"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" - George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Coldplay: First Alternative Band Liked

It has been about four years since I discovered the alternative Brit band in 2008. I was watching the Grammy's and during that time was surrounded by a bubble of bubble gum pop music and anything else playing on Kiss FM, never knowing there was a genre of music that I viewed as a part of my unique personality that is far from ordinary. Sure I downloaded Flo Rida's hit single "Right Round" because I wanted to be like any other eleven year old, thinking they know what's 'in' without ever considering the alternative, which is what I do now, literally.

"Song of the Year" was announced and I only had ties to Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours", and after Coldplay took home the golden record player I was slightly disappointed but curious. I looked up the hit single "Viva La Vida" from the band's  fourth album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, and was suddenly hooked. The pounding drums, famous choppy guitar melody, beautiful arrangement of strings and Chris Martin's hypnotic and charming voice singing of a lost kingdom, dissolving reputation, and different historical and Christian references gave me four minutes of a different kind of music, and what music nowadays should sound like.

After knowing how the band formed, memorizing each band members' names and who they were by heart, downloading songs off of every album, hanging a poster that my dad brought back from Germany on my wall, liking them on Facebook and even watching a low budget biography on them, I had soon realized one more thing that I needed to do: go to one of their concerts.

I had found a bump in the road, however, which was the release of their new album Mylo Xyloto. I had known about it for a while and was really excited because in the approximate four year span of my crazy Coldplay fan phase, the band was busy touring and were at a slight downfall in popularity since it had been a while since their last album, meaning most of my friends hadn't heard of them before and I could only relate to the 'older' generation. I did listen to every song on the breakthrough album, but I guess the true fan in me was too stubborn to accept that they were trying new sounds much too different from the previous albums. The band is still incredible, but I'd much rather listen to the simplistic and cute "Green Eyes" than the fist-pumping "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall".

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Atlas Genius

It was a typical car ride back home from high school, and was the beginning of May last year. I was mentally and physically exhausted from the typical onslaught of Pre-Ap homework and being around certain teenagers that drive me crazy. Zoned out and staring out the window, I turned to Alt Nation on Sirius XM radio to help keep my sanity.

The disc jockey announced that it would play a new song by a band from Australia called Atlas Genius. Praying it would be good so I wouldn't have to decide between switching to the predictable Kiss FM (gasp) or just turning the radio off, which was just as bad, I turned up the volume while in my hazy state of mind. 

I turned from teenage zombie to full alert by the soft and catchy drum backbeat with a sweet acoustic guitar rhythm just as light. It built up into a stronger, clearer drum beat with a bass that ties everything together. All the while, singer Keith Jeffrey's pleasant voice sings of metaphors on life and relationships. The song drifts into different phases of sounds but still using the same upbeat melody and flows flawlessly. I admit the summery bounce even brought a small grin to my sleepy face, and made my car ride a little more better.

After downloading the addictive track, I obsessively checked back iTunes for a complete album, and much to my dismay didn't find any more genius songs.

It was a little sad that such a band with extraordinary talent was so buried underground that I couldn't even get information on how the band formed or about a debut album.

Just today when searching the indie rockers online to glorify them in a post, I had come to discover that two more songs had been released four days before. In a small fit of excitement and slight frustration at myself for not knowing, I downloaded "Back Seat" and "Symptoms" off the album Atlas Genius.

I was a little surprised but not at all disappointed at the other two that leaned towards a more pop, Foster the People sound but still possessing the charm of indie rock that still strays far away from the likes of Katy Perry or Usher.

I will now be anxiously waiting for a complete album to complete a perfect summer playlist, and I hope that Atlas Genius will be big one day.... maybe even hit Kiss FM, you never know.

As always I will put "Trojans" but not the other two because I couldn't find them on Mixpod onto that extremely noticeable iPod in the corner.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Vaccines

From Left to Right: Pete Robertson (drums), Justin Young (vocals/guitar), Árni Hjörvar (bass), Freddie Cowan (guitar) Photo credit to Google Images

Born out of West London, The Vaccines have, since 2010, opened for acts such as the Arctic Monkeys, The Walkmen and others that have had great success, which gave them a helping push up the alternative music industry ladder leading towards the mainstream.

The first rung was the demo upload of the energetic and simple song "If You Wanna" on YouTube in August of 2010, which gained loads of popularity and recognition.

What followed was the release of the debut single "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)"/"Blow it Up" a few months later only in the UK but immediately named "Track of the Day" in Q Magazine. The one minute or so of layered guitars and tight, upbeat drums accompanied by Justin Young's giddy and spontaneous sounding lyrics is well worthy of a $1.29 download.

On March of 2011 after already much success, The Vaccines released the album What Did You Expect from the Vaccines - an album that answers its own title/question because of my pleasant surprise when I first heard it.

A personal favorite of mine is "A Lack of Understanding", a more melodic track with more meaningful lyrics which contrasted the others nicely as a break from the more anthem like, punk infused tracks such as "All in White" and "Wetsuit".

"Blow it Up" is rougher around the edges, with a Pixies inspired array of noisy guitars that give that stadium like feeling of a big atmosphere.

The Vaccines have also recently performed at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival in Coachella, California, which brought together indie and alternative fans alike and featured bands from all over the spectrum from underdogs to mega hits.

A well anticipated second album The Vaccines Come of Age has been announced to be released the 3rd of September, 2012. And just like their name, The Vaccines have cured my longing for a wonderful and raw sounding band that, in my opinion, brings out the best in indie rock and music in general.

I'll make sure to add all the songs mentioned in this post, which are "If You Wanna", "Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)", "A Lack of Understanding", "All in White" and "Wetsuit" to that humongous iPod Touch in the top right-hand  corner.

Please give me feedback on this article, the album and anything else I have talked about on this blog, I would love to hear your opinion!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Justin Vernon's Bon Iver

When thinking of an artist or band that I would love to introduce or talk about on this blog, what first comes to mind is none other than the Wisconsin native Justin Vernon and his almost unintentional but extraordinary band, Bon Iver.

I admit that after stumbling upon the band while doing my daily, itunes scavenger hunt looking at the "top ten" and "new and net worthy" lists, I, like many others, mispronounced the name as 'Bon /I/ver' with a long /i/ sound and thought Justin's name was actually Bon Iver.

After doing my research and sampling a few doses of the talented falsetto, I had come to love the band and Justin even more.

The band from Eau Claire racked up two Grammys in 2012, including one for 'Best New Artist', which was ironic to me that his first official album with the band For Emma, Forever Ago, was released in 2008. And it had felt like forever ago when I had downloaded his second hit "For Emma" which followed the more popular "Skinny Love" five or so months before he hit the mainstream. 

The album itself was recorded solely by Justin on a few stray microphones and old fashioned equipment in a desolate cabin in the deep, beautiful cold woods of Wisconsin. The cabin to Justin was a form of hibernation to recover from mononucleosis and heartbreak. A melancholy feeling of coldness that reflects Justin's inner struggle for solitude and revival is delivered throughout "For Emma" and "Skinny Love", but his warm voice and peaceful guitar rifts are calming, sleepy and soft. The simple vocals in "For Emma" could be interpreted many ways, either referring to a past, lost love or of a deeper meaning of trying to emerge from a snowy, Wisconsin forest and the past itself.

After releasing For Emma, Forever Ago and feeling renewed spiritually, Holocene became the second experiment for the band and was released recently in 2011. In an interview with the popular music magazine, Mojo, Justin stated that the album's title "is a metaphor for when you're not doing well. But it's also a song about redemption and realizing that you're worth something; that you're special and not special at the same time."

After jumping from For Emma, Forever Ago to the new album, I listened to every song on Holocene and of course immediately downloaded the second single "Holocene". A message of more self-appreciativeness is shown throughout the magnificent album.

I remember last year being on my dad's boat on the lake and being nestled up in a cabin located in the 'v' part of it, below the front deck. As usual, I had my ipod and it was filled to the brim with new, last minute songs that I had downloaded to keep me occupied, including "Holocene". The very minute my head touched the cushion of the bed and I pressed play, my eyes closed and I felt in perfect harmony of the waves while my mind drifted away. After I awoke from my happy place, I rushed to my laptop and downloaded the whole album, which was something I had never done before but glad I did.

If you have ever been in a state of uncertainty about your purpose in life and want to be reborn again, simply looking for a more relaxing get away from the chaos of life, or just want something new to listen to, I obviously would highly recommend listening to Justin Vernon's work. Hearing this passionate man's voice, music, and life story of healing from the inside out is another reason to love Bon Iver like I do because one way or another it will grow on you and will become a peaceful state of mind.

As you can see the giant ipod touch at the top right of the screen has both Skinny Love and Holocene, please go check it out and comment!:)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

There are 'Firsts' for Everything

It's been hard trying to discover what I'm truly passionate for and who I am. This post may sound cheesy and amateur-like, but ever since I could walk and make conversation I've tried a lot of both the stereotypical activities that are supposedly interesting to girls, to other different things.

Soccer, tap dancing, tennis, ballet, basketball, softball (which was a tug of war within myself whether I loved it enough to keep playing it or not) , track, and the piano fall under the most common things that I've tried in my life. Not that I'm saying these are 'uncool' because they are common, and to be honest I'm a little jealous of the people who have the talent to do these things.

The more unusual things were violin, archery, horse back riding, and the drums, which I probably annoyed my parents with my indecisiveness by making them get lessons for me and then me deciding to quit because that spark was not quite there.

Then, one afternoon during the end of the summer, my mom showed me the sign up sheet for electives to take next year in the 9th grade.

Softball in my head was a definite maybe, but I took it anyways because I didn't know of anything else to fall back on and fill in the gaps of the schedule.

German Pre-Ap 1 was chosen through a smile trying to please my parents that covered up my reluctance. That battle was lost long ago and was an attempt for me to take French instead even though my dad's 100% German and I could visit my brother there.

Then my mother mentioned Journalism and tried to shine a light on my writing talent that I was still new to by pulling the "I-read-that-story-you-wrote-for-8th-grade-that-you-got-a-one hundred-and-ten-on" card. To be honest, I always thought of Journalism as boring and stressful because you had to write a lot and writing for fun besides school work seemed like torture.

Nevertheless I checked the box to try something new with a whim, supported by my parents, scared of the outcome, and almost certain I would quit with a feeling of guilt, just like everything else I have done in my life. But this time, I didn't feel that my instrument or horse was a burden, or dread running up and down and around a field. I fell in love with sitting down anywhere, with either a paper and pen or a computer, and putting my thoughts into an entertaining, interesting or informative form of writing for everyone or even one person to read. I love that journalists can change someones opinion or inform them through what they have experienced or heard, and that after the reader closes his or her laptop and puts down the magazine or newspaper, that writing has impacted them one way or another.

This is why I decided to make this experimental, fun blog to keep writing about another thing I'm good at but isn't necessarily a talent: finding alternative/indie music before it either hits the mainstream or that I can share with others or just keep to myself.

Everyone has a passion for something, it just takes a little discovering and courage to try and succeed or try and move on to something better.

It's only quitting if you know you have found it but lack effort to keep going, and it's only success if you are pushed to your limits but are still infatuated with what you do and breakthrough those obstacles because there is nothing else you would rather accomplish and persevere in.