Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Website!

Sorry for the delay in posts, but I have some good news to share! I have been 'hired' by two different websites: Examiner and The Silver Tongue. As I am required to write 3-4 articles a week for Examiner, most of my time has been spent there. Here comes the shameless plug...I get paid per hit so please click here and help me pay rent! Just kidding, sort of...

The Silver Tongue is a fabulous music blog website. This will be mainly my concert reviews and CD reviews. You can also find live reviews and CD reviews for the magazine I write for, Performer, at here.

So my bad if ya'll were looking to read something. But go to the websites (especially as I'll be predominately writing for them now. Thanks!

But that's just This Girl talking...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Best albums of the 90's part two

To respond to Jeff's comment on my last blog about GNR's Use Your Illusion I/II, I thought of that. I did. But I've had the discussion with people many times about which double album was better, GNR or Smashing Pumpkins. I will say that Pumpkins had a better album and it will take an entire new blog to cover this point so I won't go into it here. Hell, I owned GNR and not Pumpkins, but Mellon Collie was still a better album.

And now back to the list:

Green Day-Dookie
If you were between the ages of 12 and 52, you wore this album out in the mid-90's. Wore it out! It introduced punk to a whole new demographic who didn't listen to the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, or The Ramones. The trio re-invented punk into the pop mainstream and created chart topping hits, which is unheard of for the genre.

Weezer-Weezer (The Blue Album)
Just listen to the opening chords of the album from My Name is Jonas. The simple guitar licks going into a rocking movement of electricity and drums will change your life. Money back guarantee. Each song makes you wonder if it's rock n' roll, pop, indie, or at times even beach music. Every track is addicting and laced with easy to rhyme lyrics that will have you singing in the shower. Weezer made it cool to be the geeky college kid again.

Ok. You might want to know why it's not Nevermind. When you can take a hard core alternative pioneer and give them acoustic guitars and they still kick ass, you have a legend. They even took a David Bowie tune, The Man who Sold the World, unplugged it, slowed it down, and still made it work. The entire album is genius.

Alanis Morrisette-Jagged Little Pill
Now some of you might disagree with this, but I promise you that 8 out of 10 people on the street owned this album. Including your grandmother. Alanis Morrisette was a welcome reprieve to the sappy women singers of the decade. She made angry chick rock cool again, but also showed her vocal talent on the few almost acoustic songs on the album. Jagged Little Pill is one of the last albums to hear a girl rock out without the bubble gum studio tracks behind it.

But that's just This Girl talking...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Best albums of the 90

When I was younger, I used to think the folks who went to high school in the 80's and never really evolved in their music taste were lame. I said it, and now I feel bad about it. But back then, I thought that if you were still listening to Motley Crue or Journey is any sort of half-serious manner then you were just someone who refused to mesh with the times. Boy was I wrong. If my pre-teen self could see my iPod she would see these same bands she used to make fun of 15 years ago. But with all the satellite radio stations out there, I noticed that there are a few selected exclusively to playing 90's music. This makes me happy as I love 90's music and have now become the one person I used to make fun of back in the day.

Hip hop was better in the 90's. Rap was better in the 90's. I mean please, Biggie, TuPac, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre...the list can go on. Rock ruled. Live, Soul Asylum, Green Day...come on! Even indie rock was better with Matthew Sweet and Toad the Wet Sprocket breaking into the scene. So this got me thinking to some of the greatest albums of the 90's. Now mind you, this is my opinion and my musical taste doesn't venture much into country, classical, or heavy rap so it might look a bit slanted. But I don't especially care. Here are my picks.

Pearl Jam-Ten
This album is out of control good. Every song on the album can be listened to over and over again. When Eddie Vedder is singing about his long lost father in 'Alive' you can almost feel his confusion and sadness. But the song still rocks out. I dare you to name another band who can pull that off.

Counting Crows-August and Everything After
If you hear Adam Duritz on the radio today, you might change the channel. You've probably heard the same voice and inflection for years from this guy. But there is no doubt that in 1993 when AaEA came out, that you had never heard anything like this before. The lyrics that don't flow but still seem to make sense in a non-logical way. Take a second listen. It's awesome

Smashing Pumpkins-Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
This band just kicks ass. I'm sorry but they do. Siamese Dream was good, but nothing compared to an almost completely listenable double disk. That, my friends, is hard to do. To take a band with their own signature sound and make two disks of songs that all sound different from each other but can somehow stay cohesive is genius. Well done, Billy Corgan. We wish you the best of luck in New Millenium Obscurity.

*The list will continue soon with 3 more albums of the 90's that throw Paula Abdul under the bus.

But that just This Girl talking...

Copper Sails is the new sound for old school rock

Hiding Place by Virginia-based band Copper Sails brings the tangible sound that rock and roll has desperately been searching for. Listening to Copper Sails, you hear a cross of Switchfoot and Three Doors Down that swirls into the delight of rock and pop fans.

The first song on Hiding Place, which also happens to be the title track, forces a smile with its catchy beat and even catchier lyrics. “This is my hiding place,” declares lead singer Boomer Muth, but there is no hiding from the fact that the album is already off to a good start. On “Nobody Move”, quite possibly the most addictive song on Hiding Place, Copper Sails rely on overlapping vocal tricks and a stirring guitar sound to create a sing along song that makes you want to turn up the volume in your car.

While listening to tracks such as “Fool”, “Spinning”, and “Sleeping Giant” Jonathan Crawley plays the guitar with a hint of U2’s The Edge behind it. The electric echoes in the background bring a nostalgic appreciation to the new rock sound of Copper Sails. Crawley, and Jim Courtney provide superb back-up vocals to make a perfect harmony on tracks like “Reckless Motorist” and “Morning Comes Too Early”.
At some points in the album, the songwriting takes a rather non-sequitur turn in “Orange Peel” with lyrics like, “For each one that I see/is half a fool they want to be/picking through your meal/as if it was an orange peel.” However, the band jumps right back into their brilliance to continue on with the rest of the album.

In a world where studio sampling and voice-overs are controlling the radio dial, music lovers everywhere are thirsting for something true. Copper Sails is dynamic, and delivers a refreshing cocktail of one part rock, one part pop, garnished with unmistakable talent with Hiding Place. This is one band to keep an eye on and one album to make part of your collection for real music has found its way back onto the scene.

But that's just This Girl talking...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The waste of space that is American Idol

Ok. Let's be honest. Is there anything actually worse than American Idol? Now, I understand this is a family show and with the likes of Rock of Love and Nip/Tuck on TV, it's hard to find fun time programming for the little ones. However, this show is just terrible. And This Girl, is about to tell you why.

First off, it's humiliating to all those poor souls who think that they really can sing Edwin McCain songs better than the man himself. If I have to hear 'I'll Be' one more time, I'm going to start convulsing and spouting off lines from Dawson's Creek. There are some fools on the show who try to get their 15 minutes of William Hung fame by pretending that they are trying to sing, all the while knowing that Bananas the Chimp from the zoo has a better chance of making the show. But for arguments sake, let's say that the poor kid actually thinks that just because you know all the words it automatically makes you a good singer is seriously trying out. Do they have to show it on prime time? Is this what good TV is in today's world? Watching three, now four, judges curl the upper lip and use the word atrocious in every other sentence is not real. It's a cop out for those who have brains.

So when it gets announced that the Mariah Carey wannabe is going to Hollywood, nothing short of an epileptic seizure happens. The shaking, crying, foaming at the mouth...and now enough about the parents reactions, the kids are pretty excited, too! They have to know that they are getting makeovers on the show because no one in their right mind would show up for an audition with blue hair, a shirt with shoulder pads, leg/arm/wrist or any other kind of warmer, and furry boots. I'm sorry but it just wouldn't happen. Did they not get the 'it's proper to look professional' memo? I mean come on, do you really think you'll be taken seriously with a t-shirt that says 'Simon I will be Forever Your Girl' on it? The correct answer for any of those who have lost brain cells due to watching the show, is no.

Now we get to Hollywood, and all the choreographed riff raff start scrambling around the stage and trying to find out which is their better angle for TV. It doesn't really matter in the end because 9/10 of the contestants will get up there and sing their heart out, only to be told it was 'pitchy'. Whatever the hell that is. Nevertheless, it has ended up in modern day vernacular along with 'bootylicious'. I will tell you right now how every episode is going to go. Simon won't smile, Paula won't STOP smiling, Randy won't ever look directly at the contestant, and the new girl, well, she might just get fired for being worthless. After a few months of this endless cycle, the group is narrowed down to two singers. One is usually some crooner that the moms love, and the other is a wanna be pop sensation that the kids love. It never really matters who wins because both will get a record deal and the grand prize might as well be null and void.

Before you start throwing sharp objects my way, I'm not saying there aren't talented individuals to come from American Idol. Daughtry is pretty much a solid rock star with real talent, Jordin Sparks seems to be the real deal, and Leona Lewis who won Britain's version Pop Idol is a knockout sensation. I mean come on, have you heard her version of Run by Snow Patrol? It is the only remake from a pop star that I can say even competes with the perfection of the original. If you don't believe me then look up the live performance of the song on youtube, the one she did on Pop Idol. It will bring you to tears. But all in all, where have all the other great voices of our time(aka: Rueben Studdard, Fantasia, the grey haired one) gone? They wafted away on a cloud wondering how it's possible that Bo Bice made more money than them.

American Idol is mindless television at it's best. There is no substance and the only saving grace is that it introduces songs to a whole new genre of young music lovers, enticing them to look up the original on iTunes and decide that it's way better than what David Cook did on last night's episode. Stations would be better off going back to old school talent shows like Star Search, where the talent is pre-screened before hitting the stage. Please don't make us suffer anymore.

There is a reason I haven't even touched on Ryan Seacrest. I can't think about him for more than a minute and a half without throwing something and I happen to like my laptop.

And for the haters who want to know why such an Anti-American Idol fan knows all the names to contestants? My mom watches the show. So there.

But that's just This Girl talking...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coffee shops serve up more than than espresso these days

Ever since Phoebe serenaded her Friends at Central Perk with ‘Smelly Cat’, coffee shops and live music have gone hand in hand. Locally owned coffee shops such as Danneman’s, Aurora, Java Monkey, and Kavarna with their eclectic aesthetics and local musical acts bring a welcome reprieve to a city saturated with Starbuck’s. Coffee house performance spaces are making a comeback on the scene, especially with the increasing popularity of singer/songwriter and folk music. People can see true talent in a small venue and enjoy a chai tea and biscotti with their friends all in their own backyard. Areas such as Decatur, Virginia-Highlands, and the Old Fourth Ward are where many of these cafes call home.

“People just kind of come in and ask to play,” says Kate Pedrick, owner of Danneman’s Coffee in the Old Fourth Ward. “We don’t have a regular schedule of artists, but we do host several events such as Painters and Poets, Tango lessons on the first and third of every month, and Sunday Dinner.” explains Pedrick while making a latte. Sunday Dinner is like a jam session for local DJ’s, where they mix and sample their own, and each other’s, music.

“You’ll just be downstairs [during Painters and Poets] and all of a sudden you’ll hear this loud cheering from upstairs. It’s pretty crazy.” Pedrick says with a smile.

Danneman’s, a renovated old grocery store, has two levels. The Downstairs is a cozy space with couches and a few high top tables, while The Upstairs is where musicians take the stage on the charmingly worn hardwood floors. They even recently hosted a CitySearch event where Missy Gossip & the Secret Keepers was the in-house headliner.

While some places stick strictly to drip coffee and cappuccinos, others such as Kavarna in Decatur offer up friendly baristas, an expanded food menu, and a large selection of beer and wine when just a simple cup of joe won’t do. The stage in the front corner is large and inviting to any artist who is lucky enough to play on the Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights that the shop hosts entertainment. The art on the walls is a visual seizure, and will inspire even the most tone deaf and lyrically challenged shower singer to grab a guitar and take the stage.

As the days go on, every Atlanta neighborhood will surely have their share of quirky coffee houses with brilliant musical acts. The symbiotic relationship between musicians and coffee houses is strong and will only increase as performance spaces are being factored into the renovations of old buildings, and artists are being booked for bi-monthly or weekly appearances. In the end, everybody wins as local business stay busy, local artists gain new fans, and coffee shop patrons satisfy not just their caffeine fix, but enjoy a tasty treat for their musical sweet tooth.

But that's just This Girl talking...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back to square one...

So This Girl got some disturbing news yesterday. The magazine that I write for, Performer Magazine, is just another casualty of the failing economy. I received an e-mail yesterday stating the Performer will no longer exist in the southeast, which means that I am now writing for no one. This does not bode well for my dream of becoming a music journalist, you see. I have thought of my options, contacted a few people, and am not above grovelling to anyone reading this to give me a shot at writing for you. I will accept payment in dollars, Moe's lunches, or hugs. I was supposed to review a show last night and needless to say that didn't happen. I am keeping my fingers crossed that over the next year as things bottom out and then start back uphill in our economy, I will find something or somebody who needs a talented and enthusiastic writer (me for all those wondering) for their publication. Help!

But that's just This Girl talking...