Archive for the ‘Enthralled in the Music Virus’ Category

Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

This one’s about to explode.

Fun’s lead guitarist Jack Antonoff has a lot going for him:

His band, Fun, won the 2013 Grammys for Best New Artist and Song of the Year
His girlfriend, Lena Dunham, is a famous actor and television writer
His new side project band, Bleachers, has attracted some famous and massive social media fans such as Taylor Swift

Not bad.

Bleachers’ first release, I Wanna Get Better, debuted last week and is slowly gaining momentum.  Although the recently released lyric (and official video) version of their song on YouTube is currently hovering at just over 6,000 hits, I expect to see this song scream up the charts within the next two weeks.

Fast paced, driving tempo mixed with off-beat, slightly-retro sounding lead vocals will suck you in until the anthem chorus hooks you, and drags you from the edges of the crowd, headlong into the fist-pumping, head-bopping fanbase and singing along.
Then you’ll press repeat.
And then you’ll do it again.

Antonoff has found the perfect progression from Fun’s music style, evolving it and adding his own touch with Bleachers.  And while “I Wanna Get Better” didn’t scream onto the chart scene, it’s quickly gaining fans and momentum.  The album is scheduled for release this spring, and Antonoff will kick off his concert tours in April after making an appearance at SXSW in March.  While the currently announced venues and ticket prices are still small and affordable, I expect that to change quickly as their fame grows.  Grab yours now while you still can!

So I put a bullet where I should have put a helmet, and I crash my car ’cause I wanna’ get carried away… I didn’t know I was broken till I wanted to change.  I wanna’ get better!
~ I Wanna Get Better, Bleachers

The Grammys? Byrd Was Right

Monday, January 27th, 2014

“You can call me Queen B for being so right!” Byrd texts me last night, referring to her prediction in 2013 regarding Lorde’s upcoming greatness.  “Royals” by Lorde took the award for Song of the Year (Byrd: WHO WAS SO RIGHT ABOUT THAT SONG?!  Though I wouldn’t have predicted Song of the Year) and Best Pop Solo Performance at last night’s Grammy Awards, beating musical industry big names Pink, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Justin Timberlake.  Who’s a Royal now?

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” meanwhile, may have lost to Lorde in the Song of the Year category, but that didn’t stop the duo from claiming the awards for Best New Artist (Byrd: Surprising win over Ed Sheeran), Rap Performance, Rap Song, and Rap Album (Byrd: Of course The Heist!  Why do you ever doubt?!) over R&B cornerstone nominees Drake, Jay Z, and Kanye West.  After the success of 2013, I’m looking forward to what 2014 brings for this duo.

With Daft Punk winning Pop/Duo Group Performance, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year, the top awards for the Grammys this year went to foreign or independently produced performers!  As we previously stated here at bighairmonkey, we believe we’ll be seeing more of this trend as the internet allows influences outside the US to be more readily recognizable and makes the world a much smaller place.

Regardless, props to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis who were quick to point out the groundswell from their fans and the duo’s independent work which led to their radio/public “discovery”:

First and foremost, I wanna’ thank our fans, the people that got us on this stage.  Before there was any media, before there was any buzz about us, before there was a story, there was our fans, and it spread organically through them, so without them, there would be no “us”.  Shout out to everybody repping worldwide …and I wanna’ say, we made this album without a record label.  We made it independently, and we appreciate all the support!

That was to you, Byrd.

 

Twenty One Pilots

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

No matter how much I try to bury it, Car Radio by Twenty One Pilots sticks in my head like a thorn that lodges itself between the webbing of my toes.

 

Every time Car Radio comes up on my playlist, I find myself moving and motivated and thinking and doing and wondering “Why aren’t these guys bigger?”  Then Guns for Hands comes up and nails it to the wall – Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn are here to entertain!

…you get yourself in front of five people and you make sure that those five people won’t forget your show. It’s all about the live show. Throw in a freakin’ cover every once in a while so they can kind of understand what’s going on, but you better figure out something that’s going to get their attention.
~Tyler Joseph

Even their name speaks to me.  Based on Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons”, about a man who commits suicide after causing the death of 21 pilots in World War II as a result of supporting his company by continuing to use faulty parts at a savings to the company, the idea of our moral battle surrounding who we work for while still trying to make a living is a recurring theme in a lot of my posts that centre around employment and companies.

I feel like we are all constantly encountering moral crossroads where the decisions that benefit the “now” will have consequences down the road; but the decision that might seem tough and tolling right away will ultimately be more rewarding.  What is our purpose for playing music? We are constantly asking ourselves that question. The answer can change all the time, but for right now we are just going to stick with something as simple as “we want to make people think.”
~ Tyler Joseph

While they have been selling out shows in Ohio for years, their recent signing to record label Fueled by Ramen has led to much larger exposure: opening for Neon Trees, the ever-epic Walk the MoonFall Out Boy on their recent “Save Rock and Roll” tour, and announced to open for Paramore’s Australian tour in January.  Their recent album, Vessel, is free for listening via their website or the Fueled by Ramen soundcloud.

 

To lock Twenty One Pilots into one particular genre, would be a mistake.  At a recent concert in which we were able to score some free tickets (Yea!!  Free tickets!!!), their live performance was *massively* energetic and reminded me of early punk and ska band performances in which moshing and pogoing first emerged.  But then you hear Ode to Sleep, and Tyler Joseph’s rap style is reminiscent of early Slim Shady.  And before you can lock them in as a new rap artist, the tempo slows to a swing vibe before returning to its rap roots.

Twenty One Pilots recently returned from across the pond touring the UK and Europe, but will be back in the US to tour with Fall Out Boy for a few months before heading to Australia to open for Paramore in January.  Take the opportunity to catch them performing in your area!

We Knew Them Back When…

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Byrd has an ability to call US trends and fame before they happen.

The Hunger Games trilogy
The Script
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
One Direction
OwlCity featuring Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 summer hit “Good Time”
Ed Sheeran (Ron Weasley’s life after Harry Potter)
“Royals” by Lorde and her continued push into the US market
Avicii

She’s called all of them before they went big in the US.

Pompeii by Bastille is her latest call.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Byrd wants me to note that she texted me back in August about Bastille, but I was “lazy and STILL haven’t posted anything” and now she’s stressed about me posting it since they’re already gaining US ground swell that dims the impact if I’d posted last month when the US recognition hadn’t started…)

Part of her ability is pure talent – she’s good at recognizing entertainment and fashion trends in which people her age are interested.  But a big part of it is just plain work.  She is all over the internet searching out her interests, and the 2 or 3 dozen blogs she regularly follows cover fashion, music, publishing, marketing and consumer trends, advertising, and design both in the US and the world outside, and from that body of knowledge and input of raw data, she’s able to piece together growing interests as they grow but before they break in general media.

It’s that “world outside” part that really gives her an edge over the US market.

When a 15 year-old Australian fashion blogger she follows mentions Lorde’s new single “Royals” back in April, and the video on Lorde’s personal YouTube channel (no longer in existence) already has 3 million views, and the New Zealand music charts are watching it skyrocket to the top of the charts, it’s not difficult to figure out that it won’t be long before someone in the US music industry starts to take notice.

Alternative music stations in the US continue to be the forerunner for International groups before they “go big” on the radio, but with the internet, radio is quickly becoming the LAST place break-out groups and performers make their appearance.  Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” had 30 million YouTube hits and MASSIVE sell-out concerts across Europe, Australia, and Asia before it ever saw radio airtime in the US, and even then, it started with the alternative stations.

What Byrd does isn’t new.  It’s just that much easier with the internet, and is no longer a role that is monopolized by publishing corporations and media moguls.

Plus it’s pretty awesome to be able to clue your mates in on a trend before it breaks and be able to say, “I told you so!”

Runner2: Future Legend Of Rhythm Alien

Monday, July 29th, 2013

One of the surprise gems to come out of Valve Software’s Steam Summer Sale wasn’t a video game but the soundtrack to a video game!

Gaijin Games’ latest episode in the Bit.Trip gaming saga, Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, updates the visual design and environment of the original Runner game from its retro-arcade “bit” look to a modern-day, smooth rendered video game.  Described as both an auto-runner and a rhythm action music game, Runner2 revolves around your ability to maneuver a constantly forward moving Commander Video over, under and onto obstacles and characters similar to the action that made the Mario Brothers series so popular.  Anything that halts his progress resets you back to an earlier checkpoint in the level, but for me, the most “devastating” setback wasn’t being brought back to a previous stage in the game, but to a previous stage in the music.

You see, as you continue to maneuver Commander Video without hindering his progress, the soundtrack continues to grow and build, not only with the rhythmic points and punctuations that accompany jumps, slides and shields, but also with additional tracks – the baseline strengthens; high hat cymbals are added; the guitar is joined by a harmonizing counter instrument…  You get caught up in the pace of the music so much that when you miss-time a jump and are reset to a previous checkpoint, you suddenly realize how empty the original music is!

Matt Harwood is the musical genius behind the building soundtrack and music design for all the Bit.Trip games, and continues to hone his craft and build a synchronous gameplay environment with Runner2.  Credited as Petrified Productions, Harwood has worked with various well known chiptune artists on the multiple Bit.Trip soundtracks, influencing his overall sound yet allowing him to develop his own style that culminates perfectly in Runner2.

The action in Runner2 is like a blending of Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero.  The animation on the latest game is much smoother than the previous games which was a risk for the 8 person team at Gaijin Games given that a large portion of the saga’s popularity is its links to the original Atari-style bit games.  Yet, as you watch Commander Video hurl across the screen, only to throw a beautiful, slow back flip through the air and grab another bonus, the existing soundtrack building with the addition of a stronger baseline, you realize they made the right decision.  The mini-animations he does on a long skid (Russian dance, ballerina pirouette or centerfold pose), his movement fluid and fun as it synchs up with the rapid, staccato beats of the building melodies, add to the overall feel of the game and submerse the user in quick, reflexive responses necessary to complete the level in a flurry of movement and semi-dance, body-twisting syncopation.

Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is a fast-paced, auto-runner, rhythm based video game whose true value is the accompanying soundtrack.  And even though the Steam Summer Sale is over for another year, the soundtracks are available for purchase or free online listening via loudr.fm.

Told’ja So

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Called it!

If you get the chance to check out Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, don’t let it pass you by!  Their days of playing to 700 people at a free college event are gone, and their recent successes are rocketing them into mainstream attention.  Expect to see them selling out their hometown Key Arena before 2013 ends.

~bighairmonkey (Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 at 1:06 am and filed under Enthralled in the Music VirusInspirationalOther Monkeys.)

And this happened:

And that’s less than half the crowd! 60,000 came out to our set at Bonnaroo today. Incredible feeling….Thank you #sharkfacegang. Photo by @heyitskenn

And then, their latest hit, “Can’t Hold Us” went triple platinum.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, let me introduce you:
This is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

 

Another Morning Turns Into Telecommuting

Monday, April 8th, 2013

I love the fact that it’s once again light in the mornings, that the sun comes up before I get in to work.  Even better when it comes up before I leave the house.  Can’t stand the days that I leave for work and the sun has yet to rise.

The rain and clouds have blown in the last week, but this morning, it’s merely cloudy, the layer keeping the morning air warmer than usual.  Instead of riding the bus all the way in to work, I get off at the south end of town and walk in the warm, bright morning.

The smell of burnt sugar wafts through the morning from the candy factory, but it’s soon replaced by the warm, honey-like smells of hops and barley as I pass the local brewery.  I avoid the bakeries – mornings like this, I crave the hot, freshly baked pizza rolls of the Australian bakeries whose equivalent I have yet to find here in the US.

Mondays are always difficult.  Except for when I was working in warehousing or early morning projects, the work day in Australia usually started at 9am instead of the US 8am, and that extra hour in the morning makes a WORLD of difference in getting my day started on the right foot.  A moment to grab breakfast or a minute to focus on yourself rather than immediately giving yourself to someone else’s day and schedule.

It feels good to be out and walking about though, and as I said, the morning is warm and beautiful foodie smells fill the air, and I just don’t want to stop walking, knowing a work day will begin.   I envy home parents who have their day as full as working parents, but also have a moment, after kids are out the door to school, to sit and spend some quiet time on their own – breakfast, internet, news, whatever…

I saw the trailer for Dreamworks’ upcoming animated film “Epic” – Snow Patrol’s haunting “The Lightning Strikes (What if this storm ends?)” makes this trailer absolutely mesmerizing!  I downloaded the song to my iPod, and as it plays this morning, the desire to go to work is completely abandoned.

I opt for a local café instead of the burrito van – eggs, bacon, hash browns, baking powder biscuits with jam, and a short stack of pancakes.  I understand completely how people can be regulars at a diner or café, each morning allowing someone else to fix them breakfast and clean up the mess, allowing you an hour or so of respite to read or prepare for your day – I just don’t understand how they can afford it on a regular basis.

Check emails from my phone.
Send a few replies.
None of it is enough to make me abandon my morning for the office, but after an hour, I start to feel guilty for taking up table space.

It’s still warm outside, and the clouds look like they might clear up eventually, so I get a large drink, find a place to camp, fire up my laptop, and settle in with my tunes 6 blocks from the office, determined to avoid the cubicle farm at all costs until my laptop battery starts to die, the weather changes, or some issue demands I make an appearance.

Actually, I will most likely find solutions where I won’t have to go TO work to continue to work if either of those first two issues arise.  The true joy of telecommuting.

It takes time to extract joy from life.
~ Hollie Baylor

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

If you haven’t heard of them yet, let me introduce you.

(EXPLICIT LYRICS WARNING  A radio edit of the song can be found here, but none of the clean versions I found are synced up to the music video, so this is the only way of seeing it.)

Three days ago when I was writing this and finding facts, the single “Thrift Shop” from Seattle rapper Macklemore and his producer/DJ Ryan Lewis had close to 57 MILLION views on YouTube.  Today as I publish this post, it has almost 62 million – 5 million additional views in 3 days.  Thrift Shop currently holds the #1 spot on the US Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, #1 for Rap, #1 for Digital downloads, and holds the #2 overall spot.

Not bad for a group who self-produced and released their own music!

Ending 2012 at the #1 spot for 5 weeks on the Australian ARIA charts, Thrift Shop continues its reign with 7 total weeks at the #1 position.  Their July 2012 release “Same Love” is quickly finding new success on the Australian and international charts and will no doubt find renewed airtime in the US as interest in the group continues to explode.

Speaking of Australia, if you haven’t bought your tickets for their February Australian/NZ Tour, you’re going to have to find high-priced scalpers or talk to a mate to get in the door, otherwise you’ll only see the duo’s high energy performance, epic stage dives, and crowd surfing from videos.  Two weeks after tickets went on sale, Macklemore concerts in Melbourne and Sydney sold out, prompting the duo to add extra shows.  Two weeks after that, they added a third show to Sydney and expanded the venue for Melbourne shows, all to no avail as those shows also sold out.  Their first concert in New Zealand sold out 2 hours after tickets went on sale, and the Sharkfacegang in Perth are screaming for another show ‘cause the Perth Festival that’s hosting their single Australian West Coast appearance sold out before the new year even started!

If you get the chance to check out Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, don’t let it pass you by!  Their days of playing to 700 people at a free college event are gone, and their recent successes are rocketing them into mainstream attention.  Expect to see them selling out their hometown Key Arena before 2013 ends.

Update: Congratulations to Ben Haggerty (Macklemore) and Tricia Davis on their engagement – 5 hours ago!!

Pink’s Latest Try

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

If you haven’t heard it already, you can say you heard it here first. Of course, with over 21 million hits on YouTube, it’s hard to believe you haven’t already heard Pink’s latest song, “Try”.

Don’t worry.  Give it a couple of weeks, and it will no doubt be all over the radio, the lyrics stuck in your head the way “Who Knew” was back in ’06.

The choreography reminds me of that used by Ryan Woodward for his Weepies’ animation, but perhaps it is only the fact that it involves two battling individuals.

In conclusion and still on topic with this post, I leave you with a very long quote from Merlin Mann from his terribly presented yet awesome-content talk “Scared Shitless”.  In true Merlin Mann fashion (and as a warning if you haven’t already figured it out from the title of his talk), he doesn’t share your concern with non-offensive language.

Or are you actually like all of these other people and sometimes occasionally even driven by all that fear until it fucks you up inside and you’re not even sure what’s real anymore. And you’re trying so hard to protect all those little wounds and perceived wounds that you just kind of stop doing cool stuff, because you’re scared?

Everybody’s scared. And the only difference is whether you’re just going to keep making stuff when you’re scared; whether you keep doing stuff when you’re scared. ‘Cause you’re always going to be scared – it’s always going to be there.

There’s all kinds of stuff that just starts in total shit that can turn into pretty good stuff. And just because you’re scared of it, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Stuff’s going to happen. The universe doesn’t care whether you’re scared, you’re kind of screwed on that point. But it’s my belief that if you keep running… you’d be amazed at how scared you can be and still do it.
~ Merlin Mann

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Another blood-thumper of a song that is too new for its own music video: Radioactive is the second release from Utah band Imagine Dragons.  Don’t let the New Slang intro lull you into a false sense of serenity – 30 seconds in, after dropping the massive dub-bass, it becomes a stadium chanting, fist-pumping rock anthem!  (I’ve linked to a video by DoctuhD who does a great job sync’ing the song to scenes from the movie “Unstoppable” for a music video that brings out the feel of the song – at least until he gets his video pulled or changes it to private…)

Doesn’t hurt that Radioactive is being used for the new TV Series ads for “Chicago Fire” being aired during the Olympics.

Their initial release, It’s Time, ran the same public introduction after its initial release when it was used in Wimbledon 2012 ads and in the trailer for the upcoming movie adaption “The Perks of Being a Wallflower“, starring Emma Watson (due out in September).  I prefer the Jailbreak remix version to the original as Dan Reynolds’ vocals sound even more similar to those of Andy Bell.