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Top Tracks of My Summer

8 Aug

Some people love music…I Love Music…I’m marrying a man who LOVES MUSIC. Every month he downloads a couple hundred tracks and judges them with his thumb on his iPod. I tend to explore at a slower pace– looking for inspiration on Pandora, from friends, and when the fiancé feels like he’s found something he thinks I’ll be into.

On my iPod these are dubbed as “Summer 2013” even though they weren’t all released during the past few months. I believe that there is always room for discovering music– both old AND new– throughout our lives. Who says a song by Fleetwood Mac from 1974 can’t be on my Summer 2016 playlist? With that in mind, here are the five most heavily rotated songs on my iPod:

1. “Thunder Clatter” by Wild Cub

A ridiculously fun song with wonderfully textured lyrics and a mantra at the end that just kills me every time I hear it. It’s totally not in my range and I sound terrible when I sing along with it, but I love it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m getting married in two months, but the lines are so lovely.

I hear it call in the center of it all
You’re the love of my life
I hear it all in the center of my heart
You’re the love of my life


2. “Verona” by Geographer

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a synthesizer and this song doesn’t disappoint. I find myself enjoying the upbeat chorus but looking forward to the quieter parts of the song. The subject matter is full of longing and melancholy, yet remains vibrant.


3. “Red Light District” by Midi Mathilda

I can’t get enough of the falsetto and the cadence of the singer. The ever-changing tempo and focus of the music keeps me interested and I’ve fallen in love with this EP. Really looking forward to their next offering and if you like them, check out “Day Dreams” from the same EP.


4. “Closer Than This” by St. Lucia

Tam.Bour.Rine. TAMBOURINE! Lady voices. Beats. Catchy and sweet lyrics.


5. “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities

This song came out in 2011 and for some reason is insanely blowing up right now. The future husband was playing his music on random and this came on– instant attraction. Synth beat and BUGLES. What more could a girl ask for? It’s all over Pandora and I’ve been walking in West loop and hearing cars blare it. Good for them, it’s a great track. We’ll see what else they come up with.

BONUS TRACK: “The Tale of You & Me” by Wild Child

Morbid topic. Lovely duet. Stellar mantra ending.

Sleep good and hold tight,
just know that I’ll make it right


Hot Tracks, Lame Band Name

25 Mar

Graffiti6Spring forward with some pop perfection from another UK band (yes, I’m an Anglophile, we all know it), Graffiti6. Think Mayer Hawthorne, Gnarls Barkley, with a little Mark Ronson thrown in. Loads of harmonies, snazzy beats, and addictive hooks. The lead singer, Jamie Scott, is a bit too pretty for my tastes, but it matches the pretty vocals that he pumps out for stand out tracks like “Colours,” “Stone in My Heart,” and “Starlight.”

Scott was thrown together with DJ/producer Tommy ‘D’ Danvers back in 2008, who enhanced some of Scott’s original tracks. Bored with the idea of remixing every track Scott had already recorded, they started collaborating together and some super sexy tracks came out of the relationship.

These multi-instrumental Brits are widely known for their covers of Adele, Coldplay, and Fleet Foxes…among others. Most can be found on their YouTube channel. I’m still pretty partial to my first introduction of them via their 2010 EP, Stone in My Heart. Come for “Stone in My Heart,” but stay for “Starlight”:

We’re meeting up next weekend at a Hipster bar in Bucktown where we’ll have a nice chat over a few pints of microbrewed goodness.

I’ve personally requested that they cover “Get Together” by Madonna, but I doubt they’ve heard my plea.

A Sweet, Sweet Dream

27 Sep

Gemma HayesWhen a friend send me a few tracks from the May 2011 release, Let it Break, and I heard the honeyed vocals of Gemma Hayes through my ear buds I had a major case of déjà vu. I scoured my music library, coming up empty-handed until I was listening to my Gary Lightbody playlist. There she was on The Cake Sale singing “All The Way Down” from the Once soundtrack! Just when I thought my love of Irish artists couldn’t swell any larger, I come across this little Gem-ma of a gal.

Releasing music for over 10 years and proficient at piano and guitar, Gemma has created consistently gentle and silvery tracks that feel like vines slowly creeping up my legs and body until all I can do is succumb to the entire album. She won additional points by collaborating with another Irish crush, Paul Noonan of Bell X1, on “Fire” with background vocals and beats. If you know Bell X1, you’ll immediately hear their indelible mark on the track.

This lass has collaborated with a bunch of artists, including a lovely version of “Lay Lady Lay” with Magnet on the “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” soundtrack, in addition to a decently sized list of other films and television series.

I’ve already got plans to share a picnic with her in Phoenix Park the next time I’m in Dublin. If she wants to invite Gary Lightbody, Glen Hansard, and Paul Noonan, I certainly won’t interfere…and I’ll bring extra wine.

I’ve personally requested that she hook up with Damien Rice and cover “Leather & Lace” by Stevie Nicks, but I doubt she’s heard my plea.


I’ve Got You Covered

20 Aug

This year it has been difficult for me to get excited about new bands or albums (hence no new post since last November). Excluding Adele’s latest offering, 21, I have only heard a few singles here and there that have sparked any sort of interest or inspiration. Recently, I’ve found myself dipping back into some old favorites as well as challenging Pandora to as many random stations as I can think of. The latter has opened me up to a few cover songs that created an instant love crush, which lead me to revisit my own collection and track down some coveted cover songs.

A list of five, while sufficient, is certainly not comprehensive. One trend I noticed is that I prefer covers of songs originated by the opposite sex. To me, it creates a more universal image of the person being lusted after and inspires me to listen to the words rather than the object. I also realized that often times it was the phrasing of the song that I fell in love with, rather than the arrangement or the artist.

In no particular order, here are five of my favorite cover songs:

Nina Simone1) Nina Simone – To Love Somebody

Released by the BeeGee’s in 1967 and since covered by over 30 artists including a recent love, The Gadsdens, the upbeat and soulful Nina Simone still beats out the competition with this pervasive track. This is one of the few songs in my collection that, depending on my mood, can make me smile or cry as soon as I hear the opening.

Amy Winehouse2) Amy Winehouse – Valerie

That magical combination and collaboration of Mark Ronson and Amy Winhouse has come to an end, but this track from his 2007 release, Version, is ingrained in my memory and a constant on my iPod. Even though The Zutons had a decent amount of success with the original, it doesn’t jump up and smack me around like the Amy Winehouse version.

José González3) José González – Heartbeats

It was love at first listen when I heard the Swedish electropop duo, The Knife, a few years ago, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve listened to their Heartbeats over 1,000 times. While on a recent Pandora binge I heard this angel coming through the speakers. Completely stripped of the electro beats and the eccentric vocals of Karin Andersson, this song felt fresh and completely raw, and manages to overwhelm me every time I listen to it.

Roberta Flack4) Roberta Flack – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

This one is a perfectly good example of why phrasing wins my affection. Leonard Cohen’s original is lovely, but feels dated and almost awkward to me. Roberta’s addition of the piano and her way of being so incredibly quiet while carrying a big stick of emotion makes me want to curl up into a ball and never leave my apartment…in a good way.

Jeff Buckley5) Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

My second Cohen song on the list (poor guy keeps losing out!), this one has been glorified by pretty much every single person who has ever heard it. Buckley’s range and openness were his most charming features, and his ability to make his audience feel exposed and connected was his greatest talent. His version of Lilac Wine almost made it on the list and would have continued in the tradition of my love of opposite sex covers.

My Goodness, My Goddess

11 Nov

It’s no secret that I have delusions of grandeur. In another life I am a thriving pop star with a signature style, stellar costumes, and honey-drenched voice. While that ship has sailed for me, it remains alive and well in Florence Welch, a.k.a. Florence + The Machine.

The 26 year-old ginger-haired British goddess hits strong and hard, only to retreat an instant later to lure you back in for another smack. I am completely spun out when I listen to her debut album, Lungs, as images of the celestial heavens are burst open by a speeding bullet.

Like many people, my first real taste of Florence + The Machine was at the 2010 MTV VMAs. She was epic, ethereal, powerful, talented, limitless … and only in her mid-20s. Thinking that her entire album would follow the path of “Dog Days Are Over”—a whirlwind of tempos, theater, and a bluesy drag of voice—I was confounded by “Kiss With a Fist,” a sassy, violent, and catchy track that has long garnered comparisons to Kate Nash.

When she stops in Chicago on her next tour, Florence and I are hitting up the Lyric Opera and then lounging at a hookah bar. Wanna join?

I’ve personally requested that she cover “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush, but I doubt she’s heard my plea.

Electropop Princess

10 Sep

Swedish-born Robyn hit the scene in the mid-90’s with high school hits “Show Me Love” and “Do You Know What it Takes (To Love Me)” and I have to admit that I not only owned the album, but played the hell out of it. A chick who is my age, talented, adorable, and full of attitude—when can we be besties?

Robyn and I lost touch over the years due to her music not being available in the States in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, but we were reintroduced through “Cobrastyle” and “With Every Heartbeat” in 2007. These tracks reveal the disparity between being hard-hitting and sassy, while also keeping a raw, emotional side intact. Something that all modern women struggle with.

She gained more electro cred by joining Röyksopp on the track, “The Girl and the Robot” off their 2009 Junior album. Two of my other favorite electropop princesses, Karin Dreijer Andersson and Lykke Li were also featured on the album.

Yeah, she’s over 30 and still shooting videos in a club—but it works. Robyn tours and creates mercilessly. Her latest album, Body Talk, is broken into Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 and isn’t stuffed with filler. Every track is thoughtful and well produced.

She is a pint-sized, platinum powerhouse whose consistent ability to stay true to pop music and still evolve musically will keep her working for years to come. I’ll be sure to invite you over the next time she and I are in my living room, chatting over a bottle of Malbec and some Swedish meatballs.

I’ve personally requested that she cover “Invincible” by Pat Benatar, but I doubt she’s heard my plea.

I Heart Funky White Boys

11 Aug

The latest offering, Brothers, from the Ohio-based duo The Black Keys, finds the boys on a steady path of evolution without sacrificing the sultry grit they established with their 2002 debut The Big Come Up. Progressing into friendly hooks while retaining a sound that intimates a dirty secret beneath—like tattoos under a Brooks Brothers suit—keeps them from being considered a sellout to pop culture.

Every track from the new album transports me to one of three realms: a smoky lounge with tattered oriental rugs and couches that have seen better days; a dark basement jam session; or a private room at a club with strong arms and a tight rump working a pole.

The Black Keys gained some notoriety through “I’ll Be Your Man,” off their debut album The Big Come Up, being chosen as the theme song to HBO’s “Hung”—a track that fits so perfectly with the show, one would think it was written after viewing the pilot. Their tracks have been featured in numerous films, TV shows, and video games and continue to be noticed by musical communities from rock to hip hop.

In 2009 they joined forces with the likes of Raekwon, ODB, Jim Jones, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Ludacris, singer Nicole Wray, to create a genre-bending and critically acclaimed album, Blackroc. The collaboration was overseen by Damon Dash—a huge fan of the The Black Keys—and the band is already in the studio creating round two.

This is sexy music for grownups, people.

I’ve personally requested that they cover “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” by The Hollies, but I doubt they’ve heard my plea.

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