Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hey Ocean! You're Awesome!

If I were to have the opportunity to interview Hey Ocean! personally, my list of questions would be extensive, albeit some trivial. I’d first inquire as to how imperative the exclamation point is to the band’s persona and how the trio arrived at the name. Second, I’d ask whether the fact that many of the band’s best tracks (in my opinion) favor the “water” motif is deliberate or merely coincidental. Finally, I’d probe as to how, after nine years, three albums, three EP’s, countless tours and yet almost no attention from the American media, the threesome has the stamina and fortitude to continue making such feel-good music.

Hey Ocean! is a Canadian indie rock and folk band from Vancouver. While two of the three members have been friends since childhood, it wasn’t until they met their bassist that they decided to form a band. Since 2005, the band has toured Canada widely, performing at music festivals from Calgary to Montreal. The group’s ethereal sound can be attributed to its sampling of different genres and incorporation of several instruments, including the flute. At times, the band’s sound reminds me of Sufjan Stevens (see “Islands”); at others, the female vocalist resonates a quirky pop a la Ingrid Michaelson. Regardless of the sound, I’m into it. And it couldn’t be more perfect for summer.

Here are my favorites, all off the band’s newest album IS, including a great cover of “Be My Baby.”

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

If you're at all familiar with my blog, you've undoubtedly come to expect (and adore) both my side-splitting humor and my uncanny ability to constantly feature attractive band members (it's a talent, really). Thus, I feel it is my duty to caution you: this post is deep. Like, philosophical deep. And if you've read or seen "The Fault in Our Stars," you aren't the least surprised.

If you're at all familiar with me, you know how much I revere film scores and soundtracks. I've said time and time again that movies and television shows would be emotionless, nay, meaningless without  their accompanying music. And while I certainly appreciate a good score (such as that of The Words, Amelie, Coco Avant Chanel, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Atonement, etc.), nothing sends me soaring quite like that cinematic moment in which a character's plight connects so deeply with a singer's voice, as if those two people transcend their dimensions, if just for a moment. One artist, heard but not seen, expressing the pain of another, seen but not heard. In my opinion, it's the most powerful collaboration of media. I could go even deeper into this convention of a "collaboration" by elaborating on how we, ourselves, are collaborating with the artists we see and hear by contributing our own experiences to these evocations, therefore producing reactions that are a culmination of what we acquire and what we reflect... but I won't. 

On to the music. The soundtrack to "The Fault in Our Stars" does not disappoint. It features some of the gods and goddesses of today's indie/emo scene, including M83, Birdy, STRFKR, Grouplove, Lykke Li, Ray LaMontagne and Ed Sheeran. Here are my favorites from the film:

"Boom Clap" by Charli XCX (featured on the film's trailer)

"Simple As This" by Jake Bugg

"Not About Angels" by Birdy

"All of the Stars" by Ed Sheeran

"All I Want" by Kodaline

"Long Way Down" by Tom Odell

"Without Words" by Ray LaMontagne

"Wait" by M83

For more on the film, visit the official website at 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

As Seen on TV

"COME BACK" - David O'Dowda

There's something simultaneously intriguing and infuriating about a man of mystery like David O'Dowda. About all I know of him is that he is Irish, hails from Manchester, and is absolutely adorable. I became enraptured with his haunting voice when I first saw FX's promo for its new show "Tyrant," and was instantly reminded of that Bon Iver/ James Vincent McMorrow sound I so adore.

"THIS YEAR" - Cooper

If you've watched even a moment of E! programming this month (right...I haven't either), you're by now familiar with the new promo for "Keeping Up With The Kardashians." Cooper (short for Kate Cooper) is no newbie to the indie music scene. In fact, she fronted an Aussie band called Iron On since 2002, recently going solo and releasing several singles including "Flood" and "Heaviest of Weights."

"YOU & ME" (Flume Remix) - Disclosure ft. Eliza Doolittle

If you haven't seen the Lacoste ad entitled "The Big Leap" that features the Flume Remix of Disclosure's "You & Me" yet, do yourself a favor and do so immediately. You've already heard of Disclosure thanks to the band's now top 40 hit "Latch" featuring Sam Smith. And since Disclosure is an electronic music duo (comprised of two English brothers), the two have similarly enlisted Eliza Doolittle's vocals on this track.

Monday, January 27, 2014

GRAMMY'S 2014: Great Expectations

My mom once told me that, if I can't say anything nice, I shouldn't say anything at all. Luckily, my mother has grown to accept my outspoken nature, because I (unfortunately) have very few compliments to pay the Recording Academy, and whoever else is responsible for last night's slumber party. Which do you want first - the good news or the bad? Okay, fine. 

The good news. LL Cool J is somewhat amusing and totally endearing again (as opposed to last year's "funeral" fiasco). He's so endearing, in fact, that he can insult Taylor Swift and provoke a high-five rather than a Kacey Musgraves stare-down. Performance-wise, John Legend reminded us all why he's no "ordinary people" during his performance of "All of Me." Hands down, the best of the night. We were also reminded why Pink is not just a Covergirl, but Superwoman. Yes - completely lame that her team couldn't come up with a new concept from last year's show (or her tours, for that matter); but no less amazing to see her sing live (and so, so well) while hanging upside down from a bed sheet. To then watch her flow effortlessly into "Just Give Me A Reason" with Nate Ruess, hitting her notes with such precision and ease, makes me wonder whether she has bionic lungs. 

Keith Urban may be "a little bit country," and Gary Clark Jr. may be "a little bit rock and roll;" but they're both insanely talented guitar players. And if your ears and eyes didn't perk up during their solo, you're, well, a little bit stupid. Carole King and Sara Bareilles were also a perfect match, with their mash-up of King's "Beautiful" and Bareilles' "Brave." 

Now for the bad news. It's become obvious that the Grammy's are trying WAY too hard to pair artists and mix genres in hopes of fabricating a "Grammy moment" or "make history." Yet, that's exactly what the Academy is accomplishing - a fabrication. It is painfully forced and contrived, robbing viewers of the organic experience one desires from a live show. The quintessential illustration of this awkwardness was Miranda Lambert and Billie Joe Armstrong's homage to Phil Everly with "When Will I Be Loved." The harmonies were fine and the song is a classic, but it just didn't work. The same can be said for Chicago and Robin Thicke (although I liked each of their performances individually) and Metallica and Lang Lang. Alternatively, I was pleased with the collaboration between Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar.

My biggest let-downs, by far, were Beyonce and Jay Z, and Lorde. Perhaps my great expectations are to blame. But what in the name of single ladies were Bey and her hub thinking by opening the show with "Drunk In Love?" Anything - I mean ANYTHING - would have been better than that, and I'm not even referring to the fact that they tried to procreate a sibling for Blue on national television. I suppose, in hindsight, it set the tone for a four-hour "What is going on?" moment. As for Lorde, meh. Epic disappointment. And while this is certainly not a fashion blog, I feel as though I'd lose credibility if I didn't at least acknowledge Katy Perry's witch costume. Did she buy it at Walgreen's? I mean, really. 

To end on a positive note, I'll say that I loved the Academy's use of amateur YouTube-esque covers to introduce nominees. I was also a huge fan of Kacey Musgraves, and it's not (entirely) because of her stank face. The most fun performance of the night was Pharell, Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder's rendition of "Get Lucky," despite its rocky start. Daft Punk's use of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and "Le Freak (Freak Out)" made the song even more infectious. It was the first time I saw everyone in the audience, old and young alike, get up on their feet and enjoy themselves. It even earned a peace sign from the ever-stylish Yoko Ono.