Posts Tagged ‘Song of the Day’

SONG OF THE DAY: September 29th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Monsters of Folk, “Whole Lotta Losin’”

We’re back! After a week of hibernation, the Song of the Day feature returns to Rhombus on this very late Monday evening, but better late than never. I’ve recently been struggling internally with whether or not this is a worthwhile feature to continue here on Rhombus (after all, it is quite time-consuming when published five days a week). This is mostly due to the fact that I am unsure how many people consistently read/listen to the Song of the Day or if it’s just me amusing myself. If you enjoy reading the Song of the Day and would like the feature to continue in the near future, please say so in the comments section available below. If you don’t much care and you somehow stumbled onto this post by accident, well, your silence will be your vote.

That being said, last week was a good one for those who enjoy good music: Monsters of Folk, the closest thing we have to a modern supergroup, released their debut album — and it doesn’t suck. In fact, it’s pretty awesome. Featuring the songwriting stylings of such prominent indie bards as Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and M. Ward (She & Him), this ironically-named side project was destined to either be excellent or excrement. Thankfully, I can unequivocally say it is the former.

I know we featured Monsters of Folk’s wonderful lead single “Say Please” here awhile back, but I thought the full album’s release merited another look at the group. Blending a myriad of genres, MOF touch effortlessly on so many stylistic niches that they nearly create one in their own right. The song included below, “Whole Lotta Losin’,” combines driving guitars and group harmonies reminiscent of 1960s surf rock with heavenly synths more comfortable in the 1980s, and single-handedly exemplifies the band’s genre-shifting abilities. “Whole Lotta Losin’” is like the Beach Boys guesting on a Buddy Holly record while Duran Duran jumps in on synths — and it doesn’t suck. Conversely, it works on so many levels and only continues to grow on you more with each additional listen. Give the Monsters (and their truly awful name) a try below, and don’t forget to comment if you’d like to see the Song of the Day stick around. As always, thanks for reading.

Listen to: Monsters of Folk, “Whole Lotta Losin’”

Steve Pierce is editor and co-founder of Rhombus. His Song of the Day feature appears Monday through Friday, showcasing the best in local and national music, both new and old.

SONG OF THE DAY: September 18th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Isaac Russell, “Why”

We here at Rhombus haven’t been shy about our feelings for RuRu — or Isaac Russell, as he’s now known. (No matter what Columbia Records calls him, he’ll always be plain old RuRu to us.) Provo’s own musical prodigy has blessed us all with so many great live shows over the years (not to mention a truly spectacular LP) that it’s going to be a little sad to see him move on to bigger things.

For those of you unschooled in the local music scene, 17-year-old Russell — formerly known as RuRu — just signed a recording deal with Columbia and recently returned from recording his major label debut in Mississippi with industry heavyweight Dennis Herring. (For more details on his big break, check out our original, exclusive report here.) The album should hit stores in early 2010 and then our favorite folkie will be off on who knows how many world tours, visiting places much larger and certainly more interesting than Provo, Utah. And as happy as everyone here at Rhombus is for Isaac and his much-deserved success, we can’t help but be a little sad that things will probably never be quite the same again.

That being said, you should probably take advantage of having Russell here before he’s gone — and that starts tonight! If you have a breath in your body, you should be at this boy wonder’s Columbia signing celebration tonight at 8:00 p.m. at Velour in downtown Provo. Featuring sets from both Russell and local favorite Sayde Price, this evening full of great music will definitely be worth the meager $8 price tag. If you’re having trouble parting with your Washingtons, just consider that you’ll have to pay $40 and brave the abomination that is the E Center (or some similarly awful venue) to see him in just a few short months. Might as well strike while the iron’s hot.

In order to get you psyched for the show, I’ve embedded Russell’s truly superb song “Why” below. The opening track off his excellent 2008 LP Elizabeth, “Why” defines everything great about Isaac’s music and will undoubtedly be stuck in your heads for weeks on end — without ever getting old. And that is what he does best: Outside all of the hype and major label hullabaloo, Isaac Russell writes great songs that affect people’s lives deeply and powerfully. The boy’s not a flash in the pan; He’s the real deal. Stop by Velour tonight and appreciate having this great artist around while you still have the chance. We hope to see you there.

Listen to: Isaac Russell, “Why”

Steve Pierce is editor and co-founder of Rhombus. His Song of the Day feature appears Monday through Friday, showcasing some of the best in local and national music.

SONG OF THE DAY: September 17th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Matt & Kim, “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare”

We featured this great minimalist Brooklyn dance-pop duo a couple months ago, but I couldn’t resist pulling this song up in light of this evening’s events. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, chances are you didn’t catch the pilot episode of NBC’s new comedy Community, which aired tonight. Starring Joel McHale, Chevy Chase and a strong supporting cast, the upstart show demonstrated serious potential to become the next hit in the network’s already superior comedic line-up (The Office, 30 Rock). Hey, it’s approximately eight times better than Parks and Recreation, which is a boon in and of itself.

So how does an obscure Matt & Kim track relate to NBC’s new Thursday night comedy? Well, the stomping beat and peppy handclaps of “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” were plastered all over the show’s debut episode, not to mention all of its promotional spots. Coincidentally, the song — and its maddeningly catchy chorus, in particular — has been stuck in my head for a good three days now. Who knew it would also show up in my favorite new show of this dismal fall TV season? Such things can’t be ignored and, thus, I feel obligated by fate to share it with you, dear readers. Enjoy — and don’t get too upset with me if you find yourself inexplicably singing the chorus in the commode. These things happen to the best of us.

Listen to: Matt & Kim, “Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare”

SONG OF THE DAY: September 17th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Spoon, “The Underdog”

If you’ve never listened to Austin, Texas’ favorite sons, you’ve been missing out. Spoon make minimalist pop for the indie set — and do it very well. Vocalist Britt Daniel’s lyrics often make little sense and are accompanied by rather basic instrumentation, but to great effect. The prominent horn section on “The Underdog” is about as flashy as you’ll see Spoon get. Indeed, the track is undoubtedly the band’s most “mainstream” effort; it’s probably the best song Billy Joel never wrote. If you’re looking to ease into the group’s extensively excellent catalog, this is a good place to start. Enjoy becoming accustomed to Daniel’s style with this catchy anthem of the downtrodden, but prepare yourself for extended enigmatic descriptions of household objects should you choose to continue your Spoon education by exploring deeper cuts. Don’t let that scare you off; I promise you won’t regret it.

Listen to: Spoon, “The Underdog”

SONG OF THE DAY: September 15th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Lady Gaga, “Paparazzi”

Lady Gaga is probably the new Madonna. I’m 95 percent sure about this. Consider the facts: She’s neither especially pretty nor ugly, but still possesses a vibrant sexuality that makes some uncomfortable; She simultaneously wears some of the most groundbreaking and ridiculous fashions; She is a master of self-promotion and re-invention; And she makes really addictive dance-pop. I can’t decide whether or not these are good or bad things, but I do know they’re somehow important. Lady Gaga may be the living embodiment of our 21st Century pop culture, where fame is no longer a means to any specific end, but the end itself.

No matter what you think about Lady Gaga, you can’t take your eyes off her. You always want to know what she will do and/or wear next. In modern America, this is probably the most salient power a celebrity can have. Madonna parlayed it into a legendary career and now sits as a distinguished elder states(wo)man of the music industry. Is Lady Gaga destined for similar success or is she merely the first in an inevitable line of flashes in our Twitter-fied pan? Obviously only time will tell, but there is something to be said for her unique ability to suck you and hold you there for no reason whatsoever.

Embedded below is a clip of Lady Gaga’s performance of “Paparazzi” at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. While everyone was busy feigning outrage over Kanye West being a jerk (again), she turned in one of the few memorable performances in a night full of drab, forgettable schlock. As I’ve said before, I’m not entirely sure if this is good or bad, but it’s certainly engrossing. I had listened to only one and a half of the woman’s songs before viewing the performance, but I have now become (quite obviously) enthralled with the very idea that she exists, regardless of artistic merit. I suppose this is probably her gift. Lady Gaga’s performance is either absolutely brilliant or completely bizarre. I’m beginning to think it’s probably a bit of both. Color me puzzled. Watch the video and let me know your thoughts on Lady Gaga in the comment space below.

(Warning: The embedded video contains somewhat mature themes and may not be suitable for all viewers. Please use your discretion.)

SONG OF THE DAY: September 11th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Imagine Dragons, “I Need A Minute”

It seems each decade has a defining band or, at the very least, a small handful of them. But who defines the ’00s? With the decade nearly out, we have failed to find our Nirvana or U2 — a band that, regardless of technical merit, comes to embody an era. Maybe our cultural ambivalence is due to the sheer volume of music being produced and our unparalleled access to it via the internet. Regardless of the reason, there is a handful of bands that are certainly in contention, but haven’t quite unanimously staked their claim to the vacancy.

Even though they released their seminal work in 1997, Radiohead is undoubtedly the most accomplished and boundary-pushing group of the decade, but with relatively modest commercial success. Coldplay sells out arenas around the world and leaves millions wondering what cockamamie name Chris Martin will dream up for his next child, but let’s be honest: they haven’t played one original note and their entire career is built on producing mainstream photocopies of everything Radiohead already did eight billion times better on OK Computer. Yet while both those groups hail for the shores of jolly old England, Las Vegas glam-rockers the Killers are the decade’s dark horse. Openly loathed by some in the indie community because they so openly aspire to be the “Next Great American Rock Band,” their critical and commercial success has remained fairly consistent through three albums and a relentless touring schedule. They have put together all the pieces in a way few other bands have in the 2000s.

That being said, Imagine Dragons picked themselves a good role model. Also heralding from the neon-lit deserts of Nevada, the group formed as students in Provo in 2008. The interceding months have been a whirlwind of critical love for the band, ranging from a BYU Battle of the Bands victory to rave reviews for the band’s summer shows back home in Vegas. Featuring danceable beats and pulsing synths much like their hometown forerunners, Imagine Dragons make dance-pop for Killers fans that crave a little more punch and a lot less preening.

But make no mistake: Imagine Dragons is not some kind of Killers cover band. While the influence is certainly present, vocalist Dan Reynolds’ songs are more poppy and fun, while the group’s remaining members fill in with splendid backing vocals that Killers frontman Brandon Flowers would die for. Nowhere is this more apparent than on “I Need A Minute,” the opening track of their recently released, self-titled EP. Embedded below, the track features Reynolds infectiously begging for a minute to get his head straight, while his bandmates provide a perfectly complimentary shout-along chorus. The driving beat and hook-laden melody will burrow its way into your brain and stay there — and that’s a very, very good thing. Imagine Dragons may not be this decade’s iconic rock band, but the desert sky’s the limit for these Vegas natives. After all, the 2010s are just around the corner.

Come out and see Imagine Dragons live in Provo on Saturday, September 12th at “Rock The Block” at Seven Peaks Water Park. Also featuring the Vibrant Sound and Hello Helicopter.

Listen to: Imagine Dragons, “I Need A Minute”

SONG OF THE DAY: September 10th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Jay-Z (feat. Alicia Keys), “Empire State of Mind”

I believe it was LL Cool J who once called himself the G.O.A.T., or “Greatest Of All Time.” Unfortunately for Mr. Cool J, the total desecration of his credibility coincided with his appearance in the 2005 cinematic crapfest that was Stealth. Even more unfortunate for LL is that the greatest of all time had already been crowned at the time of that monstrosity. Jay-Z has been and will continue to be the reigning king of hip-hop until somebody unseats him, which has become increasingly unlikely as pretty much every possible contender owes their career to the man.

True, Jay peaked with 2003′s The Black Album, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still at the top of the rap game. Even if he isn’t matching his previous rhythmic highs, an average Jay-Z album is approximately eight billion times better than 95% of the stuff put out by his contemporaries. The Brooklyn emcee has a flow that is unforgettable and a way with words that is mystifying. He works with the best producers and pushes them to constantly expand their craft and outdo their previous work, creating not only truly great hip-hop, but just plain great music.

Jay’s new album The Blueprint 3 officially drops tomorrow, despite being widely leaked and subsequently streamed on the internet last week. Reviews have stated what one would expect: it’s not Hov’s best work, but that’s hardly anything to sneeze at. (Still beats another disc by 50 Cent any day.) If you haven’t heard it yet, you can now stream the album in its entirety over at MTV.com. If you’re looking for a markedly smaller taste, try on “Empire State of Mind” (posted below) for four-and-a-half minutes of hip-hop excellence. Boasting a monster hook from the always wonderful Alicia Keys, Jay’s tribute to his hometown should be added to the extensive pantheon of great Big Apple-centric tracks. Move over, Billy Joel.

Listen to: Jay-Z (feat. Alicia Keys), “Empire State Of Mind”
(Disclaimer: This track contains some mature language and themes. Not intended for those with sensitivities to such content.)

SONG OF THE DAY: September 9th

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Counting Crows, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”

The Song of the Day feature makes its less-than-triumphant return after a Labor Day weekend (and then some) break. Apologies to anyone who actually came looking for their daily dose yesterday to no avail; It’s just always so tough to get back into the swing of things after a vacation. Nonetheless, we are here now with yet another song that you will probably either love or loathe. That’s just the way we operate.

I like Counting Crows. I am not alone in this feeling, but there are certainly many who snigger heartily at the very thought of one enjoying the work of Adam Duritz. True, he’s become a ginormous tool over the last five years, but the band hasn’t made anything really worthwhile since 1999′s This Desert Life anyway, so we’ll call it even. That being said, when Counting Crows were good, they were good. I’ve always viewed them as a kind of response to the early-’90s grunge movement; an anti-Nirvana, if you will. Armed with addictive pop melodies drenched in layers of Hammond organ, keys, accordion and other very non-Cobain instruments (and with the occasional hint of a countrified Southern rock lead guitar), these Bay Area phenoms seemed to be everything their Seattle counterparts weren’t. (No unintelligible moaning, sloppy power chords, public self-loathing or Courtney Love.)

“Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby,” off the aforementioned This Desert Life, is one of my favorite Crows songs. Admittedly, it is a little long at almost eight minutes. However, I feel the song represents everything that Duritz’s crew did well and, as a result, the song doesn’t feel too long, but often not long enough. I just want every lead guitar line and ooh-ing background vocal to extend on forever, enveloping my entire life in a soundtrack of late-’90s pop-rock goodness. Alas, it cannot be. Yet the song, posted below as always, perfectly encapsulates what came after grunge and pushed music a step back toward melody and musicianship. Give it a spin; You might not totally hate it.

Listen to: Counting Crows, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”

SONG OF THE DAY: September 3rd

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Manchester Orchestra, “Wolves At Night”

We don’t normally delve too much into the “emo” genre here at Rhombus, but we’ll make an exception today. Yet it still doesn’t feel quite right to paint with such a wide brush, because Manchester Orchestra really aren’t a “emo” band at all in the traditional sense. Sure, frontman Andy Hull’s vocals certainly have that strained, nasally quality perfected by so many faceless and formulaic Fueled By Ramen bands, but the similarities pretty much end there.

Manchester Orchestra rock way harder (and more legitimately) than their more mainstream counterparts, making it the perfect music for getting angry (as opposed to acting angry to teach your “oppressive” parents a “lesson.”) Hull’s songs don’t dwell on whiny adolescent heartbreak, but instead focus on more mature discussions about God, faith and death that probe far deeper than your average Fall Out Boy record. To be certain, Manchester Orchestra isn’t for everybody and the vocals can prove to be a bit of an acquired taste. But if you like energetic rock’n'roll without all the pre-pubescent self-indulgence, give Hull and friends a spin. You may just like what you hear.

Listen to: Manchester Orchestra, “Wolves At Night”

SONG OF THE DAY: September 2nd

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Music

Mudbison, “Suburbia”

We’ve been on a bit of a local kick here at Rhombus the past couple days and there’s no Provo artist we love more than Mudbison. Boasting some of the most innovative songwriting you’ll find here or anywhere, the band’s sound is profoundly eclectic and unlike pretty much anything else. Principle songwriter-vocalist Spencer Russell has a voice that’s alternately soothing and wounded, giving him the unique ability to move effortlessly from a peaceful whisper to a howling scream and end in a wistful falsetto, all in a matter of seconds. Combine one of the local scene’s most dynamic frontmen with a truly exceptional group of musicians and you get the glory that is Mudbison.

Despite a recent month-long hiatus when Russell traveled to Oxford, Miss., to help his brother Isaac (formerly known as RuRu) record his major label debut, the band are now pressing forward with the process of recording their extensive and ever-expanding catalog for an upcoming release. Until that felicitous day, we will just have to make due with the band’s frequent and phenomenal live performances and some rougher, older recordings. We can offer both. The band will play a headlining show at Velour Live Music Gallery in Provo on September 25th and it promises to be a enlightening affair, to say the least. Russell has recently dropped hints about a new, more synth-driven Mudbison sound, which will presumably be debuted at this show. If you like creative, original music (i.e. not the Black-Eyed Peas), you should probably be at Velour on the 25th.

To get you stoked for the performance, please take a listen to the band’s truly addictive “Suburbia,” included below. While this recording is an early recording done primarily by Russell and does not feature live drums or the ethereal backing vocals of keyboardist Caitlin Duncan, you’ll still get the idea. The song is awesome and just think — it will be even better live at Velour on the 25th. Rhombus will certainly be there; We hope to see you too.

Listen to: Mudbison, “Suburbia”