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Solitude is Bliss

25 Sep

a dyjecinski

My roommate and I frequently find ourselves discussing the entertainment revolution that we are experiencing. Mankind has never been more creative than we are today. Take one look at Vine and YouTube, and there is so much talent everywhere. Because shooting video and recording music have become so easy, everyone has the capacity to be an artist, and we are inundated with new art. Though music videos aren’t a new form of media, they still are finding ways to push boundaries. First there was Michael Jackson, who created the first mainstream music video short film; then Madonna, whose middle name is ‘controversial’; even Kanye West had some illuminating moments, such as when he took literally the idiom ‘moving picture’; and now you have people like Tyler the Creator (warning: ick) making videos only meant to gross you out. A. Dyjecinski brings something new to the table as well with the video for “I’m the Woods.”

Innovation. That’s the one thing that this video is slathered with. I’ve never seen a video within a video, but here we are given two perspectives on the same scene. And what a beautiful scene it is. I’ve never seen snow, so maybe that has something to do with how much I love the snowcapped pine trees. I find this whole video very visually appealing, with maybe the exception of the bland subtitles. The scene is soft yet ominous, the solitude practically tangible.

The concept behind this video is to show how someone might unravel at his or her loneliness. Being suspended in the air on a mountain in thick snow is certainly a recipe for the crazies. The subtitles are vocalizations of the conversation that the protagonist is having in his mind, with himself. It’s funny, but also has an eerie quality, especially when it seems like his two halves are conveying starkly contrasting demeanors. Sure, it could just be inner rambling, just meant to pass the time… but it could also be indicative of something more.

“I’m the Woods” is A. Dyjecinski’s debut single, pick it up here. Find out more on his website and Twitter.

Barra Brown Quintet For a Young Heart

16 Jul

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July 16 is Jazz Day on The Music Court; Yes, I just extemporaneously made that proclamation. The reason? We need to talk about the Barra Brown Quintet. In order to do so, let’s all mentally travel to Portland, Oregon and join the youthful Jazz community who are making sweet, sweet music. So, who is Barra Brown? Trained flautist and drummer, member of four different musical collectives, composer of his aforementioned quintet, and all around tremendous musician. It should come as no surprise that the Portland Mercury wrote, “there are seemingly infinite amounts of up-and-coming musicians in Portland, but it’s very rare to find a universally talented musician with such promise.” I concur.

Interestingly, Brown’s quintet features Adam Brock, whose Indie/Folk stylings were featured on the blog back in January of 2014 (Read the post here) – he plays a fine guitar on the album. It also features the likes of trumpeter Thomas Barber, saxophonist Nicole Glover, and bassist Jon Lakey, all talented musicians in their own rights. These musicians, who are delicately put together by Brown, create an amalgamation of sound that is both daedalus, sensitive, and passionate. The blend is wonderful, and Brown’s quintet is carried with a youthful edge and trenchant maturity.

Back in 2013, the quintet released Songs for a Young Heart, which is the album I am highlighting today. The album, which seamlessly varies between vibrant effervescence and sun-drenched, dulcet warmth, is worth a full listen today, but if you only have time for two tracks, check out the two I include below.

“Song for a Young Heart,” the album’s title track, is my favorite on the 8-track album. It is a slow-moving, crescendoing piece that seems to echo the “young heart” as it swoons and gains emotion throughout its maturity. The song features an elegant guitar with a wonderful trumpet/saxophone interplay and crashing drums/bass. It’s a neat, cogent piece.

“How the West Was Won,” the first track on the album, is a quick piece, featuring a rock-inspired bass riff and a snap-your-finger trumpet line that is echoed by the saxophone. The bass is linked with an effective guitar solo. All of this, though, is carried by the drums, which are fragmented skillfully. It is not an easy percussion beat, yet Brown carries it effortlessly. It’s a cool piece to listen to.

Barra Brown and his quintet will release their new album – “Dreaming Awake” on July 29. Follow this link to a preorder 

Keep informed on Barra Brown’s activities on his website.

 

The Revivalists Can Revive Any Music Lover

7 Jul

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On The Revivalists About page on the band’s website, the first line proclaims that it is a surprise that the entire planet cannot hear the band playing when it takes the stage. Well, soon enough it might. With the music that the New Orleans horn/rock septet is churning out, I would be surprised if the band were not on the playlists of a plethora of music lovers across the globe. Why am I so confident? When a band so clearly presents a panoply of excellent musical attributes, it is hard not to be giddy.

So, what should you know about the Revivalists? The band’s latest album, Men Amongst Mountains, will be released on July 17 and will combine power and quality while maintaining a “distinctly raw, old-world feel.” The band has been able to cut a great following in the known musical hot spot New Orleans – if you can make it there as an Indie/Rock horn band, you can make it anywhere. The band is made up of a collection of tremendous musicians (David Shaw – vocals, Zack Feinberg – guitar, Andrew Campanelli – drums, Ed Williams – pedal steel guitar, George Gekas – bass, Rob Ingraham – saxophone, and Michael Girardot – keyboards & trumpet) who fastidiously plan a live show experience, which means the band is totally worth seeing – lucky for you there are many live dates this summer.  Oh, how can I forget the most important piece of information – the band’s sound is electric and massive! Let’s have ourselves a listen, why don’t we.

There are so many good things to say about “Keep Going” I don’t know where to start. David Shaw’s vocals are funky and mature, invoking an amalgamation of Bruce Springsteen and Brittany Howard. The instrumentation is killer – combining toe-tapping percussion with hard-line rock guitar, which form a chorus of horns and potent repetition. The chorus smooths out into a relaxed echo – horn and vocal – followed by those horns riffing in the background of the second verse. The song is magic. It’s a soulful anthem, an advice track that swoons with Shaw’s awesome vocal. I listen to this song and just imagine it performed live, and that’s always a good thing.

“Wish I Knew You” is even funkier, featuring a modern Mark Ronson guitar riff that hangs behind some airy, ethereal noises. That is where the Indie comes into play – the track combines a St. Motel-like 70s spice with a more modern electronic sound. The song has that cool sound that is just enjoyable to listen.

You can find out more about the Revivalists by visiting the band’s website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Meddling Medley: Wicca Woo, Kojey Radical, and Trails and Ways

29 May

Context can sometimes change the feeling of a song. Today, I describe three songs, and give them their own context, which may subvert your expectations.

Wicca Woo – “Detached”

THE SCENE: You are at a rowdy house party, this song comes on. The crowd is sparse and has quieted down, because most people have moved outside to the pool. A drunken man makes a subtle pass at you, prompting you to move away from the kitchen, where people keep going to refill their drinks. You glumly look around to see if anyone you know is nearby, but you only see that polite but disinterested girl wearing a baseball cap that greeted you earlier. You approach her to begin a new conversation, but she doesn’t realize you are headed her way and turns to leave. As you watch her walk in the opposite direction, credits roll over your face.

THE SONG: Living up to its title, “Detached” is unobtrusive. It could be on in the background for hours and that subtle bass line would keep me relaxed. The vocals are muffled in a strained whisper, but that, too, feels faraway and enrapturing. Fitting as a somber and ambiguous film ending.

Wicca Woo’s debut EP, Woo Wicca, is out now.

Kojey Radical – “Bambu”

THE SCENE: This video.

THE SONG: We don’t usually feature rap, but the audiovisual experience here is worth too much to not cover. The meaning behind it all is limitless: the lyrics, music production, images, and actions therein, all have moving purpose. The words are thought-provoking and delivered like a beat poem, emphasizing certain syllables specifically. My favorite line is “Can’t see the truth when it’s six feet deep.” This takes ‘burying the truth’ to a completely new level; explaining that it is six feet under suggests that not only are we hiding it, we murdered it and got rid of the body. This then brings to mind the very beginning of the track, when Kojey “used to walk past the cemetery” when he went to spend time with friends, imagining the lives they wanted. Oh, the irony: simultaneously, names like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray spring to mind. Our own law enforcement erased their lives, and by extension, their truth, but we won’t allow the Truth to be completely extinguished.

For more information on Kojey Radical, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Trails and Ways – “Jacaranda”

THE SCENE: You take a hike with friends through Griffith Park, but it is years ago, before the drought. The mountains are lush with foliage and flowers, at points creating pockets of shade where the path gets narrow, and occasionally leading to large clearings with soft grass to sit on. Everyone generally takes part in tomfoolery, undoubtedly including climbing a Jacaranda tree.

THE SONG: I love hiking at Griffith Park myself, so I’ll admit that wanting to see it not starved of water is more of a fantasy than anything. But I also don’t think Jacarandas grow on mountains, so this whole scenario is based on a falsehood. Either way, if we ever get any rainfall, I would honor the renewed flora with this track. It is so bright that you need shades, sunblock, and a hat to protect yourself from the UV rays. Like most of what Trails and Ways creates, it is also as catchy as Yogi Berra. And the cherry on top is obviously the fact that they made the word “Jacaranda” work so smoothly in a song. Magnificent.

Trails and Ways are releasing their debut LP, Pathology, this Tuesday, 6/2. Pre-order it here. Find more information about Trails and Ways on their website, and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.

Bridging Ears Back to Soul

24 May

Leon Bridges

When I first heard Leon Bridges my immediate reaction was that Sam Cooke had come back from the dead. I’m serious. The black-and-white soul sound sent me back to that magical moment when I first explored the inception of Soul music: the early 1960s sounds of names like Cooke, Wilson, and King. Then, I shook myself out of this initial daze. Sam Cooke – A man widely regarded as one of the finest vocalists of all time!?! How could I make such a wild comparison? But, as I took more time to listen to some tracks off Bridges’ soon-to-be-released debut album Coming Home, I realized that the comparison, while lofty, was not ridiculous. Bridges’ voice “sends me” to the soul-saturated sounds of the early 60s, and, while it may not in full bring back the mainstream popularity of slow horns and vocal harmonies, the music is certainly bridging that sounds to the ears of soul ingénues.

Bridges, who was born in Atlanta and now resides in Fort Worth, reached viral success with his song “Coming Home,” which caught the ears of several and helped him secure a record deal with Columbia Records. The overflowing bucket of talent that Bridges exuded did not stay hidden for long. With the help of Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block from White Denim, Bridges recorded his first few tracks – employing the aid of vocalists and bands that helped complement the 60s sound. His renown and success will only skyrocket with his release in June.

Coming Home” immediately takes on the feel of “You Send Me” with tastes of “A Change is Gonna Come,” and Bridges soft croon, a smoother Hozier (to make a modern comparison), has a rich Gospel feel to it that is just the right kind of sweet, not mawkish and not overpowering – it’s a voice that you can sink into, like silky gelato. The song itself is classic early Motown. It is carried by a bluesy piano and guitar mixed with traditional percussion. It is not difficult to imagine Sam Cooke or Otis Redding singing this song, and Bridges’ voice is not really a step down; heck, I am almost willing to go so far to exclaim that Bridges parallels the singers in a sense. Not too shabby.

From the slower “Coming Home” to the early Marvin Gaye-esque “Better Man.” The song features a literal doo-wop backdrop that is combined with a sweet horn section. It is almost minimalistic in its approach, and perhaps that is what I like so much about Bridges and his throwback tunes. In a musical world dominated by heavy electronics where artist after artist attempts to impress with eclectic sounds and instrumentation, Bridges takes a more traditional approach, fitting a wonderful track into a little more than two minutes.

Bridges is an artist worth tracking. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or his Website.

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