Mikey’s Playlist Mashup

It’s funny how we learn about new music today in the digital world. I haven’t quite turned in my music journalism card yet, so I receive many pitches for new and established artists. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a music publicist–so I won’t pimp my own artists in this spot. So besides those press releases, I hear about new artists through my clients, through other taste makers like Val’s List and Bob Lefsetz and Kings of A&R. I hear about great music from trusted friends. I hear stuff from colleagues repping cool new acts. I hear songs on TV shows or in movies, or on the radio through bumper music (but almost never from the actual radio anymore). And occasionally from online radio stations. That’s it. It’s amazing how music will find its way into our ears and onto our hard drives now. And speaking of that, I had better purge my iTunes a bit before my PC explodes. Meanwhile, here are some things I’m listening to that you should check out if you feel so inclined.

“Skeleton” by The Good Natured–If you’re a fan of synth-driven ’80′s pop, this title track to the British group’s 2011 EP will take you back to those days a bit, while sounding like it could work on today’s Top 40 radio–whatever that may be. I found this group through a pitch from their publicist, who is pimping their new single, “Video Voyeur.” Now, that video will surely take you back to the early MTV days.

“Celebrate Tonight” by Allen Stone–One of my clients opened for this kid, who really came out of nowhere. He’s a scrawny Seattle-bred white kid with an old school R&B soul. Kind of like Daryl Hall, who took Stone in for a “Live from Daryl’s House” session that literally gives me goosebumps when I see and hear it. The best part is seeing the unbridled joy on Stone’s face as Daryl plays along and sings with him.

“Show and Tell” by Sugar & The Hi-Lows–Nashville singer/songwriters Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup collaborate here for some pure magic–beautiful melody, arrangement, and a soaring yet lo-fi harmony drenched chorus. It also has a mild ’70′s vibe ala Josh Rouse’s 1972 album (sorry, I have a penchant for music from past decades!).

“Almost Blue” by Joseph Arthur–This guy’s music follows me around, and it’s sheer brilliance. And this past week he released a new double album on his website, available for free download (though there is no way I’m not hitting the “donate” button–I want Joseph Arthur to make music until he’s 80).

“Sweetheart Like You” by World Party–Their new Arkeology set (releasing next Tuesday April 10) is 70 tracks deep and features old songs, new songs, covers, live recordings and more. The World Party fan in your life just has to have this. This song is a Bob Dylan cover that singer Karl Wallinger spins his own way, and it winds up sounding like it jumped off of The New Radicals’ only (and genius) album from 1998.

“Drumming Song” by Florence + The Machine–There is something purely intoxicating about Florence + the Machine, and this song embodies that desire to get drunk with her voice and music, as well as the booming percussion. That said, you just have to check out this acoustic video from KEXP–there is no auto-tune, no slick production–mostly Florence’s positively sick vocals out front.

“Please Stay Strong” by Stolen Silver–I guess it’s okay for me to talk about a band put together with members from a former client band of mine? Well, I just did. These guys have an incredible acoustically driven, harmony-rich sound with some killer songs.

“Forget the Diamonds” by Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer–Just like Sugar & The Hi-Lows above, this duo makes magic together. It’s Americana, yet really it’s just haunting and melodic music that you will find really hard to stop listening to.

“Wine Dark Sea” by Daniel Tashian–Tashian is one of those under-the-radar Nashville cats who I’m certain writes insanely sweet melodies in his sleep. The front man for The Silver Seas steps aside with a solo project here, but it’s really an extension of his band, and something that will tide this big fan over until the next Seas release.

Okay, so I just realized that I could do this all day. But maybe I should save it and do this more often. What do you think? Hit me up here, or on Facebook or Twitter. And thanks for hanging out in my music room for a bit.

Your 2011 St. Patrick’s Day Playlist

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day, where everyone is Irish for a day. March seems to be full of days like that, since Fat Tuesday is the day where everyone is Catholic for a day.

Since we know many of you will be getting a full-fledged drink on this St. Paddy’s Day, especially since it is also the first day of the NCAA tournament, we have provided a small list of songs about drinking, the effects of drinking, and the vow that many of you will make the following morning. Think of it as the bender that you never took; we love booze as much as the next guys, but sometimes those things are better lived vicariously.

“It’s Time to Party,” Andrew W.K.

With a whopping three songs about partying on his debut album, Andrew W.K. will forever remain our master of ceremonies when it comes to partying. Until we saw the grammar-challenged lyric video, though, we didn’t know this song made a reference to a money shot. Yikes.

“Have a Drink on Me,” AC/DC

The night is young. Everyone is flush with cash and feeling generous. Try and remember this moment when 1:30 rolls around and you’re buying Natural Light pounders. For now, though, you’re living on the top shelf.

To read the rest of the St. Patrick’s Day playlist, click here.

Like the song in the iPad commercial? Check these out…

The song is called “There Goes My Love” by The Blue Van, a Danish blues-rock van. The commercial has been all over the airwaves lately, but if you’ve been living under a rock (or are just really good with the 30-second skip button on your DVR remote), take a listen:

The song is from the band’s third album, Man Up. I reviewed their first two efforts, The Art of Rolling and Dear Independence and enjoyed them both. Here are a few highlights from their first two releases:

Read the rest of this entry »

iTunes Tips & Tricks: “Neglected Favorites”

If you’re like me and feel sometimes that your music collection is a little too vast, here’s a little trick that I learned not too long ago. I have 4000+ 4- and 5-star rated songs, and I realized that there were some personal favorites that I wasn’t hearing on a regular basis. (For all it’s features, iTunes doesn’t do the greatest job of shuffling through big playlists.)

Using iTunes’ “Smart Playlist” feature, I was able to create playlists of songs that I haven’t heard in some time (six months, a year, whatever).

1. Go to File > New Smart Playlist
2. In the first two drop-down boxes, choose “Rating” and “in the range.”
3. Choose 4 to 5 stars (or 3 to 5, if you like).
4. Hit the plus sign to the right to add a criterion.
5. Choose “Last Played” and “is not in the last” 6 “months” (or 9 months or whatever span you like).
6. Hit OK
7. Rename playlist “Neglected Favorites” (or whatever you like)

You can also add other criteria, like genre, artist or whatever.

So now you have a playlist of all of your top rated songs that you haven’t heard in the last six months. Once you start this playlist, songs will start to disappear when they’re played. As time wears on, new songs (that haven’t been played on your iTunes or iPod in the last six months) will begin to appear.

iTunes won’t let you forget a song!

Mix Disc Monday: I hate myself for loving this song

Guilty pleasures. We all have them. Actually, I never had any until recently, because I figured that if I didn’t feel any shame about liking a song, then it wasn’t a guilty pleasure. Ah, what a naïve child I once was. I surely should have known that music would turn on me and become something I didn’t like, and then that something I didn’t like would create something I liked (ahem, “I Want It That Way”).

So I was inspired to reexamine my CD collection and cast a hairy eye at which songs have not exactly held their own against Father Time. I still like all of the songs on this list, mind you; let’s just say I have since come around to understanding why others may disagree with me.

I Beg Your Pardon,” Kon Kan (Move to Move)
I think the laconic vocal is what hooked me, as opposed to some over-sampled tenor like Dino or Paul “Boom Boom, Let’s Go Back to My Room” Lekakis. I remember, as early as the following year, someone played that song at our local college dance bar, and as people were leaving, they were mock-imitating the keyboard riff. Not much of shelf life for this one.

Strawberry Fields Forever,” Candy Flip (Madstock…)
It must have been the use of “Funky Drummer” in a cover version of one of my all-time favorite songs. That clearly blinded me to the breathier than breathy vocal, the impossibly slow BPM, and, well, pretty much everything else about it.

Hello,” The Beloved (Happiness)
It’s a List Song, which is always a bad sign. When the choruses consist of the names of celebrities, followed by “Hello, hello, hello, hello,” you should know straight away that you are not dealing with a band that’s going to change the world. Especially when two of the celebrities paired together are Willy Wonka and William Tell. In the interest of full disclosure, I have granted a full List Song pardon to Simple Minds’ “Up on the Catwalk,” because the drums are just too damn cool.

Hella Good,” No Doubt (Rock Steady)
I was very, very late to the No Doubt party, and then as soon as I started to like them, they started falling apart. The individual tracks to this intrigue me – I can totally envision Arthur Baker working his mid-‘80s mojo on it – but truth be told, there isn’t much of a song here.

View the rest of the list after the jump.


Read the rest after the jump...

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