Jenn Grant – Honeymoon Punch review

“You look like a movie star, from this angle”, Haligonian Jenn Grant sings to start Honeymoon Punch on the song “Oh My Heart”. Right from the get go, it feels like a special album.

I cannot say I am too familiar with Jenn Grant prior to this release. I really only knew her by name. And usually I like to ‘bone up’ (if you will) on artist’s or band’s past music. However in this case I decided not to. I did listen to her first album since Honeymoon Punch came out. However for two reasons I will not comment on it, first I have not listened to it enough, and secondly, a lot of people reading this are probably also not too familiar with her, so this review is ideal for them to discover her (and everyone else who may or may not have heard it).

Honeymoon Punch is a very pleasant album, perfect sunny day kind of music. The music is well written, as are the lyrics, and in many cases very catchy, thus great hooks, but just listening to the songs, the verses are just as enjoyable. The music plays no tricks, and more than likely, it is all real instruments, guitar, drums and percussion, bass, trumpet, saxophone, etc.

“Walk Away” is a particularly good example, the chorus teeters between not walking away and walking away (“Don’t walk away walk away walk away don’t walk away…”), or rather sounds that way thanks to the clever wordplay even if it is all about not walking away. All of this on top of a great walloping drum beat.

“Getcha Good” starts off with riffs one would expect to come out of a Tarantino film (they actually sound like another song, but I cannot say as I know what it is!). It quickly changes to what is pretty much a perfect pop song.

Even the slower tracks (“Paradise Mountain” and “Star to Waves”, the latter which morphs into a marching up tempo coda to write home about) have a certain je ne sais quoi about them. As do the mid tempo tracks, with “All Year” throwing in the classic pop beat for good measure (not sure if it that beat has name, the one that goes clap clap .. clap, etc.).

10 tracks lasting just over 35 minutes, I do not think the album could have been a more perfect length as well. Not too long, not too short, yes, just right.

Bold prediction, but I feel very strongly about it, this album will be shortlisted for this year’s Polaris Prize (Canada’a Mercury Prize). Do quote me!

Honeymoon Punch is a delight of an album.

But don’t take my word for it, watch the video for “Getcha Good” (in 1080p no less!)

Catch her live (Visit her official website, http://www.jenngrant.com for the most up to date listings):

February 23, Waterloo, ON, Starlight Social Club
February 24, Montreal, QC, Le Divan Orange (I’ll be there!)
February 25, Wakefield, QC, Blacksheep Inn
February 26, Wakefield, QC, Blacksheep Inn
March 1, New York City, Rockwood Music Hall
March 3, Peterborough, ON, The Red Dog
March 4, Kingston, ON, The Grad Club
March 15 – 18, Austin, TX, SXSW
March 18, St. Catharine’s, ON, Brock University, Sean O’Sullivan Theatre
March 19, Mississauga, ON, RBC Theatre
April 13 – 17, Charlottetown, PE, East Coast Music Awards.

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Music Video of the Day recap week 20

Week 20 was modern British theme week. I sure do like the British ladies, but I included Elbow in there as well.

Again, stay current by following me on Twitter at twitter.com/tmmblog, and watch for the #MVOD hashtag.

Starting this Friday, February 25, it will be punk theme week, so stay tuned!

#134 The Noisettes – Every Now And Then

The Noisettes second album, Wild Young Hearts is a very very impressive album, with a few perfect tracks. And the entire album is very near, if not. And boy is Shingai Shoniwa good looking!

#135 Marina and the Diamonds – Hollywood

Gotta love Marina!

#136 Florence + The Machine – Drumming Song

Surprise surprise, nice drumming song! Gotta love Florence too!

#137 Charlotte Church – Logical World

I am a pretty big Charlotte fan since her pop debut Tissues and Issues. Although it took a few listens, her new one, Back to Scratch is very good too.

#138 Elbow – Grounds For Divorce

As I mentioned on Twitter, first heard of them, and this song through Top Gear. The episode which featured James May being taught to drive Fin style with none other than Mika Häkkinen! First heard when Mika is powersliding around a corner, making it look easy of course. Kudos to the music directors over at Top Gear, as that, and their other music picks tend to work quite well. Oh, and good song! I still have to listen to more from them.

#139 VV Brown – Game Over

Heck, gotta love VV Brown as well! Apparently she wrote the entire (Travelling Like the Light) album with a one string guitar!

#140 Laura Marling – Devil’s Spoke

From Laura Marling’s sophomore effort which is quite impressive.

Radiohead’s The King of Limbs album preview

Much to my surprise, and likely just about everyone else, Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs, their eighth, will be released Saturday (February 19) in digital format only, similar to In Rainbows (only for the digital music, not the price), with a physical release to follow March 28 on XL Recordings. When I posted a few months back about bands and musicians in the studio, I guessed somewhere from April to June, I definitely was not expecting it so quickly. However without having to worry about a physical release, and major labels, that no doubt expedites the process.

A special pre-ordered version will ship May 9. This ‘newspaper’ release will come with “many large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradeable plastic to hold it all together” according to the website for The King of Limbs. (On a mostly unrelated sidenote, the In Rainbows website is still up, but just points the visitor to the official Radiohead site.

They are not releasing it as a ‘pay what you want’ release as they did with In Rainbows. I do not believe the information was ever revealed, however I am guessing, for the most part, that is not a sustainable way to release music, at least not on a regular basis, even if the most of musicians revenue comes from means outside of the selling of their music (concerts, royalties, etc.).

Probably taken near 'the king of the limbs' tree.

As mentioned, the digital release is this Saturday. Pre-order options are MP3 (320K constant bit rate) or WAV (uncompressed digital audio file). Prices are about what one would expect to pay for digital music, or the physical copy as well.

From NME.com:

The name of the new album relates to an oak tree in Wiltshire’s Savernake Forest, thought to be around 1,000 years old. The forest lies around three miles away from Tottenham House, a listed country house where Radiohead recorded part of ‘In Rainbows’.

The tree is a pollarded oak, referring to an ancient technique for harvesting timber for fencing and firewood. The phrase also appears in the 23rd chapter of the Qu’ran.

Rumour has it, that it will feature eight tracks, but Jonny Greenwood did clarify a few months ago when they were in the studio that it would include 10, maybe more. We will know for sure in a little less than 48 hours.

Lissie – Catching a Tiger review (and LP of the Week/2010)

Lissie, real name, Elisabeth Maurus, was born in Rock Island, Illinois, in the heart of the American Midwest. She plays folk tinged with country on occasion.

Catching a Tiger, Lissie’s debut has numerous down tempo tracks, yet as a whole it feels like a very upbeat record. After hearing her excellent EP, Why You Runnin’, released on Fat Possum, it took a few good listens for Catching a Tiger to fully grow on me. Now that it has, I can hear how good it is.

Lissie has a voice that is smooth, yet has a certain rawness to it that is teeming with Americana. It certainly helps when she sings about the Midwest and American places in general (“Appalachian farmer”, “Mississippi moonchild”, “By Georgia pinin’ declinin'”, “Fightin’ Illini”, “Gonna move to N’arleans singin’ psalms”, etc. all in the ingenious “Little Lovin'”. And of course a song about the Mississippi, “Oh Mississippi”). I am fortunate enough to say I know the Quad Cities (Rock Island Moline, IL, and Davenport and Bettendorf, IA), where she is from, as I have visited, so I know the role the Mississippi plays there. Where it flows from east to west (“But ’round these parts, you’re westward bound”).

The record (this album by the way would be awesome on vinyl) starts with the hauntingly good “Record Collector”. With a cacophony of interesting, fitting sounds. Similarly, “When I’m Alone” borders between a down tempo and a mid tempo track, at about 120 beats per minute and is in D Minor (had to look it up, I can’t quite pick out the key, yet..), making for a nice track, and it is bass (guitar) heavy. In fact, there is a quite a lot of tracks in minor keys, which actually suit her voice well (“Bully” as well). To be fair, her songs in a major key are awesome too (“Cuckoo”for one). “Everywhere I Go”, which is apparently in G Major, toes the line perfectly between major and minor. It is another song that is hauntingly good, many thanks to the simple yet very (very) effective concert bass drum accents, and plenty more in the mix, from the obvious electric guitar to the acoustic guitar, and Lissie’s overdubbed vocals. To borrow a term from a friend, it is very dense (he used it referring to another song). Unbelievably good song.

Lissie herself has writing credits on all the songs, and penned a couple all on her own as well. She also plays guitar. Musicians are not credited in the liner notes, so I cannot tell where she is playing to be certain, as “In Sleep” closes with a fairly significant guitar solo. And as mentioned above, I would love to see the credits for “Everywhere I Go”.

I cannot explain why exactly, but “Stranger” feels like a perfect song for the Quad Cities, perhaps not the lyrics. It is an impressive country tinged folk song with a great beat. As is the case for “Oh Mississippi” (song for the Quad Cities) even if it is more of a ballad for the Mississippi, yet does refer to the Quad Cities as I mentioned above.

“Little Lovin'” for a long time was my favourite Lissie song, and it is still great, with its great lyrics (“I’m gonna get to heaven, I’m gonna count to seven”), and simple beat derived from a bass drum pretty much the entirety of the song, to the spectacular coda. However, the entire album sparkles. it may me another cliché, but the album from start to finish is genius, while each individual track works great on its own.

Even though my quasi lists have been made for the best of 2010, and I did include Lissie’s debut, I’d have this in a one way tie for best album of 2010.

Highly recommended, no doubt about it.

Music Video of the Day recap week 19

Week 19 started December 24 with two Holiday/Xmas/winter music videos, and then business as usual.

As always, stay current by following me on Twitter at twitter.com/tmmblog, and watch for the #MVOD hashtag.

#127 Deana Carter – Once Upon a December

As I said on Twitter, my favourite holiday(ish) country song.

#128, Faith Hill – Where are you Christmas?

Pretty poppy, but not a bad little Christmas song.

#129 Imelda May – Psycho

I still have to listen to her albums, but from what little I have heard, sounds good! Nice to see some rockabilly in the mainstream!

#130 Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock – It Takes Two

A bona fide hip hop classic, no doubt. For those who do not know, The Black Eyed Peas butchered sampled this in “Rock That Body”.

#131 Beastie Boys – Ch-Check It Out

Not counting The Mix-Up, this is from the Beastie’s last proper album released. Still a great track from a great album! In no way am I discounting The Mix-Up, hey, it won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Looking forward to Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2 at some point! Seems the version I linked is now blocked here in Canada (likely a lot of what I link to is blocked somewhere).

#132 Amy Winehouse – Fuck Me Pumps

Excellent track from Amy’s stellar debut. Whew, it was released almost eight years ago (October 2003)!

#133 Holly McNarland – Elmo

Highly recommended Canadian Content. This was one of Holly’s big singles back in 1997/1998, and although she is not getting the promotion as she was back then, or airplay, etc, she still releases very good music.

Dropkick Murphy’s – Going Out in Style (featuring Bruce Springsteen!) album preview

The new Dropkick Murphy’s album is less than a month away (it comes out March 1), and definitely worthy of a blog post, as it features Bruce Springsteen! Also featured is Fat Mike of NOFX, Chris Cheney from The Living End, and Bostonian actor/comedian, Lenny Clarke.

The album will tell the story of Cornelius, an Irish immigrant in America, through the Murphy’s experiences.

The Murphy’s Al Barr, states he hopes “fans can listen to Going Out in Style with the same excitement we have. It’s all about family and friends for us. No bullshit…we don’t like to convolute things. That translates to the music, and the fans appreciate it” (I added the bold).

The song with Bruce Springsteen is a new take on the old “Peg o’ My Heart”. On it, Ken Casey and Bruce swap verses. Casey says “it has a classic old fifties rock and roll feel”. And we know the Murphy’s can do nice work on classics, such as “Tessie”, “Amazing Grace”, and “The Rocky Road to Dublin” to name a few. Also putting Woody Guthrie’s “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” to music. “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” of course made them a household name for many. It was from their 2005 album The Warrior’s Code.

The first single, “Memorial Day” can be streamed over at Rolling Stone. While doing so, read the official lyrics over at their official website, dropkickmurphys.com.

If you are not familiar with the Dropkick Murphy’s, here is one of their many many awesome tracks. This is also from their 2005 album The Warrior’s Code, a little ditty by the name of “Sunshine Highway”.

Sources used:
How the Dropkick Murphys Got Bruce Springsteen to Guest on Their New Album
Dropkick Murphys Return March 1 With New Album ‘Going Out In Style’, Launch Tour in February

New (and future) music February edition

No doubt I am missing several (feel free to fill me in), as there is always good music on the horizon. Regardless, here is the latest edition of upcoming music. A few releases I am looking forward to. Some more than others, but I still like to list them. And I am saving one for its own blog post!

Nicole Atkins – Mondo Amore February 8

I have not heard her since Neptune City, which still is her last proper release, but that goes back to 2007! Time flies!

Jessie J – Who You Are February 28

Bumped forward a whole month just a couple of days ago. Probably good for her, and the fans of course, as she is really being hyped now. Here is hoping the album lives up (I am sure it will).
http://twitter.com/#!/jessiejofficial/status/33097577951924225

Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes February 28

Interesting direction on her new single “Get Some”, but I am liking it.

Alexis Jordan – Alexis Jordan February 28

Marsha Ambrosius – Late Nights and Early Mornings March 1

I have not heard any of her solo stuff yet, should be promising! Digging the LP cover!

Britney Spears – Femme Fatale March 14

Rise Against – Endgame March 15

I did not listen to Appeal to Reason too extensively, but if you are looking for quality punk rock that is socially aware, look no further.

Travis Barker – Give the Drummer Some March 15

Album title of course pays homage to the Ultramagnetic MC’s song of the same name. And James Brown uses the line in the hugely important “Funky Drummer”.

Katy B – On a Mission March 28

I have only heard a couple of the singles, as I guess is the case for everyone pretty much. Anyway, I am looking forward to her proper album. This may not be the proper album cover, since it is just shy of two months away, I would not be surprised if it changes.

Vivian Girls – Share The Joy April 12

Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Make a Scene April 20

Foo Fighters – ? April 12

I am really looking forward to this one, recorded entirely in analog (see my Tweet below)! And in Dave’s garage! I hope that will bring back some new energy! Plus it was produced by Butch Vig. Following the release, they will be keeping busy this summer festivals (Hangout Music Festival, Sasquatch! Music Festival, Isle of Wight, etc.) and shows around Europe.

Melanie Fiona – The MF Life July

Probot – Probot (LP of the Week)

I am not sure exactly how many people knew about this, even if it was reviewed in Rolling Stone. Many people likely still missed it. This release is a must for underground metal fans of the 80s, and recommended for fans of Foo Fighters (can not say all fans will appreciate it).

Probot is of course Dave Grohl’s metal project, wherein he plays the vast majority of the instruments on all tracks, and on many, all the instruments. Which in itself is quite impressive. The lyrics were written by the specific guest singer on each track.

Way before Dave found himself drumming for Nirvana, he was into punk rock and more specifically hardcore (Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, Battallion of Saints, Hüsker Dü, D.R.I., etc), and then of course metal.

The album starts off loud and fast with Cronos of Venom. It continues that way for “Red War” featuring Max Cavalera on vocals. The cornerstone of the album, as Dave Grohl writes in the liner notes is Lemmy (do I even have to say Lemmy from Motörhead? Probably not but I added it anyway) and “Shake Your Blood”. It definitely sounds like some vintage Motörhead.

I cannot say I am familiar with all the metal singers featured on here, and their original bands, as my early background was more punk/hardcore, while Dave Grohl obviously found his way to a lot of metal (he “liked it fast and weird (still does)” he writes in the liner notes). From what I do know, Dave pretty much nailed the music on the tracks (all his own music) as if it were the respective singers original bands — and the ones I am as familiar with, I can only feel it must be the case as well, as the vocals work well with his instrumentation.

Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) Lemmy (Motörhead) Wino (The Hidden Hand, Place of Skulls, The Obsessed, etc.)

Aside from the aforementioned tracks, and also “Access Babylon” featuring Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity, it really is not as heavy as one might have expected thinking of a metal album. Dave, et. al. (Kim Thayil of Soundgarden has a couple of guest guitar parts), does a very nice job going through numerous styles of metal. Such as thrash of “Silent Spring” featuring Kurt Brecht (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles), the doom metal of “Ice Cold Man” (Kim Thayil plays additional guitar) featuring Lee Dorian (Cathedral, Napalm Death) and “My Tortured Soul” featuring Eric Wagner (Trouble), and the almost stoner metal of “Big Sky” featuring Tom G. Warrior’s (Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, Apollyon Sun) throaty voice which almost sounds like Dave Mustaine (on parts) over instrumentals that would fit for a Queens of the Stone Age track, even if it is more doom metal.

Likely everyone who knows him, knows Dave Grohl plays drum and guitar, but probably would not have thought of him as a multi-instrumentalist that would record an entire album.

Must hear tracks: “Centuries of Sin”, “Shake Your Blood”, “Access Babylon”, and “Ice Cold Man”. And of course check out the entire album! Also notable, King Diamond of Mercyful Fate closing the album on “Sweet Dreams” before Jack Black appears with the hidden track, “I Am the Warlock” (recommended for Tenacious D fans).

Read the official presser over at Southern Lord. And Wikipedia for more information and additional links.

Music Video of the Day recap week 18

Week 18, a non themed week. And the week ending on Christmas Eve, so before a couple of Xmas videos. I have embedded three videos. Of course they are all worth checking out, but ones specifically I thought I would highlight.

Ska week is going on right now on my Twitter, three more videos to go!

Blog news, tomorrow I hope to post a proper music review!

#120 Wynter Gordon – Dirty Talk

Quite a good dance/pop track. Maybe not quite as underground as Juliet from a few years back, but possibly a sleeper hit. Time will tell, her debut album, With the Music I Die, is set to be released in March.

#121, I Blame Coco – Caesar feat. Robyn

A very nice find. First I have heard of I Blame Coco, and I have yet to hear any more from her, but definitely will. And Robyn’s vocal harmonies work quite well!

#122 Kathleen Edwards – I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory

Second time I have featured Kathleen Edwards as a Music Video of the Day, and for the record, all her material is definitely worthy, be it music video, or song when there is not a music video! AND, she is working on a new album!!

#123 Hannah Georgas – Thick Skin

As with Kathleen Edwards, more excellent Canadian Content (Cancon as we say in the Great White North). She is definitely an up and comer!

#124 The Urge – Jump Right In featuring Nick Hexum

This is the song that got me into The Urge. Actually, I have not really heard much of their stuff released before Master of Styles, which “Jump Right In” is on (going back to 1998!). More music I have to go back and listen to!

#125 311 – Down

As with The Urge, this was the first 311 song I got to know well. And of course, Nick Hexum’s band, as he was featured on the above The Urge video.

#126 Sia – I’m In Here

The video made is for the piano vocal version. Along with the original version, one of the mellow tracks from We Are Born.