By Benjamin J.N. Harrison
If there's anything I enjoy more than hummus with grape juice, it's a damned good song (or book). And, knowing the value of damned good songs, I figure I will post here occasionally to recommend music that has been stuck on repeat for me. Without any further ado, here are ten songs I have been playing an unhealthy number of times of late:
Do enjoy these songs, as I am of the firm opinion that they are quite special.
A local favourite in Tsawwassen, Mario's Kitchen is located in the heart of town adjacent to a handful of other dining establishments. The interior of the restaurant is softly lit with booths that promise privacy, lulling customers in for a quiet dinner with close friends.
The menu offers a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes. I personally recommend the fresh, bright bruschetta as a starter and the smoked salmon penne, a hearty pasta dish seasoned to perfection with herbs and spices in a creamy tomato sauce as an entree. The service at Mario's is tremendous, with attentive staff, efficient, fresh food, and a guaranteed worth-while experience.
I highly recommend a visit to this Tsawwassen gem the next time you're looking for a cozy spot to enjoy a nice dinner.
You've probably heard of or seen some of the weird stuff this two-man band does; odd face makeup, strange wardrobe, a few fast-paced electronic songs. It takes some getting used to, but Twenty One Pilots' music is some powerful and interesting stuff. It's hard to describe as one genre - sort of alternative/indie/electronic with some weird kind of rap, and each song is really different. Their lyrics, though, that's what gets you - there are some powerful things present in lead singer/songwriter Tyler Joseph's words. He talks about depression, anxiety, and other issues he and lots of people have to deal with. A lot of it is really relatable and eye-opening, but also sad. They can really help you through some tough times, though.
I'd recommend Polarize and Hometown if you're giving them a listen for the first time.
P.S. - My favourites are Trees and A Car, A Torch, A Death if you want to take a listen to those too. Or just listen to them all. That's good too.
The "King of Soul" may have only had a short life, but he had a huge impact on the music industry, especially soul. He was born in 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and along with his seven siblings, performed in The Singing Children choir. After singing with the Highway QC's and graduating high school, he sung in the Soul Stirrers. From there on, he and his group performed and after he released his first single, Lovable, he received quite a bit of attention. He released thirteen studio albums between the years 1958 and 1964. On December 11, 1964, Bertha Franklin, the hotel manager of the Hacienda Motel, where Cooke was staying, shot him fatefully in the heart. Apparently, Cooke tried to assault Franklin, which resulted in the shooting and the motel owner, Evelyn Carr, to call the police. Since Cooke died on the scene, his side of the story was never told. Since the stories of Carr, Franklin and other witnesses do not quite match up, investigators are still not exactly sure what happened. Posthumously, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
Have a listen:
P.S. I recommend "Having a Party", "Twistin' the Night Away", "You Send Me" and "Cupid" as well...
From Worcester, England: indie rockers Peace. The quartet, composed of brothers Harry and Samuel Koisser as well as Douglas Castle and Dominic Boyce, formed Peace in 2009. After signing onto Columbia Records and releasing an EP titled “Delicious”, Peace became better known through magazines such as NME and The Guardian. With Palma Violets, Miles Kane and Django Django, Peace performed at the NME Awards Tour 2013. They then released their first album “In Love”, in March of 2013. Listening to their music, you can just that they’re the future of indie rock. Compared a lot to Swim Deep, Vampire Weekend and Foals, they have the young talent and energy of newcomers. They know that they have to please, and they know they will. Their rebel attitude, classic British flair and spontaneous actions make it all the more entertaining. Their lyrics in “Lovesick” show their youthfulness such as “I don’t wanna go to school/I don’t wanna take the call” and “I don’t wanna make no sense/I don’t wanna pay the rent”. “California Daze” shows they are more than capable of writing love songs as “She tastes like sunlight and she's always gonna be there in the back of your mind” plays. “Wraith” and “Delicious” are the kind that’ll be stuck in your head by the end of the week. The six minute song “Drain” is perfect and the song “Say you feel drained/Say you never felt so empty/Never leave a stain”. While the band Peace is still young, their talent and wonderful lyrics are intense. Expect some more great music from them!
Jake Bugg released his second album earlier this month, and I have one word to describe it: fantastic. While there was a taste of rock in his debut album, Shangri La shows more of his punkier style. Maybe it’s just because this album was collaboration between him and Rick Rubin, or maybe this is what he’s leaning towards career wise. Either way, he nailed it. He still managed to maintain his roots with Bob Dylan and Oasis, and he pulled off a different kind of album from his previous one. The first three tracks are more rock, complete with heavy guitar riffs. “Me and You” is something straight out of a country album and shows his innocence. It more or less reminds you of the fact that he is only a 19 year-old, a pretty crazy talented 19 year-old at that. “Messed up Kids” changes back into his rockier style, while the next two songs are an exact follow-up from his debut album. “Kingpin” and “Kitchen Table” contain an unfamiliar twang that fans will surely enjoy. “Pine Trees”, a kind of contemplation song, truly shows a deeper side, especially with these lines:
"I try not to visualize other people's eyes
and they're compromising ways
And as I leave them far behind
I try to hide the route of my escape
You can sit in the pine tress
You can sit at home,
You can breath a sigh of silence in the woods".
The song is almost comparable to the unforgettable track “Broken”, on his debut album. “Simple Pleasures” and “Storm Passes Away” give off some country vibes that only Bugg could pull off. Shangri La may not have the same amount of slow songs that his previous album had, but it delves deeper into his sound. After listening to his first album and seeing him in concert two months ago, I couldn’t believe someone his age was performing and writing the music that I had heard. This album just confirmed how great of a musician he is (there’s a reason that I’m seeing him again in January). Take a listen to his new album, it’s worth it!
“I want to sound like 50 Cent’s In Da Club”, and that’s exactly where the Arctic Monkeys’ fifth studio album, AM, is heading. Long gone are the days of their classic british style and Beatles’ inspired haircuts. Here comes the newer, bolder Arctic Monkeys, led by frontman Alex Turner. According to him, the band was trying to distance themselves from their original sound and create a more R & B record, something with a heavy influence of 90’s hip hop. However, it was still to be a mix of hip hop and 70’s rock. The first five songs on the album all represent their goal; “Arabella” even mentions “helter skelter”. “No.1 Party Anthem” may sound like a pop song but it actually jumps back to their previous work. Fans familiar with their other albums will recognize the sound. It’s almost a combination between some of Alex Turner’s solo work (the soundtrack for the movie Submarine, which is AMAZING, as is the movie), and earlier collaboration with Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets, there’s a review for them on this page from last year). “Mad Sounds” is similar to this as well. “Fireside” and “Why You Only Call Me When You’re H*gh” skip back to the first half of the album, with the edgier, more Dr. Dre inspired tracks. The final three songs, “Snap Out Of It”, “Knee Socks” and “I Wanna Be Yours” are part of the smoother, newer style. All in all, if you are a fan of their older, rockier music, you may not be a fan of this album. However, it's still an awesome album, so you should check it out!
The cutest smile you’ll ever see, a killer voice, and an infinite amount of love for dedicated fans is the secret recipe for the rising star of 2013; Ariana Grande. One would be quick to assume her stardom originates from that fact that she has the same manager as Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, but frankly, I think Scooter Braun is the one that got lucky here. She performed on Broadway at the age of 15, was part the mega-popular teen TV show ‘Victorious’, and now has a debut album that flew straight to the top of the charts practically the moment it was released. This 20 year old actress/singer said she was largely inspired by the ultimate divas like Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston for her record, Yours Truly. The album is a collection of romantic pop/R&B songs that’ll throw you right back into the 60’s, where everyone’s favorite pastime was snapping and harmonizing their doo-wops. The sky high vocals and lovey-dovey lyrics perfectly embody Ariana’s classy vintage persona, and her strong live performances never fail to exceed my expectations. The album features collaborations from classic faces of the pop music industry like Mac Miller, Nathan Sykes, Mika and Big Sean, and her hit single ‘Baby I’ was originally written for none other than everybody’s queen - Beyonce. It’s shocking how such a bold voice can come from such a tiny lady (she towers at 5’1”), and if any of you think she lip-sings or uses autotune, please go and submerge yourself in the disgustingly large amount of evidence I have gathered below to prove you wrong; whether it’s the covers she recorded in her own bedroom or singles performed on national television, she nails every song and I cannot praise her talent enough.
LONG STORY SHORT: Perfection takes on the human form that is Ariana Grande.
- ONE OF MY FAVOURITES OFF THE ALBUM; 'TATTOOED HEART'
- THERE'S A REASON PEOPLE CALL HER THE NEXT MARIAH CAREY
- A LITTLE LADY MARMALADE
- DON'T LIKE JUSTIN BIEBER? THAT'S OK, YOU CAN LIKE ARIANA GRANDE
- JUST 40 MILLION VIEWS ON A CASUAL COVER, IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL
- GO TO 2:26, YEAH I CAN DO THAT, TOO
- THIS IS PROBABLY ILLEGAL BUT IT'S ON YOUTUBE SO I'M GOING TO TAKE THE LIBERTY OF TELLING YOU TO CLICK HERE AND THEN BUY THE ALBUM AFTERWARDS
So after reviewing Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' song & video combo a while back, I couldn't not review Lily Allen's 'Hard Out Here,' which includes many a satirical reference pointing out the problems with his song. But she's not just going after Thicke, the song (& video) for 'Hard Out Here' points out issues with the music industry and society's treatment of women in general. There's also been a good few people comparing 'Hard Out Here' to P!nk's 'Stupid Girls,' so if you're not bored of my feminist critiques yet, watch out for my analysis of that problematic comparison in the next few days!
Lily's comeback into the music industry after having two children definitely makes a whole lot of valid points, and the song's actual lyrics have very few problems. From the perspective of the male consumer Lily sings:
"If you’re not a size 6, then you’re not good looking
In fact the only real problem I found with the lyrics was right at the beginning with "Don’t need to shake my arse for you ‘cuz I got a brain." This line gives off the impression that the women who do choose to shake their asses don't 'have a brain,' having less value than her? Not a fan. But considering Allen goes on to try out 'shaking her arse' with a group of her backup dancers and a statement older white male for effect at 1:49 in the video, maybe we can put this one down to she doesn't need to dance like this for anyone but she can if she wants to? Not sure about this one - what do you think?
The main potentially problematic elements show up in the video itself with many people critiquing her use of black women as backup dancers - wearing significantly less clothing than her and spending the majority of the video surrounding Lily and twerking. Valid points have been made about how this can be seen as objectifying and demeaning/dehumanizing black female bodies while simultaneously glorifying her white female body. You can also quite clearly take the fact that she's wearing a lot more clothing than them as an assertion of her dominance, and combined with the fact that she goes on to slap their gyrating rear ends later in the video it's definitely hard to overlook this as a problematic element with a big possibility to offend. Saying that, I do think this was put into the video with the intention of being 'from the perspective of the male gaze' and Lily has stated that she simply hired the best dancers out of those who auditioned, race was not a factor. In fact the video's dancers also include a Caucasian woman and an Asian woman as well - BUT these two women were wearing jackets at the beginning vs. the black women in only leotards and bikinis. Hmm. Opinions from both sides here make really interesting points, head to Google for more info if you're as interested as I was! Allen defends her video in this tweet with quotes you can read below.
"If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too... me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day."
All in all, there are definitely some problems with the video itself that I'd love to see Lily address more, and that we can't and shouldn't ignore, but I think this catchy song does serve a purpose in bringing awareness to a lot of important issues and that shouldn't be overlooked either. Aaaand I can't say I didn't love the well-deserved pokes at Robin Thicke at 3:08 with a few certain silver balloons and the lyrics at 2:09 questioning some of T.I.'s lyrics in Blurred Lines.
Watch the video (with parental advisory...) and form your own opinion! I don't think I can post it here though- wouldn't want to endorse booty shakin at SDSS.