Archive for March, 2012

 

Last Sunday night, after the initial opening night fever had died down, I went and watched the most anticipated movie of the year, “The Hunger Games.” As expected, the film was amazing and as a result I want to become Mrs. Mellark more than ever (but what else is new); however, even the soundtrack is being talked about all over Facebook–almost as much as the film itself, even.

“The Hunger Games” was filmed primarily in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, which is why the soundtrack’s folk sound is so appropriate. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Taylor Swift described the album as, “Appalachian music 300 years from now–what Americana and bluegrass music would sound like in the future” (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20419951_20578463,00.html).

Find these songs on iTunes, Spotify or YouTube, and decide for yourself if they sound like futuristic folk or not:

1.      Arcade Fire, “Abraham’s Daughter.” Arcade Fire won Album of the Year at the 2011 GRAMMYs, and for good reason. This song has a dark, eerie feel to it, which is perfect since “The Hunger Games” film is sinister, too.

2.      The Secret Sisters, “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder.” This is a beautifully simple folk song about how much life sucks. I love it. Its premise is that, although everything is terrible right now, things will get better in the morning: “Sorrow weighs my shoulders down and trouble haunts my mind, but I know the present will not last and tomorrow will be kinder.”

3.      Neko Case, “Nothing to Remember.” This is a celebration song with a great sound. It just makes me happy; that’s all there is to it.

4.      Taylor Swift, featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound.” This is by far the most popular song on the album, but I’ll be honest: putting teen idol Taylor Swift and one of my favorite bands, The Civil Wars, together in one song did not appeal to me. However, after actually hearing the song, I have mended my ways. If Taylor keeps cranking out more songs like this, I will no longer write her off as a happy-go-lucky pop star.

 5.      Kid Cudi, “The Ruler and the Killer.” Wait, what is Kid Cudi doing on this album? It actually works, somehow. I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite song, but it gives the soundtrack an edgier feel. When I listen to this track, I feel like I’m Katniss striding through the forest about to take down a young elk with my bow and arrow.

 6.      Punch Brothers, “Dark Days.” Easygoing and folksy, this song is complete with mandolins, violins and beautiful harmony.

 7.      The Decemberists, “One Engine.” This is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, as you’d except from The Decemberists. There’s even a snare drum and electric guitar—how’d they get on this soundtrack, anyways?

 8.      The Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Daughter’s Lament.” This track makes me feel like I am standing in a clearing in the woods with one of the members of Celtic Woman as she serenades me. If this song were a river, I would swim in it.

 9.      The Civil Wars, “Kingdom Come.” Again, I love The Civil Wars, so anything they sing is like pumpkin ice cream for my soul. All that Joy Williams and John Paul White need are their wonderfully-compatible voices and an acoustic guitar, and they’re golden.

 10.  Glen Hansard, “Take the Heartland.” Although Hansard is the lead singer of indie rock band The Frames, I can’t stand this song. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the album at all.

 11.  Maroon 5, featuring Rozzi Crane, “Come Away to the Water.” I’m not the biggest fan of the pop rock band Maroon 5, but lead singer Adam Levine’s nasally voice actually works in this song. The haunting melody is far removed from Levine’s usual sound, and I’m okay with it.

 12.  Miranda Lambert, featuring Pistol Annies, “Run Daddy Run.” Although country music isn’t my preferred choice, this is probably one of my favorite songs on the whole album. The mandolin in the background gives it a folksy feel, which I love. Well done, Miranda. None of this “Gunpowder and Lead” crap.

 13.  Jayme Dee, “Rules.” I will admit that I’d never heard of this artist before, but now that I have, I’m a huge fan. This song doesn’t just sound lovely, but the lyrics are beautiful, too: “This blood keeps me alive, but what is it that runs through you? Electricity and wires, dictating everything you do. You tell me that you hear me and all your memories are real, but how do I know you don’t just feel what you’ve been told to feel?”

 14.  Taylor Swift, “Eyes Open.” Taylor has come a long way since “Teardrops on my Guitar,” but she still has some room to grow. This song—although catchy—is a bit too cliché to be on this album, in my opinion.

 15.  The Low Anthem, “Lover is Childlike.” This song is easygoing and entirely lovely–a clarinet makes an appearance at one point.

16.  Birdy, “Just a Game.” I love Birdy, particularly her cover of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver.  This song is from Katniss’s point of view and is all about the love game that she and Peeta have to play in order to stay alive during the Hunger Games. The lyrics are very specific to the storyline, too: “Take my hand and my heart races. Flames illuminate our faces, and we’re on fire. Blow a kiss to the crowd; they’re our only hope now. And now I know my place, and now I know my place: we’re all just pieces in their games.” It’s a beautiful and poignant way to end the album.

My only question is this: why aren’t  The Weepies or The Head and the Heart on this soundtrack? Please work on that for “Catching Fire,” you movie people.

(Soundtrack list courtesy of amazon.com)

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Who’s on Sam Withey’s iPod?

Posted: March 27, 2012 by Jerry Ferrell in Who's on whose iPod?

Awakened Media Comm major Sam Withey is one of the most passionate people that I have come in contact with. Whether he’s snapping pictures with his camera or designing posters for an event, he has a sense of vibrance in what he does and that definitely translates into his preferences for music.

10. “Something in the Water” – Brooke Fraser

A nice carefree tune with the opening line: “I wear a demeanor made of bright pretty things.” Brooke has a lovely voice with similarities to Leslie Feist. The background vocals and clapping sequences in the chorus mixed with the fun bass drum beat gives the song a folk feel.

  9.  “For Once in My Life” – B. Reith

Now, maybe I’m off on this, but this guy seems way underrated. I guess it’s because he’s caught in that awkward state between secular music and Christian. This track features PJ Morton, another singer who is a Christian condemned for singing “secular music.” The song starts with B. Reith singing this verse that repeats that last word of the sentence in a way that at first seems unnecessary, but once you get to chorus, you begin to see it reinforces the rhythm of the song nicely. The piano also does the same thing for the song and it all comes together with the bass line, which pushes the song forward.

 8. “Savannah” – Relient K

These guys are one of my favorite bands. And this track will forever be on my top ten list in varying spots (right now it’s an eight), depending on how much I’ve been listening to it lately.  The metaphor of the city and the girl are appropriately harmonious in painting a picture of the journey of a relationship. The musical progression throughout the verses is incredibly engaging. The many different guitar tones in this song craft a reflective feel by complementing the lyrics. Simply put, it’s a great listen.

  7. “Let the Good Times Roll” – Ben Rector

The brass instrumentation and background vocals in this song work really well. If you’re about to start the weekend and you need a song to blast that’s classier than Snoop Dog’s “Young, Wild & Free” or Nicki’s “Starships,” Rector’s voice will take you there.

    6. “A Real Hero” – College & Electric Youth

I first heard this track after watching the movie “Drive.” It fit in perfectly with the movie but it’s a track that can hold up on its own too. True, there’s much repetition with the synth melody and the lyric, “A real human being, and a real hero,” but there’s plenty to unpack in that line. For me, it comes down to meaning that all true heroes are passionate but also vulnerable and imperfect. Real human beings. And the voices that deliver that line in the song are angelic

  5. “Human Hands” – Sondre Lerche

I’m a huge fan Sondre’s voice and sound. He is someone who has taken on many different musical styles with his albums. This one comes off his jazzy “Duper Sessions” album. He reinvents this Elvis Costello song and it just works beautifully.

  4. “Be Calm” – Fun

These guys seemed to come out of nowhere. I remember getting an email from noisetrade advertising their first album available for download (virtually free) and the next thing I know they’ve taken over iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify with their single, “We are Young.” But not only does their earlier album have an amazing cover illustration, but also some excellent songs like this one. You can’t go wrong with masterfully incorporated accordion intro leading to a combination of strings and guitar. These guys have created a unique sound and they do it so well.

  3. “Finding Something To Do” – Hellogoodbye

We all remember dancing to “Here (In Your Arms)” at our high school prom, but then we left our high school days behind us along with the band Hellogoodbye. Recently however, I found their latest album that released just last year and was pleasantly surprised at how their sound has matured. This track is perfectly catchy, accompanied with cute lyrics of lasting love.

 2. “Hymn #101″ – Joe Pug

Though I’m not familiar with the rest of his music, I love this one. The song has an inviting and simple guitar intro that leads right into an immersive set of lyrics with the qualities of a ballad. I’ve read interpretations of the song’s lyrics that range from talking about a dedication to a lover to a narrative of Jesus Christ. You will have to listen and decide for yourself. What I love about this song the most is that the spiritual references and allusions are so unique. Pug captures the raw, rough, and beautiful reality of God’s love and grace in a fresh new way.

  1. “Needing/Getting” – Ok Go

My latest obsession has been with the album, “Of the Blue Colour of The Sky.” The drum beat and distorted bass combination of this song makes you drop everything and pick up your air guitar, close your eyes, and head bang along with the band. One of my favorite parts comes in the middle of the song when all the instruments cut out and then comes this great vocal harmony leading to the synchronized return of the beat. Magic. And a fun instrumental outro to boot. Plus, the music video is jaw-dropping.

My favorite is…

Posted: March 27, 2012 by Laura Richards in Asbury features

Everyone has different taste, style and like different genres of music. Some like hip hop, while others prefer a more contemporary style. For this article, I decided to focus on the ladies of Asbury and see who their favorites are!

Megan Snyder

– “My favorite band is Switchfoot. I’ve loved them since I was 13, and they’re so genuine with their lyrics.”

Linnea Luzzo

-“John Mayer, because he is a great songwriter and I can find a song to listen to no matter what mood I am in. I have seen him twice in concert and he is a great performer and guitarist. And he is also SEXY.”

Jenny Kate Baker

-“I love the Backstreet Boys! They’re classic boy band and their music always makes me so happy! They’re adorable too.”

Krysti Leonard

-“Taylor Swift, duh. She is an incredible songwriter.”

Melissa Landon

-I love Chris Rice music because the lyrics are creative. The sound is unique and I never get tired of listening to it.”

Rachel Taber

-“I would have to say Lady Antebellum. They remind me of where I grew up. My hometown. The people. Their songs hold meaning. Also, musically they are phenominal.”

Sara Morgan

-“Billy Currington. he is a country singer. he is hot, sings great songs, he is sweet and he is also my future husband. Did I mention he is goodlooking?”

Who’s on Michael Rhoades’ iPod?

Posted: March 20, 2012 by Jerry Ferrell in Who's on whose iPod?

Sophomore Michael Rhoades is a friendly face and one    who has a strong passion for dancing, and so a love for beats that you can really move your feet to is reflected intensely in much of the music that he listens to.

 10. “Set Fire to the Rain” – Adele
“She seriously owns the piano on this song and it flows so smoothly. This is a a song I could listen to all day.”

9. “Forever” – Chris Brown 

“The song has really great lyrics and makes me think a lot about my life.”

8. “Holla at Me” – Chris Brown 

“It has one of the best beats I’ve heard in a while and it is easy to dance to so you can do whatever you want with it while you’re dancing.”

7. “Lights Off” – Jay Sean 

“I love the piano in this song and it makes me what to learn how to play it. It also remind me how hard life is and that relationships can end easily.”

6. “Majesty” – Charlie Hall 

“This song really makes me feel like God is in the present and it reminds me of what all God has done for me.”

5. “Let it Rain” – Jesus Culture 

“It really feels like God is talk to me. I get really into it and don’t want the song to end.”

4. “Dj Got Us Fallin’ in Love”- Usher feat. Pit Bull 

“It’s a great song to dance to and has a really good rhythm.”

3. “With You” – Chris Brown 

“I like the acoustic guitar in the song and the lyrics remind me of how I feel about other people.”

2. “Good Feeling” – Flo Rida 

“I really like the lyrics and I remember this song a lot because it was one song I danced to when I was in a dance competition.”

1. “Yeah Yeah Yeah” – Chris Brown 

“It was the first song I ever danced to in a competition so its very memorable, plus it has a really good beat.”

Christian artist Brandon Heath opening for Third Day on their "Revelation Tour," 2009. (source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Christian music industry has blown up in recent years, pumping out artists like it’s the way to win souls. Not that the Christian genre is in itself bad, but to some in our generation, it falls on deaf ears.

I grew up in a God-fearing home, went to a private school and now go to Asbury University, but I can’t stand listening to mainstream Christian music.

Why? Well, for one, it’s been stuffed down my throat my whole life. We sing the songs in Church, blast them on the radio on family road trips and receive them for Christmas in CD-form from well-meaning family members. And since we have become so saturated with it, we are now desensitized. “Open the Eyes of My Heart” just doesn’t move us like it did when we were children belting it out in Sunday School.

In some ways, the accessibility of Christian music has actually made it lose its meaning. It’s like that one pop song you used to like when it first came out until they played it on the radio for two months straight…except imagine that for your whole life.

Not only that, but most Christian music sounds the same, to be frank. Brandon Heath sounds like Aaron Shust who is indistinguishable from Chris Tomlin. Each song starts with a quiet, heartfelt intro, and then comes the acoustic guitar, which slowly crescendos into the chorus where the drums and electric guitar join the club. There’s a bridge, a key change, some high notes, at least one profound—but cliché—statement about life, and end.

Perhaps it’s the alternative culture we’ve found ourselves in, but for some reason, our generation tends to shy away from the conventional. Matthew West, who is often featured on local radio stations like K-Love and Air1, just doesn’t have that unique sound that Christian indie artists like Gungor or Asbury’s own Jenny & Tyler have.

I, personally, feel like my mother (bless her heart) when I listen to a Christian radio station, because that’s the kind of music that she listens to. So, perhaps in an attempt to be my own person and all that, I rebel, and instead escape to the less-familiar genres of indie-folk and synth-pop that have less childhood connotations. It is there that I have a chance to build my own musical tastes without the influence of my Church upbringing.

And honestly, our generation is tired. We’ve heard the same songs, messages and chord successions since we were in the cradle. It’s not that we’re opposed to the idea of worship music, but we long for a new approach to it. After all, doesn’t the Bible itself say in Psalms 61:7, “Sing a new song to the LORD!”? A new song. How interesting. It doesn’t say, “Sing the same songs you’ve known by heart since the third grade!”

Many of us are sincere in our faith, passionate about Christ and are eager to worship Him, but we need to find our own way to do it. And didn’t generations before us do the same thing? In fact, back in the time of Martin Luther (who wrote “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by the way), even hymns were considered too creative and altogether scandalous. Then there came the charismatic hippies of the ‘60s who brought guitars and (no, it can’t be) dancing into the sacred house of God.

Maybe in 20 years the elder members of Church congregations will complain that the mandolins are too loud or that the music “just doesn’t speak to them the same way that Brandon Heath’s songs did.” But if the Church doesn’t make changes to ensure that it stays relevant in today’s culture, it will surely fall by the wayside.

Boyce Avenue concert

Posted: March 19, 2012 by Shelby Weakley in Lexington and beyond

With two large black x’s on my hands, I waited outside Marathon Music Works in Nashville.  The cold, smoky air could not quench my excitement to see what I had been waiting for since Christmas. “When you reach the door, have your ID and tickets in hand,” yelled the gateman. It was time.

This past Christmas, my boyfriend gave me two concert tickets to a band that I knew very little about: Boyce Avenue. I had listened to a few of their covers before then, and didn’t realize that I had mentioned them to him.  But like with any music that I am introduced to, I did my research. Boyce Avenue is an up-and-coming band of three brothers that reaches their audience mainly through YouTube, and is gaining popularity with their unique, acoustic covers of popular songs. I fell in love with the songs, such as my favorite and popular pick, Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.”

When Jeremiah (my boyfriend) and I walked into the venue, I anxiously made my way to the stage. Ensuring that we were in a comfortable and close spot, we waited and stood while the show was getting started. The opening act was a band from Kansas, called The After Party, a pop/skater band whose band members were apart of the 2010 high school graduating class. They played cute, poppy songs that dealt with the same “boy-meets-girl” love and high school romance.  Secondhand Serenade followed, as one-man band man, John Vesely sang his set.

In between songs, Vesely would say non Asbury Appropriate words and even dared someone to bring him a beer, which was very entertaining to watch the toast happen on stage.  I was mildly amused, but was even more anxious to see the next and final act.

Then, the lights dimmed.  The first chords of the song “Daylight” were strummed, and I was in heaven.  Boyce Avenue came onto the stage and jumped right into their original music, songs including: “When the Lights Die,” “Every Breath,” and a big hit, “Find Me.” I was surprised at this action, thinking that they would perform covers rather than their personal set list.  Though this longing was fulfilled by covers of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”

Though I did not stay for the encore, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and can bet that I will be looking for another chance to see Boyce Avenue live. It was an experience that any music lover would crave to have. I can’t wait to have my moment, when a certain song comes on the radio, and I will be able to say “O Boyce Avenue? I saw them before they were mainstream.”