Month: August 2015

We Are the New Americana

One of the best things someone can do (in my mind) is recommend music. I don’t care if it’s a personal recommendation (the person recommends to you specifically), a recommendation through social media, a website, blog, etc., or even if it’s not a direct recommendation at all, meaning someone just talks or posts about a band/song/lyrics. I love it. I love it because I love music (if you haven’t already figured that out). I love finding new music or bands to listen to and it’s so refreshing when someone else can offer you new music by word of mouth (or word of the web). What’s even better, when someone recommends music, is if they recommend artists or songs that fit your music style. Lately, I’ve found out a few new things to listen to this way. Most recently, it was the singer, Halsey.

Halsey, a.k.a. Ashley Frangipane, who hails from the New Jersey/New York region has been working her way into the indie pop scene in the past year. Halsey is an anagram of her real name Ashley and it’s also a street in Brooklyn where she hung out growing up. She started her career playing acoustic shows to afford rent. When she recorded her song “Ghost” about a year ago, it was almost an overnight success. Shortly after, she had meetings with five major record labels. She signed with Astralwerks.

The last year has been nothing short of amazing for the 20 year old recording artist. She released an EP, Room 93, in October 2014, while on tour opening for The Kooks. She was the most talked about artist at SXSW. She headlined The American Youth Tour along with Young Rising Sons this past spring and in a little less than 2 weeks her debut album, Badlands, will be released (August 28th). To be honest, girl is killing it. There’s no doubt once her album comes out that she’ll get even more attention too.

Her sound can definitely be labeled pop, but could also fit the alternative, indie spectrum. Think along the lines of Lorde or Banks. Her lyrics are the catch though. They’re at times angsty and angry, but always raw and honest. She doesn’t really fit the mold of any of her sound comparisons in that regard. If you read the lyrics to the song “New Americana”, which is a single off Badlands, you might confuse it for a Lana Del Rey song. “New Americana” is almost the new “National Anthem”. Also like Lana, her passion for artistry through her music is beyond her years.

I first heard “New Americana” about a week and a half ago because someone I follow on Twitter tweeted out the lyrics (grateful for these people as you can tell from what I mentioned above). It was catchy so I added it to my workout Spotify playlist. I’ve listened to many times since. I’ve also listened to her other music. I love it as much as I love when people recommend music. She doesn’t have many songs out right now, but she’ll have a solid bunch of tunes once her album debuts. I can’t wait to hear it. I highly recommend checking her out asap before you feel like you’d just be hopping on the bandwagon. It might even be considered a slight bandwagon at this point, but who knows.

Song recommendations:

  1. New Americana
  2. Hold Me Down
  3. Ghost
  4. Hurricane (check out the Arty Remix if you’d rather a more upbeat track)
  5. Empty Gold
  6. Is There Somewhere
  7. The rest of Badlands once it’s released on August 28th
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I Was A King Under Your Control

Before I get started, let me just say, I’m not a fan of EDM. I know I’ve said this before. Just making you aware that the next band I’m about to talk about goes way beyond my comfort zone so to speak. I’ve been digging them recently though. It all started the other day when one of the people I follow on instagram posted a picture with the caption as lyrics to a song. Of course, my naturally curious music loving self needed to check out what the song was and who sang it. Thankfully someone posted a comment with the band name. The band was Years & Years.

Comprised of vocalist/keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, and synth player Emre Türkmen, Years & Years hails from London, England (yep another solid British band). They were formed in 2010 and debuted their first single in 2012, “I Wish I Knew”. Since then, the group released several singles, the most successful being “King” in January of this past year. It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in March. They released their debut album, Communion, a little over a month ago on June 22nd.

Despite being around for a few years, these guys are just now breaking onto the scene. The genre that comes to mind to describe this band is electropop. Their songs are full of synth and have that upbeat pop feel. You might even consider it house music. Their sound also has this early 90’s feel to it and reminds me of something I’d hear on the radio during my yearly trips to Williamsburg, VA in my early childhood. They’re on that EDM spectrum for sure, but not so far as to say they’re like Deadmau5, Skrillex, Kaskade or David Guetta. These guys aren’t DJs. They’re just an electronica band.

The first Years & Years song I listened to was “King”. It was their most played on Spotify. I went with that to get a feel for them. I was immediately turned off from what I heard. Electronic music isn’t my style. I didn’t vibe it. However, a few hours later as I began my workout routine and turned on my workout playlist, I started thinking about “King”. It was kind of stuck in my head, so I went for it. I added it to my playlist. It’s definitely a great workout song. Since it’s been on the playlist for the past week, I’ve heard it plenty of times. I love it now. I’ve also given their other songs a chance and surprisingly, I like them. It might just be a phase, but for the moment, I’m gonna roll with it. I recommend giving these guys a listen, especially since they’re relatively new and I have a feeling this won’t be the last you hear of them. In case you were wondering, they’re touring across the U.S. very soon with dates from the middle to the end of September. It may even be worth seeing them live. If you’re like me and you don’t really enjoy their music style, I still say give them a shot. You might be surprised at yourself, just like I was. So here’s what you need to listen to:

  1. King (so so catchy)
  2. Desire
  3. Shine
  4. Border (this was actually the song that was quoted on that insta post, which I eventually figured out after going through a bunch of their songs)
  5. Gold
  6. Ties
  7. I Want to Love

The Greenback Boogie

When you’re a big fan of something, whether it be a band, song, movie, TV show, actor, team, athlete, etc., you tend to want to know more about whatever it is you’re a fan of. When I became a Pretty Little Liars fan in March 2011, I did just that. I started learning about the show, the crew, the books, and the actresses who play Emily, Aria, Hanna, and Spencer, the show’s main characters. I learned that Ashley Benson is a huge jokester on set. I learned Lucy Hale has a dog named Jack. Shay Mitchell loves pizza and Troian Bellisario has the best taste in music (according to my definition of best). What does that have to do with anything? Well I also learned about who the girls were dating at the time and how Troian’s boyfriend, Patrick J. Adams, was actually a guest star on Pretty Little Liars in the second episode of Season 1. Not to mention, he’s just as cool as she is so I started following him too.

Shortly after his guest appearance on PLL, Patrick landed a starring role on the USA Network legal drama, Suits. The longer I followed both Troian and Patrick on social media the more I realized I should probably check Suits out, especially since Troian spoke so highly of it. Fortunately I had an unbiased friend who also watched Suits so I asked him about it. He had the same response and encouraged me to watch. I bought the first season on DVD (the show was on its second season at the time) and I was captivated from the very first episode.

Created by Aaron Korsh, Suits is about the workings of a powerful New York City law firm, Pearson-Hardman (which is now known as something else but I didn’t want to post spoilers) and how a bike messenger named Mike Ross (Adams), who has an exceptional memory of anything he’s ever seen, heard, read, etc., convinces one of the best attorneys at the firm, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), to give him a position there as an associate even though he never went to Harvard Law (or any law school for that matter) and acquired a law degree. From there, drama related to every day and not-so-every day law firm life ensues, while the very few who know Mike’s secret stand to protect it and him from being figured out.

Suits is now in its 5th season and has been renewed for a 6th season. Through its run on USA Network, Suits has received several award nominations and has garnered positive reception from critics and fans alike. For me, it’s one of those shows that you need to pay attention to. If you don’t, you could miss something since much of the drama involves legal practices. However, it’s doesn’t go above your head if you know nothing about law. Plus, there are plenty of funny moments in the show that keep it from being all drama all the time. Fans of the show have come to love the movie line banter between Harvey and Mike, Harvey’s awesomely confident and clever secretary, Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), the strange and sometimes annoying antics of Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), another top attorney at Pearson-Hardman, and the mystery of what exactly the can opener ritual is. Like in any good drama, there’s also the element of romance. The chemistry between Mike and fellow co-worker/paralegal Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) is some of the best I’ve seen on television. Their scene in the copy room at the end of Season 2 is one of the show’s most memorable.

Suits really has it all. It can be serious, nerve-racking, funny, sad, sweet, and totally badass all in one episode. For those interested in legal dramas, this isn’t one to miss. Even with five seasons in the books, it won’t be difficult to catch up because the story will hook you. Suits currently airs on USA Network, Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Watch and be prepared because at some point you’ll get Litt Up!