About five years ago, I saw American Idol winner and Kansas City native David Cook perform at Ameristar Casino. Opening for him was NYC rocker Ryan Star. It was love at first listen. I've since seen him in concert a couple times, and to this day, he is one of the most passionate artists I've heard and seen.
Star has released three full length albums: Songs from the Eye of an Elephant (2005), 11:59 (2010) MY FAVORITE!, A N G E L S + A N I M A L S (2014), and an EP: Animals (2013).
What has continued to draw me to Star's music over the years is the fact that in every single song of his, this powerful, authentic passion exudes from his voice. Each time I've seen him perform live, that passion is still there. Very rarely have I heard an artist continually connect so deeply with his/her music.
Lastly, his ability to connect with fans at shows while creating an emotional and intense atmosphere make for a unique concert experience.
One thing I don't like about him? The fact that he is a highly underrated artist. If you listen to him and agree with me, let's change that. All of his music is available to listen to on Spotify and to purchase on iTunes. Share his music with your friends and family. Show everyone what they've been missing out on!
Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to hear singer/songwriter Gracie Schram perform live in the Mix studio. Prior to her performance, Rocket had me listen to a couple of her songs and told me a little bit about her. From what I heard, I was already a fan, and I was excited to see her perform live (even though that meant waking up at the horrifying hour of 6 A.M... thank you, coffee!).
With a sweet but powerful voice that reminds me of a combination between Ingrid Michaelson and Lenka, it's still hard for me to believe that Gracie is only 15 years old! At such a young age, she has already had the opportunity to work with Grammy Award winning producer Charlie Peacock, who has worked with popular acts such as Switchfoot and the Civil Wars. Although she is from Kansas City, she frequently travels to Nashville, where she is heavily involved in writing songs and preparing for the release of her debut album, I am me.
I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of the album, and I am extremely impressed. It's rare for someone so young to be able to write lyrics that not only relate to young girls around her age, but people of all ages. She writes about experiences everyone goes through, such as breakups, finding your place in the world, and remaining hopeful during hard times. Those may seem like cliche topics, but her lyrics portray them in a unique, uplifting way.
You can listen to two of her songs, "Wallflower" and "We Can" (which happen to be two of my favorites from the album) on her website: http://www.gracieschram.com. Her album is set to be released this Spring.
Connect with Gracie on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
As 2013 is winding down, I've been thinking about all of the music that has been released this year, and I must say... this year has been musically refreshing.
One of my favorite albums that was released this year is Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience Part 1 (I didn't care for Part 2, except for "Drink You Away"). When I first heard the debut single, "Suit and Tie ft. JAY Z," I wasn't sold. Compared to his past singles, "Suit and Tie" just didn't do anything for me. Fortunately, though, Rocket sent me the album, and I was pleasantly surprised. “Pusher Love Girl,” the opening track (and my favorite track) was the perfect choice to open the album, allowing the rest of the songs to flow together perfectly. Each track incorporates unique rhythms and melodies, and quite honestly, that is pretty rare for pop artists these days. Timberlake and crew are musical geniuses.
As a longtime fan, I was thrilled to see Paramore also make a successful comeback this year with their hit “Still Into You.” It’s a relatable, catchy, pop song, and singer Hayley Williams has such a unique, powerful, and raw voice. The song is pure pop perfection. The rest of the self-titled album? Not as impressive. “Still Into You” is the only song on the album that I think could be a major hit.
On a similar note, I was highly impressed by the massive emergence of alternative/indie-pop artists crossing over into Top 40 radio this year! In the past, music like that of Awolnation, The Neighborhood, Imagine Dragons, and The 1975, among others, was usually only heard on alternative radio. It’s great to hear Top 40 radio expanding and becoming more diverse, because it’s unbelievably helpful to artists, and allows listeners to hear new music they probably wouldn’t expect to hear!
A few straight up pop artists whose releases I really enjoyed this year are Ariana Grande (her entire album is incredible), Icona Pop, Sara Bareilles, and, showing my inner tween, Emblem 3 and One Direction (I’ll never deny my love of boy bands).
That being said, I thought I'd share with you my playlist for the long drives in the van to each city! For the most part, I've been listening to a lot of upbeat music, though for overnight drives I go the more mellow route.
"I Believe" by Basic Vacation. I posted the video for this song on the Mix 93.3 Facebook page a while back, and I still can't stop listening!
"Little Games" by The Colourist
"Leave it up to me"- The Mowgli's
"Still Into You"- Paramore
"Love On Top"- Beyonce (because every good playlist has at least ONE Beyonce song.)
ALL JACK'S MANNEQUIN SONGS (my all time favorite!)
"Pusher Love Girl"- Justin Timberlake
Those songs seem to be on repeat, but I'm always looking for new music! What do you listen to on roadtrips? Leave a comment!
Every once in a while, I come across an artist whose music I become so emotionally invested in and find myself listening to for days on end. This time I fell in love with the perfectly blended rock 'n roll/pop vocals (reminiscent of Matt Nathanson, John Mayer, Phillip Phillips) and thoughtful lyrics of acoustic-pop singer/songwriter Matt Hires.
I saw him perform at the Granada in Lawrence, opening for Parachute (who I've been a longtime fan of & put on an incredible show...check them out here: http://www.facebook.com/parachute).
One song of his that I instantly became hooked on is his song "Restless Heart." It struck a personal chord with me, as it's about not settling in romantic relationships. It basically sums up the quote "Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely." Not to mention, it's also one of the catchiest songs I've heard in a while! Check out the video below, or click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk4dKviGpXw.
He just released his newest album, This World Won't Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend, last month. That, along with his other EPs and albums, are available on iTunes.
To hear more of Matt Hire's music, check out the following:
Tech N9ne's new album Something Else is, for lack of a better phrase, something else. This album is not what you'd typically expect from a rap album.
Several of the tracks on this album feature artists of multiple musical genres. It's not easy to combine drastically different genres, but Tech N9ne made it work.
"Straight Out the Gate" features Krizz Kaliko and System of a Down's Serj Tankian. Honestly, Serj Tankian's voice terrifies me (I can't be the only one who feels that way, right?), but it fits so well in the chorus of this song.
Another track that combines genres from opposite ends of the musical spectrum is "Love 2 Dislike Me," which features the soft, smooth female vocals of singer Liz Suwandi, as well as hard rock vocalist Tyler Lyon, from the band Evalyn Awake.
As I read the song titles on the album, I was skeptical to listen to his take on The Doors' "Strange Days," but at the same time I was intrigued. He used a hook of the Doors' song, sung by frontman Jim Morrison, and incorporated it into his rap flawlessly.
The album features other big names, such as B.oB., Cee Lo Green, and Krizz Kaliko. There is so much musical variety to this album, which allows fans of multiple genres of music to enjoy it.
Exactly two weeks ago, I got home from being out on the road with the Beautiful Bodies on the Vans Warped Tour. Now that I have finally (somewhat) re-adjusted to the real world, I thought I'd give you all a more in-depth view of my experience on tour.
Back in June, we did what I like to call our "test run" on the tour. We played the five dates in California, then came back home to Kansas City for about a month before we went back out to finish the tour.
On July 23rd, we jumped back on the tour, playing the Bonner Springs date first, then travelled all over the south, southeast, and midwest regions of the country. To give you an idea of the setup of Warped Tour, here's a picture from our stop in St. Louis:
(all photos are my own)
Bands and crews arrive at the venue in each city early in the morning to set up tents and stages. It was incredible to see how much hard, grueling work is put into setting up, running, and tearing down the festival EVERY DAY in all kinds of extreme weather.
Once we set up each morning and fans were let into the festival, we spent the rest of the day introducing everyone to the band's music and tried to get people to come watch their set that day. Since there are literally hundreds of bands playing everyday, we had to get creative to persuade people to come watch the set. One tactic we used involved the guitarist (Thomas) and a kiddie pool...
Considering this was in 100 degree weather in Florida, it was a huge hit and definitely attracted new fans. You gotta do what you gotta do...
When I wasn't working selling merch and promoting the band, I had the chance to watch some bands, such as Motion City Soundtrack (MY FAVORITE!), Kansas City's own Mac Lethal, Australian punk rockers The City Shakeup, The Story So Far, Forever the Sickest Kids, The Summer Set, and Reel Big Fish.
If you listened to the Rocket & Teresa show last Monday morning, you may have heard me talk about Gin Wigmore, a singer from New Zealand who was on the tour. I would describe her music as Duffy meets Adele meets Amy Whinehouse. She's got this soul/funk/edgy rock sound to her voice, and all of her songs are super catchy. I guarantee you will be hearing more of her soon. In the meantime, check out her performance on the Ellen Degeneres show below, or click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DdG5xwiavs
I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Dallas, TX, (savoring every minute I have with air conditiong!!), trying to come to terms with the fact that I only have 2 days left on the Vans Warped Tour with Kansas City band the Beautiful Bodies. After playing 5 shows in California back in June, we had a month off back home and picked back up in Bonner Springs last week to finish the tour.
Life on the road has been pretty grueling, but I've loved every minute of it. I've been selling merch for the band on tour, and when I've had time, I've been able to check out some bands! My favorites have been Motion City Soundtrack and The Story So Far.
Bowling for Soup just joined the tour for the last 3 shows, and to say I'm excited to see them would be an understatement. They put on an unbelievably fun show!
I have 2 more days on the tour (including going to Warped Tour PROM tomorrow night... Yes, that's a thing. I can't wait!)
What bands do you think I should check out before the tour ends?! Check out the lineup at http://www.vanswarpedtour.com and comment here with your suggestions!
As you may have heard on the Rocket & Teresa show or read on here, I recently sold merch on the Vans Warped Tour for the local Kansas City band the Beautiful Bodies. We've been home for about a month and we're getting ready to leave again to finish the tour next Tuesday!
This Saturday 7/20, the band will be playing a show at the Riot Room, celebrating the release of their new EP, Battles. $10 will get you into the show AND you will receive a copy of the EP for FREE! The show is 21+, but if you're under 21, you can get in with a legal gaurdian.
I've been known to play CDs in my car so many times that they start skipping (yes, I still listen to CDs).
For the past few weeks, I've been jamming to the Cab's 'Symphony Soldier' album while I drive, and I've listened to it so much that it's only a matter of time before it starts skipping. I can't get enough of this album.
The Cab, a Las Vegas band composed of Alex DeLeon, Alex Marshall, Joey Thunder, Dave Briggs, and Chantry Johnson, has a unique sound. I've tried to think of bands to compare them to, but they really are one of a kind. I would classify their music as a mix of pop, rock, and R&B. Vocalist Alex DeLeon has an AMAZING, smooth, soulful voice. I could listen to him sing the dictionary and enjoy every second of it. His vocal range is incredible.
If you aren't familiar with Warped Tour, it's a summer long music festival consisting of hundreds of bands of multiple genres that perform on stages set up in amphitheater parking lots all over the country.
Some of the acts on the tour include the Summer Set, Reel Big Fish, Forever the Sickest Kids, Allstar Weekend, Motion City Soundtrack, and Kansas City's own Mac Lethal, among hundreds of others.
For this leg of the tour, we travelled all over California, performing in Los Angeles, San Francsisco, San Diego, and Ventura.
Though I spent most of my time managing the merch tent, I was able to check out a few bands!
Motion City Soundtrack (http://www.facebook.com/motioncitysoundtrack) put on an amazing live show. The keyboardist has to be one of the most enthusiastic/energetic musicians I've ever seen. This band offered a bit of light-heartedness to the festival goers with their catchy pop/rock tunes.
(Above: Motion City Soundtrack)
Another band I was able to see was Forever the Sickest Kids (http://www.facebook.com/foreverthesickestkids). You may remember them from a few years ago when their single "Woah Oh (Me Vs. Everyone)" hit the airwaves. It had been several years since I had seen them, but they continue to put on an energetic, crowd-interactive peformance.
If you listened to the Rocket & Teresa show last Thursday, you may have heard that I'll be out on the Vans Warped Tour this summer!
I'll be selling merch for a local Kansas City band, the Beautiful Bodies. Our first show is tomorrow in San Diego, CA! During any free time I may get, I want to check out bands that YOU want to know about!
Some of the bands playing include the Summer Set, Allstar Weekend, 3OH!3, Action Item, Motion City Soundtrack, and HUNDREDS of others!!
That being said, check out http://www.warpedtour.com to see the full line up, and let me know which bands you think I should check out and feature on here!
A while back, I blogged about pop music's best kept secret, a band called Jukebox the Ghost. Well, they just released a video for their song "Oh, Emily," and it definitely doesn't disappoint. It's not the kind of video you'd expect for a breakup song... but that's a good thing. See for yourself below! If that doesn't work, click this link to watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bSW7Kf_Bljk
In a world where you can't turn on the news without hearing of some tragedy every single day, Kansas City's own Steven Cooper promotes positivity through his music.
I was first introduced to Cooper's work at a video shoot for his song "Stereotype." I knew instantly that this guy was going to make an impact on the musical world with his inspiring lyrics that tell stories about overcoming struggles.
Cooper has worked with popular Kansas City natives David Cook and Tech N9ne, as well as the internationally known artist Akon. A producer who had worked on one of Akon's albums suggested the idea of combining the talents of Cooper and Akon, resulting in the song "Bigger," which you can listen to below or by clicking this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plpS3a8cqUs&list=PL6B53388457BEE96F&index=3
Cooper has released two albums, Life and Love and My Time, as well as an EP titled Brightside. Today, he released TWO singles, "Stone Cold Heart" and "Ego" which are available on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever digital music is sold. He has a new album which is set to release November 19th.
Hear more of Steven Cooper's music and connect with him here:
As I browsed iTunes most recent top 10 singles, I wasn't surprised by which songs were listed as most popular.
1) "We Own It (Fast and Furious)" - 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa: I'm usually not a fan of rap/hip-hop but I really enjoyed this song! Not a fan of the lyrics, but it definitely has a good beat and a catchy melody.
2) "Blurred Lines"- Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell: Not my favorite song by any means. Pretty boring.
3) "Get Lucky"- Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Wiliams: This is one of my favorite songs on the radio right now! It's the perfect dance song. It's often hard for artists to make a successful comeback hit, but Daft Punk had no problem with that!
4) "Can't Hold Us"- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton: When they released "Thrift Shop," I figured Macklemore & Ryan Lewis would end up as one-hit-wonders. I was wrong, though! This is yet another great hit. These guys definitely won't be fading away anytime soon. Their most recent album, The Heist, is hit after hit. I'm personally excited they have a song with Allen Stone (more on him in a future post). But I digress. I love this song. I love Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Moving on.
5) "Come & Get It"- Selena Gomez: I wish she would have stuck to acting. That's all.
6) "Boys 'Round Here"- Blake Shelton feat. Pistol Annies and Friends: Let me start off by saying that I love Blake Shelton as a person (or at least how he's perceived on NBC's "The Voice"). He's hilarious! I'm not a fan of his music, though. A little too twangy for me. That being said, I didn't care for this song at all.
7) "Just Give Me a Reason"- Pink feat. Nate Reuss of Fun.: First of all, Nate Reuss could sing the dictionary and I'd enjoy it, and it's undeniable that Pink has a fantastic voice. This song is great, though their voices don't mix well together at all, and I don't think they should do anymore duets together... but they made this song work!
8) "Radioactive"- Imagine Dragons: I love this song and this band so much. Their most recent album, 'Night Visions,' is great. This song especially offers a refreshing twist to Top 40 music, which I love!
9) "Cruise"- Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly: The last time Nelly partnered with a country artist (remember "Over and Over" with Tim McGraw?), I was not impressed. This time is different. I thought the song was annoying the first time I heard it, but it has definitely grown on me. They made country and rap blend well together.
10) "Mirrors"- Justin Timberlake: This song is brilliant. Brings me back to the N*SYNC days. Justin Timberlake never has a problem creating hit songs, though, so I'm not surprised this landed in the Top 10.
Here are some of my favorite songs right now that aren't in the Top 10 on iTunes:
"Another Love Song"- Frank Hamilton: The guy is British and you can hear it in his songs. That right there would be enough to make me want to listen to his music. This is a catchy, upbeat, adorable love song. The perfect pop love song!
"Still Into You"- Paramore: I've been a fan of Paramore for many years now, and although I don't enjoy their newest self-titled album, "Still Into You" is definitely a hit!
"Don't Let Me Fall"- Lenka: You may know her from her hit "The Show." This song was released on her self-titled album back in 2008, but I heard it recently for the first time, and its been on repeat.
I could go on and on, but I'll save more for later posts!
What are you listening to right now?! Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at email@example.com and let me know!
Yesterday was my favorite kind of day: one filled with new, live music.
First, I had the chance to hear new music from The Voice season 3 winner, Cassadee Pope, in an intimate setting of no more than 30 people. I'll admit, I wasn't sure I would enjoy her solo music at first, because I was so used to hearing her sing strictly pop/rock in her former band Hey Monday.
Cassadee has turned to writing and performing country music now, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well she pulled it off. This girl can sing ANYTHING.
She debuted a few songs, including her first single, "Wasting All These Tears," which she will be performing on The Voice June 4th.
Last night, I headed over to the Crossroads to check out the sold out Of Monsters and Men show.
The indie rock band from Iceland performed just over an hour of passionate, thoughtful, and catchy tunes to a well-receptive crowd. Their recorded sound translated live FLAWLESSLY.
I wasn't a huge fan of this band at first, but seeing them perform live definitely changed that. They had a simple, yet vibrant light show to back their sound, and used confetti cannons (my favorite!) to keep the crowd intrigued (as if their music wasn't enough!). Not to mention, they also had an accordian player, which is not something you see at a show of a popular live act very often!
Overall, I enjoyed a night of music from Of Monsters and Men, outside in the perfect 70 degree weather at the Crossroads, and I look forward to seeing them again next time they're in Kansas City!
Check out their debut album, "My Head Is An Animal," available in stores and on iTunes.
Are you a fan of The Voice's Cassadee Pope or were you at the Of Monsters and Men show last night? Let me know what you think! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org!