Song of the Day: “Global Concepts” by Robert Delong

With the beginning of yet another summer, I am returning to this blog, beginning with an appreciation post for Robert Delong’s “Global Concepts.”

In my last “song of the day” entry, I mentioned James Blake and his disdain  for the unimaginative, dirty bass sounds of  what has been cleverly termed “brostep.”  Like it or not, electronic music seems to be here to stay.  Personally, I tend to lean toward the “or not” side of the argument–I prefer the sounds of intricate acoustic guitar riffs any day–but then an artist like Robert Delong comes around completely transforms your perception of electronic music.

“Global Concepts” is the first single from Delong’s album Just Movement released in February of this year.  A product of tumultuous drum rhythms, a video game joystick, and Delong’s alternative vocals, the track manages to be not only catchy, but intelligibly so.  Delong’s music embraces technology without abusing it, giving us an addictive tune we can enjoy without guilt.  It is my greatest hope that electronic music will follow the direction of Delong, who uses technology as an embellishment, not a substitution for musicality.

Enjoy the music video for “Global Concepts” below, complete with determined drumming and Wii remote flauting.

The Voice Top 6: Recap, Predictions and Song Requests

The Voice is edging nearer and nearer to its finale, and we’re left with easily six of the most talented performers to come through any reality singing competition.  Here’s who is left in the competition:

1. Amanda Brown

Amanda is an incredible performer who effortlessly jumps from gospel to R&B to rock music.  Last night, her covers of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Here I Go Again” once again proved her vocal prowess and showed why she continues to be a powerful force throughout the competition.  Her biggest hurdle in the competition will be recapturing the magic of her “Dream On” performance and establishing herself as the alternative/rock artist she proclaims to be.  Song Request: “Sweeter” by Gavin Degraw

2. Cassadee Pope

Music veteran and former Hey Monday front-woman, Cassadee Pope’s experience and her connection with the music radiate in her performance.  With her ability to convey passion and emotion in each performance, on top of her soaring vocals, it is clear that she is an obvious contender for The Voice title.  At this point, I would like to see Cassadee steer away a bit from her pop-rock roots–her cover of Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” was vocally impressive, but for the most part predictable–and tackle something that will allow her to better convey her passion and  artistry.  Song Request: “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles

3. Melanie Martinez

Seventeen-year-old Melanie Martinez’s quirky style and breathy vocals have established her as the show’s most unique artist.  While her performance of Lenka’s “The Show” last night came off as somewhat cheesy and awkward, there is no doubting that Melanie knows exactly what she wants to be as an artist.  My favorite moments from Melanie are the ones when she doesn’t try to impress anybody.  What she needs to do is to perform songs that she truly loves because that is when I feel most connected with her. Song Request: “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons

4. Nicholas David

Nicholas is that soulful throwback artist who really feels the music.  He has been very consistent throughout the course of the competition, always choosing songs that perfectly match his style and touch the audience’s soul.  For Nicholas, I want to see him explore a bit.  I remember his knockout round performance of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” and I’ve always kept that in the back of my head to remind myself that he can become a current, relevant artist.  Song Request: “Black and Gold” by Sam Sparro

5. Terry McDermott

The classic rocker has made quite an impression with his impeccably clear tone and ability to remind everyone of the glory days of rock and roll.  He had a huge moment last night with his emotional performance of “I Want to Know What Love Is” and just in time too.  Terry now needs to prove that he  that he can make it as a current artist rather than a competent cover band singer.  I, for one, think he is capable of doing so.  Song Request: “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers

6. Trevin Hunte

There seems to be no limit to this young singer’s voice, and his performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” while cliched as it may be, was still rather impressive.  There is no doubt that this young man is talented and is capable of some amazing vocal acrobats.  Trevin’s magic, however, seems to be dwindling and to move forward he will have to do something unexpected.  Not too sure about what he sould sing to win everyone back over, but…Song Request: “A  Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

My predictions for tonight’s elimination: Trevin Hunte and Melanie Martinez.  There is also the possibility that it could also be Melanie and Amanda Brown (hopefully not), eliminating Team Adam.  We’ll find out tonight!

Farewell For Now, and “Arboretic Truth” Disclosed

Well, this will unfortunately be my last entry at least for a little while as I will be going on vacation with very limited cell and internet service.  Perhaps I will write a quick microblog here and and there if I get the chance, but most likely this blog will remain quiet for a short period of time.

With that, I thought I would finally write about how I settled on the name “arboretic truth” for this blog.  First, I would like to disclose that I have no affiliation with the tumblr arboretic truth blog.  As many of you might now, “arboretic truth” is a profound, confusing lyric from Bon Iver’s song “Minnesota, WI.”

Armour let it through, borne the arboretic truth you kept posing
Sat down in the suit, fixed on up it wasn’t you by finished closing

Like many listeners, I was baffled by this lyric and this song in general.  I conducted a number of Google searches and racked my brain for days just to get a sense of what Justin Vernon was trying to convey.  A quick glimpse of interpretations on songmeanings.com will reveal a range so vast, that it is hard to believe that this song has any meaning at all.  Minnesota, WI, after all, is not a real location, and “arboretic” is in fact not even a real word.  (Yes, this is confirmed by the red squiggly line that appears as I am typing this entry). The fact is, this song and this lyric baffles me to this very day.

And thus marks the beginning of “arboretic truth,” for much like my interpretation of this lyric is constantly changing, so too is my perspective on life.  I write this blog to document my growth as a writer and a human being whose mind is constantly evolving.  Moreover, just like there are many interpretations to “arboretic truth,” so too are there multiple outlooks on life.  What “arboretic truth” means to me may be entirely different from what it means to you, my readers.

So that’s it.  Perhaps it is a bit anti-climatic to announce that the phrase “arboretic truth” does not have a definitive meaning at all, but I think it is important to realize that life too has no exact answer.  I leave you with the brilliant song that inspired this blog.

So long for now.

Emmy Nominations: Reactions and Thoughts

I am in no position to judge what should and should not be nominated for an Emmy award–I certainly do not watch every television program there is out there and am by no means a television critic.  However, I feel compelled to write about and show my appreciation for some shows that I find truly entertaining no matter how the nominations turned out.

Parks and RecreationIf there is any show that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, it is this one, and isn’t that what comedy is all about?  It’s hard not to love Amy Poehler (and a big congrats to her on her Emmy nods for acting and writing), but the outstanding ensemble is what sets this show apart in opinion.  Each character is so well defined–Ron Swanson is a meat-loving, anti-government government employee, April Ludgate is the apathetic assistant, Jerry is the worst, and the list goes on.  I also love shows that integrate on-going jokes that only religious viewers would find entertaining, such as Chris Traeger’s pronunciation of the word “literally.”

RevengeSure, this show is catty, outrageous, and “soap opera-y,” but you have to admit that it is pretty addicting. The simple premise of the show automatically raises the infamous question of “How long can they keep this up?”  Somehow, though, the writers of Revenge managed to do it.  Every episode of the first season had a surprising plot twist that highlighted leads Emily Vancamp and Madeline Stowe’s nuanced acting style.  The last scenes of the season finale were particularly excellent–I don’t think I breathed the entire time!

Community: I admit, at first I did not understand why this show had such a passionate cult following.  I watched the first few episodes and then just sort of shrugged it off, declaring that it wasn’t really for me.  I returned to the show months later and realized that I didn’t like the show because I wasn’t really watching it.  It takes an attentive viewer to appreciate the subtle humor at Community‘s core, but once I finally grasped what the show was all about, I was hooked for life.

Happy Endings: Happy Endings is that show that just makes you feel good inside.  The characters are so wonderfully quirky that you can’t help but wish you were part of their close-knit inner circle.  Put simply, everything about this show is just so likable that it’s a wonder that it hasn’t gotten more attention.

 

 

 

 

So You Think You Can Dance: Early Favorites

So You Think You Can Dance has always been a hit or miss show for me.  While I love the art of dance and thoroughly enjoy Cat Deeley as the quirky, easy-going host, the show’s irritatingly drawn-out format and Mary Murphy’s incessant screaming has been offsetting in the past.  This season, however, with the cutting of the elimination episodes, the abundance of young, fresh talent, and the crowning of two winners, has for once excited me for the series.

As of now, my favorites are Audrey Case, Matthew Kazmierczak, Amelia Lowe, and Will Thomas.

Numb

When I returned home from the dentist’s office yesterday after my wisdom teeth removal, I immediately collapsed on the couch and began to watch ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.’ I had seen the movie before, but suddenly it hit me just how strange it was to be watching it under these circumstances. To watch the depressed, desensitized Jim Carrey protagonist carry on in his quest for truth and love while I was literally numb myself was an almost surreal experience–a once in a lifetime opportunity to relate to characters in a more literal sense than one can possibly imagined. As I sat back in my seat, the numbness slowly began to wear off as Joel too found himself regaining feeling and confronting his emotions and his past full on.

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Goodbye Wisdom Teeth

Well, today is my last full day with my beloved wisdom teeth.  I am certainly not looking forward to the after-math of the recovery, but the thing I fear most is the threat of my sister recording me.  Hopefully this will not be me, although I would love to meet Ellen.

Song of the Day: “Limit to Your Love” by James Blake

James Blake may have upset some people when he adamantly rejected the “frat-boy,” dirty bass sounds of American dubstep, but there is no doubting that this soulful British artist has a point.  Blake never ceases to impress with his attention to detail in his tracks, and consistently delivers high-quality, intricate sounding material.  His cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love” is a prime example of his pioneering ventures in the field of electronic music.  It is the kind of track that smacks you in the face, sends shivers down your spine, and ends with a sigh of relief.  In fact, it is almost like watching a psychological thriller film–there are moments of tension and anxiety, but you cannot help but feel overwhelmed and, for lack of a better word, mind-blown at the end.  Blake manages to take ownership over Feist’s calm, flowing version of the track, and expertly transforms it in to a work of mysticism and complexity.

Was Blake’s rant about the authenticity of dubstep a bit much? Perhaps.  Still, Blake’s music speaks for itself, and reveals that Blake is truly ahead of the curve in today’s music industry.

Bands Worth Knowing: The Spring Standards

I have often told myself that if I were a band, I would be three-piece indie folk rock band The Spring Standards.  Hailing from New York, these talented oddballs consistently deliver standout tracks that, when taken collectively, defy any definitive genre.

Here is the breakdown of the band, according to Wikipedia:

  • James Cleare – vocals, acoustic and bass guitars, and drums
  • Heather Robb – vocals, melodica, keyboard, glockenspiel and drums
  • James Smith – vocals, acoustic and bass guitars, harmonica, trumpet and drums

If you are unfamiliar with this band, you might find yourself confused with Wikipedia’s description–Who is the lead singer?  Who is the drummer?  And this is the reason I respect this band so deeply.  Each member is absolutely essential to the band’s sound; remove one of them and it is simply not the same.  There is no “star” of the band because they are all the stars.  Here are three videos to prove it:

If you made the wise enough choice to watch all three of them, hopefully it is clear just how much talent all three of these individuals possess.  Not only do they all have distinct, incredible voices, but they are also all extremely versatile as musicians.  Watching these three perform is truly magical; these three embody the type of band I would like to form in some alternate universe.  Any fan of music has most likely at some point envisioned him or herself sitting with a group of friends, playing music and feeding off each other’s creative energy.  The Spring Standards bring this sense of camaraderie to life as they share their passion for music together.

Bonus: Check out their performance on Conan, with a special surprise appearance by Aubrey Plaza on the saxophone!

Movie of the Day: ‘Garden State’ (2004)

I started a “Song of the Day” section a while back on this blog, which come to think of it only has one song, so I thought, “Why not do a movie of the day” as well?

‘Garden State,’ starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman, is one of those endearing movies that most people seem to love without being completely sure as to why.  Something about Braff’s quirky sense of humor and Portman’s care-free charisma seems to make a direct grab to the heart.  It’s refreshing and heartwarming to watch the relationship between Andrew (Braff) and Sam (Portman) unfold, and the natural chemistry between the two characters puts us at ease in spite of the dark undertones to the storyline.

                   

Again, I’m not entirely sure why this movie ranks so high on my “favorite movies” list.  It certainly is not the funniest, most dramatic, or most romantic film I have seen.  Maybe it’s the movie’s superb soundtrack (I always grin when Sam has Andrew listen to “New Slang” by The Shins).  Maybe it’s because of my love for Natalie Portman (After all, who doesn’t love this “Ms. Perfect”-Oscar winning-Harvard graduate’s rap on SNL?). Nevertheless, ‘Garden State’ is a film I will always hold close to my heart. Now, go do something completely original, my friends!

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