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McCartney’s Kisses – Iommi Diagnosed with Lymphoma

9 Jan

I just blew the dust off of the Music News category. It had developed a lot of dust, like an unread book on a mahogany bookshelf in an abandoned house. Okay. It wasn’t tangible dust, but, I really haven’t written a post about music news in a while. That stands to change on this Monday, where I do have some pieces of news to share with you all. Let’s jump right into it.

New McCartney Album:

There is so much talent in this image it's almost unhealthy. From left, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, George Martin, Paul McCartney, and Phil Collins.

Only two men in the image above are needed for this post. But, goodness, that picture was too good not to post on the blog. Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton are the two men we are talking about though.
On Feb. 7, McCartney will release his first studio album since 2007. The album, Kisses on the Bottom, is his follow-up to Memory Almost Full (which was a great album in my opinion). The album features McCartney in a more intimate, jazzy setting. Unlike Memory Almost Full which was mostly a pop album. The track listing was released and there are some reinterpretations of well-known song. Here is the track list:
01. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
02. Home (When Shadows Fall)
03.  It’s Only A Paper Moon
04. More I Cannot Wish You
05. The Glory Of Love  
06. We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)
07. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive
08. My Valentine
09. Always
10. My Very Good Friend The Milkman
11. Bye Bye Blackbird
12. Get Yourself Another Fool
13. The Inch Worm
14. Only Our Hearts
 15.  Baby’s Request (Deluxe Edition)
16.  My One And Only Love (Deluxe Edition)
Why is “My Valentine” bolded? Why was Eric Clapton even mentioned? Well on this new album Eric Clapton plays acoustic guitar on “My Valentine.” So what? Click on this – some footage from one of the best concerts of the 2000s.
When Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney get together good music is inevitably created. This is no different with “My Valentine” off of McCartney’s new album. Take a listen.
Eric Clapton has a style of acoustic guitar playing. It can be described as blues perfection, I guess. It is pretty near perfect. You just know it is him when you hear his flawless stylings. This song is, well, beautiful. Wow, what a surprise! Combine Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney, writers of some of the best rock love songs of the rock era, and you get something beautiful, jazzy, melodic, emotional but seemingly effortless. Clapton’s solo at the 2-minute mark is just wonderful. And McCartney’s voice is tremendous. Great release.
Tony Iommi Diagnosed with Lymphoma
I hate reading news items like this. Black Sabbath’s guitarist Tony Iommi, 63,  was diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma, according to a statement on the band’s website. This comes on the heels of the announcement that the band’s original members will be writing and recording for the first time in 33 years. Just awful timing. The band is moving from Los Angeles to London in order to work with Iommi while he undergoes treatment.
We wish him all the best and hopefully he gets better soon. To sponsor a quick recovery, here is “Paranoid”

The X-Factor – Predictions for the Top 12

27 Oct

There is this show on Fox called the X-Factor in case you haven’t heard. I actually don’t believe that a show has been more hyperbolically hyped than the X-Factor in the history of American television. It is the most over-the-top reality singing competition I have ever seen.

Basically, the show is hybrid American Idol (for those most familiar with Simon Cowell‘s first US project) and The Voice (another US show that was probably based on the UK version of the X-Factor). The show, which unlike American Idol has much looser age restrictions (12-), features four judges who mentor four different teams of performers (girls, boys, over 30s, and groups). If you haven’t been watching, the show is now up to the Top 12, and American now gets their hands on the performers and chooses who moves on and who is ousted from the seizure-inducing lights, oversized video screens, and odd camera angles of the live show. Remaining in the conversation are 3 members of each group, and, honestly, they are all pretty talented.

I, because I am apparently a huge sucker for reality singing competitions, have been an avid watcher of the show, and feel that this is a good opportunity to give my predictions for the rest of the way. What are my qualifications? I have watched every singing competition show since American Idol premiered and have a pretty solid track record of picking winners.

Below, I am going to choose who I believe will be the top performer to remain in each group. Now, since it is America’s turn to decide, no grouping is safe, and acts can go home despite their affiliation. What I’m saying is that the next three weeks could possibly see all three groups getting out. Will that happen? Probably not. But it is now possible. After I choose my “best of the grouping,” I am going to pick my expected winner of the show. I’m torn between a few performers and I think the judges/producers of the X-Factor have done an excellent job of making this difficult on voters. It’s going to be fun. Shall we begin?


Chris Rene

Chris Rene has the most inspirational story of the competition. A recovering drug addict with a son generally takes the cake. He also has something exceptionally important for the show. Unadulterated talent. Rene is a double threat. He won over the judges with a performance of a self-made rap/hip-hop song (which I will post below). But the man can also sing. His voice is smooth and delicate. His range is not fantastic (I think he is still maturing as a singer), but it is absolutely good enough to propel him to the end of the competition. Rene also carries himself with (as I labeled yesterday when watching a recording of the show with my family) a humble swagger. He just seems that he must have confidence in himself. The way he moves and performs would suggest it. But his sincere respect and emotion certainly portray him as humbled by the competition.

This is the direct opposite of one of his direct competitors, Astro, a teenage rapper, who is simply not young enough to understand what humble even means. His cockiness is funny and I can’t hold it against him. He wants to be a rapper. A rapper needs to be overly confident. It helps him, but also hurts him. I just don’t see it going over well with the American public (despite L.A. Reid‘s clear hopes of making him his next Justin Bieber – Reid, one of the judges, signed Bieber). His other competition is Marcus Canty. Canty is interesting. He may have the best voice in the competition. Seriously, he sounds like a young Stevie Wonder. He is an excellent performer and can seriously be an Usher-type musician. He is just a bit forgettable and doesn’t have Rene’s story. That’s why my pick is Chris Rene.


Drew has an eclectic, original and fantastic voice. It is effortless and ethereal (as judge Nicole Scherzinger described it). It’s not quite pop and not quite country, but a hint of a southern twang layers her clean chops. Drew (her last name is Ryniewicz so someone decided that they should just call her Drew – adding her to the endless list of artists who have changed, or eliminated their last names – see Gene Simmons or Bob Dylan, or should I say Chaim Weitz Hebrew and Robert Zimmerman) is an incredible talent and an early, understandable favorite. I am picking her because I just think she has the most subtle, incredible voice on the show. I mean, come on, she is 14 years old. Quite impressive.
Simon Cowell (the girls group leader) picked the strongest combination of contestants. Going up against her is Melanie Amaro (originally eliminated by Simon, but then brought back after Simon admitted his “terrible mistake” – which was as clear of a publicity stunt as I’ve ever seen). Amaro is a concoction of Jennifer Hudson and Mariah Carey. Her voice and range are spectacular. She is stiff competition. Then there is 13-year-old Rachel Crow, whose bubbly personality will put her on Broadway after The X-Factor. Guaranteed. She is an actress, who happens to have a good voice. Amaro can gain popularity as a ballad singer and Crow is infectious and can be a serious teen-talent, invoking images of youthful female 60’s singers (as my dad aptly pointed out). Crow did do some Surpremes last episode. The category is difficult and I’m going with Drew because she brings something too original to the table to give up.

Josh Krajcik

Josh Krajcik, who has staked his claim on the show as burrito-maker turned Joe Cocker-esque crooner, will win the over 30’s category because he is the closest thing the show has to a rock singer. Seriously, think about it. He is the only one. Krajcik’s bluesy, soulful voice remarkable. His unkempt look only adds to his appeal. He is likeable and his voice is powerful at all ranges.
The other two over-30 performers are Leroy Bell and Stacy Francis. I like Bell and Francis. Francis is an old-fashioned ballad singer with a voice tinged with exasperated passion (something that comes with years of trying and failing). Bell has a sweet, sultry, Motown-esque voice. Both artists should have been picked up years ago, but for one reason or another they were not. Bell and Francis will carry the older vote more so than Krajcik because they resemble the “dreams never die” message. I think Krajcik will carry some younger votes (and the rock crowd) and, because more young individuals watch this show and vote, he will be the last one standing in this group.

Stereo Hogzz

Unsurprisingly, two of the remaining three groups were acts that the judges created from performers who did not make it to the judge’s home round. Yes, the judges made two groups, coached them, and sent them out to perform. Since the egos of the judges are, I don’t know, kind of big, their creations have gotten some favoritism. Judge Paula Abdul, to her credit, did a great job with the groups, and one out of the two judge-created groups deserves to be in.

Stereo Hogzz was not a judge created group, but they will be the last one standing from the category. Why? They are a reincarnation of the Boyz II Men R&B, hip-hop fusion boy bands that were popular in the 90s. There is a place for that in the market today. Stereo Hogzz’ most recent performance showed exactly what they are and can be. It was R&B mixed with a bass/techno breakdown. I think that they will succeed even if they do not win.
They are competing against a InTENsity and Lakoda Rayne. InTENsity is a combination of a bunch of under 20s. Some are budding artists. Some are not. The sound is Glee-like, but even more corny and dull. They are cute, but, won’t remain long. Lakoda Rayne, on the other hand, can be supremely succesful. The equation is awfully simple. Four good-looking girls singing country music and harmonizing. Each has good enough lead potential with decent enough vocal distinction. This was a smart combination. I didn’t like them at first, but now I think that they can give the Hogzz and everyone else a run for their money. They may be slightly forgettable, but I actually believe that they can do well after the show.
So here we go. Who will win? Most likely, it will not come down to such an even split. It could. But I seriously doubt that the top four has performers from each category. I am very tempted to say that the winner will be Drew, and I know many people feel this way. But I have a hunch. I believe the winner of the show will be Chris Rene. I think so because he has the full package. Likeability, good voice, good story, lasting power, solid look, marketability, and the important ability to both rap and sing. He takes home the prize. Drew comes in second or third.
This prediction would not be full, though, without a dark horse. Looking over the remaining contestants, I am attempting to narrow down a top four. I think that the groups will be the first grouping to have no acts left. I’m going to give two dark horses. First, watch out for this Lakoda Rayne group. They are the only quasi-country group (unless you consider Drew country, which she is not, but she could pull off any song it seems). Remember last year’s American Idol. It came down to two country singers. Country is HUGE in the US. Lakoda Rayne can go to the end or they can be out in two performances. It can go either way. My second dark horse is Marcus Canty. If L.A. Reid does this correctly, he will turn Canty into Usher. At least he will try to do that. If he does, Canty can lose the forgettable label and become a favorite. Upbeat, modern song choices mixed with creative choreography and wardrobe will help with this.
No matter what, this is going to be interesting. That is only my opinion and please don’t shell me if you don’t agree. I want to know what you all think? Comment below and let’s talk about it.

An Unfortunate Anniversary – Jimi Hendrix and What Killed Him?

20 Sep

Johnny Allen Hendrix (otherwise known as James (Jimi) Marshall Hendrix) was born in Seattle in November of 1942, thereby founding the “Live in Seattle if you Want to Be a Talented Musician” act. Seattle, where it rains so much the only thing to do is play music.

Hendrix has practically become another name for guitar. His effortless skill, dripping passion, and innovative creativity for the six-stringed sound-producer has elevated him to the status of legendary in the eyes of practically all who have ever listened to a G-chord once in their lives. If one took the average top five of every “Best Guitarist” poll created in the past 50 years, Hendrix would not only be in the top five, but also he’d probably be first. Now we can sit here and debate whether Hendrix’s short spurt of talent makes him better than guitar gods like Clapton, Allman, King, Vaughan, etc., but that debate is pretty much endless. Simply, they are all great guitarists, and Hendrix, despite only living to 27 years old, is with the group.

On Sept. 18, 1970, 41 years ago, Jimi Hendrix died in London. I know I am two days late on the anniversary, but since Tuesdays are now reserved for music news (when interesting), I thought I would do my anniversary post today. Much mystery surrounds Hendrix’s death. The initial report is that he asphyxiated on his own vomit after consuming a copious amount of red wine, but John Bannister, the surgeon who treated Hendrix and made this claim, was accused by Monika Dannemann, Hendrix’s girlfriend at the time, of malpractice, and was reprimanded for two counts of medical malpractice, and struck off the medical register for fraud in 1992. Apparently, according to reports, Hendrix had little alcohol in his system. Dannermann’s account of the night, though, have changed from interview to interview and she committed suicide shortly after being found guilty of contempt of court for repeating a libel against Kathy Etchingham, another of Hendrix’s girlfriends in the 60s.

A recent book released by a former Animals’ roadie named James “Tappy” Wright claimed that Hendrix was murdered because he wanted to end his management contract, but this report was repudiated by Bob Levine, Wright’s long term business associate and Mike Jeffery’s (Hendrix’s manager at the time) assistant manager in New York. Levine said that Wright made up these stories to sell a book. In the book, Wright has commentary by John Bannister saying that is is plausible that Hendrix could have been murdered.

According to an article released in 2005 by The Sunday Times:

At some point early that morning he took nine Vesparax. In all likelihood he was under the impression that the pills were weaker than American pharmaceuticals and, desperately needing rest, took a handful. If he had intended to kill himself, as was later assumed, it was odd that he left 40 pills, more than enough to have assured an easy and virtually immediate death.”

“As it was, the nine pills he swallowed would have made him lose consciousness quickly. Some time during the early hours, the combination of the Vesparax, the alcohol in his system and the other drugs he’d used that night caused Jimi to heave up the contents of his stomach. What he brought up — mostly wine and undigested food — was then aspirated into his lungs, causing him to stop breathing.”

The death may forever remain a mystery. Conflicting reports make a true reason-of-death out of reach. A conservative guess would be that the report above is true, but, where there is mystery, there will always be speculation. And where there is speculation, there will always be conspiracy theories. The best guess is your own produced from unbiased sources. But, as the article above concludes, despite everything, Hendrix was still dead on the morning of Sept. 18 and the world mourned.

Here is Hendrix performing “Red House” at Royal Albert Hall in London on Feb. 24, 1969.

A Review of Music in America’s Got Talent Top 10

1 Sep

Gosh, Matt, how many trashy reality shows do you watch. Three. Let’s get the record straight. I watch American Idol, America’s Got Talent (as of this season) and The Sing Off. Oh, wait. I watched The Voice. Damn. Yes, I admit it, I am a fan of music-related reality shows. What can I say? If you haven’t noticed from this blog, I love music. I love everything about it. I love melody and harmony – a simple acoustic guitar riff and a jazzy complicated bass piece. I’m a fan of good musica, musique, μουσική – music.

So, a show like America’s Got Talent appeals to me specifically because of the diverse music acts that tend to do well in the competition. Last night, after what seemed like an eternity (I am just figuring out that a season of America’s Got Talent lasts several months), the top 10 acts were revealed. And while judge Howie Mandel insists on calling season 6 the year of the dance, an equal amount of music acts are in the upper echelon of performers.

One cannot choose the “best” act of the bunch. I mean, how can one compare an old-fashioned, unexpected crooner with an opera singer? How about comparing a group of talented 12-16-year-olds who look like a 21’st century Jackson Five to an 11-year-old bluesy belter? It’s difficult. I do think that they are all quite talented and I am looking forward to seeing each of their performances on the top 10 show. But, before that happens, let’s take a look at each one and afterwards I will attempt to pick the act that I think will make it the furthest in the competition.

Performer: Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.  – 36 – West Virginia

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. is a crooner. The purpose of America’s Got Talent is to find a potential Las Vegas act. It is difficult not seeing a man with his immense talent on a Las Vegas stage. I say this because there seems to always be a place for a 40’s/50’s throwback. I don’t think the crooner act is tired or antiquated. Murphy’s delightful voice can help restore the genre to Vegas. Murphy, a car washer from West Virginia, has blown away the judges week-after-week performing classics by crooners like Sinatra. And, on top of it all, he is so wonderfully humbled by the praise that it almost seems that he doesn’t realize the talent he has. You can’t help but root for the guy, and it is not difficult to because he is both genuinely talented and perfectly kind.

Lys Agnes – 27 – Colorado

Lys Agnes was a rising operatic voice until the sudden death of her fiance put her singing and vocal studies on hold for two years. Her touching story of triumph in the face of such personal tragedy immediately hooked the judges and audience during her audition. When she proved that she had a dulcet voice with exceptional range, she was pretty much propelled into the top 10. Talented opera singers with inspiring stories do well on talent shows. See Susan Boyle. Agnes deserves her spot.

Anna Graceman11 – Alaska

Anna Graceman is a prodigy in every sense of the word. The 4’11” singer is both mature in voice and prescense. Seriously. At 11, I was still having tantrums over not getting good baseball cards. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that. Anyway, Graceman has handled the stage with…well…grace, and her rocking voice and incredible piano skill make her a contestant to be reckon with on the show, even though, by the looks of her, you would never guess she was in a competition. She may be a little girl, but she kicks ass on stage.

POPLYFE – 12-16 – California

POPLYFE, the only band left in the competition, are a group of talented youngsters from Oakland. Here are the band members.

Dylan Wiggins, age 13 (Keys, Music Director/Producer)
Denzel Merrit, age 12 (Drummer, Co-Producer)
KehLani Parrish, age 13 (Lead Vocals, Writer)
Ranzel Merrit, age 15 (Sax)
Jaden Wiggins, age 11 (Bass)
Ali-Khan Lochin, age 15 (Dee-Jay)
Dillion Ingrem, age 13 (Guitar)

Now, don’t let their U.S.-wide anonymity fool you, POPLYFE is well-known in Oakland, where they are considered the next “big thing.” The band is being groomed by producers and, at such a young age, has performed at known venues. They are a gritty reboot of child-acts like the Jackson Five. They play serious rock n’ roll with flavor. It has been fun watching them perform and lead singer KehLani Parrish has one heck of a voice. They are all talented.


Like I said, it is impossible to predict what musical act will outlast the other three. Like I said, they are all talented and I can see any one of them getting far. But since I challenged myself to make a prediction here is my final music act standings from 4-1.


3 – Lys Agnes

2- Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

1 – Anna Graceman

Good luck to all of the talented acts!

UPDATE – 4:39 on 9/8 – I was correct with one of my predictions. Landau is through. But Anna Gracemen has been eliminated as well as Lys Agnes. POPLYFE, the precocious youngsters have made it through. The top four has two musical acts and two dance troupes. I am pulling for a Landau win. Who do you think will win?

Idol Albums – Coldplay LP in October – Ticketing Experiment

15 Aug

McCreery to Release Debut Album in October

Alfred E. Newman – Oh – I mean Scotty McCreery, winner of the most recent season of American Idol, will release his first album Clear as Day on Oct. 4. In a message to his fans McCreery wrote, “We focused on making the best music possible. I’m really proud of it and so grateful to have the opportunity to record an album before my 18th birthday.”

When I was 18…well, I wasn’t releasing debut album. Wait, let me qualify that. Debut “Succesful” albums. That is pretty awesome. For the top-24 this year I knew that McCreery would end up winning the entire competition. Why did I think this? American Idol has an incredibly strong country base. Seriously, solid country stars can fly through the show with ease. McCreery not only has a true country croon, but also he is young and respectable. Big, big help. At the end, the final two contestants were country singers and this really came to no surprise to people who have been watching the show for a while.

McCreery is insanely talented. Yes, for some, his act became old quickly. I mean, he could only sing country, right? Yes. But why is this an issue? He has a niche. He is perfectly comfortable in said niche. His first (and all remaining albums) will be country (with a probable pop twist). That is what album number one will be. I’ll make this prediction now. I think that McCreery will have the longest and most succesful career among all idol winners.


New Coldplay Album

What the heck does that album title mean? Good question. Your guess is as good as mine. Coldplay will release Mylo Xyloto on Oct. 25, their official full-length follow-up to 2008’s Viva La Vida, which both had an understandable name and sold 2.8 million units. Yeah, nbd. Despite the rap that Coldplay gets, they are a hugely popular band and their piano-based rock is enjoyable. The band released the album’s first single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” in June. On Sept. 12 the band will release their second single “September” to the awaiting public. Yeah, September in September.

I’m looking forward to the new release, even moreso now because the title is so enigmatic. Coldplay knows what they are doing and if the album has similar fire power to Viva La Vida it will meet with tremendous success. I’m also curious. Chris Martin has stated that the album does not have a specific genre and while that is pretty consistent with his dislike for pigeon-holing Coldplay’s music, it is still worth mentioning because last time fans were told to expect the unexpected, the band released an album that oozed with fluid sounds and eccentric rhythms.


Experiments with All-Mobile Ticketing

Alright, this is pretty awesome. Billboard had their Summer Blowout Party featuring bands like LMFAO and Swizz Beatz. That’s not the awesome part. I mean I’m sure the concert was cool, but the way that people got into the concert is even cooler.

ShowClix, a company founded by  Joshua Dziabiak, is attempting to revolutionize the way that people get into shows. Do you lose papers easily and sometimes misplace tickets? Well, with ShowClix, everything is on your phone. That’s right, after you purchase your tickets they are sent to your phone via text message. When you get to the gate, you present the text message with your ticket and an attendant uses a device to scan it. Deal done. You go and enjoy your show and the garbages at the venue are not full with ripped up tickets (an environmentally friendly option). That’s how people who went to Billboard’s Summer Blowout displayed their tickets. It takes electronic ticketing to a new level.

I think this is great. Even if this is applied as another delivery option, it can save a lot of paper and frantic minutes searching for those damn tickets before you leave for the show. I can foresee this emerging as a premier ticketing option in the future. What do you think?

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