Tag Archives: Coldplay

Don’t Sleep on Sleeperstar

9 Apr

Sleeperstar

Let’s start with the basics; Sleeperstar will not put you to sleep. It’s more likely they will open your eyes. Hailing from Dallas, TX, the five-piece group plays a passionate blend of keys-heavy alternative rock that focuses on emotional vocal and instrumental crescendo. Like a good story, Sleeperstar is able to balance moments of inaction and quiet with well-placed melodic climaxes. Led by powerful vocals and Snow Patrol-like echoed harmony and percussion, the band is a must-listen for fans of Coldplay, Matchbox 20, and similar Alt/Rock bands.

Following the release of Sleeperstar’s first album, Just Another Ghost, in 2010, the band toured extensively with several dates throughout the United States before returning to the studio to record the most recent EP, Blue Eyes, which was released back in January of this year. Just Another Ghost will be a difficult album to follow. The incipient effort for the band featured songs that landed multiple major media placements, including the TV show “Vampire Diaries” and the movie “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

The band – which consists of Nick Box, Chris Pearson, Shaun Menary, Jake Lester, and Geoff Ashcraft – seems up for the challenge. The opening track on the new EP is sure to find its way onto a TV show or movie soon. Take a listen to “Replay.”

The rich vocals dance over wavy keys and sweeping percussion – giving off hints of OAR. The chorus hits hard with echo-driven, enthusiastic harmonies. The vocal precision of Sleeperstar is perhaps its greatest strength. The music itself is more than satisfying, catchy and potent, but the vocals are almost penetrating. Simply, the vocals stick with you.

Here is “Everything Must Find Its Place,” which was featured in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

The song emits a 90s Brit/Alt pop feels with its focus on impassioned keys and heavy vocals. This permeates the song and helps it become more effective. Sleeperstar’s music goes down smoothly like a craft beer. It is satisfying, hearty, and well-made. I, for one, am looking forward to the next round.

Find out more about Sleeperstar: Facebook, Twitter, Website

Advertisements

The Wizard of Norway – Christoffer Øien

20 Feb

Christoffer Øien

What kind of music can you expect from a 25-year-old singer/songwriter from a small fishing village in Norway? Did you guess enchanting folk with a hint of haunting strings laid over an enigmatic vocal? You did? Wow, good guess!

Christoffer Øien is a true find, and in a burgeoning musical world, he represents a perspicacious musician with tremendous ability that should be recognized by a global audience. Øien’s music is expansive folk; it mixes the style of some of Joe Purdy’s slower, lugubrious pieces with a mystical Radiohead flavor. The sound is bewitching, and one wants to continue listening to the wizard of Norway.

Let’s take a listen to two songs; the first a disturbing lullaby called “Sandman.”

The song is, well, creepy. It’s creepy in a good way. Øien clearly wants to elicit the feeling of an unsettling lullaby. Øien combines drawn out strings with light keys and acoustic guitar. The music culminates in a beautiful combination of strings that soothe the listener. His lyric is imaginative, and he sings such distinct lines as “it feels like rain, tastes like wine” and “it sounds like pain, but it’s all in my mind” Eerie and oddly enticing.

“The Wizard” begins with a plucked acoustic guitar and transitions to Øien’s unmistakable vocal. The song, like “Sandman” combines several influences, and, in some parts, almost takes the form as a gloomier early Coldplay composition. I can continue to search for Øien’s style in other musicians, but it may be wise to simply describe him as refreshingly original and tell you all to listen to more of his first album, Monster.

Check out his website, Facebook

Coldplay Colors the IZOD Center – August 3, 2012

6 Aug

The Glow at the IZOD Center

Every concert emits a certain aura, whether it is a laid-back coffe-shop jazz quartet or a head-banging arena show. For more than a decade, Coldplay has colored crowds with concerts that near reckless joy, leaving sold-out audiences with permanent grin marks. The current Mylo Xyloto tour is more of the same, and for a Coldplay concert virgin, I must say I wasn’t wrong in my effusive confidence that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

I was blown away by Coldplay’s ability to perform a concert with tremendous production value that does not take away from the music (but rather adds to the songs). In calculated moments, props were added to songs (beach balls, glowing blown-up shapes, confetti), and these elements added color to the rainbow rays of laser light that shot around the IZOD center in New Jersey on Friday. The true bulk of the entire production was colored remote-controlled bracelets that were electronically lit up at certain points of the show, creating a multi-colored graffiti of light that brightened the dark and flashed collectively as the sold out arena aided lead singer Chris Martin with every lyric.

Graffiti, the theme of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto and their current tour, is generally considered disorganized and splotchy. But when you look through the lines of sprayed color and chalky pictures, it is not difficult to see a hint of togetherness in the art. This is what was perhaps most striking about the concert. There was an incredible element of family and togetherness, and the band played to this successfully.

It is Coldplay’s comfort on the stage that has most likely influenced their staying power. While they may not be flawless performers, they are damn near close. Martin’s voice is unchanged from recordings to stage, and I always respect a vocalist who is actually a damn good vocalist. The music was tremendous throughout the 21-song set. The acoustics of the IZOD center are a little better than decent. The sound can get a little absorbed by the stadium creating a slight echo that drowns out some of the bass. It was obviously best when, in the encore, the band, who had now moved to a mock side stage in the right stands (lucky people who had seats there), slowly added instruments.

Of the entire set, “The Scientist” stood out to me. It was not only because of my absolute enjoyment of that song, but also the loud sing-along that overcame Martin at times. But, who am I kidding, the entire show was pretty much a joint sing-along. “The Scientist” was followed by an acoustic performance of “Yellow.” Did you know “Yellow” is more than a decade old. Wow. I realized that during the show as I sang it with reckless abandon of my vocal chords. My chops took further shots during “Clocks” and “Fix You,” and, heck, I’ll admit it, “Viva La Vida” and the concert finale “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.”  

Say what you want. Say the band sold out from its Brit-piano-pop roots. I wouldn’t call what Coldplay did selling out. They evolved. And this was quite evident by the diverse crowd at the show. 30-40-year-olds mixed with 14-15-year-olds singing past and present songs like they were part of a church choir. Coldplay’s electro-pop Mylo Xyloto was just one more notch in Coldplay’s belt. The next album and tour will certainly be even more creative, and I am looking forward to attending.

Coldplay Plays the Izod Tonight – August 3 – Great Cover of Fix You

3 Aug

Why does Coldplay get such a bad rap? It’s an odd phenomenon. I’ve heard a lot of “old” Coldplay fans say that current albums have become loud, mainstream messes, and thus they have been turned off by the band. You see, I actually see it differently. I think Coldplay is a perfect example of a band that can bend mainstream music to fit their own brand of piano-infused spacious rock. I think they have found a way to be mainstream relevant (duets with Jay Z and Rhianna, for example), and still extraordinarily talented. Since 1996, Coldplay has been creating infectious pop/rock tunes, and they have gained a growing following that mixes young and old listeners. Their music is enjoyable and marketable. We should be commending them, not censuring them.

I will be making the traffic-fueled trip from Long Island to New Jersey tonight to see Coldplay on night one of their two-day sojourn at the Izod center. I have peeked at the set-lists of recent performances, and they perform a mix of material from their new album Mylo Xyloto and some staples like “Fix You,” “The Scientist,” and “Clocks.” I wonder if they might change it up a little bit since they are performing two nights. As long as they play my favorite Coldplay song, “The Scientist,” I will be happy.

To prepare myself for the concert tonight, I’ve been listening to some Coldplay songs (even though it does seem rather ridiculous because I am going to hear them all again later). As I was listening to “Fix You,” I came across an excellent cover performed by Boyce Avenue, a band of three multi-instrumentalist brothers from Florida. They play this cover of “Fix You” with Tyler Ward, and demonstrate excellent vocal harmonies. And, damn, it doesn’t matter who performs it, that climaxing guitar riff in the middle of the song is so incredible. It was really a strike of genius from Coldplay. Chris Martin, lead vocalist of Coldplay, wrote this lyric for his wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, when her father died.  He has called the song, “the most important song we’ve ever written.”

Here is the cover by Boyce Avenue. Enjoy.

How Good is Willie Nelson’s Cover of “The Scientist”

15 Feb

By now most music lovers have heard a portion of Willie Nelson’s acoustic cover of “The Scientist” by Coldplay. The cover was featured in a stop-motion advertisement by Chipotle called “Back to the Start.” In the advertisement, an individual farmer falls into the trap of factory farming and then realizes the mistake in his ways and goes back to open, healthy farming. It is a wonderful advertisement, beautiful in its sincerity and simplicity, and effective in its message. It is somber and uplifting. I think it is one of the best advertisements I have ever seen. I love Chipotle’s Vegetarian Burrito Bowl and will most certainly continue visiting the establishment. But I’m not writing to share with you all how good the burrito bowl is (even though it is such an excellent post-gym Saturday lunch). One of the reasons the commercial is so successful is Willie Nelson’s passionate cover of “The Scientist.” Listen and watch the advertisement:

After its first primetime spot on the Grammy’s this weekend, the Youtube views for the advertisement have ballooned to 5 million, eclipsing viral status and entering legendary territory. It has over 22,000 likes and has sent the music news world into a posting frenzy. Of course, also, it has sparked the questions of whether Willie Nelson’s version is better than the original.  Even Coldplay fans are bowing to the 78-year-old country crooner saying that his version is superior. I don’t think it is possible to say which version is better. Despite that Nelson’s version is a cover, the two songs couldn’t be more different. Seriously, I have heard two original songs sound more alike than these two versions of the same song.

Coldplay leadman Chris Martin recorded “The Scientist” after a late-night rendezvous with an out-of-tune piano in Liverpool. He just happened upon the chords and thought they sounded lovely. He actually wanted to work on the George Harrison song “Isn’t it a Pity,” but found “The Scientist” instead. After being released as the second single from A Rush of Blood to the Head in 2002, the four-chord melody took off and today is one of Coldplay’s most beloved songs. Coldplay’s version is almost certainly about a failed relationship and a plea to try again.

Willie Nelson’s version, though, recorded in 2011 for the Chipotle commercial, takes on a completely different feel. Nelson has been a widely renowned critic of overly mechanized farming and the poor treatment of farm animals and independent farmers. The song, in this sense, seems to be a plea to tear down our modern farming constructs and work ourselves back to healthy food and family farming. It is a plea for health, and, in that way, may even make the lyric (while it doesn’t fit perfectly) stronger.

So what about Willie Nelson’s version is so fantastic. Let’s start with the Coldplay version (above). Chris Martin’s elegant falsetto is infectious and the simple piano fits his voice well. The song is stripped down itself, rising softly with some strings and drums, but remaining a true ballad throughout. It is celestial and boundless in its omnipotence. Listen to how it sets the nighttime scene.

Nelson’s version is more rural and pastoral. It sounds like it can be played on a porch while looking out on an open plain. Instead of a piano, Nelson favors a tuned-down acoustic guitar, picked delicately, with a haunting electric providing a passionate whine. The drums begin in the second verse and I like the addition. The sound remains soft, but full, with many tasteful elements.

The kicker in this song is Willie Nelson’s voice. There is no denying that Chris Martin has a wonderful voice, but Nelson’s worn croon is, itself, an American icon. His voice is stitched into the tapestry of America’s music tradition with musicians like Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly. At 78 years old, his voice painted with such tenderness and verisimilitude, I almost feel that I am with him seeing his farm turn into an intolerable operation.

Before this song was released, I, like everyone, would have probably said that Willie Nelson’s greatest cover is his version of “Always on My Mind” which reached #5 on the U.S. charts in 1982. But now, I think that “The Scientist” is clearly number one. And, I think it has a similar power that Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt,” originally by Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, has. Simple, passionate, and real. A musician who has been through it all giving a career performance (like a historical record). Reznor has publicly come out and laughed about how Johnny Cash’s version made his song a Johnny Cash song, and while the same may never happen with Nelson’s “The Scientist,” I do think Chris Martin may have to soon publicly acknowledge how legendary Nelson’s version is.

%d bloggers like this: