funk-metal

Karma Police (Radiohead) - Easy Star All-Stars and Citizen Cope
Alt-rock -> reggae

Such Great Heights (Postal Service) - Iron & Wine
Electronic -> acoustic
.... Too soft for you? Try the screamo version

YouNique YouTubers!:

Paparrazi (Lady Gaga) - Greyson Chance
Pop -> piano

Pop (*NSYNC) - Cobus
Pop -> crazy drums

Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-a-Lot) - Jaw Knee
Hip hop -> acoustic hilarity

Anonymous (Bobby Valentino and Timbaland) - David Sides
Hip hop -> classical piano

Forever (Chris Brown) - Boyce Avenue
Pop -> acoustic

Hate That I Love You (Ne-Yo and Rihanna) - JussJef
Pop -> acoustic

Sweet Dreams (Beyonce) - Tiffyiffyiffy
Pop -> piano

Did I miss any??! Lemme know what your favorite covers are.

Monday, May 24


I got to see an intimate performance by the very talented Dawes in a recording studio last Friday. I ended up taking them to lunch afterwards and they are really nice guys. Although they deny it, these LA hipsters' tunes have a bit of a country vibe. Their music is marked by vocal harmonies and chill beats.

One song that resonates with me is "Love is All I Am", with it's catchy bassline and poetic lyrics. Check out the video, which shows many faces of Love, against a sunny Cali backdrop:

Click here for their "Peak Performance" photos
and here for Myspace