Category: Music

Music Faceoff: Lea Michelle vs. Karmin

By , April 8, 2014

Battle of the March 2014 Releases
Lea Michelle’s Louder vs. Karmin’s Pulses

It’s a nail bitter folks. Who is going get your weekly freegal downloads? Will it be the latest release from the Glee diva? Or will the underdog hip-hopster steal the glory? What would P Diddy tell Barbra Streisand to do? Let’s go to the chart shall we?

Ok, so the chart, while fun, was absolutely no help. I guess you’ll just have to download them both from freegal and have your own sonic duel. If you’re feeling more introspective and schmoopy, Lea would be a better bet. I’ll save a Kleenex for you. If you just wanna dance, definitely rock the Karmin – my head’s bobbing with you right now.

Happy downloading…isn’t freegal awesome?

:) Amanda

Oh PS…you can listen to both albums by streaming them on freegal before downloading anything if my highly non scientific chart didn’t help you decide either.

Big Ears Festival Wrap-Up

By , April 4, 2014
This past weekend, fans of experimental music gathered for the third ever Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, myself included.  Rolling Stone has called it “the most ambitious and avant-gard festival to emerge in America in more than a decade.”   Its first year in 2009, offered a diverse line-up of rock, electronic, ambient, noise, and minimalist composers and performers.  After a more commercially driven follow-up, it took a long 3-year hiatus.  When asked why they kept festival fans waiting for so long, its founder Ashley Capps replied that they were waiting for this year’s lineup:
Headlining the festival was Steve “Kind-of-a-big-deal” Reich. While many of Reich’s pieces were performed throughout the 3-day festival, his presence provided more of a focal point.

Perhaps no other living composer has influenced the direction of both classical and popular forms of music.  Reich was one of first musicians to experiment with sampling, which he claims to have discovered by accident. For more on Reich’s use of sampling, check out his introduction to the book Sound unbound : Sampling Digital Music and Culture

Among the host of musicians influenced by Reich is the band Radiohead, specifically guitarist Jonny Greenwood who both performed at and attended the festival.  Greenwood began his music career studying viola at Oxford, but dropped out to become a rocker.  In recent years he has returned to the classical world, scoring films like There Will Be Blood and The Master.  While these scores hearken back to earlier composers, Reich’s influence on Greenwood, I find, is more evident on recent Radiohead releases (see: In Rainbows).  Greenwood paid homage to this influence at Big Ears with a performance of Reich’s Electric Counterpoint on electric guitar.

Reich returned the complement by arranging a suite of Radiohead music, titled Radio Rewrite, also performed at Big Ears by an ensemble of strings and pianos.  In his talk with festival-goers, the great composer seemed, at times, dismissive of the popular forms of music he has helped create.  My question, left unanswered, was what had led him to single out Radiohead for the distinct honor?  For me, Radiohead served as an introduction to more experimental music.  Did this homage validate the musical depths of the band, or was Reich just trying to appeal to folks like me?

Other Big Ears Performers found at your library:

Music of Steve Reich

Buke and Gase excellent, and accessible jangly pop

John Cale : a major songwriting force of Velvet Underground, etc.

Dawn of Midi : jazz instrumentation evoking electronic composition

Glenn Kotche : drummer from Wilco’s recording of Reich’s ”Clapping

Bryce Dessner : from the band The National

Tim Hecker

Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth

John Adams’ Shaker Loops

Book review: Five Flavors of Dumb

By , March 25, 2014

Five Flavors of Dumb
By Antony John

I used to work in the music industry. It’s a pretty tough business, and I must admit that I was not enough of a balla or shot calla to really hustle up fame and fortune. Silly me – I thought it was all about great music (feel free to insert appropriate scoffing in the comments).

But that was what I liked most about this book. Our main gal Piper, band manager extraordinaire, was able to push her band, Dumb, through the glass ceiling of dreaming about music to actually having a shot at something beyond bar gigs and college tours. This feat was even more impressive because Piper is moderately to severely deaf. She simply had the gift to seek out opportunities and then make them  happen. Sometimes with disastrous results, yes – but hey, in the music business no press is bad press, right? (example: Miley Cyrus).

I also think the author did a great job of building authentic and relatable characters. I wanted to be friends with the members of Dumb. Except maybe Josh, but every band needs some kind of ego maniac at some point in their careers. In addition, I must mention that it was fun to read a book written by someone in ma-ma-ma-my generation for the next generation (this is a young adult book after all). Oasis who? Nirvana what?

My delusions aside, the music industry is at its best when great music coincides with a strong vehicle for promotion – think Hendrix or Clapton. And it’s up to the pink-haired Pipers of the world to make sure this great music gets heard.

Happy reading…or listening to Wonderwall…or whatever…

:) Amanda

Book review: Wild tales : a rock & roll life by Graham Nash

By , March 20, 2014

Wild Tales: a rock & roll life
by Graham Nash
Those of you who came of age in the sixties and seventies will want to rearrange your calendars Friday to make sure you don’t miss the Nashville Public Library appearance of Graham Nash. The book signing is Friday, March 21st at noon.

Few individuals have had such an influence on the musical direction of a generation as Mr. Nash. Graham Nash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice, first in 1997 with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and again in 2010 with the Hollies.

He is currently touring to share tales from his memoir, Wild tales : a rock & roll life. The Nashville Public Library collection is rich in materials penned and created by Graham Nash; music spanning five decades, a photography collection, concert performances, politics, work with Musicians United for Safe Energy, celebrating songwriters.  The list goes on and on and wonderfully on.

Graham Nash at the Nashville Public Library event details.

“You know, every year has been fantastic for me, I’m still here, I’m still alive and it’s been fantastic” Graham Nash

-laurie

Music review: GIRL

By , March 11, 2014

GIRL
By Pharrell Williams

Ok. It’s been out for a week. How many times have you listened to this album? Wait…what!?! You haven’t downloaded it from freegal yet? And you don’t even know if you want to? (I’m shaking my head in shock and amazement.)

Well, just in case there’s any doubt, let me present the five best reasons you need to download this album ASAP:

5) Your friends, neighbors, children, children’s friends, & random strangers off the street will think you are almost as cool as Pharrell if you have your car windows down (once the weather finally gets warm) and his tunes cranked up.

4) You can stream the whole album right now, just by logging into freegal. Plus it’s only 10 tracks long, so it will only take you two weeks to get the whole thing once you realize how much you have to have it.

3) Cameos by Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Miley, and Daft Punk.

2) Pharrell always brings the best grooves for practicing those embarrassing schnazy dance moves. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth…

And the number one reason for downloading what could potentially be the best album of the year:

1) It’s free. Hello? What are you waiting for?

If I haven’t sold you on the genius that is Pharrell, I’m sure we can find some Barry Manilow to download instead. *shrug*

Happy listening…

:) Amanda

 

10 Women that Rock on Hoopla

By , March 7, 2014
Since it’s women’s history month, I’m featuring 10 of my favorite female musicians on Hoopla, the library’s newest site for digital content.  I realize that women can rock in any number of ways, but it just so happens I’m talking about Rock n’ Roll. Top 10 lists are inherently subjective, and if you caught my post of 10 African American artists last month, then you know mine are no exception.  10 is the number of albums the library gives you on Hoopla per month. While I naturally recommend you download all of 10 of my picks, I encourage you to sign up and take a look : hoopladigital.com.

 

Pure Heroine (Extended) 10) Lorde: People come in to the library all the time trying to get their hands on this one.  I show them the CD hold list and watch their face drop. Then I tell them it’s available instantly on Hoopla, and now I tell you…
Album : Pure Heroine

 

 

St. Vincent 9) St. Vincent : Her new album dropped just 2 weeks ago and was available on Hoopla that day. Using her guitar more as a noise-maker, Annie Clark forms infectious pop from chaos. For now, check out her back catalog from the library’s CD collection.
Album : St. Vincent

 

Medulla 8) Bjork : Always on the cutting edge of pop and electronic music, she also proved capable of shedding the machines with 2004′s Medulla, one of her most brilliantly layered albums; done almost entirely with vocals.
Album : Medulla

 

 

This Island 7) Le Tigre : Everybody gives Seattle credit for grunge, but mostly leaves out the other half of the story, dubbed Riot Grrrl.  Kathleen Hanna was it’s leader (she coined the phrase “Smells Like Teen Spirit”).  Check out her recent bio pic, the Punk Singer, from the library.
Album : This Island

 

The Woods 6) Sleater-Kinney : Carrie Brownstein as a highly underestimated rock guitarist in my humble opinion. But you may know her better as half of the comedy duo in IFC’s hipster parody, Portlandia.
Album : The Woods

 

 

Living In Clip 5) Ani Difranco : Folky yet righteous.  What’s always impressed me is her guitar playing, with inventive open tunings and notes so fiercely plucked it becomes like a percussive instrument.  Her label, Righeous Babe Records consistently puts out new quality artists (See : Anais Mitchell)

 

A Tori Amos Collection: Tales Of A Librarian 4) Tori Amos : A piano player with chops and vision, who writes songs that feel like journeys into fairy tale realms. She’ll be at the Ryman this summer. The title of her recent retrospective is too good to pass up.

 

 

Shadows And Light 3) Joni Mitchell : One of the best songwriters of her generation, and often lost in the shadow of her male counterparts.  She managed to assemble one of the best jazz bands of the 70′s on her Shadows and Light tour.  This double disk finds legendary bassist Jaco Pastorious at his finest.

 

I Put A Spell On You 2) Nina Simone : If the record starts in her low register, you might assume she were a man, but her range is more than vocal in nature.  Runs the gambit from peppy jazz to some of the deepest, most mournful cries put to acetate.

 

 

Gospel Train 1) Sister Rosetta Tharpe : An unsung pioneer of the electric guitar. Download an album then watch her go to town on YouTube.
Album : Gospel Train

 

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Like a Librarian…

By , February 14, 2014

Do you know how I can contact Sherlock Holmes?

Because I need to solve the mystery of  how to win

your heart…

It’s Valentine’s Day…   But let’s keep that Valentine’s vibe going all year long – treat your special sweeties (and all your fellow human beings) with respect and love every day!   Ever wondered how librarians celebrate Valentine’s Day?  Check out the popular materials department staff picks for favorite romantic movies and songs.

 

Amanda’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Something’s Gotta Give
love songs:   I Choose You by Sara Bareilles (download
on freegal), You’ve Made Me So Very Happy by Blood  Sweat and Tears (freegal) 
 
 
 
 

Bryan’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Silver Linings Playbook
love song:  Dirty Old Town by The Pogues
 
 
 
 
 

Cheryl’s Picks:
romantic movie:  Jane Austen’s Persuasion
love song:  At Last as sung by Etta James,What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong 
 
 
 
 

Karen’s Picks:
romantic movie:  The Time Traveler’s Wife, Pride and Prejudice
love songs:  Love is the Drug by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
 
 
 
 
And finally, as for me, Crystal:
romantic movie:  Something New
love songs:  Unravel by Bjork, Bed of Nails by Wild Beasts

 
 
 
 

10 African American Musicians on Hoopla

By , February 7, 2014

Alright music fans, if you have a library card then you have no excuse not to try Hoopla, the library’s brand new site for streaming content and downloads.  It’s being hailed as the library’s answer to Netflix, but it’s also a killer source for discovering new music!  (Here’s how to sign up)  Since it’s Black History Month, I thought I’d feature some of my favorite African American musicians that you can find on Hoopla.  You get 10 albums per month with your library card, so…I present to you a top 10 list for the month of February.  I am going to start off with some modern music makers who are carrying on the torch, and circle back to a couple of those innovators (of which there are too many to list, and would just scratch the surface of Hoopla’s expansive back-catalog.)

 

10) Janelle Monáe : You saw her at the Super Bowl, now catch up quickly and pretend like you knew her all along.

Album: The Electric Lady 

 

 

9) Valerie June : Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, from West Tennessee.  Her new album was co-produced by (Nashville resident) Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. Excellent.

Album: Pushin’ Against A Stone 

 

 

8) TV on the Radio : Great rock band. They’re working on a new album to be released this year.  Catch up on Hoopla, start here and work backwards.

Album: Dear Science

 

 

7) Carolina Chocolate Drops : It is Nashville, after all–an old-time string band with a hip twist.

Album: Genuine Negro Jig

 

 

6)Esperanza Spalding : Virtuosic upright bass player and singer that draws on a lot of modern influences.

Album: Chamber Music Society

 

 

5) Reggie Watts : Don’t let the comedy tag deceive, the guy loops and layers beat-box and vocals  into side-splitting post-modern compositions.

Album: A Live at Central Park

 

 

4) Black Star : Quality, socially conscious hip hop.  The duo continue to collaborate, but this album set a bar.

Album : Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star

 

 

 

3) Bobby McFerrin : A vocal innovator and composer who moves fluidly between genres. For those expecting more of the same from the singer of “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” you’re in for a surprise and a treat.

Album : VOCAbuLarieS

 

 

2) Ted Hawkins : This man never had his due.  Sly and soulful, the song “Sorry You’re Sick” is a good introduction.

Album: Cold and Bitter Tears: Essential Recording

 

 

1) Ornette Coleman : No doubt one of the innovators.  But the inventor of free jazz continues to be cutting edge in his old age, having collaborated with the likes of Lou Reed and director David Cronenberg. Also a great example of the depth of Hoopla’s classics (25 of his albums available)

Album: Something Else!!!

 

 

Why wait? Listen now!

 

Music review: AWOLNation

By , December 31, 2013

Megalithic Symphony
By AWOLNation

I’m a sucker for a catchy title, and this one was definitely intriguing. Being a student of music, the word symphony has always had an enjoyable connotation and megalithic to me just means big and bombastic. Loud. Awesome. Which is honestly not too far from the truth.

I didn’t realize how much my music listening habits had changed until I started listening to this album. I used to listen to albums from beginning to end, repeatedly. Now, instead, I listen to playlists made up of favorite single songs. It’s hard to get a good, overall picture of what the artists are trying to say- kinda like reading only one chapter of a book.

I first heard “Sail” on the radio and immediately fell in love. What was this industrial blues thing that DJs actually played? So I did a little research, having never heard of this AWOLNation group, hoping – nay praying, for there to be one more song on the album as cool as “Sail.” But I find myself continually turning up the volume as I’m listening (to the detriment of my desk neighbors – sorry guys), each song better than it’s predecessor – even before I get to “Sail.”

I think Icky Thump from The White Stripes was the last album I enjoyed as much as a whole.  ”Sail” is still inexplicably my AWOL favorite, but I’m becoming a pretty big fan of it’s brother and sister songs, especially “Soul Wars” and “Jump on my Shoulders,” and it was interesting to see how they all fit into the artist’s vision.

So for the last post of the new year, check out AWOLNation. This symphony’s not bittersweet – it’s MEGALITHIC! If you can’t find me, it’s probably because I’m listening to this album somewhere.

Happy listening and Happy 2014…

:) Amanda

Music review: Laurel Halo

By , November 18, 2013

Intrigued by music of Laurel Halo after hearing her track “Carcass” on RBMA’s Headphone Highlights program, I was thrilled to find Halo’s entire Quarantine album, including the track “Carcass,” is available on Freegal. I never thought the words “I, carcass” would be stuck in my head as a melodic phrase. Behind all the fuzzy layers of digital static is Halo’s classical training. She’s knows when to let a melody bleed through to keep you from drifting into the void.

The use of voice as abstract musical building block is reminiscent of Bjork’s (underrated and amazing) Medúlla. The alternating layers of cold ice and warm flannel are straight up Tim Hecker – another electronic composer, whose genre defining, critically acclaimed  albums are also on Freegal. On Halo’s most recent release, Chance of Rain, she eschews vocals all together. Let’s explore this new territory together.

- Bryan

Off the Shelf is powered by WordPress. Panorama Theme by Themocracy