Rainbow Rowell: Fangirl

I just finished reading Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a work of contemporary fiction so much.

Much like Rowell’s widely beloved previous novel, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl is an easy but well written and extraordinarily empathetic YA book. Fangirl tells a lighter story than the emotionally wrought Eleanor & Park, which made for a happier albeit less captivating read. But the strength of both books is their authentic, relatable characters.

Fangirl is a love letter to fanfiction writers, replete with excerpts from its own Harry Potter-inspired fic and frequent Twilight references. Yet more endearing are protagonist Cath’s geeky angst, her dysfunctional family (comprised of a rebellious twin sister, absent mother and bipolar father) and her Felicity-like freshman year of college.

I appreciate that Rowell’s heroines remain uncompromisingly independent despite their glaring insecurities and only fall for good guys who treat them with kindness and respect – a far cry from the unhealthy and often dangerous relationships portrayed in other popular YA series.

Rainbow Rowell’s novels expertly capture the awkwardness and blatantly emotional sincerity of teens in a heartfelt, deceptively simple way reminiscent of John Hughes movies. I hope Hollywood starts making movies based on her books, the world needs more of her kind of fiction.

Buy @ Amazon

Rainbow Rowell Official Site

Sia: 1000 Forms of Fear

It’s always seemed strange to me that extraordinarily talented singers like Allison Crowe, Anouk and Sia haven’t become household names in every country like their inferior pop princess counterparts. That’s all about to change for Sia, thanks to her new album, 1000 Forms of Fear.

I first heard Australian singer-songwriter Sia over a decade ago in Ireland when she sang for the British downtempo group Zero 7. Sia has had pretty much consistent success in Europe ever since and has penned hits for Katy Perry, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Celine Dion and Britney Spears. Yet she’s only experienced brief brushes with the American charts under her own name, first with the 2006 hit “Breathe Me” and then with her recent David Guetta collaboration “Titanium.” And even those two singles are better known as “the song from the Six Feet Under finale” and “that Titanium song” rather than for their singer’s name.

Sia is finally enjoying a much deserved surge in both popularity and name recognition here in America with the new album’s first smash single, “Chandelier.” The track is everything that the perfect pop song should be and Sia’s rafter-scraping voice pushes the chorus to supernatural heights.

“Chandelier” is such an unusually exquisite, stand out track that the rest of the album can’t help but pale by comparison. There are, however, some impressive exceptions. Among them are “Eye of the Needle” and “Cellophane.”

Also of note is the Rihanna-meets-Beyoncé pairing “Free the Animal” and “Fire Meet Gasoline” – the latter has a chorus melody suspiciously similar to that of “Halo.”

The album also features a solo version of “Elastic Heart,” which Sia originally recorded with The Weeknd and Diplo for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack.

Remember the name Sia. She’s earned it.

Buy @ Amazon

Sia Official Site

Empires: New Album & Song!

Empires has been championed by several Muruch writers since they first burst onto the local Chicago music scene oh so long ago, so we’re so happy they’ve finally been signed by a major label (Chop Shop/Island Records). Their major label debut, Orphan, will be released on September 23rd. Here’s the first single, “Please Don’t Tell My Lover” and the video of Empires’ recent performance on David Letterman

Buy @ Amazon (Available for Pre-Order August 19th)

Empires Official Site

Foxygen: New Album, Tour & Video!

Foxygen’s debut, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, continues to be a favorite in the Muruch household, so we’re very excited the band will release their sophomore album, …And Star Power, on October 14th. Here’s the video for the first single “How Can You Really”…

Pre-Order @ Amazon

…And Star Power Tracklist:

01. Star Power Airlines
02. How Can You Really
03. Coulda Been My Love
04. Cosmic Vibrations
05. You & I
06. Star Power I: Overture
07. Star Power II: Star Power Nite
08. Star Power III: What Are We Good For
09. Star Power IV: Ooh Ooh
10. I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate
11. Mattress Warehouse
12. 666
13. Flowers
14. Wally’s Farm
15. Cannibal Holocaust
16. Hot Summer
17. Cold Winter/Freedom
18. Can’t Contextualize My Mind
19. Brooklyn Police Station
20. The Game
21. Freedom II
22. Talk
23. Everyone Needs Love
24. Hang

Foxygen Tour Dates:

Tue. Aug. 12 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl
Wed. Aug. 13 – Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up Tavern w/ Gary Wilson
Thu. Aug. 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre w/ Gary Wilson, Dub Thompson
Fri. Aug. 15 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory w/ Gary Wilson
Sat. Aug. 16 – Pioneertown, CA @ Woodsist Festival at Pappy & Harriet’s w/ Woods
Wed. Sep. 24 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom w/ Dub Thompson
Thu. Sep. 25 – Santa Fe, NM @ Skylight w/ Dub Thompson
Sat. Sep. 27 – Dallas, TX @ INDEX Festival
Sun. Sep. 28 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Upstairs w/ Dub Thompson
Mon. Sep. 29 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks w/ Dub Thompson
Wed. Oct. 1 – Atlanta, GA @ The Loft w/ Dub Thompson
Thu. Oct. 2 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/IN w/ Dub Thompson
Fri. Oct. 3 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel w/ Dub Thompson
Sat. Oct. 4 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater w/ Dub Thompson
Sun. Oct. 5 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club w/ Dub Thompson
Wed. Oct. 8 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ Dub Thompson
Thu. Oct. 9 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Fri. Oct. 10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer w/ Dub Thompson
Sat. Oct. 11 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club w/ Dub Thompson
Sun. Oct. 12 – Montreal, QC @ Le National w/ Dub Thompson, Heat
Tue. Oct. 14 – Toronto, ON @ The Mod Club w/ Dub Thompson
Wed. Oct. 15 – Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom w/ Dub Thompson
Thu. Oct. 16 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall w/ Dub Thompson
Fri. Oct. 17 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall w/ Dub Thompson
Sat. Oct. 18 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Café w/ Dub Thompson
Mon. Oct. 20 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater w/ Dub Thompson
Tue. Oct. 21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge w/ Dub Thompson
Wed. Oct. 29 – Brighton, UK @ Komedia
Thu. Oct. 30 – Manchester, UK @ Ruby Lounge
Fri. Oct. 31 – London, UK @ Village Underground
Sat. Nov. 1 – Paris, FR @ Pitchfork Music Festival Paris
Mon. Nov. 3 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique
Tue. Nov. 4 – Amsterdam, NE @ Tolhuistuin
Wed. Nov. 5 – Berlin, DE @ Frannz
Thu. Nov. 6 – Copenhagen, DK @ Pumpehuset
Sun. Nov. 9 – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest

Foxygen Official Site