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WoT: Chords in the Right Order

London Grammar – If You Wait

Maybe I’m wasting my young years. Maybe we are.

Were it not for an ad placed by drummer Peter Criss in Rolling Stone, the world would not have been graced by the musical stylings of Kiss. Flash forward 40ish years and the world has Facebook to thank for bringing together Hannah Reid and Dan Rothman, 2/3 of London Grammar. Rothman and Reid attended the University of Nottingham, and it was a picture of Reid on Facebook with her guitar that inspired Rothman to ask her to collaborate. Multi-instrumentalist Dot Major was added later after being introduced to the band by Rothman’s girlfriend. While a single with the inexplicable staying power of “Rock and Roll All Nite” is still forthcoming, these three finding each other is an exciting and promising music story for 2014.

If You Wait opens slowly with “Hey Now,” showcasing Reid’s soaring vocals over bass drum heartbeats and bare guitars. Her voice is oft-compared to nearly every contemporary female vocalist, for me I get a lot of Florence Welch, however Reid is more nuanced. Her voice has unquestionable power, but it’s when she chooses not to use it that you really notice.

The album really takes off with “Stay Awake.” Reid inflects emotional pleas very well, and this track is no exception, mixing her fractured but strong vocals with a driving cymbal and tom beat. Like countrymen the xx, London Grammar use silence and breakdowns well. Something as simple as a loan piano chord can provide the most memorable moment.

The standout track, and probably the one that will propel this band to the next level, is “Wasting My Young Years.” Building from just piano into a driving epic, it showcases everything that London Grammar is about. If there is any justice in the world, London Grammar are the next big thing and band to watch in 2014. The xx were a sub-headliner at Coachella 2013, it’s easy to see London Grammar reaching similar heights over the next few years.

If you’re only going to buy one track: Wasting My Young Years

You might like if you like: the xx, Polica, CHVRCHES

Local info: Playing the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis April 3rd w/ Vancouver Sleep Clinic. $13/$15

http://londongrammar.com/home/

Ky B: The Live Album

I have roughly 75 albums currently in iTunes on my iPhone. I sit in a cube all day at work and the music I have on it really is the soundtrack to my day. Out of the 75 albums I mentioned, three of them are live albums. While it seems like a small portion, I listen to two of those on a weekly basis. I, Kyle Brager, am a fan of live albums. I realize that I am probably in the minority in that. Don’t get me wrong, I love studio albums too but there’s something about hearing the raw performance and having the room for error or alternate riffs/solos/verses that speaks to me in a more intimate level.

Why do bands/musicians do live albums?

I’m sure a lot of live albums are done in a Greatest Hits type fashion. While not wanting to just put out a lazy compilation album by picking hits off past records, they instead decide on a show to record and release or perhaps they have a lot of recorded live footage they’ve accumulated over a period of time that would also suffice. Another reason could be marketing purposes geared towards ticket sales rather than album sales. What better way to promote yourself than by capturing the emotion and feel of your live concert experience? They also could have a unique and artistic idea or collaboration that they’d like to explore as well. Dave Matthews Band has a Live Trax series that’s a pretty good example of a combination of these ideas. From 2004-present they’ve released 2-3 live albums each year that can only be purchased through the band’s website. Volume 27 of the series was just released on Nov. 12, 2013. The songs on each volume are mostly randomly recorded and don’t go in any kind of chronological order of recording at all.

Now, my two favorite live albums:

Dave Matthews Band: The Central Park Concert

This was the first DMB album, studio or live, that I ever purchased. It has 3 discs and actually doesn’t have many of their widely known songs on it except for “Ants Marching.” I love hearing Dave interact with the audience and the music sounds great. I like this album so much that I bought the 2 disc DVD of it too. It really gives you insight and does justice to what it’s like seeing DMB live.

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Metallica: S&M

No this isn’t an album about sadomasochism. Metallica collaborated with conductor Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony on a live performance together. So the S&M in this case stands for Symphony & Metallica. You might think the idea of Metallica and a symphony together is nuts but James Hetfield said that the idea mostly came from their late bassist Cliff Burton’s love of classical music. Metallica’s staple sounds almost better and more beautiful with the symphony accompaniment. They also recorded two brand new tracks, “No Leaf Clover” & “-Human” that haven’t been released other than on Metallica S&M. They even marketed the album cover nicely. The logo is a treble clef made into a S and the M from the band’s trademarked Metallica script. Metallica S&M also has a DVD version of the show. I don’t own that one but I’ve seen it and it is just as amazing as the album. (I really should own it.)

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There are quite a few different reasons why live albums get produced. I for one, am glad that they do. Even though I dislike when some let the crowd sing verses or choruses by themselves, I do enjoy having the sounds of a live performance in my ears while I’m getting through the work day.

Twitter @KyBrage

Ky B’s Rage: Never Say Never

No, this post isn’t going to be about the Justin Bieber song ‘Never Say Never.’ In fact, it’s not even going to be about the non-Eon Productions James Bond film “Never Say Never Again.” I’ve actually decided not to really “rage” this time but share my own personal observances and evolution of my own taste in music.

 

For a lot of people, music is part of one’s every day life. People play instruments, some write lyrics, listen to it while at work, in the car, and at the gym. Music is all around and everyone can have their own opinion about what they think “sounds good.” Before I get way more philosophical than I actually am, let’s dive in and dissect how music has shaped and evolved my lifetime.

 

I grew up in a fairly religious and Christian household. My Dad sang at church, weddings, funerals, and whenever really. Christian contemporary music is almost what I was “limited” to as a kid growing up. I’m not sure if it was as strict as I make it seem. I don’t really remember my parents banning me from listening to certain things, and I may have just been naive about it all. Either way, as a kid I listened to a lot of DC Talk and movie soundtracks. Cassette tapes I wore out most were DC Talk’s Jesus Freak and the soundtracks to Space Jam, Mighty Ducks 3, & The 6th Man. (If you’re not familiar with The 6th Man, it’s a movie from the late 90s starring Shawn and Marlon Wayans where they’re NCAA basketball players. One dies and comes back as a ghost to help the other fill the shoes of the deceased one. GREAT!) 

 

You get the idea. I was pretty sheltered musically. I started taking piano lessons in about the 5th grade and really liked it and was pretty good. I actually competed in some sort of recital competition at the U of M a few times. You learn a piece and actually go into a soundproof room where it’s just you, the piano, and a judge. Pretty nerve-wracking for a ten year old. 

 

When I was in middle school, I came across Metallica. I heard ‘Fuel’ once on TV or something and the next time I went to Disc-Go-Round I picked up Re-Load for about $6 and so it began. I stopped taking piano lessons and somehow got my parents to buy me a Squier electric guitar kit from the now defunct Mars Music store in Har Mar Mall. It came with a cherry red Squier strat, 10-15 watt amp, picks, cords, etc. I never took lessons and just taught myself. I discovered tab websites online like ultimate-guitar.com and really picked it up rather quickly.

 

As I was learning to play, my tastes in what I wanted to listen to changed too. I got pretty deep into the pop-punk bands that were popping up like Blink-182, Green Day, Sum 41, New Found Glory, etc. It didn’t hurt that their songs weren’t super challenging to master for a kid teaching himself to play the guitar either. At the same time I was really into Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metallica(still), Led Zeppelin, Styx, among others. 

 

Mid-way through high school my music tastes changed again as I discovered Dave Matthews. The things he could do with an acoustic guitar were just amazing. So amazing that I saved up my money from my first couple of jobs and bought an acoustic guitar.  Liking Dave and DMB brought on the discovery of more artists like him as I made my way through college. Post college I started to get into country music but rather limited myself to what artists I liked based on how twangy their sound was. (Not a huge fan of twang.) 

 

Overall I find it pretty interesting that my tastes in music changed while I moved to each “stage” in life. Definitely pretty clear-cut eras. As I liked one, I despised others. Yet I somehow ended up liking those later on in life. When I was in my pop-punk phase I absolutely HATED Dave Matthews. I despised country music up until I actually started listening to it after I discovered Luke Bryan.  Now I just enjoy it all and know that if I dislike a type of music, chances are I will love it in a few years. I won’t say never about music.