A Family Affair: The Weepies

29 Jun

WEEPIES There was a rule in the Tannen home that, according to Greg, little brother of Steve who is one of the tag-team duo that is the Weepies, every child had to pick up an instrument and learn it – no drums though.

That’s one way to engender a musically-inclined family, and this penchant for music has sparked the career of both Tannens, who, this past Saturday, depicted these musical talents at Town Hall in NYC in front of what seemed like 1,000 of their closest family and friends. In celebration of the Weepies’ first album in five years, the band teamed up with Greg Tannen, who opened for the married duo – Steve and his wife Deb Talan – to put together a jam-packed, “two days” of music – according to Steve.

Ok, it may have not run for two days, but the band did play around 30 songs, inflecting their sweet married badinage in between tracks, establishing the soothing feel that we were all actually in their living room, minus the crying kids! That is what made the concert so delightful. It was such a warm, personal environment. I almost felt like taking off my shoes and putting my feet up; although, I’m sure the people in front would have not liked that. Throughout the show, Steve and Deb picked out people in the crowd who they knew, and during the changeover from Greg’s opening act to the Weepies I heard numerous people by our seats talk about how they have known Deb and Steve for many years. To top it off, the Tannen parents were in the audience taking in the show. When I put family affair into the title of a post, I do not lie!

The music, though, is what made the show. The Weepies have always warmed the cockles of my heart’s ears. Let that imagery sink in for a second. Their dulcet 2-minute ditties are rich with soft acoustic melodies and effortless harmonies. Talan’s vocals are quirky and original, and they match well with Tannen’s more traditional, soft croon. The new material is a bit of a change of their early stuff, creating more instrument-rich music with some more complex sounds. It’s just nice to hear the Weepies making some more music. All in all, the concert made me smile, and isn’t that what a performance is often supposed to do. It was just enjoyable listening to the tunes, and the family aspect made the show that much more comfortable.

Let’s listen to a little live performance. Here are the Weepies performing “The World Spins Madly On,” which is the song that initially turned me on to the band, at the Oregon Zoo in 2011. Enjoy!

Something about the tilt of the earth tells me it’s summer

24 Jun

Summer songs! Become instantly intoxicated on fumes of fun with this here collection of songs. SPF 30 recommended for maximum enjoyment.

Flyte – Closer Together

“Closer Together” is a romantic take on wishing someone ‘bon voyage’ that turns the typical summer fling on its head. Both the guitar riffs and message contribute to its sweetness. This tune marks the return of Flyte from the confines of their studio, so there is surely more to come.

Find Flyte on: website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | tumblr

Lion’s Head – Firecracker

“Firecracker” has the title and attitude of a July tune, at least for me as an American. I would listen to this track on loop rather than those played out anthems during Fourth of July celebrations. Also, Lion’s Head sounds similar to Whilk and Misky, with their combination of acoustic guitar and drum machines that make anyone want to move his or her feet.

Find Lion’s Head on: website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Swiss Lips – U Got the Power

Swirling synths open this track up and though they can sometimes overshadow the main vocals, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. After all, they are the lifeblood of the song and the main force that has me tapping my toes.

Find Swiss Lips on: website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Jimmy and the Mirrors – Still I Fall

Those horns! How can you not want to dance in the warm moonlight with those trumpets tooting in the background?! Jimmy’s gruff voice gives this song a very Americana vibe, which is endearing unto itself. Pack a picnic to enjoy under the stars, and let this be your soundtrack.

Find Jimmy and the Mirrors on: website | Facebook | Twitter

Young Buffalo – My Place

A rhythmic song to rock ­gently to on your porch swing. The falsetto and polite percussion is what really sells “My Place” for me. Allow yourself to enjoy the breeze, you deserve it.

Find Young Buffalo on: website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Body of Songs: the Brain with Goldie

19 Jun

GoldieCurated by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Body of Songs is a project that explores the human body through music. The Music Court will profile each track in the compilation. The final four tracks will be announced this summer, and an album will follow. The concept is described best on their website:

“A collection of 10 songs by some of the UK’s most talented artists, inspired by the body’s organs.

Hidden from view, suctioned together in dark flesh, the organs are the core of our physical functioning, and our emotional and feeling world.

Each artist explores an organ with the help of experts, to find out how it works and unlock its mysteries and myths. Along the way they ask profound questions about their own lives; about illness and disease, and age and suffering.”

More information can be found at bodyofsongs.co.uk

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I’ll be honest, this was a tough one to write. The brain is all-but incomprehensible, so Goldie’s sonic take on it is just as hard to wrap my mind around. The song starts softly, and grows into a beast that takes on many forms. I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot really describe it. It is true to its name and becomes an abyss of synapses, firing from so many different angles, it is impossible to foresee the end. But of course it does eventually come to a close, meandering as mysteriously as it had at the start. Play it on loop, and it sounds like how reincarnation must feel.

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The Greatest Love Song – “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

17 Jun
Wonderful_Tonight_cover

That stache is endearing

Oh, Eric Clapton, how much I adore this song. What a perfect time for a seemingly random musical interlude from your faithful jester. You see, this blog has seen me meet many milestones, and this weekend another one will pass, one that is certainly more geared towards the message of Clapton’s song. I am getting married this weekend. Our first dance is “Wonderful Tonight” – my choice, of course.

So this blog post is my defense of Clapton’s masterpiece, which was written for Pattie Boyd. She provided inspiration to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton alike; we do have her to thank for some awesome music. Clapton wrote it in 1976 as he waited for her to get ready. Yes, that simple. And that is my first argument in favor of using Clapton’s song for my first dance. It is almost minimalistic in its sincere simplicity. The song’s ultimate message is that “you were wonderful tonight” and that night can be extrapolated out – even though things didn’t exactly work out for Clapton and Boyd. The song is a microcosm for a loving relationship, and its lyric is a testament to that fact; the song just always stuck to me because it is lovey without relying on mawkishness.

Argument 2 is the melody. The concise guitar whine that sits over a delicate rhythm, as if he wrote the melody with Boyd in mind as well. The song is sensuous without any lasciviousness, and that is not easy to do. The song drives forward methodically and is overwhelmingly enjoyable.

Argument 3 is sentimentality. I’ve been with my current fiance for many years, and it has always been out song – yes, this was entirely my doing, but I’ve always connected her to it and that is another reason I love it. All in all, “Wonderful Tonight” the perfect choice for the first dance, and I can’t wait to hear it as we take the dance floor this weekend.

Look out for more consistent posting over the summer!

 

 

Check Out These Summer Music Tours

12 Jun

Hey all. If you haven’t noticed, summer is right around the corner. It’s time for Music Court writer Beth Kelly to tell us a little about some tours you may want to check out over the summer.

outdoor_concert1

Across the country summer is the season for music tours, giving artists the opportunity to connect with their fans in towns throughout the U.S. and beyond. This year some of the biggest names in popular music are preparing to hit the road – even aging rockers AC/DC and the Rolling Stones are loading up their buses for another act. So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends and push your way to the front of the stage.

Ambivalent, indecisive, or unsure of who to see first? Here are a just a few of my suggestions:

  1. D’Angelo

This 7-date cross-country American tour starts in early June and closes with two dates at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Of course, the show itself stars the inimitable D’Angelo backed by his band The Vanguard, concentrating on material from last year’s critical success Black Messiah and his upcoming new album. The funk/soul singer songwriter is also a multi-instrumentalist whose versatility on stage, combined with his soulful voice and eclectic compositions, delivers the kind of unique performance you won’t find from anyone else.

  1. One Direction

The British/Irish pop supergroup is coming off of one of their strongest records yet, 2014’s Four, and their catalog has grown to encompass a large variety of rock styles, incorporating dance, punk, piano rock, and dubstep. Even without Zayn Malik, the boys from 1D remain one of the hottest touring acts in the business. Following their rapid rise to fame and enormously successful 2013 tour, as chronicled the film One Direction: This Is Us (check here for listings), the popsters are predicted to continue their streak of selling out even the largest auditoriums. This time around the group’s tour covers major cities in Europe, Canada, and the United States. Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop, who have also toured with Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, will be opening most of the dates.

  1. Death Cab for Cutie

These indie rockers from Washington have built a solid and varied discography, furnished with understated, emotional lyrics and lush instrumentals. More than partially responsible for pushing the prehistoric emo look on middle school malcontents, we all remember how important cardigans and thick-rimmed glasses were for the quiet boys with nice handwriting. Maybe your high school crush played “When Soul Meets Body” the time you drove in his mom’s Volvo to see Garden State at the local megaplex. Maybe Transatlanticism was the soundtrack to your first foray into obscure pin-collecting.

Either way, the crown princes of hipsterdom are back and ready to (gently) rock you all over again. In support of their recent release Kintsugi, the 5-piece ensemble will be playing over 50 dates in the US and Europe. There will be a variety of openers throughout the tour, including instrumental post-rock outfit Explosions in the Sky and recent R&B/New Wave sensation Twin Shadow.

  1. The Rolling Stones

Is it okay for grandfathers to look this good in leather pants? No time for questions, the Stones are on the road again and ready groove with music lovers of all ages. Mick and the lads have always been among of the most creative and exuberant of all arena rock acts, and this year’s tour will be no exception. Covering 15 major American cities from May to July, and pairing up with amazing and diverse openers like The Avett Brothers, Kid Rock, Grace Potter, and Ed Sheeran, this tour promises to be truly unforgettable. And if you’re worried about the Stones’ notoriously high ticket prices, you’re going to see a dip in ticket prices this time around – but unless you get in on a groupie pass, it’s still going to cost you.

  1. Jill Scott

Scott’s expansive upper range, along with her soulful fusion of spoken word and jazz, has made her one of the most original R&B acts around. Her 25 date US tour will be supported by up and coming crooner BJ the Chicago Kid, whose remarkable voice has landed him guest appearances on a slew of hip hop tracks with the likes of Warren G, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West. If you love great singing, don’t miss the chance to catch two of the best vocalists in the industry on this tour.

  1. Imagine Dragons

These Grammy winning alt-rockers from Las Vegas are hitting the road in support of their recent release Smoke + Mirrors. A powerful synthesis of rock, punk, metal, and electronica contributes to their expansive, high-impact sound. The Dragons will play nearly 100 dates between the US, Europe, Japan, Australia, and Russia, and will feature indie rock group Metric and singer/songwriter Halsy in support.

 

This year, don’t sweat alone in your room and let the summer pass you by. Get outside and immerse yourself in the timeless seasonal soundtrack of stale beer, sweat and pounding synth beats. No matter which tour you plan to see, it’s sure to be something you’ll remember for many summers to come.

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