Archives for posts with tag: music

​Aimee Mann is one of my all time favorite singer songwriters. According to my taste and experience, she’s never done any bad music. I didn’t discover her until her solo career, but enjoy her ‘Til Tuesday days too. The combination of her voice, lyrics, and melodies has run through my mind like a stream moving as fast as she can produce albums. 

Some music inspires my fiction way more than the rest. Aimee Mann’s has been known to help me generate plot almost faster than I can keep up with it. Some of the best scenes I’ve ever written are connected to her work on the Magnolia Soundtrack and most of all, Bachelor No. 2, or the Last Remains of the Dodo. The latter is my favorite of her albums, and Mental Illness reminds me of it quite a bit. Drenched in strings that are the perfect companions to guitar and piano, Mental Illness is lavishly melodic. She also displays her wonderful ability with often subtle vocal acrobatics. 

Mental Illness strikes me as Dodo’s charming older sister. Containing several waltzes and her usual complex lyrics, this album is amazing and quickly became the kind of thing I have to keep listening to at odd moments. Especially when the unusual, catchy, and beautiful Goose Snow Cone pops into my head. I looked up what it’s about. Turns out Goose is a cat she knows, who also stars in the sweet video. This one is going to keep me listening, as I wait for whatever comes next from Aimee Mann.

While impatiently waiting for Amazon to make the MP3 of Chantal Kreviazuk’s new album Hard Sail available, I decided to trawl YouTube to check out the songs on it. I came across this must see, must hear treasure for people who have never heard of her and fans alike.

Chantal Kreviazuk is a Canadian singer songwriter I first discovered in the days when brick and mortar CD stores roamed the earth in vast herds. One of my favorite passtimes was buying music at random, though sometimes on the advice of store clerks who thought I was cool because I spoke their music language. The day I took home Under These Rocks and Stones I instantly fell in love with her voice, her lyrics, and her melodies. Music inspires my writing in ways almost symbiotic and Chantal Kreviazuk’s has been a fixture in that inspiration stream from the moment I heard Surrounded on the above mentioned CD. That makes having to wait out Amazon’s Canadian music lag especially irksome.

In the meantime this gorgeous, intimate Strombo Sessions performance is almost as wonderful as a studio album, since I love the nuanced subtleties of live performance. The set list only includes three songs, two from Hard Sail and a Radiohead cover, but it is so awesome it feels like a longer private concert. This live performance showcases the fact that she’s a classically trained pianist, and the beautiful cello accompaniment adds a haunting note, even evoking the sound of humpback whalesong during Daydreaming. This Strombo Sessions performance is such a treat, as I wait for the new album from one of the singer songwriters I’ve loved the longest.

Chantal Kreviazuk on Strombo Sessions

Any time there’s even a hint of a new anything by Australian singer-songwriter Paul Dempsey, I wait in breathless anticipation for a release date, a potential live performance to show up on YouTube, and then the release itself. This year the wait has been for his new solo album Strange Loop. As always, it was worth the wait.

The Something for Kate, also known as SFK, front man has been one of my favorite…everything to do with modern music…people for a long, long time. An Aussie friend got me hooked on SFK, and Dempsey’s amazing talents took it from there. Not only a gifted singer, he also writes deep and thoughtful songs and is one of the best guitarists I’ve heard.

Somehow, the combination of his mesmerizing voice and the songs he crafts have a soothing effect on me. Listening to his music can actually lull me to sleep, which is quite a feat considering my insomniacal tendencies. I affectionately call the welcome result of this power Dempsolepsy, meant entirely as a compliment. It seems to only be certain songs that carry this ability. Most notably Man of the Moment and Out the Airlock, from his first solo album Everything Is True, but Strange Loop as a whole can manage it at times. This perk of being a Paul Dempsey fan makes me love his music even more. I mean, what can be better than for an insomniac to fall asleep to music they love?

Strange Loop is different from Everything Is True, just as the most recent SFK album Leave Your Soul To Science is different from all that came before. All their albums are wonderful, in their own way. Dempsey’s three standalones (the two aforementioned and his covers album Shotgun Karaoke) are individuals, just as siblings are individual members of the same family. The thread that runs through them all is Dempsey’s
brilliance.

The True Sea is my favorite track from Strange Loop. The chorus has been on a loop in my head for days. In a broader sense the entire album is my favorite track from the album. There’s a soaring depth of intellect here that echoes throughout Dempsey’s body of work. It makes me think and sing and look forward to what’s next, even as I continue to discover nuances of what’s now. This is not the kind of album that would be easy to try to give rating stars, because this is the kind of music that brings the real stars of the night sky to mind.

The True Sea by Paul Dempsey

I’m so excited about this announcement , saying Wicked will come to the big screen in a few years. I love Gregory Maguire’s The Wicked Years novels so much. Those books make me want to vacation in Elphaba and Glinda’s Oz. To tour Shiz and The Emerald City.  To be swankified. I’ve listened to the original cast recording soundtrack so many times that it feels as if I’ve seen the Broadway musical. If only the original cast would be transplanted directly into the feature film. I could suspend any level of disbelief, if it meant getting to see Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth reprise their roles as Elphaba and Glinda. Actually, I don’t think it would take much imagination to believe those two brilliant stars are students at dear old Shiz. However, I’ll be happy to watch whatever movie the brilliant minds behind the play gift us with. I’m sure that after the experience I’ll be changed for good.

Wanted to share a beautiful moment from my favorite Christmas movie. Holiday Inn has humor and love, heartache and joy, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire….and this classic Christmas song that manages to be even more beautiful in the context of this scene. My favorite part is when he plays the notes on the little bells with his pipe. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Merry Christmas.

Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds sing White Christmas in Holiday Inn

When I first saw the title of this article , I did a double take. I couldn’t think how a Jackson 5 song could help with the dreaded querying process. Barely into the meat of it, I got it. Breaking down the song ABC into components of a good novel query letter is very clever. It could even make putting a query together…gasp!…fun. Okay, that might be stretching it a little, but it takes the combination of the writing life and using music to enhance it to a whole new level.

Hearing X Ambassadors’ song Renegades on the radio is one thing…enjoying a great song. Seeing the official video is another thing entirely…being inspired. The extremely challenged athletes featured are absolutely incredible. Their physical strength alone is remarkable. Their grace, humility, and courage serve as an unspoken challenge to those of us who do not face the realities of their daily lives. I know I’m now much more aware of the need for gratitude and grace when faced with adversity.

X Ambassadors Renegades Official Video