first listen

FIRST LISTEN: Weezer’s “King of the World”

I’m just gonna say it. I like the track. But you’re right. I’ll probably always love any Weezer track. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. (I mean, I probably could but I won’t.)

Weezer’s “King of the World” comes in advance of their 10th album. It’s, of course, self-titled but is already being referred to as the White Album, in the same vein of Blue, Green, Red, etc. thanks to their dreamy Californian faded album art. The album drops on April 1, just weeks after the band’s unofficial 24th birthday on Feb. 14.

Don’t worry, I’ve already pre-ordered my copy and bought my tickets. Duh.

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First Listen: Weezer’s “Back to the Shack”

Anyone who knows me, knows that Weezer will forever be my one true love. And yes, their material in recent years hasn’t been the most promising and a lot of people have the quartet written off. Even so, I think there’s always been a small part of my heart that always remembers the band I first fell in love with, the one that gave us the Blue Album and Pinkerton. Heck, even the Green Album!

Their upcoming album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End is due this September and to start the party, Weezer harkens back to the good ol’ days in the album’s lead single, Back to the Shack. The lyrics are quite literal and Rivers Cuomo absolutely knows what we’ve all been thinking about Hurley and that other album.

You can hear it in the lyrics, you can hear it in the song’s crunchy riffs – but this is most definitely the closest to the Rivers Cuomo we first met “in the garage” all those years ago, than we’ve seen in recent years.

Sorry guys I didn’t realize that I needed you so much,
I thought I’d get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks.
I ended up with nobody and I started feeling dumb,
Maybe I should play the lead guitar and Pat should play the drums.

Take me back, back to the shack, back to the Strat with the lightning strap,
Kick in the door, more hardcore, rockin out like it’s ’94.
Let’s turn up the radio, let’s turn off those stupid singing shows,
I know where we need to go: Back to the shack.

First Look: Wish I Was Here

The trailer for Zach Braff’s new film Wish I Was Here was released today and it is lovely. From Zach Braff: “Get ready to hear in the trailer the unbelievable, original song The Shins made just for our movie.  James Mercer saw our film and was so inspired he wrote an original song just for the movie. (It’s the second song you’ll hear…)”

First Look: Foster the People’s “Houdini”

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know I’ve been a longtime fan of Foster the People. I’ve dedicated a couple posts to them over the last year or so and will likely continue writing about them in the future. They’re a quirky band with an interesting style, one I hadn’t seen in a long time. If you’re unfamiliar with this band, then you need to get out from the rock you’ve been living in and introduce yourself to them quickly.

Cultural commentary?

Their new music video for “Houdini” emits the same kind of quirky humour last seen in “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)” and “Call It What You Want.” There’s a lot of artists who aim for a ‘quirk’ but when it comes to Foster the People, I feel like there’s always an underlying commentary, something subtle but snarky that they’re trying to say.

Foster the People – “Houdini”

Houdini

The “Houdini” video starts by showing the band members on set of a new music video – turning the focus on the process itself. Only seconds into the clip, a lighting rig crashes down on the set and all three band members are killed – but only in the storyline, of course. While the video crew freaks over the band’s concert the next day and wonder, ‘What the hell are we to do?!’, a secret crew led by a wise-looking Mr. Miyagi-style character receives the call. Instantly, they appear on set, like some secret department of the FBI, and get to work ‘re-animating” the three corpses.

Agents in black body suits begin puppeteering the band members against a black backdrop, positioning them at their instruments, arms flailin’ and feet stompin’. The crew quickly realizes there may be a way to save the show after all instead of having to cancel and refund all those tickets – phew! They get to work filming the band’s new music video and on-set hijinks ensue (including a hilariously staged scene where a band member is bent over suggestively in front of an agent, busy taking a snack break).

The agents also get creative and even hoist the band members into the air, giving the impression of anti-gravity as their instruments ‘explode’ into the air and then reassemble. Though the crew is already impressed, the agents go another step further and even kick in some fancy footwork. The guys are suddenly swapped into white outfits, reminiscent of the Backstreet Boys’ video for “I Want It That Way (Tell Me Why)”.

Performing live

Suddenly, it’s the next day, the crowd is packed, the girls are screaming, the concert experience is shiny and flashy – but let’s be real. When was the last time you were at a concert that exciting? How about never? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The band appears on stage, dressed all in white and the music video scenario is then performed live on stage. The audience is none the wiser that the band is actually dead and that they’re being reanimated by puppeteers! Ack!

However, the concert is a success, the crew is ecstatic and one hell of an after party swings in action. The band doesn’t miss a single beat but of course, being the dead corpses that they are, they’re left slumped – and likely rotting – on a couch in the green room as everyone else enjoys congratulatory high-fives all around. Confetti!

…or playing dead?

When I was in elementary school, we did a Halloween poster project that featured scenes of a graveyard, complete with tombstones. On one, I wrote ‘STEPHANIE IP’ and then put my birth year and the present year. My teacher left it on the wall with all the other posters but when Halloween passed, I collected the poster and brought it home to show my parents. I remember so clearly what my mom said when she saw my tombstone: “Well, that’s messed up. Are you telling me you’re going to die in the next two months?”

As a kid, I thought nothing of it but there is definitely something morbid about dating your own death, even as a joke on a Halloween craft project. That’s why I thought it so peculiar that Foster the People would enact a version of their own deaths in “Houdini.” Sure, some people are superstitious and some aren’t – but I wouldn’t want to tempt the fates either way. Foster, however, are able to find hilarity and a sense of lightness in joking about the afterlife.

‘We’re a real band!’

The video also brought up some interesting points about the role of a ‘star.’ What’s the value of a rock star? Who’s qualified for the job?

In “Houdini,” it’s almost as if Foster the People are downplaying their own success. Anyone could do this. Anyone can orchestrate this level of success, they seem to be saying. The rock star lifestyle is so easy, you could do it with your eyes closed! Heck, you could even use a puppet and still create the same image! Whether you can extrapolate that into commentary on the role of record labels in the creation of an artist… well. That depends whether you think record labels are big, horrible monsters or a legitimate part of how the music industry works.

The music video – that is, the one being filmed within the video – and the concert went off without a hitch, even when its star players were down and out for the count. It could be interpreted as drawing a spotlight on all the aspects that go into a successful band. Or it might be interpreted as illustrating how mindless being a pop star these days can be – just sing some songs, have the right image and the rest will show up on a silver platter.

Disappear

You can draw your own conclusions about what Foster the People meant to say with the video but if you take a look at the lyrics of “Houdini,” there’s a loose explanation.

Got shackles on, my words are tied,
Fear can make you compromise,
Fasten up, it’s time to hide,
Sometimes I wanna disappear.

Much of the lyrics focus on the narrator’s “ability” and feelings of adequacy. It appears the narrator is constrained by some unknown figure’s expectations and challenges – you could use the context of a relationship or if you want to tie it more closely to the video, the context of pop culture and what it expects from its artists. The expectations are so tough that the narrator just wishes he could evaporate like Houdini, and constantly tries to tell himself “it’s up to your ability.”

In a way, the song and video is a white flag of surrender. It’s the idea that, yes, even wildly successful people still face expectations that they don’t always feel like they can measure up to, expectations that are tough to meet. When things get that difficult, the natural instinct is often to run in the other direction, to wish that you could just “disappear,” to remove yourself from the equation and hope that things will continue on.

Featured Photo and Video Stills: Screengrabbed by Stephanie Ip

First Look: Adaline’s “The Noise”

It’s time to admit it. Success in the music industry isn’t always based on talent — a large part also depends on image. Hell, sometimes even image alone can make you, talented or not.

Adaline, however, has plenty of both. The artist, born Shawna Beesley, has more than enough talent to go around. Her live performances and presence overflow with a cool sort of confidence, stylish and hip but not pretentious and overbearing. It’s the perfect storm and a music label’s dream.

This comes across clearly in Adaline’s new music video for “The Noise”, the latest single off her sophomore album, Modern Romantics. The storyline of the video, while a bit abstract, speaks to the context of relationships and looks at the environments where we foster emotional connection. In a city filled with noise and the buzzing of society, where’s the romance?

Of note is director JP Poliquin, who also directed Adaline’s last music video for “Whiter/Straighter.” Poliquin does a great job with “The Noise” and it’s clear he’s a director to follow in the future.

Adaline, “The Noise”
From Modern Romantics (2011)

Adaline – “The Noise”, Modern Romantics (2011)
Director:  JP Poliquin; Production Company:  The Field
Executive Producer:  Cherie Sinclair; Producer:  Jason Aita
DOP:  Todd Williams; Editor:  JP Poliquin
Choreography:  Sidney Leeder
Dancers:  Sidney Leeder, Monica Calzaretto, Milda Gecaite, Katherine Rakus, Randi MacQueen
Male Lead:  Ted Puglia
Hair and Makeup:  Luisa Duran; Stylist:  Muska Zurmati
Label:  Light Organ Records

Feature photo and screen captures by Stephanie Ip.

Top 10 Songs of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s hard to resist the allure of year-end lists. Just ask High Fidelity‘s Nick Hornby.

I haven’t devoted much time to music this year since I spent half of it completing my 20-year formal education and the other half starting my first full-time job. However, from what I did manage to absorb, it was the year of dance and pop. Compared to previous lists I’ve compiled, there’s a noticeable lack of artists who play live instruments on their own tracks.

Either way, here’s my  Top 10 Songs of 2011. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list or any sort of musical authority; it’s simply what I thought were great singles released this year. These songs are catchy, well-written and I just couldn’t shut them off. Enjoy.

Top 10 Songs of 2011


10. The Joy Formidable – “A Heavy Abacus” | LISTEN
From The Big Roar; Release Date: July 11; Peak Position: #29 on US Alt
It’s been awhile since I’ve heard a band that really commands your full attention. The Joy Formidable is great and I’m sad I missed them when they were in town August 2010 at the Media Club. The UK-based trio has a stadium presence that explodes from within and their aptly titled album, The Big Roar, is full of that huge, reckless sound that the present-day alternative scene often lacks.

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9. Jay-Z & Kanye West – “N*ggas in Paris” | LISTEN
From Watch The ThroneRelease Date: Sept. 13; Peak Position: #5 on US
Jay-Z and Kanye are great artists on their own but when they collaborate, even people not into rap or hip hop will sit up and take notice. It’s like the rap equivalent of superheroes joining forces or a crossover episode of a popular mid-90s TV show. (Forgive my similes.) The best way to explain the allure is by looking at the dialogue included on “N*ggas in Paris” taken from the Will Ferrell film, Blades of Glory:
“I don’t even know what that means!”
“No one knows what it means but it’s provocative. It gets the people going!”

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8. Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist” | LISTEN
From Codes and Keys; Release Date: March 29; Peak Position: #1 on US Alt
While there’s been criticism that Ben Gibbard has lost many of the original elements of the signature Death Cab sound, I’d argue that a lot of those elements are still there –just in different, more mature ways. “You Are A Tourist” was also accompanied by a live-streamed, one-take music video directed by Tim Nackashi, who has directed videos with Rye Rye, Maroon 5, OK GO and almost anyone else you can think of. The video used multiple cameras, live performers and no edits. Very cool.

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7. Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go – “Cinema (Skrillex Remix)” | LISTEN
From Electroman; Release Date: March 8; Peak Position: #6 on US Billboard
While dubstep’s become a bit of an inside joke as of late, I think it’s still worthy to note its popularity among EDM fans, both new and old. Skrillex’s dubstep remix of “Cinema” boasts a pretty heavy drop with a great build and it’s easy to see why some think it eclipses the original electro house cut by Benassi. The dubstep version definitely takes the song and turns it into a different beast completely.

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6. Beyonce – “Run the World (Girls)” | LISTEN
From 4; Release Date: April 21; Peak Position: #1 on US Dance/Club
While the song’s framework is built on a sample of Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor,” it’s really Beyonce’s lyrics that make this song work. Other critics weren’t fans, claiming it was a continuation of the same old themes of “independence” in Beyonce’s other songs such as “Diva” and “Single Ladies.” The difference is that Beyonce really hammers the message home in “Run The World (Girls),” taking prisoners and kicking down doors. “Run the World (Girls)” also lent itself to some great live performances, something that is difficult to do these days. (Skip to 3:00 to see the live performance.) Recognize, yo.

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5. M83 – “Midnight City” | LISTEN
From Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming; Release Date: Aug. 16; Peak Position: #20 on US
M83’s “Midnight City” has been listed by many publication as the best song of 2011. The song, which is synth-pop goodness at its best, feels familiar and yet, draws you into something unknown, as if the Back to the Future trilogy was the inspiration point. The gratuitous saxophone solo, while hilarious and strangely fitting, is admittedly, well, sexy. The haunting vocals add another surreal layer to this nostalgic trip of a song.

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4. Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” | LISTEN
From 21; Release Date: March 8; Peak Position: #1 on Various
There could not be enough praise in the world for Adele’s vocals. On “Rolling in the Deep,” however, she makes sure that you know it. Her vocals are delivered with a careful cutting edge that disguises itself until it’s time to strike. The lyrics are mournful and yet, the chorus’ wail lets her ex-lover know that yes, it hurts like a mother effin’ bitch but that’s just too damn bad, isn’t it? The song’s stomp-clap bridge also sets things up nicely.

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3. Avicii – “Levels” | LISTEN
Release Date: Oct. 28; Peak Position: #1 on US Dance/Club
I know it’s super cliche to say so but Avicii’s “Levels” has taken the world by storm. I’ve only just become familiar with the electronic scene over the last year but I’ve heard enough to know Avicii is doing something crazy good and the club kids all love it. The song has hit #1 on charts across the UK and it won’t be long before Avicii becomes a staple on North American dance charts too.

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2. Foster the People – “Pumped Up Kicks” | LISTEN
From Torches; Release Date: Sept. 14; Peak Position: #1 on US Alt
“Pumped Up Kicks,” which made the rounds online long before Foster the People ever had a record deal in place, is a weird concoction of equal parts laid-back indie-rock, indie-pop and dance. The song’s strange little nuances and sounds — including whistles, warbles and fades —  make it all the more intriguing. Curiously, the lead single is drastically different from their other songs, though the same quirky character is still present.

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1. Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend” | LISTEN
From Body Talk; Release Date: April 1; Peak Position: #1 on US Dance/Club

You know when girls scream, “This is my jam!” when they’re in the club? Well, this is that song for me and it takes everything in my body to not yell out those exact same words every time this song comes on… and this song comes on a lot. (Mostly because it’s the most played song on my iPod from the past year.)

Robyn’s been making a hot comeback here in North America where most people remember her from the late 90s not-so-one-hit-wonder, “Show Me Love.” But what many don’t realize is that Robyn’s been doing quite well for herself over in Europe. Body Talk, however, has really launched Robyn back into the pop consciousness of North American music fans.

While all the tracks off Body Talk are impeccable and deserve attention, “Call Your Girlfriend” has a maturity not often found in pop music. Lyrically, Robyn is the Other Woman, telling her new boyfriend to break it off gently with his girlfriend. There’s a keen awareness of her position in the tricky situation, while also acknowledging the feelings of her lover and the scorned woman.

The song itself has a buzz, a hum of energy that never lets up. You can hear this in the initial notes where the beat almost feels ahead of the count, pulling the listener forward, driving the tempo with purpose. When the beat picks up about 0:30 seconds in, there’s a definite push that holds firm.

The accompanying music video also played a huge role in the success of the song. The video features Robyn in a warehouse, dancing as lights flash in the background. It’s an example of lights done well as the warehouse transforms from barren walls to a neon storm of colour. Filmed in one continuous take, the video’s unconventional dance routine has Robyn going all out, only a small hint of the energy exuded during live shows.

If 2010 and 2011 were any indication, it looks like Robyn’s got a lot more calls to make in 2012.

Honourable Mentions


Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris – “We Found Love” | LISTEN
From Talk That Talk; Release Date: Sept. 22; Peak Position: #1 on Various
I’m a sucker for a great dance-pop tune so it’s no surprise that “We Found Love” is noted here. The problem is that while Calvin Harris’ production, Rihanna’s vocals and the accompanying music video are very well done, the lyrics themselves do nothing for me. Sometimes, simplistic works but the song’s repetition loses me entirely.

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Kreayshawn – “Gucci Gucci” | LISTEN
Release Date: June 14, Peak Position: #18 on US Rap
While it’s by no means a masterpiece, Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” has pop cultural references that are all at once hilarious, shocking and quirky. There’s a carefree flow that only a petite white girl from Oakland can pull off. Or maybe I just really like singing along. “Yeah, you can kiss the ring / But you can never touch the crown.” The difficulty is that the entire song rests on these pop culture references; her other songs haven’t reached the same level of success.

Featured Image: A record shop in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Photo by Stephanie Ip.
Screen caps and titles captured and edited by Stephanie Ip.

First Listen: Modern Romantics

Adaline's 'Modern Romantics' is due Nov. 1, 2011 on Light Organ Records. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

The first time I heard Shawna Beesley — known to most as Adaline — play “That’s What You Do Best” was at a piano recital at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, B.C. The stage was covered in candles and in the center, a baby grand piano and a girl who just loved those black and white keys.

At that point, the song was a sultry, simple, flirtatious theme. I remember the way she introduced the song, laughing into the microphone, bantering playfully with her friends and audience. The song was bare and basic, living only on her deep, throaty vocals, accompanied by the classical twirl of its Spanish melody.

That’s What You Do Best

Now, it’s the lead off Adaline’s sophomore album, Modern Romantics. “That’s What You Do Best” is no longer the simple tune it once was — it’s been worked up to a multi-layered, driving, insane theme of passion, full of chaos and disorder, thrown about by the battered arms of lovers. Like the other songs on the album, there’s the same characteristic voice but it’s now surrounded by the textured and varied layers of skilled production and electronic elements — a sign of Adaline’s audio evoution.

Modern Romantics

The album due on Nov. 1 has been a long time coming since Adaline’s debut album, Famous For Fire, was released in 2008. Graduating from sweeping ballads to electrifying pop haunts, there’s almost a seasoned playfulness on Adaline’s latest effort that somehow wasn’t there before. But while the songs veer into a strange, unfamiliar, yet comfortable direction, Adaline’s lyrics are still very much the same voice listeners have grown to love.

“That’s what I think I was attracted to from the get-go: Somebody who can write a lyric – which again, I can’t stress enough — is just not common, y’know? People who have an elegance with language,” said Canadian quirk-rock artist Hawksley Workman who, along with Marten Tromm and Tino Zolfo, produced Modern Romantics in Toronto, Canada.

Adaline on the set of her new music video for "The Noise," directed by JP Poliquin at Pinewood Toronto Studios. (VANESSA HEINS PHOTO)

Sparks

While Adaline’s last album was very much a journey of sorts, her second album is broken down into different pieces of the same puzzle. Famous For Fire, as gorgeous as it was, couldn’t be fully appreciated in just one song. The 2008 release required a full end-to-end listening before the beauty in every detail shone through.

Modern Romantics, however, boasts more immediate satisfaction with each song carrying its own weight. The album definitely lends itself more easily to radio play and while some may critique that quality, it’s something highly sought after in a world full of disposible pop songs. With this latest offering, Adaline’s proven that she’s not just raw talent but that she can also harness that skill into mastering even the trickiest of pop formulas.

For a preview of Adaline’s Modern Romantics, visit her website at www.adalinemusic.com. Be sure to catch Adaline on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 at the Biltmore where she’ll be hosting her Vancouver album release party for Modern Romantics. Tickets are $14.74 (includes service fees) and are available on Ticket Web. Trust me. You won’t want to miss this one.

Featured photo by Vanessa Heins; graphic design by Justin Broadbent.

Full Disclosure: I worked as an intern with Adaline for a brief time in 2009. Take this review with a grain of salt — I’m a bit biased since she’s one of my favourite Vancouver (now Toronto) artists.

First Listen: Tokyo Police Club – Ten Year Project.

I love me a good cover. I love me some Tokyo Police Club. Dear Lord, do I ever love me some nostalgia! So when you take all three of those things and mix them together, you get one very happy Stephanie. Which is exactly what’s happening with Tokyo Police Club’s Ten Songs project…. officially titled Ten Songs, Ten Days, Ten Hours, Ten Years.

Ten Songs

These four Canadian dudes, which I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing when they opened for Weezer in 2008 here in Vancouver, have decided to revisit the aughties by recording ten covers, one from each year and releasing them day-by-day. I knew they were doing the project but I hadn’t paid any attention to the start date. Anyway, they’re four songs in and so far, I am diggin’ it. Here’s what’s been released to date:

2001: Moby ft. Gwen Stefani – “Southside
2002: Jimmy Eat World – “Sweetness
2003: The Strokes – “Under Control
2004: Kelly Clarkson – “Since U Been Gone
2005: Queens of the Stone Age – “Little Sister” (Release: Aug. 28)
(Sidenote: You can follow the project by visiting their Soundcloud page where new tracks are posted each day.)

Imitation as Flattery

Covers are always a difficult thing because depending on what the song is, people interpret your intentions differently. Are you covering this song because you think it’s awesome? Are you trying to be ironic? Or are you trying to leech off someone else’s popularity? Not to mention, if you do a bad job, it’s kind of a kick to the shins for the original song and you end up turning off more fans instead of the opposite.

A Quick Review

I am pretty into the “Southside” cover. It might be because I remember when that song came out and I was super into it. The song and the music video had this strange 90s cool, very neon-everything-raver-life quality to it. Don’t ask me why that was ever popular but at one point, it was.

The music video for “Southside” featured Gwen and Moby on the set of
a flashy video shoot, complete with fur jackets, light-up signs,
platform shoes and plenty of backless raver clothing.

The Jimmy Eat World nod is pretty understandable. I’m just glad they didn’t do “The Middle.” “Sweetness” was a way better choice, for sure.” The Strokes’ cover is actually the one in the bunch that doesn’t do much for me. Strange because “Under Cover” is one of my favourite Strokes songs. Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” is a cheeky choice of song and, despite being a pop song, TPC seems to understand there’s a place in the world for pop music, whether you value it or not — it’s “popular” for a reason.

On the Topic of Covers…

Anyway, I’ll leave you off with the video for Tokyo’s “Bambi” off their album Champ. I love this video because of its lights, colours and faded, vintage quality — very cool, very fun. Another sidenote since we’re on the topic of covers, check out Stereogum’s Stroked, a compilation tribute to the Strokes’ Is This It, currently celebrating it’s ten-year anniversary. Some tracks to highlight are the Morning Benders’ “Last Night” and Heems’ “New York City Cops.” You can download the album for free over on their website.

Photo: Google Images.

First Listen: Greyson Chance – “Unfriend You”

Before I got into journalism full-time, I spent years working with youth outreach programs. High school wasn’t that long ago for me and even when I was in high school, I felt a bit like an old soul. At the time, everything was a big deal and when something went wrong, it seemed like the end of the world. While I know that’s not the case, that’s something we only understand in retrospect.

Anyway, one of the joys of working with kids and youth is being able to see the potential within each person even before they realize it themselves. I’m a big believer in giving young people opportunities to grow and learn, to cultivate talents and strengths long before they’re ready to do so. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you encourage it, the more it’ll take shape. So that’s my explanation for why Greyson Chance caught my eye.

“Paparazzi”

Greyson Chance first caught international attention for a Youtube clip of him covering Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at a festival. First off, this kid has legit talent. There’s something about him that is just absolutely natural. It’s true that you can practice, practice and PRACTICE playing the piano and singing but there is a certain quality to this kid that is undoubtedly born from within. I’ve worked with kids his age for years and to see this 13-year-old just completely own the performance is ridiculously fun to watch. Pay attention at 3:00. You don’t just learn how to do that.

The Bieber Treatment

I don’t want to paint them all with the same brush but at the same time, there’s no other way to describe it. Greyson Chance got The Bieber Treatment. What’s The Bieber Treatment, you might ask? It’s simple. It’s like a coming-of-age party of sorts. Young star releases their first music video with a somewhat decent music video concept, shiny production and execution, covered with the safest possible parental guidance rating.

“Unfriend You”

1. Concept. The music video concept is good. It’s adorable. He likes a girl who likes someone else. But now he’s going to pick himself up, carry on and “unfriend” her. Sounds dorky but that’s the day and age we live in. (How many times have you introduced youself and followed it up with, “Oh, I’m so-and-so on Twitter”? Never? I don’t believe you.)

2. Production/Execution. Is there money being thrown into this music video? For sure. You can tell it’s well done. The problem is… really? You had to slick it up that much? The problem with shiny packaging is that it makes me question the actual quality of the product. It’s distracting, really.

3. Parental Guidance. This is my favourite part. I can’t get over it! They’re so adorable! His ex-girlfriend does nothing you wouldn’t do in front of her parents (that we can tell, anyway). Greyson goes to a totally radical party where obviously underaged teens are drinking Coca-Cola and some unknown company’s sponsored fruit drink. Don’t forget the dance circle! Not that they can dance… but it’s cute to watch them try. THEN PING PONG! Like, real ping pong and not just beer pong! I can appreciate that. And the grand finale? Totally harmless but awesome TP’ing of the ex-girlfriend’s house. NICE.

Growing Up and Moving On

Don’t get me wrong. I know I sound a little sarcastic but I legitimately want to see this kid do well. He’s got real talent and he seems to not buy into the Bieber Experience just yet. No fancy footwork, no fancy over-production… just a kid, a piano and one hell of a voice. Maybe if he keeps getting opportunities thrown his way, he’ll be able to become much more than just another Youtube-breakout-MTV-teeny-bopper sensation. He could have an honest, long-term career. Now wouldn’t that be a nice change from everything else in today’s music industry?

P.S. “You’re beautiful and crazy too / Maybe that’s why I fell into you.” OH, GIRL.

P.P.S. I totally would’ve had a crush on him if we had been the same age. No joke. Army jacket? Chucks? Totally clean-cut fun? I’m in.

First Listen: Pumped Up Kicks.


Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”

I love clicking around on blogs, Soundcloud, Youtube, etc. and stumbling onto a band that I’ve never heard of before. Sometimes, you’re on a mission to find new music. Sometimes, you just happen to be bored. Either way, I love the feeling of finding new music that catches my ear.

It’s hard to explain what makes me stop and pay attention to a band. Not that I feel like I have such supreme taste in music that I’m hard to impress, but I feel like I have a very specific sound that I’m drawn to. When people ask me what type of music I like, I have a hard time describing it so often, I’ll just start listing off a bunch of bands that seem mismatched and out-of-place in comparison to each other.

Foster The People is one such band that I found just clicking through random links on Youtube. These guys are from Los Angeles, California and it definitely seeps through in their first single, “Pumped Up Kicks.” Its relaxed drum and bass line sit just behind the tempo, giving off a nonchalant, semi-drug induced fog to the song. Vocalist Mark Foster sings through a vintage filter and the song almost feels like early Strokes, had Julian Casablancas taken a couple of Ambien and a glass of red wine. It probably doesn’t help that Foster channels the same unwashed hair attitude as Casablancas.

The music video reflects the laid-back, almost lazy nature of the song, featuring clips of the guys on tour and pit stops in parking lots and on beaches. While the V-neck shirt count and vaguely dated metro faux-hawks feel incredibly forced, it’s still a fun video diary of sorts. But it seems accurate as well, considering the guys have been touring consistently over the last year. From the sounds of it, I think they’re actually at SXSW this week.

Anyway, check out their video posted at the top. Their debut album Torches is scheduled for May 24, 2011 so be sure to listen for that. I’ve also posted two other tracks I found online so have at it. When you’re done all of that, make sure you comment and let me know what you think of these guys.

“Houdini”

“Helena Beat”