Monday, June 14, 2010

California Dreaming...

So I'm sitting at the dealership waiting for my car's headlight to be replaced, and my daughter is across from me humming Katy Perry's "California Girls" while playing with some toys. I'm not a huge Katy Perry fan, but it is a catchy song, and it got me thinking about the year I spent in San Diego, and how obvious it is that my daughter is such a West Coast kind of girl (she loves surfing, laying out on the beach, smoothies with wheat ten years old...but that's another post for another time).

Initially I dreaded being in California...I didn't know anyone, I didn't have a job, I had to use my rudimentary Spanish to order a burger at In-and-Out, and I wasn't able to find Texas Pete or grits anywhere I went (if Nana hadn't sent them to me, I'm not sure I would've survived). But then something happened...I don't know if it was the lack of humidity or people that greeted me with "yoo-hoo" (and what is the appropriate response to "yoo-hoo" anyway?), but I started to enjoy the fish tacos, the amazing Thai food, and living so close to a Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

I'm not sure if my nostagia is coming from missing 72 degree days and wearing flip flops to work, or the lack of creme brulee french toast at the Whole Foods here, but either way, I'm seriously missing it, and here are a few songs that defined my time there, and reminds me of what I was listening to while driving up I-5.

Hollaback Girl, Gwen Stefani

Did this song usher in the short fad of using marching band brass sections, or did Trick Daddy's "Shut Up" come first? Either way, this shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

It's Like That, Mariah Carey

Has Mariah written a better lyric than "Them chickens is ash and I'm lotion"? I think not. And it also reminds me that I need to have a wind machine on standby while I'm getting ready to go out.

Dont Cha, Pussycat Dolls

I will admit to being thoroughly surprised when I saw the video for this song...I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't the former lead singer from Eden's Crush (does anyone remember them....anyone...?) This video also stresses the importance of a wind machine while singing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Soldier of Love

The past few months I haven't felt like writing one bit. Today it has fully dawned on me that my relationship is over. The person that I've been with for the past twelve years is ready to move on, and believes happiness can be found out in the world without me. For reasons both known and unknown, I admit that I understand the decision. Do I agree with it? Yes and no, but I know it's the right thing to do; yet the most painful thing I've experienced is realizing that the person I love is dead, and in his place is someone I don't recognize.

Since everything happens for a reason, I am encouraged that I will find a meaningful and true relationship where I can be my true self, and not have to hide behind the guise of putting someone else's accomplishments and dreams before my own. I am slowly learning what my dreams are again; and for that, I am grateful.

Some days are easier to get through than others, but I'm "still waiting for love to come/turn it all around..."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Underrated Artists, Part 1

I was looking through my ipod for something I haven't heard in awhile, and I came across a few artists that I really think should get more airplay/props. Now I'm not talking about one hit wonders like Johnny Kemp aka Mr. "Just Got Paid, It's Friday Night" (although that's a great song to listen to on the drive home on Friday...or maybe that's just me). I'm talking about substanative artists that are truly talented that just don't seem to hit the mainstream airwaves for one reason or another. Without further ado, here's my list...

Daris Rucker-Back to Now

This album came out after Hootie and the Blowfish really blew up, and of course, Hootie's huge success pretty much solidified that listeners would automatically think any solo stuff would be of VH1 fodder. Since the album was released on Hidden Beach, it should tell you what kind of sound it's definitely a neo-soul effort, and there are some standout tracks on it that should be worth your time/download. One of the best has got to be "Exodus"...

Dionne Farris- Wild Seed-Wild Flower

Remember Arrested Development (not the amazing show on Fox, but the group that came out in the 90s that had everyone wanting to play a game of horseshoes?) Anyway, Dionne left singing lead for that group, had a hit from the Love Jones soundtrack ("Hopeless"), and then released a solo album that spanned a minor hit "I Know", which was perfect for repeated VH1 viewings. The album is definitely a good one, but the standout is "Passion", a midtempo rock song with a great bassline. This is one of those songs that takes serious pipes to sing, and I think it was really ahead of its's got an Evanescence vibe, but Dionne's strong, controlled alto gives it a sultry feeling that you usually don't hear these days.

Glenn Lewis-World Outside My Window

Why this guy didn't become a huge superstar is truly beyond me. Good looking, great lyrics, fabulous voice reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, and yet his second album was never released. I can't explain how good this album'll just have to take a listen for yourself.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Plea

Dear "Janet, Miss Jackson if you're Nasty":

I've been a huge fan of yours for longer than I can remember. I still have the vinyl Control album, I can recall just about all the choreography from Nasty, and I've been to one of your shows where I screamed like a twelve year old girl, even though I was in my late twenties.

I skimmed through my ipod the other day, and came across your greatest hits album, Design of a Decade. Somewhere between Miss You Much and That's the Way Love Goes, I started wondering what the hell happened to your music career. I mean, you don't have the best singing voice, but back in the day, you were the hottest chick in the game (and I think you could give some of these girls out here a run for their money today); you were the original Beyonce, minus the backup singer drama known as Destiny's Child or the questionable clothing line.

Anyway, fast forward to the present, and I don't think anyone can tell me the name of your latest single, or even what the name of the album is. It makes no sense to me that Britney can have a hit song like "Womanizer", and you can't? I mean, you of all people can't get some Timbaland tracks? Pharrell? Kanye? The dude with the Roger Zapp microphone? Can someone please put in a phone call and get Lil' Wayne on a remix or something? Anything would be better than the snoozefest of your last two albums...and it might also be a good idea to focus instead on getting your man Jermaine Dupri to pull an Emancipation of Mimi for you. But that's just me, I might be wrong.

I know this might sound harsh, but I say all of this out of love, and a serious gratitude for many sing along car sessions that your albums have given me. But seriously, you've got to do something, and fast. Otherwise, just hang it up, and fade gracefully in the sunset.


A Sad Janet fan

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Brits Are Taking Over!

Has anyone else noticed that British music is starting to eclipse American music? I am of the opinion that we still have vocally superior talent here in the states (but even that statement could be refuted by the likes of Leona Lewis), but when it comes to music at it's most basic...melodic, thoughtful lyrics, creative phrasings...the Brits are cornering the market on that, even if they're not a household name in the U.S. just yet. Five tracks that will cause a sudden urge for tea and/or fish and chips.

1. "You Give Me Something", James Morrison
If Stevie Wonder had a British lovechild, it would be James...the simple melody with strings and horns allows his husky voice to encourage you and your partner to engage in a bit of a two step after dinner.

2. "Syrup and Honey", Duffy
I'm not sure I can adequately describe her voice...I'm not sure how the blues of the Delta jumped the pond, but somehow it has. Her style reminds me a bit of what Amy Winehouse wants to sound like when she's sober. Listening to this brings to mind a sweaty juke joint, complete with moonshine.

3. "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", Leona Lewis
It sounds as if this girl stole and combined Mariah and Celine's voices, much like Ursula stole Ariel's...the track itself is a bit overproduced and slick, but there is no denying her vocal control and range is amazing.

4. "Sewn", The Feeling
Catchy, midtempo, sing-along rock...will probably be on a Grey's Anatomy cd any day now.

5. "Talullah", Jamiroquai
Yes, I know that Jamiroquai has been around for ages ("Virtual Insanity" anyone?), but this is a song that defies sounds like something Chicago might sing back in the day, but I dare you not to snap your fingers to this laid back gem.

The Best Band You've Probably Never Heard Of

Everytime I have a party at my house, I create a playlist, and nine times out of ten, I include a few songs by Everything But the Girl. And if I had a nickel for every time someone said, "who sings this song?", I would be able to buy a vintage Porsche, instead of driving my slow as the post office line VW. But I digress. Everything But the Girl is one of the most diverse and interesting bands with fantastic lyrics, tender melodies, and a front woman with a voice that is made for rainy days.

The duo that makes up the band, Tracy Thorn and Ben Watt, had a large level of success in the U.S. with a remix of "Missing", but other than that, their fourteen albums (including a greatest hits album) have gone rather quickly into the sale bin at Walmart. But here are five songs that deserve a listening to if you don't feel like listening to what passes as music on top-40 radio.

1. "Better Things" (with Massive Attack)
After getting past the headbobbing bass for the first minute or so, delve into the lyrics "You say the magic's gone/Well I'm not a magician/ You say the spark's gone/Well get an electrician/And save your lying about needing to be free/All that's bullshit babe/You just want rid of me".

2. "Come On Home"
This song was on the "Acoustic" album in the U.S.; just Tracy and Ben's voices and a piano begging for her lover to come home so she doesn't have to sleep alone...who can't relate to that?

3. "Pigeons in the Attic Room"
I'm not terribly sure what this song is about, but it's an odd little treasure.

4. "Each and Every One"
A bossa nova song with lyrics telling a past lover to f*** off...the juxtaposition between the two is clever perfection.

5. "Before Today" (Chicane Remix)
A five minute audio trip to an exclusive European club where everyone wears black Prada.