The Horrible Crowes – Elsie Review (w/ Bonus Track DL)

6 09 2011


Tracklist:

1) Last Rites
2) Sugar
3) Behold The Hurricane
4) I Witnessed a Crime
5) Go Tell Everybody
6) Cherry Blossoms
7) Ladykiller
8 ) Crush
9) Mary Ann
10) Black Betty and the Moon
11) Blood Loss
12) I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together
13) Joey (Bonus Track)(Concrete Blonde Cover) DL Link: 
http://hulkshare.com/8cw2ap9tfpum

Link to purchase: iTunes
Link to purchase: Physical Copy

Photo Courtesy of Danny Clinch


The Horrible Crowes is a band formed by Brian Fallon, the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem, and his guitar tech Ian Perkins. This is a side project to keep Fallon occupied in the meantime before the fourth Gaslight record slated for release next year.

Fallon’s quest to the darker side of soul must have stirred up some old demons because Elsie is a haunting masterpiece. Admittedly I am a huge fan of all Fallon’s work so this review will be a little biased. While it’s easy to draw some similarities between this album and a Gaslight record, the new moniker gives Fallon the ability to experiment a little bit with some different sounds.

Last Rites opens the album like the soundtrack to a funeral and is followed beautifully by Sugar, a somber tale of lost love. The first two tracks really set the tone for the rest of the record as it becomes apparent that the lyrics are a bit more personal than Fallon’s previous work.

In a recent Alternative Press interview regarding Elsie Brian said of the songwriting “it’s like every breakup you’ve ever had, where you lose your mind. I wrote about a time in my life that I went through when I was younger. I really needed to get this out—and it was such a weird time, I couldn’t write about it through punk rock. I just couldn’t do it; it was too weird. When I was about 18 or 19, I literally went insane. I was an insane person. I just lost touch with reality. That stuff has always been kicking around in the back of my brain. I just called it up. I sat down at the table and had coffee with that guy, and I haven’t done that in 10 years. And we wrote a record.

The tempo of the album picks up on the third track and single Behold The Hurricane (the chilling video for which is featured above).  While lyrics like “I walk around these empty rooms. We once moved like the morning. Silhouettes they haunt this house like a memory haunts me now as if it were a dream.” are tough to swallow, there is a sense of hope in the music. I Witnessed A Crime is certainly a departure from anything Gaslights ever done, supported by a slide guitar and an organ this song has a uniquely entertaining sound to it.

The darker side of soul is in full effect on songs like Go Tell Everybody and Mary Ann. The chorus of the later plays like a gospel “Mary Ann, you don’t have to worry like themMary Ann, Jesus gonna be here soonPut your tiny hands inside my hand andOne more time for me, Mary Ann

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching part of the album comes on the song Cherry Blossoms when Fallon’s whisper turns to a heartfelt cry “See all I can do is think about you, And miss all your kisses like the spring, But if I had a sign, That one, day you’d be mine again, oh no, If I could hold you right then, As the chill in this season sputtered and spit and died with…” His delivery is so sincere that you can hear the anguish in his voice.

LadyKiller is a song that will sort of put you in a melodic trance. It starts out with some laughter and voices that create the atmosphere of a conversation being had at a social gathering. Fallon’s lyrical ability really shines on Black Betty & The Moon. With lines like “And I’ve been dreaming of poisonings from the venom of my enemies. Clever as the viper, dear, but gentle as a stampede of stones.” his metaphors create such vivid imagery.

While each song on the album is unique in its own right, the record is really meant to be played as a cohesive collection of music one song flowing into the next. This album is cold and dark and accompanies the onset of the Fall quite well. As Brian said “These songs are very dark; they’re like hymns for lonely people, it’s really a trip through a breakdown and that dissent into madness and hopefully redemption.” After listening to Elsie this statement certainly holds true.

Rating: 5/5

Here’s a download link to the bonus track Joey: 

http://hulkshare.com/8cw2ap9tfpum


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Nikki Jean Pennies In A Jar (2011) Review

8 08 2011

Nikki Jean Pennies In A Jar

Released on July 12, 2011
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Tracklist:

1. How To Unring a Bell (written by Thom Bell & Nikki Jean)
2. Steel & Feathers (Don’t Ever) (written by Bob Dylan & Nikki Jean)
3. La Di Da Di Da (written by Luigi Creatore & Nikki Jean)
4. My Love (written by Lamont Dozier & Nikki Jean)
5. Pennies In a Jar (written by Burt Bacharach & Nikki Jean)
6. What’s a Girl Supposed to Do? (written by Jeff Barry & Nikki Jean)
7. Rockaway (written by Carole King & Nikki Jean)
8. Million Star Motel (ft. Lupe Fiasco x Black Thought) (written by Bobby Braddock & Nikki Jean)
9. Patty Crash (written by Paul Williams & Nikki Jean)
10. China (written by Jimmy Webb & Nikki Jean)
11. Mercy Of Love (written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Nikki Jean)
12. Sex, Lies & Sunshine (written by Carly Simon & Nikki Jean)

The album can purchased here: iTunes or Amazon

You might remember Nikki Jean from her work with Lupe Fiasco on the track Hip Hop Saved My Life.
I had an opportunity to see Nikki Jean open for Mayer Hawthorne last year in Boston and I instantly became a fan. The girl has something special for sure. That’s why I’m so glad she finally got a chance to actually release this album after being dropped from Columbia Records last year.

Aside from being incredibly talented herself, Nikki Jean had an unheard of amount of star power to help on this album. The stars include such greats as Carole King, Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach, Black Thought, Lupe Fiasco, and Carly Simon.

Track By Track Review:

How To Unring A Bell – This is a nice way to open up the album. This song has a very cool sound to it without a lot of different sounds and Nikki’s chorus just sort of floats over the music flawlessly.

Steel And Feathers (Don’t Ever) – This song has a slower more folk sound to it. Not surprisingly this is the song Bob Dylan cowrote.

La Di Da Di Da – This is a great feel good song for the summer. The chorus just gets caught in your head.

My Love – This is a nice upbeat finger snapping track. The music definitely fits Nikki’s style very well and the result is a great song.

Pennies In A Jar – The song has an interesting sound to it. It almost sounds like it belongs in a musical.

Whats A Girl Supposed To Do – This is definitely one of the finer tracks on the album. I heard Nikki sing this live and you could tell it was a song she was very proud of.

Rockaway – Carole King’s help on this track is apparent right off the bat. You can almost imagine Carole King singing this song back in the day.

Million Star Motel (Feat Lupe Fiasco & Black Thought) – Having Lupe Fiasco on this album was a no brainer and Black Thought was just an added bonus. All three perform very nicely together.

Patty Crash – This is the type of song that sets Nikki apart from most of the other stuff coming out these days. Musically its a fun song, I think I even heard a Tuba in there.

China – A slower song with a unique sound and concept to it.

Mercy Of Love – Another slower song with a beautifully written chorus. This is one of my favorite songs on the album.

Sex, Lies and Sunshine – A great way to end the album on a high note.

This album has a real classic feel to it while remaining refreshingly new. I would definitely recommend checking out Pennies in a Jar. Nikki Jean’s a great artist with a lot of talent and a bright future.

Side note:

I was a little bummed the song Faithful didn’t make the album because I think it’s one of her best. Nikki told me via twitter that the song wasn’t eligible because it wasn’t a cowrite. Anyways here’s the song for anyone whose interested.





Mat Kearney Young Love (2011) Review (w/ Bonus Tracks DL)

1 08 2011

Mat Kearney Young Love

Release Date: 8/2/2011
Rating: 3 out of 5
Tracklist

01. Hey Mama
02. Ships In The Night
03. Count On Me
04. Sooner Or Later
05. Chasing The Light
06. Learning To Love Again
07. Down
08. She Got The Honey
09. Young Dumb And In Love
10. Rochester

The album can be purchased here: iTunes

Bonus Tracks:
Seventeen
Two Hearts
Head Or Your Heart
Virginia Is For Lovers
Hawthorne

Bonus Tracks Download Link

Not surprisingly the inspiration for Mat’s third studio album, Young Love, was his recent marriage. There are some really cool pictures of the wedding, which took place in Franklin, TN. As a result of Mat’s recent good fortune, the album has a very upbeat happy-go-lucky sound to it. This is in stark contrast to the Nothing Left To Lose sound of man traveling the country desperately seeking answers to questions unknown. On this album it sounds like Mat’s got it all figured out.

The album opens up with the first single off the album, Hey Mama. A catchy foot-stomper that Mat allegedly wrote in his apartment after the jubilation of his first date with his now wife Annie.

The next track, Ships In The Night, is a welcomed return to Mat’s acoustic rap style that originally got me hooked on his music. The third track, Count On Me, follows in the footsteps of Hey Mama with the accompaniment of a child choir, but is a little too poppy for my liking.

Sooner or Later and Chasing the Light are both solid middle of the album type songs that any Mat Kearney fan will enjoy. For me though the shining spot on the album is the 6th song Learning To Love. A sincere heartfelt track that instantly resonated with me from the opening line “Your poker face ain’t fooling nobody.” Next up is another beat poetry style track called Down that is reminiscent of early Mat songs like Tomorrow and Undeniable.

Mat’s declaration of love and happiness continues with She Got The Honey and Young Dumb And In Love. The album concludes nicely with Rochester, a song where Mat bares his soul about his troubled relationship with his father.

Overall the albums OK. Mat’s attempt at mainstream pop appeal seems a little forced at times and with only 10 tracks there’s not enough left to pick up the slack.

My favorite tracks are:

Learning To Love
Down
Ships In The Night
Chasing The Light
Sooner Or Later

I was a little upset the song Goodnight Elizabeth never made the album. This was a song from the City Of Black & White era that never got released. All I have is a recording of an acoustic version of the song Mat did a while back. Here it is for anyone whose interested.

Mat Kearney – Goodnight Elizabeth

Here is a link to the Bonus Tracks: Download Link





Sounds of Summer (Updated)

22 07 2011

There’s nothing better than a nice summer day with some good music and some good company. So I decided to throw together a playlist of some of my favorite summer tracks.

For your convenience I’ve added a download link to the bottom of the post in case anyone interested.

Without further ado lets get started:

Donavon Frankenreiter – Your Heart

Surfer with guitar + mariachi band = good song

Don’t let the name fool you. Donavon Frankenreiter’s Your Heart will get any summer day off to a good start. A little fun fact for you, Donavon and Jack Johnson became good friends after he rented a room from Jack’s parents.

Airborne Toxic Event – Changing

This is a great way to get the party started here. This song just makes people want to clap their hands, stomp their feet and clank some beers.

Corinne Bailey Rae – Is This Love (Bob Marley Cover)

Not too many people could do this song justice but I just love her voice.

Damato – Angels

This is one of those songs that you here once and just instantly fall in love with. I’m shocked that this isn’t being played on every radio station all day long.

Regina Spektor – Fidelity

I know the hipsters probably hate the fact that Regina Spektor made a song like this, but its nothing short of addicting, even to us ‘normal’ folk.

Zach Deputy – A Little Bit Of You

This is feel good music right here. My sister put me onto this guy and I’m glad she did because he’s legit.

Mayer Hawthorne – No Strings

If you don’t know of Mayer Hawthorne yet, you need to get familiar because this guy is so smooth. Its like Buddy Holly and Diana Ross had a baby.

Newton Faulkner – I Need Something 

Newton Faulkner is crazy talented with the guitar and has a great voice too. My only gripe is that this song isn’t long enough. At 2 minutes and 56 seconds you find yourself just wanting more. Ah well you can just run it back as needed.

Phoenix – Girlfriend

This song may stick out like a sore thumb, but its a good song none the less and it puts me in a good mood.

Jon Butler Trio – Better Than

There isn’t much better than listening to this song on a nice summer day.

Third Eye Blind – Bonfire

Lets get something out of the way right now. I have an unhealthy obsession with Third Eye Blind. This is despite the fact that Stephan Jenkins is probably the worlds biggest douche, they make great music.

Radical Something – Be Easy ft. Kinetics 

I’m expecting big things out of these guys. Loggy and Kinetics kick some nice rhymes over this laid back beat and Josh Cocktail just puts you to bed in a hammock on the chorus.

City & Colour – The Girl 

Beautiful song here. One of my all time favorites. Dallas Green has such a haunting voice that it gives me chills.

Plain White T’s – Rhythm Of Love 

I’m sure anyone who listens to the radio on a regular basis is probably sick of this song by now, but I don’t listen to the radio so I still love hearing this song on a nice day. Not too mention I just watched No Strings Attached and this song played at the end so I decided to throw it on here.

Graham Colton – Pacific Coast Eyes

I’ve been listening to Graham Colton’s music for a while now and he’s actually a really cool guy if you ever get the chance to meet him in person. This is a song of new album that just came out earlier this year and is quite fitting for summertime.

Jack’s Mannequin – Holiday From Real

Though they didn’t make a video for this song, I’m not sure its necessary because lead singer Andrew Mcmahon paints the picture perfectly through his lyrics.

*Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

How could I forget this song? Perfect summer jam right here and a great way to end the Sounds of Summer playlist.

Updated: As promised here is the download link for the playlist: Sounds of Summer

Feel free to recommend any additions in the comments.

 

 

 

 





If You Blog It They Will Come

11 07 2011

After successfully reaching the end of the internet on my job hunt, I decided to revive this short-lived/long-forgotten blog. I figure if I write things like “the most sought-after influential social media blogger” I’ll pop up in an employer’s search results on Google and get hired immediately. The truth is this job hunt thing is not all its cracked up to be. I just finished up my MBA and all the celebrating and excitement was quickly overshadowed by the massive looming student loan debt I incurred and the near overdraft status of my bank account.

The good news is this will give me a chance to write about some things that interest me. These things may include music, sports, mobile technology, marketing, and whatever else. I’ve decided not to limit myself. The sky’s the limit as they say.





Silly Bandz Are All The Rage But Lets All Act Our Age

17 08 2010

This Silly Bandz thing has taken the world by storm. Normally I don’t hear about the latest kid trends because I don’t really keep my ear to the tire swing if you know what I mean? But the second I start seeing these mutated rubber bands on my own friends thats when I start to pay attention.

Unless you’ve been living in Mel Gibson’s basement for the last couple of months are sure you are all familiar with this latest craze. My question is though where did it come from? And how the hell did it become acceptable for grown men to be wearing these things?

In order to get to the bottom of this I did what any educated man does and checked wikipedia (The source for any information accurate or inaccurate). According to the almighty source of wisdom: “Silly Bandz are a brand of silicone rubber bands formed into shapes including animals, objects, and letters. They are distributed by BCP Imports and are normally worn as bracelets.” Good luck keeping the IP of that product intact. I saw some guy on Boylston set up Silly Bandz stand with some markers and a bag of rubber bands.

The story goes that this Japanese design team was looking for a more environmentally friendly rubber band. Then Robert Croak, the owner of BCP Imports (distributor of livestrong wristbands), saw the bands on a business trip and decided to repackage them as a kids fashion item.

Things like this are just supposed to sit in kids corner of the local 7-11 and collect dust, so how did it catch on? Well for one celebrities help the cause, but that can’t be the only reason. I caught my older brother wearing some Silly Bandz and asked him why. He made up some story about his girlfriend’s niece giving them to him as a gift and not wanting to upset her. Well we all know that wasn’t true.

Now the bands are being banned by elementary school’s all over the country. Reminds me of the Slap Bracelet Conspiracy back in ’91. Remember that? Those were the coolest thing since bagged milk. That was until someone supposedly got slap braceleted to death.  That only brought the scene underground though. Kids were making lunch money for days selling bootlegged Slap Bracelets under the monkey bars.

And remember Pogs? Who could forget that madness? I guess I’m not surprised that Silly Bandz have caught on I just don’t understand how it caught on with the adults. I mean I don’t think you’d see Tom Cruise playing Pogs in the 90’s or Whitney Houston wearing a Slap Bracelet, but who knows?

The one thing I do know is, while Robert Croak has a 10 year plan for Silly Bandz, he might want to ease off the production a little bit. Kids get bored quick and those Silly Bandz will end up as mom’s hair ties faster than you can say Beanie Baby.





Crowdsourcing Was It Only A Matter Of Time?

28 06 2010

As you may or may not know, Open Runway is going to take full advantage of this crowdsourcing movement and allow its shoppers the opportunity to decide what’s fashionable. In addition to the ability to create custom shoes, shoppers will be able to vote for the shoe designs they feel should be put into production. Essentially giving the crowd the ability to determine whats hot and whats not.

Crowdsourcing by definition is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call. In this case taking the decision making power away from large department stores and allowing the shoppers to decide democratically what they would want to buy. That’s the whole idea behind Join The Fashionocracy; its about letting everyone have a say in what’s fashionable.

To me it seems like this whole movement has been a long time coming. I rarely buy anything on-line these days without looking at a product rating and reading a number of customer reviews. Amazon.com is a great example of why this system works so well. They have a ton of vendors who all sell a ton of products, but the customer reviews help to ensure that you know exactly what your getting.

Now, the system isn’t always perfect. On iTunes for example, the new Miley Cyrus album will inevitably have thousands of adoring fans automatically rating it with 5 stars. I suppose it is possible Miley did actually put together a solid album deserving of 5 stars, I mean there is a guy in Virginia who was struck by lightning 7 times, but you get my point.

Anyways, crowdsourcing is the way of the future and I think more big retailers need to realize this before its too late. This is a buyers market and its time for the buyers to be heard.

-Jeff








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