Monday, August 31, 2009

Amy Stroup

Sometimes I get a craving for new music. Well, let me rephrase that, I always have a craving for new music but sometimes I let myself loose on iTunes and Amazon buying anything that strikes my fancy. This week’s artist is a discovery from my last music rampage. Amy Stroup grew up in Texas and knew she wanted to do music right out of high school. When her parents asked her if she wanted help buying a guitar or a car she without hesitation chose the guitar. Her mom took her to Dallas where she picked out a Taylor guitar (she chose well) and began writing her own music.

Amy now resides in Nashville, TN where all the talented folk go to try and make it big (it’s not called Music City for nothing). She seems to be having some success as she is in the middle of her fourth independent release. The Other Side Of Love is a four part release, Session One is available now on iTunes and Sessions Two through Four will be available over the next few months. Check out Session One on the playlist below.

Amy has a little country flare to her music but that is not the genre she restricts herself to. Amy writes her own songs about love, loss, life and the usual with a little spiritual reflection as well. Her first album Solidity, released in 2003 and Here I Am released the following year are spiritually themed albums with songs about her relationship with and faith in God. Her third album Chasing Greenlights was released in 2007 and shows her trying out a new genre in pop still sticking to her spiritual roots. With the release of The Other Side Of Love: Session One Amy seems to be on the love boat. Maybe she has fallen in love? We’ll see with the release of the next three sessions.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I had to do it. I have to feature one of my all time favorite bands even though they are not necessarily up and coming or unknown. Although I don't think they are as known as I believe they should be. MUTEMATH released their second album last Tuesday and it is all I have listened to since. I'm trying out the new player so click below to hear some of my favorite tracks from Armistice (I had a hard time picking just a few). You can also hear some tracks from their first album on the old player.

My first experience with MUTEMATH was hearing from coworkers about their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. Something about playing the song backwards was all I heard but it didn’t make sense to me. Not until I watched the music video for “Typical” did I understand and was blown away by the skills it took to pull off what they did. MUTEMATH actually learned to play the song backwards then reversed it for the video so it played the right way but everything they did looked backwards. Not understanding what I’m talking about? Check out the video:

MUTEMATH was formed in 2003 coming out of New Orleans and released their first EP title Reset in 2004, which unfortunately is out of print. Several of the members were formally a part of the Christian band Earthsuit which disbanded shortly before MUTMATH was formed. Warner Bros. Records released their self-titled full-length album in 2006. After the success of their track “Spotlight” which was featured in the Twilight soundtrack they released their sophomore album last week, titled Armistice. The band toiled and nearly quit when trying to make this record. They had quite a few songs written but they weren’t happy with any of them and couldn’t agree on what to do. With the help of a new producer they decided to scrap those songs and write all new ones. They took all that frustration and put it into writing new songs for the album and apparently that worked out because the new album is amazing. Thank goodness they didn’t call it quits!

MUTEMATH has quickly become one of my top five favorite bands not to mention they are some of the nicest guys out there. Every one I know who has spent time with them has come away saying, “Man, those guys are awesome,” which makes me want to promote their music even more. They also play the keytar so, enough said there. Their live performances are worth watching as well. Flipping over their instruments, and moving about the stage, switching instruments like a bunch of 5 year olds but somehow they magically make it work and it ends up sounding amazing.

I hope you enjoy this week’s featured band. Enjoy their music and feel free to leave your comments on what you think. To learn more about the band and the process they went through to record Armistice check out their website.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Weepies

The first time I heard The Weepies was on the television show Dirty Sexy Money, which was sadly canceled by ABC last season (but that’s a whole other blog). In one particular episode, there is a guy and a girl (as there usually is) who have a secret love affair. The girl loves The Weepies and the boy, who is very rich, brings in The Weepies to do a private performance for the lovebirds since they cannot risk being seen in public. It was such a sweet scene seeing the girl’s face as she opens up the door to her favorite band who then proceed to play “Somebody Loved” and the couple dance together in a moment so romantic every girl wished her guy or some guy would do that for her. That was my first experience with The Weepies, and as a hopeless romantic myself I quickly went to purchase the love song and many others.

Love is a recurring theme with The Weepies who are themselves a boy and a girl who met, made beautiful music together, fell in love, got married, had a baby and then made more beautiful music. Deb Talen and Steve Tannen were both pursuing solo music careers in 2001 when they met at one of Tannen’s shows. They released their first album together as The Weepies in 2003 titled Happiness—maybe a little reflection of what they were finding in each other. It was their next album though that set their career in motion when they released Say I Am You on Nettwerk Records in 2006. Their album topped the folk charts in eight different countries and appeared in quite a few television shows and feature films. They spent the next year touring with the Hotel Café tour and playing at several festivals in Ireland and Germany.

When Deb and Steve finally returned to their home in Topanga, CA they were exhausted but they didn’t waste any time before they were getting married and having their son Theo in 2007 then releasing their most current album, Hideaway, in 2008. Throw in a little appearance on Dirty Sexy Money and you’ve got quite an exciting year. This past April Deb and Steve started recording their next album with a release date that is TBD.

Folk music has become one of my top three favorites genres of music in the last two years. Although when I tell people I love folk they assume I mean anything with a banjo. While I do love a good banjo it’s the pop folk that I love and thanks to The Weepies I now know what to call it. Make it indie pop folk and its even better.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s pick as much as I do. Please leave your comments on what you think of the music as I would love to hear your thoughts. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be trying out a new music player for the page because I am being a little restricted on the music has available. The new player is a little less user friendly for me but we’ll see how it works out!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ray LaMontagne

This week’s artist was introduced to me when my boss was blasting him from his office. I immediately popped my head through the door and had one of those, “Umm, who is this???” moments. “Ray LaMontagne,” he said and I immediate pursued buying the album that was the office soundtrack for the day. Ray LaMontagne’s first album, Trouble was my first introduction to his music and have become an even bigger fan after hearing some of the tracks off his more recent two albums, When The Sun Turns Black and Gossip In The Grain.

Two of my favorite tracks are off LaMontagne’s second album, When The Sun Turns Black which is his darker album (if you can't tell by the title) and is rooted in his troubled past. LaMontagne grew up with a violent father who was a musician who abandoned the family and led Ray to shy away from music until much later in life when he was inspired by a Stephen Stills song (as in Crosby, Stills and Nash). LaMontagne was working 65 hours at a shoe factory when he was inspired by that music and began working on his singing in private without anyone knowing. He used a lot of the emotion of his rough past in his music creating some dark and beautiful Melodies in “Be Here Now” and “Lesson Learned.” One would think that this dark music would put me in a melancholy mood but it actually makes me happy. Maybe it’s the fact that music can be such a great outlet and we can take the messes I our past and turn them into something good in music and art. Or maybe I’m just weird that way.

LaMontagne currently lives in Maine with his wife and two children and while he is not the most lively of people (watch an interview and you’ll see what I mean) his music is where he really comes to life. He has had such artists as Sara Watkins from Nicklecreek and Rachael Yamagata contribute on his albums. His most recent album, Gossip In The Grain, released last fall and has a much happier tone then his previous album (then again I like that deep, dark, emo stuff) and a little more light-hearted. All of his albums are worth trying out and you can experience for yourself the many sides to Ray LaMontagne.

Hope you enjoyed this weeks artist. Please let me know what you think as well as any artists you think I might like to feature.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Róisín Murphy

If you are a fan of the show So You Think You Can Dance like me then you will probably recognize several of these tracks from our artist of the week Róisín Murphy. Some of my favorite routines on the show have been choreographed by Wade Robson using the unique and slightly bizarre music by Murphy.

Róisín Murphy is an Irish singer/songwriter born in 1973 who later moved to England with her parents at the age of 12 and decided to stay there even when her parents divorced and moved back to Ireland. Murphy was introduced to the music world when she met her boyfriend who later became her singing partner. Their duo was called Moloko and had great success in the UK until the couple broke up and things got awkward. Murphy took that opportunity to release solo work and released her album Ruby Blue in 2005. In 2006 she signed with EMI and the next year released her second solo album, Overpowered.

Murphy has had some great exposure here in the U.S. with her songs not only on So You Think You Can Dance but also on several episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and have received special mention from the show’s music supervisor Alex Patsavas. “Ruby Blue” was included on the Grey’s Anatomy Vol. 1 soundtrack which is where I was first exposed to Murphy’s music. Listening to her music brings of a quirky side in me and always gets me to turn up the volume and do a little dance in my chair (I’m usually restricted to a chair since music is usually listened to in my car or at my desk).

Hope you enjoyed this week’s featured artist. Please feel free to leave your comments on what you think of the music.