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Musician Spotlight: Icon For Hire

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Icon For Hire

Source: Wikipedia

Thank you, Spotify for yet another good recommendation.

Icon For Hire is an American rock band that is currently fronted by female vocalist Ariel Bloomer.

The best thing about this band seems to be their bond with their fans, especially live. They seem to do their best to ensure that their music touches their fans and that they have good time. One example is a live performance of their song “Nerves“, from their most recent album Icon For Hire. At the time, the song and the album had not been officially released, so the fact that Bloomer managed to get them to jump up and down to the song is amazing.

Another example that is more poignant is a live solo performance of the song “The Grey” from their debut album Scripted.  The way that Bloomer introduced the song by wanting them to remember that moment of the concert when they felt bad is really nice.  Hearing the fans singing along to the song makes the tenderness of the performance more palpable.

The music itself is something that is easy and hard to describe. When it comes to the lyrics, most of them deal with emotional suffering with a bit of spirituality. Even if you aren’t spiritual, the songs aren’t heavily focused on it, so the music is still approachable.

The aspect of the music that is harder to describe is the band’s sound. With only two albums, it seems the band is still exploring that territory. Personally, I like the most recent album best because the sound is an eclectic mix of rock, piano, strings, hip-hop, and electronica.  On the other hand, their debut album is mostly hard rock with bits of piano, strings, and electronica here and there.

One last aspect of the band that deserves to be mentioned is Ariel Bloomer. On energetic songs like “Fight” and “Cynics and Critics”  she can be singing or rapping with so much passion. On ballads like “Slow Down” and “Fix Me“, her vocals become angelic. Basically, she is a talented person.

Here is Icon for Hire performing “Sugar and Spice” from their album Icon for Hire

 

 

Written by Serena Zola

May 21, 2014 at 7:55 PM

Musician Spotlight: Blondie

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

A week or so ago, I was listening to my Joan Jett & The Blackhearts station on last.fm when I am slammed by the sound of a guitar and female vocals with a New Jersey accent. I look to see the song currently playing is “Hanging on The Telephone” by Blondie. As I continue listening to the song, I have the urge to dance along with the guitars and start loving the yearning in the singer’s voice when she sings, “Oh, I can’t control myself!” That’s when I decide to look up Parallel Lines, the album the song is on. From there, I ended up listening to Blondie’s entire discography and discovering thirteen other songs I really liked.

One of the best things about Blondie is its music. For a band, they have the most eclectic sound I have ever heard. By the time they had reached their zenith in the 8o’s, they had done punk, pop-rock, disco, reggae, jazz, funk, and rap. When it comes to doing a song featuring rap, they were ahead of their time. Thanks to meeting graffiti artist Fab Five Freddy, they were able to embrace rap when it was just beginning to take off.

Another great aspect of their music is their lyrics. Like their sound, there is a lot of variety, Some lyrics are fun, some are relaxing, and others make a statement.  Some of my favorite songs are “Eat to The Beat“,“Follow Me “, and “Die Young, Stay Pretty.” 

Last but not least, the vocals of Blondie’s lead singer Debbie Harry.  They are different things depending on the song. For instance, “Rapture” and “Heart of Glass” have Harry’s vocals becoming airy like Donna Summers. On slower songs like “Sound-A-Sleep” and “Shayla” they are soothing and angelic. On rock songs like “Living in the Real World”, her voice has a growl to it that is reminiscent of 80’s rocker Joan Jett.

All and all, this band is now my number one favorite band.  I am happy they are still making music today, but I personally think they reached their peak in the 80s . Nonetheless, I would recommend them to anyone.

Written by Serena Zola

August 17, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Musician Spotlight: Joan Jett

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Most people know Joan Jett for her cover of The Arrows “I Love Rock n’ Roll” with her band The Blackhearts. When I heard this song a few years ago, I thought it was awesome. Yet, I didn’t want to hear more of her music for a few reasons.  At the time, I wasn’t too open to old music. I also pegged Joan Jett as a butch rocker who only wrote music that said “I’m a woman, I’m rebellious, hear me roar!” after checking out the album I Love Rock n Roll.  As it turns out, this 80’s rocker is so much more than what she appears to be.

One of the best things about her is her vocals. She has a soothing yet aggressive voice. The soothing vocals are best seen in  slower songs like “Love Hurts”, and “Crimson and Clover”. Of course, her aggressive vocals are seen in more up-tempo songs like “Bad Reputation” and “Victims of Circumstance”.

Another thing I enjoy about her is how passionately she performs live. She’s not kidding around when she says she loves rock n roll. Whether she is playing her own songs or a cover, she puts her heart and soul into doing it. One of my favorite live performances is her performing Sly and The Family Stone’s ‘Everyday People”. I love the jam session her and another guitarist has almost three minutes in.

Last but not least, her songwriting. It is rare that I have a favorite album by anybody. Whenever I do choose one, it is something that I appreciate as a fan and as a critic. In this case, it is Joan Jett’s 1994 album Pure and Simple.  Joan Jett might not have the most complex lyrics, but some of them are very meaningful and touching.

On this particular album, Joan Jett has less of the tough girl stuff and more vulnerable and empowering material. My personal favorite songs are “Activity Grrrl” , “Go Home”, and “Brighter Day”. In “Activity Grrl” Joan Jett tells of an everyday girl trying to make a difference by empowering herself and others. With the lyrics and rare music video for “Go Home”,  she tackles rape  and violence against women. With “Brighter Day”, Jett discusses social issues and the fight for hope.

Links and a video:

Everyday People” Live- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEizmNjyuMo

“Activity Grrrl”Audio- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqAiHUvFoiI

“Brighter Day”Audio- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYYOsP6OoIo

“Go Home” Music Video

Written by Serena Zola

May 12, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Album Review: The Next Day by David Bowie

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U.S. Release Date: March 12, 2013

David Bowie’s first album in ten years is witty and pleasurable, a wonderful way to embrace the past while reflecting on the present. By being himself and  alter-egos like The Thin White Duke, he is at his zenith of creativity.

One of the notable things on the album is the music composition. There are songs that have melodies that are reminiscent of Bowie’s past work. For instance, the song “Dirty Boys” echoes the song “Fame” from Bowie’s Young Americans album. “Heat”, the album’s final track, flashbacks to Bowie’s album Low.

Besides the music composition, there are the lyrics. They are like a work of art, like a painting you look at in a museum. If you find them interesting, then you start thinking, “What does this mean to me?” This is something Bowie has been known for since the sixties and to see that this hasn’t changed is very gratifying.

Last but not least, the vocals. Bowie is getting older, but his vocal range hasn’t changed too much. There are times where he sounds like is talking rather than singing, but various instruments (i.e. guitar, drums, etc.) makes up for this flaw. His best vocal work is on slow-paced songs like “Where Are We Now?”

Overall, this is an excellent album. This is Bowie’s best work since 1997’s Earthling. I recommend this album to anyone looking for authentic and intelligent music.

Written by Serena Zola

March 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Rock Songs From Animation: For Girls

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I was chatting with my cousin last week on Facebook and somehow she ended up giving me a link to a rock song from Scooby Doo and The Witch’s Ghost. That got me thinking about the a few other female rock songs I know from animation.

1.  Rose from the Japanese anime NANA (see video description for lyrics)- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX4BCwzz7qc

This song is the first opening theme from the anime and it is sung by Anna Tsuchiya. In the anime, the character who sings it is Nana Osaki.

2. Remember from the American cartoon Danny Phantomhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S70Oq3JqIcw

In the cartoon, the song is sung in the episode “Fanning the Flames” by a ghost named Ember McClain. Supposedly, the song tells the story of what she was like before she became a ghost. Her singing voice belongs to Robin Kimissle.

3.  We Are W.I.T.C.H. from the American cartoon W.I.T.C.H. (see video description for lyrics)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldyraUyiU-A

This opening theme song is sung by Marion Raven.

4.  Hex Girl- from the American cartoon movie Scooby Doo and The Witch’s Ghost http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JObl7DEgSDM

In the movie, this song is sung by a female gothic rock band called The Hex Girls. The lead singer, Thorn, is voiced by Jennifer Hale.

Written by Serena Zola

November 8, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Rediscovering The Music of Linkin Park

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Linkin Park’s Band Logo
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This past week, I had the pleasure of rebecoming a fan of Linkin Park, a band whose music I haven’t listened to or cared about in two years.

For those of you who don’t know, Linkin Park is a rock band whose music is considered alternative to most people. Until the release of their latest album Living Things, some fans have been polarized due to the fact that their previous albums  A Thousand Suns and Minutes to Midnight, were a far cry from the screaming heavy metal/rap-rock sound most fans were used to.

I gave the band a break with the latter album, but A Thousand Suns was the album that made me give up on the band completely. When the first single “The Catalyst” was released in 2010, my reaction was “What the heck? Where are the guitars? Why are the lyrics repeating themselves? This sucks!”And so, I smited Linkin Park from my mental list of awesome things and eventually stopped listening to their stuff because being reminded of their old sound made me sad.

It was Google, the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards, and curiosity that brought me back to Linkin Park’s music. I found out that the video for the band’s newest single “Burn It Down” had been nominated for Best Rock Video. The words “rap-rock song” caught my attention.

“Click the video!” an inner part of me screamed. “Click it… CLICK IT!!!”

I clicked it, I saw it, and I loved it.

From there, I ended up looking up Linkin Park’s new album on Amazon and YouTube. Using a very comprehensive review on Amazon, I judged the new album with the open-mind I had gained from developing an eclectic music taste. I even gave A Thousand Suns another chance.

Needless to say, I found Living Things to be Linkin Park’s best work yet and their previous album decent.

With Living Things, Linkin Park isn’t “back.” They never left. They have just gotten better.

Links:

Some favorites from Living Things-

Burn it Down (Official Music Video)- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxytyRy-O1k

Lost in the Echo (Lyrics Video)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srggFS3TwKQ

Roads Untraveled (Lyrics Video)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCnKl5VQ10s

Castle of Glass (Lyrics Video)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g-dHTrNNGQ&feature=related

Favorites from A Thousand Suns-

Waiting For The End (Official Music Video)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qF_qbaWt3Q

The Messenger (Lyrics Video)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qSjwcoucSo

Written by Serena Zola

September 14, 2012 at 8:45 PM

Great Eclectic Musicians

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Once in a while, you might find someone who listens to more than one type of music. An even rarer find is a musician that has more than one sound. Here are my personal favorite eclectic musicians the songs that display their variety:

Musician: Pink

Songs:

Lonely Girl- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXn5ooXBIiM&feature=channel&list=UL

Misery-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlAtrY2zkso&feature=BFa&list=ULrXn5ooXBIiM

I’m Not Dead-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8urL3BEH368&feature=channel&list=UL

Bridge of Light-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjWNckjaRWQ&feature=related

 

Musicians: The Beatles

Songs:

Oh Darlin-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PZWGGkrMCk

Tomorrow Never Knows-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spjcPS4ekOA

Eleanor Rigby-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaRNrDaoMqw

Paperback Writer-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taADLPtyDb0

 

Musician: David Bowie

Songs:

After All- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJRk1pz3tk4

Rock n’ Roll Suicide-http://www.youtube.com/watchv=k_RfY4pVkBo

Dead Man Walking-http://www.youtube.com/watchv=z3qm2tTD_oQ

Bring Me the Disco King-http://www.youtube.com/watchv=kNzPD3i9cic

Written by Serena Zola

June 11, 2012 at 9:29 PM

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