Gimme Five: Goodbyes

Every week (hopefully) I’ll supply five songs with a common theme that I’ve been digging; new or old, it doesn’t matter. This week it’s about moving away and saying goodbye.

[Spotify]

“Try” – Dear and the Headlights, Drunk Like Bible Times
Thought a change of scenery would make me feel better
Moved four hundred miles away and I’m still staring at the floor

“Lilac Wine” – Jeff Buckley, Grace
I drink much more than I ought to drink
Because it brings me back to you

“That Wasn’t Me” – Brandi Carlile, Bear Creek
But I want you to know that you’ll never be alone … I wanna believe.
Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?

“Ghosts That We Knew” – Mumford & Sons, Babel
So lead me back, turn south from that place
And close my eyes to my recent disgrace

“On the Road” – Angus & Julia Stone, Down the Way
Jumped aboard that rolling stone
Took to the sky like a bird

Watch Now, Now’s Audiotree Session

Now, Now is currently my favorite band. I love listening to Threads and obviously think you all should listen to the album as well. They did a session over at Audiotree a few weeks ago and the entire one hour session is now available to stream. The session is sprinkled with brief interjections of interview questions that gives you a better insight to the trio’s personal and musical lives.

Check it out below.

Thoughts on Childish Gambino’s ‘Royalty’

I’ve heard so many opinions about Donald Glover over the years that I’ve listened to him rap under his Childish Gambino moniker. Maybe it was because I was hanging out with a lot of pretentious hipsters (myself included) at the time when I first heard him, but I didn’t know a lot of black people listening to Culdesac, the I Am Just a Rapper mixtapes or even his break out, untitled EP.

In fact, I didn’t know a lot of anyone listening to his rap. I saw Gambino perform twice, in two very different settings. The first was on the Las Vegas strip during his I AM DONALD tour. It was filled with hot Asians who he raps about so much, your typical rap fans and mostly pale white kids with thick rimmed glasses and skinny jeans. The second time, on his Sign Up tour, was in Athens, Ga. – home of University of Georgia. Less than two hours from his hometown of Stone Mountain. Maybe it was because it was a douchey bro heavy location, but it was filled with basically the same crowd; instead of hipsters it was mostly frat boys.

Still, a lot of white people love Childish Gambino. So many times I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t normally listen to rap, but Childish is different.”

Which he is.

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“Waiting” (live) – yellowbirddd

Photo by Adam Vitcavage

My good buddy, Liam McCormack, played a gig over the weekend at the Living Room in the Lower East Side where he premiered tons of new tracks with the help of some amazing backing musicians. Among them was a new jam called “Waiting” which I had the pleasure of watching him perform underneath a tree in Brooklyn Park Bride earlier that day. We chatted about his music throughout the weekend and what he felt about his latest album (and first full band one) and what’s up next for yellowbirddd. He’s recently been playing with a stripped down version of a full band, usually with some combination of a piano, upright bass, pedal steel and drums. While he may be a ways away from recording a new LP, he’s been busy working on tons of new material, which further expands on his amazing lyrical skills.

Check out “Waiting” below. I filmed it on my mobile phone, so the quality isn’t too terrific, but you can still live the magic that is yellowbirddd.

My 10 favorite albums of the year (so far)

My dear Paste issued their “Best Albums of 2012 (So Far)” and I love a lot of the albums the editors wrote about. But, since I have a peculiar sense of music perhaps, I have decided to grace you with 10 albums I love and can’t quite get enough of.

[Spotify play list here]


10. Random releases – Childish Gambino
: So Donald Glover hasn’t released any album just yet, but he’s released quite a few tracks that may or may not show up on his soon to be released mixtape (that may or may not come out on Independence Day). His new releases have been met with his biggest criticism yet, which resulted in him using a lot of tweets to respond to the media. There’s a reoccurring joke in the offices about my undying love for Donald, so it should come as no surprise that I would bend the rules to include him in my list. Suggested track: “Eat Your Vegetables”

9. Up & Away – Kid Ink: I’ve only heard the album a few times since it was released earlier in June, but it reminds me of mixtape era Drake.  That being said I have to say it’s the vibe the album gives me and it wasn’t the lyrics that grabbed me. It was the mixture of traditional hip-hop and R&B with a dash of modern flavor that made me throw this on here. It’s not usually what I go for in an album, but it’s more of a guilty pleasure. Who says average lyrics don’t cut it when the flow and overall attitude makes it work? Suggested track: “Time of Your Life”

8. Stars and Satellites – Trampled by Turtles: While this may be a heavily stringed bluegrass album, I never thought of it that way. It’s everything I look for in an album: melodic, intricate and soothing. These boys might be from Minnesota, but I was damned to find out that they weren’t back country of the south where all there is to do is drink and learn to diddle some impressive strings. It’s not an album that I’d throw on at a party, but it’s most certainly one I’d want to listen to as I criss-cross the country in my sedan. Suggested track: “Alone”

7. Breakfast – Chiddy Bang: Knowing how to have fun is what makes a lot of hip-hop work for me. Chiddy Bang is a duo that has infectious rhymes over poppy, indie electronica. I was really grooving on “Handclaps and Guitars” for a bit, but now realize that the song is really just a piece to the puzzle. It’s filled with a lot of clever wordplay that keeps surprising me with each listen. Still, it really is the beats that makes this album. Suggested track: “Mind Your Manners”

6. Rot Gut, Domestic – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s: So, one of my favorite bands only hit number six on my list. It’s not because I don’t love how much darker Richard Edwards made this album. From the first chord throughout the journey of self-loathing and recovery I still find myself rearranging my list of all time favorite Margot tracks, with a lot of these near the top. I feel like I spent a lot of time with Edwards through interviews, but more so through his lyrics and this bad boy is no different than any other album he has crafted. While there are still fans bitching and moaning over how “old-Margot” is better, this second album from the heavier sounding band goes to show Edwards and crew aren’t messing around. Suggested track: “Books About Trains”

5. The Lumineers – The Lumineers: Wholesome love ballads and one of the catchiest tracks (“Ho Hey”) in recent memory. That’s what this adorable trio from Denver laid out in what I strongly feel is this year’s The Head and the Heart. Passionate acoustic guitar and raspy vocals lead the way over foot stomping drums and a classic cello weaving through song after song. It’s one of those albums that I have to tell people,”You know that famous song? Well, the deep cuts are better. By leaps and bounds.” Yes, that is a sentence taken verbatim. I feel that once you listen to this self titled debut you’ll understand the magic behind the quirky and wholesome nature put behind each lyric and melody. Suggested track: “Stubborn Love”

4. Boys & Girls – Alabama Shakes: This is one of those albums that when you listen to the vocals you can’t help but make the “stank face.” What Brittany Howard is able to accomplish feels so dirty. And so good. She’s a modern day Janis Joplin, but packs a punch. You listen to the band and you can’t help but want to get down. It’s grimy. It’s soulful. It’s what music needed and it’s something you should most certainly pick up if you haven’t. Not only will pretentious 18-year-olds tell their friends that they’ve heard of these guys since before this album dropped, but middle-aged folk who know nothing about music will understand the wonders that unfold on this debut. Suggest track: “I Ain’t the Same”

3. The Lion’s Roar – First Aid Kit: First of all I’m tired of hearing these sisters’ music described as “Swedish Americana.” I know I’m guilty of it because it’s so simple to refer to the Swedish duo’s genre as Americana, but it’s really just Swedicana…if that even is such a thing. Everything is perfect on this album. The instrumentation, the lyrics and, above all else, the vocal harmonies. It starts off with two smash singles (“The Lion’s Roar” and “Emmylou”) so you’d expect the rest of the album to pale in comparison. You’d just have to, right? Wrong. Just listen to it all and fall in love. Suggested track: “Blue”

2. My Head is an Animal – Of Monsters and Men: This is probably my most listened to album on the list. I technically have the European version, but even with the switched tracks and rearranged order, this break out debut is a stand out. It blends everything I could ever want. Female vocals paired with a male. Offbeat instruments like an accordion. Cinematic build. An explosion in my brain. I pick a new favorite song every time I listen to it because the album is just. That. Good. And while all of these performers are amazing live (I haven’t seen Kid Ink, Trampled by Turtles, Chiddy Bang and First Aid Kit) this Icelandic band takes the cake…right behind Mr. Glover. but that’s comparing apples and oranges. Suggested track: “From Finner”

1. Threads – Now, Now: This is different for me. Now, Now’s music isn’t what I’d normally call my preferred genre. I feel a really strong connection with the album. The notion of searching for a common thread in life is something that I have been seeking for myself. If music were books, this might fall under the “Young Adult” section. That’s not to take away from the gravity of the album. In fact, the emotional topics are expressed vibrantly in a dreary manner. The misty exploration will have a lot of listeners going, “Yup. Know that feeling.” It’s the album that I put on for people to see how compatible we are. I know a lot of people will overlook this one, but if you don’t appreciate it at all then…you’re done, son. Suggested track: “School Friends”

yellowbirddd releases first music video

Liam McCormack’s moniker may seem a little goofy, but his music is anything of the sort. His acoustic solo project turned full band for his latest album and now yellowbirddd (always lowercase; always three d’s) has released his first official music video.

Photo by Nicole Daniliuk

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Gambino drops new song

Photo by Adam Vitcavage

One of the most common complaints I hear regarding Donald Glover’s rap under Childish Gambino is that it’s repetitive. That he discusses growing up “white” in a black community, references Asians he thinks are sexy and throws out nerdy pop culture references too much.

He’s recently hinted that his newer stuff is going to be more mainstream rap. Not Jay-Z or Kanye or anything like that. But more mainstream alternative…if there is even such a thing. Now that he sent In Flex We Trust a radio-friendly cut of “Unnecessary” featuring ScHoolboy Q the internet is buzzing that they want the indie-hipster who signed to a label with Mumford and Sons and Phoenix on the roster.

My personal thoughts are that it’s definitely different, but it’s no less catchy and entertaining as his previous releases. It looks like the mixtape, which he has insisted is his way to try out new things and it doesn’t have a consistent theme like Camp.

Listen to the new track here.

‘Oh, the Places I’ll Go’

Time for another themed playlist. This time around it’s all about songs that have places in the title. It starts off pretty pop-rocky, goes through a folksy-Americana period and ends with a synthy-electro phase before ending with a rap song by Childish Gambino. Of course. I’ve included links to a Spotify playlist and a Rdio one as well. Enjoy, y’all.

  1. “Tallulah” – Company of Thieves
  2. “Country Lane” – Telekinesis
  3. “Greeley Estates” – Gospel Claws
  4. “From Finner” – Of Monsters and Men
  5. “Couer d’Alene” – The Head and the Heart
  6. “Portland” – Middle Brother
  7. “Dead Sea” – The Lumineers
  8. “Massachusetts” – Ra Ra Riot
  9. “Santa Fe” – Beirut
  10. “Desert Plane” – Tapes ‘n Tapes
  11. “Colony” – Now, Now
  12. “Perth” – Bon Iver
  13. “I Follow Rivers” Lykke Li
  14. “We Almost Lost Detroit” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
  15. “LES” – Childish Gambino

*Note: Gospel Claws is not on Rdio…so go to Spotify for the complete playlist.

Thoughts on Phillip and Joshua from ‘Idol’

First off, I never watched American Idol until halfway through this season. I never cared and only started watching it because my Dad has been digging it for a few seasons and we watch it together. There’s two guys that I’ve been supporting (no, I don’t vote) since I first checked it out a few weeks ago. The first is a Dave Matthews-type who could be a great indie-folksy guy if he tried. His name is Phillip Phillips (yeah, that’s right). The other is Joshua Ledet, the second coming of James Brown and might as well be Bruno Mars’ little brother.

Tonight they each blew me away for different reasons. Phillips covered Damien Rice’s “Volcano” and Ledet make me lose control by taking on the Godfather of Soul’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Let me just say: wow.

Phillips’ rendition of “Volcano”

Ledet’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”

‘Laaadies’

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a themed-playlist. Luckily, I’ve been thinking of a few and this one is a set of songs that have beautiful ladies’ names in the titles. I’m not sure if I have perfected the flow yet, but this is as close as I’m going to get for the moment. he list features some popular songs from their respected bands, as well as some of my favorite tracks and even some I don’t listen to as much as I should.

You can enjoy the playlist here via Spotify. It is also availble via Rdio here. (Note: David Wax Museum and yellowbirddd are not currently on Rdio and have been left off…)

  1.  “Sweet Louise” – The Belle Brigade
  2.  “Lorelai” – Fleet Foxes
  3. “Yes, Maria, Yes” – David Wax Museum
  4. “Hannah” – Freelance Whales
  5. “Chloe in the Afternoon” – St. Vincent
  6. “Shannon” – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s
  7. “Miranda” – Surfer Blood
  8. “Alex” – Girls
  9. “Katy With a Y” – yellowbirddd
  10. “Mariah” – Cass McCombs
  11. “Willetta” – Dear and the Headlights
  12. “Jade” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  13. “Emmylou” – First Aid Kit
  14. “Ada” – The National
  15.  “Betty’s a Bombshell” – Grouplove