Bon Iver for Bon Iver

The mention of Bon Iver’s music is often met with the stirring of many emotions. I myself will always be able to remember the first time I heard “Skinny Love” (riding in the passenger seat with my current romantic interest, the windows down, a calm cool night in North Carolina, and all of a sudden this voice on the speakers starts whispering to me everything I was feeling at that moment with graduation only a few weeks away: “skinny love just last the year…”).

I was in love.

Generally speaking, most people that have fallen for the raw grace of For Emma, Forever Ago will have a similar story to mine. The emotions wrapped in that album are so powerful and real (after all, they were written for a girl following a break-up) that you can’t help but relate to them. For a debut album, it was significant. It connected to people and created ties between listeners and the song-writer/singer. Ties that have held us to wait and wonder what Bon Iver has to offer us next.

I can’t usually stand to read reviews. All the fancy music terminology reviewers use, obscure references they throw in just to make us feel stupid, and nit-picky ways to say “yeah this could have been better” (I’d love to see them do better). When I tell someone about an album I prefer to stick to basics: loved it, hated it. Let people decide for themselves. I know music is art and critics will always exist to tell us what we should or shouldn’t be listening to. But that doesn’t mean we have to listen to them.

As of now, I refuse to read a review for Bon Iver, the self-titled second album that will be released June 21st. The album is currently streaming at NPR and while checking out the album I couldn’t help but notice two phrases: “Grand, chance-taking record” and “dares to be dreamy” (okay so maybe I read a few paragraphs of the NPR write-up).

“Chance-taking” ? “Dreamy” ?

I have had this album on repeat for the last 3 hours. All I can say is that I am incredibly impressed with this album. The fact that Justin Vernon did not make another Emma is all that I could have ever hoped for and yet this album surpasses his first in a way that I never thought would be possible. To think that an artist could hit such high acclaim after only one album was nearly inconceivable. The emotional connection is still there from the first album, but this time the lyrics are less clear (even hard to make out at times). At first listen, Bon Iver is not much of a departure from Emma in terms of sound and meaning, but rather clarity. I love when artists do something different, I love when they challenge themselves, and I especially love when it works. So maybe he did take some chances. This album has me literally holding my breath at times- starting with the drums and horns in “Perth” and ending with the miracle of electric sound that is “Beth/Rest”. That didn’t quite exist in a straight forward guitar album like Emma. At least not in the same way. I can’t help but feel lost in this album, and I like that.

This album is called Bon Iver for a reason. It’s not for Emma this time. It’s not for anyone really (or it might be, but I am blissfully unaware because I am refusing to read reviews). It’s the next step in Justin Vernon’s musical journey. And I am so happy to be a part of it.

New Music Alert!

If you are like me then you are always on the prowl for great new music to blast in your car with the windows down as summer  draws near and the days grow longer.

Well, with that said, I would like to introduce you to Cults.

Fairly new, straight from the land of hipsterdom, this Brooklyn duo turned 5 piece band has created more than just a cheery pop album. I cannot stress to you how much I am enjoying this album lately. Even with the handfuls of new albums from veterans like Death Cab and My Morning Jacket coming out this summer I can confidently say that this is tops for me.

Head on over to NPR to stream the album in full. You will not be disappointed.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaall-E

As a self-proclaimed Disney crazy person, I was shocked when I noticed our blog has absolutely no Disney characters’ playlists. How terrible! Obviously this is a result of MITN only recently expanding to film and literature and thus I have set out to remedy this obvious problem.

This was a pretty difficult decision with so many animated films and characters to choose from but I think you will agree that this little robot is worthy to be selected for Movies in the Newspaper’s very first animated character’s playlist.

Wall-E is very near and dear to my heart. The movie touches on important themes like consumerism, waste, and caring for our planet while the basic story revolves around two little robots that fall in love. Yes, I stand with the belief that this movie is a love-story. Sometimes I even think the morbidly obese human race flying around in space is just a complication in the budding relationship of Wall-E and EVE.

If you watch this movie carefully or have seen it as many times as I have (infinite) then you will begin to appreciate the true romantic that is Wall-E. 700 years of solitude on a polluted and unsustainable Earth has given Wall-E emotions and a true personality. All he really wants is someone to hold his hand.

Wall-E’s music selection is limited as apparently the only surviving video of life (dancing and music) on Earth is one of “Hello Dolly” which Wall-E re-watches, records, and dances along to with the hopes that he will one day meet his match.

If Wall-E could have preserved more of our music today, I think that his playlist would be made up primarily of songs about space, saving the world, consumerism and of course classic love songs. Head on over to 8tracks to check out Wall-E’s mix of Space Jams and Love Songs:

“and that is all that love’s about”

The Golden Age of Musical Commercials

Have you seen this commercial yet?

I hope so. The song “Golden Age” by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour is featured in this commercial for Heineken and it’s extremely catchy. I swear it brings back the feeling of age old Hollywood cinema and celebrities.

The band- The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (crazy name, I know) is actually Danish and has believe-it-or-not been featured in a commercial before… for Apple’s iPod Touch!

So now the question remains… will this band move beyond the age of commercials? According to their wikipedia page they’ve been featured in a ton of television shows and, they even opened for Katy Perry!

So why “has no one heard of them” still???

Good question.

The Great Gatsby: Nick Carraway’s Playlist

Books are humanity in print
-Barbara W. Tuchman

Two weeks ago we premiered our very first fictional character’s playlist from the silver screen. Today marks our very first fictional character from the written word. We believe that reading can be the most visual of the arts, relying far more on the readers’ imagination. Readers visualize scenery, characters, architecture, voice inflection, accents, colors, sounds, and of course, music. To kick off our very first literature playlist, I chose a novel that I hope is familiar to all of us (especially with the recent news of the Gatsby mansion being demolished) and that is known to many as “The “Great American Novel”:

Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby highlights life after the first World War, a time known as the “roaring 20’s” when American society prospered amidst a soaring economy. The novel is narrated by Nick Carraway, a young bachelor wanting to learn the bond business. Nick moves to Long Island’s North Shore known as “West Egg” and rents a summer cottage next to the mansion owned by wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby, famous for his lavish parties. Nick becomes involved with several other wealthy individuals who spend their time going to parties in elegant estates and mansions. The imagery of these parties stand out the most in the novel and were truly representative of the “American dreams” of high society during the time period. The 1920’s were truly a time for celebration and nothing fit that mood better than jazz music.

As you can imagine, Nick Carraway attended many grand parties and danced the night away to the hits of the time such as Benny Goodman’s “Bugle Call Rag” and Glenn Miller’s “Farewell Blues”. Other jazz legends of the 1920’s and beyond (Ellington, Mingus, Gershwin) are truly essential music for this playlist.  And finally, Chopin’s “Nocturne” undoubtedly sets the mood for the finale of the novel in which Nick leaves for the Midwest, never to forget his summer spent on West Egg.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”


Breaking Weird Al News!

Weird Al Yankovic has (finally!) made a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way”. His song “Perform this Way” was meant to be the single off his new album and he was even going to donate all the money from sales of the song and music video (how awesome would that video have been) to the Human Rights Campaign. Unfortunately, Gaga said “no” to the parody, which hasn’t stopped Al from uploading a video to Youtube and releasing the mp3 for free at his site. You can read more about the “Gaga Saga” at Weird Al’s blog and watch the above video dubbed with lyrics.

I think it’s even better than the original. Take that Gaga!

Edit: Gaga Approves! Read more

Popularity Contest: A Rant with Purpose

As you’ve probably figured out already, the music biz (as we call it) thrives solely on popularity. Now that can stem from a whole lot of things. Physical appearance of the artists, fashion, crazy antics, and sometimes even their musical talent. I say sometimes because let’s face it- what is “popular” isn’t always good. And when there are so many talented musicians and musical groups out there in the world it’s hard to understand why they are often overlooked by radio and mainstream and replaced by inferior posers.

Which brings me to a recent discovery. Actual talent on the radio. As you may or may not know, I was away in Ghana for the past two years. Apparently during that time someone decided that artists who play their own instruments and write their own songs should also be included in today’s top music. I returned home to find artists like Mumford & Sons, Adele, and The Decemberists all over the Billboard charts. You can only imagine my surprise.

Now here is where I will start to nitpick. Obviously everyone’s tastes are not the same and even those previous artists I listed may not be to everyone’s liking. So now the question is, why those artists/bands over all the others? What makes them better? Supposedly we can leave that up to listeners to decide- I mean, if they want to hear it obviously it will be played on the radio. But…. suppose listeners are not aware of all the other artists that sound (how do I put this) exactly like those previous artists. I mean, how would they ever find out if the radio only plays what was once unknown and is now “popular”? Ah. Now that is a tough one.

So what is popularity? Even in the indie scheme of things? Certainly Adele has appeal over the masses, she’s certainly doing well for herself and I would be lying if I said that “Rolling in the Deep” was not one of my new favorite songs. But seriously, why her? And I don’t mean to solo her out, but I want to make a point here. Female folk/country/bluesy artists are nothing new. Remember Duffy, Norah Jones, even Lex Land who we introduced you to a while back. Is Adele just the new new?

And what of Laura Marling?

She remains one of the most incredible young promising folk artists I have ever listened to and yet she gets minimal publicity (except in England where she won Best Female Solo Artist at the 2011 Brit Awards). Marling wrote her first album “Alas I Cannot Swim” when she was 17 and her poetic lyrics seem to come from someone much older and mature.

I wander the streets, avoiding them eats
Till ring on my finger slips to the ground
A gift to the gutter, a gift to the city
The veins of which have broken me down

Her last album “I Speak Because I Can” was just as miraculous, coming from a matured and older Laura Marling. Perhaps her song content is just too dark to catch on. Songs about religion and faith don’t sell as well as ones about boyfriends and dance clubs. But in any case, her newest collaboration with Mumford & Sons has me wondering if this might lead to her big breakout into America. After all, America seems to eat up those boys and their banjos. Their new EP will be coming out July 5th and it features traditional Rajasthani folk collective Dharohar Project. Bollywood on Top Billboard? We’ll have to wait and see…