Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009 - A year to reflect on why I love music

I am a creature of habit. When I get scared, sad or uncertain, I tend to run to the things that I know will make me feel safe, happy or reassured. That’s why with all the change that I experienced in 2009, I didn’t seek out the next best new artist, I let them either come to me or I stuck with what I knew. That is why for my end of 2009 list, I am going to reflect on those that helped me end the year with a little Sanity and Peace towards the upcoming new year.

Listen Here

Syd - Have you ever been so addicted to someone’s music that no matter what, you can’t seem to turn it off? That is the way I feel about Syd. He has also been a huge inspiration in our life and some of the decision to finally change certain things in it. But when he released his 5 song EP, “Upswing”, in 2009...a whole new level of admiration began for me. His newer sound was upbeat and it pumped happiness into my veins. It put that urge to dance and sing back in my life. Jeff and I also helped promote his remix contest this year for his song “The Pattern”. Between the contest and it being my 2 year old nieces’ favorite song, I probably heard that song close to 200 times. But if it shuffled through my mp3 player right now, I would still listen and you would probably see me dancing like no one was watching.. isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

Lisa Piccirillo – My husband will tell you that the first time he heard ‘You Never Say’ it brought tears to his eyes. And if you listen to the song the way you are meant to listen to music, I can assure you it will do the same for you. Lisa’s voice will draw you into a hypnotic state where you forget your past, your present, where you are, where you are going…It will put you in a drug-induced trance, with serenity being the drug; the best kind. Her song “Momentum” hit new levels for me when I caught it playing through my ear buds as hundreds of people were being laid off at place of employment. I had put both of my ear buds in and cranked up the music so loud and pounded away at the keyboard as I had done several time before. When the shuffled selection of song had finished playing, I took out my earbuds and looked around. It was quiet all around, and I felt Peace for a second.. I had hoped that those that were laid off felt the same Peace also, because now there was no more waiting it out for them.

Brian Bergeron – I found Brian through a chance click on myspace a few years ago. Back then it was just him and his guitar, something that had been very common during those times. People were getting tired of the John Mayer want-to-be’s, even if they sounded nothing like John Mayer. There was something different about Brian though, but I couldn’t place my finger on it then. It wasn’t until I heard his first full length release “We’ve Got to Find an Easier Way” that I was able to put into words the way I saw Brian’s talent. I had found a true up and coming artist. I was bursting with pride when the tracks first came through my MP3 player. He had evolved so much and come so far in such a short time. He had found his sound and we were there listening and promoting while he was doing it. It was an amazing feeling.

Taylor Davis – “ I wish I was better, I wish I had it all figured out, I little bit skinnier with more money in the bank, maybe everything would work out. I’m too hard on myself, it’s impossible to live up to everyone else.” Taylor will tell you he wrote that song during one of his low points when he was staying on his friends couch in New York. So it would seem fitting that I would use it to help me through some of my darkest times. Taylor is different than anyone else on our list. He is the first local artist that we have ever supported. There is a different sense of Pride that comes from watching someone from your own area make it musically. You understand first hand how big of a deal it is when they play at certain venues and when you hear them on the radio, its awesome to know that you might have helped with that a little. Its also nice to be able to go see his shows just about whenever we want to…and to have him come to several of our house parties puts the icing on the cake.

Rogue Wave – If you love something, set it free... If it comes back, it's yours, If it doesn't, it never was yours.... That is how I feel about Rogue Wave, well sorta, in a less creepy way. Rogue Wave decided to take a break from touring and music back in 2007 when their drummer, Pat Spurgeon underwent a kidney transplant (d-tour - a documentary about this ) and their lead singer, Zach Rogue, injured his back. But that time really helped me reflect on their music and how different it was from anything else I had ever heard. It’s like another melancholy sound that pumps energy through you and you can’t help but move. And if you are one of the lucky ones to have seen them live, then all you have to do is close your eyes and you can envision the energy that the guys project to the audience. We have never missed a Texas show. I even caught an earlier flight from a business meeting in Detroit to get back to a show in Denton. I.LOVE.THIS.BAND. I will promote them until I can’t speak anymore, until I am no longer able to type and far after people stop listening to me in hopes to find that one person who is willing to listen to them with new ears… because Rogue Wave worked hard for it, because they earned it… and they deserve it.

Chad Perrone – Chad wrote a song that will forever be a staple in my life during 2009. “Like Riding a Bike” shuffled through my MP3 player when I was trying to decide what was worth fighting for in my current life. What was really important and what was just weighing me down and keeping me from moving up to my next level. What was my next step going to be and was it going to get me to my ultimate goals/dreams or was it just going to take me down another dead end road. I still cry every time I hear the song, and am crying right now just writing about it. It was, and still is, a very powerful song for me. Even though I don’t like where we are currently in our lives, I know we are on the right path. I know that a lot of credit is given to a few words that started on a piece of paper, but to know that those words came from someone else’s hard time in their life is what I think I about. Knowing that we are not alone in making tough decisions, starting over, working hard to get to your dreams…that is what I hear when I listen to that song. And for that I am so thankful.

Plushgun - I remember exactly what I was doing the first time I heard Plushgun. I was sitting on my floor getting ready to pack up and go to a friends wedding in California. They were hosting subterranean on MTV2. We were clearing out our TIVO and Jeff was fast forwarding through it to see if there was anything good on there before it was deleted. Then he pushed play and said, "hey, look who it is!"…it was one of Syd's drummers, Matt Bogdanow, who was now playing drums with Plushgun. Their song "Just Impolite" was on and as I listened to it, I felt that I could actually like this band…but we left for the wedding and nothing was said about it again. 2 months later, they were coming to town and we were going to see their show, so I decided to pick up their CD and give it another listen. It only took that one time and I was addicted. Then I saw them live and everything really clicked. I had wondered how they were going to get their punk-alternative-electric sound to compare to the sound from the CD, but they did... and they did it even better. As Matt's robotic hands motioned out the drum parts to an unbelievable fast paced electronic keyboard melody, Dan jumped around the stage and sang his little heart out not missing a beat to even breath. Taylor was right there beside Dan filling in the guitar parts where needed and making sure the whole stage had been touched. The crowd had been infected and were all jumping in one marching beat. It was amazing…THEY are amazing! Plushgun became the band that I put on repeat on my MP3 player, put both earbuds in and just let it blare as the world around me went silent. Taping my foot, head bobbing and other involuntary "moves" projected from my body as their music played over and over and over in my ears. When I was sad, I played them and they made me happy.

Patrick Thomas – Patrick is a new artist to me. I was introduced to him and Lisa through the CO-OP music label. Patrick wrote a song that he simply labeled “Track Ten”. Jeff fell in love with the song first and then suggested I really listen to it. Over the last few years, with the help of the news, I had started to become a little paranoid and frightful of living in this world. When I heard this song, I felt like chanting it in the streets: “Yeah, I’ve got to start living, got to start giving a shit…” It wasn’t a protest song, but maybe a wake up call to enough people to start paying attention to things around them and making the simple changes in their life and stop being so selfish. That is really all we need to make this world a better place. I would like to see this philosophy posted on billboards and written as graffiti on walls or with people marching down the street with these lyrics posted on their protest signs. I challenge you all to listen to this song and not want to make a change in their life…I double dare you.

Guster – I saved the most important one for last. This blog would not exist if it weren’t for Guster. They truly helped us find our love for music. They were the common ground for my husband and me when we couldn’t find it anywhere else. They have always been a starting point when we have lost our way. They have countless songs that play through my head for inspiration to keep going when I feel I have met the end of line. “Come Downstairs and Say Hello” gives me hope that at any point my life can change direction. “Hang On” keeps my eyes focused ahead for that light at then end of the tunnel. “Window” reminds me that sometimes you do need someone’s help for you to see the good out of life…someone to follow right behind and help push you along…or someone to just walk beside you and hold your hand through it all. But the song that started it all, the song that hangs on the wall of my cubical that I reference SEVERAL times a day is “Happy Frappy”. It reminds me that everything I could ever need, I already have.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yes Man - Staring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel

Pause the music player below before watching

I found inspiration today in the last place I ever thought I would... a Jim Carrey movie on a 4 hour flight from Boston to DFW. Yes Man was the feature film and I made a quick decision on if I wanted to listen to my comfortably pleasant song selections on my MP3 player or did I want to take a chance and spend 2 hours watching a movie that I might not like. Why not I thought, it’s not like I haven't heard the same music a thousand times before. And I am so glad I did.

Yes Man is based on a true story and 2005 book by British humorist Danny Wallace (who has a brief cameo in the film). It’s the story of Carl Allen, played by Jim Carrey, who is stuck and a rut and is going no where with his life. He runs into an old friend, played by John Michael Higgins, who appears to have gone a little nuts with passion and is invited to a seminar about how to change your life by saying "yes" to everything. He goes to the seminar and after much convincing he agrees to go through with the program. The leader also throws in a little scare tactic and tells him that if he lets himself down and says No, that bad things will start happening. When Carl’s first "yes act" leads him to Allison, played by Zooey Deschanel, he puts the plan into motion; Saying Yes= good returns. This movie could be exactly what America needs right now. Yes, this is a common theme but this might be what America needs right now, A little bit of humor, mixed with the want to follow through with your hearts desires... or at least listen to your heart a little and take a chance once in a while.

I probably would have eventually watched this movie, if only to watch Zooey Deschanel. I just LOVE her. She is such a talented actress and this movie lets you in on a little secret if you haven't heard yet.. she can sing. She references in the movie how she loves having only her handful of fans that she can name out in the crowd at her shows. This is such an ironic twist because I hear people talking about her music more and more now a days and I am sure she is selling out venues. Which to me is a little insincere because this movie was like a shameless promotion for her music career. But I really can't blame her for using networking to get her life to where she might really have always wanted it to go. And trust me I am not saying she is not a talented musician. She has a great voice and is worth checking out.

Overall, this movie is the perfect balance to the all time favorite feel good movie. Taking us back to Jim Carrey’s other films with this similar feel like Truman Show or Liar Liar. This movie will probably not be up for an Emmy or make it to any top ten lists but It is def worth a watch and I can guarantee that you will not be completely disappointed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

'We've Got to Find an Easier Way" Brian Bergeron

After many months of planning, funding, and recording, Brian Bergeron has released his first full length album, "We've Got to Find an Easier Way". ‘Let Me In’, the opening track, sets the mood of the album by giving you some insight that you'll be experiencing something new from the singer-songwriter. Which is a feat he has accomplished fairly early in his career , sooner than most singer songwriters trying to imitate John Mayer or Jason Mraz. This first full-length is exploding with talent, culminated from several EPs under his belt that had him searching for this very sound.

Brian has crafted some new songs and dusted off some old tunes to both please old fans, and draw in new ones. And it succeeds with what feels like an effortless transition into the growing up he’s done musically and lyrically. With tinges of alt-country and summoning the likes of Ryan Adams, Wilco and Josh Rouse, Bergeron bounces from tune to tune and fills them with a bittersweet-but-upbeat mood.

'Gracie', which gives us the line that named the album, sounds like it came right out of a Nashville roadside honky-tonk and conjures images of sawdust floors and two-stepping, while managing to keep a sense of pop to it. It may be THE standout of the album, along with "Tell My Story", for those looking for the tune that could really hook you into his work. The uses of warm piano and lap pedal guitars drive the former feeling home, but the earnest lyrics that speak more of hope than loss, pull the listener into toe-tapping right along with the chorus before you even know the lyrics. This is my personal favorite.

Slower songs like 'Missing' and 'Sisters' still deliver a strong hand and rely more on the 'alt' than 'country'. They're peppered in between faster tunes like a well crafted mixtape, and serve to pull the energy down to the appropriate level to catch your breath from the rockers.

‘I Promise You Relief’ is probably the most heartfelt song on the album. Brain’s ability to harmonize with the strong piano melody is perfect. I get chills when the piano breaks in towards to the end and takes over the song.

Brian Bergeron is starting off in the right direction with a strong, solid release, produced by fellow Boston musician Will Dailey. It should be noted that Dailey does a wonderful job producing this album, as well as guide Brian and merge his own suggestions and talent on the CD. It's a solid blast of music from beginning to end, and shows that Dailey has got some talent in a range beyond just creating his own tunes.

What this album, as a whole, provides what seems to be the culmination of several years of ideas and attempts at getting just what one wants of their music. The tunes are well-crafted, catchy when they need to be, pensive when they should be, and all together well-rounded.

Brian’s approach to funding this CD was by asking for sponsorships from fans, family and friends. It’s a practice that has been done before by artists like Jill Sobule…and a great idea, I might add. It allows fans to really be involved in making the product. And with that involvement they will (hopefully) feel more pride for the album and use that pride to market and promote the album for the artist. Done correctly, it could be a win/win solution.

The closer, "The Restless Release", is a perfect bookend to the cd, with what sounds like a cowboy's dust bowl ballad. It seems to come from a time and place that other bands like Two Gallants have drawn inspiration from, but that hasn’t been really tapped into too heavily yet. Ideas like this are what push Bergeron’s music just past the ‘guy with a guitar’ type of sound. Almost as if calling out, the song ends with the line "...and how I hope you'll come back." If future projects are as good as this one are delivered to his listeners, I'm sure he'll have no problem getting that to happen.

Check out more on Brian Bergeron at any of the following:
Official Website

Thursday, April 9, 2009

You Never Say - Lisa Piccirillo

If you have not heard of Lisa Piccirillo, you are missing out. Here is your chance to hear a few of her songs and move her up the charts at Yellow House Media. Lisa was featured on their site a few weeks ago and slowly climbed the charts to #1 with 'You Never Say'. It has now slipped to #2 but really deserves to stay in the #1 spot, so help us get it back there. 'You Never Say' is not only written perfectly for anyone trying to decide which road to go down in their romantic life but her voice mesmerizes you and brings you to near tears with the emotion she projects. Listen and vote here http://tinyurl.com/dmjo65

Lisa will also be the featured artist for a Boston-based radio show/podcast called "women in music" for the week of April 14. Laney Goodman keeps her ear out for the best in women's music...and we are thrilled that Lisa was chosen for her program, which reaches listeners all over the country, and her podcast, which has approximately 10,000 downloads per month! Lisa will also be featured on the homepage next week

Visit Lisa at any of the following links:
Co-op Sounds

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Big Town -Syd

Spring is here... well in some parts of the world anyway. If you are anything like me, you have cabin fever and are craving some good foot tapping and head bobbin' music (preferably without the smokey bars, drunk woo-hoo girls and dude-guys ).

Last weekend we ventured down to SXSW to mingle with the best of the best. We were down there to do a few interviews for Redjoint.com. The experience was loud, unorganized and crowded...but we were still able to walk away with 90% of the interviews we set out to do. I am hoping these interviews will be edited over the next few weeks and posted.

Until then I would like to share what we are currently listening to and what we are looking forward to in our small little world of music.
  • Syd has put out a new 4 song EP,Upswing . Musically, this is a step in a new direction for Syd. We started to see his sound evolve from the traditional 'guy - guitar - love song' sound with his last album, The Way We Found It (2007) , but Upswing shows a whole other level of talent that any early follower hopes to see when they discovered an artist. This album is the perfect merger of all generations of rock. You can hear hints of influence of early 80's rock genius' like Rick Springfield, Joe Jackson, The Cars with a mix of 90's alt rock like Weezer & Cake ring through each song. Easier on you is what all love songs should be. The type that you can rock out to when you have been hurt and the type that you would blare on a jambox outside a window to win back the love of your life. But it could also be the type of song that you would find yourself bobbing your head, blaring out open windows and rocking out in traffic. Mallory is up next telling the story of one of his best friends finding the love of his life by chance during a concert and having to let himself take that chance on love. Knowing the story behind Mallory is one of the best and most endearing parts of the song. This song is going to surely be the hit for any true romantic and I see it being part of any wedding song list. When The Big Town starts up, you immediately hear the creative use of voice echos, bass and electric guitar. The best example of this use of creativity is during the bridge when the echo of the voice against the crunch of the guitars will bring you close to headbanging status. This energy will lead you directly from there into The Pattern. It doesn't matter how bad of a day you have had, I dare you to try to not smile when the this song begins. With its catchy "oh-oh-whoa-whoa's " and foot taping beats it will be a favorite among all ages. I am even sure to bet there is air drumming during your first, second and 100th time of listening. The first time I played this song, my 18 month old niece started singing and dancing. This EP has it all. And what is even better, is it is currently being offered as a free download by Co-op Sounds, which Syd also co-founded. This is one that you will not want to pass up.
Be sure to check back for our review of Brian Bergeron's latest album, We've got to Find an Easier Way which is set to be released on April 25th.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009