Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In which I rant about Love Songs.

You'd think that people would have had enough of Silly Love Songs. Seriously. They're every where. Most songs in some way shape or form have something to do with the concept of love. Paul McCartney and Wings were not the first nor the last to say those 3 silly words and set them to music. But honestly, if we're going to talk about love songs and Wings then we need to talk about Maybe I'm Amazed. Now not everyone can be Paul McCartney, and even older he still evokes a raw passion in all his music. Of course everyone should enjoy the love story of Paul and Linda. He loved her so dearly and wrote her this wonderful song. If we could all love a man (or woman) so grateful and talented.

But it's still pretty traditional. It waxes poetic about the writers one and only, whom amazes and does all the other wonderful things that everyone else's objects of affections ever do. I would like to take a moment and look at a few love songs that tell things a bit differently. Most of these are newer songs, and again I will say that these are only my opinion. You probably hate the song Maybe I'm Amazed and think that I'm crazy for considering it one of the best songs that Paul McCartney has ever written to this day. Again opinions all over this blog sweetheart. ****Let me also say for the record that I am making a point in this post to not talk about The Decemberists o Ben Folds. But I love them and consider everything they write to be genius.****

Let's start with a fairly new and Indie song by the band Zoey Van Goey. You Told the Drunks I Knew Karate is one of those love songs about a feeling most people deal with. Love even though you know you should not love at all. The writer's object of affection tends to get him in a lot of trouble, he even says, "I'd be much safer on my own, but I didn't care you were the most exciting thing I'd ever known." A common thought, but presented in a newer light than I've ever experienced. I find myself often wanting to find a relationship similar to this, because excitement often seems more interesting when you have very little around you.

Parachute is an adorable love song by and adorable writer. Ingrid Michaelson has written some of the most wonderfully wistful love songs I've ever heard. This song might be the tops in my opinion. Her seemingly stereotypical renderings of love are so mundane they become something fresh. When I hear her lyrics I think, "Oh duh, why didn't I think of that." The lyircs, "I don't need a parachute/ baby if I got you... you're gonna catch me" It just makes sense. Often her writing just feels so effortless to me, not over wrought like some artists and it always makes me smile. That's probably the most important part of all this. What love song should make someone sad?

This love song makes me so sad. While I under the age of ten for pretty much all of the 90's I have this feeling inside of me, (like most of us who grew up and watched most of the cartoons from the era), that I AM the 90's. Deep inside this decade embodies the way I feel about a lot of things, and the music influences me and my peers greatly. Best I Ever Had by Vertical Horizon is the quintessential one sided love song. It's gotten me through the toughest of relationships, and the best of relationships. This song is that obnoxious opening to The Tale of Two Cities. This song is everything great from the 90's  and everything horrible from it. It embodies all the wonderful parts of love and all the horrible parts. Whenever I want to feel miserable, (which is more often than I'd like to admit), this is the go to song for me. A lot of people, myself included, live off of the sick pain that love gives us and this song is for those freaks like us who enjoy this heart wrenching feeling in your chest. No song can recreate that better for us.

I heard this song yesterday. Sydney I'll Come Runnin' is a fantastically written love song by Brett Dennen. It embodies all the great points. Extreme circumstances in which the writer will prove his love to the object of his affection, the name of his affection, high tenor male voice, catchy chorus, and the promise of better times to come in regards to the relationship. Honestly, this is just a fun song and I wanted to be sure to share it with all you.

Lastly I have an interesting song(s). Originally this song was penned by Band of Horses, and in their incarnation it's a very awesome song. Again it's a sadder love song. The thing that sticks out is the title line, "No One's Gonna Love You, more than I do." Before you listen to it, it seems like it'll be a bit of an "Every Step You Take" kind of song. In a way I guess it might be. Band of Horses keeps it pretty sweet, and maybe it's the sound of the lead singer's voice. And he does say, "things start splittin at the seams now, it's tumblin down." There's is the degredation of a relationship somewhere in there, but it's still that out pouring of love. There is so much love that no one can love you more.

BUT WAIT, there's more! Cee Lo Green covered this song for his latest album, The Lady Killers, (Which is awesome go buy it now.) I personally prefer his version. I feel the love more in it for lack of a better term. The line, "They really should have warned you" sticks out most on this version to me. Maybe it's the ballady Motown beat behind it that sucks me in so much. Regardless, both versions are wonderful, nothing can kill the fact that this is just an fantastically written song. Even Rebecca Black couldn't destroy the loving power of this song, (but please don't try to.)

I have no witty way to end this post. So I'll leave you with a gratuitous post of me playing a love song. Well, sorta. This is as close as it gets.

[By the way sorry it's been so long between the last post and this. I kind of started a new job recently and have been enjoying the benefits of working two jobs. Benefits like lack of sleep and free time. It's getting better though and I hope to have more content soon. Thanks all three people who read this!]

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Allow me a brief moment to speak about my personal life...

2007 Senior Pic. Playing Carlos
my father's guitar. We're roughly
the same age.
I was asked recently about what my goals are involving music. Where do I see myself going with it? How do I think it will support myself? What do I even want to do involving it? I realized this is not something that I've actually shared with someone else, or really even dwelt upon. 

Music has been something that's been pretty ubiquitous in my life, it's motivated most of my life decisions. From deciding to ask if I could join the church choir at nine, (I was terrified because I was then the youngest person in said choir by about 20 years) to deciding to take a break from school to see how my life would be given the time to pursue this music thing much more seriously. While I can't say I've always made the best choices in my life, and I can't say that the path I've walked down has been a very consistent or straightforward one by any means one thing remains the same. No matter where my life takes me, what city, what income level, what job, I will always be writing music, listening to music, and performing music. That's never going to change in my life.

2008. Choral Spectacular. Carlos'
last performance.
For those who don't know I'm lucky enough at this point in my life to be able to teach voice and piano to students in the Louisville area. I'm 21 and this is pretty much my dream job. Not many 21 year olds can say that they are actually working their dream jobs. I would love to keep this job for the rest of my life, or allow it to grow into something on my own, but I realize I need more training. That's the thing I love about music. It's never stale, there always seems to be something new for me to learn. I need to become a better pianist, I want more theory practice, and I need to figure out how to perform a set without telling a really bad joke that no one laughs at. I'm young. I feel like everything in my life is a learning experience. I've never been the type of person who knew where they were going. I learn while I go. There isn't a manual for life, and I don't plan ahead very well.  When I graduated high school I picked the college with the most options, but even then never seemed to make the right choice. Coming back home was actually a great decision because it gave me a chances to pursue music like I didn't have an opportunity to when I was at IU. The best thing that came out of Bloomington were the people I met there and the life experiences gained there. None of that was learned in a classroom. 

2009. Disney Open Mic. Ellie and I performing "Be Prepared"
 from The Lion King
What lead to this post was a bad performance at an Open Mic on Monday night. My mother claimed I did fine, that people still enjoyed what I put out there, that I was still one of the best that night. That doesn't matter to me. I have personal standards at which I hold myself. If I don't meet my personal standards I'm not happy. I personally don't think it's all that bad to expect myself to perform at a certain level. I know I'm talented and so when I miss an opportunity to show off that talent and entertain people, especially in a performance setting, I feel I have failed. What I think my mother was concerned with was me being blind to my talents and blind to the reaction to my talents. I know I did well that night, but I also know I can do better. Every audience deserves to see me at my best, even if they didn't come to see me. I feel another musician would be able to understand this kind of feeling, but at the time I was unable to express myself. (I feel I should also note that this was the first time I tried playing after having drank a slight amount of alcohol. I usually perform completely sober and will continue to follow that rule just in case.)

Most people assume that singer songwriters such as myself all want to "make it big" and become a "star." I don't really. That would be easier, yes. If I were to be a "star" I'd be able to pursue music only and not worry about money the way I do. I'm not saying I wouldn't take the chance if it were presented to me. However, music is one of those things that I have to do. I've always found it hard to express myself the way normal humans will. I rarely confide in people my problems and I keep a lot of my feelings close my chest. I'm not an open book when it comes to emotional things, that is until I write a song. Dolly Parton once said, “I think to be a true songwriter, you have to really allow yourself to feel and allow yourself the freedom to write it the way you want to,”  No matter what I'm doing in life, teaching music, making coffee, having kids (maybe), living in my Dad's basement, living with 18 cats and a corgi, in love, or out of love, I will always be writing music. It's not a switch I can turn off. I don't write because I want to, I do it because I have to. 

I think I have a hard time relating to non-musicians because for me these ideas I've just discussed are obvious, as I'm sure they are to other musicians. When I write a song, and I fret over every little syllable I'm not doing so because I think other people are gonna really enjoy it. I do it because each sound is a part of conveying the story I'm portraying. And I'm one of those personal writers, I can't make anything up, never was a good story writer unless it was Non-Fiction. Besides every writing class I ever took said to "write what you know." Maybe my songs won't win me a Grammy and maybe my vocal talents will never impress many outside of a Louisville bar but it's not about awards and other people. I'm very selfish in regards to music, it's all about me and what I can get out of it. Teaching is where I make music selfless, but that's another blog rant for another time. 

2011. Tonight. Joy.

[I'll try not to make these long personal rants a common thing. I've been in a funky mood all week, and have been dwelling on a conversation from Monday since it happened. Like music, blogging is a way of arranging my thoughts. I hope you'll allow me this moment of reflection. I'll post something more interesting soon.]

Monday, January 31, 2011

Church on the Rocks- The Monkey Wrench

I've been running around open mics lately trying find which ones fit my niche, and my schedule, so I thought I'd start doing a review of all the ones I visit. Just to sort of help others in their search for the best open mics to suit their own personal style.

I arrived a little late to Church on the Rocks so everything was in full swing when we walked through the door. First let me start off by saying that The Monkey Wrench is a very cool bar. Located in the middle of the highlands on the corner of Winter and Barret Ave once you step in you get that Highlands vibe. Really cool, I assume local, artwork covers the walls and even the stage. There are two sections to the place, one is the front which is a bit of a restaurant set up this is where the stage is. Because of this the open mic is open to those under the legal drinking age. In the back of the building is the bar and it is a nice large open bar. With the usual bar selections. I can't comment on any of the alcohol because I was the DD for the night. (Also I don't like to drink when I play)

The stage is large and well set up. They have an acoustic for you, (in case you don't happen to have your own guitar), all the gear to hook in your electric or acoustic electric, multiple mics up. Sound is great and the MC and Sound tech for the night were super friendly and helpful. I actually had a sound problem with my guitar during my set and the sound guy actually came up to me afterwards and helped me out with it. Turns out my guitar takes a nine volt battery. Who knew?

The crowd is your usual Highland crowd. If you don't know the Highlands it's a lot of hipsters, hippie-types, spirit of the earth kind of people. The open mic really reflected that kind of attitude. The people watching the show were those who were there to perform. There wasn't a lot of overlap between the open mic and the bar patrons except at the end when the bartenders sang for us. It's a pretty tight knit open mic is really the only bad thing I can say about it. These are all the same people who do this every Sunday night. They're really quite like a church congregation. However, I felt very welcomed into the congregation after my set, before so I wasn't quite sure it would happen. But it's a different mindset than I'm used to. Everyone knew each other so  when one person was onstage doing a free form harmonica solo another person jumped on stage grabbed a guitar and followed along. It was extremely impressive. You can just tell this is a tight group of people who frequent this open mic. That may be daunting to a first time open mic performer.

A slightly strange thing was the amount of performers performing acapella. Not in the sense that I'm used to. Just people getting up on stage with a sheet of lyrics and singing their favorite Top 40 song, or aria. This is not something I'm used to and as a voice teacher and a performer I would not recommend it ever at an open mic. Those who did this had a terrible time staying in key and even staying in the song.  However, those guilty of this appeared to still be in high school so I'll let it slide for them. Not the bartenders though. I'm not trying to be rude, but they were the final act of the night and I had walk out on them. They could not carry a tune in a bucket. And tried to do a duet in two different keys. My heart cried.

All in all Church on the Rocks is a great location, with a great set up, and some tight knit performers. I plan to go back and hopefully start from the beginning and see how a whole service works in the next few weeks. I wouldn't recommend this place to someone for their first open mic, but once you're confident in your material give this place a go. It's great to play for a crowd this diverse.

And just for funsies HERE is a video of me performing last night at Church on the Rocks.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I made a Tumblr.

If you want to see original content by me then you should probably look here. http://angryguitarmeg.tumblr.com/
<3s etc!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The King is Dead

Don't worry he isn't really. That's just the title of the new album from The Decemberists. You probably knew this review was coming. I'm surprised I didn't write it sooner. The band allowed the whole album to stream on NPR for a few weeks prior to the actual release of the record. They were even nice enough to give out the first single for free to us.

When I heard that initial single, Down By The Water, I actually thought it was a John Mellancamp song. Starting a song off with an unmistakable harmonica lick is a classic Americana Bluegrass sound. I was actually really surprised when I eventually heard Colin Meloy's voice enter. I'm used to The Decemberists being this Victorian British Folk sound from a strange far off world called the Northwest United States. Everything they  write has this other worldly, fantasy novel, steam-punk, connotation with me. When the band released Hazards of Love it felt like they took that idea and that vein of work to its extreme and almost exhausted it. I'm very pleased to say that this new-er direction feels effortless. It's as if the band has been an American Folk group this whole time and we never noticed. In a way that's true. Hazards of Love may have seen the introduction of harpsichord sounds but did you notice the steel guitars and banjos? Leaning heavy into a harder rock sound Hazards of Love set a natural growth into the sounds we hear on The King is Dead.

I must say that probably one of my favorite parts of The King is Dead is the fact that Gillian Welch is present on nearly every track. Her harmonies in the song Rox in the Box make it impossible for anyone not to sing along. I think having her involved was crucial to the success of this album. If you're going to delve into Americana music you're going to have to do it right. You can't have Americana without killer harmony work and that's what Gillian is there for. Maybe she's there to lend a little street cred to the group too. She's the ft P.Diddy of this music scene.

I do have one complaint about the album. I hate the choice for album opener. I don't hate the song at all. Don't Carry It All is really a lovely song, but it doesn't really do a very good job of grabbing the listener into the album. I think the album is a tad back heavy. Probably the strongest song on the album is This is Why We Fight which is followed closely by the lovely ballad Dear Avery. These are also the last two songs on the album. Maybe I just like these songs so much better than all the others that it's a personal feeling of lopsidedness. The whole album is truly wonderful don't get me wrong, but I truly feel that the later songs are the stronger works.

Go out and buy this album. Download it on iTunes or Amazon. I really don't care. This album still has the lovely imagry you would expect from The Decemberists, beautiful flowery word choice that you'd expect to find in a Dickens novel and not in a folk album. Added to that we have lovely new sounds that feel so right and effortless. I don't think Meloy's vocals have ever sounded better or more matched to a style than they do now. BUY THIS ALBUM!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Request

To the five people who read this blog (I know I'm rounding up): I need your help. I need to know what kind of content you want to see on this site? Do you like the album reviews? Do you like lists? Do you want video content? Do you want original content, like original songs I've written? Do you want things like the McArthur Park post? What is it i that you want to see from this site? I'm at a loss for a direction for this site.

At the moment I'm working on some video content hopefully to be updated weekly and I would like to have a post once a week as well. Do you like this? Do you hate this? If you hate everything please let me know specifically in what ways I suck at this the most.

The hardest part about blogging is the fact that the only one who gives you feed back is yourself. I'm a horrible judge of my own work so I need your help. All three of you. Please!

I feel less like an Angry Guitar Chick and more like a Begging Guitar Chick, but let's face it I'm loyal to my readers. When I finally become a famous musician you guys will be at the top of my list because you helped me with this blog. Think how cool that would be!

Hope to have a more real post later, maybe not today but probably tomorrow what with all this snow on the ground. Please leave comments questions and concerns in the comments below. To the left you'll see a poll, you may have noticed it when you first got here. If you don't have enough time, (or don't care enough!! D:) click on the options you'd like to see the most. This is all about making this site better for you! Feel free to link the site to your friends too and see what they think. Any help from anyone is appreciated.  

<3s 'n stuff ya'll.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Everything Under the Sun

I feel like all I ever do is write about The Decemberists or Ben Folds. So here's a post about Jukebox the Ghost.

This little three piece band from Philly has run around in the same circles with groups I already enjoy. Like how about the fact they toured with Ben Folds in 2009. (I know I can't go a paragraph with out talking about him). They also toured the U.S. with a Michigan Band I quite enjoy called Tally Hall. So I'm surprised I hadn't heard of them before this fall. However they released their second album Everything Under the Sun this September and I've heard tons of them on my Indie Radio station since then.

Now honestly I was acquainted with this group because they did a benefit concert in Louisville for this radio station I quite enjoy. Every single day I would hear, "December 18th at Headliners Bobby Bare Jr and Jukebox the Ghost." It was something that involved money and food going to a local food bank. I probably should have gone to that show because shortly after the show happened I picked up this album.

Everything Under the Sun is probably one of the funnest albums I've listened to. Maybe I've gotten too bogged down in music with meaning lately. But even their meaningful songs lack the heaviness that songs with purpose seem to have. The first single Empire had me at the bouncy sixties throw back chorus. Secondly the second single Schizophrenia not only is one of my favorite album openers of all time but might be one of my favorite piano parts in contemporary music. But don't think that only the singles are worth your time, this album is one of those you want actually purchase as a whole. Summer Sun is a sweet ballad that catches me with the heart referencing lyrics and rhythmic ba-dump heart beat mimicking sounds. Carrying and The Popular Thing really seal the second half of the album. Until you get to these songs I was a bit worried it might be a top heavy album. But these songs really carry a lot of the back half of the albums weight. I love The Popular Thing in particular because of how 60's pop throw back it is. I hear a lot of those old  Motown sounds in this album. It's quite a special album and I highly recommend it to everyone.

In short. This album rocks. They're currently touring with HelloGoodbye and if you have a chance to go see them do so. I, unfortunately, will not be able to but please try to find them somewhere near you. You won't be sorry to hear this trio live.