Starting the Conversation One Song at a Time

By pcsanchez7505

beigeflowers

Photo Courtesy of Olden Yolk/Pitch Perfect

I often say music is a powerful tool. It’s a catalyst to change and promotes healing, empowerment, happiness and so much more. It helps us cope with daily struggles and cherish beautiful moments. The power music carries is often on an intangible level, though, affecting us on an emotional level. There are some cases, however, where listening to or supporting music makes an immediate impact on society. Such is the case for the band Olden Yolk, spearheaded by musician Shane Butler.

Butler, also associated with psychedelic band Quilt, started Olden Yolk as another platform to explore and experiment with music as a means to express himself. His music has roots in traditional folk, but Butler expands on the classic features of this genre to push the limits of its characteristics to create something truly unique.

There is a lot of ambition in Butler’s work, and undoubtedly a lot of trial and error. In addition to creating new and interesting music, Butler also uses music to support better treatment of mental illness.

In his song “Beige Flowers,” released Feb. 9, Butler talks about his mother’s experience with mental illness. The song, he notes, was written in 2013 after an odd remark by his mother about her future death. Shortly after recording the song, Butler’s mother ended her own life after several months of depression, anxiety and hospitalization.

Butler admitted that he never imagined his mother would take her own life. He wrote that she was a strong and calm person who persevered through many struggles. But, like many in her position, she did not divulge the extent of her depression to others for fear of seeming weak.

In a personal statement on his Bandcamp page, Butler spoke about the stigmas surrounding mental illness. More often than not, we as a society don’t realize how detrimental mental illness can be until it’s too late. Those with mental illnesses aren’t told to be wary of symptoms such as individuals with physical diseases are, and the stigmas surrounding mental illness often portray those who suffer from it as weak or unable to deal with reality. Real progress for supporting mental health is often shrouded by secrecy and shame.

After his mother’s death, Butler shelved “Beige Flowers,” stating that it felt “too real” to release.

“But conversation is where real change can begin,” Butler wrote.

After four years, Butler has released his song with a powerful message and an even more powerful call to action. All proceeds from “Beige Flowers” will benefit the nonprofit organization Bring Change 2 Mind. This organization not only helps those with mental illness, but it also tackles the stigmas surrounding it.

By starting his own conversation about mental illness, Butler’s song highlights the tragedy of loss and the necessity to reach out to loved ones.

For more information about Butler, his mother or to listen to or purchase “Beige Flowers” visit Olden Yolk’s Bandcamp page at beigeflowers.bandcamp.com/releases.

Source:: Starting the Conversation One Song at a Time

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Five New Songs to Freedom

By pcsanchez7505

As we move into February we already have new music and the promise of several new albums to come out in the next few months. While some artists are using their music to make social commentary about current events, others are bringing us a much needed distraction. Both are equally as important, though. Here are five new songs from the past two months you many have missed, many of which are singles to upcoming new albums, and all of which come from Los Angeles bands.

5. “Lucid Dreams” by Cherry Glazerr:

What started four years ago with 15-year-old Clementine Creevy quickly turned into a force to be reckoned with. Creevy and her band Cherry Glazerr astounded critics with their high energy and tenacious spirit. “Lucid Dreams” is off their Jan. 20 album ‘Apocalipstick,’ a cheek-in-tongue album full of ferocious howls and self awareness.

4. “Pure Comedy” by Father John Misty:

Indulgent, sarcastic and lofty are adequate descriptions for singer/songwriter Father John Misty (AKA Josh Tillman), but with his new song “Pure Comedy” Misty gets a little more serious. He still manages to get carried away, ending the song with an over-the-top soulfulness. The majority of the song, though, is filled with modest chord changes and brutally honest remarks on politics, religion and societal norms. It’s not a song for everyone, and Misty will no doubt offend some people, but one has to commend him for speaking his mind all while making one hell of a song. His new album of the same title drops April 7.

3. “Show You the Way” by Thundercat:

Funk meets Motown in Thundercat’s modern sound, and “Show You the Way” is the newest example of it. Featuring the legendary Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, “Show You the Way” turns heads with its smooth and soulful sound, delighting and surprising fans. The new song is a single for Thundercat’s upcoming album, ‘Drunk,’ out Feb. 24.

2. “Orange Color Queen” by Ty Segall:

Punk rocker Ty Segall takes on a softer side with “Orange Color Queen,” a song written by Segall for his girlfriend. They psychedelic new tune is sweet, creative and heartfelt. It’s definitely a quieter and calmer sound than Segall’s debut album, but it resonates with fans nevertheless. “Orange Color Queen” precedes Segall’s sophomore album, which dropped Jan 27.

1. “Freedom is Free” by Chicano Batman:

On March 3, Chicano Batman will release ‘Freedom is Free,’ a politically charged album for the modern era. Their single of the same title is out now, and if this song is any indication to what the album will sound like, everyone should be very excited for March 3. Bringing R&B sound to the forefront of their music, the East LA band merges their unique style with a rich and soulful style adding to their already brilliant collection of work. “Freedom is Free” is smart, sharp and uplifting to say the least. It reigns as a punctuation mark for the band’s progression and commitment to stay in the moment and reflect on the lift around them. The band itself is full of young crooners who dress like a 50s do-op band (funky suit and bowtie combination). Their music is anything but old, though, and the band has a knack for innovating and mixing older genres to make them new again. Recently, the band even released their own version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” reinventing the song and adding Spanish lyrics to extend a friendly hand to all who have made America their home. In a time like this, their honesty and cautious hopefulness is much appreciated.

Source:: Five New Songs to Freedom

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‘Migration’ Marks a New Chapter for Bonobo’s Simon Green

By pcsanchez7505

bonobo_migration

Photo via Ninja Tune

UK producer Simon Green, better known by his stage name Bonobo, makes remarkable strides in his music with the release of ‘Migration.’ The 12-track album is proof of Green’s maturation in sound and concept, as he turns the dizzy and often incomplete feeling tunes of his past into full-fledged ideas.

That’s not to say Green’s past albums were bad. His 2013 album ‘The North Borders” had the potential to be something great had it not been for its lack of direction.

Consequently, Green’s previous ambitions of welding together slower electronica with more upbeat, experimental sounds didn’t quite stick. This time, however, all the pieces fit together to form his best work yet.

The album starts out with its title track. “Migration” is slow and haunting, with sparse vocals that hang above an interlacing melody.

“Break Apart” keeps the listener in a suspended stupor. There is a trance-like element, and Green rarely breaks apart from his slow wheeling concoction. He does however, transition into a more up tempo creation with “Outlier.” The lengthy song introduces new peaks in the album, waxing and waning from spurts of energy to relaxing lulls.

“Grains,” probably my favorite song off the track,” marks an interesting interlude in the album. It begins almost in a meditative chant. There are quivering instrumentals and transfixing vocals that cry out in the most subtle deviations. The song never wavers from its modern tantra, adding interesting texture to its counterparts.

The whole album comes together in fragments, like stained glass tiles making up a beautiful mosaic. Perhaps one of the album’s best features is its ability to transition from song to song. There are definite distinctions between each song, but the ending of one song fits perfectly with the beginning of the next. Even if the two songs are completely different in pace, it always seems like a natural transition.

Green’s use of vocals sprinkled throughout the album also makes it feel more complete. “No Reasons” is the best example of this venture. Guest vocalist Nick Murphy adds a new layer to the song bringing it out of electronica into a full blown pop song.

The album on a whole marks a crowning achievement in Green’s 15-year career. It draws upon the downtempo subgenera of electronica while still remaining open to the casual listener. It’s a beautiful piece that evokes a unique emotional response.

Bonobo is set to play Coachella this April, and though there are no confirmations on extra gigs, one can usually assume he will add more dates in smaller venues in between the desert festival’s two-weekend dates.

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New Shins Singles Bring More Anticipation Over Upcoming Album

By pcsanchez7505

It’s been a long, long road for the Shins so far. The American indie band has gone through a multitude of musicians to make up a talented, yet often changing line up. Through it all though, the band’s front man James Mercer continues to push on. Mercer, the group’s founding member, comes into the new year hoping to accomplish a goal he set for himself when he went into production of the Shins’ fourth studio album. While the album won’t be released until mid-March, the band premiered two singles last year and will perform at the Fox Theater in Pomona and the Observatory North Park in San Diego.

The music released last year marks the first singles in four years. The Shins’ last album, ‘Port of Morrow,’ came out in 2012. The band’s new album is gaining interest from fans and critics alike. Known for their dark sound, the new tracks still embody the cryptic allure of their older music. There is a new presence in the tracks however, a more experimental mood that expands on what the Shins are known for.

Inside the recording studio, Mercer noted that he and bandmates had a lot of room to not only try new things in their musical style, but experiment with the sound of each individual track. In the process of creating an album, the band recorded alternate versions of the same song.

“Name For You,” off the yet to be released album, is not as dark as their previous work. In fact, it’s a little pop-inspired with an upbeat tempo and a kooky music video to match.

“Dead Alive” on the other hand is more experimental than anything, with a beginning that sounds something like the beginning of an old horror movie.

The Shins will perform March 4 at the Fox Theater and March 6 and 7 at the Observatory North Park. You can hear both new tracks and find out about the band’s appearances in Southern California at theshins.com.

Source:: New Shins Singles Bring More Anticipation Over Upcoming Album

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Top 10 Albums of 2016

By pcsanchez7505

As we head into 2017, there is a lot to reflect on. Throughout 2016, we saw the passing of many talented, iconic and unique musicians. David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Glen Frey (The Eagles), Prince and Leonard Cohen were just a few of the wonderful voices we lost. We also saw a large collection of new records from new artists and experienced musicians. Before going into my top 10 for the year, I’d like to highlight a few artists who released an album this year that are worth checking out: ‘Heatherfield’ by Silver Torches; ‘Hey Marseilles’ by Hey Marseilles; ‘Home of the Brave’ by Young the Giant; ‘City Club’ by The Growlers; and ‘Do Hollywood’ by The Lemon Twigs.

Now, on to the top 10.

10. ‘Skeleton Tree’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: I can’t express enough how raw this album is. Nick Cave takes the pain of losing his son in a freak accident and turns it into something tangible and relatable. While the band had already started working on the album before the death of Cave’s son, ‘Skeleton Tree’ grew into a completely different entity after the tragic event. In the album, the lyrics hang over a somber melody like spoken word set to new live. Cave seems to submit to his intense emotions, and his often cryptic lyrics are given more meaning.

Essential Tracks: “Skeleton Tree” and “Rings of Saturn”

9. ‘Darkness and Light’ by John Legend: This album was nearly a homerun for John Legend. His mix of Gospel, Jazz and R&B sets him apart from other similar musicians, and the inclusion of guest singers such as Brittney Howard (Alabama Shakes) takes his music to new heights. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the dynamic between him and Howard on the title track, and the rest of the album marks a pivotal turn in Legend’s career. It’s not groundbreaking per say, but it’s damn good.

Essential Tracks: “Darkness and Light” and “Surefire”

8. ‘Good Grief’ by Lucius: This album came out in early March, and at the time I absolutely loved it. I still do. While it at first didn’t seem to compare to other albums that were technically better, I can’t deny the energy and special feeling I get when I listen to this album. It’s both everything and nothing at the same time and can jump from intense moments to calm reflections. The band itself wasn’t even on my radar until a love interest at the time made me a playlist with them on it. While that particular love interest fizzled, Lucius’ music stayed. Lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig have powerful vocals that intertwine and challenge each other in a beautiful way.

Essential Tracks: “Gone Insane” and “Dusty Trails”

7. ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ by The Last Shadow Puppets: The more I listen to this album the more I love it. Each listen brings new layers and new things to fawn over. The B-sides released over the past few months have made the album even more enjoyable. Alex Turner and Miles Kane don’t take themselves too seriously with this album, especially when performing it live, but the cool and collective feeling you get when you listen to ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ is undeniable.

Essential Tracks: “Sweet Dreams, TN” and “Aviation”

6. ‘Post Pop Depression’ by Iggy Pop: When your front man is legendary rock star Iggy Pop and you’re backed by three outstanding musicians from the last decade, you’re sure to hit gold. Pop, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) deliver a youthful and high energy album that is undeniably great. The band melts into a hot, liquid substance that oozes into your soul and takes over your mind. The results of which are pure bliss for the listener.

Essential Tracks: “Gardenia” and “Chocolate Drops”

5. ‘Freetown Sound’ by Blood Orange: It’s a little risky to make a long album, but artists are doing it more and more with great reception. Blood Orange’s ‘Freetown Sound’ is a 17-track album that doesn’t feel long at all. That is in part due to lead singer Dev Hynes’ social commentary in the album. ‘Freetown Sound’ is a record with purpose, a record with layers and a record that incorporates Hip Hop, Jazz, Blues and spoken word poetry. All elements came together in an organic way.

Essential Tracks: “By Ourselves” and “Best to You”

4. ‘You Want It Darker’ by Leonard Cohen: Leonard Cohen was just one of many artists who passed away this year. The 82-year-old singer/songwriter always had a knack for poetry and lyrics. His enigmatic personality was almost stifled by his stage fright, but Cohen was able to pull from his love of words to create a beautiful and long lasting career. ‘You Want it Darker’ is a swan song of an album that completes Cohen’s mountain of work. It’s honest, as Cohen always was, and isn’t a last attempt to create something great. Rather, it’s the final breath of a man who had so much to say.

Essential Tracks: “You Want it Darker” and “If I Didn’t Have Your Love”

3. ‘We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service’ by A Tribe Called Quest: After the death of member Phife Dawg, A Tribe Called Quest pulled through their loss to release an album that was truly sensational. The band retained all the uniqueness it had when it first started, and added to it contemporary commentary. ‘We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service’ is an outstanding piece of work that meshes together Hip Hop, Rap and some unlikely guests and samples.

Essential Tracks: “Solid Wall of Sound” and “We The People….”

2. ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ by Sturgill Simpson: Psychedelia and country aren’t two genres I would usually use to describe the same band, but Sturgill Simpson isn’t an ordinary musical collaboration. Simpson’s twist on country adds a psychedelic layer to the classic country storytelling of Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings – the latter of which he is often compared to. He does so in an effortless way, and uses personal experiences as the inspiration for his new album, which also includes a cover song of 90s Grunge band Nirvana. Simpson’s music is eclectic for sure, but it’s not inaccessible. ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ is witty, heartfelt and breathtaking.

Essential Tracks: “Sea Stories” and “Brace for Impact”

1. ‘Case/Lang/Veirs’ by Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs: In November I took a road trip to Oregon. As my partner and I were driving down Interstate Five through Oregon, the song “I-5” came on. I immediately knew that stretch of highway was what Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs were singing about. It was beautiful and complex, breathtaking and mysterious, much like ‘Case/Lang/Veirs.’ When I first heard this album, I was astounded by how pristine it sounded. The vocals of three talented female artists melted together into something rich, warm and inviting. Lang’s crooning voice hung over the chipper and spritely voices of Case and Veirs, and the lyrics were a work of art. It is a subtle album, but it’s powerful and breathtaking.

Essential Tracks: “Honey and Smoke” and “Song for Judee”

Source:: Top 10 Albums of 2016

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The Year’s Best Albums: Part two

By pcsanchez7505

January through March had some pretty great albums, and the streak continued into the second quarter of the year, particularly in April, where four of my favorite albums from that quarter were released. Now, it’s interesting to note the way we find music or new artists. Sometimes new discoveries are stumbled upon, while others take root from other bands we like. The best way, I think, is when you meet someone new who introduces you to something you really fall in love with. Whether the relationship or encounter was fleeting, the music stays.

5. ‘Lemonade’ by Beyoncé: Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of Beyoncé. I’ve admired her talent and acknowledge her strong presence in music, but I was never part of her diehard fans, though I do remember owning a HitClip of “Survivor” (you remember the mini boomboxes that came with little 30-second clips of popular songs) when I was younger . When ‘Lemonade’ dropped on April 23, it caught my attention more than any of her other albums, however. It was diverse, lyrically diverse and completely unapologetic. “What’s worse looking jealous or crazy? Jealous or Crazy? Or like, being walked all over lately, walked all over lately. I’d rather be crazy.” She spoke her mind and brushed off any and every stereotype about women she could think of.

4. ‘Stranger to Stranger’ by Paul Simon: One half of Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon that is, released an album June 3, and what an album it was. ‘Stranger to Stranger’ is a hodgepodge of sounds and tones. From his always prevailing maturity to a newfound humor, Simon crafts an aloof and interesting album hard to describe and even harder to pinpoint, both of which are a compliment to Simon. Although Simon has had some blundering albums in the past, ‘Stranger to Stranger’ does not fall into that category.

3. ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ by The Last Shadow Puppets: A side project of Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner and British musician Miles Kane, The Last Shadow Puppets are an allusive duo releasing albums on a whim and caring little for how people receive it, although, their two albums have been pretty well received. Almost eight years after their first release, Turner and Kane returned this year to release an album on April 1, a James Bond, strings infused nymph of an album. The duo makes it clear that they’re rock stars who lead sexy, unexpected lives full of excitement, and yes, sex. They pull it off though and make the listener feel just as cavalier.

2. ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ by Sturgill Simpson: There are many reasons why ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,’ released April 15, is one of my favorite albums of the year. Truthfully though, I almost never heard of Simpson. My discovery came after a plane ride from Portland to LAX where I had a surprising conversation with a fellow passenger. It was a beautiful discovery, and ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ came out just a month after that plane ride. The album itself is a wonderful journey. It’s personal, drawing from Simpson’s time abroad in the navy, and wonderfully crafted, Simpson’s unique voice layers over a multitude of instruments that span the sound of many genres. This album blew me away, and still does.

1. ‘Case/Lang/Veirs’ by Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs: “Wow, this is beautiful. What is it?” “It’s music, my dear.”Jokes aside, this was the response my partner gave me when I showed him the debut collaborative album by musicians Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs. ‘Case/Lang/Veirs,’ released in June is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of music this year. The three lovely singers lend their smooth vocals to songs that are sweet, coy and heartfelt. It’s an album that shines with experience, pulling from Lang’s long-lasting career, while still maintaining a quirky and innocent aura to it. While “Best Kept Secret” lightens the mood, “Honey and Smoke” exudes a beautiful and graceful demeanor. The album is a perfect concoction of grace, sincerity and wonder.

Source:: The Year’s Best Albums: Part two

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The Year’s Best Albums: Part One

By pcsanchez7505

As the year winds down I always find myself reflecting on the music released throughout the year. This year, the amount of new and interesting music crept out from every genre. From the psychedelic country mix of Sturgill Simpson to the innovative and retro styling of A Tribe Called Quest, there was new music to be found in every corner of the musical spectrum. As a way to pay homage to some of the best albums so far, I’m counting down the best albums quarter by quarter, leading up to a Top 10 of the year. So, without further ado, here are my top five albums from January through March.

5. ‘Is the Is Are’ by DIIV: Released on Feb. 5, DIIV’s ‘Is the Is Are’ isn’t the album front man Zachary Cole Smith promised. The album he promised was something completely different than the dreamy electro pop DIIV is known for. While it wasn’t the change fans were expecting, it was a beautiful and dark concept album distantly DIIV, that is unlike any other and very good. DIIV made an unusual demand on its listeners, packing their new record with 17 tracks. Their efforts don’t go unrewarded though, as the whole album is a collection of thoughtful indie rock.

4. ‘Black Star’ by David Bowie: On Jan. 8, David Bowie released ‘Black Star,’ his very last album. It was also his birthday. Two days later, the enigmatic singer passed away. In ‘Black Star,’ Bowie emits a radiance and sadness so relatable and impactful, it was easily felt even through its saturation of eccentricity. It sounded like nothing Bowie had ever done before, but it was nevertheless reflective of his fluidity as an artist and human being.

3.A Man Alive’ by Thao & the Get Down Stay Down: Thao & the Get Down Stay Down not only have an awesome name, they also make pretty great music. On March 4, the band released ‘A Man Alive,’ a fun, funky and unique album. Lined with more sounds and instruments than one can count, the album climbs to high peaks and swings to low valleys, all the while catering to Thao’s striking voice, proving Thao & the Get Down Stay Down are the spectacular outliers of indie-pop. ‘A Man Alive’ demonstrates everything doesn’t have to sound polished and dreamy to be a hit.

2. ‘untitled unmastered’ by Kendrick Lamar: Last year Kendrick Lamar’s album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ catapulted him into the limelight. People were amazed and astounded by Lamar’s ability to recite powerful and truthful lyrics. The music seemed almost secondary, a backdrop that changed with every cue of Lamar’s voice. The fame never fazed Lamar though, and he knew he had more to say. In ‘untitled unmastered’ Lamar continues his inner monologue, releasing songs that were written during ‘To Pimp a Butterfly,’ but never recorded. In these songs, Lamar manipulates his voice to convey his most personal thoughts and observations. While he often keeps his conversations to himself, he also invites other musicians to join in every now and then adding texture to his album.

1. ‘Post Pop Depression’ by Iggy Pop: While Bowie’s last album was mature and wise, if not older, Iggy Pop did quite the opposite. Pop, whose history is as colorful and risqué as one can get, harnessed all the vibrancy and raw power of his younger days in ‘Post Pop Depression,’ released March 18. It’s just as good as you would expect coming from Pop, and with the help of guitarist Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and drummer Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys), the album broke new ground and climbed to instant recognition.

Source:: The Year’s Best Albums: Part One

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Five Songs for Your Post-Election Blues

By pcsanchez7505

I’m not a very political person. I never have been, and doubt I ever will be. I do pay attention (for the most part) during important elections, and I’ve even volunteered at polling places before. I’ve only been old enough to vote in two elections, and I’ve cast my opinion into the sea of democracy each time. The American democracy, that is, is a system, although a precarious one, of checks and balances, or so I thought.

It’s not my intent to get too political, because this is a music column after all. I would like to say, however, that musicians, bands and artists of all kind have a unique voice, especially during times of political upset or confusion. Some musicians make music that reflect on very current and specific issues while others create timeless messages of hope or despair. Now, I’ve never been very political, but I’ve always turned to music to amplify reality or to bring me comfort. With the results of the latest presidential election in mind, here are a few songs, new and old, that I think capture the mood.

1. “Million Dollar Loan” by Death Cab for Cutie

“Million Dollar Loan” is one of 30 songs part of an artist coalition to speak out against the Trump Campaign. The song, released Oct. 10 by Death Cab for Cutie, a Seattle based band, talks about the apparent hypocrisy of Trump’s assertions that he is a “self-made man.” It was the first song in the project 30 Days, 30 Songs. The project featured other artists such as Josh Ritter, Thao Nguyen and Cold War Kids.

2. “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday

In 1939 when Billie Holiday first sang “Strange Fruit,” the bone-chilling subject matter of the lyrics astounded and shocked many. While society has come a long way from the racism and hate seen in 1939, there is still more work to be done.

3. “One Day” by Matisyahu

Matisyahu is one of those rare individuals who seem to transcend the melancholy attitude of many cynics. His humanity and goodness radiates through his music, and during times of despair, his voice rings out as a beacon of light. “One Day” calls upon the individual to make a better world through positive action.

4.”The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” Gil Scott Heron

Honestly, no matter who you voted for, rallied for or supported, this year’s election seemed more like a reality television show than an actual political and democratic exercise. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” released in 1970, is a strong statement and call to action. It is a song that advocates for progress outside of the living room. This song is especially poignant in today’s age where ratings, click bait and social media traffic are all that seem to matter.

5. “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye

No one said it better than Marvin Gaye in “What’s Going On.” Gaye wrote the song in response to brutality seen during anti-war protests, but the message of spreading love and nonviolence is universal. There will always be some sort of dissatisfaction with government, leaders, politics or the “system,” but how we react to it, and in turn how those in power react to us, is the ultimate catalyst for promoting change. It’s not an easy road we’re on, but with the right attitude it can hopefully lead to better things.

Source:: Five Songs for Your Post-Election Blues

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New Music Unfolds as Rachael Yamagata Wows L.A.

By pcsanchez7505

Earlier this year, singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata released a new album to eager fans. “Tightrope Walker” is an album years in the making – Yamagata spoke to me a few years ago about recording the album – and many of the tracks incorporate experimental sounds, an edgier approach and of course Yamagata’s cryptic and thoughtful lyrics.

During her performance Oct. 26 at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, Yamagata pulled out songs new and old to captivate fans in a mesmerizing performance.

“I know there’s a lot to do in Los Angeles on a Wednesday night, so thanks for choosing to spend it with this little Asian,” Yamagata said.

Yamagata and her band performed seamlessly. While her band mates stayed steady behind their respective instruments, Yamagata switched from keyboard player to guitarist to solo singer – an occasional dance move was thrown in every now and then.

In between songs, Yamagata transitioned to raconteur, regaling fans with stories about tour life and inspiration behind certain songs. Fans were especially amused by a story early on in her performance about a minor spiff after a show in Texas when two girls threw stones at the band’s tour bus.

“They had no respect for bus property,” Yamagata joked.

The night of course was focused on Yamagata’s powerful vocals and equally as impressive musical talent. New tracks such as “Tightrope Walker” and “Black Sheep” commanded a strong presence while older tracks such as “Be, Be Your Love” allowed the room to take on nostalgia.

Fans sang in unison with Yamagata, and throughout the night, many had smiles on their face. Yamagata’s welcoming presence and sincere nature transported fans from the bustling city of Los Angeles to a space that was tranquil, innocent and explorative.

Yamagata explained that many of her songs were written because of a particular life event or interaction with someone, and they were written to be related to. Everyone in the audience had a song to relate to, whether it was one of heartache, love or existential wonder.

Through her performance, Yamagata seemed to form a connection with her audience, and she allowed herself to be vulnerable and honest. Each song brought out a memory and intense emotion for Yamagata, and fans seemed to mirror her nostalgia.

The night was not just an emotional stroll through the park. Yamagata spent a lot of time working on her set to make sure the album translated well live and fans had the best experience possible. On stage you could see months of hard work come into fruition.

The night ended in a stroke of professional accuracy and candid sincerity.

To hear music from Rachael Yamagata, visit her website here.

Source:: New Music Unfolds as Rachael Yamagata Wows L.A.

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Foals talk about upcoming tour and taking a break

By pcsanchez7505

British band Foals have been nonstop since the release of their first album in 2007. The five-piece band consisting of vocalist and guitarist Yannis Philippakis, drummer and percussionist Jack Bevan, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith, bassist Walter Gervers and keyboardist Edwin Congreave has four albums under their belt and a reputation for putting on an exciting and high energy live show. After a year of touring with other bands and making a few festival stops, Foals began a headline tour this fall, with a few dates in Southern California. After the end of this year though, the band will take a six-month break to recuperate and relax. Before the start of their tour, Bevan took some time to answer a few questions about the band’s music and upcoming tour.

Q: Last year you released “What Went Down.” Have you been working on anything else since then besides touring?

A: No, we’ve just been so busy touring. As a band we’re not very good writing on the road. We’ve just had so many shows … so we’re looking forward to taking a bit of a break after we finish touring and then getting into writing later next year at some point.

Q: Yeah, I read earlier that you guys said you’d be taking a breather after December. How do you think you’ll adjust to a normal pace of life after so much touring?

A: I’m quite excited about the idea of taking a break. We’ve basically been going since we made “Antidotes” in 2007. Every time we finished touring for a record we’ve almost immediately started writing the next one, so yeah, it’s what we love, but at the same time, a lot of us have stuff we want to do that isn’t just band related. It’s going to be definitely quite weird to go for months without doing any sort of band related stuff. I think having that time will make us really focused and excited for when we do start playing again with each other.

Q: I’ve been to a couple of your shows in the past, and you guys have such an explosive live set. What drives such relentless energy?

A: It’s just what we love doing. It’s kind of what we’re used to. Like being a live band was the thing that we had way before making any records, so that’s kind of where we’re most at home. We love the studio as well, but like we’ve kind of been learning our way around it over the last four records. After all these years, coz’ we’ve got four records to pick from now, it’s really nice having four albums worth of songs to choose a set that can be really exciting, energetic and then also have lulls and stuff. I think we get really riled up before shows. It’s kind of the one point in the day where we have like a real release, coz’ a lot of the time being in a band you do end up sort of waiting around a lot and sort of traveling, so it’s quite stress relieving to go out there and bash on the drums for an hour and a half and kind of get into it.

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Q: After four albums and many years later, does it still surprise you how fans react to your music or live shows?

It’s always amazing, like I think it’s really exciting when you have a new record or when your record has just come out and you’re kind of seeing how the crowd reacts. It’s not always how we expect it, like sometimes one song will actually go down better than we thought it would or sometimes we’ll have one we think is gonna slay it and it doesn’t go down quite as well.

A: On stage, I know you’re behind the drums and Yannis is jumping somewhere, usually into the crowd – how do you balance each other’s stage presence?

You know what your role is on stage, and sometimes it’s like a dysfunctional family … but I think it’s great. We really do get ourselves into a sort of mindset before we go on stage. Beforehand, we’ll be sort of jumping up and down getting ourselves, like a sports warm up, punching each other on the shoulder. When Yannis is doing that stuff, it doesn’t ever feel like it’s inherently natural. I feel like he wants to connect with the crowd more than you can from just standing on stage and playing the guitar. And I feel the same. A lot of the time I’ll get up on my drum stool or whatever, and it’s just like little things you can do to feel it even more, that connection with the crowd.

Q: What do you want your fans to take away from your shows?

A: I hope they get out of it what we do, because we really enjoy being up there and playing. For me the dream would be for them to feel the way I felt when I used to see my favorite bands when I was a teenager. If I go and see my favorite bands now when I’m not on tour now, it’s a totally different experience you’re not thinking about in the same way when you’re on stage. You’re not analytical. You’re just enjoying it.

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Source:: Foals talk about upcoming tour and taking a break

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