Arctic Monkeys: ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’

By pcsanchez7505

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Arctic Monkeys played their first show in Los Angeles in over five years on May 5 at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

The month of May has been huge for Arctic Monkeys fans. The band began touring again, making a highly anticipated stop in Los Angeles, and on May 11, they dropped their sixth LP, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino.’

Even after a five year hiatus, frontman Alex Turner proves he still knows how to play us. And we know our parts well. On stage, he is the conductor. The slyly shy man who stands on the corner of Los Feliz turns into a larger than life ego, nothing shy of stardom. His band equally as grandiose.

Their return to the stage is hardly unnoticed — fans and critics alike have guessed what the new album would sound like and how their it will manifest itself on stage via Turner, drummer Matt Helders, bassist Nick O’ Malley and guitarist Jamie Cook — but Arctic Monkeys act like they never let off.

From “Arabella,” an intergalactic love affair to “The View from The Afternoon” — the song that sets off their debut LP — Arctic Monkeys made it seem like commanding the crowd of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery was just another night out.

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Arctic Monkeys will continue to tour and will back in Los Angeles in October.

As for the four new songs on the set, fans received them with an inquisitive excitement. The album itself sparked much anticipation, and since it dropped it has had mixed reviews.

Sonically, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ is very much a Turner production. The 32-year-old musician has been the source of the band’s lyrics since its inception, and there are still elements in the music well known to fans including bass heavy rhythms, but for the first time, Turner wrote the majority of songs on piano and co-produced the album.

Thematically, it is from another planet. It’s as much a concept album as it is an abstract stream of consciousness. Long winded and with little to no hooks, it is a Sci-Fi space oddity serving as the metaphor for our collective departure from reality. In it, the Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is one of the many new establishments in space for people to frequent, Turner and his band the lounge act making “easy money.”

‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ paints a dystopian, yet strangely familiar world, one in which world leaders are like pro wrestlers and human connection has a hard time competing with social media and artificial intelligence.

Turner drops references to social media, virtual reality and space exploration in the near future. He also pokes fun at his own journey as a musician and a public figure

“I just wanted to be one of the Strokes, now look at the mess you’ve made me make” Turner croons as he opens the album with a half-formed musing.

Turner also notes in a BBC interview that he wanted the new album to be centered around a place, much like some of his favorite albums that feel like a destination to go and visit for a while.

The world Turner creates is a bustling, humdrum of a society where the scenery is as foreign and ever changing as a Hollywood set. Turner’s inspiration for the album is in part sparked by thought provoking cinema, but he has his own say on things, weaving intricately structured talking points and criticism hidden in the layers of a astronomical verbiage.

Songs such as “Golden Trunks” and “American Sports” allude to political and social criticism while others including “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip” and “Batphone” take aim at our ever-growing dependence for validation via social media and technology.

In “Four Out of Five,” Turner goes deeper, referencing concepts such as the information action ratio and gentrification. The music video creates an alter-ego for Turner, one that promotes a reimagined lunar getaway while the real Turner plays the roguish lounge act who doesn’t want to be part of his boss’s advertising.

With lyrics that veer off in tangents, slower instrumentals, more piano and stripped guitar and drums, this album is a risky step for Arctic Monkeys. Their fifth album, ‘AM’ was a huge commercial success, and to follow it with a concept-heavy LP is ambitious to say the least.

The album has already stirred confusion from some fans and critics, mostly for its lack of conventional structure, which is not much of a surprise. Much like Terrence Malick’s film ‘Knight of Cups,’ an experimental drama with a loose plot line, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ gives little insight into its direction. We can’t predict where it goes and why, and that is always tough for a listener or viewer. But, like Malick, Turner released his work regardless of fan or critic expectations, and that in itself is a valuable addition to any art form.

Arctic Monkeys are a band that has always thrived on change, and ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is no different. Lyrics that were once rooted in a small Yorkshire town, now float off into space, still able to find their way into our psyche. Turner the band evoke a curiosity in their listeners, a curiosity that will always prompt an audience eager to hear where they go next.

As for their live performance, that has been, and always will be, spectacular.

Source:: Arctic Monkeys: ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’

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Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Damn’ makes Pulitzer Prize History

By pcsanchez7505

On Monday, April 16 Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar made music and Pulitzer Prize history by winning the prestiged award in the category of music for his 2017 album ‘Damn.’ With strong lyrics, well constructed instrumentals and various guest appearances, it’s easy to see why so many music fans and critics agree that ‘Damn’ is worth five Grammys and endless praise, but with a Pulitzer Prize, Lamar, 30, is now the first ever rapper to win the prestigious award.

‘Damn’ is a musical documentation of the struggles his community faces on a daily basis. The internal struggles of a community, the internal conflict of the self, racial commentary and current events all find a place in this album and intertwine to form a salient and candid collection of songs that ebb and flow with the realities of life. The album is also a reflection of Lamar himself and is filled with fragments of the rapper’s experiences, pieced together by the fabric of his community and roots.

Like N.W.A., Public Enemy and other classic rappers of the past, Lamar focuses a lot on racism, police brutality, gang violence and the political atmosphere, especially as it affects minorities and the communities they grow up in.

The Pulitzer Prize in the category of music has always been awarded to a classical or Jazz artist, making Lamar’s win not just a personal one, but also a victory for the genre of rap itself.

“A virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life,” the Pulitzer board wrote of Lamar’s album.

While I am not too fond of many current rap artists, I am an avid fan of Lamar and his poetic ferver. His music is reminiscent of classic hip hop and rap, and much like Ice Cube, a man who captured the “angry black man” psyche and gave it purpose by openly displaying it with pride and ferocity, Lamar has no hesitation in saying what many of his friends and peers are thinking. His openness is extremely important and valuable to the conversations of racial inequality and other hot social topics.

Lamar is not the first black rapper to use his platform to shed light on the perils of his community and his blackness. Ice Cube, Chuck D, Ice T and KRS-One are just a few artists who pioneered a genre of conscious rap that was politically and socially charged. Their sentiments are still as strong as ever and are even echoed today in Lamar’s music. The inclusion of poignant and complex topics in Lamar’s work and the recognition of it is not just a win for Lamar, but for all his predecessors.

Lamar’s win also opens up the Pulitzer Prize to different genres of music and helps legitimize the artistic struggle to speak freely and candidly for the sake of social commentary.

As a young, Mexican-American woman, who admittedly falls much paler on the skin tone chart than most of my relatives, I can’t relate to the experiences of Lamar or the black community, but because of his music, I and many others, have access to a perspective that quite frankly deserves to be heard and might not have been expressed so publicly otherwise. That in itself is worth more than any award.

Source:: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Damn’ makes Pulitzer Prize History

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Five New Singles You Need to Hear

By pcsanchez7505

If you’re pressed for more music to listen to this month, fear not, there are new singles out with albums following in the next few months. Here are five songs that are great previews to their upcoming albums.

5. “Steampowered Blues” by Phil Cook:

Released earlier this month, “Steampowered Blues” is a simple, bluesy tune that feels a little like an older song polished off with a heaping of modernity. It has a happy melody with upbeat lyrics that make the song feel like a lovely, sunlit train ride down the coast. “Steampowered Blues” preludes Phill Cook’s upcoming album ‘People Are My Drug’ out June 1.

4. “Tailor Made” The Lemon Twigs:

Long Island natives The Lemon Twigs released two singles at the end of March with a new album in the works. One of those singles is “Tailor Made,” a 60s-pop inspired tune with Beatles-like harmonies and simple melodies. The Lemon Twigs are among a number of musicians opting for an older-but-new sound.

3. “Broke My Own” by Shannon Shaw:

This year singer Shannon Shaw (from Shannon Shaw and the Clams) will release her first solo album ‘Shannon in Nashville.’ “Broke My Own” is the first single off the new off the album, and listening to it is like peering through what you thought was a looking glass only to find it’s a kaleidoscope. There is more than meets the eye with this single and a lot to dissect within the mysterious and gritty number. The song teases with sultry vocals while still maintaining a sense of classiness. It has a James Bond feel to it, and if Amy Winehouse had ever written a spy song, it would have sounded a little like “Broke My Own,” Above all though, it feels like a song that has always been there, one that instantly sticks with you. Shaw’s new album, out June 8, is a very personal piece of work that is sure to be a soulful, 60s influenced journey.

2. “Honey Leak” Little Bird:

“Honey Leak” by Little Bird is off their recently released album of the same title. The song is a sultry ride for two with sensual lyrics and instrumentals that react to each other like water ripples traveling across a smooth surface.

1. Hunnybee by Unknown Mortal Orchestra:

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a psychadelic rock band from New Zealand, and if you haven’t heard of them yet, don’t feel too bad because I’ve only recently discovered them myself. Their single “Hunnybee” caught my attention though because of its smooth instrumentals. The song is not only fun to listen and dance to, but it makes for great pool lounging music as well.

Source:: Five New Singles You Need to Hear

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A Woman’s Month Playlist

By pcsanchez7505

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L.A. artist Bedouin

Last year I released a women’s only playlist for Women’s Month (celebrated nationally in March). This year, I’d like to preface the list by addressing a few things.

First, the amount of women speaking out about sexual abuse and gender inequality is truly refreshing and much needed. I applaud everyone who is sharing their stories and offering support to others.

However, in the wake of #metoo, it’s imperative to remind everyone that the goal for equality will not be achieved by extremities on either side, rather through a collective exchange of discussions void of identity politics.

Yes, we should not accept sexual abuse or inequalities of any kind, and yes, there is a huge gender inequality in the entertainment industry especially. But, we should also be wary not to throw caution to the wind.

There have been a lot of articles, a lot of names and a lot of ideas about what our society’s perspective on sex and dating should be, and what it currently is. Extreme comments and opinions have come from both sides, and in those extremities, confusion and fear cloud the problem solving process. Instead of unifying for a common goal, many have begun to break off into more extreme identity politics, creating an “if you’re not like me, you’re against me,” mentality. That is also wrong.

The Weinsteins of the world should be persecuted. They should be called out. They should face consequences. While there is no doubt our dating and sex culture is askew, we should not create an “us vs. them” scenario based on one how extreme your views are. We should strive to create a safer environment for all, and that’s not done by prosecuting every man and woman who does not think exactly like us.

With that out of the way, here are 8 songs (International Women’s Day is March 8) from women past to present whose voices we should listen to more.

8. “Tilted” by Christine and the Queens: French artist Christine and the Queens doesn’t have too much to say politically, but her music is catchy and creative. Christine sings in French and English, and many of her music videos include some Michael Jackson inspired choreography from Christine. “Tilted” is full of luscious beats and slick vocals.

DSC_3883.JPG7.“Until We Get There” by Lucius: This month Lucius released a new album consisting of acoustic covers and new music, titled ‘Nudes.’ Lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig are full of creativity and self expression on stage, and their music is an Indie-pop fan’s dream. The stripped down version of their song, “Until We Get There” is a great demonstration of the leading ladies’ ability to hone in on each other’s vocal energy and key into a communal sonic exchange.

6. “Doves in the Wind” by Sza:<span style="font-weight: 400;" Sza came out of left field for me last year. I had heard her name in the past, but was a little hesitant to listen because hip hop is not my favorite genre. But, when Sza released ‘CTRL,' I gave it my full attention and was pleasantly surprised. Sza is honest, daring at times and never bashful. “Doves in the Wind” is a candid and playful conversation about sex and romance, and how men and women differ.

5. “Summer Cold” by Bedouine: Listening to Azniv Korkejian’s debut album last year felt like I had accidentally stumbled into a sepia-toned time machine. It was a spoken word essay set to folk inspired, classic country infused melodies that spoke to the weary and wanderlust. It was a refreshing breeze that also brought along powerful songs such as “Summer Cold,” which in all honesty is the one melodic outlier in the album, and for good reason. Korkejian uses her new role as musician to speak about the atrocities happening in Syria, not from a political perspective, but as a Syrian-born immigrant saddened to see her homeland be destroyed.

4. “Come and Be a Winner” by Sharon Jones: Last year, ‘Soul of a Woman’ was released by Sharon Jones posthumously. The album was not a lamentation of Jones’ death, but rather a beautiful collection of songs that blossom into a pulsing vibrancy. “Come and Be a Winner” is a positive, upbeat and inspiring message to persevere and keep moving.

3. “Hunt You Down” by Kesha: Kesha’s first album since her legal battle with her former manager proved to be an interesting peak into Kesha’s newfound strength and past experiences. She addressed sexual abuse and toxic power dynamics, but through it all she still maintained a sense of humor. “Hunt You Down” is Kesha at her silliest and sharpest. Johnny Cash-esque start off the tune with Kesha yodeling in her lyrics. It’s a cute and open song about love with lots of humor.

2. “No Man Is Big Enough for My Arms” by Ibeyi: There is no mistaking what Ibeyi is talking about in their song “No Man is Big Enough for My Arms.” The song, off their latest album, references political leader Jennifer Clement’s poetic biography, “Window Basquiat,” and overlays sound bites of Michelle Obama’s speeches regarding the respect of women and girls. It is a powerful and poignant reminder to girls everywhere that they are worth something and deserve better.

1. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor: Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” became a disco anthem when it first came out, and has continued to speak to all who have had heartache or anyone who has ever felt taken advantage of or discriminated against. Gaynor’s vocals, the insistent melody and strong lyrics all evoke feelings of self-empowerment and a “can-do” attitude.

Source:: A Woman’s Month Playlist

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Franz Ferdinand craft mostly hits and some misses with new album

By pcsanchez7505

Indie rock band Franz Ferdinand take us up up and away on a slightly bumpy ride with their new album, ‘Always Ascending.’

Released Feb. 9. ‘Always Ascending’ is the fifth studio album for the Scottish band who danced their way into the hearts of indie fans with their 2004 hit “Take Me Out.”

Contrary to its name, ‘Always Ascending’ doesn’t take Franz Ferdinand to new heights, but is on par with the slinky indie rock they’ve cultivated, and like their last few albums, it’s a mixed bag.

The title track, “Always Ascending,” leads the album in the right direction, starting off slow, but quickly building into an eruption of effortless movement. Funky bass lines ebb and flow throughout, and lead singer Alex Kapranos ushers you into the lyrics with a devilish charisma.

‘Lazy Boy’ follows with an immediate jumping bass line paired with the slightly repetitive chorus, “I’m a lazy boy … I’m a lazy boy” Guitars quickly make their way into the picture, trading spotlights with the bass to create an infectious melody.

The third track, “Paper Cages” starts off on target but eventually becomes too stripped down. While the instrumentals drag on, the chorus saves the song with an interesting layer of vocals that makes the song flicker past us like frames in a roll of film

While most of the songs are good (a few are even great), several walk, or rather strut, the line that separates slow from boring.

Songs such as “The Academy Award” and “Hutch and Jim” are overly indulgent and border on being lackadaisical — for a band that is used to moving crowds and creating intricate, danceable songs, the aforementioned seem out of place even when compared to slower tunes from their past.

That’s not to take away from the album on a whole, and the songs that do strike a chord are often paired with snazzy lyrics.

“Journalism can change the world, and if you change the world then you can be happy,” Kapranos sings in “Lois Lane.”

Other songs including “Glimpse of Love” and “Feel the Love Go” are right on track with Franz Ferdinand’s pathos, oozing with synth and drenched in decadence. The latter is connected by fantastic transitions and a rather savvy sax solo.

Unfortunately, the album ends on a sour note. “Slow, Don’t Kill Me Slow” closes ‘Always Ascending’ with a lackluster fizzle.

‘Always Ascending’ is not the best album, but it’s altogether enjoyable, and while a few songs miss their mark, the songs that do hit are very strong and effortlessly transition into movement.

‘Always Ascending’ is available for purchase and streaming, and Franz Ferdinand will perform at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 15. For more info, visit their website.

Source:: Franz Ferdinand craft mostly hits and some misses with new album

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An Album Review: First Aid Kit’s ‘Ruins’

By pcsanchez7505

In their fourth studio album, Swedish folk duo First Aid Kid present a sweet view of reflection and refinement. In ‘Ruins,’ released Jan. 19, the band finds comfort in all its usual sweet spots while also demonstrating a progression in sound.

Much of the duo’s strength in this album lies in the songwriting and vocal prowess of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg. Their equally matched vocals intertwine and diverge in surprising and delightful ways, while their keenness for country and folk nostalgia do its part to reel you into their simple, yet unique sound.

“Rebel Heart,” the album’s opening track is slow, haunting and aloof. There is a hidden prowess to it that only ever feels alluded to. Still, it opens up nicely.

“It’s a Shame” is a nice compliment to “Rebel Heart.” Its lighter melody is carried by rolling drums and powerful vocals. There is an innocent optimism to the song, and though it is about distance, there is a feeling of progression not yet found, but right around the corner. There is pain in the lyrics, but it’s not bleak.

While the first two tracks do a good job of setting the pace of the album, “Fireworks” fizzles with less excitement and perspective. It’s not a terrible song, but it adds little in comparison to the other tracks.

First Aid Kit gets on track though, with “Postcard.” The song harbors a classic country vibe with more contemporary lyrics, proving that the band finds clarity in converging older sounds with a modern perspective.

Some songs miss their mark though, most notably the title track “Ruins” which runs aimlessly toward our psyche without ever really penetrating it. Moments of lackluster don’t take away from other songs though, and there are moments of pure lyrical genius.

“Well, a goodbye never seems finished/Just like these songs that I write/They hang aloft like stars in the night/But there’s nothing there but the illusion of a light,” the duo sings in “Distant Stars.”
The duality of having two lead singers also adds to the album. In songs such as

“To Live a Life,” there is an enjoyable cadence and pace to the lyrics led by lovely vocals. It’s an easy song to get lost in. “Hem of Her Dress” pushes the
band’s sound further from its center, and crescendos quite nicely.

Overall, ‘Ruins’ is an album of refinement. Its twangy sweet melodies floats along in a very pleasing way, and its lulls are easily forgotten. Though there isn’t a real change in direction for first Aid Kit, they prove that at the very least, they are consistent in their sound, and they are pretty damn good at it too.

Source:: An Album Review: First Aid Kit’s ‘Ruins’

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Top 10 Albums of 2017

By pcsanchez7505

2017 was a mixed bag for most people. While political climates became more temperamental and natural disasters seemed relentless, I can’t help but acknowledge the beautiful things that happened this year. For me, that includes all of the wonderful music released in 2017. I’ll dive right in with the top albums of 2017.

10. ‘Keepers’ by Cataldo: Seattle band Cataldo has been a constant favorite of mine for

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Cataldo at The Resident.

years. While the band’s line up changes from album to album, their quality music remains constant. Front man Eric Anderson orchestrates all of Cataldo’s music, chooses his bandmates from a hearty selection of friends and musicians and does it all with an understated coolness. Anderson’s latest vision comes in the form of ‘Keepers,’ released in late April. This quirky and sweet collection is a perfectly executed pop album with clever lyrics and saxophone solos that just won’t quit. Perfect for a day at the beach or a picnic with someone special, ‘Keepers’ easily melts hearts.

Essential tracks: “Little Heartbeat” and “Photograph”

9. ‘Poor David’s Almanack’ by David Rawlings: Singer/songwriter, guitarist and record producer David Rawlings is permanently cemented in the roots of American music, and his 2017 release, ‘Poor David’s Almanack’ is another cornerstone in a long and fruitful career. Rawling’s genius is spread across 10 songs, some that seem well drawn out and others that feel more candid. With backing vocals from Gillian Welch and many others, this album reaches a full and robust sound with beautiful instrumentals.

Essential Tracks: “Midnight Train” and “Guitar Man”

8: ‘DAMN’ by Kendrick Lamar: Compton native Kendrick Lamar seems to have seamlessly found his place amongst some of the best rappers in history. Lamar does so not by imitating what’s already been done, but by finding his own sound and cadence. His voice, a slightly nasally exclamation, hides layers of emotion that hit hard verse after verse, leaving fans with nothing but the truth.

Essential Tracks: “Humble” and “Element”

7. ‘Freedom is Free’ by Chicano Batman: East L.A. natives Chicano Batman have long

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Chicano Batman at the Pomona Glass House.

been known locally as a funkadelic and soulful act. Their rhythmic music incorporates their ethnic heritage as well as a collage of sounds from the past and present. Their high energy performances earned them a spot in my heart early on, but with the 2017 release of ‘Freedom is Free,’ the band showed us they have so much more to say and do. With songs about police brutality and the cost of freedom, Chicano Batman gave us an honest, but still optimistic view of the world they see.

Essential tracks: “Freedom is Free” and “The Taker Story”

6: ‘Hot Thoughts’ by Spoon: ‘Hot Thoughts’ by Spoon came out March 17, and I’m still reeling over how good it is. Spoon was always a band I respected, liked, but never loved. ‘Hot Thoughts’ changed that for me. The album resonates the same as when one sees a beautiful stained glass piece of art. Each song is its own fragmented component, beautiful on its own, but when carefully put together,creates a single image.

Essential Tracks: “Sit Next to Me” and “Shotgun”

5. ‘Bedouine’ by Bedouine: Azniv Korkejian’s release seemed to come

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from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Korkejian took up the stage name Bedouine and sent her songs gallivanting across genres and time periods. Her self-titled album is at times a perfect homage to classic country, and then it becomes softer and more folk-like. It ebbs and flows with precise and delicate movements and brings out a sentiment of nostalgia and wanderlust.

Essential Tracks: “One of These Days” and “Solitary Daughter”

4. ‘Soul of a Woman’ by Sharon Jones: Sharon Jones unfortunately passed away Nov. 18, 2016. Before her death, she was able to record her final album, ‘Soul of a Woman.’ Unlike other artists who used their final projects as a lamentation of their final breathes, Jones collected every ounce of energy she had to produce a soulful, joyous and beautiful album. Her final release also cemented her role as a soul artist and the music she nurtured and invigorated for decades.

Essential Tracks: “Sail On” and “Searching for a New Day”

3. ‘American Dream’ by LCD Soundsystem: LCD Soundsystem fans received in 2017 the album they had been waiting for for seven years thanks to the genius of frontman James Murphy. The album is highly danceable, eclectic and communal. It shakes and jives with an unhinged unity that comes to feverish high points and melodic lows. It all comes together though, like a dream with many plot points.

Essential Tracks: “Oh Baby” and “Tonite”

2. ‘God’s Problem Child’ by Willie Nelson: It’s strange to think of Willie Nelson as an 84-year-old man. When I think of Nelson, I imagine a spritely and well-meaning person in his youth, one with stories and laughter and troubles. The years keep rolling, and Nelson, even at an age where most would slow down, still continues to tell us stories. ‘God’s Problem Child’ released in April is the seventy-second studio album for Nelson, and even after that many releases in his lifetime, he still captivates us with his prose and instrumental talent.

Essential Tracks: “A Woman’s Love” and “It Gets Easier”

1. ‘Ash’ by Ibeyi: In September, French-Afro-Cuban duo Ibeyi released their sophomore album ‘Ash,’ that quickly garnered praise from critics and fans. The young twins who front the band extended their psyche into this new album and spread messages of love, life and equality. Musically it is fun, harrowing, young and wise. Certain tracks play to sisters Lisa-Kainde and Naiomi’s young demeanor, while others showcase their astonishing maturity. The album converges over three languages and becomes a beautiful display of culture, womanhood and solidarity.

Essential Tracks: “No Man is Big Enough for My Arms” and “Transmission/Michaelion”

Source:: Top 10 Albums of 2017

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Top Songs of 2017

By pcsanchez7505

It’s that time of year again – lists, lists and lists galore all filled with the best music of the year. In a few weeks, I’ll release my top 10 album list for 2017, but before that I’d like to start by picking my top 10 songs of the year. Artists featured in this list include local bands, international acts and musicians young and old. There has been a lot of great releases in all genres, so I’ve done my best to pick from a diverse group of artists.

10. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi

The song that swept summer, the rhythmic wonder and total anomaly for me, “Despacito” smoothly danced into the hearts and hips of millions this year, and I can’t deny that I have a sweet spot for the song myself. Singer Luis Fonsi and co. created the perfect storm. The song is sexy, but not overly sexual, it’s fun to dance to and sing to, but also somehow relaxing making a song to vibe to. All of these things contributed to the song’s popularity among all age groups and ethnicities – I myself have seen it used as part of dance exercise for elementary P.E. and for a special dance at a wedding.

9. “Oh Baby” by LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem is going to be on a lot of lists this year. The dreamy synth music that dances across ‘American Dream’ ranges from substance influenced dreams to allegoric nightmares. Both (and every song in between) move you to a feverish saunter as the music jives and shakes like a tantalizing mating call. “Oh Baby” contributes to the tarantella as a gothic romantic exploration. It’s the message you wrote in a fogged mirror, cryptic and fleeting, but impactful nevertheless.

8. “Favorite Song” by Sinkane

How can you not love a song called “Favorite Song?” Sudanese-American artist Sinkane merges a hodgepodge of sounds and genres to make catchy, up-tempo tunes destined to make you tap your toes. Anything from jazz, electronica to Sudanese pop is mixed together in Sinkane’s music making it enjoyable and somehow exotic. Plainly put, “Favorite Song” is a feel good tune that in the words of my partner, “makes you instantly want to roller disco.”

7. “Little Heartbeat” by Cataldo

Indie singer Eric Anderson always has a clear and imaginative vision for his albums, and he has a knack for making his music seem effortless. Earlier this year Anderson’s band Cataldo released ‘Keepers,’ an indie pop collection laced with a very Seattle strain of Americana. “Little Heartbeat” is definitely on the sweeter side of the album with its youthful innocence and bubblegum sound. It’s never cheesy though, and Anderson does a great job making a catchy an infectious song that stands out in a lineup of catchy tunes.

6. “Pure Comedy” by Father John Misty

Sometimes painted as a genius, other times a self-absorbed egomaniac, Father John Misty seems pleased to portray both portraits. Earlier this year, the singer released ‘Pure Comedy,’ tailored for no one and enjoyed by many. The best description for Father John Misty I think, is a dark and satirical bard, and “Pure Comedy” is the creation of such a man. The song sails into a slow and impassible storm, and we listen to it as it crashes with graceful tort. Surprisingly, it’s music to our ears.

5. ”Your Memory Has a Mind of Its Own” by Willie Nelson

Dust off your old cowboy boots, order a whiskey neat, sip and sit back; Willie will take care of the rest. Willie Nelson that is, that old outlaw cowboy country star who, like a fine liquor, keeps getting better with age. His recent album is full of vintage snapshots that capture the humor, genius and candor of Nelson. “Your Memory Has a Mind of Its Own” is a heartbreak tale, slow and somber and true to Nelson’s raconteur style. Like the memories you can’t forget, even the ones you desperately want to, this song is a moment in time, laid down by Nelson for us to enjoy.

4. “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar

Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar hit the world with another rebel rally album earlier this year when he released ‘DAMN.’ With this new album, Kendrick gave us grit, tenacity and one insanely catchy song. “Humble” is one that traps you in a luscious backdrop of drumbeats and somewhat nonsensical lyrics. While the album comes with a parental advisory tag for its adult language and content, I’ve seen people young and old and from all parts of the city shout out a, “Be humble … Sit down.”

3. “One of These Days” by Bedouine

Bedouine is easily my favorite breakout artist of the year. Her self-titled debut album is full of featherweight acoustic arrangements and lofty lyrics. “One of These Days” is a perfect breakdown of love and the endless thoughts that go along with it. Bedouine carries herself with a graceful confidence that translates easily into her music. “One of These Days” will make you feel young in experience and old in wisdom.

2. “Freedom Is Free” by Chicano Batman

East Los Angeles band Chicano Batman released ‘Freedom is Free’ earlier this year with its title track featured as a prominent singles. “Freedom is Free” speaks to the good in humanity and calls for equality, freedom and love for all. Chicano Batman’s Hispanic flare and soul inspired sound make the single a unique piece of work. Lead singer Bardo Martinez pierces through with a voice that’s hard to pin down, and the song shines in part from the band’s relentless vigor.

1. “Transmission/Michaelion” by Ibeyi

French band Ibeyi released one of my favorite albums this year. The band, fronted by French and Afro-Cuban twins Naiomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz, has a depth and richness to their sound, and the twins fill their music with an enticing texture of languages and lyrics. “Transmission/Michaelion” is a seven-minute release of emotion and consciousness. The song blooms over time and washes over its listener like waves. Exerts from Frida Kahlo’s diary are read in Spanish, and communal hymns ebb and flow in the song as it evolves over its seven-minute duration. If it ever were the perfect time to describe a song as “organic,” this would be the time.

Source:: Top Songs of 2017

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OK Go: A Visionary Concert Experience

By pcsanchez7505

Visual innovators OK Go played to a nearly sold out show on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the UCLA Royce Hall. The band, celebrating 19 years together, embarked on a family friendly music video and Q&A tour with a stop in Los Angeles.

OK Go synchronized their lively performance with 20 of their most popular music videos projected onto a large screen behind them. After every couple of songs, the band took a few minutes to answer questions from the audience. Fans young and old reveled in the chance to ask OK Go questions about their music, creative videos, personal life and more.

OK Go opened up with a brief introduction about their very first “music video” and how they formed. Throughout the night, they chronicled their growth as a band and as inquisitive science/visual art nerds by giving brief introductions to each music video. From dancing on treadmills to performing acrobatic moves in a zero gravity plane, the band and audience members delighted in the concert’s nostalgic mood.

True to their playful and quirky nature, the concert also included copious amounts of confetti and a surprise for the audience. Before the concert began, fans who had smart phones were asked to download a special app and to await further instructions. Halfway through their set, the band came out to play a song with musical bells. They then asked the audience to take out their phones and open the app. The app consisted of three buttons with a background that varied in color. When pressed, each button made a different sound, and corresponding colors were projected onto the screen. OK Go asked fans to press each button when it appeared on the screen. UCLA Royce Hall chimed with music as OK Go and fans played a song in unison.

At the end of the night, the band came on for an encore. With no more music videos to play, they ended the night with a cover of Blur’s “Song 2.” Fans under the age of 12 were invited on stage to “go bananas,” and one lucky fan was picked to play a one-stringed guitar with a capo so anyone playing it could effortlessly hit the right notes to the song’s main guitar riff.

The entire concert was truly a lively and unique experience for all. In addition to playing songs in sync with their music videos, OK Go performed dance numbers and even made special instruments to mimic the sounds in some of their music videos.

Throughout the night, the band encouraged fans to be themselves and to explore their interests with fervent curiosity.

“We celebrate diversity here,” said Damian Kulash, the band’s singer.

OK Go’s positive and humorous demeanor made the night enjoyable for fans of all ages, and their recent tour seems to be an ode to all the fun they’ve had as a band over the years and as a thank you to their supporters.

Source:: OK Go: A Visionary Concert Experience

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Fotos Y Recuerdos: Google and fans remember a Tejano Queen

By pcsanchez7505

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If you used Google earlier this week you might have noticed a short video on the company’s search engine page. You might have clicked it, and if you’re like me and many others, you probably smiled immediately as the tune “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” began, and the story of a young woman played out in colorful vivacity.

The short video is an animated biopic of the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez. It is a collaboration started by Google’s Marketing, Partnerships, & Licensing Lead Perla Campos and celebrates the singer’s life, tragically cut short in the mid-90s. Fans around the world still consider Selena, “La Reina” or the Queen of Tejano music.

I truly believe the importance of Selena Quintanilla-Perez is not celebrated enough, so thank you Google for honoring the life of a beloved and underrated musician who helped to empower young women and break the mold of a very male dominated music scene.

Art work from the Selena museum in Corpus Christi, Texas

Selena began singing at an early age. Her father, a musician in his youth, saw the potential of his daughter even at a young age. Early in their career, Selena and her band, Selena Y Los Dinos, played at restaurants, quincenieras, weddings and small carnivals. In the early 90s, Tejano music was still a male-oriented genre, and their band had trouble booking certain venues and often times were paid less than other acts because Selena was a woman.

Still, they persevered. Selena’s bubbly personality gave the genre a much needed feminine flair, while her brother, A.B., wrote new songs for the band that opened up the Hispanic/Western sound of Tejano music to other genres. Songs such as “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” “Techno Cumbia” and “El Chico Del Apartamento 512” sent fans to their feet, while others such as “Como La Flor” and “Amor Prohibido” were fan favorites to sing along to. Soon, it didn’t matter that Selena was a woman. People loved her and her music.

As a Mexican-American artist, Selena was often reminded of her responsibility to relate to both cultures. She had a huge fan base in Mexico and in the United States and found a way to embrace both sides of her heritage through her music and warm personality. She sang primarily in Spanish, and later in her career she worked on her first “crossover” album with songs in English. Her love for fashion culminated on stage in personally designed chic Western attire that incorporated Hispanic elements and popular fashion of 80s-90s.

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A statue of the singer in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Selena’s true lasting impact lies not only in her music, but in her devotion to being a good person. She served as a wonderful role model for girls and young people everywhere. She gave girls the inspiration to follow their dreams, believed heavily in education and was a huge representative for the Mexican-American demographic and Latinx generation. She made it OK for young girls and multicultural people to feel comfortable with themselves because she was always comfortable with who she was.

Sadly, Selena’s life was cut short at the age of 23 when she was murdered by a disgruntled employee who was caught embezzling money from Selena’s fan club and fashion business. The shock of her murder sent fans reeling, and more than two decades later, we still keep her music and legacy close to our hearts.

Over a decade ago Selena Quintanilla-Perez fell into my family’s life in a big way. It was around that time when my youngest brother, then four, fell in love with Selena.

For what seemed like a year straight, he’d watch the Selena movie (starring Jennifer Lopez) and a DVD recording of Selena’s last concert on a near daily basis. He knew all the songs. He danced and sang along. He even found a small audience during a family trip to Disneyworld – the amusement park played “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” and my baby brother took to an empty stage to sing and dance along. Earlier this week my dad mentioned how my brother ran down the stairs to show him the video Google posted and the Selena gallery that accompanies it.

For me and my family, Selena’s music is emblematic of the love a family shares. For others, she is a celebration of culture, a symbol of feminism and a seminal figure among musicians. Her stamp on Mexican-American pop culture is undeniable, and her music reaches people around the world. Google’s new video and gallery of Selena is a heartfelt tribute to the late singer and her fans.

It’s important, I think, to understand the resonance of a person like Selena. It’s important to be reminded that the celebration of life and acceptance of others is imperative to making the world a better place. For the short time that she was here, Selena used her talents to better the lives of her fans, family and friends, and she will always be remembered as the Queen of Tejano music.

Bonus Photos: A few snaps of my family at Fiesta De La Flor, an annual celebration of the life and music of Selena Quintanilla-Perez held in Corpus Christi, Texas!

Source:: Fotos Y Recuerdos: Google and fans remember a Tejano Queen

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