Several things in life are obvious. Dick Butkis will never grace the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover. The Ropers will never use Facebook, and Dido will never invite me over for breakfast. These are just facts – plain and simple, and with this post, I add another to my growing list of truths: you’re going to love these two singer/songwriters on the “show” today. First up is Courtney Jaye,a Nashville-based singer/songwriter who is touring this spring with comedian/singer/songwriter Stephen Lynch in support of her new album Love and Forgiveness. Ironically, the emerging pop star’s songs are the antithesis of the humorous and oft-dirty ditties that Lynch slays crowds with. They’re deeply felt tunes about love and life, and the journeys in-between. At an A-Sides session filmed at the Primary Wave Music’s Listening Room in NYC (by Alexander Stein), she performed a trio of songs. Watch. Listen. Love.
With over 54 million views on YouTube for their debut song “The Biggest Mistake,” The Secret State are anything but a secret these days. See what I did there? Yes, that success has propelled the band to stardom without even releasing a full-length album yet, and it’s not strictly on the interwebs. “The Biggest Mistake” is gaining significant play on radio stations, and was recently remixed by a tag team of hip pop greats Akon and B.o.B. But, this Baltimore-based band isn’t resting on the popularity of their first track. They’re currently putting the finishing touches on their full-length album, which will drop later this year. At an A-Sides session recorded in the percussion room of the Music Conservatory of Westchester, I chatted with Statesmen =Dan Martiniano, Josh Jones, Hunter Schafer, Danny Espinosa, and Mike Marx-Gibbons about their success thus far, their new album, and the follow-up single to “Mistake,” which could very well become a new national anthem of sorts. Since that single and its video are close to the band’s heart (Jones, Marx-Gibbons and Espinosa served the United States on active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq), I’ll let them explain it in the video interview below. But first, watch them totally annihilate an acoustic version of “The Biggest Mistake.” Watch. Listen. Love.
To paraphrase Dave Grohl’s killer Grammy acceptance speech last year, it’s the “human element of making music” that’s most important. The artists featured on A-Sides today take that to heart, and have been producing music without bells and whistles (sorry pretenders of the autotune era) for quite some time. Toronto’s Hayden Desser or simply Hayden emerged in the mid-90′s golden era of alt-rock with his unique blend of rock and folk. He just dropped his seventh full-length album entitled Us Alone, and is currently on the road with his band in support of the record which has already been hailed as one of his best. Following a performance in New York City, Hayden and said band stopped by the Music Conservatory of Westchester to film an A-Sides Music session. They performed “Blurry Nights” off Us Alone followed by an oldie but goodie “Don’t Get Down.” Watch the first song below followed by an interview. Click this link for the exclusive performance of “Down.” As old school WCW wrestler Saturn used to say… “You’re welcome!” “Blurry Nights” Hayden Interview Whereas Hayden got his start in the big city of Toronto, singer/songwriter Tim Chaisson was born and raised within the beautiful pint-sized splendor of Prince Edward Island. And some might say he was born into the music biz (I say he was anyway.) Chaisson is a a sixth generation fiddle player, who plays it on stage at every live show. At an A-Sides session at the Conservatory last week, Chaisson came with [...]
In my late teens, I frequented the North Avenue bars by Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Those watering holes usually served us Coors Light, Black Haus shots, and whatever our young hearts desired even though we were all under 21 by a few years. But those once-hot spots have long closed down, and have absolutely nothing to do with the band featured on A-Sides today. I only bring up my self-fulfilling piece of nostalgia because A) I love non sequiturs and B) the band Ionia made me think of Iona College. (To others, I’m sure a geographical place comes to mind.) But, lame wordplay aside, let’s get to the NYC band featured on A-Sides today. They’re as hard-rocking and hard-working as anyone around.
Three men approach a White Plains, NY studio within the Music Conservatory of Westchester where I regularly shoot my A-Sides sessions in. They standout instantly. One is dressed down in jeans and has his cellphone glued to his hand. Next to him is a much taller guy with slicked back hair, stylish gray slacks, and a match overcoat that cries “swagger.” The third guy is wearing an almost Indiana Jones-modeled hat, a Fonzie-free leather jacket, and looks like me 30 years from now. The first guy is the tour manager for London-based buzzworthy star Willy Moon. The second guy is Moon himself, and the third guy is… wait for it… my dad ladies and gentleman. My old man arrived early for a lunch date, and crashed the Moon filming. Prior to setting up for the interview (as you can tell by the shakiness of the camera – it didn’t take long), my dad cracked wise – usually at my expense – and ran up to the piano within the studio to serenade us with a Gershwin medley. If I was 13 or 17 I’d be humiliated. But, I’m not and I wasn’t. Neither was Moon, who clearly realized that second to perhaps having his song “Yeah Yeah” played on an iPod commercial and making an appearance on Vh1 just a day prior, this was the highlight of his young career. I’m, of course, kidding. Once my dad left the building and let me do my thing, I asked Moon about [...]
Does anyone remember the Genesis song “I Can’t Dance?” It’s okay…they probably don’t either. The song resonated with me when it came out and it still does because I simply can’t bust a move – at least not sober. Robert DeLong, on the other hand, probably can cut a rug quite well (not literally because why would anyone brag about cutting a piece of carpet?) Anyway, with his debut album Just Movement on Glassnote Records, the innovative singer/songwriter/drummer/producer/music master is making speakers his bitch with danceable pop that resonates with alt-rockers and body shakers.
In high school, Valentine’s Day served as a constant reminder that I wasn’t getting any. I’m sure there were many people in that boat and by “boat” I clearly don’t mean an actual boat. I don’t own a boat. Anyway, that “holiday” is sort of a weak occasion. As a matter of fact, even when I was dating somebody and especially now as a married man, it failed and fails to resonate much beyond flowers and a nice, romantic dinner. Again, I know I’m not alone in this sentiment but whatever floats your boat….again, not in the literal sense. I bring up this lovey dovey occasion because this week marks V-Day and this edition of A-Sides Music is chock full of love.
Steve Winwood’s 1986 song “Higher Love” was a smash hit, played over and over again the year the New York Mets won the World Series for their second (and, it feels like, final) time. Whereas the song struck gold, the music video was a disaster of epic proportions thanks to the former Traffic band member’s relentless mullet. Sadly, a YouTube search for this comes up empty so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It was not a pretty sight, but don’t stress over it. It has nothing to do with this post, which focuses on budding star Matt Hires. Yep, “Higher Love” simply entered my mind as I typed “Hires,” and I chose to lead off the story this way. Sure, I could have ignored the song in my head, but since Hires’ songs gloriously spin in my head after I hear them, it just felt right. Call me crazy – actually… don’t. Anyway, let’s get to the Floridian, who drops a new EP of infectious pop songs with substance entitled “Forever” next week.
Anberlin front man Stephen Christian realizes the term “side project” can have some negative connotations to it. Is he just messing around with some other musicians? Is he going to leave Anberlin? Those questions, which I made up but perhaps you were thinking, are the reason he’s dubbed his “other” band Anchor & Braille as a “passion project.” During an A-Sides taping filmed in front of students of the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s Rock & Jazz Summer Program, the rocker explained that A&B allows him to return to his roots as a musician: days when he’d play piano or strum his guitar to music he’d just written. In other words, Anberlin can continue to sell-out arenas with large-and-in-charge tracks like “Feel Good Drag” while A&B can play more intimate venues with stripped down slow burners. That’s exactly what’s happening. This summer, Christian played a bunch of intimate dates with Anchor & Braille, who just released their second album “The Quiet Life,” while he finished up the new Anberlin album (due this fall) in the studio. A&B, by the way, originally started as a solo project for Christian in 2008. Following the release of “Felt” in 2009, he was looking to step it up a notch for A&B’s sophomore effort so he added friend, producer, and fellow musician Micah Tawlks to the band, and they recorded the album together in Nashville with Civil Twilight keyboardist Kevin Dailey serving as co-producer and engineer. Christian and Tawlks performed three tracks on A-Sides, spoke [...]
I don’t care what anyone says. The song of the summer isn’t Carley Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” or Maroon Five’s dated “Payphone” and it’s certainly not Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.” For my money, and mind you I make very little of it, it’s Electric Guest’s “This Head I Hold.” Already a hit on alt-radio, this song by the duo of Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton has captured the 1960s and 1970s groovy feel like no other band in recent memory. Seriously I can picture Dick Nixon socking it to me every time I hear it on the radio — whatever that means. Sure it doesn’t have the legs Jepsen’s song has had, but Guest have climbed the charts since its release, and already performed the track on Late Show with David Letterman. It’s appeared on countless television spots. But, the L.A. tag-team of Taccone and Compton are far from two-trick ponies. Their debut album “Mondo” has been well received, and provides a nice soundtrack to anyone willing to give themselves a self-high five. The MTV “buzzworthy” band are currently on tour, and stopped by Primary Wave Music’s Listening Room earlier this month for an A-Sides. There, they performed two songs including “Head” and sat down for a chat. Watch. Listen. Love. Oh, and watch their version of “Troubleman” exclusively on asidesmusic.com.