Music Monday: Covering The Band

A new post!  After a summer of silence!  I hope you’re all as excited as I am.  I have a lot to share and a lot of questions I’d love to have feedback on but for today, let’s just rock out to some solid summer jams.

As any casual reader of this blog knows, I love The AV Club – it’s my go-to online destination for quality cultural analysis and just plain fun reading.  One of the greatest things they do during the summer is their AV Club Undercover series, where they have great current bands created stunning, interesting covers of classic songs in a wide variety of genres.  It’s an incredible series and always manages to dominate my musical selections during the summer months.

A few weeks ago, they featured a cover of The Band’s The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, a personal favorite, covers by a trio of fantastic voices – Glen Hansard from The Swell Season with his pals Lisa Hannigan and John Smith.  It’s one of those songs that has snuck up on me in the past few days – I thought it was enjoyable on first listen but I’m finding myself hitting repeat more and more often as the dog days of summer continue to roll by.  It’s the perfect song for sitting out on your porch on a hot night with nothing but a cold beer and your thoughts – something I’ve been doing a lot of lately.

AV Club Undercover: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Music Monday: The Beatles’ Revolver

Like most twenty-somethings with a television set, I’m a huge fan of Mad MenThere’s really nothing to not like about the series – it has a cast full of handsome men wearing well-tailored suits, there’s copious day drinking, plenty of workplace coitus and it’s the best written drama on television right now.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

While I have some opinions on last night’s episode (was the return of Betty Draper Francis unnecessary – discuss amongst yourselves), I’ve still been obsessing on the episode from two weeks past, where the creative types at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are working on a campaign that’s a spin on A Hard Day’s Night.  The clients want something Beatles-esque to tap into the ever-growing Beatles fervor of the 1960s.  While (my imaginary television boyfriend) Stan Rizzo suggests The Zombies, Don Draper decides to defer to his young new wife, Megan, who bring him the latest Beatles album to listen to.  That album is Revolver, one of the group’s most pivotal releases.

I remember the first time I consciously sought out a Beatles album.  I don’t remember the first time I heard a Beatles song or even talked to my parents about them but when I was 12 years old, we were gearing up for a family road trip and Post-Collegiate Dad took me on a late night trip to a local bookstore that also sold used cassettes and records.  I had told him that I really wanted a “new to me” Beatles album to listen to in my new Walkman for the trip.  After searching through what felt like hundreds of Beatles tapes, I settled on Magical Mystery TourI was instantly hooked – I don’t think I listened to anything but that tape on the two-day drive.  That following Christmas, I received a vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and I was officially obsessed.  I thought they would be my favorite band of all time.

Of course, that isn’t exactly how it played out.  Like many a teenager before me, I soon traded in my Beatles favorites for newly acquired re-releases of Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street.  High school brought with it The Doors and my first experiences with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.  By the time I reached college, my favorite album from the 1960s was not from the Beatles but rather, The Velvet Underground & Nico The Beatles became this band that I appreciated but who felt out of place in my adult music collection, until two weeks ago.

On Mad Men, Megan gives Don a copy of the newly-released Revolver, imploring him to listen to the last track first.  That track – Tomorrow Never Knows” – marks the Beatles first real break away from their old sound and the expansion of pop music into psychedelia.  After hearing the LSD-inspired track close out the episode (spoiler alert: it wasn’t to Don Draper’s tastes), I decided to download Revolver and give it a second chance.  It never resonated much with me in my youth, outside of the delightful silliness of “Yellow Submarine” and the serene sadness of “Eleanor Rigby“.  Maybe it’s just indicative of my youthful naivete or a reflection of where I am in my life right now, but this time around, I listened to Revolver straight through four or five times in the span of two days.  Unlike Don, the shifting sound of The Beatles and the expansion of their music into deeper psychological themes is exactly what I need to hear right now.

Given that I’ve been immersed in the album for the last two weeks, it was hard to pick the perfect song for Music Monday, so I’ve decided that, given my lack of regular music posts in the last month, I’d just give in and choose two songs.  Both represent the best of Revolver to me – rollicking guitar medleys, the introduction of brass into the backing sound, and lyrics that speak to our expanding consciousness and the need to make and break connections with others and the world around us.

And Your Bird Can Sing

Got To Get You Into My Life

Music Monday: Alabama Shakes

Happy Monday!  I’m sure there are those of you who have today off but for those, like me, who are stuck back in the office despite the beautiful weather, I feel your pain.  Quite literally, actually, as I spent some significant time in the sun this weekend and my poor ivory skin, despite SPF 175, just cannot hold up against the rays of global warming.

Although I am wishing that today was a holiday and I could spend it laying in the grass day-drinking somewhere, I’m pretty psyched this morning as my guest post for Post-Grad Learning is live!  PGL is a great blog and it’s such a great feeling to be able to be a part of their world.  Be sure to head over RIGHT NOW to check out my five reasons why everyone should be fired from a job at least once:

Why Everyone Should Be Fired Once

Oh, hey, welcome back!  Hope you enjoyed that.  It was fun to write and I believe it to be true.

Back to the important task of Music Monday – the music!  I wanted to do a blog post on Alabama Shakes a couple weeks ago but was distracted by some other music that was dominating my iPod and now the band has completely blown up!  Following a strong showing at SXSW, Alabama Shakes has been everywhere, selling out shows at hip venues and popping up on every music blog that matters.  Hell, they’ve booked Letterman for this week, so expect your parents to start asking if you’ve heard about them.

I love their Southern blues rock sound and I love the grit and power that comes across on every track.  This is a big week for me – I’m wrapping up my grad school applications and getting ready for two huge weekends coming up and I need to stay amped and motivated.  Alabama Shakes’ first full-length album, Boys and Girls, is perfect for getting excited and feeling like I can foot-stomp my way to kicking ass and handling my business.  Enjoy the video of their first single, Hold On, below and be sure to check out the stream of their album.

Full Stream of Boys & Girls at NPR

Music Monday: Of Monsters and Men

I’m sure I say this every Monday but I can’t believe it’s the start of another week.  This weekend absolutely flew by, between housewarming parties (I’m sure there’s a post about real estate envy that will come from that one…), March Madness (I only watch basketball when forced but it can be pretty entertaining), some exceptionally fine dining, and the return of Mad Men, leaving me feeling a little lagged this morning.

Luckily, I’ve hit upon the perfect musical concoction to soothe my slightly-battered body and soul – My Head is An Animal, from Of Monsters and Men.  I’ve been a fan of OMAM since Little Talks hit the Interwebs last year but now the good folks at NPR have the Icelandic group’s debut album.  To borrow from NPR’s apt description of the band’s sound, I’m finding their “wide-eyed, openhearted exuberance” the perfect antidote to a hectic, trying weekend.

First Listen – Of Monsters and Men, “My Heart is An Animal”

Do you have a favorite track?  Finding the band overhyped or underappreciated?  Depressed to learn their DC concert is already sold out (that might just be me…)  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Music Monday: Florence + The Machine

Hey friends!  Sorry that today’s Music Monday is a bit late in the day.  I would like to tell you that I have been hard at work, digging through a pile of tasks and projects that miraculously appeared on my desk over the weekend, but that is sadly not the case.  I have been busy pursuing a new(ish) past time of mine that I am calling IFO: Internetting for Others.  This is a hobby whereupon I do things on the Internet for you (you primarily being my mother but also occasionally my friends and colleagues) because you are too busy/incompetent/combination thereof to do it yourself.  My IFOing this morning has been quite tasking and I’m sorry I just got around to posting!

That said, there was really only one choice for today’s musical selection – a raucous, rollicking song about rebirth and redemption, sung with all the gutsy glory of the incomparable Florence Welch.  I’ve always been a Florence fan but hadn’t really had a chance to dig into Ceremonials until a few weeks ago.  Since then, it’s been on heavy rotation for just about any occasion.  It’s easy to see why both critics and people I tweet about music with alike are so passionate about it.

It seems surreptitious that I really started listing to this album recently as opposed to when it was initially released.  As y’all know, it’s been a very tumultuous couple of weeks for me, so it’s nearly impossible not to connect with the soaring vocals and revival sound of Shake It OutIt may sound cliche but hearing Flo belt out that “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, I feel a little more like my old self – and then when she tells you to shake the devil off your back, it’s impossible not to want to dance!

So, today, and for the rest of the week, whenever you need to feel revitalized, re-energized, or just reborn, crank up the Florence and shake the devils off.

Sidenote:  As if the song wasn’t awesome enough on its own (and it totally is), Flo + Co are clearly trying to win me over by letting HBO use another track from Ceremonials for one of its recent Game of Thrones trailer!  I love when my pop culture interests intersect!


Music Monday: Marcellus Hall

Good morning!  I hope you all had a weekend as lovely as mine.  Prior to my short NYC excursion on Saturday, I had the good fortune to see Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady, a college years favorite of mine) perform solo at Rock and Roll Hotel.  It was a great show and Craig Finn is truly engaging live.  But the real stand-out for me was the opening act, Marcellus Hall.

Marcellus Hall is probably best known for his illustration work in the New Yorker or as the front man for Matador faves Railroad Jerk and White Hassle.  Like Finn, he’s recently released a solo album and his opening set on Friday night was enough to inspire me to buy the album on the spot.  Hall’s sound – a sort of bluesy rock that sounds like The Kinks and Bob Dylan had a baby who grew up listening to Johnny Cash on vinyl – has a gritty authenticity to it that most younger musicians aim for but often miss.

I’ve only listened to the album twice since Friday but I can tell it’s going to be in constant rotation for me this spring, as warmer weather leads to longer nights, hopefully filled with a little bit more debauchery.  Until then, enjoy Marcellus Hall!

Star Position by Marcellus Hall