Tag Archives: California

The Folk Monsters of Yellow Red Sparks

21 Jul

Yellow Red Sparks

Speaking about the self-titled debut album of his folk band Yellow Red Sparks, Joshua Hanson said, “I don’t believe that it’s possible to share everything a writer is feeling or trying to convey within 3 ½ minutes of a track.” Wise words from a singer/songwriter who comes close to doing the impossible with each of the emotion-packed pieces on the album. Hanson, and fellow band-mates Sara Lynn Nishikawa (upright bass/vocals) and Goldy (drums/vocals), pack in so much Indie/Folk goodness in each song that hitting play is much like popping the cork of an expensive bottle of champagne.

Yellow Red Sparks originally started as the moniker of Hanson, a solo musician from California. After adding two members – which accentuated the Indie sound – the band released its debut album in January of this year. In the Spring, Hanson was notified that his song “Monsters with Misdemeanors” won the Grand Prize in the International Songwriting Competition (ISC). The song was selected from more than 20,000 entries. High praise for a rising folk songwriter – and a totally deserved reward for a folk song saturated with raw emotion.

A soft acoustic riff sits over light percussion and Hanson’s mature vocal. Hanson’s style hits with a similar force as singer/songwriters like Greg Laswell, Ben Gibbard, and Joshua James. The strings help add to the song’s powerful melancholy. The song’s melody, which has a DeVotchKa feel, climaxes during the bridge in a similar manner – with rising strings and crying vocals. It would be a crime to not discuss the award-winning lyrics of the piece. The lyrics tell a story of relationship turbulence, but do so in an original manner – almost minimalistic in the short verses that feature such gems as “there’s a parked car that won’t let me over
And there’s one thing I’ll regret, but you’d be the last.” The song is true tour-de-force.

Make sure to check out the rest of Yellow Red Sparks’ excellent debut release here. You can track the band on its Facebook, Twitter, and Website.

The Best Back To School Song: “Be True To Your School” by The Beach Boys

28 Jan

 

 

Hey! Put that surfboard away!

“When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his school is great
I tell him right away
“Now what’s the matter buddy
Ain’t you heard of my school
It’s number one in the state”

The Beach Boys win purely on their ability to use braggart in their lyric. End of story. But seriously, “Be True to Your School” won the poll for best back to school song and this title is well deserved. Their overly corny, early 60’s, nauseating school pride anthem is so utterly ensconced in the education system that it might as well be sung after the pledge of allegiance. I pledge allegiance to Brian Wilson and the plaid shirt wearing members of his surf music band.

 

Don't these look like law abiding citizens

This 1963 ode to pep rallies and Hawthorne High School, the Wilson’s school in California, is cheery and so supremely hokey it kind of needed to win. Seriously, the song is so early 60’s Beach Boys mouthwash that it practically is most of their other songs in the same key. Not much ingenuity there. But the harmonies are great and the lyric is class.

It wins because of these reasons. That are not many songs that can inspire someone to want to go back to school. Most inspire young people to long for school’s end. The Beach Boys try to get you in the classroom with the lure of pride. So get your letterman jacket on and be true to your school.

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