Jennifer E. Smith’s novel, This Is What Happy Looks Like, is a sweet little (well, big) story about two teenagers who randomly connect online, fall in love and then meet in person.
The twist, which is revealed at the beginning, is he’s a famous movie star and she’s harboring a secret past.
I would’ve liked it better without the extra celebrity melodrama. Far more interesting and charming were the emails that open the first few chapters and the awkward transition the two lovebirds experience when they finally meet face to face.
Still, it was a refreshingly light, romantic and happy read.
Stephen Kellogg, scheduled for the June 30th show back in Charleston, WV, has many live recordings available on Archive.org. This one includes “Hearts of Pain,” which was featured on the TV show, One Tree Hill. Kellogg’s previous Mountain Stage performances are available to stream at NPR.
Over the Rhine will perform at Mountain Stage on July 21st. They have similarly permitted several live shows to be posted on Archive.org. This one is a favorite because it kicks off with “Laugh of Recognition” and includes a “Hallelujah” cover.
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down will appear at Mountain Stage on July 28th – you can stream or download a 2009 concert by the group here.
She & Him’s Volume 3 was one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Regular readers know I’m a big fan of She & Him’s first two albums and have loved Zooey Deschanel’s voice since her Elf days. So it’s with a heavy heart that I must give Volume 3 a less than positive review.
I tried, really I did. I’ve played the album on repeat for weeks and told myself I was being overly cynical. I took it on sunny day drives and endeavored to just enjoy the music without thinking about this review. But every single time I play it, the first half of the album just annoys me.
Zooey’s voice is still very pretty and M Ward’s instrumentation is lush as always, but the problems lies in the lyrical structure of certain tracks.
The opener “I’ve Got Your Number, Son” isn’t terrible, but I always hit skip half way through tracks 2 through 4 due to their repetitive nature. “Never Wanted Your Love” and “I Could’ve Been Your Girl” were ok as singles, but I find them extremely irksome in the context of the album – where they are lumped together with the gooey “Baby.” It feels like a paint-by-numbers approach to songwriting – write one verse and one chorus, then put ‘em on a loop for the duration of the track. Rinse and repeat for the next four songs. Honestly, after hearing One Mile An Hour‘s beautiful, thoughtful debut, Volume 3‘s shallow construct sadly reminded me of the South Park episode in which manatees randomly cobble together Family Guy shows.
But perhaps that’s overly harsh for what’s obviously meant to be a light bit o’ pop. The new dance party video for “I Could’ve Been Your Girl,” which you can watch below, is cute at least.
The second half of the album is a completely different story and emphasizes why I dislike the beginning so much. When She & Him are good, they are really, really good. The album’s strength lies in the lower key melodies, which showcase both the lovely depth of Zooey’s voice and the intricacies of Ward’s playing.
The pretty piano ballad “London” is by far the standout track.
I also adore “Turn to White,” which features the heart-punch lyric “I’m stronger than the picture that you took before you left.”
Other highlights are the cover of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and “Snow Queen.”
So I at least recommend buying those four mp3s. I just don’t see myself listening to the entire Volume 3 album as much as I have its spectacular predecessors – particularly Volume Two, which has become my default road trip CD.
One Mile An Hour is another remarkable band who sought Muruch out personally. They built their own ocean-view studio to record their brilliant, self-produced, self-titled debut album, which they accurately call a “complex, introverted outsider-folk record.”
The first thing I noticed about the CD was that the disc looks like a mini vinyl LP. Extra cool points for that. Then there’s the music – airy, panoramic, beautiful, unusual folk music.
Swirling, psychedelic folk guitar riffs, slightly raspy and softly plaintive vocals. A bit of Ray LaMontagne, a little Elliot Smith, even hints of Jeff Buckley and Pink Floyd and something totally Other – a ghostly, intangible mood. This is why I love music, why I love writing about music. This is inspiration.
Standout tracks are “Sunken Ships,” “Trouble’s Roots,” “You Are On Beach,” “Magpie Song” and “Nine Eight.” But really, it’s a singular, magnificent record from beginning to end.
I love that the few bands who actually follow my review submission guidelines (found on the About page) are really good. Broken Tempo was the most recent to email me their music and I love their new single, “You.” The Greek band’s sound reminds me of early Evanescence or Lacuna Coil. I hope they’re working on a full-length album. I even like the dubstep remix, even though I usually hate remixes. You can hear the original and the remix below.
Two schoolboys, Jack Duff and Cormac Connell, from Navan, County Meath, Ireland impressed the judges on Wednesday night’s episode of Britain’s Got Talent with their cover of “Little Talks” by Of Monsters & Men.
I didn’t know anything about Blue & Gold until they emailed me their new single, “Ghost Man.” Since I love the song so much, I’m going to give you the same uninformed, undescribed listening experience for once. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from this Brooklyn band in the future. Just listen…
King Eider are described as an “Edinburgh-based folk-blues collective.” They had me at folk-blues. I love the bluesy, multi-instrumental style of their debut, self-released single, “Drink Me Dry.” One wonders why they’re self-releasing instead of on Song, By Toad Records. You can stream the song below. The single will be released on June 10th, at which time I assume you’ll be able to purchase it at the usual sites.
Massenet’s Méditation from Thaïs is one of the most beautiful pieces ever composed. Even if you don’t recognize the title, it’s likely you’ve heard it in a movie or commercial – it recently appeared on the soundtrack to Liberal Arts. You can download a recording featuring Scottish violinist Nicola Benedett and French pianist Julien Quentin at the Gardner Museum Music Library.
Benedetti was also featured on a recent Tiny Desk Concert, performing the theme from Schindler’s List and the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin. I also love her version of Spiegel Im Spiegel.
I was only momentarily disappointed to discover that Lexy & The Kill’s “The Ballad of Love & Hate” is not a cover of the song of the same name by The Avett Brothers. The B-side to the London band’s upcoming single “We Can Dance Alone,” “The Ballad of Love & Hate” is a pop-rock ballad about an abusive relationship that showcases the beautiful texture and range of Lexy’s voice. You can stream “The Ballad of Love & Hate” and watch the video for “We Can Dance Alone” below…