Yay!! November. You may or may not share the same sentiment I do with reveling in the mid fall month, but you must admit, from time to time, some change is not bad thing. Speaking of that sometimes frightening word, change has been weird this year. Constant but, more so challenging. The early part of the year was good up until a gig in March threw my school schedule into a funk. Then after that, I had to bounce from my apartment and look for another place, which made the late spring and most of the summer…just very damn rough. That’s all I’ll say. However, I am glad to say the rise back up seems to be going well. There’s a new college dorm like place that I’m residing near the UCF area that is simple and…simple. There is no weight of the apartment responsibilities (which I do not mind taking on and can not wait to do again actually) or ultra expensive rent and that’s a good thing because I need something basic while I finish my final classes at Full Sail University.
I also found and was blessed with a new gig that pays very well and is very comfortable. Enough of that stuff though. You came here for the music.
Discovering music through blogs, mag articles or YouTube videos is personally a great way for seeing what new artists are out there. These methods over the years have been something of like finding money or rare jewels on the street. Back in late 2008, while constantly going on YouTube to watch and listen to Soilwork’s Sovereign (a Japanese bonus track on their 2007 album Sworn To A Great Divide), I saw a video suggestion of In Flames, Arch Enemy and Disarmonia Mundi. Who in the hell is Disarmonia Mundi? I thought. Adhering to the code of cats, I curiously clicked on the video and was blown away. The song and video was Celestial Furnace. A mid-tempo, groovy Nu-Metalcore number that rocked. I noticed somebody in the video though. Wait a minute…is that Speed?! Is that Bjorn from SoilworK? Yep that’s him! Dude was in another band. I went from that video to looking at bunch of vids from the Mind Tricks album. I was excited and pissed off because I wished I knew about the band earlier and I wondered why they were not known in the States like that. Oh well, a discovery is a discovery and this was a good one. I eventually had to pick up the Mind Tricks album and if you enjoy Figure Number Five and or Stabbing The Drama era Soilwork or even Chainhear Machine, I believe you will enjoy that band’s music to the fullest. I’ve had these “discoveries” of music genres and bands and artists since then, but one a year ago, struck me like lightning.
Around the fall of last year, I needed emotive, ambient and haunting R&B. Specifically under the R&B umbrella. The combination of wanting The Weeknd- like artists on my iPod and wanting cathartic music to help aid the very heavy crush I had and just soothe my lovelorn state of being at the time, I began my search. I had Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview and bumped Use Me like a junkie but I needed more. On one Sunday afternoon with a fellow music nerd, I visited Park Ave CDs (an amazing record store I strongly recommend you visit when in the Orlando area) to pick up some records and I heard it. You know how you visit a record shop and while looking for music, you hear whatever the staff is playing throughout the store and most of the time, the music doesn’t suck. There was some very airy, smooth and haunting vocals floating through the place and it almost made everybody quiet. The music was from the act How To Dress Well. I had found out about How To Dress Well when The Weeknd came on to the scene in 2011. It was by those same methods of looking on YouTube and reading music blogs that I came across this project. First off, the name itself is badass and confident. A good name will make me interested but, it was the music that drew me in the most of course. Described by a reviewer as “R.Kelly meets Cocteau Twins” the debut album Love Remains is a murky, lo-fi and mysterious album. I was a fan and only that just a fan. I wasn’t all too crazy at first on the music of the debut but it grew on me. I may have or may not have read about the mainman behind the music, Tom Krell working on new music but I must’ve forgot. The track playing in Park Ave was And It Was U. There was music playing before that, but that track came on and I knew it was How To Dress Well. LMAO!!! Those last two sentences, depending on how you read them, may have come across corny as hell lol! And now that I think about it lol, the track playing was actually Running Back. A ghostly and chillaxing finger snapper. ChilIaxing is a word. Trust me. I ordered the album Total Loss from the store and picked up my copy that following week. When I got Total Loss, I listened to it two times in a row. During my second listen, I searched online for reviews just to see others opinions on the then new album. I stumbled upon a website, like most of us do, and it is driving me crazy that I can’t remember the exact site, but the writer praised Total Loss and spoke on how the album was further proof that R&B was changing. Some of the artists he mentioned included Frank Ocean, Miguel, The Weeknd and Jessie Ware.
I was already very familiar with the aforementioned acts, but of course, naturally, curiously, I wanted to know who Jessie Ware was. So where did I go?….YouTube!!!! Yay!!! The first song I heard and saw was Wildest Moments. This track has a very victorious and catchy sound and her voice was similar to Florence Welch but with a soul influence. I thought it was really great, so I checked out another video. Running was so damn soulful, chill and very early 90s. Ware looked very elegant, gorgeous and her voice was mature, sophisticated and reminiscent of Sade but with strong and almost opera esque ranges. (see the entire bridge at 3:00 in the song). That song made me an instant fan and I had to go to iTunes see if there was music to get. The only thing I saw on there was the entire album Devotion. I need to say something. Throughout the whole year that was 2012, I truly believe, I bought more albums this year than any other year in my life. I bought shit off the strength. I just kept buying everything. New music, old music, rare music. I lost my mind with no shame. Before I bought Devotion, I thought really hard about all the CDs and albums I bought and wondered should I stop and wait and buy the album the following week or something. Nope. Fuck that. The heavenly, black and white album cover with Jessie’s beautiful face along with my curiousness to hear more of the music made me give in and buy. I hurried up and I bought it.
It was nighttime, around 1:00 in the morning on a Thursday when I sat down and listened to Devotion. The album opens with the beautifully haunting title track. Jessie’s Aaliyah like vocals (notice all the influences I mentioned) and the line “Don’t leave me in the dark, don’t leave me this way” had me frozen like I just took a tranquil drug. Wildest Moments and Running are the following songs but the rest of the album’s diverse production and love drenched and mature songwriting had me hooked and enthralled deeply. Still Love Me and No To Love are pulse pounding tracks that give off an late 80s Lisa Stansfield feel and are filled with unflinching odes to love and its ups and downs in a relationship context. No To Love being the track that resonates with me on such a deep and personal level. Over a sleek and booming drum pattern and bass line, the singer asks the simple question: “who says no to love?” It even gets to a point where it almost sounds like she’s demanding an answer to the question. It is a dramatic and soulful number that kind of comes across as confrontational in a funky and soulful kind of way and I love it a lot.
To make a long story short, the album Devotion quickly became one of my personal top ten albums of 2012 and I still haven’t gotten tired of it at all. From the title track to Running to Swan Song to Taking In Water, this album is a masterpiece. Fast forward to a year later, this past October, I got to see this exceptional talent in concert at the House Of Blues with Miky Ekko, who also put on an amazing show. Jessie Ware opened her set with No To Love and followed through with crowd pleasers such as Wildest Moments, Night Light, 110% and Talking In Water, which drew cheers at the first note, and even shocked the singer herself, as it is not only a deeply personal tune, but a track that’s very underrated I feel. Something that is very notable about Ware also, is that she’s very very friendly and down to earth and also has an excellent and refreshing sense of humor. Joking and asking questions with the audience while taking breaks between each song, to a small but true fan crowd, the show went on like hanging out at a friend at a club on Saturday night. Just awesome. After the show, I was excited to meet this woman and of course, I was nervous, I quickly shook her hand and expressed how much I was a fan and how Devotion became one of my favorite albums of all time. “Nice to meet you!” she said in her heavy english accent I slipped and said I downloaded the album lol, and I quickly corrected myself and said “No! I Bought it…from iTunes!” to which made her and her crew crack up laughing lol. I also let her know how I much I was a fan of Rochelle Jordan, an artist she toured with during her first American tour, and she said Shotgun was her favorite song from the singer. Yes!!! She agrees. That song is too good. Download Rochelle Jordan’s Pressure by the way if you’re a fan of Miguel, Aaliyah, Jessie herself or Jhene Aiko. You will not be disappointed. One of her crew members took a pic of me and Jessie and that was the first time I’ve ever done that when meeting an artist. I’ve got autographs from so many metal bands, it’s not funny, but I had to get a picture. It was so cool meeting her because honestly, on stage she can be either really warm or downright intimidating, like a goddess. Straight up. So yeah…that what’s happens when you go discovering and searching for music. She has a devoted fan for life now and I’m a super excited to hear some of the new music that she will be releasing next year. If you’re not familiar with this woman now, get familiar, because in 2014, she’s only gonna get bigger. Watch!
Speaking of new music, the legend, one of the most important Hip hop artists of our time and all time released his new album on the 5th this month, Eminem. Son has named the new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2. When I saw the preview for the album on the MTV 2013 VMAs, I knew it was gonna be something special. I will review it later this month. Also Gaga. Yes. Her. She will be releasing her new album ArtPop on the 11th and I know she’s gonna have something crazy with this record. I have only heard Applause, Do What You Want with Kells and a snippet of Aura. I’m waiting to hear the whole thing in full. No leak listening lol! For my metal and hard rock folk out there, I suggest you pick up the new Trivium-Vengeance Falls (David Draiman did his thing on this album along with the rest of the band), Eyes Set To Kill-Masks (they are getting better and better) and Kataklysm’s Waiting For The End To Come. Ok…time out…Listen to me…the groove on this Kataklysm record…the groove is not a joke. Super heavy. Buy it! With cash!! For real though. Alright music nerds, I shall return soon later in the month.with more music stuff and more of that. Get out the hoodies and Skullcandys and Beats headphones!! Peace.