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.