Pop music is littered with the shattered remains of relationships. As the stereotype goes: Personal strife often makes for good art. And for many artists, nothing is more of a catalyst for a great song than romantic discord or destruction. The list of classic breakup songs and albums feels endless; some artists’ whole catalogs seem … More »
Bob Dylan simply will not stop recording covers of old Frank Sinatra songs. He’s already released two albums — 2015’s Shadows In The Night and last year’s Fallen Angels — of his versions of songs that Sinatra made famous. And now he’s getting ready to release, of all possible things, a new triple … More »
Earlier this holiday season, She & Him, the duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, released their LP Christmas Party, which is their second album of Christmas songs. This morning, they’ve got a new video for their version of the Frank Sinatra nugget “Christmas Memories.” Deschanel and Ward don’t appear in the clip. Instead, … More »
Magik*Magik makes the kind of expansive pop that absolutely mandates their name. We asked the brains behind the band Mina Choi what albums she listened to when composing her self titled debut and what she came up with was simultaneously a surprise and totally expected.
With the wild pop excess of their tracks, it’s no wonder that the playlist that they created to help celebrate their album release is just as diverse and orchestral as their own sound. It’s a playlist of influences that spotlight extraordinary songwriting, beautiful composition and extremely great tastes.
Mai Lan – Technique
This song came out earlier this year and I remember stumbling across the music video randomly during one of those can’t-sleep late night youtube/blog binge fests. The video is outstanding and you can’t tear your eyes or ears away from this tune. For a song that is built on repetitiveness, it never stops tickling you. There is always something changing in the song to keep you mesmerized, and it just makes you smile.
Faux Fix – Addition by Subtraction
Faux Fix is the project of Katie Chastain, a singer/writer in LA who I met a number of years back. I remember listening to this record a lot while making my own because she had finished it right before I started working on mine. Her voice is perfection. It is like the most delicate lace made from the finest fibers, layered meticulously on top of one another.
St. Vincent – Marry Me
Annie Clark is one of my favorite writers and performers of my adult listening life. For the past few years tho I’ve only been listening to her last 2 records and kind of forgot about her earlier stuff. In prepping for my own release, I’ve become much more aware of the significance of your first record, and beyond that, the first song off your first record. So I’ve started going back to some of my favorite artists and listening to the first tracks off their first records. For an artist, it’s an important moment, that first impression. Listening to how some of my hero artists handled that statement has been eye opening.
Frank Sinatra – The Impossible Dream
I’ve been listening to this song a lot for a project I’m working on called Pop Up Magazine. As their music director, my job is to write music for true stories that get narrated live on stage by writers, directors and other creative types. One story is about a homeless opera singer named Tim Blevens. He was this rising star in NY when he was younger but now sings and lives on the street. It’s a heartbreaking yet also hopeful story. He is going to sing the song on stage for the next show and requested to sing this song with Magik*Magik Orchestra backing him. So I’ve been listening to a lot of different versions of it to try and get some ideas.
The Books – Drowned but Survived
This is another piece we are using for this show, it’s a gorgeous piece featuring many cellos layered on each other with a pulsating dulcimer sounding thing. It reminds me of Zoe Keating’s songs which I love. The Books are another one of those bands who never let you zone out while listening to their work. There is always something new and sparkling happening in their tunes right when your ear needs something to change. No one is ever asleep at the wheel in a Books tune.
Beethoven – Piano Concerto #5, 2nd Movement
This is my mom’s favorite piece of classical music and we listened to it a lot in the car on a family trip we took to Yellowstone last month. It was also used as as sample on a How to Dress Well song that I worked on called “Pour Cyril” a couple years ago. The piece is one of those iconic classical pieces that is on like all those 50 Classical Hits playlists on Apple or Spotify and such. It’s played an awful lot by symphonies but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
Gregory Alan Isakov w/ The Colorado Symphony – Amsterdam
Speaking of driving through Utah and symphonies, my family and I listened to Gregory’s album with the Colorado Symphony probably 10 times during our trip. It’s so beautiful but it also happened to be the only album on my phone that I could access without cell service. So whenever we were driving in the mountains and couldn’t stream something, on came his album.
Mitski – Happy
This is such a ballsy way to start a record. That pulsing is so anxiety inducing, it and her ghostly vocals don’t help at all to put the listener at ease. The beginning gives me the same feeling I get whenever an amber alert goes off on my phone. So many choices on this song are uncompromisingly odd, there is a lot to admire. The bari sax, the sing song drums that burst in halfway through, the lyrics, the chords, it’s such a great song and a great opening to a record.
Julia Holter – Feel You
This record came out a while ago but it still tickles you. I smile whenever people use harpsichords in their songs. I’m not a huge harpsichord fan because after a while it just sounds like a typewriter, but when used in sparing ways in pop music it’s delightful. Bjork’s live version of “Human Behavior” that’s all harpsichord kills me. And the first track off Bat for Lashes’ first record that has that fast harpsichord intro, it just feels like something is poking you with the pointy part of a feather over and over. Julia’s vocals on “Feel You” are so just so precise it sounds like a wind instrument. She has such incredible control and imagination in her singing. I’m a big fan.